A More Compelling Cost-based Argument for Open Source, The Correct Focus of Copyright Debate, and More

  • Report on massive savings open source could have netted
    I tend to focus more on the aspects of free access to knowledge and tools and give less credence to arguments around open source based primarily on issues of cost. However, not only is the dollar amount discussed by this report and story staggering but it seems like the opportunity costs in terms of time to start using the compared systems is also considerable.
  • Is balance the right point to push for when reforming copyright?
    At Techdirt Mike Masnick seems to do a better job quickly sifting through this question than the paper he cites. I had a recent discussion with a friend who felt liability reform is a better goal and I think that jibes well with what Masnick reminds us, that the goal of copyright is to maximize the content created.
  • B&N pushing for ebook lending is the wrong battle
    This NYT Bits article discussing a hinted feature of the booksellers own dedicated reader device. When rumors of this device started surfacing, I checked out the existing ebook store that is already compatible with a bunch of devices. Unfortunately, the titles are saddled in DRM, even apparently the public domain titles. If B&N want to enable secondary uses like book lending and sharing, they need to fight publishers over the necessity for DRM in the first place rather than quibbling over restricted capabilties.
  • Yale physicists measure persistent current
    The effect in question is one they are trying to understand better with regards to its effecting in ever shrinking electronic components. The breakthrough apparently came with a shift in how the measurements are made, using a mechanical system, nano scale cantilevers. With more and more research going into driving scale smaller and smaller, this sort of measurement is just going to be that much more important for fueling future computing performance.

3 Replies to “A More Compelling Cost-based Argument for Open Source, The Correct Focus of Copyright Debate, and More”

  1. My issue with reports on cost savings is when that is the sole argument for using open source. Especially in government systems, I think there are more compelling advantages. I will admit that my view may be unreasonable but am willing to bear that burden if my push for more than just bottom line accounting gets folks thinking.

    Fair enough on asking Masnick to go further, considering an even more fruitful view. The comments you point out are consistent with the discussion around liability that Gavin Baker and I were having over lunch Friday. His notion is that lowered liability should only be available to folks creating derivative works. I think that fits well with the suggestion Geof makes of assessing the benefits of creativity.

    Doesn’t it all ultimately fall under the very definition of the progress clause? Again, rather than bickering over balance, aren’t we supposed to be chewing over what forms of intellectual monopoly and/or other regulation serve the spirit of the clause?

  2. Absolutely $ savings tell only a small part of the story, but they are important figures to have. And it is helpful to have (admittedly handwavy) quantitative measures of broader impact.

    I don’t really care what the progress clause says. Only somewhat relevant for less than 1/20 of the world’s population. Furthermore, policy analysis, which is what I care about, says the same thing regardless of what appears in a certain text. And that analysis needs to take into account the costs of activities, not merely benefits, or you get analysis that says activities should be encouraged more (or discouraged less) than is socially optimal.

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