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Library of Congress's $3M Deal With Microsoft

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the just-haggling-over-the-price dept.

Microsoft 297

Cory Doctorow sounds the alarm over a Library of Congress deal with Microsoft that will have collections locked up in Silverlight. I'll double the Microsoft deal and offer them $6M in perl scripts and an infinite value of free OS software if they let me (or Google or any other honest company) publish their collections in free formats. "This deal involves the donation of 'technology, services and funding' (e.g., mostly not money) with a purported value of $3M from Microsoft to the Library of Congress. The Library, in turn, agrees to put kiosks running Vista in the library and to use Microsoft Silverlight to 'help power the library's new Web site, www.myloc.gov.'"

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297 comments

where's the advantage? (5, Insightful)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537590)

Okay so they traded off having to use use silverlight in order to use Vista kiosks? That seems like a bit of a lose-lose deal to me. They must have some pretty stupid negotiators. Plus, how could anyone be so stupid that they put something that important into a super proprietary format?!

Re:where's the advantage? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22537644)

Well, we are running a deficit. I guess the government needed the $3 million dollars.

Re:where's the advantage? (5, Informative)

HappySmileMan (1088123) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537650)

Yes they are stupid about it, it IS a lose lose situation, anyone want to email the Library of Congress? Time for some registered voters to get involved instead of arguing on slashdot. http://www.loc.gov/help/contact-general.html [loc.gov] That;s the contaxct info, I'm not sure which of those categories it falls under, but someone should write out an email and have a load of people send it in. Congress don't listen to common sense, they DO listen to voters.

Re:where's the advantage? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22538492)

HAHAHA! Linux users are such a small group that the Congress of The United States won't care what the hell a bunch of kids think... YOU LOST ONCE MORE!!!!! Perhaps you can send an e-mail to the Congress of WoW??? Hahahaha.
So, the other government branches are following the DoD and deactivating any project that involves Linux or Open Source software... Pretty good. All Open Source freaks should follow Fidel Castro and retire!
SOFTWARE IS FOR PROFIT!!!! AND REAL MEN USE WINDOWS!!!

Re:where's the advantage? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22538532)

To Whom It May Concern:

In my opinion, it is a bad idea to restrict access to some of this nation's most prized possessions by requiring a non-standardized, non-open software package in order to access valuable information both in an online format and to visitors at the Library in Washington D.C.

Microsoft's Silverlight is an unproven and immature new technology. While Microsoft believes that the software will become very valuable, it does so by restricting access to operating systems and web browsers that only Microsoft deems worthy of using this new technology. With respect to Microsoft's anti-trust history, it would behoove the Library of Congress to steer clear of this technology. Especially considering several states fear Silverlight may be a source of future anti-trust violations.

I would strongly urge you to reconsider implementing Microsoft's Silverlight in favor of an open and freely available technology such as AJAX, SVG, and H.264. By using open and free standards and technology, you will be: 1. Allowing open access to all citizens, not just those deemed worthy by Microsoft. 2. Guaranteeing open access to all citizens for the foreseeable future, without restrictions imposed by Microsoft as upgrading becomes a necessity. 3. Guaranteeing open access to all citizens for the foreseeable future, should Microsoft demand a fee for access to its technology. 4. Allowing open access to all citizens without requiring them to bow to Microsoft's restrictive licensing agreement.

Thank you,
(your name here)

Re:where's the advantage? (5, Informative)

nametaken (610866) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538570)

Cataloging and Acquisitions I would think...
http://www.loc.gov/aba/contact/ [loc.gov]

All the way at the bottom.

I'm using this one, someone please post if there's a more appropriate place.

Re:where's the advantage? (1)

kc2keo (694222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537660)

I don't like this type of deal as it will lock-in to proprietary formats. But hey I think money talks and maybe the negotiators are only looking into the short term benefits. In the long term there will probably be problems when M$ decides to change the format once again making the format used to create lots of documents in Office 2007 either useless, or conversion problems, or maybe the converter will work well? Only time shall tell if this actually goes through.

Re:where's the advantage? (5, Informative)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537802)

The important thing is not the kiosks, but if they also are going to run Silverlight on the publicly accessible parts of their services. In that case they are limiting the access to their records to those that are able to run Silverlight.

where's the disadvantage? (1, Informative)

Jaktar (975138) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537994)

In that case they are limiting the access to their records to those that are able to run Silverlight.
Which is just about any computer that has an OS installed and is turned on....

http://www.mono-project.com/Moonlight [mono-project.com]

http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/development_tools/silverlight.html [apple.com]

It's just another piece of software that will need to be installed to access information. They haven't excluded anyone that I am aware of, unless you're still using a Commodore VIC-20.

Re:where's the disadvantage? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22538258)

It's patent encumbered and not compatible with the GPL. It's not an open platform like HTML/CSS/JS etc. See this comment [slashdot.org]

Re:where's the disadvantage? (5, Insightful)

burner (8666) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538330)

Not every network-connected computing device is a desktop PC. Citizens with handhelds, rich-interface cell phones, and internet tables all should be able to access the information at the library of congress. Indeed, even users without access to install specialized plugins should have access.

There's really no need for silverlight here.

Re:where's the advantage? (3, Informative)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537880)

Its not a trade off, TFA states that the plan is to use both: silverlight (for their website) and vista locally for their kiosks.

Re:where's the advantage? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22538008)

The benefit is wizzy 3d effects!

I hope all the linux users here like using Novell's distro, here's some evidence that Silverlight is entirely patent encumbered

"to avoid patent problems over Silverlight, when using or developing Mono's implementation (known as Moonlight), it's best to get/download Moonlight from Novell which will include patent coverage."

Moonlight will be able to run on any distro supported by Mono, which is most of the major distros. Under the terms of the agreements we have with Microsoft, Novell customers are covered by Microsoft's covenant not to sue over patents. In terms of Moonlight, that means that, if you download Moonlight from Novell (which is free of charge), you are considered a Novell customer of Moonlight, whether you run it on SUSE Linux Enterprise or on another distribution. If you get the Moonlight code from elsewhere, you are not considered a Novell customer, and so don't fall within the covenant.
That's Miguel and Novell speaking.

Re:where's the advantage? (2, Interesting)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538412)

Wow, I bet that's flying off the servers.

At the very least they seem to be missing the point of free software. IF you're going to restrict it that much, why fucking bother?

Silverlight is only the front end. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22538470)

Silverlight is only the front end. The data format can be anything.

Related (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537596)

I can't buy coca cola in toooons of places including my school. Pepsi paid all the retailers to stock only pepsi not coke. Very much the same but pepsi hasn't got taken down over it yet so i figure neither will MS.

Re:Related (5, Insightful)

l2718 (514756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537704)

Imagine that in order to drink these Pepsi bottles from your school, one needs a special bottle-opener which is only sold by Pepsi for $100, and that it's illegal (for good reasons) to share your bottle opener with your friends, so each of you needs to buy your own. Assume also that Coca-Cola bottles can be opened by any old bottle-opener, including bottle-openers you make yourself, and that it's perfectly legal to share bottle openers for Coca-Cola bottles. Would you still be OK with Pepsi buying off the retailer to only stock Pepsi?

Re:Related (5, Funny)

node 3 (115640) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538072)

Yeah, I'd be fine with that so long as I can still readily buy Cokes elsewhere, or even if I preferred Pepsi in the first place. What I *wouldn't* be fine with is having to buy a Pepsi-opener in order to view publicly-funded archives of my nation's history (er, to drink the free soda my government is entrusted with preserving for the benefit of all humankind--hey, it was *your* analogy!).

Re:Related (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22538140)

Ok, lets take this a step further:

Lets say Apple purchases Coke. And then they change the bottle so that any nonofficial iBottle opener will ruin the taste of the product.

How would you feel about that?

Is the US government this poor? (2, Interesting)

l2718 (514756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537630)

Greanted, $3M is not petty cash, but surely that's the "sticker price" of the software to be installed (e.g. on the Vista kiosks), not the cost to Microsoft or the true cost after negotiations. So is LOC so cash-strapped that they can't afford to create their website without this ``donation'' ?

Re:Is the US government this poor? (3, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537968)

So is LOC so cash-strapped that they can't afford to create their website without this ``donation'' ?
The LoC has to pick and choose their battles when it comes to funding requests. They do a lot of stuff off budget by collaborating with Centers, Foundations, Institutes, etc.

The LoC also gives away a lot of money, in the form of grants, for fellowships & university programs. So they could cut some of that, but someone else will feel the pain.

Re:Is the US government this poor? (1)

STrinity (723872) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538066)

There's a difference between being poor and having to meet a budget.

Silverlight (1)

LiENUS (207736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537632)

Remaking myloc.gov in silverlight doesn't bother me as long as they don't lock out non-silverlight enabled browsers. If I suddenly can't browse a government website that is at least partially funded with my tax dollars then I'm taking my money elsewhere! err wait... nevermind...

Re:Silverlight (1)

milsoRgen (1016505) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537734)

Remaking myloc.gov in silverlight doesn't bother me as long as they don't lock out non-silverlight enabled browsers.
I agree, and I must say the summary starts off somewhat misleading. The website will use MS-Flash, the collections aren't going to be locked into any proprietary MS format.

Microsoft Silverlight, a graphical browser plug-in, will help power the library's new Web site, www.myloc.gov, where users will be able to access and personalize interactive materials.
Really what's one proprietary format over another, granted Silverlight seems to be Windows only. Still the meat and potatoes of what the library does is the same old same old.

Re:Silverlight (1, Informative)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537914)

Seems like you asked and answered the crucial question: Really what's one proprietary format over another, granted Silverlight seems to be Windows only.

Re:Silverlight (1)

arotenbe (1203922) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538004)

No one said Silverlight is Windows only. There is already support on OS X, and full Linux support is coming.

Re:Silverlight (1)

milsoRgen (1016505) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538058)

So, some enterprising group of users will write a linux binary...
But when the choice comes down to Microsoft or Adobe... Hmmmm, neither one thank you. But Flash at least is a necessary evil at times. Nothing to get worked up about.

But this irrational hatred of Silverlight is a bit beyond me. Big fucking deal, at least it's attempting to become a competitor of Adobe Flash. Competition spurs innovation and all that jazz.

Personally I could care less what format the library is using for their interactive menus on their website. Just as long as the Library Of Congress does what they do best, be the de facto national library with one of the greatest collections of print the world has thus far seen.

Re:Silverlight (1)

LiENUS (207736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537950)

Really what's one proprietary format over another, granted Silverlight seems to be Windows only. Still the meat and potatoes of what the library does is the same old same old.
Whats the other proprietary format? HTML is quite cross platform and works just fine in my web browser without any proprietary plugins. myloc.gov doesn't appear to have any issues loading right now.

Re:Silverlight (2, Informative)

milsoRgen (1016505) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538088)

Whats the other proprietary format?
Adobe Flash [wikipedia.org]
Such as found on the front page, http://www.loc.gov/ [loc.gov] (homepage/swf/main.swf)

Re:Silverlight (1)

LiENUS (207736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538332)

I don't see any flash. http://www.loc.gov/ [loc.gov] is perfectly navigable without any proprietary plug ins whatsoever. As I said, I'm not concerned about them including Silverlight. I am concerned about the website being navigable only with Silverlight. Sure you can argue a point I'm not making. But I could also argue that mashed potatoes are far better than macaroni and cheese and as such you are wrong.

Re:Silverlight (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538442)

What on earth is so wrong about HTML? :(

Re:Silverlight (1)

Jaktar (975138) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538226)

seems to be Windows only
Incorrect, Silverlight is supported in Linux and Mac.

Re:Silverlight (1)

domatic (1128127) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538558)

The core is but Silverlight can easily make direct use of Windows API calls. MS will go out of their way to make impure Silverlight use the norm. This thing is a trojan horse to needing Windows to use the web.

Re:Silverlight (1)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537746)

Sounds like a good enough reason to write your representatives and let them know how you feel about where your tax dollars are going.

Re:Silverlight (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538252)

ms is doing it for free you dumbass. its a DONATION of 3 million in software.

Re:Silverlight (1)

LiENUS (207736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538434)

They are doing it in exchange for the library of congress using Silverlight on their web page. Sure no money is changing hands but there is consideration given.

Re:Silverlight - it's actually illegal! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22537772)

It's actually illegal to remove Section 508 compliance from a government website (hence why many of them suck so much)... and Silverlight, true to typical usages of it, will break that compliance in a big way. So Microsoft (and LOC's move) may actually be illegal depending on how it's implemented. I would hope that Cory, or anybody who has some sway, will realize this and call them on it.

I actually make an effort (have since 1996) to design every one of my sites I run to be complaint (as much as possible) with section 508 Handicap Web Accessibility rules. I used to use Bobby at CAST to do some preliminary checks. I'm actually appalled how many of the sites out there are broken on those simple accounts (table nesting, bad CSS and not ALT tags), and now even thinking about compliance on mobile browsers (iPhone, Palm, Windows Mobile, Symbian, etc.) that these sites also suffer from in accessibility.

Re:Silverlight - it's actually illegal! (2, Insightful)

LiENUS (207736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538276)

So Microsoft (and LOC's move) may actually be illegal depending on how it's implemented.

Fortunately We know Microsoft has an excellent policy for when their product is not compatible with the law. Lobby, bribe and cheat until the law is twisted into allowing their product to resemble compliance.

Re:Silverlight (1)

l2718 (514756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537782)

Remaking myloc.gov in silverlight doesn't bother me as long as they don't lock out non-silverlight enabled browsers. If I suddenly can't browse a government website

that is at least partially funded with my tax dollars then I'm taking my money elsewhere! err wait... nevermind...

Well, if LoC had a website, and then MS paid them to reproduce all the functionality in Silverlight, that would be mostly fine (though it would complicate managing the website for no good reason). But the idea here seems to be to add new functionality that will only work for Microsoft's customers.

This kind of behaviour is not without precedent. For example. in some states building codes were drafted by industry associations, which were then awarded copyright in the regulations -- so you had to pay a private company in order to read mandatory state law. At least here MS isn't interfering with the content of the LoC. The real concern would start when they will announce the partnership to "digitize all of the LoC collection", of course into digital formats only readable by MS-written software.

Re:Silverlight (1)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537792)

Remaking myloc.gov in silverlight doesn't bother me as long as they don't lock out non-silverlight enabled browsers. If I suddenly can't browse a government website that is at least partially funded with my tax dollars then I'm taking my money elsewhere! err wait... nevermind...

I think this is the intent. Get users to downlaod and install Silverlight into Firefox. Many har having issues too. Can't beat them, destabilize them. Plus MS gets code into the browser once again. But not me, I see that Silverlight Icon, I will just move on.

Unproven Technology (4, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537636)

Aside from vendor lock-in, this product is far too new to be relying on like this.

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22537642)

Proof that Microsoft is into open standards. I guess all their talk over the past few days wasn't just bullshit.

The LoC better make sure they dont make a profit selling gift shop junk or they could get sued.

It is estimated that the print holdings of the Library of Congress would, if digitized and stored as plain text, constitute 17 to 20 terabytes of information.

Or 200 terabytes in MS formats.

So? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22537656)

So when things break, they can get the standard, RTFM? response that seems typical (albiet a sterotype) of the OSS community? Or they can pick up the phone can call MS, who does not wish to tarnish a reputation by letting the LOC down. That would be some reallllllly bad publicity. I'm not saying that MS and Silverlight are the answer, but having accountable support (for what it may be worth) is a nice ace to have in your pocket. It sure beats the atypical RTFM.

Don't use /. enough to warrant an account.

Re:So? (2, Informative)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537930)

Or they could do it with (amongst others and just as big names I know): Google, Redhat, Novell, Canonical and dozens of other companies who are FOSS and provide paying customers with support.

It isn't just proprietary, closed-source companies who offer support.

Re:So? (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538318)

Or they could do it with (amongst others and just as big names I know): Google, Redhat, Novell, Canonical and dozens of other companies who are FOSS and provide paying customers with support.

Yes, and more to the point, this is the Federal Government we're talking about here, with the resources to hire the right people and provide in-house support if it really needed to do so. The need for support is simply not a deciding factor in this case ... the GP doesn't have the bigger picture. Honestly, the Feds would be far better off coming up with their own solution to the problem: hire somebody really good to lay out the system and then build a staff to maintain and improve it. In the long run, they'll end up with a system that will do what they want, not what Microsoft tells them they want, and serves the needs of We the People.

It isn't just proprietary, closed-source companies who offer support.

Not only offer it, but in Red Hat's case it's their bread-and-butter.

Re:So? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538356)

so why didn't google or redhat offer to do it? OSS crowd hypocrite much?

Re:So? (3, Interesting)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537946)

Bad publicity? Like when MS bought HotMail? Replaced the Free Software with their own stuff, and the site failed under the load? Not like this would be the first time, for sure...

Locked up? (4, Interesting)

Bryan Ischo (893) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537658)

Can someone explain to me where the term "locked up" applies to this news article? I read the (very brief) article linked to - and didn't see how anything in the library would become 'locked up', which I assume to mean, available only to people using Windows software. Yeah, they're going to accept some 'donations' of OS's and stuff (so Microsoft spends $10 burning a bunch of CDs and calls it a multi-million-dollar donation, with all the relevent tax perks as well - why does the government let them get away with this?) for their new kiosks (which if my experience with Windows kiosks is anything to go by, will be sitting at a blue screen or an empty Windows desktop 50% of the time), but how does this equal anything being 'locked up'?

Re:Locked up? (5, Informative)

LiENUS (207736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537690)

The concern is over the use of Silverlight for the website. Silverlight as of yet does not have a end-user ready version for several operating systems, including free ones such as Linux. There is however a Moonlight project by the Mono guys to bring Silverlight to those operating systems.

Re:Locked up? (1)

Bryan Ischo (893) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537922)

Thank you very much, that answers my question. I didn't know what 'Silverlight' was but now that you've explained it to me I can see what the problem is.

Re:Locked up? (3, Insightful)

linumax (910946) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538064)

Firstly, I happily use Silverlight on Leopard, no problems at all, but don't know the status of Moonlight on GNU/Linux.

Secondly, I'm just wondering, is there a clause in the deal with MS that prohibits LoC from presenting same information in any other format or

Google or any other honest company
can also join in and provide the similar service in an open format? Like say, when you go to www.myloc.gov and wanna see a book/item, you get to choose:

  • Silverlight
  • Flash
  • JPEG

In case MS gets any sort of ruling power on how myloc.gov is run then that's something to worry about.


PS: "honest company"? What does that even mean?!!

Re:Locked up? (2, Insightful)

Eddy Luten (1166889) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537724)

Because the government also knows, that the cost and value of a product doesn't lie in its carrier. E.g.: The value of the United States' Constitution isn't $1.00 simply because it's written on a sheet of parchment with cheap ink.

Re:Locked up? (1)

NekoIncardine (838965) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537876)

The way it's treated these days, it's not that much higher than that anymore.

Re:Locked up? (1)

Eddy Luten (1166889) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537898)

That would only bring down the value of the current Government, not of the foundation it is built upon.

It's the website, not the kiosks (1)

l2718 (514756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537824)

how does this equal anything being 'locked up'?

The donations of the kiosks don't lock up anything. But making the website depend on a media format that is not a common web standard and is furthermore specific to Microsoft risks a situation where the only way to get the full functionality of the LoC website would be to install Internet Explorer.

Re:It's the website, not the kiosks (2, Insightful)

LiENUS (207736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537980)

But making the website depend on a media format that is not a common web standard and is furthermore specific to Microsoft risks a situation where the only way to get the full functionality of the LoC website would be to install Internet Explorer.
I know its a bit pedantic but is "risks" really an appropriate term to use? I think that "hopes to achieve" would be a better description of whats going on.

Re:Locked up? (1)

cmacb (547347) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538364)

That term may in fact be hyperbolic, depending on what they actually use it for. On the other hand I've worked with government IT people who didn't know their ass from a hole in the ground, and with government IT consultants who did know their ass from a hole in the ground (but still didn't know anything about IT).

They (the two groups above) do dumb-ass things like store archival documents in Word format, and then when they discover that new versions of Word won't read them, load old versions of Word, print the documents, scan them back in using "Acrobat" scanners that convert the documents to pictures and poorly OCRed text.

These people need to be protected from shooting themselves, and taxpayers in the foot when ten years down the road they find again that they have lost all backups and have only the data in these kiosks to go from (not saying this is the plan, just saying that given the players, stranger things have happened).

Microsoft is ferociously promoting Silverlight as an alternative to just about everything, but somehow with all their billions, they haven't had a chance yet to port it to other OSs. I find this very suspect. As a new product, minus all the baggage that comes with Windows and Office, this would be a perfect opportunity for full and open specs, plus at least prototype implementations in all the major OSs, Open Source, and all. So far though, it looks like just another wedge product to get people into the mindset that you just HAVE to run Windows to operate in the modern world.

Don't buy that concept.

Honest? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22537662)

So Google is deemed "honest" by virtue of simply NOT being Microsoft?

Re:Honest? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22538178)

I think that's an honest question. Google has not been "evil" to the extent that Microsoft has, but it seems like people here give them a free pass. Google benefits from and actively encourages domain parking, which I think most of us agree is one of the sleaziest "businesses" on the web. Again, that's nothing compared to what Microsoft has done, but that doesn't mean it's nothing.

Marketing (1)

Eddy Luten (1166889) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537666)

I know what comments are coming up but I will have to admit that this was a pretty clever marketing move to expose Silverlight.

Re:Marketing (1)

weicco (645927) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537848)

And very bad summary from Slashdot. Silverlight and Perl is like JavaScript and PHP, apples and oranges.

Sneaky devils (0, Redundant)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537686)

By giving a grant to the largest library in the Land, they strongarm the LoC into remaking their website to be the next promo for Microsoft's proposed Flash-killer. And in the spirit of accessability, they force all visitors to download silverlight, because they couldn't use the currently-dominent Flash.

Go figure :/

Why did they make Silverlight? (1)

Neuticle (255200) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538116)

Considering how omnipresent Flash is today, in good and bad implementations*, why did MS decide to make Silverlight and push it so hard? I've read a bit about it, but I missed the boat on the big publicity when it was first announced. To me it just seems like a Flash-clone, not something new and innovative.

Is this just classical MS jealousy over seeing someone else dominate a market and wanting that market, even if they don't already compete there? Embrace, Extend, Extinguish etc

Are there any web developers excited over advantages over flash? Or is it just one of those thing you'll have to learn because MS is shoveling it on you?

I'm actually curious as to what people think here.

*there are times I think it's used just because some PHB wants to "have flash" on the page e.g. flash buttons for simple hyperlinks

Alternatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22537740)

Can't we (the nerds and geeks, aka people who actually use libraries) just construct a website for the LoC and give it to them say it's "worth 3 million". true, we may not be able to supply hardware, but surely something can be done on the software end.

Re:Alternatives (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538314)

If we nerds and geeks codes it, it'll run on any old P2 they have around in the basement awaiting destruction.

Not enough information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22537770)

First of all, why don't people link directly to the source article? The link on BoingBoing provides absolutely nothing of value. That being said, the source article is lacking any kind of useful details. There is not enough information available to draw the usual, predictable conclusion Slashdotters would like to. It sounds like they are just going to install Vista-based kiosks in the LoC and launch a new website based on Silverlight. I don't care about the kiosks, and while the website might be cause for concern worse things have happened. I still say we need more information to make an informed decision. Oh wait, I forgot: this is Slashdot. COMMENCE WITH THE KNEE JERKING!

LOC website = horrible (4, Interesting)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537788)

As I noted on Slashdot recently [slashdot.org] , the library of congress website is possibly the most dysfunctional site on the internet. If you ever browse their collections, it's literally impossible to get a permanent URL (which makes it incredibly difficult to copy their public domain stuff to Wikipedia - all the URLs to confirm the copyright status break after an hour) What's even worse, it feels like somebody spent a lot of my taxpayer money to put together something that is functionally useless.

Silverlight on Linux (3, Informative)

jdh28 (19903) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537794)

Re:Silverlight on Linux (4, Insightful)

Pichu0102 (916292) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537854)

That's not the point. The point is that it's a Microsoft controlled format, and Microsoft has a track record of continually updating their software, which in turns, often ends up breaking compatibility with free implementations of said software, making it a game a perpetual catch-up to be able to read their formats. Not to mention, this is a government website, which shouldn't be forcing people to use a certain operating system just to view their website.

Re:Silverlight on Linux (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22538284)

Microsoft has a track record of continually updating their software, which in turns, often ends up breaking compatibility with free implementations of said software, making it a game a perpetual catch-up to be able to read their formats.

Hell, it breaks compatibility with Microsoft software, too! Ask anyone who has spent long, boring hours reformatting .doc files for the latest version of Office.

Which kinda explains how they will get their $3M back. "Gee, it doesn't work with our new Silverlight? Yeah, we'll be glad to come in and fix it, but we gotta charge now." Lather, rinse, repeat.

Like any drug dealer on the street: the first one's free!

Re:Silverlight on Linux (2, Informative)

TheNetAvenger (624455) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538448)

Actually that is NOT the point either.

What is the most horrible thing that could be? Gasp, the UI is built by Microsoft technology? Would you be more happy with Flash Instead? You simply can't do as light or rich UI without a technology like Silverlight unless you buy into Adobe and Flash, which still has many parts undocumented, in contrast to Silverlight.

Silverlight also implies two things.
1) The images will all be part of the new JPEG standard(See Microsoft HD Photo approved as Next JPEG Standard)
2) The video will also be a standard, VC-1.

What would you rather have content stored in?

These are 'the' two leading standards of the day with the expection of MPEG4 which doesn't perform as well as VC1 and there are additional licensing issues with real MPEG4 content.

Re:Silverlight on Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22538454)

Yes, they should have gone for Flash, which is ... controled by Adobe. This is just another "OMG it's Microsoft, it is bad!" article.

Re:Silverlight on Linux (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537912)

The first step of MS's strategy is always embrace....

Re:Silverlight on Linux (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538176)

Well, to be fair, one is *supposed* to "embrace and extend" their own formats. The problem is when MS embraces some open standard, then extends it in a way that breaks the actual *open* version of the standard.

This is still a bad idea, but not because of "embrace and extend".

Re:Silverlight on Linux (1)

HappySmileMan (1088123) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537918)

No Moonlight is planned for Linux, which will always be behind Silverlight, because Microsoft won't give them the specs until AFTER each new release of Silverlight, which could mean months of cathup after every Silverlight release. And there's no guarantee that Microsoft will continue giving them these specs.

Re:Silverlight on Linux (1)

LiENUS (207736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538020)

No Moonlight is planned for Linux, which will always be behind Silverlight, because Microsoft won't give them the specs until AFTER each new release of Silverlight, which could mean months of cathup after every Silverlight release. And there's no guarantee that Microsoft will continue giving them these specs. I don't think this is entirely accurate. In the future possibly but as of right now the Mono guys actually have quite a good relationship with Microsoft. They regularly communicate with Microsoft developers so once moonlight gets caught up they should be able to stay in sync with Silverlight until Microsoft decides they've had enough and cuts them off.

Re:Silverlight on Linux (3, Insightful)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538124)

Yea, it's funny how Microsoft is cooperative with third party developers when they are losing, trying to catch up to a dominant format (Flash). Let's say they succeed in overtaking Flash, and Silverlight becomes the dominant format for interactive applets. How long do you think Microsoft will continue to aid the linux developers? I give 'em 5 minutes, tops.

Re:Silverlight on Linux (1)

LiENUS (207736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538234)

Yea, it's funny how Microsoft is cooperative with third party developers when they are losing, trying to catch up to a dominant format (Flash). Let's say they succeed in overtaking Flash, and Silverlight becomes the dominant format for interactive applets. How long do you think Microsoft will continue to aid the linux developers? I give 'em 5 minutes, tops.
I won't disagree with this statement but I would like to add that the Microsoft developers I have spoken with that are communicating with Mono developers seem genuinely interested in assisting the Mono guys. I just hope they are able to continue the relationship after Microsoft has what it wants. But I don't expect them to be able to.

Re:Silverlight on Linux (3, Insightful)

HappySmileMan (1088123) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538406)

I won't disagree with this statement but I would like to add that the Microsoft developers I have spoken with that are communicating with Mono developers seem genuinely interested in assisting the Mono guys. I just hope they are able to continue the relationship after Microsoft has what it wants. But I don't expect them to be able to.
That's the problem, most of Microsofts developers probably don't have a problem helping other developers. But the developers don't make the desicions, the businessmen do, adn the businessmen don't give a shit about anything except how much money they can make by screwing people over.

Re:Silverlight on Linux (1)

asamad (658115) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538322)

Sounds like when M$ was in bed with IBM helping them with OS/2...

They were ever so helpful :) until they did not need to be

Re:Silverlight on Linux (1)

Gideon Fubar (833343) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538516)

Or when they helped SEGA develop the Dreamcast, including it's oh-so-unbreakable copy protection system.

Re:Silverlight on Linux (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538098)

No Moonlight is planned for Linux, which will always be behind Silverlight, because Microsoft won't give them the specs until AFTER each new release of Silverlight, which could mean months of cathup after every Silverlight release

So? You think sites using Silverlight are going to immediately upgrade to each new version, and immediately start using features that aren't in the old version? That's not what happens in the real world. What happens is that it takes sites months or years to decide to go to the new version of this kind of thing, which will give Moonlight plenty of time to catch up.

Re:Silverlight on Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22537976)

moonlight & mono and you are evil!

Another 50 Years (3, Insightful)

buravirgil (137856) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537812)

This country's hypocrisies are a persistent, petty and subtle agenda of a few, tired dying people. The LoC was never the people's library in practice so much as a promise...folk recordings represented that promise crying out from a stubborn reality that not everbody can afford to make a trip to D.C., stay at a hotel, and view the library's contents.

And the internet was going to change that...and dying, dying dying Micro$oft steps in to handle the bottleneck.

Not for another 50 years now will the promise of the LoC be realized because somebody's daddy is somebody's daddy in America

Re:Another 50 Years (4, Interesting)

Moonpie Madness (764217) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538016)

SO TRUE!

I remember actually going to the library of congress, and they refused to allow me in. Why? Because I didn't actually have anything specific to research... I just wanted to check out what the library had to offer, browse around, read a book or two. Of course I waited five minutes and invented a research topic, but nonetheless it's absurd not to allow me, a taxpayer access to my library.

Bureaucracy.

News story from January (2, Interesting)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537840)

I hate to pick on Slashdot (okay, no I don't) - but this was "news" back in mid-January [gcn.com] .

I'll be curious to see how this plays out. Currently the LOC uses a lot of Flash. After reading the article (the one I linked above, not the non-informative blog post in this /. "story") it sounds like the LOC will be using Silverlight in a specific, probably limited, fashion. It'd be nice to get more information, though. From what little information is available, it's possible that MS proposed this as a new project - adding content, not replacing current LOC web materials.

In any case it seems like a silly thing to do unless there's something Silverlight does that Flash doesn't do (given that the LOC site already uses Flash). Plus Silverlight currently doesn't include accessibility support, which to my mind would make it a non-starter for a government website.

Accesibility Standards? (2, Interesting)

Sweetwater (1245342) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537844)

I'm not sure about Silverlight's ability to conform to accessibility standards. Are not all American Government websites required to be accessible? I mean, I know a site can have different entry points for different browsers and accessibility levels, but doesn't this seem very counter productive?

Re:Accesibility Standards? (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538000)

Its probably EASIER to make a site accessible for the disabled using Flash, Silverlight, fucking ActiveX, whatever, than with straight XHTML/CSS. The former technologies have the features built in, and can more reliably interact with screen readers and whatsnot. Of course, the little 5 minutes 2 cent demos you see if you google for Silverlight don't use it, but its fairly simple. And definately easier to learn than the very simple, but incredibly numerous details you need to think about in XHTML for the disabled.

Re:Accesibility Standards? (1)

BrentH (1154987) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538184)

The idea here is that with proper (x)html and css the enduser can decide how the content is viewed, not you the webdisgner. Provided the end user can parse the (x)html into something he/she can understand (with textreaders or large fonts or braille readers), the user can always use the content. With webdesigners using things like flash/silverlight the options an end user has are limited.

Money, bribery & Free software (4, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537862)

If you're tired of seeing these things happening, support Lawrence Lessig's movement "Change Congress" and if you happen to vote in California 12th in the Congress elections, take a look. http://lessig08.org/ [lessig08.org]

Bad decisions like this one are either caused by incompetence or economy of influence. Time to change congress!

Re:Money, bribery & Free software (2, Interesting)

xant (99438) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538264)

You bet. The minute he makes up his damn mind to run, I'm on the phone with my debit card out for a donation.

myloc.gov (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22537940)

last time i checked, loc.gov works just fine, no need to put the latest fad prefix on it.

(they should regester iloc.gov and eloc.gov just to be sure though!)

LOC Has no IT Staff...? (0, Redundant)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 6 years ago | (#22537982)

No knowledge of open source?

No knowledge of the LONG TERM issues of proprietary data formats?

No knowledge of the lock in issues involved in mandating only one OS & hardware platform?

You think the LOC IT department can't read the publications it gets every month?

Re:LOC Has no IT Staff...? (2, Insightful)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538162)

You make the mistake of assuming that they care about these issues.

No knowledge of open source?

No caring, possibly. You'd likely be amazed how many people don't even know Linux exists. Computers run Windows, or they are Macs. Then there are people who know, but see the Linux crowd as a bunch of techie extremists who are adverse to easy interfaces. (Emacs, I'm looking at you, yes I am).

No knowledge of the LONG TERM issues of proprietary data formats?

It's more likely that they don't see it as important. This may be dumb to us in the know, but they are more likely thinking that since they use Microsoft products, it makes sense to store their data in Microsoft formats.

No knowledge of the lock in issues involved in mandating only one OS & hardware platform?

Like it or not, to the great majority of PC users, there *is* only one OS and computer type. That's not going to change any time soon. Perhaps when Ubuntu goes mainstream in a big way things might start to change, but that won't be quick.

You think the LOC IT department can't read the publications it gets every month?

Don't know, but I'm pretty certain the guys they hire to maintain this stuff are not the people having dinner and playing golf with the Microsoft Reps and deciding strategy.

be sure to contact mray@loc.gov (2, Informative)

goffster (1104287) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538028)

Tell him what you think!

Calling wolf again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22538036)

Hmmm ... it's not exactly a reliable source, is it?

"Cory Doctorow sounds the alarm ..."

As he so often does. That guy seems to live in a constant state of hysteria -- mostly about nothing at all. I think he basically does it for attention, like a naughty child.

That said, Silverlight is bad news for an open Internet that's not controlled by any one company through proprietary technology. But it's not clear from this "article" precisely what the Library has promised in terms of using it. How much content will be in it? Will any of this content be available in other forms? Will the Library lock-out users who haven't installed (or won't install) Silverlight?

I don't like or trust Microsoft, and I think it could very well be bribing the Library into doing something quite indefensible here. Microsoft has a quite appalling record, and there's now doubt of that. But I think it's important to be fair to the Library, and we'd need to know much more about exactly what it is doing before "sounding the alarm".

Post a message to the LOC! (2, Insightful)

EMR (13768) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538112)

I just sent them a message explaining the issues with choosing a proprietary technology to hold the LOC content on their website via their Contact US form on the mylog.gov website. Explaining the track record and history of Microsoft is to change the technology midstream, or abandon it, (ie. Play for Sure and the new Zune) also it does not allow FULL and OPEN access by ALL people. And that locking that content in Silverlight would require me having to purchase a new computer, new OS, PLUS several companion products (anti-virus, anti-spyware etc..) Just to view content semi-securely and safely.

How is this "locking in their collection" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22538394)

According to the article, they are just providing the software for the presentation layer. They are not converting any backend content to a MS specific format. How is this any different than using Flash? I am sure that a bunch of "perl" scripts and CSS won't create the snazzy interactive interfaces that the library of congress is looking to create. Sensational slashdotting...

Silverlight and Firefox (2, Interesting)

donatzsky (91033) | more than 6 years ago | (#22538556)

Am I the only one that can't get Silverlight to work with Firefox on Windows? I have now tried on two different machines, several times, with the same result.
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