Last week, I ranted a bit about erroneous media reporting on free and open source software (FOSS). This morning, let me rant about another (potential) lapse by media: incomplete reporting on softwares.
I learned from an inquirer.net news report that there is one company the provides software packages for schools, which are designed to facilitate students’ learning in the subjects of mathematics, English, science, and the like. The tools are touted as alternatives to books, which might not be an effective or complete resource for some students. (Of course, that sounds unacceptable to those who believe that there’s no other way for kids to explore knowledge than through reading books.)
I found the report cool and meritorious. I only was expecting that it would also mention the technologies used by TechFactors to produce the packages. So it failed to answer my question: “Are the edutainment packages open source?” Good thing, the report provided a link to the TechFactors’ website. In visiting the site, I tried to explore as to whether the company uses open source, proprietary, or mixed. To no avail. What I’m sure of is that it uses open source to run its website.
I believe that reportage on ICT, in particular softwares, will be incomplete unless it covers computer programs used in producing the softwares. It should also mention whether the softwares run on various platforms or computer operating systems or not. There might be a counter-argument that mentioning the computer programs is tantamount to revealing a trade secret. I don’t buy that. Admitting that a software runs only on Microsoft Windows is more politically, much less technically, correct than hiding that bit of information. (Well, if that software is open source or at least runs on various platforms, that would be much more politically correct on the part of the hosting company.)
Perhaps an alternative way to find out is by inquiring any of TechFactors’ 28 client schools. But then again, here’s still whining that the inquirer.net’s report is incomplete.