Tonight I wanted to watch on my computer, in streaming thanks to this wonderful worldwide Web that makes us all brothers and that all the Italian Political Parties who care about the future hail as an enabler of democracy and participation, an italian live show called the Bunga Bunga Dictator. Bunga Bunga is.. er, I’ll leave the definition to the Urban Dictionary. The dictator is Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is… er, you’ve probably heard of him already and if you haven’t, ask the Guardian.
The Bunga Bunga dictator was basically a rally against Silvio Berlusconi sponsored by Italia dei Valori (IDV), a vehemently anti-Berlusconi party led by ex-prosecutor Antonio Di Pietro. Since while I’m writing nobody knows if Berlusconi will still be Prime Minister after next Tuesday (don’t ask me to explain Italian politics here, I’ve only a few GBytes of space on this server) I wanted to watch that show. Unfortunately, I couldn’t. Why? Because to see it online, in streaming, I should have had a browser plugin for a Windows format. A plugin that I, being a Fedora Linux user, do not have on my computer by default:
so no Bunga Bunga Dictator for me and so much for technological neutrality and the Free Software that could create new jobs in Italy instead of forcing small Italian businesses to send money abroad.
For the record, I do know Linux enough that I could see streaming video in that format if I really wanted. I’ve no doubts about that. So, in case you were saying “if Linux can’t play those formats I won’t try it” relax, Linux can and you can try it whenever you want. But that’s not the point.
But can I say that I am quite pissed off that I should be forced to install extra, non standard software even to use the website of a political party that is directly financed with taxes from all Italian taxpayers? Can I say that I am quite pissed off to see that there still are, in the public institutions of my country and in my national Parliament, people that understand something as basic and essential as file formats, that is the alphabets of the digital age, even less than Franco Debenedetti or the World Wildlife Fund? I mean, I’m not demanding that they can fluently speak Bronze Age sanskrit, am I now? Can I be quite pissed off, especially in cases like these, where it was absolutely possible to do the streaming in ways that would surely work with every operating systems? The Internet is full of streaming video (including clips where you could recognize several of the speakers of this show) that everybody can watch with Linux without installing anything.
One year ago it was Berlusconi’s ministers. Two weeks ago it was the leader of an opposition, leftist party, Nichi Vendola. Tonight, it was Italia dei Valori. It’s great to see that in such a difficult and uncertain moment in the history of Italy as this, where Italian MPs of all parties get at each others throats, there is at least one thing that they all consider in the same way. Even if Free Software is considered a great idea by European MPs of all parties. Tonight I could have only watched the show with an old, offline TV, even if it would be much better if people always watched TV on a computer.