At the Ref Desk (4/25/17): Someone calls but when I pick up the phone all I get is background noise -- people talking, etc. Did he or she just sit on their smartphone and dial out accidentally? Interesting jumping off point for a work of fiction... [more...]
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Open Source

Rumors of the Web's Demise are Greatly Exaggerated

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 5/23/10 (12:10pm)

The NYT OpEd "The Death of the Open Web" by Virginia Heffernan is making the rounds.

I just wish that in order to get published in the NYT, you actually had to have some insight into the subject you're talking about. I bring this up because all that's in evidence in Heffernan's piece is an assumption for some reason that the current state of affairs where companies like Apple serve as gatekeepers through their AppStores and subscription firewalls -- that this state of affairs not only will endure but will become the rule for online communication.

Of course, in order to make this assumption, you need to completely ignore what's been going on for 30 years or more. You also need to ignore what motivates people and instead assume that an environment where they're treated essentially as classic "consumers" is likely to be more successful than one where they can pretty much do whatever they want.

Of course, you can also look out the window in December and assume it'll snow all year, but that doesn't entitle you to write articles on meteorology for the New York Times -- at least I thought.

Is a 'closed web' likely to become the way of the future? About as likely as companies like CompuServe and AOL making a come-back.

Whither MySQL?

Submitted by Leo Klein on Mon, 5/18/09 (8:16pm)
Quite a chunk of open-source software, including Drupal, is dependent on MySQL for its database back-end. So it's kind of unsettling, to say the least, when the ownership of this free software passes into the hands of its main commercial competitor, Oracle. As Ryan Paul over at Ars Technica explains:
Oracle's recent move to acquire Sun has placed the responsibility for advancing MySQL development into the hands of the project's most prominent competitor. The move is of deep concern to MySQL stakeholders and has created some uncertainty about the future of the popular open source database system.
The article goes on to discuss an interesting alliance of MySQL developers whose purpose is to "insulate MySQL from Oracle's competitive interests by giving the collective MySQL community enough leverage to control the project's destiny." More here...