Code humor

inevitable system limitations: In response to many questions we’ve been receiving here at Krugle HQ, it appears we need to clarify. Krugle searches open source software code. Sorry, but The Da Vinci Code is neither open source, nor (technically speaking) software. However, if you really need to search inside that book, it seems you can do so on Amazon — and there’s tons of documentation available via Google Books. This has been an official (if somewhat tongue-in-cheek) public service announcement.

No comment.

Reboot 8.0 – Renaissance

After I was good and overwhelmed with all the interaction going on at reboot, Euan Semple held the last keynote presentation before the closing of reboot 8.0. It was a bit zen. If I remember correctly, and I made no notes, it was something about the internet being about love. Four letters of pure misunderstanding is what love tends to be about in a lot of occasions, but not always. Love I understood in this reboot context to be taking the form of connection which is what the live web does allow us all to do. Renaissance pure it is!

Take it for a fact that right now here I sit at my desk writing on a somewhat complex piece of electromechanical machinery and that within seconds my friends in India and California can be reading my opinions and then commenting on them. Furthermore, if they feel like it, then they can call or skype or email. It is all occurring at the speed of light? No… electrical signals do travel a bit slower. Anyhow, for human perception, we are all connected at the push of a button that takes less than one second to actuate, that is to say, instantaneously or thereabouts within seconds.

We are connected and we are autonomously alone simultaneously. The imperative duality of human nature (more on this later) is finally represented in our physical world, Euan is talking about love, others are talking about how to be a renaissance man and that markets are not just conversations, they are relationships (à la Doc Searls). Whatever…  markets are secondary expressions of human needs. The latter are simple: food, shelter and love. That is humans are social animals that eat and drink and are ill adapted for living on trees or on the hot sands of arabia.

I was born in the late fifties, went to college in the seventies and eighties in California and that puts me in a generation that arrived at the tail end of the hippie culture and Timoty Leary. For me drugs and sex were always there for the taking even if I was not at Berkeley; rock-and-roll was optional. This is the generation that gave us the personal computer, also known that instrument that marked the beginning of the erosion of slow communication and expensive advertising campaigns. In those days communication was specialized, slow and it could be controlled. Today communication is a commodity at the finger tip of any individual able to connect to the internet by whatever device. Although these days I am not willing to pay for what a Nokia N90 costs, it is one pregnant device with the shape of things to come. Make that same mobile device a plug in object into my PowerBook, and then I may not be able to resist. I like plug-and-play and multi-functionality that involves socializing hardware itself, not just humans. Besides that I need something that allows me to write fast enough and that allows me to think. I also do not always feel like voicing my thoughts, thus a recording device that writes may also not cover my needs.

But where am I going with all of this rambling about the seventies, the democratization of communication, the non-existense of markets in an abstract sense, abstraction itself and the renaissance man? Or to phrase it differently, what does sex have to do with software?

Really, I am talking about software, not some dysfunctional being’s fantasies or delirium. In this Renaissance of ours midwifed by the likes of geeks and hackers, software is going to be a commodity, like electricity is a commodity now, while energy may present us all a challenge. Our present wars are about land, water and oil. Technology is incidental and commodity-like. Terrorism is a form or warfare using intelligence as its key resource and not technology. It is perhaps not too surprising that using technology to fight intelligence is failing.

Could we perhaps consider that if we want to give this world another perspective we might want to be looking at what values are being served by the creation of new commodities?

Why do I blog this? These are incomplete thoughts that have been inspired by the multitude of experiences and exchange of ideas at reboot 8. I use blogging for publishing both drafts and lose notes of ideas. To me the web is alive and an ongoing conversation on several planes.

Reboot 8.0 – Workshop: Knowledge Ownership

In addressing the matter of intellectual property tools for software protection by suggesting a workshop entitled “Knowledge Ownership” I basically opened up a can of worms. At this point I admit that the worms are a bit shy and it has taken me one week before I could write up my notes and thoughts on the results of this workshop.

The reboot 8.0 t-shirt proclaimed “practical visionaries unite!” I like the idea of being both practical, and a visionary. Best of all I like the idea of working together.

We had a workshop, and we need a sweatshop. Be it that I have an outstanding relationship to sweating, be it that there is much work to do, we have not yet even gotten warm on the issue, much less identified what it is that needs to be done. When the workshop came to a close I had this nagging feeling that I had missed the mark of my goals and expectations by far. Then I listened a bit to the feedback, the notes generated and to my own views of where we got and were we are, and my conclusion is that the worms are shy and need a bit of fresh air. Yes I missed the mark of my expectations, but then they were huge.

I got an email from JF Groff to remind me of the patent commons, and yes, that is one step in addressing some of the present needs. More action is however needed. At reboot 8.0 intellectual property was an issue is several presentations and discussions. Of those that I attended there was , Tim Pritlove‘s “Creative Chaos”, Rasmus FleischerThe Grey Commons” and the news item of “Pirate Bay” that gave me the chance of witnessing one cool Swede not so amused at what the police does during working hours. In our workshop we did focus on software, which in my view is a category in itself and not necessarily served by the same tools as music or graphic arts.

We – geeks – are not where we need to go in terms of having an appropriate tool that is fit for purpose in terms of dealing with software as intellectual property. I had great fun at this workshop, the level of participation was excellent and we could have gone for a couple of more hours. I was fortunate enough to have a group of people show up that were truly ready to think, some I had interviewed in preparation for the workshop. The goal was to create together though a bit of thinking, prodding and provocation what may be the next action in finding a fit for purpose solution to the problem of software protection in the intellectual property domain. We arrived at the consensus that indeed the present tools do not work. Patents do not work for software protection. Copyright does not work for software protection.

Still all that I could think of when starting the workshop is my friend Juba Nour‘s advice “Come to class, take in what is there to take, and get rid of it. Don’t accumulate what you know. Tomorrow you are a different person from today. Tomorrow’s class is another one. Unload your memories, knowledge and habits and come to train fresh.”  (Reference: “Shiun”  July 2004). Why did I quote a 6th dan Aikido Shihan when at the onset of this inquiry?

For me, coming to a workshop looking for solutions and action that is fit for purpose does require a fresh mind. To have a fresh mind, you need to be informed by your knowledge, but you do not need to have it clutter your thinking.

So we asked ourselves what is it that software is? Is it information or is it knowledge? Can software – the information – be protected?

While there was a consensus that software can be protected, it being information, not knowledge. Knowledge can be owned, but it is dynamic and bound to information through human intelligence, being a human intangible asset, the question remains if that knowledge can be owned by any other than the cognitive beings operating it. Take this though a few rounds of thought and the idea of general intellect as discussed by Adam Arvidsson and we know that this a beautiful philosophical question that is very relevant to what we are trying to figure out here.

That is, what kind of protection, if any, does software need? I asked the question of what it is that software needs.

I had help from somebody whose face I remember clearly and whose name I did not make a mental note of, who created two flip chart pages (1 and 2) of notes. UPDATE: Carsten Ohm, it was. Many thanks again Carsten and Ton for commenting and filling in my memory blank. One of these pages summarizes the results of the workshop rather well. knowledge ownership

What is the need for software protection? – None, we have open source. -Authorship -Attribution -One open source Licence -Psycho-therapy (you had to be there to get this one, or else I may explain this later in an expanded context)

Prior to this very brief and in a rush brain-storming we had established the consensus that copyright and patent law do not cover the needs of software. My question remains, how do you bridge the gap and deal with the fact that right now conflicting tools exist that are aimed at protecting software?

What is it that is being protected?

The action generated at the end of the workshop – that is a few minutes after it ought to have already been concluded – was to create a wiki to discuss these issues. What we did not get to do was to find a few brave willing people willing to join forces and brains in starting up this wiki.

Go ahead, challenge us! Comments, emails and welcome.

Update 2: June 12, 2006 added images