From the Board

Announcing first Africa Open Source Fellowship in memory of Guido Sohne

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.

Copyrights and patents not so important, economist says

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.

Trash Talk

The story of "Let's Do It!" is both a story of civic triumph and a validation of open source software technology. But like the successful campaign of Barack Obama, the story of the actual open source software used is far less important and far less interesting than the story of how much the principles of the open source model were brought to bear in solving a problem that seemed virtually hopeless using conventional means.

An Open Source Silo

Okay, so Doc Searls has been blogging for a long time about how you don't want to get involved in a silo (context: a silo is a proprietary user interface built on top of proprietary APIs built on top of a proprietary operating system running on proprietary hardware. If you can't think of any examples, pull your cellphone out of your pocket and think about it for two seconds).

Wanted: Future trainers on "Free & Open Source Business Models for Africa" in East and Southern Africa!

- Are you interested in building a successful business in Free/Open Source Software (FOSS), and in helping others to do the same?

- Do you have a solid background in business and FOSS?

- Do you have experience in training others, and/or are you part of a training institution?

Then respond by MAY 30 to become part of an exciting training programme on building businesses with Free/Open Source Software. The call for participants in the Training of Trainers is now open at the project site

West Africa to invest in FOSS Study

FOSSFA and OSIWA, in their Free and Open Source Software for West Africa and Beyond (FOSSWAY) project are set to invest in FOSS research in West Africa. In the recently published Call for Tender both organisations are awarding a research contract up to the tune of 65 000 US dollars for a Study to be carried out in five West African Countries. The study, whose results will be made available in French and English languages, will be the first to constructively do a hands-on from withing the continent.

When you're in Open Source your error longevity is nearly eternal

When you have a startup you ego-surf a lot. It isn't for the normal reasons people ego surf (indeed there is something inside of me left over from my punk adolescence that dies a little every time I do this). It is for the reasons that PR firms ego search. To informally report how effective you are at making noise for your firm. In the process I discovered this vision document which explains why we (myself and Marcus Johnson) were creating a project that eventually became POI, a project hosted at Apache. I was curious so I looked around. It appears to me that this is a course on doing software the wrong way.

Do Patents Encourage or Hinder Innovation? The Case of the Steam Engine

The Freeman, in December of last year, published an excellent study of a natural experiment in patents: the Steam Engine. The power of a steam engine is rated in "duty": the amount of weight it can lift. During the 42 years from 1772 to 1813 duty rose 3.8 percent per year; during the 38 years from 1814 to 1852 duty rose more than twice as fast-8.5 percent per year. The difference?

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