- OTD Lessons Learned v1 (PDF) — Dept of Defense report on use of open technologies. Advocates against forking open source projects, and provides specific guidance for groups looking to use OSS so they can navigate the military’s producement policies and procedures in a way that’ll deliver the best chance of success for the project. Imagine if only the manufacturer of a rifle were allowed to clean, fix, modify or upgrade that rifle. The military often finds itself in this position with taxpayer funded, contractor developed software: one contractor with a monopoly on the knowledge of a military software system and control of the software source code. (via John Scott)
- A Liberating Betrayal (Simon Phipps) — Microsoft have told Digium (makers of Asterisk) that they can’t sell their Asterisk-Skype interaction module after July 26. Simon notes that this reveals the fundamental problem with “open core” approaches to open source business. The proprietary interests hold all the cards here. The community can’t just “rehost and carry on” because the crucial add-on is proprietary. Even if wasn’t, the protocol it’s implementing is proprietary and subject to arbitrary change – very likely to happen if anyone attempts to reverse-engineer the interface and protocol. Asterisk may be open source, but if you’re dependent on this interface to connect with your customers on Skype you’ve no freedoms – that’s the way “open core” works.
- Zero Install — Zero Install is a decentralised cross-distribution software installation system. Just hit 1.0. (via James Williams)
Data Manual, Data Processing, Piracy Report, and Fragile Free
- The Open Data Manual — a HOWTO for organisations wanting to open up data. This report discusses legal, social and technical aspects of open data. The manual can be used by anyone but is especially designed for those seeking to open up data. It discusses the why, what and how of open data — why to go open, what open is, and the how to ‘open’ data.
- MDP — Modular Toolkit for Data-Processing. Open source Python toolkit embodying a pile of machine learning and signal processing algorithms. (via Joshua Schachter)
- Media Piracy in Emerging Economies — SSRC report. The study finds no systematic links between media piracy and organized crime or terrorism in any of the countries examined. Today, commercial pirates and transnational smugglers face the same dilemma as the legal industry: how to compete with free. (via BoingBoing)
- The Fragility of Free (Ben Brooks) — The fragility of free is a catchy term that describes what happens when the free money runs out. Or—perhaps more accurately—when the investors/founders/venture capitalists run out of cash, or patience, or both. Because at some point Twitter and all other companies have to make the move from ‘charity’ to ‘business’—or, put another way, they have to make the move from spending tons of money to making slightly more money than they spend. It’s at this moment that we begin to see the fragilities of the free system. Things that never had ads, get ads—things that were free, now cost a monthly fee. We have all seen it before with hundreds of services—many of which are no longer around. (via Marco Arment)
- Public Data Corporation — UK to form a corporation to centralize both opening and commercializing government data. “A Public Data Corporation will bring benefits in three areas. Firstly and most importantly it will allow us to make data freely available, and where charging for data is appropriate to do so on a consistent basis. It will be a centre where developers, businesses and members of the public can access data and use it to develop internet applications, inform their business decisions or identify ways to run public services more efficiently. Some of this work is already taking place but there is huge potential to do more. Secondly, it will be a centre of excellence where expertise in collecting, managing, storing and distributing data can be brought together. This will enable substantial operational synergies. Thirdly, it can be a vehicle which will attract private investment.” Did I wake up in crazyland? Private Investment?!!
- What If Flickr Fails — thoughtful piece about business models. Among all the revenue diets a company might have, advertising equates best with candy. Its nutritive value is easily-burned carbohydrates. A nice energy boost, but not the protein-rich stuff comprised of products and services that provide direct benefits or persistent assets.
Some of you may have noted
today’s Google 10^100 announcement which has resulted in a rather remarkable transformation in our
balance sheet (not to mention some serious rocket fuel for Law.Gov!)
Philosophy of DevOps, Peak MHz, Transparency Satire, Naked Government
- Instrumentation and Observability (Theo Schlossnagle) — thoughtful talk (text and video available at that link) from a devops master. Many systems have critical metrics, which are diverse and specific to the business in question. For the purposes of this discussion, consider a system where advertisements are shown. We, of course, track every advertisement displayed in the system and that information is available for query. Herein the problem lies. Most systems put that information in a data store that is designed to answer marketing-oriented information: who clicked on what, what was shown where, etc. Answering the question, “How many were shown?” is possible but is not particularly efficient.
- Peak MHz (Mike Kuniavsky) — we hit the era of what I’m calling Peak MHz in about 2004. That’s the point when processor speed effectively peaked as chip manufacturers began competing along other dimensions. Which is why all the effort is going into horizontally-scalable systems like the NoSQL gadgets. (via Matt Jones)
- Transparency — the great British satires Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister continue as one of the writers blogs in the persona of the elder civil servant Sir Humphrey Appleby. His take on transparency is funny because it’s true: I understand your anxiety about the new government’s fixation on what they are pleased to call ‘transparency’, but you are distressing yourself unnecessarily. It afflicts all incoming administrations. It used to be called ‘open government’, and reflects the frustrations they felt when they were in opposition and could not find out what was going on, combined with an eagerness to discover and publicise the deception, distortions and disasters of their predecessors.
- The Government Doesn’t Look Good Naked — a fine counter to the squawks of “the government’s open efforts suck!” that are building. this is exactly how to prevent innovation in government. If you want change, you have to tolerate imperfection and risk. If every program manager thinks they’ll end up on the front page of the Washington Post or get dressed down onstage at Gov 2.0, nothing will change. (via Tim McNamara)
Mozilla Updated License Draft, Government Problems, T3h Internets, and Online Voting System
- Alpha Draft of Mozilla Public License v2 Out — The highlight of this release is new patent language, modeled on Apache’s. We believe that this language should give better protection to MPL-using communities, make it possible for MPL-licensed projects to use Apache code, and be simpler to understand. (via webmink on Twitter)
- Challenge.gov — contest-like environment for solving problems. Not all are glowing examples of government innovation: $12,000 for healthy recipes for kids–this is not a previously-unsolved problem. More relevant: NASA Centennial Challenge to build an aircraft that can fly 200 miles in less than two hours using the energy equivalent of less than 1 gallon of gas per occupant. (via scilib on Twitter)
- A Virtual Counter-Revolution (The Economist) — It is still too early to say that the internet has fragmented into “internets”, but there is a danger that it may splinter along geographical and commercial boundaries. (via mgeist on Twitter)
- Selectricity — open source system to run online votes, from Benjamin Mako Hill.
Checking in on Data.gov roughly one year later
After launching just over a year ago with only 47 data sets, the Data.gov catalog now has 2,326 entries that have been collectively downloaded almost three-quarters of a million times. The big Data.gov winner so far? The Department of the Interior’s “Worldwide M1+ Earthquakes, Past 7 Days” data set. Here’s a look at the top 10 downloads.