29 April 2005

Micro Soft-Peddling Influence

FOLLOW-UP: The Jenius has brilliant friends. One is a Lousiana Lass named Carol who pointed out about yesterday's post that the University does have a direct effect on pre-college education because it helps create the teachers for those levels. This obvious point was not mentioned by either Dr. Vélez (excusable, given his limited amount of time to respond) or by The Jenius (inexcusable.) Thank you, Carol...

Who lives in Dallas. Think about that for a moment.

This week, Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá attended a Microsoft-sponsored conference in Washington D.C.

Before The Jenius jumps on this, a few points need to be clarified: Microsoft is a hugely successful company; it is not a monopoly; its main products (OS, "productivity" suite) are poorly-designed "bloatware"; the reliance on Microsoft products creates enormous security problems and its dominance is being eroded by better products. These facts are beyond dispute; accept them and move on.

That the Governor attends a conference in Washington D.C. is not exactly news; that he attends a Microsoft-sponsored conference is, but not in the offhand, slap-dash manner so typical of the local sheep in the Fourth Estate. Here are the salient points:

1) What does Microsoft seek to achieve by inviting the Governor and other "leaders" to these events? Influence, disguised as "marketing."

2) What does the Governor know about the ramifications of using Microsoft products for government networks and systems? Exactly what he knows about ancient saurian mating rituals: nothing. Proof: Acevedo's remarks about the Knowledge Economy were banal, trite and vapid, and in deference to the Office, The Jenius will just leave it at that.

3) At what point does "marketing" slip past the border into "undue influence"? (The Jenius is on a polite streak. And it hurts.) If a political "leader" is invited to an event, his/her expenses paid, gets the chance to receive the benefit of exposure to other "leaders" and celebrities and gains the benefit of publicity, are We expected to believe that this is done solely for educational purposes as a "stringless gift" from Microsoft?

One could argue that Microsoft is really educating since the local government has already bought the craptacular spectacle that is Windows and the Seven Million Flaws. But any purchase can be exchanged or replaced, if the client so desires. And as open source programs gain favor around the world, as Firefox chips away at Explorer's dominance, as the world grasps the basic concept of "well-developed software beholden to no single entity" as a key factor in truly powerful and effective systems development and as the increasing need for security exposes the glaring defects in Windows, one wonders if "marketing" is actually the right word for what is going on.

And one wonders at the cluelessness of the Governor. It is not remarkable, as he is merely one of an overwhelming majority of clueless "leaders" making noise by reflex, not reflection. To babble about the Knowledge Economy and not give it the attention it deserves--no--the attention it demands as the engine of our future is to fail to fulfill the basic duty of being the Governor and of being the "leaders" of our country. So many have failed before and apparently, We will witness again another failure.

If We continue to let The Fools run the show.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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