Open source rant

The following is a rant on Open Source vs. Free Software, with Java as the protagonist. While I am pragmatic and appreciate what Java offers (fast development, powerful tools, strong support) I have also voiced at times my concerns over its use, particularly within the non-profit and NGO markets that we have been looking at pursuing.


I haven't blogged for over a month, so here's a random rant to try to kick start this for me again...

Since the Xerox machine, people have been able to make easy copies of "the news," but forgery was tough as (say) the New York Times had a distinctive type face and "feel" to it.

Now with the Internet, it's trivial to make forgeries. (Phishing attacks work by creating convincing forgeries of trusted web sites.) It's deep within my philosophy that anything that can be reduced to bits (what I generically call "software") should be free.

Less Databases

Just came across Chis Ceppi's blog posts on more Less Databases. He suggests that:

...some aggregation of identity information into centralized systems would be a big step in the right direction.

Global Voices

Joi Ito wrote today about Global Voices (blog, wiki) which is "a name, an identity, a watchword to ward away the chills of restricted expression. A place for coordinating ideas; a source for inspiration; an optimistic, collaborative manifesto".

Free, just the way you want it

Stephen Downes makes some observations that are indicative of some of the misunderstandings that surround i-name technology. I will briefly address two issues in particular:

I-names can be free
While so-called "global" i-names cost money, there are at least two type of free i-names, and I expect the large majority of i-names issued will be free.

Open APIs Crucial

Olivier Travers writes of the need for open APIs. We at Identity Commons consider open APIs to be crucial (as well as open governance, open privacy and security mechanisms, etc.).

Jon Udell on digital identity and Internet governance

One of my favorite technology bloggers, Jon Udell, mentioned Identity Commons in his blog today. But even he got a part of the picture wrong. I don't know how we're going to do it, but we've got to get our message clearer.

John quotes Owen Davis as saying that [global] i-names will be priced similarly to DNS names. My goal (and I believe Owen shares it) as founder of (the first i-broker) is to provide [community] i-names for free as soon as possible.

Slashdotted (We're not centralized!)

Wow - we just got Slashdotted! (And our servers seem to have withstood a sustained load over six times what their previous peak had been - whew!) Anyway, it seems clear that our messaging around how we work has got some holes in it...

First, it appears many people think that this is a centralized system. Actually, i-brokers, which are based on the open OASIS XRI, XDI and SAML standards, are not centralized.

Knocked down? Time to get back up!

I'm still reeling from the un-reality of it all.

I think my sister summed it up well when she said:

i think they'll get a few surprises pretty fast : the economy will tank, the taxes will go up, their jobs will go to calcutta and their kids will be drafted to iraq. but of course, hetero marriage has been protected so maybe they'll figure it's a fair trade

Not to dwell to long on what's happened, but part of me wonders if her absentee ballot even got counted, given that it was mailed from France and was for Kerry...

Kerry, please

I'm trying to get work done (ok, I am getting work done) but I'm also nervous as all get out regarding the results of the election. Who are these people who can vote for Bush when it's been proven that he's lied to the American public about WMDs, the link between Iraq and al Quaeda not to mention his domestic promises for better health care, schools and jobs?

If Bush wins again, I think that any slack that the rest of the world has given U.S.

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