Slashdot, eWeek, Microsoft, the OSI, Groklaw, and me

Well, it seems I've made Slashdot, quite unintentionally. The article there references an eWeek article about how I proposed that the Open Source Initiative approve two Microsoft licenses, the Microsoft Permissive License and the Microsoft Community License. Here's a FAQ:

  1. Why is this story news in August 2006? Ya got me. Groklaw reported on it back in December 2005, when it was in fact news.
  2. Do you speak for Slashdot, eWeek, Microsoft, the OSI, Groklaw, or any of your past or present employers? No, only for myself.
  3. Is what the eWeek story says about you true? Yes, except that I no longer volunteer for ccil.org; I did some work for them in the past.
  4. Why did you propose the licenses for OSI approval? Because I believe they meet the elements of the Open Source Definition.
  5. Are the licenses basically similar to other OSI-approved licenses? Yes.
  6. Then why ask OSI to approve them? Because I want to encourage Microsoft to release software under an OSI-approved license, even if they feel it necessary to use their own license
  7. Microsoft release anything under an Open Source license? Surely you jest. No, actually. Microsoft released WiX under the Common Public License, an OSI-approved license. And there have been other such releases.
  8. Why did you withdraw the request for OSI approval? For a number of reasons, it's awkward for OSI to approve licenses that are not proposed by the author of the license. The OSI wants to keep all approved licenses on its site, and may not have copyright permission to do so. Furthermore, if the OSI wants to request changes, only the author can make them.
  9. Does that mean you have changed your mind about the licenses? No, only about the suitability of OSI approving them.
  10. Are you a shill/astroturfer for Microsoft? No.
  11. What's your view on open-source software? I use a lot of it and have released my own code and other stuff under several different open-source licenses.
  12. What do you want to do with your fifteen minutes of fame? Wait for it to pass.
  13. Can I leave a comment? Yes. However, as Le Guin says, I can take a little inaccuracy or a little accusation, but the combination is poison. I reserve the right to remove comments I think are poisonous.


The Elements of Style Revised

Get the little book!

I've been working off and on for the last few weeks on updating the original 1918 edition of William Strunk's short book on the basics of elementary composition. No, it isn't "Strunk and White"; White's additions are still in copyright and thus untouchable. Nor is it the book I would have written myself from scratch; that would look a lot more like Mapping the Model, except Rosemary Hake has already written it, so why should I? (Alas, that book is out of print....)

Here's part of the Reviser's Introduction, so you can see if it's for you:

My revisions to the original are founded on the principle that rules of usage and style cannot be drawn out of thin air, nor constructed a priori according to "logic"; they must depend on the actual practice of those who are generally acknowledged to be good writers. For a larger work founded on the same principles and giving much more detailed and up-to-date advice on usage, the reader is urged to consult the current edition of Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage, as I have done with both pleasure and profit while preparing this revision.

I have attempted to remain within the scope of the original. This book, therefore, is intended as a compendium of helpful advice to novice writers in freshman composition classes, not a code of general laws of writing for all works by all writers in all circumstances. Violations of the rules can be found within the book itself — this is neither inconsistent nor hypocritical, as The Elements of Style Revised is not a paper written for a composition class.

In updating Strunk's work from the 19th century to the late early 21st century, I have retained as much of Strunk's spirit and characteristic style as I could. I have removed the obsolete, the erroneous, and the merely idiosyncratic (Strunk's arbitrary dislike of "student body", for example) both from Strunk's own usage and from the rules laid down in his book. Like White, I have also added a few points to Chapters IV and V that seemed to me important enough to justify their presence, as well as removing Strunk's Chapter VI on spelling. I have not hesitated to replace Strunk's opinions with contrary ones, though I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of those I expected to require changing (strictures against split infinitives and final prepositions, as well as the preposterous which/that rule) did not appear in the 1918 edition at all.

Share and enjoy, and of course send me critiques.