the iCite net > news / blog > a permalink

news and thoughts on and around the development of the iCite net
by Jay Fienberg

PlaNetwork conference, Mitch Kapor on Open Source

posted: Jun 6, 2003 1:43:48 PM

Blogging the plaNetwork conference in San Francisco.

Mitch said that we were all going to decide the topic of his presentation, and everyone laughed. He said it wasn't a joke.

He made the transition to open source from commercial world. Thinks OSS is interesting in many ways.

Just did a survey of the room, and there are a lot of tech folks here. Lots of hands raised when he asked who runs Linux on at least one machine.

Desktop computing. Guess hundreds of millions of desktop users. He has slides with his points (I hope he posts them somewhere).

Not satisfactory state of desktops. Hardware is a couple hundred dollars, but main software people use is up around $500. Ongoing license, maintenance, and support costs end up dwarfing the initial cost.

(btw, I am connected via wifi to the Internet archive network. They are right across the street, and the Internet bookmobile is out front. Cool!)

The best software tools for maintaining desktops are only in big corps and very expensive. Tools like blogs and wikis are not mature. He shutters to think what the effect would be of giving social activists wikis: like stepping back to the 1970s. No WYSIWIG, etc.

Desktops, disempowerment of end users: technical complexity and architectures leave end users helpless. They are grateful for what they have got. But, compared from where things could be: not good. Egregious ease of use problems. (He gives some big number of time people spend waiting for systems to reboot. He notes that, like 71% of all statistics, his are made up!)

Desktop computer stakeholders: big enterprises and Microsoft. Much smaller: you me and everybody else.

Why haven't things happened that should have happened (at least according to folks in Silicon Valley)? Barriers to entry. No incentive to make new products because you can't come up with a business model that will compete successfully. There is no low hanging fruit there in terms of making money and getting investors. True even before the bubble burst. And, anti-trust action fizzled.

The Arc of Open Source: from humble beginnings to unexpected results. Mitch found it to be incredibly interesting, himself coming from the commercial world. He shows picture of Richard Stallman and talks about his creation of "free software".

Stallman: Software development is a community effort. The ideal is the commons, work done for the benefit for the collective. He organized efforts to create a large body of free software. Created the GPL. Started a new universe with a working ecology.

It seemed to be utterly irrelevant, like a self-contained little island. Didn't include end-users or businesses. Stallman was only into programmers. Until Linus Torvalds. He built on all the GNU software. But, brought in the mindset of fun and openness: transition from free software to open source software.

Linux grew from obscure hobbyist project in the early 1990s to being mission critical infrastructure software that business bet on every day. Amazing. Incredibly decentralized, and radically different, model of development that has been hugely successful.

(My laptop battery is already down to 39%. Not going to work much longer.)

Mitch created the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF) to create and gain wide adoption of the open source application software, i.e., for end users. OSAF is an experiment in OSS. A non-profit.

Talking about OSS projects being starved for resources. Volunteer efforts are great, but funding is needed. Will talk more later about why OSAF is a non-profit.

Why OSAF? Critique of desktop. Success of OSS. Email as the most important productivity application. People organize their lives around their email boxes. Tools have not been designed to account for email as the hub of user's information. Segments outside of large enterprises hugely under served.

OK, going down. More later.

permalink | comments {0} · trackbacks {0}

also available as: rss · rss2 · rdf · atom

Comments and Tracbacks

Note: All comments and trackbacks are moderated. Spam is deleted. Other comments are approved as promptly as possible.

Note: Older posts no longer accept new comments or trackbacks.

« prev post
PlaNetwork conference, Hazel Henderson

» next post
PlaNetwork conference, blogs and online communities, part 1

blog newsfeeds

brief content:

 XML  ·  RSS  ·  RDF  ·  Atom 

full content:

 XML  ·  RSS  ·  RDF  ·  Atom 

blog archive

jan · feb · mar · apr
may · jun · jul · aug 
sep · oct · nov · dec
jan · feb · mar · apr
may · jun · jul · aug
sep · oct · nov · dec

jan · feb · mar · apr
may · jun · jul · aug
sep · oct · nov · dec

may · jun · jul · aug
sep · oct · nov · dec

first post: 
April 30, 2003

highlight views:
Spammers' Choice

Jay elsewhere online
Jay Fienberg - the official home page

Wrong Notes - the music blog of the Ear Reverends

Fine & Full, aka, a fine and full burger

Sociomobilepoetextologia (moblog, currently inactive due to lack of proper mobile)

to enjoy roll
sites I like to read when I start from here

· Anastasia Fuller
· Andy Baio
· Biz Stone
· Boris Mann
· Bre Pettis
· Chris Dent
· Danny Ayers
· Dare Obasanjo
· David Czarnecki
· David Weinberger
· Don Park
· Evan Williams
· Greg Narain
· Jason Kottke
· Jim Benson
· Lucas Gonze
· Marc Canter
· Matt May
· Matt Mullenweg
· Michal Migurski
· Nancy White
· Rebecca Blood
· Reg Cheramy
· Richard MacManus
· Sam Ruby
· Shelley Powers
· Tim Bray
· danah boyd

powered by blojsom

Entries by blojsim