Conservatism, Linux and the ‘Net

If you think Linux geeks make too much of a big deal over what operating system people use, this article might change your mind. It manages to weave together cross-media ownership, spectrum licensing, Linux and the Internet in a way that is not just cohesive, but frightening.

The author doesn’t say much that is new to the tech community, but draws together a number of separate threads that have a powerful cumulative effect. Since the dot-com crunch it has become all-too-easy to forget the potential we once saw in the ‘net, as a totally free and open marketplace of ideas, products and raw information, with all the power concentrated at the edges, in the hands of the general public. Anyone could make a server, plug it in, and run their own online store.

Recent moves by the major media players, who have blindly swallowed most of the information ecosystem in the US, indicate that they are gradually shifting the tide back to the one-way-pipe days of TV and radio. At the same time, they are attempting to return copyright law to something like that of the medieval Stationers’ Company, which for a time controlled almost all printing and copyrights in England. They seem to have conveniently turned their backs on the very laws and free market that spawned them in the first place.

Linux is mentioned mostly as a positive result of the new, empowering, Internet-driven market place, even while SCO tries to drive back its adoption through patents and contracts for technologies that it never developed, and in all likelihood doesn’t truly own. It is a striking example of the clash between the the ‘net as a level playing field, and the relatively new notion of “Intellectual Property”, as practised by traditional companies attempting to stem the new wave of openness. To an extent, I sympathise with companies like SCO – they’ve had their business model whipped out from under them. However, in the long run, I strongly believe projects such as Linux will be of benefit to the IT industry and society as a whole, by providing a ubiquitous set of basic services on top of which applications can be built, without restricting use to those with the cash to pay for commercial equivalents – provided the ‘net stays free enough for development to continue.

Anyway, you should read it if you care about keeping the ‘net free 🙂

Insanity, thy name is IBM

I’m a nerd.

No, I’m not sure you understand. I’m a truly massive nerd.

This is why when I read that IBM has written some office applications (i.e. Word Processor, Spreadsheet etc) using only cross-platform DHTML, I fell off my chair crying with laughter.

Check it out: The future, as seen from 1996. Try that with Netscape Gold 3.0.

It was a dark and stormy night…

In a recent post, Matt‘s blog wisely pointed us to the Bulwer-Lytton Awards, granted to the most “impressive” openings to imaginary novels. I loved this one:

Colin grabbed the switchgear and slammed the spritely Vauxhall Vixen into a lower gear as he screamed through the roundabout heading toward the familiar pink rowhouse in Puking-On-The-Wold, his mind filled with the image of his comely Olive, dressed in some lacy underthing, waiting on the couch with only a smile and a cucumber sandwich, hoping that his lunch hour would provide sufficient time for both a naughty little romp and a digestive biscuit.

It reminds me of everything my Dad would love in a novel. If he ever read them.

Study finds humans afraid of glowing cadaverous heads

Let’s face it, if you were to pick the field of science that could wipe out humanity in the coolest way, it has to be robotics.

Some guys at the University of Reading wanted to build a robot that measures people’s reactions to itself. Well, clearly this baby is optimised for generating fear:

And this is my robot, Maximillian.

The robot is so scary that the University’s ethics committee forced them to put a sign up declaring under 18’s not be allowed in without an adult. A quote from the article:

A University of Reading spokesperson said the college is confident that its policies are “successfully maintaining appropriate ethical practices for research”.

… for now. How long before someone gives in to temptation and gives it chainsaw-arms?

Also:

Morgui, which is Mandarin for Magic Ghost, cannot experience emotions

Wow, this guy is totally set up to think fleshies are weak.

*sigh* here we go again…

Alas, the server on which my blog was hosted died a horrible death (well, not that horrible really, the network it was on became inaccessible, and then the owner took the opportunity to upgrade it – not that you care), so welcome to the all-new, clean and shiny blog with none of that nasty “precious memories that vanished in a puff of bits and can never be retrieved” nonsense that was clogging it up before.

This time, Matt, I really will keep it up-to-date. Daily postings! Prizes! Mind-bending logic puzzles! Unicorns! The last digit of Pi! Expect all these things and more in the coming [arbitrary time period].