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A Matter of Trust

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If someone betrays your trust, it can be a very hard road to travel to earn that trust back.

This is a lesson we have all learned during our collective lifetimes: an angry word, a careless action--we have all sown the seeds of distrust at one time of another. Hopefully, we have managed to earn that trust back. More than a few of us, I fear, can think of examples where that trust was never rebuilt, and a relationship--casual or lifelong--ended. In a word, such a loss sucks.

The most recent example of a loss of trust in the IT industry has been the recent alleged actions conducted by members of the HP board of directors against members of the press and HP's own employees--a situation that angers me beyond belief. I haven't covered it on LT, since it's not related in any way to Linux, but I have been watching the story unfold on the media sites since it started. I don't personally know any of the reporters targeted by the private investigators (supposedly under the direction of HP), save for Stephen Shankland, whom I consider a friendly colleague and a very good reporter.

But even if I did not know Stephen, the situation would still incense me, because if the allegations against HP are true, then they have betrayed a fundamental trust implied in the first amendment: that people aren't punished for telling the truth.

Corporations have a long history of distrusting the media. This is a relationship that will--eventually--get rebuilt. But in other areas, I wonder if the damage is so great that no amount of concessions on either side will ever re-start a positive relationship.

To demonstrate, let me share my first gut reaction when I read this September 18 vnunet.com headline: "Open Source Community Welcomes Microsoft Patent Pledge." Here was, in complete form, my initial thought:

We do?

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