Facebook’s Global Telco Dream

Originally posted on Meshed Insights & Knowledge:

Maybe there’s more to the Facebook acquisition of WhatsApp than just the centralised consolidation of users and user information that Simon denounced in his previous InfoWorld article. Perhaps this particular addition to their portfolio is Facebook’s move towards becoming the first truly global telco!

The idea makes a lot of sense; not only is the world already familiar with the technology, WhatsApp has the same phone numbers that legacy telcos use, without the need to pay for connection fees across the world’s analog phone network. It’s almost amazing it hasn’t happened already, but conditions for a global telco have only recently become so ideal. Smart phones and globally available internet connections mean the moment has come and the big question remaining is, who’ll get there first?

Read Simons take on the potential for a global telco in his InfoWorld article.

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“Screw Good Practice, How Bad Can It BE?”

Prescient.

Hope in Federations

Originally posted on Meshed Insights & Knowledge:

Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp gains them almost half a billion users worth of telephone data. We can fully expect them to share their user information once joined, adding a wealth of phone data to Facebook and fleshing out WhatsApp with both Facebook’s data and the results of Facebook’s powerful semantic search. This sort of centralisation avoids giving users control of their own data.

To create a more positive environment in which users retain control of their data, what’s needed are more federated projects. Projects which offer the ability for suitably capable users to run their own service that can federate as a full peer, extending the service without surrendering full control. Diaspora and WordPress are two high profile examples of what federated services can look like, but there are many more available. All are open to user control in addition to service provider hosting.

If we are to maintain control of our own…

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Sun Friends On The Move

I see that two friends I worked with at Sun — most notably creating blogs.sun.com — are on the move.

  • Danese Cooper has decided that she can take on one more corporation’s move towards open source and has been appointed Head of Open Source at PayPal. Danese headed up the open source work at Sun before I took it on. The very best of luck to her there – plenty that can be achieved for software freedom with that fulcrum…
  • Tim Bray meanwhile is giving up his fulcrum at Google. Tim was the editor of the XML specification and a driving force of developer-focussed openness at Sun. Seems that despite being the company behind all the distributed team working tools I use, they still insist on centralising all their staff rather than having them work remotely. Looking forward to seeing (or, indeed, collaborating on…) whatever Tim does next.

I also see from LinkedIn that it’s four years since the death of Sun. That’s something of a magic number in career terms so I expect to see more moves in the news soon.

Stand Up For ODF In The UK

Originally posted on Meshed Insights & Knowledge:

Showing that no issue is actually sorted until the end of the process is reached, Microsoft is trying to get its partner network to speak up for OOXML as a document format for government interaction. In a posting to ComputerWorldUK, Simon explains that this would defeat the objective explained by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude, who said

“The software we use in government is still supplied by just a few large companies. A tiny oligopoly dominates the marketplace. I want to see a greater range of software used, so civil servants have access to the information they need and can get their work done without having to buy a particular brand of software.”

So ODF Advocates once again need to speak up for openness and diversity – there are links in the article.

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Making the most with Open Source

AWiN SO23:

Simon’s latest column.

Originally posted on Meshed Insights & Knowledge:

What opportunities does Open Source provide if you’re really looking to go big? Aiming to become “the next Red Hat” is an idea flawed from the start, as former XenSource CEO Peter Levine explains in his recent TechCrunch article. So what’s left if business models focussing on selling support and services all have a relatively low limit to their growth?

Those who are making the most money out of Open Source today are in fact not those who try to monetize a specific Open Source project, but those who innovate and build businesses that sit on top of a backbone of Open Source projects. Twitter, Square, Google and Facebook could all be given as examples of this sort of innovation. Importantly, the Open Source communities these companies engage with are likely to stay active and healthy as other community members also execute on their business model, gaining benefit from the project…

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“Counting the beats,
Counting the slow heart beats,
The bleeding to death of time in slow heart beats,
Wakeful they lie.” — Robert Graves
XKCD

(this unusual XKCD does not embed, please click to be mesmerised by it)

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