I admire Carl Malamud immensely and have had the good fortune to help his efforts over the years. Joe Mullin explains Carl’s latest efforts, to free access to Georgia’s legal code from a $1000+ price take, efforts that have netted him a lawsuit. The article is worth a read for the clear explanation of the basis of the state’s case, a claim that annotations on the code are copyright protected even if the text of the law is unencumbered. This is a difference without distinction since the only available text is the one with the annotations. I don’t see Carl backing down, this is a case worth following.
- Amazon to allow lending of Kindle books
Groklaw pointed to this ABC News piece over the weekend. Details are scant, other than while a user has lent a book out, they will not be able to read it themselves. Books can be lent for two weeks at a time. Slashdot has one more tidbit, namely that books can only be lent out once. Superficially attempts to emulate the scarce nature of physical books but utterly fails on the one time limit and that lending is enabled or disabled by the publisher, a right of action current unencumbered for print editions.
- MIT Media Lab’s 25th anniversary
I clearly didn’t read closely enough the BBC article on the Lab to which I linked last week. Several other sites since then have posted reminiscences about the various interesting projects to come out of the Media Lab. John Timmer at Ars Technica posted this one over the weekend, which is a bit more whimsical but I think very much in the spirit of play that animates much of what the Lab has done over the past two and a half decades.
- Ubuntu switching to Unity for future desktop
Ryan Paul at Ars Technica was one of several people to mention this in my feeds today. Unity is the alternate shell for Gnome developed by Canonical specifically to improve the experience of users on netbooks. Reactions to the announcement so far are mixed, with some even thinking this signals a split between Canonical and Gnome, which I think is far from the case. Bear in mind that Linux has a long traditional of experimenting with desktops and undoubtedly if you dislike Unity, replacing it with the ordinary Gnome shell, or anything else for that matter, will remain trivial.
- Carl Malamud’s ignite talk on why building codes should be open, BoingBoing
- Mozilla pre-alpha demonstrates new way to customize its browser, The H
- What you need to know about link shorteners, O’Reilly Radar
- Bees beat machines at traveling salesman problem, Slashdot
- An example of empiricism trumping theory
Slashdot linked to an article on ACM queue explaining how an in the trenches developer was able to prove a hunch that the potential performance of a well known algorithm was estimated as an order of magnitude off of optimal. It is not an indictment of pure theory but a reminder that hunches should be followed and experiments can lead to surprising insights even in the face of overwhelming received wisdom to the contrary.
- Apple rejecting applications using a regex library
Via Hacker News. This seems to contradict the story about Apple relaxing its license, slightly, although the section cited differs from the earlier story. Said license is still under NDA so unless EFF manages to free the latest version, its hard to say what is really going on here. Banning the use of a 3rd party regex library seems overreaching, even for Apple, any way you look at it though.
- Empirically studying the danger of software patents
Glyn Moody shares a related bit of research to the economics of copyright study he mentioned yesterday. This is a doctoral thesis rather than a government commissioned investigation and is limited more to perceived threats and their impact of motivation. Still, it is a step in the right direction to grounding the often overblown rhetoric, on both sides, of the software patent debate.
- Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference kicked off today
Google is participating big time, being behind the CFP collaboration for a social networks bill of rights draft. Check it out if you are in San Jose, CA. I believe it has been in DC in the past and I am still kicking myself for not going. I do hope it will make its way back to the capital.
- Profile of public domain advocate, Carl Malamud
- Possible voting machine fraud in South Carolina
- Book on UK’s secretive intelligence outfit, GCHQ
- An analysis of Lieberman’s cyber-security bill
- The problem with quantum lithography
Cory posting on Boing Boing about Carl Malamud’s Law.gov workshop this week in DC reminded me I should help let folks know. Law.gov is Carl’s project to gather academics, activists and politicians in order to convince the powers that be that the text of our nation’s laws should be made available online for free.
We’re setting off some pretty fireworks next week in Washington, D.C. and I wanted to invite people to come watch. Since January, Public.Resource.Org has been organizing Law.Gov workshops all around the country with the help of a stellar cast of co-convenors. Over 500 people have participated in these workshops. The idea of Law.Gov is that government needs to do a much better job of making primary legal materials available. Code is law, law is code, and we think America’s operating system ought to be open source.
Next week is the conclusion of the Law.Gov workshops and we’re going out with a bang. On Tuesday, John Podesta will be hosting us at the Center for American Progress and the whole thing will be streamed live on the net. There is a really stellar cast of participants including a half-dozen senior administration officials and some well-known net names like Vint Cerf and Tim O’Reilly. Then, on Thursday and Friday, Larry Lessig and John Palfry are hosting us at Harvard for a 2-day wrapup.
I volunteer on another of Carl’s projects, the International Amateur Scanning League and have spoken with him repeatedly about Law.gov. He’s a compelling man and intensely motivated. If I could have attended the event, I would just to met him again and to hear just him speak, let alone all of the other notable folks that will be there.
Space at the DC workshop is so limited the event is invite only. It will be streamed live in case you are curious. It will run from 10AM to 4PM tomorrow, the 15th. The list of speakers is amazing and the full schedule is available at the web site. It definitely looks worth making the time to catch what speakers you can on the live stream throughout the day. Hopefully there will be archived video after the event too.