The Washington Post reported today that Cisco has purchased Jabber, the open instant messaging protocol used by Google, LiveJournal, MySpace, and many others. Unfortunately, the Washington Post isn't smart enough to discern between the purchase of Jabber.com, a Jabber service company, and Jabber a.k.a. XMPP, the protocol.
One company bought another company -- it happens every day, and usually isn't the end of the world. Unfortunately, the story the Post told, that the protocol had been bought, would have spelled disaster for Jabber users and server operators worldwide. Jabber's greatest strength is that it is open to the community -- losing that would mean losing the ability for anyone to make an interoperable server or server software.
I don't think anyone from the open source world who read this article believed it. I don't think anyone from the Washington Post intended deception. I think that the author, editor, fact-checker, etc. involved with the publication of this piece are woefully, inexcusably out of touch with a common, everyday technology, not to mention the issues of intellectual property that mark the difference between buying a company that uses a protocol, and buying the protocol.
If anyone out there wonders why open source software and open technologies in general are having such a hard time breaking through to the average joe in America, this is why. The mainstream media can't be bothered to learn this stuff, so Joe Average is saddled with their careless misrepresentations, rather than getting real facts. When, oh when, will it end?