Friday, September 27, 2002

Tinkerers' Champion

Lest you thought that Lawrence Lessig was the only professor battling copyright law's reduction of our civil liberties, this fascinating article from the Economist describes Edward Felten's argument for the "freedom to tinker."

It is not just libertarians who are concerned about the restrictions caused by America's latest copyright law. Edward Felten, a professor at Princeton University, argues that the “freedom to tinker”—the right to understand, repair and modify one's own equipment— is crucial to innovation, and as valuable to society as the freedom of speech.

This article also includes some info about a a bill recently introduced in Congress by Senator Fritz Hollings of South Carolina -- a bill which could "...criminalise open-source software..." I guess other folks have known about this bill for awhile, I found this March, 2002 article on the topic in Wired News -- truly scary stuff that we need to stand up and fight against!


Thanks to Craig Stuntz for pointing out this really interesting new tool, Amphetadesk.

This tool creates a local webserver on your desktop. The scripts allow you to subscribe to any web site that supports an XML version, bringing all of the headlines and summaries of your subscribed sites onto your desktop. Right now it just lists all headlines for each web site, grouped by site. But since the data is local, it shouldn't be long before there is a hack that lets you sort by search word or date or author...

This kind of tool makes keeping track of multiple blogs much easier and, in my opinion, starts to show one possible direction for the future of blogging -- blogs could be a bridge technology to a world in which we rely on individual trusted author/editors rather than corporate news conglomerates to parse through all of the world's news sources to put together a constant perspective on particular topics of interest.

For example, a blogger could decide to be an expert on Iraq and would search the world's news outlets for the most interesting tidbits on that country. I could then subscribe to that individual's blog using Amphetadesk and would then have a view into all of the world's news on that topic, but screened by someone I had chosen to trust to give me just the important or interesting items.

Next question -- what is the economic model?

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Dale hands out free beer...

Dale and David I

Borcon Germany kicked off to a great start with Borland CEO Dale Fuller and Borland icon David I giving a terrific keynote speech. Turnout was quite strong with a total of about 600 attendees expected over the four day event in Frankfurt.

Prior to the keynote, Dale was showing attendees this 10 year old photo of David, at a long ago Borcon.Old David I

By the way, these photos are from a Nokia 7650 phone with a built in camera. The resolution is only 640 x 480, but have you ever seen better photos from a phone? :-)

Dale BierDale wrapped up the keynote by asking for questions from the audience and rewarding the asker with a pint of beer. Here he is passing someone a beer.

One final photo -- David I on stage answering questions. David I

Monday, September 23, 2002

Lessig Blogversation

It has occured to me that it is very difficult to follow a blogversation as the reader is presented with the conversation in reverse chronological order, and must bounce back and forth between multiple blogs to read each entry into the conversation. To solve this problem, I have created a separate page which includes all of the entries, in chronological order, for my blogversation with Lawrence Lessig on the topic of his ideas on "opaque creativity." As there are new additions to this conversation, I will post them here on the main page, and also on the separate chronological page.

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Dasher - alternative text input

A very interesting alternate text input experiment can be found here from the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. I think that this is a good example of the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that we can expect in the next generation of handheld devices. Many have said that handheld devices will not become computing platforms until we have voice recognition due to the challenges with the input mechanism. Experiments like Dasher, while early, show that there is still a lot of room for innovation in the way we think about "typing" into devices.

Oktoberfest and Borcon

What a great idea! Hold our German Borland user's conference (Borcon) at the same time as Germany's Oktoberfest celebration! Both events started on Saturday the 21st, with Monday night being the actual opening keynote speech for Borcon. The weekend pre-conference was filled with training classes and certification testing (hopefully some beer drinking...) Germany is one of the largest markets for Borland products and Delphi especially is still very strong here. Where Delphi might be in 10-15% of corporations in the US, it is used in 30% of all German corporations. Now only one problem, I am in Frankfurt for Borcon and the big Oktoberfest celebration is in Munich...

Lord of Light Roger Zelazny

I have been re-reading, for probably the first time in 15-20 years, Roger Zelazny's classic Lord of Light. I enjoy Zelazny in general and also recently re-read his 10 Amber novels (conventiently re-printed into a single volume). But it is as if by a different author altogether -- Lord of Light is a masterful novel where the Amber books are just a fun read. Beautiful language, compelling plot line -- the book describes a world where a colonizing ship's crew has used technology to become the gods of the Hindu pantheon and rule over the passengers that they had brought to colonize the planet. Well worth reading just for Zelazny's use of language.

By the way, if you are an Amber fan, I recommend the new Dawn of Amber novel by John Gregory Betancourt. Written with the permission of the Zelazny estate, this is a prequel which trace the origins of Amber itself. Sadly only the first of this new trilogy is available and it is a bit of a cliff-hanger.