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Journal: Tell Congress/WIPO: No B'cast Treaty Without Representation

Journal by Bruce Perens
Please read the alert here. The Broadcast Flag is back, this time as a WIPO treaty, and if you don't speak up, it'll be decided by bureaucrats without any democratic input at all.

The alert provides a web form to write to your congress person. Please do that. And please put the alert up elsewhere, so that other people can help too.

I'm in Washington DC working on this today, and your support will help.

Thanks

Bruce

User Journal

Journal: Technocrat.net is back 13

Journal by Bruce Perens
Some of you may remember my technology policy / technology news site Technocrat.net. The site is reactivated. It's intended to be a more mature, and hopefully more relevant, forum than Slashdot. No ACs, a special focus on technology policy and high technology outside of the conventional corporate model, but conventional tech news as well.

I'd really appreciate it if you'd create a login on the site and submit articles. Especially original work, which hasn't always been well recieved on Slashdot - they seem to prefer linking to other people's coverage. RDF and RSS are available at http://technocrat.net/rdf and http://technocrat.net/rss, so you can keep track of articles from elsewhere.

Bruce

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Journal: Have you passed through the nerd filter? 4

Journal by Bruce Perens
There is a "nerd filter" that people like me tend to pass through without realizing. On the other side of this filter, we are very likely to meet people we know, and in general people like us.

My most recent episode was at the 9000 foot visitor station on Mauna Kea. The folks there said that I shouldn't attempt to drive up to the telescopes without a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. So, I went in the parking lot and accosted occupants of the first 4-wheel-drive vehicle that came by. The driver of said vehicle had seen me lecture in San Francisco. I got my ride.

Just by standing at that 9000 foot visitor station, I'd passed through the nerd filter.

Then, a few weeks ago, I happened to come upon a local radio club's ham radio field day operation while hiking in the woods with my wife. An co-worker from 10 years ago walked up. It turned out he'd just gotten his ham license.

This stuff happens all of the time. Of course it helps that I am somewhat recognizable in tech circles, so people who know of me tend to walk up, but on the other hand I am not that well known.

What are your experiences beyond the nerd filter?

Bruce

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Journal: Bruce Perens on NPR's Talk of The Nation: Science Friday 4

Journal by Bruce Perens
On Friday January 17, Bruce Perens will be interviewed on National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation: Science Friday", with host Ira Flatow. The subject will be the philosophy and business of Open Source software. The interview will take place between 2:20 P.M. and 3:00 EST, that's 11:20 to 12:00 PST. Find your local radio station here . For general information on the program, see the Science Friday site .
User Journal

Journal: How Slashdot Made Me Famous :-) 8

Journal by Bruce Perens
I don't mean "famous" seriously, but I seem to have become somewhat well-known outside of traditional hacker circles. I try to use that to get our issues heard.

It came to me today that some of what drove me to become well-known outside of our little circle was frustration with Slashdot.

I used to post here a lot, and Slashdot was where I sent most of my bulletins first. Then I started to be frustrated with the editorial policies, submissions being nuked in favor of less important stuff, the AC and troll situation, etc. So, I consciously looked around for other venues in which to publish. First, I started Technocrat.net, which was good (and which I intend to make work again) but didn't pick up more than about 5000 readers. Then I started sending stuff to ZDnet. Surprisingly, ZDnet was much more willing to publish my stuff than Slashdot had been, especially since I didn't want to get paid. After a while, I shifted to their sister publication CNET News.com . I also sent some things to The Register and other publications. All were very willing to publish my stuff. It turned out that Slashdot was much more willing to link to stuff that I'd written on CNET than it was to accept my postings directly, not that it mattered as much once that content was on CNET. I guess that fits the format - I guess Slashdot doesn't want to be a producer of original material - they want to be an aggregator of stuff published elsewhere.

During this time, I was also doing a lot of things that drew attention. Forming a VC firm, working for HP, doing my gig with the W3C patent policy board, etc. Being widely read helped me get to do these things, and doing these things made me more widely read. The press started calling me, and I developed good relationships with a lot of reporters. When I left HP, I got a half-page in the New York Times print business section, with a big photo.

I probably wouldn't be getting all of this press were it not for Slashdot "pushing me out of the cradle". I'm not sure, however, that this was good for Slashdot.

Bruce

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Journal: NY Times Publishes an Article About Perens Book Series 2

Journal by Bruce Perens
Please see this article in the NY Times. Woo Hoo! This is the end of the publicity except for a few magazines with long lead times. We got a good deal of coverage, and IMO it's always a good idea to put the successes of the Free Software movement in front of the people. Hopefully the coverage will inspire others to do free books. I have gotten a lot of writing proposals, but can use more. Please hit my book series page if you would like to write.

Thanks

Bruce

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Journal: I Hit The Slashdot Comment Limit! 13

Journal by Bruce Perens
I posted 30 replies to the story about my Open Source book series with Prentice Hall PTR. The slashcode stopped me at that point. It says you can only post to Slashdot 30 times in 4 hours. It won't even let me do it as an AC. So, the software has cut off comments from the "Horse's Mouth" in favor of ones from the other end of the horse :-) It doesn't seem productive of information. Moderation of the previous comments in the article should be counted in this limit - I haven't checked, but I could probably have made it a good deal of the way from 0 to the 50 karma cap with those 30 comments.

Bruce

User Journal

Journal: Answers to your questions about the W3C patent policy

Journal by Bruce Perens

From: Pierre Machard
> Do you have any reason to think that the position you defend will
> satisfy Patent holders ?

Some of them have threatened to walk off of W3C in response to even so
mild a position as the draft policy. Nobody thinks they'll really do it.
But your question shows the problem: we can't control their behavior
through the standards organization. We need their cooperation to make
this work. Thus, we can't take a draconian position. The only way around
this is to get legislation, which is a worthy but uphill battle.

From: Nick Phillips
> I presume you've seen Rik van Riel's suggestion as posted
> to one of the SPI lists earlier. In fact it wouldn't surprise me if the same
> things triggered his message as yours, either directly or indirectly.

A number of people have suggested defensive patent pools. I think
I remember doing so in a 1997 article in LinuxWorld.com . The three
problems are:

        1. Getting inventions.
        2. Getting money to file for patents. This is both legal fees to
              format the patent claim (which has to be right if you want to
              be enforcible), and filing fees.
        3. Getting money to file lawsuits. If you can't sue, nobody's going
              to be very interested in your claims.

I think that #1 could be handled by the community, #2 could at least be
started with pro-bono assistance from legal and engineering students, etc.
#3 doesn't have to come until later. If you want to run with the project,
please do so.

From: Wouter Verhelst
> It may not be a bad idea to have patent holders turn to a different
> standards body than people that object to software patents. If there are
> expensive 'standards' from one standards body and free standards from
> another, I feel that people would use the free standards, so that the
> patent holders would lose. Even if they have their own standard.

Well, there are about 100 existing organizations they could turn to,
including IETF (which has a joke of a patent policy IMO) and OASIS. It
would be very easy to do. I don't think making them do that would win
us anything.

From: James Antill
From Bruce:
> > The code that makes use of
> > the patented principle must be under the MIT license, which allows a
> > scope-limited patent license. That may be linked into GPL code and
> > distributed.
>
> How does this work?
> Say I have "xmms", which is GPL code that I didn't write ... and I
> want to implement some w3c std. that contains one of these patents. So
> I do the code as an MIT license, but I'm going to have to link it to
> the GPL'd code ... it's going to be a _derivative work_ ... so the
> code is basically GPL, no matter what I put at the top of the file.

The GPL terms on linking are that all parts of the derivative work must be
under a license with _no_additional_restrictions_ on top of those in the
GPL. The GPL does not prevent you from _removing_restrictions_, as long
as you are the copyright holder on the portion of the code in question.

From: Andre Lehovich
> I've been trying to comment on the draft patent policy.
> The link below -- to approve inclusion of my comments in the
> official archive -- doesn't work for me, returing a 404.

It's breaking for everyone, I think. I notified Danny Weitzner, the Patent
Policy Working Group chair.

Attention anyone whose message doesn't appear here: thanks for writing!
As usual, I am buried in mail and stuff to do, so although I read them
all, I can't answer every message individually.

        Thanks

        Bruce Perens

"Just Say No." - Nancy Reagan "No." - Ronald Reagan

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