Four short links: 20 October 2009

Politics in The Age of Social Software, Ethernet Patents, Free Book Fear, Programming Exercises

  1. Poles, Politeness, and Politics in the Age of Twitter (Stephen Fry) — begins with a discussion of a UK storm but rapidly turns into a discussion of fame in the age of Twitter, modern political discourse, the “deadwood press”, and The Commons in Twitter Assembled. There is an energy abroad in the kingdom, one that yearns for a new openness in our rule making, our justice system and our administration. Do not imagine for a minute that I am saying Twitter is it. Its very name is the clue to its foundation and meaning. It is not, as I have pointed out before, called Ponder or Debate. It is called Twitter. But there again some of the most influential publications of the eighteenth century had titles like Tatler, Rambler, Idler and Spectator. Hardly suggestive of earnest political intent either. History has a habit of choosing the least prepossessing vessels to be agents of change.
  2. Apple and Others Hit With Lawsuit Over 90s Ethernet Patents — unclear whether the plaintiff is 3Com (who filed the patents) or a troll who bought them. “We strongly believe that 3Com’s Ethernet technologies are being regularly infringed by foreign and some US companies,” said David A. Kennedy, Chief Executive Officer of U.S. Ethernet Innovations. “We believe that the continued aggressive enforcement of the fundamental Ethernet technologies developed by 3Com against the waves of cheap, knock-off, foreign manufactured equipment is a necessary step in protecting the competitiveness of this American technology and American companies in general.” (via Slashdot)
  3. The Point — someone’s publishing Mark Pilgrim’s “Dive into Python”, which was published by APress under an open content license. Naturally this freaked out APress (it’s easy to imagine many eyelids would tic nervously should such a thing happen with one of O’Reilly’s open-licensed books). Mark’s response is fantastic. Part of choosing a Free license for your own work is accepting that people may use it in ways you disapprove of. There are no “field of use” restrictions, and there are no “commercial use” restrictions either. In fact, those are two of the fundamental tenets of the “Free” in Free Software. If “others profiting from my work” is something you seek to avoid, then Free Software is not for you. Opt for a Creative Commons “Non-Commercial” license, or a “personal use only” freeware license, or a traditional End User License Agreement. Free Software doesn’t have “end users.” That’s kind of the point.
  4. Programming Praxis — programming exercises to keep your skills razor-sharp, with solutions.
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