Unreliable Authors

Have you ever been reading something that you are enjoying when suddenly you come across something which is so stupid that you lose all confidence in the author and can no longer take anything they write seriously?

It happened to me this morning as I was reading the introduction to Open Source 2.0. In the middle of a perfectly sensible piece introducing some of the ideas behind Open Source I came across this nonsense.

Outside the United States, people find it odd that we use the same word, “free”, to mean two very different things “with no cost” or “liberated”.

“Outside the United States”? Does that sound a bit strange to you? Can anyone think of anywhere outside the United States where they might understand the two meanings of “free”? Like perhaps anywhere that speaks English!. There is more to the English speaking world than just the USA.

Then they compounded their error a couple of pages later when they claimed that Larry Wall has led the Perl community for “more than 20 years”. The first version of Perl was released in 1987. Don’t these people check facts?

Luckily this was just the introduction which was written by the book’s editors. Most of the book is essays written by other people. If that wasn’t the case I don’t think I could read the rest of the book.

Oh, I’ve just seen that the introduction is online. The “outside the US” bit is on page XXXVI and the Larry Wall bit is on page XXXVIII).

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