I have been on a mission of late to monitor the online media for spin, half-truths, inaccuracies, and fallacies about our beloved Ubuntu. Why you ask? Because we're at that stage where code alone will not take us across the chasm. (According to one of my previous commenters, everyone who reads Planet Ubuntu has read "Crossing the Chasm" so I won't explain that.)
Malnews (n.) News about the computing industry and/or topics relating to computing technology, written with the intent to spread FUD, misinformation, and confusion (in any combination). Analogous to malware, it can be just as hostile, annoying and dishonest.
(I think I may be the first to use this term, so I figured I should at least try to define it.)
Somewhat unsurprisingly, there is no shortage of malnews.
Have you seen what I've seen lately? Wow! Pure confusion (and near hatred on Unity), the "Ubuntu is a kernel" crowd not liking the "new direction", the regulars who open with "I use Ubuntu" and then say "don't get me wrong", and then spew forth about a dozen incorrect statements. And, the guy who refuses to write about the session switcher. There's even one guy that launches into how interfaces are controversial (referring to Unity), then does the old "sleight of hand" trick substituting a quote from Linus about kernel interfaces being tricky. Some malnews is nearly magic.
So how do we spot this malnews? Sure, I could point you to the articles as I find them, but that doesn't scale. A better way is to have you use your favourite RSS reader (I use Thunderbird - based in Vancouver of course, and available in the Ubuntu Software Centre). Get that, or simply point your existing reader at this feed:
When you see a news article that smells like malnews, blog about it in a way that corrects the record. Don't bother commenting directly on that article's page or site, unless it's to steer traffic elsewhere. And, if there are inaccuracies (rather than just pure spin), then head on over to MediaBugs too: http://mediabugs.org/
While our developer friends merrily hack and sprint away in Dallas, the rest of us have plenty of work to do. Think of this effort as providing the air cover they need too remain focused on making Ubuntu fantastic for 11.04, and to not get demoralized in the process.
Some people might refer to this as "management". Hmm, I guess there's yet another role for us non-programmer types after all :)