☞ Sunday Positives

  • Welcome and surprising intervention by the US government saying that natural things like genes should not be patentable. Expecting a huge backlash from the biotech industry who will make no attempt to argue the moral case but will scream about unfair loss of earnings (even though the earnings themselves are unfairly gained).
  • I don’t know how long it will be this way (probably not long) but a fan favour this album is available as a digital download for any price you name (including zero). I’d be interested to see the statistics of how many pay what.

☞ Leveraging Community

  • Very smart move (also covered at GigaOm) – Microsoft are trying to lead the race to the bottom with HTML 5, presumably in the hope of killing Adobe, rather than cascading money faster and faster into Silverlight in an attempt to fight the old way. They only place Silverlight is still strategic is on mobile, and honestly they probably realise HTML 5 is the future there too.

    This suggests Microsoft are finally awakening to the power of community. Instead of trying to fight their competitors alone, they are teaming up with open standards – and increasingly open source – to achieve that effect. You can tell where they think they are strong – those are the places they are still fighting with communities and consequently about to lose their lead… [See ComputerWorldUK for an expanded commentary]

  • “I did not observe anything that would approach informed consent. Put another way: if I proposed this as a university research study, IRB would reject the design.”

    Is the whole point here to see just how far people can be pushed? Or is it really the case that America’s legislators cannot see the challenge to the county’s core values posed by these Constitutionally-challenged measures. Over here in Europe the tolerance threshold seems to be about reached, but nothing of the kind seems to be happening in the US. Why is that?

☞ Right and Wrong

  • Symbian: A Lesson on the Wrong Way to Use Open Source
    Matt Asay correctly observes that this corporate attempt to use open source was ill conceived and doomed to failure. It was obvious to me right from the moment I heard the strategy (from a head-hunter trying to recruit me about 6 months before launch) that it was going to crater unless there was a serious focus on developers in general and open source developers in particular. 

    I responded to the headhunter that they needed two leaders; one to wrangle the sponsors, the other to wow the developers. They hired the former and ignored the latter, and the rest is history. It’s hard to see how the situation could possibly be redeemed now, and honestly it’s looked doomed for a long time.

    The key lesson we should all take to heart is that creating a Foundation solves nothing on its own. All it does is facilitate and crystallise other solutions to systemic problems. If the other problems are ignored and left unsolved, all creating a Foundation does is accelerate failure.  [See ComputerWorldUK for an expanded commentary]

  • “LibreOffice is here to stay; as a project, and as a software. After our two betas we are expecting a code freeze by tomorrow or so, and we already have included lots of patches and fixes that will make LibreOffice already different from what you would have expected: a themed OpenOffice.org . More changes will be visible soon.”

    Great to see the energy that has been unleashed by removing the barriers to participation. Let’s hope it can be sustained, and especially that parallel innovation can happen too. What’s really needed here is “FireGull” – the equivalent of the process that led to Mozilla’s old browser being replaced by Firefox, through reimplementation in a new project.


  • Oracle Responds to JCP Concerns
    Exactly the sort of public statement that needs making, bravo. Let’s hope there is a whole lot more of this and it stops being necessary for the community to yell before there’s explanation or (even better) dialogue. [See ComputerWorldUK for an expanded commentary]
  • Open Source for America makes it’s first awards. Especially delighted to see Brian Behlendorf and Ean Schuessler recognised, both are awesome dudes (and I say that advisedly).

And finally…

  • “A recent encyclical by Pope Benedict, one that speaks at length about the Catholic approach to development, is deeply concerned with economic inequality. In Benedict’s view, strong IP rights can be part of such inequality. “On the part of rich countries there is excessive zeal for protecting knowledge through an unduly rigid assertion of the right to intellectual property, especially in the field of health care,” he notes.”

    For once a papal conclusion I agree with. Hopefully the Pope will also make a stand against ACTA…

☞ Thursday Links

  • “I wondered what government official in what dark alley dreamed up this groping to protect the public?”

    At some point our elected representatives will get a clue and say on our behalf that it’s time for the security theatre to end and for the spiralling abuse of ordinary people has become a barrier to the freedom to travel. Sadly that time hasn’t come yet and we’ll continue to hear how arbitrary jobsworth-quality privacy invasion without reasonable cause is “for our own safety”.

  • I’ve confirmed that I will speaking at this event in Rotterdam on November 11th – if you attend, be sure to say hello!

  • Dave Neary’s compromise proposal. Given it requires Canonical to give up copyright aggregation on code they clearly want to control at all costs, I doubt it will fly, but it’s interesting to see someone making a proposal instead of delivering spin.

[Apologies for multiple copies of this being published – looks like some issue over at del.icio.us that’s affecting their auto-post facility. The wretched thing has been posting roughly every ten minutes since lunchtime, and I’ve so far had no response from Yahoo to help fix it]

Ⓕ ForgeRock: Announcing OpenIDM

You’ll recall that we started ForgeRock near the start of 2010 to provide continuity for customers of Sun’s enterprise identity middleware products and from that to establish a new ISV creating an identity-oriented application platform, all as open source software. So far we have rehosted OpenSSO in the OpenAM project, and rehosted OpenDS in the OpenDJ project. Demand has been strong and we’ve established a diverse international customer base already, after only 9 months.

Today at GOSCON in Portland we have announced that we’ve taken the new step of releasing a completely new project. We felt there was no strong open source identity provisioning project, so we have launched OpenIDM and released full source code (under CDDL for compatibility with OpenAM and OpenDJ). As with the rest of ForgeRock’s business, there’s no lock-in, no “open core” upsell – just great software with passionate and skilled subscription services and a global network of partners.

OpenIDM’s architecture is uniquely flexible and developer-friendly. It is lightweight yet through a modular architecture enables a hybrid model of storing entitlement-carrying attributes for certification, audits and compliance. OpenIDM is fully open source and relies on well-established, proven components such as the workflow engine from OpenESB and the Identity Connector Framework (ICF), which allows connectivity to a large number of resources such as OpenDJ, Active Directory, SAP and more. ForgeRock can provide subscriptions now to customers requiring assistance with evaluations, proof-of-concept or migration projects.

There’s more about it in the press release and on the OpenIDM web site.

☝ DRM Is Toxic To Culture

It’s possible that you think that unauthorised use of copyrighted music, films and books is such a serious problem that it’s worth giving away a little of your convenience and freedom in exchange for stopping it. I’d like to suggest you think again. Digital Restriction Methods (DRM) aren’t just a nuisance that treats all customers as if they had stolen what they actually paid for. They also threaten our future cultural heritage.

Continued on ComputerWorldUK

☂ Compliance Essay Published

My essay on open source license compliance for end users is now available in the essays section.

☞ Open (Source) Data

  • It’s early days, but it seems liberating the OpenOffice.org community from the contributor agreement and excessive vetting has helped more than sixty (yes, 60) people decide to try their hand at co-development on LibreOffice. This rare experiment seems to show that an open-by-rule community really does encourage participation. The big lesson for Project Harmony is that there are very real – and significant – disadvantages to demanding a contributor agreement as a precondition of participation.
  • While I have no problem at all with Canonical innovating, I fear that part of their motivation in developing in isolation from the GNOME community is becuase otherwise they would be unable to maintain ownership of the resulting code – presumably this is one of the drivers for them initiating Project Harmony. So I’m interested in Dave’s analysis that suggests they may have failed to learn the lessons of history from other before them who have tried the same thing.
  • I’m delighted and honoured to have been invited to deliver a keynote for European PostgreSQL developers at PGDay Europe 2010 in Stuttgart on December 6th. I’d love to see you there.

☞ Reputation and Regulation

  • Really excellent advice here on how to handle customer engagement. As one of the comments says this is a typical profile – both of attitude and skill – for a community manager, and that’s a job that is undervalued by some and in hot demand by others. I’ve used B&H off and on for many years, both in their quirky New York store and online, and every time has been a good thing. 

    On a related note, if you are a community manager looking for a job, send me an e-mail with your background explaining why – I have a small list of people hunting for the perfect person to hire.

  • This illustrates the wider truth that it’s impossible to regulate what’s illegal. The big weakness of dictatorial platform control – setting aside it’s abhorrent disregard of customer freedoms – is that it encourages an ecosystem to evolve beyond the influence of the platform owner. While Apple can deal with malware that sneaks into the AppStore (and it inevitably will), a philosophy that opposes uncontrolled software encourages dependence on software that has to stay underground to survive, with the consequent risk of it being exploited for evil as well as for innovation. 

    We saw it in the Prohibition, we can see it in the ridiculous “war on drugs” and we’ll see it anywhere people assume “technical measures” can comprehensively succeed. Apple may tar it with a black brush but ultimately it’s a demon they invoked themselves.

☞ More Change

  • Florian Effenburger steps down as OpenOffice.org marketing project lead. He has always been the model of leadership in that role, patient, tolerant and firm when necessary, and I am sure he will be missed. His replacement Peter Junge is from Red Flag 2000, a Sun/Oracle partner in China developing the Red Office distribution of OpenOffice.org, and used to work in Sun’s Hamburg team on StarOffice.
  • Just when you thought the abuse of customers and prospective customers of media products couldn’t get worse, this proposal for debt collectors to be deployed to collect money with menaces before any legal judgement is obtained comes along. Where are our legislators? Are they ignorant of the abuse, misinformed or corrupt? I can’t see a fourth explanation.
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