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private industry funding public services ...(12 posts)

private industry funding public services ...sacheson
Sep 5, 2003 8:04 AM
I know there's been some historical controversy with Coca-Cola wanting to fund the National Parks Service, selling advertisements on space going rockets, and food service within public schools. Here's an article outlining the Gates Foundation (Uncle Bill himself) donating $46Mil to the Phili school district to fund a technologically advanced inner-city school.

Article on Microsoft funding Philly public school

What do you think - good for education, or is he just his money to grow his 'empire'? And if he is just growing his 'empire', is that a bad thing if these kids get a chance at life out of the Projects?
a faustian bargain?ColnagoFE
Sep 5, 2003 8:19 AM
major corporations rarely do things out of the goodness of their hearts. the bottom line is always profit and they wouldn't give money to schools, etc unless there was an eventual profit incentive in it for them somewhere. as philanthropic as it sounds there is usually a catch somewhere. i'm guessing the $46 mil came with some caveats, but maybe that is just my cynical self speaking. i don't know the details of this particilar deal. think of mcdonalds and coke and pepsi in schools now. not only are they in most towns, but now there are soda vending machines in schools along with a mini mcdonalds!
of course it's for financial gain ...sacheson
Sep 5, 2003 8:59 AM
... I mean, if these inner city kids are getting a technologically advanced education, how much of that is Open Source? How many of the boxes will be running linux? Think they'll get to learn how to configure an Apache web server?

What about getting out into the 'real world'? If they choose an IT field, what technologies would they be leaning towards?

How about community recognition? The OpenSource community, Sun or Oracle rarely (if ever) donate time, money, and energy towards 'growing' the next generation of IT professionals.

But I ask, is what he's doing wrong?
Is there really a true right and wrong?ColnagoFE
Sep 5, 2003 9:57 AM
Sorry to get metaphysical on you here, but I suppose that the definition of right and wrong are mutable. Pretty much everyone agrees that killing someone is wrong but in times of war or self-defense it might become right. Same with this. If there is no better way for these kids to get the equipment and training without bill gates stepping in then maybe it is good. but if there are too many strings attached (ie the school has to pimp microsoft's products and this interferes with some other aspect of the student's education in some way) then it might be bad.
Who care's if they don't learn Open Source?czardonic
Sep 5, 2003 10:14 AM
For the entirety of my education I worked alomst exclusively on Apples from the Apple II to the Power Mac. Since then, its been mostly Windows. These are the tools that were available or necessary to the tasks at hand.

What is important is that kids have a school equipped to teach them what they need to know to succeed in our society. Depriving a kid the use of a free Windows box out of some high-minded sentiment towards Open Source achieves nothing.

Somebody has to pay for schools (and tax-payers sure aren't stepping up to the plate). Better they get that money from a company trying to turn them into tech-capable Windows partisans than obese, sugar and grease addicted diabetics.
Don't get me wrong ...sacheson
Sep 5, 2003 11:06 AM
... I'm not against the Microsoft initiative (heck, I'm a windows developer).

There are a lot of people in the development world (see slashdot.org discussion on the article) that feel Microsoft's market dominance, coupled with MS's lack of respect towards the open source community, and enforced by the rash of attacks towards MS's vulnerabilities, are teaching people to accept mediocrity just because it's the reigning giant - and not work to make a more safe and secure computing environment.

While we don't see MS's competitors stepping up to the plate, we are going to see a slanted technology education taught ... probably viewed much like a political advocacy group paying for the high school government course, and only teaching their views on politics.

Of course, I still stand by my mark (and a point you made) that at least someone is stepping up to the plate with these kids ... and, for what it's worth, this isn't the first time the Gates Foundation has donated millions for education.
that's absurdmohair_chair
Sep 5, 2003 11:35 AM
Slanted technology education? That is absurd. That's like saying that teaching drivers education using donated Chevrolets is teaching slanted drivers ed.
I disagree.sacheson
Sep 5, 2003 12:03 PM
Microsoft does things a Microsoft way ... often times they create their own standards and create this "be Microsoft or be something else" software/server/web/database world. If someone is being taught the MSFT way, it can be argued they are being taught the non-standard methods.

Most recently, check out Web Services. WS is a standard developed to a) extend business logic beyond a firewall, and b) to increase system interoperability by using non-platform specific packets of data marshalled across the calling applications. The WebServices communtiy developed a set of standards, designed to ensure the technology could be extendible to any platform. These standards were adopted by the development community in large ... except Microsoft. MSFT chose to develop their own set of standards that make non MSFT systems incompatible unless they adopt the Microsoft way.

Understand, I don't disagree with the school system funding, I'm just bringing out some counter arguments.
IMO, the OS community should spend more time on software. . .czardonic
Sep 5, 2003 11:46 AM
. . .and less time preaching to the choir at Slashdot. This notion that people are being brainwashed into mindless support of Microsoft is every bit as arrogant and lazy an attitude as that which they attribute to Bill Gates and his evil empire.

I don't see anything "political" or "ideological" about Microsofts products. This whole debate is eerily similar to the push to get alternatives taught alongside the "religion" of Evolution.
The OS community ...sacheson
Sep 5, 2003 12:12 PM
... is an odd bunch. Their need to be 'open source' is often nothing more as a desire to be different ... to not follow the mold. Yeah, things get out of hand, and yeah there's some absurd logic going on (ref: :O)) ... but, in their defense, Microsoft is developing a less stable, less secure environment. Their concerns, while annoying, are valid.

IMO: Bill Gates is my idea of an American success story. That guy started out in a freaking garage. He might do piggish things - but he didn't rely on an Ivy League degree and a golden parachute to make his billions.
MS must operate in an unstable, unsecure environment. . .czardonic
Sep 5, 2003 12:30 PM
. . .i.e. the Real World. That means making compromises, and by their nature compromises are always open to valid critism.

Agree on Bill Gates.
MSFT does a lot of things pretty darned well ...sacheson
Sep 5, 2003 12:41 PM
... they don't do EVERYTHING perfect - and they don't claim to.

When listening to OpenSource advocates complaining about MSFT, I consider the source -

1) they're most always "small picture" people. They see the benefit to themselves, or their world, and can't extend to the greater good. Which makes sense, they're scientists. They want to deal with low-level things that I'd be happy if I never even had exposure to.

2) Microsoft technologies come with higher licensing costs and their UIs allow for a less specialized person to maintain. The OS community attitude (at least the one's I've worked with) is; the IT budget can do one of two things - pay for licensing, or pay salaries. I'd rather have a larger salary. Again - very small picture.

To make a bad (and admittedly, full of holes) analogy - MSFT is to the OpnSrc world what the US is to the political world regarding Iraq right now ... doing more good than they'll probably get credit for, exposing their vulnerabilities, and having strong potential to make good money in the process.