How the OLPC's Rose Got its Canker
Published 22:02, 07 January 09
This blog post explains in painful detail how OLPC was "turned" by Microsoft - and hence why I have personally given up on the project:
As part of a small personal project, I've been reading through the court exhibits presented in Comes V Microsoft. One of those exhibits is a chain of internal Microsoft emails discussing how to get Windows XP on the OLPC.
Finally, in case you think I've failed to mention it: there is never any talk of "the best technology" or "educating or empowering children" or "customers/governments want Windows" or any such merit-based discussion. Outside of a brief mention of Academic Software offerings - literally the very last thing in the recap and suggested by the OLPC faction - the entire discussion revolves around what benefits Microsoft, what might hurt Google, and exploiting inside information they have on the OLPC project and OLPC people.
Read it and weep.
Posted by Glyn Moody at 8:11 PM
The Library as Knowledge Commons
When the going gets tough, the tough...go to the library :
Fewer people bought books, CD’s, and DVD’s in 2008 than in the year before. The number of moviegoers and concertgoers shrank last year, too, though rising ticket prices in both cases offset declining sales. Theater attendance, overall, is also down.
We usually hear about these declines in isolation. But taken together, they seem to suggest that cultural pursuits across the board are on the decline. Indeed, if nobody seems to be out buying books, movies, and music, what are they doing with their leisure time instead?
Apparently: going to the library. The Boston Globe reports that public libraries around the country are posting double-digit percentage increases in circulation and new library-card application
This highlights the *increased* importance of intellectual commons like libraries during times of financial hardship, when people can't afford to own so much stuff. It also suggests why we need support libraries through thick and thin.
Posted by Glyn Moody at 7:49 PM
He/She Speak de Troof
This is something that has often struck me, too: that installing/updating programs under GNU/Linux is hugely easier than under Windows.
This is how you install and update software on Windows:
1. Open a web browser.
2. Download an executable file from an (often un-verified) source.
3. Press next, next, next, next, next, next, next, next, finish.
4. Launch your software.
5. Wait for each individual piece of software to nag you about the latest update. (”Logitech is going to look for updates…,” “Adobe PDF Reader version 8.4 is available. Please install it now,” “QuickTime needs an update (hey, mind if we sneak Safari in there, too? *wink*)”)
On Linux, on the other hand, it works something like this:
1. Open Add/Remove programs.
2. Press a check mark and hit apply.
3. Launch your software.
4. Sit back as your software is automatically updated.
We really need to beat the the drum more about this kind of stuff.
Posted by Glyn Moody at 7:37 PM
How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer
Not my words, but the subtitle of a book that apparently has wise words on the harm inflicted on society by intellectual monopolies:
It is heartening to find more and more critics of our intellectual property regime, partly as a result of growing knowledge but more importantly, the growing critical reaction to the extreme excesses of the application of the law. A new voice for me is that of Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC. whose book, THE CONSERVATIVE NANNY STATE; How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer, is available for download on line link here under a Creative Commons license. The book is about much more than IP, as the subtitle indicates, but this review focuses on the IP issues Baker covers. He calls the chapter, "Bill Gates Welfare Mom: How Government Patent and Copyright Monopolies Enrich the Rich and Distort the Economy".
He begins by examining the richest man in the world, Bill Gates, and Microsoft, noting that it was not Gates hard work or brilliance, or the superiority of his software, but his government provided monopoly based on IP law that made him today's Croesus.
Sounds my kind of book; moreover, it's freely available as a download (kudos). Our numbers are swelling every day....
Posted by Glyn Moody at 7:07 PM
Behold the Biohackers
This is clearly getting serious :
Katherine Aull's laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, lacks a few mod cons. "Down here I have a thermocycler I bought on eBay for 59 bucks," she says, pulling out a large, box-shaped device she uses to copy short strands of DNA. "The rest is just home brew," she adds, pointing to a centrifuge made out of a power drill and plastic food container, and a styrofoam incubator warmed with a heating pad normally used in terrariums.
In fact, Aull's lab is a closet less than 1 square metre in size in the shared apartment she lives in. Yet amid the piles of clothes she recently concocted vials of an entirely new genetically modified organism.
There's no stopping this now; great and terrible things will come of this....
Posted by Glyn Moody at 5:19 PM
Is Phoenix about to Enter GPL Violation HyperSpace?
If ultraportables were last year's big surprise success for GNU/Linux, one of the potentially exciting technologies for this year is the instant-on pre-operating system that loads in seconds when you power up a desktop or portable. DeviceVM’s Splashtop is probably the best known example. These are highly relevant to the free software world, since such instant-on systems are usually based on GNU/Linux, and once people start trying them out, they may simply stay there using the free software apps available, rather than wait minutes for the full glory of Windows Vista to chunder into its vitiated life.
On Open Enterprise blog .
Posted by Glyn Moody at 4:54 PM
Originally posted at Open... This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales Licence. Please link back to the original post.
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