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Tuesday, 13 March 2007 05:06

Among the taliban

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Fundamentalism is a frequent topic of conversation these days but it is discussed only in the context of religion. Overlooked is the fact that this attribute can exist among the operating system faithful as well - a breed I call the operating system taliban (hereafter referred to as the OST).

 
If, like me, you happen to be write anything about operating systems you'll come across them frequently. Their vision of tomorrow is yesterday; their system of belief knows but one mantra: I am who I am and I am right.

If you were to liken them to George W. Bush, he of the "you are with us or you are against us" credo, you would be shouted down loudly. Yet this very act of denial only proves the point - here is a breed which has just one point of view.

Invective is a major part of their armoury - if someone has written or said anything against the operating system which they espouse, then that individual has to be wrong. He or she also has to belong to the worst sections of society; in short, a pariah. And the best way to prevent debate is to abuse the debater. This approach underlines the insecurity that the OST feel but try telling that to this brand of true believer and you'll experience a firestorm.

Oft times, one happens to be the recipient of praise from this breed when, by chance, putting forth an argument with which the breed agrees. That's rare, but it happens. But just a small deviation will suffice to bring about an outpouring of righteous wrath.

Disagreeing with the OST is easy, given that this breed thinks in straight lines. When this happens, the OST have one of two approaches. If you've carefully crafted an argument based on years and years of talking and listening and advance the same in your own words, then the OST take one look at it and say: "Nah! can't be right. No figures are quoted. No survey is cited. All said off his own bat. Fool!"

The first time this happens, the individual who advances the argument tends to think that if he or she were to put forward a case based on a survey/study/scientific principle, then the OST would have no leg on which to stand. This, however, is not the case.


Once the OST spot an argument based on a study or survey, then the group or individual who did the survey or study is maligned. It is easy to find some grounds on which to malign all and sundry. If no grounds exist, then the worn-out cliche, "a survey can achieve any result provided you ask the right questions" is trotted out. Either way, the end result for the OST is the same - a sense of being right is created.

Sometimes simple name-calling is enough. Or one could always hint at the writer's perceived bias. The fact that bias - and nothing but bias - exists on the other side isn't apparent to the OST; remember, here we are dealing with the half-educated, the narrowest of the narrow-minded.

For people who belong to this breed, the adult principle of agreeing to disagree doesn't exist. By chance, if the OST happen to have any means of preventing the propagation of an opposing view, then your way will be blocked, seemingly for all the right reasons. "Unprofessional" and "unresearched" are two frequently used words. Quite often the context in which these words are used provides sufficient indication that the OST has no idea what they mean. But just try mentioning the similarities that the situation has with the way Pravda was run and you'll earn even more abuse.

The sad aspect of this phenomenon is that most of the operating systems championed by this breed do not need to be defended by any holy warriors. The technology stands well enough on its own and the OST only prevent its progress by choosing to act as uninvited advocates. But the insecure among the technology-crazy crowd need some blanket to cling to, some thumb to suck, to validate their existence. They aren't going away, not any time soon.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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