In case you’ve missed it, London and several other UK cities have been rocked by mobs of rioters when the sun has gone down over the last few days. Part of the crackdown proposed by Prime Minister David Cameron includes shuttering Twitter and other social media sites during unrest to disrupt communications.
The reports I’ve seen have included Blackberry messenger as another preferred means of getting the word out for rioters. Of course, like here, Pols in the UK love their Crackberries so there’s no mention of shutting them down. But I digress…….. As with our own DHS grabbing TLD’s without due process, shutting down social media won’t put rioters out of touch with one another. In fact, telegraphing the intent to do so will surely encourage them to have alternative site(s) and even other forms of messaging lined up as a backup. In other words, the power grab that is being put forth as a reaction to a problem can’t possibly do any good at all.
The real word for Cameron’s proposed action is the beginning of a slippery slope. Law enforcement will not improve and we all lose a little more freedom. Hopefully our cousins across the pond have enough common sense to cry foul and put a stop to this. That’s doubly important to us as many of the worst ideas hatched in the UK tend to get copied by American pols.
With print and broadcast news media in decline, tradition journalists have also evolved into news creators rather than news gatherers. While the few of us who are more aware have dug deeper, most continue to dumbed down by the pseudo news parody of late night comedy and other entertainment media.
The Internet has provided some relief, although things like search results are also being baked with an agenda driven formula. Plentiful so called news sites are political and big industry operatives in blog clown suits. Fortunately, many of the more aware masses have also taken voice.
A new twist on crowdsourcing news could be coming from Viewshound. Launching in a few days, the site promises to offer up content produced by anyone. There’s a big caveat in the unknown of editorial review and what agendas it may favor. Forever the optimist, I hope news gathering will prevail over news creation or political agenda. Even if that’s not the case, this could be a glimpse of how news will be reported and aggregated going forward.
As a big user of mostly free online services, I’m becoming less comfortable with entrusting my data to people who I can’t be certain will always act in my best interest. Having said that, if I want the convenience of the cloud I do not have any other option unless I invest in an infrastructure and learn how to care for it. That would be a big drain my already scarce time and funds. Apparently I’m not alone in this dilemma.
If a private cloud could be made from like minded peers it might be possible to to address our collective concerns. That could mean service providers who do not respect our privacy, and an increasingly intrusive government would no longer be of much concern. Creating such a network is the goal of the Freedom Box Project. The project expects to provide a distributed service using simple plug computers. Kudos to the project’s founders. I’ll certainly be one of the early adopters of their first release.
If you’re into to photography, Flickr is an active community of like minded folks. In fact, my own informal research shows that photography enthusiast and professional group membership is a growing on the site. The problem for Flickr is that there is an exodus of masses the of casual snapshot sharers to Facebook and other social networking sites.
Although Flickr is well known and still widely used, its traffic is shrinking. Unique visitors to Flickr in the United States fell 16 percent, to 21.3 million, in December compared with a year earlier, according to comScore. Meanwhile, for that same time frame, use of Facebook’s photo features grew 92 percent, to 123.9 million users.
Flickr’s trajectory largely dovetails that of Yahoo, which is struggling to re-emerge from years of underperformance. Carol A. Bartz, the company’s chief executive, is leading a turnaround effort that includes jettisoning products that are not central to her strategy of emphasizing Yahoo’s strengths. (New York Times)
There is probably nothing that Yahoo can do to stem the tide of snapshot sharers from abandoning Flickr. The critical mass of Facebook as a social hub with unlimited photo sharing will be impossible to overcome. Flickr could have a bright future in returning to its roots as a community of photo enthusiasts. These enthusiasts are more likely to pay for value add and premium services. Lower demand on resources with more users willing to spend, Flickr could contribute more to the bottom line. With Yahoo’s current strategy of shedding non-growth enterprises, it will take savvy insight to recognize and take advantage of Flickr’s return to its roots.
Myspace has fallen like a rock from its stratospheric high that brought a $580 million buy out from News Corp, followed by substantial investment. The social network began its growth with a core community of musicians and fans as its driver. As it expanded, it became universally popular and lost its niche focus. Now on hard times, huge cuts are planned by News Corp with a rumors of a return to it’s original niche.
One person familiar with the matter said the site could lay off between a third and a half of its roughly 1,100 employees. Another person said the moves could be announced as soon as this month.
It’s universally believed that the growth of Facebook is responsible for Myspace’s demise. I think there’s more to the story. Bloat, stagnation, complacency and loss of focus are a recurring them for net companies that experience exponential growth. Myspace had a huge influx of cash for investors, hired like and moved into posh Beverly Hills digs while losing focus while never generating a sustainable cash flow.
While Facebook has continued to innovate, it’s revenue growth declined from 186% to 38% from 2009 to 2010. It’s commonly believed that the company is still burning more cash than it brings in. Other social darlings like Delicious have been acquired and killed by a distracted parent like Yahoo. Digg and Twitter are also burning cash.
I have no doubt that social media is here to stay in a big way. What I have doubts about is the future of big, bloated, overcapitalized organizations remaining dominant. At some point investors tire of burning money on the same old idea. I do think if Myspace returns to its indie music focus, it can survive, but not with a cast of thousands on the payroll. Other overcapitalized social media should not that this could be a signal that the bubble has run its course.
That being is the rights assignments of the Ubuntu team setting things up to go Open Core, which is not Open Source. –
[C]ompare Qt and Gtk, Qt has a contribution agreement, Gtk doesn’t, for a while, back in the bubble, Sun, Red Hat, Ximian and many other companies threw money at Gtk and it grew and improved very quickly but, then they lost interest, and it has stagnated. Qt was owned by Trolltech it was open source (GPL) but because of the contribution agreement they had many options including proprietary licensing, which is just fine with me alongside the GPL and later, because they owned Qt completely, they were an attractive acquisition for Nokia, All in all, the Qt ecosystem has benefitted [sic] and the Gtk ecosystem hasn’t.
It takes some careful analysis to parse what’s going on here. First of all, Shuttleworth is glossing over a lot of complicated Qt history. Qt started with a non-FaiF license (QPL), which later became a GPL-incompatible Free Software license. After a few years of this oddball, license-proliferation-style software freedom license, Trolltech stumbled upon the “Open Core” model (likely inspired by MySQL AB), and switched to GPL. When Nokia bought Trolltech, Nokia itself discovered that full-on “Open Core” was bad for the code base, and (as I heralded at the time) relicensed the codebase to LGPL (the same license used by Gtk). A few months after that, Nokia abandoned copyright assignment completely for Qt as well! (I.e., Shuttleworth is just wrong on this point entirely.) In fact, Shuttleworth, rather than supporting his pro-Open-Core argument, actually gave the prime example of Nokia/TrollTech’s lesson learned: “don’t do an Open-Core-style contributor agreement, you’ll regret it”. (RMS also recently published a good essay on this subject).
Bradley Kuhn goes on to point out the fallacy of Shuttleworth’s assertion. Read the whole piece here.
If Shuttleworth is looking to shop Canonical Ltd to some VC shops as Kuhn surmises by going Open Core so he can cash out, well that’s profit. However if I were a VC operator writing the check I would be very leery. Canonical is by no means a Microsoft regardless of their lead in the Linux desktop space.
Canonical only holds the right to their own particular OS variant of Debian. They don’t own the rights to any of the top layer GUIs they use. Nor any of the bottom layer infrastructure for network, key maps, etc. So their actual hold on outright IP is very tenuous indeed.
Case. Were Ubuntu to go Open Core I would be loading up Linux Mint Debian almost immediately. Yes I know it is barely beta, all sorts of rough edges, not ready for prime time. But FOSS is a choice that has to be supported and Open Core is NOT FOSS.
On a related note. –
After Oracle acquired SUN Microsystem, some leading members of the OpenOffice.org community forked OpenOffice.org as LibreOffice. They also set up The Document Foundation to continue the independent works of the OpenOffice.org community.
However, Oracle is not taking their move well. They want the founders of The Documents Foundation to leave the OpenOffice.org council. According to Oracle, their works with The Documents Foundation and LibreOffice will conflict with that of OpenOffice.org.
In many FOSS projects there is usually a free exchange of codes and ideas between the original project and the forked one. There is however little or no competition between them. The fact that Oracle mentions conflict of interest suggests that they see LibreOffice as a competitor and that they want tighter control over the direction that OpenOffice.org takes.
LibreOffice already has backing from a lot of companies including Google, Red Hat, Canonical and Novell. Moreover Mark Shuttleworth has also said that future releases of Ubuntu will ship with LibreOffice, not OpenOffice.org.
Disaster? Heh. Depends on what side of the fence you are on. This is Oracle being Oracle, the pirate they are. They don’t like interlopers in the middle of their stuff. Its one of the reasons that Oracle has one of the lowest community penetration levels around. Oracle is spiting themselves.
But I digress. What many people view as a bad thing by Linux and its various tools always forking I view as positive. How is it that in nature the idea of species variation can be GOOD but that forking (eg species variation) is viewed as BAD? The fact is that ability to fork is what keeps FOSS out of the hands of any single intellectual entity. Without the ability to fork FOSS would have been captured long ago and would have died out.
Libre Office might prove to be a very good thing. Or not. That is part of the evolution of mutations. Some win big, others become extinct. So long as the genetic lineage can be maintained (eg the file format) much can be achieved by forking. And by the way the Open Document Format goes along way in fostering that genetic lineage angle in the office apps arena.
Irony of ironies? Canonical is going to adopt Libre Office in their next release. Which I presume is to not be tied down by the potential of an Open Core problem in the office suite space by Oracle. Yet Canonical maybe doing the exact thing that they are possibly trying to get away from. sigh…