Re: [April 1999] Roy Fielding on Al Gore's "geeky blunders"

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From: Matt Jensen (
Date: Sun Nov 26 2000 - 17:46:58 PST

I'll grant you that Gore's site running on Windows while the site
advocates open source software is probably a gaffe. But...

> "Applying the term [open source] to the content of a Web site
> is sort of silly," [Kosut] said.

Open source content (as opposed to code) exists in many projects[1], and
there were already a couple of open source books at the time of this Gore
article (that is, the books' contents were maintained as open source).[2]

So while Gore couldn't (and didn't) claim to invent open source content,
for a politician he seems to have been ahead of the curve again. What is
the difference between submitting book suggestions to O'Reilly and
submitting site suggestions to You're at the mercy of the
benevolent dictators, just as you are with the Linux project, but so what?
Gore promised to consider input, and the results (static HTML pages) are
available to all.

Sure, someone could have held Gore's feet to the fire and asked what
license covers the content, whether they can use his GIFs in, etc., but it looks like nobody ever asked him that. I
think he's proud enough of his technical experience that he would have
attempted a serious answer.

-Matt Jensen

[p.s. - I think the "Open Source" trademark has been abandoned[3], since
March of 1999, please correct me if you know otherwise.]

[1] , e.g. the SourceForge docs themselves.
[2] ,

On Sun, 26 Nov 2000, Adam Rifkin wrote:

> Why did I not find this till now?? Baw ha ha ha ha...
> > Vice President's campaign web site touts open sourse in closed system
> > Sacrameto Bee
> > April 9, 1999 Martha Mendoza
> >
> > SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Vice President Al Gore's attempt to speak
> > nerd-talk to computer programmers has developed into a high tech faux pas.
> >
> > A message hidden in the programming code behind Gore's presidential
> > campaign Web site touts his support for sharing software codes. But the
> > high tech aficionados who went looking behind the scenes found the
> > entire site is running on Microsoft, a closed and private system.
> >
> > "It's like he's saying he's all for buying American cars and then
> > driving around in a Honda," said Jim Jagielski, a core developer of the
> > open source Apache software that powers most Internet Web sites.
> >
> > Even more offensive, said Stanford University computer information
> > sciences student Alexei Kosut, is Gore's casual use of the term "open source."
> >
> > "He's using buzz words that have specific meanings. For those of us who
> > know what those meanings are, this is not endearing," said Kosut.
> >
> > Open source is a registered trademark referring to the free distribution
> > of software codes.
> >
> > "Applying the term to the content of a Web site is sort of silly," he said.
> >
> > Gore, whose technical savvy has brought him widespread Silicon Valley
> > support, launched his campaign Web site Tuesday.
> >
> > Later that evening at a private, $10,000-a-plate fund-raising dinner at
> > the home of high tech investor John Doerr, Gore invited guests including
> > Netscape cofounder Marc Andreessen and Excite cofounder Joe Kraus to
> > "log on and look in the source code."
> >
> > "You will find a secret hidden message there from moi," said Gore.
> >
> > It's not hard for an Internet user to peek behind the scenes of Gore's
> > Web site. Simply go on the World Wide Web to, choose
> > "view" from the top of the screen and click on the word "source."
> >
> > Suddenly the tanned and happy image of Gore is replaced with this message:
> >
> > "Thanks for checking out our source code! ... The fact that you are
> > peeking behind the scenes at our site means you can make an important
> > difference to this Internet effort."
> >
> > The site invites computer programmers to share their ideas about how to
> > improve the Web site, "in the spirit of the open-source movement."
> >
> > Gore's support of "open source" programming follows a growing movement
> > in the high tech community to share and communally improve the codes
> > behind software. The practice defies Microsoft Corp.'s competitive
> > practice of keeping software source code private, so that it can
> > surprise consumers with new developments.
> >
> > Linux, for example, is an operating system that makes computers run,
> > similar to Microsoft's Windows. But unlike Windows, anyone can download
> > Linux code for free and develop it in new ways.
> >
> > Apache, another open system, is now the server for most World Wide Web
> > sites. But not Gore's. Yet.
> >
> > John Witchell, a partner at USWeb who developed Gore's site, said
> > Thursday that in reaction to input from Web site visitors, they are
> > going to shift to a true open source operating system and server in
> > about three months.
> >
> > "This was an honest initial attempt," said Witchell on Thursday. "What
> > you will soon see is a Web site that is widely respected in an open
> > environment. We're going to get better and better at this."
> >
> > Gore already drew ridicule from the high tech community when he said in
> > an interview that he helped create the Internet, a remark he later
> > blamed on being tired. And just minutes before launching his campaign
> > into cyberspace Tuesday, Gore's campaign staff rushed to remove
> > questions asking children for their names, e-mail addresses and zip
> > codes -- a practice soon to be outlawed on some Internet sites by
> > legislation Congress approved last year.
> >
> > Gore 2000 spokesman Roger Salazar said Thursday that despite the
> > bumbles, the Web site has done "far more than any of the others to reach
> > out to people of America."
> >
> > "We've taken unprecedented steps to seek their input and have folks get
> > involved," he said. "This was a genuine attempt to get people involved
> > in the process."
> >
> > In it's first two days, Web site operators received more than 5,000
> > comments.
> >
> > University of California, Irvine, doctoral candidate Roy Fielding, a
> > leader in the open source community, said Gore's geeky blunders are
> > amusing.
> >
> > "I think at that campaign they're just a little overexcited about the
> > notion of open source in general and how that could appeal to people,"
> > he said. "I'm not terribly upset about it."
> ----
> Adam@KnowNow.Com
> "Gee-whiz shit" doesn't turn me on.
> -- Dave Winer on in-situ HTML editting :)

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