BT et C

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


I'm trying to stay even-tempered about it -- to wait just a bit before declaring the Age of Aquarius has arrived and whatnot. But I'm also just really damn excited. Forgive me.

Why would IBM just up and about-face on the usual way of licensing IP? Some possibilities:

1. They're communists. A little far-fetched, but if the smartest guy in the world thinks so, you gotta listen, don't you?
2. Kicking Microsoft when They're down?
3. (My favorite possibility) This company, the largest patent-holder in the world, gets it. After 10 years of contemplating what can happen on a worldwide, omnipresent internet, they've realized something that is both unexpected and wonderful:

People build software.

All you really have to do is get out of their way, and people will build software. Of course you can and should pay them when they're building software just for you. But the old mentality is fading -- this notion that you put money in one end of a programmer and software comes out the other end.

The time is fast approaching when people will need to choose sides. I never liked the idea that F/OSS was a war, or a rebellion against the dark side, or whatever. But this week has demonstrated that there are two radically different assessments of the open-source phenomenon, and it's just not going to be possible for both to hold true. My description of them, of course, is biased since I've picked one.

1) F/OSS results when an enormous distributed community solves their particular problems and makes the solutions available for others to use and improve. Companies that realize this can and will profit immensely from the realization.
2) F/OSS is unconstitutional, cancerous, and a deadly threat to the tech industry, as represented by the current patenting regime. Companies that do not realize this are in danger of being sued by patent-holders.

#2 sounds harsh, but those words come from high-level execs at companies holding that view.

Monday, January 03, 2005


Thank you, Poland