According to Techworld, Jonathan Zuck of the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT) has recently accused the European Commission of having a bias in favor of open source. This is an interesting claim for a number of reasons, not least of which are the questions "who is the ACT?" and "what are they doing in the halls of the European Commission?". But the question of reported bias is also an interesting one, and characterizes on of the great philosophical and political challenges of our age.
Now that the dish is prepared, is very easy for people to eat it. But to prepare this dish was not a joke. I remember the first meeting we had, at Granja do Torto, which I understood absolutely nothing of this language that this people were deciding, and that was a huge tension between those who advocated for the adoption of free software by Brazil and those who thought we should do the sameness of always, buying, paying for others intelligence and, thanks God, prevailed in our country the issue and the decision of free software. We had to choose: or we were going to the kitchen to prepare this dish the way we wanted to eat, with the seasoning that we wanted, to give a Brazilian taste to our food, or we would eat what Microsoft wanted us to eat. Prevailed, simply, the idea of freedom.
My recent visit to Brazil was a wonderful validation of the belief that I've held for more than 20 years: if you give people a better way to do things, they'll do better things. The Brazilian government continues to expand its adoption of open source, both across more and more ministries and deeper within each ministry. I had the pleasure of talking with one of Brazil's top IT strategists, and she told me some very interesting things, both encouraging and alarming.
Yesterday I had a chance to meet the lead singer of O Teatro Magico and then see their show. It was amazing! This creative group of musicians were about to "live the dream" by signing with a record company a number of years ago, but after they recorded the songs for their first album, the recording company said "sorry, but you need to change everything so that it sounds more like pop."
President Lula's acceptance speech is instructive, as it specifically calls out the social benefits of free and open source software (original Portuguese, [with English translation bracketed], emphasis mine):
I've heard a lot of arguments against software patents (SWPAT) since Richard Stallman first raised the flag at the League for Programming Freedom, and almost all of the arguments are variations on a theme. A valid theme, but a theme that, after 20 years, has become a bit monotonous. Herman Daly puts that theme in a new context that has me all excited. He says
According to a feature article in Federal Computer Weekly, the Obama Administration's new CIO Vivek Kundra has specifically called out open source as one of the key technology initiatives he will support to make the government work better at a lower cost (and with greater transparency). But the article continues to point out what seem to be persistent talking points of the FUD spinner, and this is where we need to make some real progress.
Launched on the eve of his birthday, the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA) and the Advanced Information Technology Institute of the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Center for Excellence in ICT (AITI-KACE), have decided to join forces with the Sohne family to establish a Fellowship in memory and honour of the great work that Guido accomplished. So I was not worried to make the 15-hour road trip to get to Accra to be part of the event.
Michele Boldrin of Washington University in St. Louis talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about intellectual property and Boldrin's book, co-written with David Levine, Against Intellectual Property. Boldrin argues that copyright and patent are used by the politically powerful to maintain monopoly profits. He argues that the incentive effects that have been used to justify copyright and patents are exaggerated--few examples from history suggest that the temporary and not-so-temporary monopoly power from copyright and patents were necessary to induce innovation. Boldrin reviews some of that evidence and talks about the nature of competition. Listen to the interview.