First, Library of Congress taps Silverlight to enhance access. Second, Republicans Kiss Google's Ass.... Spot a pattern?

The first is easy to understand, because we’ve seen it so many times before. I remember the relentless campaigns over the last decade, first to turn the Internet from a Navigator app into an Explorer app, and second to beat back the demons of Open Source. There were all sorts of incentives to adopt cool Web-site features that were IE-only, and the nicest imaginable Microsoft evangelists to explain the advantages, and fatherly business types to pooh-pooh objections from any of those scuzzy Open-Source commie hippies.

The formula goes: you find some organization, not all that clueful about technology, you dazzle ’em with shiny goodies, and you lock in another little piece of the Internet. Well, it’s sad that the Library of Congress doesn’t want any visitors who run Linux, or aren’t affluent enough to have upgraded to an Intel Mac. Sad, sad, sad.

Now, Google and the Republicans. That’s too complicated for me to figure out, but it smells rotten (granted that in 2008, everything in the neighborhood of the Republican party smells rotten). Anyhow, read Jeremy Zawodny’s take, linked above. I’d forgotten that when the time is right, he can be one of your really superior flamers. And the time does seem right.


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From: Nick C (Feb 20 2008, at 00:50)

Actually, Silverlight is available for Macs (Intel and PowerPC), and the Mono team was somehow convinced to work on building a Linux implementation (though they aren't quite there yet). The end goal still seems to be the same, but they're going about it a little more subtly this time...


From: Juri Pakaste (Feb 20 2008, at 02:23)

But hey, Novell is working on Moonlight, the free port of Silverlight, so it's ok and cross platform and practically an open standard and good and stuff. Right? Right?


From: Tomasz (Feb 20 2008, at 03:22)

Linux? There's Moonlight, opensource, written by Novell with Microsoft help.


From: Seth Gordon (Feb 20 2008, at 05:01)

Regarding the Google/GOP connection, I think both parties look for corporate sponsorship of their conventions. In 2004, for instance, Nextel was the official wireless provider of both the Democratic and Republican national conventions. That's bipartisanship for you.

Marketing or corruption? We report, you decide.


From: len (Feb 20 2008, at 06:16)

The Republicans are making sure the money goes where it does them the most good. Smart. Unscrupulous but smart.

The Democrats are about to put John McCain in the White House. What no pundit thought possible, once again, we will do for the sake of spiting ourselves. The harsh bit is if one takes race off the table as every good liberal should, Obama is just a freshman Senator without any credentials beyond presentability. Given that, if we want to make some kind of statement, the big change would be gender. It appears that America is more biased about gender and fearful of women in charge. The $40 million of our money spent by the Republicans to destroy the Clintons worked, and now for their effort, we will give them another four years, or we will elect another Jimmy Carter who while admirable, was too inexperienced to undo the mess left by Nixon. After that, we get another 12 years of Republicans just as we did with Reagan/Bush. You have to admit, it is a brilliant strategy. The Democrats take the fall for Bush Jr's criminal rule, and the same party that made that possible get another decade to loot.

John Cleese was right. The Queen needs to revoke our independence except for "Kansas which she does not fancy." At least the Brits understood that Ironpants Maggie was no threat and had the nescessaries to govern.


From: M. David Peterson (Feb 20 2008, at 07:37)

>> Well, it’s sad that the Library of Congress doesn’t want any visitors who run Linux,

Either that, or sad that you ignore the fact that, 1) Moonlight provides support for Silverlight applications, and 2) Moonlight is open source.

I get the fact that you hate anything that smells like MSFT, Tim, but ignoring the realities of any given situation doesn't make your gripes any more valid.


From: Walter Underwood (Feb 20 2008, at 09:59)

Heard a talk by Douglas Crockford about the serious security problems with JavaScript. If you want a secure site now, he thinks your only choices are Flash or Silverlight. There is no non-proprietary secure scripting right now.

Maybe LoC was talking to Crockford.


From: Adam Batkin (Feb 21 2008, at 05:01)

I'm not an expert, but Moonlight isn't Free Software in my book. So I don't think Tim is ignoring Moonlight, perhaps he just recognizes that it isn't an option for some people, and therefore is, lets say, an "unfortunate" choice for a US government website. Personally, I think that governments have a responsibility to ensure that their services are available using non-proprietary standards. That means that I can implement the "standard" (whether official or de-facto), distribute my implementation with whatever license terms I want, charge whatever fee I want (including 0) and I shouldn't be liable for any royalties. And I shouldn't have to worry about being sued.

Moonlight may be open source (with lowercase O and S) in the sense that the source code is available, but that is just about all it has going for it.


From: Martin (Feb 21 2008, at 07:13)

I think that the point is not using Silverlight or Moonlight, or Flash: It is that it may not be necessary. Content does not need to be uplifted with bells and whistles that may make it less usable (no URL to address content, slow to transfer for those with 56K modems). The good sites make it nice while being accessible.

I was writing instructions on how to setup a wireless connection with Vista; they have a nice cookie crumbs for their dialogs, but I could not Copy/Paste it to tell people: "Type this in the address bad: gui://network/wireless-clients/" and there you go. I had to describe how a human navigates through dialogs.

This is likely what's going to happen with Silverlight.


From: Giacomo (Feb 21 2008, at 09:49)

On Google, it's no surprise since they said a few months ago that they were going to do more political lobbying (after a few sentences against them). I'm disappointed that they seem to pick what I think is going to be the losing horse; maybe it's part of a wider strategy (visibility to Repubs and money to Dems), maybe they just rely on the historical trend of Democrats being more friendly to the tech sector anyway.

On Silverlight, to me it seems like MS is reinventing java applets; I guess it's logical, since they reinvented java with C# already. But whoever thinks this is going to be a proper shared standard, looks extremely naive to me.


From: Miguel de Icaza (Feb 29 2008, at 08:22)

We have an open source implementation (LGPL licensed) called Moonlight that runs on Linux with Firefox.

Its fun to see the outrage that Silverlight causes when all the specs for it are public and when Microsoft is helping an open source project by giving us the specifications and even providing the media pack (this is the binary blob containing their optimized codecs) but other technologies get a free pass.

Considering that Silverlight has a tiny fraction of the market, shouldn't the outrage be targeted to other higher-volume, proprietary, "you-might-not-use-the-spec-to-build-a-competitor" tool? Perhaps.

Finally: if you feel dirty for using Microsoft's binary codecs, you can use the FFMPEG codecs (LGPL), Novell is just unable to redistribute those (queue outrage over software patents in mp3 and vc1 here).



From: Alan Hogan (Mar 03 2008, at 23:48)

Good call. I hate when people defend Silverlight by saying it's supposed to eventually run on Mac and Linux well. "That's what they're saying, but it doesn't yet, does it?" is my response. "And what about Opera?"

It's amazing, as you note, they can use the phrase "enhance access" with a straight face.


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