Four short links: 17 November 2011

University Relevance, Free as in Dom, Patent Trolls, and Facebook Teams

  1. Questioning University — my take on the issue of whether a university education (particularly CS) is still relevant or whether kids should go straight to startups. So what do I tell my kids? Should I urge them to go to university? Should I tell them to jack it all in and run off and join a startup? This is what’s occupying my mind now.
  2. Still Cripped by Free (Simon Phipps) — the freedoms of free and open software (the ability to use it for whatever you want, to improve it or give it to others who can then improve it) represent creative and financial independence. Fifteen years after open source and business really started to get dirty with each other, the misunderstanding is still widespread that it’s about price. Simon has a clear and robust essay about the latest UK procurement guidelines to show why price can be subverted in a way that freedom cannot.
  3. The Private and Social Costs of Patent TrollsUsing stock market event studies around patent lawsuit filings, we find that NPE lawsuits are associated with half a trillion dollars of lost wealth to defendants from 1990 through 2010, mostly from technology companies. Moreover, very little of this loss represents a transfer to small inventors. Instead, it implies reduced innovation incentives. (via BoingBoing)
  4. Facebook’s Teams and Use of Data — great talk by Adam Mosseri of Facebook, where he covers the composition of teams at Facebook, how they use data to make decisions, and when they don’t use data to make decisions. (via Bryce Roberts)
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  • You nail it when you say education is wasted on the young. Go to university, but go later.

    I’ve been working for 10 years. I’d get LOADS out of University if I started now. Too bad I went 10 years ago, and wasted it.

  • I agree about waiting until later for university. I spent most of my twenties alternating between working and going to school, finding neither truly exciting. At 28, I committed myself to getting a degree and was finally mature enough to sit down, study, and get decent grades.

  • Nice talk by Mosseri, I had a similar take on the same, maybe with less design and more math given our different backgrounds, about a year ago.
    The main problem for me is that we are now reacting to the excesses of data-drivenism by restoring some of the usual guess-work, opinion and politics that dominate decision making when data doesn’t help. It sounds like a retrenchment as opposed to a step forward.