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Christian Science Monitor Putting OSS at the Helm 203

Jane Walker writes to tell us that the Christian Science Monitor is becoming quite the proponent of open source. The aggressive nature of OSS was a large part of what drew CIO Curtiss Edge into the fold, it seems. From the article: "But beyond the tangibles like open source code it was the community that made a convert of Edge. Behind all the open code, it was the forums and flexibility that were the driving forces he believes breeds better developers than those that toil away with proprietary code. Open source software makes developers more aggressive and more apt to go out into the communities that exist around the software to find solutions to their problems, Edge said, rather than holding on some proprietary help desk line while tech support looks up the answer."
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Christian Science Monitor Putting OSS at the Helm

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  • by Zaphod2016 ( 971897 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @03:26AM (#15530400) Homepage
    Open Source rules.

    Can I get an amen?
    • Re:Praise Linus! (Score:2, Insightful)

    • 4m3n
    • Ramen!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @04:39AM (#15530599)
      Can I get an amen?

      Unfortunately, Amen is closed-source proprietary software. However, you can get an OSS alternative: gAmen or kAmen. Careful, though - might start a holy war.
    • I resent your proseletyzing on here. I ought to be free to worship however I please. If I prefer to worship the golden calf that Microsoft is rather than the the cute little penguin that is Tux, then I should be free to do so.

      Hey! That gives me an idea! Let's start a religion worshipping Microsoft, and then sue the government to get religious icons (Windows, Office) off of government property! ;)

      Meh. Reading it back it's not as funny as I first thought but I'm submitting anyhoo.
  • by WinEveryGame ( 978424 ) * on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @03:27AM (#15530401) Homepage
    "Nothing can be more frustrating than paying someone a pile of money for support and then get someone on line who knows nothing about product,"

    To be fair this can happen in open source world as well (well, in the so called "commercial open source world"). But, overall, in general probability of fixing an issue quickly is higher when using open source software.

    • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @08:17AM (#15531203)
      To be fair this can happen in open source world as well (well, in the so called "commercial open source world").

      Yes, it can happen with any business that doesn't manage their support organization very well.

      But, overall, in general probability of fixing an issue quickly is higher when using open source software.

      And that is because OSS opens the support market up to competition. Proprietary code can only be (well) supported by someone with proprietary access - making proprietary code a gynormous barrier to entry for the support market. Free software has no such barrier, thus enabling competition so support organizations have to compete directly on the quality of their produce (the support they provide).
    • To be fair, one of the biggest problems in OSS that turns many single-user-types away is the "support" ... "Did you RTFM?" is not support, but is the most common opening answer to a newbies first (and second, third...) problem. Those that are sufficiently technical to understand TFM they may continue to use it ... those that don't know which end of a mouse to hold, and don't have a friend to show them will revert to the OS and software setup that they know.
  • Great.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by FooGoo ( 98336 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @03:40AM (#15530437)
    Now instead of telling my boss that our issue has been escalated to level 2 support I can say "I won't have an answer until Elm0 in #L1nuxd00dz recovers from his caffine induced tirade about how LISP is more elegant that PERL".
    • Re:Great.... (Score:2, Informative)

      by ocelotbob ( 173602 )
      You don't know how to phrase your reports to your boss. Such a situation becomes, "I have escalated this issue to our developers and are currently working towards getting a solution for the problem." which sounds even more impressive than escalating to some phone jockey.
    • Re:Great.... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by isorox ( 205688 )
      Now instead of telling my boss that our issue has been escalated to level 2 support I can say "I won't have an answer until Elm0 in #L1nuxd00dz recovers from his caffine induced tirade about how LISP is more elegant that PERL".

      This is the problem really. The fact that you'll have the correct answer from IRC before level 1 corporate support has taken your credit card number and given you a log reference is irrellevent. Getting the job done is no longer important.
    • Re:Great.... (Score:3, Informative)

      Wrong canal. The RiverRat in #gentoo will give you the answer in all of 30 seconds.
      Definitely the best support channel ever. Beats hanging around on the end of a phone for a semi-literate nitwit to try to find an answer on his screen by a country mile.

      Just love this new /. except that the printing in the top lh column is wonky.

    • LOL Level 2 support!. You are only three days from a solution now my boy!. Thanks for holding on line for three hours and talking to first level support for two. Aren't you glad you rebooted that server five times already because the level 1 support would not deviate from their script?

      • It's not always "would not" but many times "can not deviate from the script".

        It doesn't matter if the problem is solved if you haven't followed procedures.
        And would it kill you to use the customer's name 3 times?

  • by Biotech9 ( 704202 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @03:52AM (#15530463) Homepage
    when i read the Christian science monitor people glance at the title and knee jerk immediately, 'what the hell are you reading that for?'

    Just in case you have not had an encounter with the CSM before, it's not some religious orientated 'intelligent theory' spouting mouth piece of the far right. It's one of the most respected newspapers around, has a league of its own reporters rather than relying on wire services like most other papers, has won many awards for fantastic journalism, often reports on cutting edge science that would make the conservative far right weep, and also often reports on stories that the rest of the press skip over for not being sexy enough.

    AND, they're low on cash and have been in the red for some time, how about splashing out on a subscription? [csmonitor.com]
    • Just to compliment your post, here's a link to the http://www.csmonitor.com/aboutus/about_the_monitor .html [csmonitor.com]CSM's FAQ page where they explain the name and ideologies. I know the first time I came across the CSM, I too thought they were maybe not my cup of tea (religiously speaking). But during my time as a news-junkie, I have constantly come across well written and informative articles from them. OT: Sorry for the crappy html link...I don't know how to embedd the link within the text of my post. I was tr
      • OT: Sorry for the crappy html link...I don't know how to embedd the link within the text of my post. I was trying to use a carrot-a-href-equal-URL-carrot tag, but it wasn't working.

        Like this:

        <p>This is a link to <a href="http://example.com/somepage.html">somewhere< /a>.</p>

        This makes the word "somewhere" a link leading to example.com/somepage.html.

        The message needs to be HTML formatted (from the list left to the Preview button).

    • I have to agree; I get most of my news from Google News, and I usually select a couple of stories pertaining to a certain topic. I happened upon some write-ups from the CSM, and they almost always were very informed, pretty much unbiased and clearly and concisely written, even on hot-button issues like stem cell research. Not at all what I expected from a publication with "Christian" in the name (no offense meant to religious people, but the special brand of Christianity that seems to have the loudest voice
    • by MourningBlade ( 182180 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @06:03AM (#15530813) Homepage

      The Christian Science Monitor is indeed one of the best newspapers around. They're small (my dad threw away the first few he received because they didn't LOOK like a newspaper), but that's because they don't use the AP wire or Reuters to fill out their newspaper, as the parent noted.

      Consistently, the CS Monitor has had definitive articles on subjects. Unfortunately their archive isn't available for free or I'd point to their excellent article on the whole Ten Commandments in the courtroom fiasco in Alabama. While every other newspaper was either talking about the Ten Commandments being removed, playing soundbytes from the judge, or talking about what other reporters were talking about[1], the CS Monitor did their research and printed their story a day later. They talked to the people rallying outside both for and against (and covered the fact that many of these people had zero clue what was going on), covered what the judge was saying and why he was saying it - and when his support for the monument started (here's a hint: election upcoming, he started the whole thing just a few months before).

      Their coverage on the last election was the coverage to beat. Managed to avoid the horserace of usual election coverage[2] and talk about the campaign, the people behind the campaign, etc, etc.

      In Iraq they were one of the few newspapers not afraid to go outside the green zone and interview real people. Incidentally, for their efforts at finding the truth their reporter was kidnapped and held hostage.

      In my opinion the religious convictions of the founder and the church (First Church of Christ, Scientist) that owns the operation (keep in mind that church members do not make up the journalists...they hire those) help keep them well-oriented. For their newspaper "it bleeds, it leads" doesn't happen - they want to discover what is happening in the world and to tell everyone. They believe that the truth is liberating, and they want to find it - whatever it may be. Honestly, they have a lot in common with the Quakers.

      The religious article they print is more of a philosophy article, is usually well-written and is treated like the opinion section of another paper. It is there at the request of the founder.

      Check out their website at www.csmonitor.com [csmonitor.com], and read a few articles. The major problem with our reporting these days is that the reporters just report events and he-said she-said. The monitor uses reporters with clue who contribute actual analysis.

      Cruising quickly, the article on Escalating Violence in the Gaza Strip [csmonitor.com] is a good one, as is today's story of President Bush's Visit to Iraq [csmonitor.com].

      People are so used to the bible beaters and the kooks. Religion can be a very powerful force for good. I'm glad to see it happen once in a while.

      However, to put this all in perspective...the CS Monitor has its shortcomings. Since they don't rely on wire services, if you want to find out about breaking news you can't just read them like you can several other mega-papers. Their articles tend to come out later (it's the flip-side of doing careful research) and are longer - yes, that can be a downside if you're trying to skim. They don't have local, daily delivery in many places, so their stories come even later if you don't read the online site[3].

      [1] - In the news when there's no actual content the reporters will often interview each other. It sets up a giant echo chamber. Easiest example? People in flooded New Orleans shooting at rescue helicopters. Turns out it wasn't that common - might not've even happened at all. Hundreds of stories about it, though. Hundreds.

      [2] - Elections are often covered as a race. Based on opinion polls candidate A is ahead or behind candidate B. This is done because there is so very, very little news during an election campaign. The same speech

      • by Eivind Eklund ( 5161 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @07:25AM (#15531012) Journal
        In addition, this lateness has another effect: we generally believe and base our ideas off the first information we get.
        We do in the case of information that has high personal relevance. For information that has low personal relevance, the later message is more important. See

        Haugtvedt, C. P., & Wegener, D. T. (1994). Message order effects in persuasion: An attitude strength perspective. Journal of Consumer Research, 21, 205-218.

        For an overview of strongly related topics, see "Multiple Routes To Resisting Attitude Change" by Wegner, Petty, Smoak and Fabrigar in Resistance And Persuation (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004, Edited by Eric S. Knowles and Jay A. Linn.)


      • Like many people I've ignored The Christian Science Monitor because of a knee-jerk reaction to the name. After reading your comments and others I decided to take a look around their site and give it a fair chance. Being from Toronto I checked out the story on the terror suspects recently arrested here. I found CSM's coverage fair, balanced, thorough and from a slightly different angle, four things I haven't found very much in the frenzy of local coverage.

        Although I'm still a bit wary of a possible hidden
        • Their agenda is not hidden. They have a daily article about "Christian Science" that is very nicely labeled. Other than that article (which can be interesting even to non-Christians, but sometimes is just annoying) the paper is a very strait-forward and well written one. For a long time it was the paper to read if you were a CIA analyst (that may still be true, I just don't know).
    • Indeed, I regret the years during which I ignored the CSM because of the name and my assumption that it would be akin to the Watchtower. Having read it daily for almost a decade now, it is basically the paper I turn to when I want to understand a complex issue.

      Most papers cover every issue as he-said/she-said, and think that providing quotes from every idiot with an agenda is objective reporting. The CSM actually does the hard work of researching complementary articles that fill in multiple aspects of the s
    • And I guess there are Christians out there who are turned off by the word "Science" in the title/name.
  • Gives a new meaning to "The Cathedral and the Bazaar", doesn't it!
  • by Bushido Hacks ( 788211 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @04:40AM (#15530602) Homepage Journal
    And God Said to Noah "Thou shal build an ARK-ive so that I may have a back up copy of everything that I have created." And so, Noah made back up. He back up two of everything.

    When Noah was finished and everything was backed up, GOD INSTALLED LINUX! (*angles signing "HALELUJAH!"*) As God wiped away all the JPG's of Angelina Jolie on his harddrive, God though of a brilliant idea to create a flightless black and white bird that had it's own exclusive land that would be way COOLER that Eden. (Eden was a pain in the butt to maintain anyway. Between that Adam and Eve thing, kicking them out, and the cost of Fertilzer, and letting some Iraqi people rent the place and calling it Mesopotamia). This land would be easier to maintain because everything there would be frozen.

    When He was done installing the fifth disc of the Linux distro, completing setup, and running yum to install any other RPMS that were not installed on the distro discs, God said "Let there be a land of ice and snow so that my latest creation may live in harmony far away from all the other things that I have made." And so it was. He called this land "Antartica" and the creatures he created were called "penguins".

    Then God reinstalled most of the files he had and told Noah "If anyone ask what happen, say there was a great flood." "But what about the uber-believers oh, Lord! The take everything literally for the they think they need You to be responsible for there lives, draw stregth from, and condem all the people they call 'science nerds'?"

    And God said onto Noah "F*** those Biblethumpers! I'm tired! I'm going to go listen to some Zep* and watch the penguins." You'll probably destroy yourselves over dumb crap that is about Me but I don't want to be any part of your problems. Besides, nerds rule. Only a nerd would have the ablity to use AI and bring stuff to life."

    This made Noah a little said, so to make him cheer up a bit God then stated "However, in case there is a big emergency, give Me a holler."

    (*="On the eighth day, God created Led Zeplin. He grabed a beer, then he rested.")
  • Christians and OSS (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nickrout ( 686054 )
    I certainly have noticed a large number of christians in my local Linux Users Group. Someone posted a question on the list about software for some religious purpose (hymns dissemination contrary to the wishes of the RIAA? congregation monitoring? can't remember really) and they all came out of the woodwork. I was surprised about the number of active church goers. Perhaps I am just jaundiced by boarding school forcing me to go to church, but in my "other than geek" life I know no one who goes to church!
  • They're putting their faith in OSS!

  • Well, duh! Everyone knows Christians are huge proponents of 'Intelligent Design'!
  • I think the claim that OSS developers are more "aggressive" in seeking solutions is without merit. I mainly develop using proprietary software, and I'm plenty aggressive. I've used the help desk to get technical support maybe once or twice in my (long) career. How aggressive do you need to be to use Google or MSDN? Not very.

    And, furthermore, isn't tech support one of the foundations of the OSS business model? Give away the software and hope people will pay for help, right? I guess the people at CSM won't us
  • I think Edge and Bono should stick to music and stay out of politics. Er.. wait.
  • Sounds like neo-Conservatism [wikipedia.org]...

    And I'm only partially baiting flames here...

  • InfoWorld ran an short piece on Chris Edge [infoworld.com] and his use of open source at the Christian Science Monitor earlier this year. It was part of a larger package [infoworld.com] focusing on a variety of businesses and how they use open source.
  • All those Linux users are just a bunch of damn hippies!

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.