On Defence Contractors and Revisionist History

Progressive Technology Federal Systems, a large defence contractor doing business as PTFS (presumably since it sounds smaller that way) decided to sidle on in to the Koha scene about a couple of years ago. (Here's a link if you don't believe that they're a defence contractor. http://www.defense.gov/contracts/contract.aspx?contractid=4323 If you don't believe that they're large, Hoover them.)

At the time they came to town, folks thought "Great!" We welcome new folks. A new set of hands is a good thing.

Unfortunately, they quickly deployed the Sawyer method of community participation. I've been watching for a good while now.

At first I was carefully neutral. They were a large company. They had the resources to actually help if they so chose. Against Judith Martin's observations, I even offered unsolicited advice about how they could best unruffle the feathers of the folks that LibLime, the company they ate for lunch, had gotten all out of whack. I watched as they stepped on all the wrong toes at all the wrong times. After all, when one is used to running a big, bad, testosterone filled company, one probably doesn't much care about toes. Or properly responding to criticism. Or keeping one's word.

Thankfully, most Librarians care about all three of those, which has led to an exodus from PTFS to vendors that are more in keeping with the spirit of the project. To those that gave them the toss, I thank you. The only thing they seem to genuinely care about is their bottom line, so the only way to get them to straighten up and fly right is to give them a good kidney punch to their wallet. To be fair, American corporations *have* to watch over their bottom line. However, there isn't, to my knowledge, anything in our law that reads that you have to be a jerk while doing so.

Despite all of the petty bickering they've stirred up, despite numerous personal attacks, despite the theft of the intellectual property of the community, despite their compleat inability to produce decent code, I'd still be willing to listen to their story. Until recently, that is.

It's not enough that out of a lack of basic research they've bought a company that is a shell of what they perceived it to be, or that their name is mud in the community, or that they've absolutely no idea how an open source project works. They want to be seen as the saviour of the community, despite being a tiny sidelined pine surfer. So they're dynamiting now that they've hit rock bottom.

They pay Mr. Kostoff to patrol wikipedia and revise history on their behalf. Rather than change their actions, and have history reflect their change of heart, they'd rather cut to the chase and engage in an edit war. Don't believe me? Take a visit:

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=LibLime&action=historysubmit&d...

While it isn't unusual for corporations to engage in this behaviour, it's laughable that they would rather wage an edit war than do something productive. It also shows how blatantly they disregard rules. (Wikipedia forbids both advertising and edit warring.) I have to wonder why the DoD will have anything to do with an honourless company, but I suppose that's their decision. The problem with mercenaries, as any soldier will tell you, is that once the pay stops flowing, the merc gets going.

Most striking to me is how very weak and flimsy this looks. At one time Mr. Yokley puffed on about how he's not in the habit of answering listserv queries as an important CEO.

http://www.mail-archive.com/koha-devel@lists.koha.org/msg01605.html

"I do not typically post notes to lists but felt I needed to respond to
this issue personally. In addition, I do not think this list is the
forum for this type of conversation."

Evidently, having a minion edit wikipedia to maintain a nice facade is important stuff. The semblance of being an important part of the Koha project is more appealing than actually doing the work to be that thing. The story they're after is quite interesting. It reads something like:

Josh Ferraro is important.
We bought him.
That makes us important.

Without even touching on how very silly or off tone it is to attach one's fortunes to that particular individual, if he were so good, why'd you let him go?

In trying to extend their short history in Koha by acquiring LibLime, PTFS failed utterly to comprehend that market share in an open source endeavour is more closely related to customer satisfaction than simple number of contracts. It is, after all, software as a service. If your service is lousy, folks will host their own software or look elsewhere.

It's almost sad if you squint hard enough. The multi-million dollar bully still can't buy love and still doesn't quite know how to share. I'd feel sorry for them were they not continually threatening my colleagues.