So what did you make of that? I made nothing at all of it [like this]:
Protracted analysis of this and many other similar passages benefited me not at all. I began to panic. I printed Open Source Reuse out and spent hours reading it with furrowed brow and moving lips, and annotating its margins liberally with comments such as 'What?' and 'Eh?' and 'Huh?'. Didn't help. I experimented with its odd language in conversations with colleagues ('Your test cases are looking very robust this morning, Brian'), but they were baffled too. My OU tutor also blew me out; he volunteered that he hadn't 'read the paper in detail yet'.
You will think me silly, but I got really worked up about this. I began to wonder if I had not bitten off more than I could chew with this whole OU business. It seemed to me that if could not make head nor tail of more or less the first thing I had been given to read, I should perhaps give up and tackle something more my level - say GCSE Wii Computing for Media Studies.
So it was in the small hours of one morning that I began to Google phrases from Madanmohan and De''s paper. My idea - fairly desperate, but there you go - was to see if I could find somebody else using the same words, but in a comprehensible manner. I started off trying to discover if phrases that appeared in Open Source Reuse had a technical meaning not immediately apparent. I had no luck with this, so after a while I began googling longer sentences, including some from the passage I have just quoted to you.
Always call it 'research'
I can't remember, now, the exact phrase that led me to Tony Byrne's article Open-Source CMS: Prohibitively Fractured? on the CMS Watch site. But something, perhaps 'spawning, multiple (often competing)', led me to this:
Many leading open-source CMS projects have resigned themselves to becoming development "platforms," spawning multiple (often competing) derivative projects to undertake the difficult work of actually fashioning products that will appeal to real business users. To be sure, building a good platform is hard, too. It takes a lot of architectural savvy, trial and error, and constant refactoring. (Certain Apache projects fulfill important lower-level functions and properly remain platforms rather than polished products.) But a platform doth not a CMS application make.
This trend is ironic, because much of the criticism of bloated or failed CMS projects has centered around the commercial products involved being too "platform-oriented" and therefore requiring excessive, code-based customization to convert into practical CMS applications. Extensibility is important, but savvy customers expect to see the inclusion of core features, together with the ability to configure key settings via simple browser interfaces.
It seems familiar, does it not? Except this time, the words are arranged in such a way as to convey meaning.
For example, in Madanmohan and De', the phrase 'to configure key settings' is one of those dangling, sounds-as-though-it-means-something-but-not-quite-sure-what phrases with which their paper abounds. Tony Byrne's version makes things clear: you must be able to configure the damn software with your browser, rather than faff around with a text editor, or write more code. By deleting the key words 'via simple browser interfaces', Madanmohan and De' convert a straightforward observation into a non-committal abstraction.
I should point out, because you are bound to be wondering by now, that Mr Byrne's article is dated May 2003, whereas Open Source Reuse was published in the November/December 2004 issue of IEEE Software. Mr Byrne is not cited in the Madanmohan and De' paper.
After this I got interested. The next paragraph in Madanmohan and De' turned out to be hacked out of another passage of Mr Byrne's, with a sentence in the middle bizarrely plucked from a much earlier paragraph. As before, the boys from Bangalore made an exemplary job of murdering the meaning, while allowing technical words to live.
I went back to the paper, and started googling other dubious-looking passages. A bizarre earlier section (although very readable by Madanmohan and De''s standards) caught my eye; it claimed that the surveyed companies used, among other things, artificial intelligence to locate open source code.
Just think about that for a moment. 'Which open source programmer's editor do you recommend, K9?' 'I hear Notepad++ is very good, master. I have transmitted its url to the Tardis's browser.' 'Good dog, K9!'
I googled diligently, and discovered this pdf presentation. This (earlier, uncited) publication by a group of Spanish and Italian academics lists various techniques for locating open source code (with no claim that they were in commercial use). Madanmohan and De' present this list as their own - indeed as their own results, established by their survey.
Two hits felt like enough. I retired to bed, triumphant.
Next page: Spreading the news
Oh the plagiarism...
This so reminds me of some of my experiences while studying a semester at the University of South Australia. They have a lot of students from the likes of India (China, Malaysia, etc.). And I had the misfortune of studying together with some of them.
Although I had noted the University's stern eye on plagiarism, it took a couple of weeks for me to understand why.
For a class we had to prepare a short paper on a subject, which I don't remember (possible uses of Bluetooth, perhaps). In class we where then given a paper of one of our peers to review. OMFG! That was exactly the same tangled mess as described here. And my review, I handed in the TA, I duly reported my findings with references to the (ab-)used webpages.
I have no knowledge about whether my findings had any consequences for the students.
Now, this was just a bit infuriating, but no harm done. The real troubles came later, when I (in another, but similar course) had to do a group paper together with three Indians (at least they knew and spoke English - in contrary to for instance most of the Chinese).
Now, this was supposed to be at least partial scientific paper, so I sought out a bunch (~10) articles of various relevancy from IEEE and ACM, and passed the references of to my group members. To make a long story short:
1) They didn't read them before two days before the deadline
2) They relied on me to tell them what was important
3) They finally made sure to tangle the text enough to fool the university's anti-plagiarism system, while "answering" their parts.
If it wasn't because I was too stressed about meeting the deadline, I would have ripped their heads of and done a tremendous service to our profession.
Now, this isn't to say that all Indians* are that grossly incompetent. I have met a couple of very competent Indians back here in Europe. But this is obviously a challenge to our profession, which we need to take gravely serious.
*: nor Chinese and Malaysians
Sorry about my bad English, btw. I ain't sure going abroad helped it any... ;-)
laugh or cry?
I work in an industry (electronic design) that was traditionally open-source, so the fact that all lecturers plagiarise their material has traditionally been justifiable. They take their course material directly from a text book, as they would do if they were working in industry.
But it has always struck me as inconsistent that they would fail students who did the same.
Re Bit disappointed with Verity
I'm a bit disappointed with you and your standard of written communication.
> "It would also be nice to know whether Verity felt they..."
So, Verity is more than one person?
>"Verity's tutor should of been a bit more willing to discuss there comments..."
Utter nonsense - meaningless.
If you had any honour, you would resign your OU position in shame at your semi-literate meanderings. Be gone, now!