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April 28, 2005

The video is available for purchase, finally...

The video is now available for purchase. A detailed posting about that is on Dan Bricklin's Log, so I won't repeat that here, just this link to the product's page which has links to the purchasing pages. The video is available two ways: Corporate Training Copy ($695) and Evaluation Copy ($29.95).

Posted by danb at 03:37 PM

April 26, 2005

Confusing Open Standards with Open Source

IBM issued a press release last week about something they were doing to help "...accelerate the adoption of open standards based solutions in Israel." Many news outlets picked up the Reuters article on the subject, which was titled "IBM, Israeli Ministry to Back Open-Source Startups".

Do you notice something wrong here? IBM is talking about Open STANDARDS, and the Reuters article talks about Open SOURCE. In fact, further into the Reuters article it says "Open standards is an approach to technology development in which inventors make the underlying progamming [sic] code publicly available for other developers to build on and extend. It contrasts with the proprietary, or closed development approach most major technology companies, led by Microsoft Corp., have used to maximize their control over products they build." Of course, that's wrong. That's a definition for Open Source, not Open Standards. There is confusion between the terms Open Standards and Open Source. Even Linux Today picked the article up with that headline.

I checked with an IBM PR person, and indeed, the agreement is about products that work with IBM technologies through Open Standards (of course, some of these technologies are implemented with Open Source, but not all, but the products being developed don't have to be Open Source).

The article's writer, Eric Auchard, certainly knows the difference. Apparently, somewhere along the way to publication as the article had links added and headlines written, the headline became "Open-Source" instead of "Open Standards", and then a paragraph defining Open Source got added, but with it now saying it was about Open Standards. Of course, since IBM talks about both, and Israel was basically closed to business around the Passover holiday, confusion was easy to happen. I understand this will probably be corrected (as news articles from a wire service frequently have always been).

For me this was yet another example of something I've been pointing out for some time: There is a lot of confusion about Open Source that comes from lack of knowledge. Precise terms matter. "Highway" "Driveway" -- what's the difference? They're both "ways". "Source", "Standards", they're both "Open" and have to do with software, whatever that is. No.

Make sure people really know and understand what you're talking about when you talk about Open Source or Open Standards. Many proprietary products support Open Standards quite well. Some Open Source does not. Open Standards does not mean Open Source.

This is one of the issues I bring up in my video. It's nice to see it was worth devoting time to. (By the way, the video is in duplication and should be ready for purchase next week.)

Posted by danb at 12:22 PM

More podcasts worth listening to

In the last week or so I listened to two podcasts that may be of special interest to people concerned with Open Source.

David Berlind of ZDNet just posted his interview with JasperSoft's CEO Paul Doscher. JasperSoft "acquired" the Open Source product JasperReports. In this 30+ minute MP3 David asks lots of questions and Paul explains how they intend to maintain the LGPL code of JasperReports while selling a high-end related product, support, etc. It's an interesting model. David is most intrigued by the specter of Open Source products suddenly moving "private", but listening to this whole conversation shows how that might be quite good (for the "Free World") through increasing the development money and support behind OSS projects (the part that stays free), while at the same time creating some very targeted proprietary code that is mainly used by people who want to pay for it. The recording shows the sensitivity they have to the community. Of course, only time will tell.

Read David's report here, and listen to the podcast stored here.

The second podcast is from the O'Reilly Emerging Technologies Conference and is on ITConversations. It's a speech by Neil Gershenfeld, Director of MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms, followed by a panel discussion. It's mainly about personal fabrication, where you "make things". However, it gets into the drive behind making things you need personally, and how there are people who follow that drive. It also (at minute 32:00) includes a bit about applying the ideas of Open Source to hardware and fabrication. I find that this is helpful in getting your hands around what makes people participate in Open Source and the benefits of having tools that are very widely available.

The information about downloading is on this page.

Posted by danb at 11:46 AM

April 13, 2005

Open Source attributes and the Big Picture

One of the attributes of Open Source is the act of cooperation among many people and companies, often ones that otherwise are in competition. The benefits of doing this are often lost on those that haven't participated in such efforts or think that's not how the world is supposed to work. Another is sharing with others who have a need.

I participated in an event at the Massachusetts Software Council yesterday where Mikhail Gorbachev was the keynote speaker. I also got to talk with him over lunch (!!!) about technology and other issues. (I wrote this up on my personal blog.) One thing that struck me was that the idea of cooperation, working together, etc., came up over and over again. He sees that as a major force in creating good for the world. Open Source is just another example of that, and a good one for people studying economics.

Posted by danb at 11:31 AM