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'Open Source' Fans Scoff at Gore Web Site

Heard on the Beat

May 03, 1999|JONATHAN GAW

Vice President Al Gore's latest attempt at being techno-hip is drawing snickers from the geek set.

Gore's presidential campaign Web site, http://www.algore2000.com/, is claiming to be "open source," attempting to align itself with one of the most popular grass-roots movements in the high-tech world, open-source software.

But those at the core of the open-source movement, which promotes free redistribution and modification of software coding so it can be improved by harnessing the programming community's collective intelligence, call Gore's use of the term political opportunism.

"He just doesn't get it, but he really wishes he did," said Eric Raymond, president of the Open Source Initiative, a nonprofit research and education association promoting the movement. "I find it really kind of amusing. This is the result of over-earnestness and ignorance rather than malice."

Raymond points out that the scripts for the Web site were not available for download, and the server was running a proprietary operating system instead of an open-source one.

Gore officials said they did not mean to pollute the term "open source" but were hoping simply to invite suggestions for the Web site.

"I can certainly understand some of the frustrations of the people who are very true to the open-source movement, and it wasn't our intent to co-opt anything," Gore spokesman Roger Salazar said. "Our intent was to get people involved."

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