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Open Source

Several years ago I was working on a system for modelling and simulating social pressure. The idea was that actions have repercussions and that I could build dynamic ecosystems staffed with characters of differing social power. The pressure system would stimulate social interaction between criminals, the wealthy corporate elite, impoverished citizens and various authorities in a cyberpunk RPG...
on Aug 20, 2003
Logic is the foundation of philosophy. It's also the foundation of Computer Science. I think it's interesting how some in the IT industry try to brand IT as a purely pragmatic field, in that charming American "we don't trust academics" sort of way. But in reality, pragmatics seems to play a minor role in developer's minds. I've seen some pretty wild ideas just looking for a practical use. Many...
on Aug 9, 2003
In his recent posting on Alan Williamson asks how open source software can ever be profitable. I believe his thinking confuses two different issues - how software is developed and how it is deployed. In some contexts they are the same thing, but in a growing number they are completely different. In the difference lays the answer. I believe the best way to understand open source is as a...
on Jul 29, 2003
On July 24, Larry Lessig gave a talk at the Sun CTO All-Hands meeting. He gave a variant of his usual talk which is about the fact that creativity includes building on the work of others and that therefore intellectual property owners, like real property owners, should enjoy only a limited set of rights—a set that can be reduced over time as new societal needs are discovered. For example, until...
on Jul 28, 2003
Just read Clay Shirky's talk, A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy". It reminded me of something else I've read. There's an insane theologian named Walter Wink who wrote a series of books called the "Powers Triology", in which he essentially equates demon possession to the organizational inertia of large groups. It's a very weird idea, and in many respects, Wink is just nuts. But he's one of those...
on Jul 25, 2003
There has been a lot of confusion regarding LGPL and how it applies to Java. This question is getting a lot more focus recently as it hit slashdot. ;-) Hopefully, the end result will be a clarification. Hosted not by the potential benefiaries, as that opens up the possibility of such statements being perceived as self serving and open to question. The terms 'link' and 'executable' have clear...
on Jul 18, 2003
One link I've been surprised not to see yet on is a link to the web site run by Sun's Open Source Project Office, It's not exactly a 'must visit daily' site but it is so packed with projects that I do wonder why folk insist on trying to paint a fundamental conflict between Sun and open source.
on Jul 1, 2003
Red Hat Inc is in discussions with Sun Microsystems Inc about launching an open source version of Sun's Java environment, according to Red Hat chairman and CEO Matthew Szulik. The Raleigh, North Carolina-based Linux distributor is also lining up a slew of product launches including its new Red Hat Linux Desktop operating system and new versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and the Red Hat...
on Jun 23, 2003
Responding to my earlier posting, Glen Martin comments that: To my mind, patents in software add no value, and really only serve to subject software development to the less than scrupulous (lawyers, that is). and It is starting to look to me as if the OSS world won't ever meet its real potential unless software patents go away. Since the non-OSS world has little incentive to change, it would seem...
on Jun 21, 2003
Just sitting in the final session at F/OSS at Harvard, largely on software patents. The research, presented here by Jim Bessen (the paper is available online and Slashdot has a great summary), suggests that it's become cheaper and easier to get software patents over the last 20 years (overall and compared with other patents). The research finds "... software patents substitute for firm R&D...
on Jun 20, 2003
I am (unexpectedly) at the MIT/HBS Free/Open Source Software conference at Harvard. The first session included a paper comparing Apache, Mozilla and a commercial software project. The results suggested open source development does indeed deliver higher productivity levels and lower defect counts than closed team development. While I felt intuitively that this was the case, I'm pleased to see a...
on Jun 19, 2003
Yesterday at GU4DEC I witnessed an amazing thing. Michael Meeks, a non-Sun member of the community (he works for Ximian) asking GNOME developers to join to make contributions! He actually handed me 10 signed JCAs (Joint Copyright Assignment) from new members ready to contribute code for the common good. This was awesome. The title of this blog refers to my (...
on Jun 17, 2003
JavaOne is in full force. I sense a lot of enthusiam and excitement about Java. After this post goes through successfully I'll blog some more!
on Jun 10, 2003
Obviously, every large project take a lot of time and effort and building was no different. We spent months incubating the idea into reality and like all projects had our share of late nights and last minute twists and curves. It all finally culminated, after some last minute flurries, with a big bang of a launch I am not going to pretend to know a lot about child birth but a long...
on Jun 10, 2003


One of the surprising things about JavaOne for me this year is the amount of talk about Ant. Not the normal "Ant is cool" buzz that I hear (and which still amazes me), but a different kind of talk. There's talk of experimentation and trying out new things. And it all seems to be focusing on how to alleviate the burden that the decision to use XML as the Ant configuration format has...
on Jun 12, 2003