Interesting thing in my inbox today from WikiLeaks. Read it and see what you think about it. Any SirsiDynix customers actually receive this and want to go on the record about it? From the WikiLeaks page:
This document was released only to a select number of existing customers of the company SirsiDynix, a proprietary library automation software vendor. It has not been released more broadly specifically because of the misinformation about open source software and possible libel per se against certain competitors contained therein.
SirsiDynix is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with one of the largest public libraries in the U.S. (Queens Borough, NY) and this document does illustrate the less-than-ethical nature of this company.
The source states that the document should be leaked so that everyone can see to what extent SirsiDynix will attempt to spread falsehoods and smear open source and the proponents of open source.
21 thoughts on “SirsiDynix Corp lobby paper against Open Source technologies”
As I said in my blog post about this, I’m really bothered by the attribution of the building open source ILSes as one of the “stupidest strategies ever undertaken” to Cliff Lynch without an actual citation. Abram is a librarian and a Fellow of the Special Libraries Association – he should know the importance of citing sources!
Yeah I found that weird and damning myself. Some of the stuff in that paper could be argued either way but it was clear what the slant is and I thought that appeal to expert and one out of context quote was weird and sketchy. Really, Georgia PINES was stupid?
One of the things it seems to be saying is that open source is good in some contexts (infrastructure like Linux and Apache, or end-user like Firefox), but it’s not suitable for an ILS, because the proprietary ones are already mature. I guess that makes sense if people want to keep using legacy software, but where will the innovation come from if that’s the approach they take?
Oh, SirsiDynix. Srsly? there are so many points in the document that made me hiccup with laughter. I like this quote: “Some of the most security-conscious entities, like the United States Department of Defense, restrict the use of open source software for fear that it could pose a terrorist opportunity.” (Oh noes! the terrorists are in ur library management system…doing..something…bad…)
That’ll be the same US DoD that recently released memo encouraging the use of OSS, then?
Oh, my. There are so many things I need to respond to Mr. Abrams about. This may be the thing that gets me off my butt to start my library blog.
For instance, “these projects do not have a compelling vision of what the end result will be and appear to be driven by library workersâ€™ desires rather than institutional strategies or end-user needs.” Oh, really? And the hateful enhancement process proprietary vendors use results in much more user-friendly features? In my humble experience, that simply results in a lot of mediocre interface tweaks that a critical mass of library workers find “neat” enough to vote for. The innovative, user-centered development is left by the wayside in favor of mediocre “enhancements.”
(My comments do not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer(s) or the City of Boston.)
Clifford Lynch has clarified his position somewhat.
I think it’s a pretty fair look at the challenges of software development on a large scale, for the library community, or anyone really. Any middle manager at Microsoft could have written this.
Except there’s a strong undercurrent of … venom? Maybe it is just Abram’s rhetorical style, which can be grating (ie not citing sources). This is essentially a memo to people that trust Sirsi, and he can say whatever he wants, and that’s fine. Some examples that jumped out at me though were:
“The open source process is too organic and lacks tight priorities and strong management oversight.”
“…the small libraries of Georgia who are captive to suboptimal
open source systems.”
“Testing is the responsibility of the original programmer and their buddies.”
Time has not been kind to Stephen. No sources, lots of logical fallacies, innuendo…this isn’t the kind of work he did when he was working for ProQuest Canada.
There are a lot of things you can ding OSS on. I don’t think he hit one of them. This reads more like propaganda points for salescritters than any kind of logical analysis.
I really miss the Stephen I met years ago. Coming south wasn’t good for him.
Stephen has posted about this and is responding to comments:
Stephen Abram has joined the dark side. What a pity. We currently use Innovative and are exploring open source options. Just to make certain we did a thorough job on our homework, we also obtained a quote from SirsiDynix. Their quote for annual maintenance was even higher than our Innovative annual maintenance fees. Needless to say, I was surprised.
Abram manages to slam a system that serves a heck of a lot of citizens in Georgia as being a stupid development after failing them for years with his own company’s offering, makes numerous hints about unsavoury aspects of OSS, even a terrorist connection no less, purposely mixes up library decisions to join PINES the consortium with Evergreen the system, and then calls for a “respectful” discussion when the cat is let out of the bag. I guess he didnâ€™t link open source to drowning kittens but this seems unworthy of a pundit of such stature. If anything, Lynch comes across even worse than Abram. I can sort of understand flailing around on a sinking ship as is the case for Abram, but someone should tell Lynch that Koha is more than a decade old now and Evergreen has been live for years. Indiana, Michigan and further up north, I think there are a bunch of big Canadian sites, once a sirsidynix stronghold. This firestorm might have made some sense in 1999, it should be embarrassing to everyone in 2009.
“These charts illustrate concepts, not actual numbers”
HA! This says it all.
On his blog today, Stephen Abram links to an article from Business Week called â€œThe Seven Deadly Sins of the Innovator.â€ Example: Lust: Innovating in a space you have no business being in. Is he thinking of open-source advocates? When did Abram suddenly go Dick Cheney on us? Stay classy, SA!
I work for a DoD contractor. For a majority of the applications we write, most of it is based off of open source. I imagine this is yet another topic Abram speaks of that he knows nothing about.
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