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Is Open Source The New Jerusalem? 98

Halfway through the Net Revolution, many are sobering up -- still excited but wiser and warier. Two ideas stand out as monumental victories: the hacker ethos and Open Source. The hackers brought joy and and freedom back to work, Open Source has bred some powerful offspring -- open media, culture and a more open society. It may end up the most enduring legacy of the Net Revolution. Last of a series. (Read more).

"And I saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God ... its radiance like a most rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal ... By its light shall the nations walk; and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it." --

The Book of Revelations

So the history of revolutions, just like the philosopher said, is in fact sad and strange. They never last long, inevitably grow corrupted by private interests, and often wind up failing the very people who worked so hard to make them. They veer off in unanticipated directions, have unforeseen consequences, cause casualties among the innocent. They can also do incalculable good while they last, advancing noble ideals, improving lives, giving people a powerful sense of freedom and creation. Sometimes, their effects can't be seen or measured for years.

Yet the goals of revolutions often remain unattainable, at least during the lifetimes of their creators.

It's too soon to say for sure, but the state of this revolution, the Net Revolution, can't ultimately be judged by the ups and downs of the stock market, by the fleeting passions of venture capitalists, by the willingness of traditional institutions to embrace it, by the hysterical judgments of the popular media, by the revenue it generates, by the narrow perspectives of techo-elites who created it, or the people who misuse, abuse or exploit it.

Those drawn into this particular revolution for reasons other than gain and profit will have to accept, as others have over the centuries, that they may never get to enjoy watching the rest of society come around. Nor will they necessarily get to rest and enjoy the fruits of their labors. They may get a taste of immortality, by leaving sites, archives, and plenty of code behind. But they may never get to the New Jerusalem.

Once established, free institutions always have to defend and re-assert themselves against the profit motive of capital, the tenacious power of entrenched political elites, and what Hannah Arendt called the "authoritarian" logic of bureaucratic systems. (In our time, she might have added the monopolistic logic of "corporatist" systems as well.)

These are, historically, powerful forces, and they tend to win conflicts, since they have money, law and leaders on their side. Since the Net has no institutions of freedom, only vast, networked collectives of individuals, this particular kind of freedom -- the search for free space beyond conventional media and politics -- may end up a personal choice, even a lonely struggle.

Some of the most powerful ideas coming from any revolution are works-in-progress, beacons, places we want to reach but possibly never will. Perhaps the trip itself, more than the destination, is the point.

For those who believe they are involved in a struggle to liberate and re-distribute information, to create and problem-solve for the joy of it, to learn for the love of it, to share the labors of their work generously with others, the revolution is more than worth its challenges and disappointments. For those whose primary interest is to gather data, play games, chat or amuse themselves, many of these issues are irrelevant. Party on.

This revolution -- a convergence of programming, computing, and coding with the Net and the Web -- isn't over, so much as it's reeling from the harsh realities of contemporary life. Everybody likely has his own nominees for the most enduring ideas and movements of the unfinished Net Revolution. My two are the hacker and the Open Source movement, the two most inherently political, idealistic and powerful ideas, the two most likely to leave marks on the world. Open source software, whose explosive growth grew directly out of the Net, has turned out to be a viral transmitter of openness. It is hard to imagine how it could ever be shut down.

The hackers brought joy, freedom, exploration and enterprise back to work, and more than any other single group, sparked the computer and Net revolutions. They led one of history's great outpourings of freedom and innovation. Someday, there will be statues of Phiber Optic and the like in front of important public buildings.

Open Source and it's offspring, open media and an open society, may well prove the most enduring legacies of the technological revolution still underway. They challenge the rest of society to be more honest, open, autonomous, self-critical and generous -- worthy goals for any social movement. They're both intensely political, and capture the spirit of being free and making something new. These things will ultimately drive enormous change in the way society and culture work. The spirit of Open Source has probably liberated more information for good than any other single ethos, and created an enormous, cohesive, and intrinsically political sub-culture, one of the biggest and most powerful of the Net Revolution. Proprietary instititions, from education to media, will have no choice but to open up the processes by which they operate. From Napster to Freenet, the movement towards open information culture has exposed countless people to culture, information and innovation they would previously have been unable to see.

Last month, a programmer named Andrew Steele e-mailed me a message about the Biblical parable in which Jesus blesses a mere two loaves of bread and five fish and then distributes the food to a large, hungry crowd. After everyone has eaten, a large amount of food remains. Christians know this story well.

"Being one who tries to hold the tension between my faith and my scientific understanding of this world, I have long ago interpreted this passage as one where the generosity of the boy leads others to be generous with the food they had." Still a miracle, wrote Steele, but not one which violates physics. "Is generosity the raw material of miracles?" Steele wondered.

I don't know, but it might be the raw material of revolution. The generous nature of Open Source has advanced technology, humbled the world's most powerful corporation, returned some control of media and information to individual human beings, and established a new kind of freedom beyond censorship; it threatens the very foundations of an intrinsically closed culture. But Open Source may very well mean that the institutions that run the world will have to come out into the sunlight where everybody can see them. Isn't that one of the core ideas?

In the end, Open Source isn't about software code, of course. As author Glyn Moody says in Rebel Code, it's about "creation, beauty and what hackers call 'fun' -- though 'joy' would be nearer the mark. They are about the code within that is at the root of all that is best in us, that rebels against the worst, and that will exist as long as humans endure."

It may be that this revolution is, like the spiritual city, an idea more than a reality. This revolution is another "bubble," writes Bill Bumgarner of Codefab, another revolutionary new technology -- railroads, gold mines, steam engines -- that promised to bring the whole world closer together and unify everyone under one single God, but ultimately burst to some degree because very few people really understand the way technology or markets really work. New techologies are revolutionary, says Bumgarner, just not quite to the degree their adherents sometimes expect.

"Hey! Calm down," urged Amir Karger, a student at Yale. The information revolution is inevitable, he says. "Once the genie's out of the bottle, it won't go back in." Karger says he's confident that in 50 years the world will be a better place because of the Net. "Maybe not in exactly the ways we expect, but better. Spreading information may not be the 100 percent good some people say it is, but in general, it'll be more a force for good than evil."

Richard Akerman wrote that he too was somewhat disappointed by the Net Revolution, but is still optimistic. "What has happened in reality is in line with all of the technological upheavals of the 20th cenbtury -- increased democratization, which I think ultimately has to be good." Many of the early promises of digital empowerment have, in fact, come to pass, says Akerman. Individuals by the millions are now content providers.

Good points, and true.

So the New Jerusalem of this Revolution is still unclear, the crystal city shrouded in fog. But the hackers did in fact, pull off one revolution within another: they saved the Net and the Web from corporate and political domination, and created an energetic, creative and passionately involved community that creates its own corner of the information world.

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Is Open Source the New Jerusalem?

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  • by Ami Ganguli ( 921 ) on Thursday March 22, 2001 @10:54AM (#347856) Homepage

    It depends on how you define "revolution". You could say that taking power away from established authorities is a form of revolution, and that's happening.

    Consider the effects of the Internet on a typical office worker. I am a Canadian living in Paris. In a week or so I will start a new job working remotely for a company in Helsinki. No country's tax laws are really designed for this sort of thing. I haven't really figured out who I'm supposed to pay taxes to. Probably France.

    But, if the taxes in France are too high I can move anywhere in the world that has an Internet connection and still keep my job.

    As more and more people end up with the same arrangement that I have, countries will lose the ability to set tax levels for their own citizens. It used to be that only the very wealthy could leave a country if they didn't like the taxes, soon a large percentage of people will be able to do it. This is a revolution of sorts and who knows what effect it will have.

    And that's just one example of old-style governments losing power. As more goods become "intangible" - music, movies, literature, cultural products like magazines - traditional import/export controls break down. Canada likes to limit the ability of foreign (mostly U.S.) magazines to enter the Canadian market. You can't do that on the 'Net. So that's another area where, for all practical purposes, the government has lost control.

    There are lots of other examples.

  • It's all about corruption. If there is one thing that I have noticed in my travels around the globe it is that the prosperity of a country is inversely related to the amount of corruption in it's systems. In those countries where the postman steals your mail, or the policeman hits you up for protection money it is simply impossible to effectively run a business of any kind. This is especially true because these countries generally also have politicians that buy and sell elections.

    Democracy helps, but not as much as the rule of law. It is much better economically to have a dictator if he/she comes down hard on corruption (Chile under Pinochet is a good example of this).

  • The Falcon and the Amiga were doomed by simple economics. The PC (with its open architecture) was significantly less expensive than the Amiga, and for most folks it was "good enough."

    In other words the same market forces that doomed the Amiga are going to make sure that Linux continues to do well in the marketplace (notice I didn't say "Linux companies"). Linux is very inexpensive, it is flexible, robust, and mature, it runs on commodity hardware, and for many uses it is "good enough." That's a winning combination, my friend, and that's why Linux is being used in all sorts of projects.

    Technology has little or nothing to do with the success of a product. We've all seen countless hardware and software gizmos that were gunned down by inferior competitors. The trick is to make a product that is "good enough" for most people, and do it for less than your competitors. Of course, knowing what constitutes "good enough" is quite tricky.

  • Depending on your nature vs nurture attitude I think you can reinterpret Jon's metaphor and your extension of it.

    Within a few decades of his death, the movement of people who believed in Jesus's 'Open Source for the Soul' ...was swarmed with fakers and poseurs...You can expect the same thing to happen with the Open Source will increasingly be swarmed with people using it for their own selfish ends. Human nature.

    I think that society has changed considerably since 2000 years ago. Remember we are not socialized the same way, we have vastly higher quality lives, etc. I don't doubt that we would have to change society a great deal more before people stop "faking and posing" but I don't think people will react to Open Source as they did to the religious beliefs of a 2000 year old revolutionary.

    I have hope that Open Source, and our current society will go places unlike previous historical examples... or perhaps it might just allow the next Open Source based society to really make "giant leap forward".

  • You make some excellent points - movements of liberty are usually corrupted by those who prefer control. I'm reminded of "The Grand Inquisitor", a dream-story in Fyodor Doestoyevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov", where Christ himself visits Seville in the midst of the spanish inquisition and is questioned by the grand inquisitor, who says something to the effect of "there is no place for you and your liberty anymore - the people cannot handle it."

    P.S., I'm always fascinated how people hold a distaste for organized Christianity and a love for the Lord of the Rings and Siilmarillion simultaneously, given the unashamedly Catholic imagery woven throughout those two books.

  • Katz, you'll never be as good as Jerry Springer.

    This ain't a revolution. We're just programmers.
  • that the "net" is coming around to it's roots? The internet was borne of open source, in 1989-1992 it was a great open frontier, then it went straight to the toilet, and is now looking to come back to the beginning. Will it be a cycle of every 10 years or will it eventually find a happy medium.

    It makes you wonder, and we'll only know the answer in 2011
  • It's gotta be painful for him to realize that

    • The anti-trust trial's going out with a whimper. Not just being overturned, but all of Judge Jackson's so-called "findings of facts" ripped to shreds.
    • Despite the overall tech downturn, Microsoft is one of the top gaining stocks this year, while Linux companies are hitting all-time lows.
    • Despite all the noise, Microsoft increased their percentage of the desktop marketplace, the server marketplace, and the PDA marketplace.
    • .NET and HailStorm, just by way of the companies that Microsoft is lining up to support it, seems to be upsetting quite a few people, with certain anti-Microsofties already crying to the DoJ.
    Fuckin' beautiful.


  • Back to logic class with you. What difference does it make where the started? If people thought it sucked, it wouldn't be one of the top gainers. Just look at VA Linux, for example. They started this year at an all-time low, yet have managed to fall even farther. MS increased their desktop marketshare by 3% during 2000, while Linux was mired at 1%. Want to actually try making sense on the PDA thing? And .NET sure works great for being vaporware. Thanks for playing.


  • Since you want to pick an arbitrary date, let's look at the very peak of Microsoft's stock, December 1999. Yep, being down 54.7 perent is no fun, but then you look at the fact that NASDAQ is down 52.6 percent over that time and the darling duo RedHat and VA Linux are down 90+ percent over that time, and things look brighter. But oh no, one whole firm has downgraded them to a Hold? And if it was indeed Merrill Lynch, then that means it was Henry Blodget's call, he being the current Wall Street laughing stock and whipping boy for all his tech stock foolishness. The horrors.

    As for the PocketPC, they must be doing something right to go from zero market share to 10% of the US market and 31% of the European market. Poor Palm dropped to 60% and 55% in those markets respectively, and with all the buzz that the iPaq's getting, they probably don't even want to think about what the market will look like next year. File that one under "Netscape, Part II."

    And actually, the .NET framework has been available for anyone to download since MS released a preview of it last Fall. The beta of it along with the Visual Studio.NET beta have been available since last December. There are already beta versions of Perl and Python which work both with the framework and inside of Visual Studio.NET. HailStorm's the thing that's not available yet, so I'm not sure what you're talking about when you say that .NET hasn't even been described. If you're feeling like a good samaritan, maybe you could visit the ton of .NET links at [] and let them all know that they're using vaporware.


  • by SnowDog_2112 ( 23900 ) on Thursday March 22, 2001 @09:05AM (#347866) Homepage
    "While open source software may indeed offer advantages that traditional development methods do not, drawing parallels with sacred beliefs borders on absurd."

    Heh. You've never talked with a real open source "zealot" have you? :)

    I think RMS more "religious" about free software than most church-goers are about what they believe.
  • 10. If you use Open Source software and you're 18 years old, you don't have to join the army.

    9. Nobody ever bombed a Linux box.

    8. Linus vs. Bill is a more exciting match than Sharon vs. Arafat.

    7. "Linux" vs. "GNU/Linux" debate slightly less violent than "Israel" vs. "Palestine" conflict.

    6. I'll take "The Free Software Song" [] over "Yerushalaim Shel Zahav" any day of the week.

    5. There are no penguins in Jerusalem.

    4. If you go on a Beer Hike in a remote area of Israel, you might get shot.

    3. Ten Commandments aren't GPLed.

    2. Jolt and Ramen noodles are cheaper than falafel.

    And the number one reason why Open Source is better than Jerusalem:

    1. Two words: Bruce Perens.

  • by mav[LAG] ( 31387 ) on Thursday March 22, 2001 @09:43AM (#347868)
    Great troll this one - subtle and seemingly well-argued. If however, this is a serious comment then one need only point to the more relevant figures regarding OSS:

    • Apache - ~%62 global market share
    • DNS and Bind - er ~100% market share
    • Perl, Python, PHP, Zope, Postgresql and MySQL
    • sendmail - probably touches every piece of externally routed email on the planet
    • Linux - fastest growing OS in 2000 according to IDC
    • The Internet itself

    All of these apps and architectures can be classified as OSS. And to claim Mozilla as a failure is disingenuous at best since it was crippled for the first year or so of its existence by its dependence on non-free libraries.

    Damn. You know you're responding to a troll when you get to the end of a reply and you've just quoted all the facts and figures at the Open Source website [] for the fiftieth time.

  • It's much older than that too. Basically as soon as standardized computers came out, there was software written and exchanged between users of the new systems. Field Service engineers were often the way that programs were exchanged, as they tended to visit all the sites which had that particular system.
  • What do you mean "think there is room?"

    The BSD License is already very business friendly. Ogg Vorbis just switched to it, and Apple is using work done in the *BSD distributions in their next OS. It is also listed as an "Open Source" license:
  • I've been doing a lot of thinking about the nature of what we're doing - or at least what I'm doing, lately, and I think we are talking revolution here.

    Background: I'm a middle aged CTO of a small software company. A year and a half ago we open sourced (BSD license) some of our core components, partly because we thought we might get some more exposure that way, and partly because we use a lot of open source stuff and it felt like time to give some back.

    Recently I needed a basic component []. I could get it, but it was proprietary, so we couldn't distribute it with the open source stuff we'd already put out. So I developed it from the start as an open source component, and already I've had patches contributed by half a dozen different people who are using it and finding it useful. By making it open, by inviting collaboration, I've had a lot of the work done for me.

    And what that made me think about was artificial scarcity.

    During the Irish potato famine, Ireland exported record quantities of wheat. During the Ethiopian famine in the Eighties, Ethiopia was exporting water melons to Europe - you could by them in the supermarkets. Food was not scarce, people just couldn't afford to buy it. The scarcity wasn't real. It was artificial scarcity created by 'market economics'. What's this got to do with software? Hang on...

    Glaxo (and other pharmacutical companies) are trying to prevent the South African government from allowing cheaper, 'generic', anti-AIDS drugs. [] 10% of the population of South Africa is HIV positive. In other African states the figures are worse. Over one hundred million africans have HIV or AIDS. They don't have drugs to ease their suffering, because they can't afford them. But the drugs are cheap to make. They're only expensive to buy because the industry is using its patents to create an artificial scarcity. A hundred million people are suffering and dying to enhance the profits of the drug companies. What has this to do with software? Hang on...

    Classical economic theory says that the price of a good varies inversely with it's scarcity. Goods which are extremely rare - like caviar, or diamonds - are expensive. Goods which are extremely abundant - like farmed salmon, or sand - are cheap. But digital information goods - computer programs, or digital recordings of music or movies - cost nothing to reproduce. Inherently, they are infinitely abundant.

    I can make one copy of Apache for every person on the planet, and it costs (almost) nothing.

    I can make one copy of Microsoft Office for every person on the planet, and the copying costs (almost) nothing.

    The natural price of software goods, according to classical economics, is near zero.

    Just now, people pay a lot of money for a copy of Microsoft Office. Microsoft are able to charge that money because of artificial scarcity, just like Glaxo can charge for their AIDS drugs. But Microsoft can't sell IIS for lots of money, because there isn't artificial scaricty in high-quality Web servers.

    As projects like KOffice [] get better, so there won't be artificial scarcity in quality office software, and Microsoft won't be able to charge so much.

    There are real costs in developing software, but the generosity of a community acting together can absorb the costs, and publich the source code for free. Similarly there are real (and larger) costs in developing new drugs. But the principles of common community action and common generosity can, taken over the community with an interest in the cure of diseases, absorb those costs too.

    Open Source does not only have to apply to software. It can apply to every product where commercial interests try to create artificial scarcities by controlling access to information. The next revolution may well be open source medicines. Chemists, clinicians and health administrators could collaborate over the net to develop new medicines which anyone could make for no more than the cost of the ingredients.

    The point is that many - perhaps most - people are creative. We like to see the things we create being used to help other people. No one individual can afford the time to invent a cure for cancer, any more than any one person can afford the time to create a new operating system. But the net allows people to collaborate and contribute the quanta of time, energy and talent that they can afford to give, and now we've got a free operating system.

    Software is an almost pure case of the sorts of things that can be developed by co-operative generosity. It costs relatively little to acquire the tools to co-operate in a software development project. It costs a little more to get into co-operative development of hardware, or medicines, or some kinds of engineering, and so these things will follow more slowly. But the example has been given, and I'm convinced these things will be given.

    Taken together, open collaborative projects in different economic areas will inevitably challenge the morality under which it is ethically acceptable to create artificial scarcities which cause suffering. The world will change as a result of what we, as hackers, are doing now, and it will change for the better. We are talking about a revolution here.

  • The situations you mention aren't addressed by your concept of what you call "classical economics" but is really just uninformed clap-trap.

    The scarce resource in Ethiopia was generally food transportation and storage, as well as a generally messed up economic structure caused by Soviet-influenced (i.e. totally wrong-headed) economic and political policies. If you can't get the food *delivered* to the hungry people, they still starve, no matter how scarce or abundant your food is.

    The "scarcity" in drug research is the research ability and clinical resources used to develop the drugs, not the raw materials or the manufacturing capacity. Sure, an Indian company can produce a knock-off of a developed drug and sell it cheap, just like anyone like Cheapbytes or a Hong Kong pirate can copy a Windows or Linux CD or a Britney Spears CD. But are you going to wait for that Indian company to develop an AIDS vaccine? Hope you're ready to wait a long time, because it's not going to happen. An AIDS vaccine, if it can be developed, is going to be developed in the First World, using highly trained medical researchers. They don't come cheap, because they really are scarce.

    Think for a moment about what really pays your salary, Mr. CTO. Somebody pays you money for something that you have that the average lower-paid person (e.g., the person who washes your office windows) doesn't. Or, they made a mistake. Is your talent "artificially" scarce?
  • 1) The last book of the Bible is "Revelation" not "Revelations".

    2) In the necessary endeavor of speculation into matters concern the Divine, there is a fine line between the profound [] and profane [] . Congratulations for positing a theory that manages to be neither while pretending to be both.

    3) If you believed that the Bible is absolute, living breathing word of God, the idea of trivializing it in the manner that you have would cause you great personal distress. If you don't believe that the Bible is the absolute, living breathing word of God, what is the point of co-opting its false revelatory promises for explaining the Open Source movement? Oh- I know! You're just contributing your postmodern part to the Great Symbol Drain [] that Neil Postman warned about....(do a find on "great symbol drain" at the link above for more info...)

    4) For those with a genuine interest in understanding the importance of the promise of the New Jerusalem to Christians, do yourself the favor of reading the following substantive study... []

    5) Jon, the Katz bashing is so de rigueur on slashdot that it saddens me. If ThinkGeek [] rolled out a "Reduce Internet Pollution- Banish Jon Katz from it" t-shirt, they'd probably make a fortune. I don't believe people always give you a fair shake and believe it is morally wrong to bash you. But sometimes, it seems like you're just begging people to do it. Help those of us who want to see the bashing reduced by not reinforcing the stereotype bandied about here. In short, don't post tripe!

    I'm Audi 5000. Peace.
  • What a great quote... If I could only remember where I read it...

    About your post, I agree.

    > Otherwise you've just forced software onto people that makes them confused and uncomfortable

    Huh... It looks like that practice is very widespread. " This page requires Internet Exploiter 5.x and Flash 5. (Not even Netscape) " " The information about the Big Test is only available in Word 2000 format. Download the SFX here. " and countless other examples.

    I hope that this so-called "Revolution" would change this.
  • Jon, please.

    The Internet, like any new technology, has new & unexpected applications. "Open Source" or "Free Software" is one of them.

    But the Internet is not a "revolution". Merely the logical evolution of existing technology: computers and telecommunications.

    "Open Source" or "Free Software" is not a "revolution", merely the logical evolution of existing technology: BSD/GNU, UNIX and dozens of years in compiler and operating systems design.

    These two evolutions are not going to change the world: they are merely going to percolate down within the different world societies which can afford these technologies.

    Technologies are not revolutions and, in and out of themselves, they are not going to change the world.

    On the other hand, the people who use these technologies to communicate and exchange ideas may create revolutions... but, by definition, revolutions are sudden and quite unpredictable. They come from the bottom before creating their own hierarchies and elites. This is why I believe talking about an Internet "revolution" is complete nonsense.

    In a way, we ain't seen nothing yet... =)
  • Katz you're a total moron.
  • Katz's pathetic social commentary is more suited for a Joan Beaz record.
  • Its great that there are driven and enthusiastic people but their drive must be tempered "wisdom".

    Open Source is probably the most important and powerful movement in technology since Microsoft came out with Windows 3.0. It makes the might Microsoft quake. It makes the giants like IBM move. Even with all of this power I make no illusions: it isn't a silver bullet that will solve all of the world's computational problems. Not yet anyway.

    Its the difference between good and bad advocation. Its one thing to point out to as many people you can that Linux is cooler and better technology than Windows. Its something else to try and ram it down people's throat because you believe it is.

    So lets promote but not crush. Otherwise you've just forced software onto people that makes them confused and uncomfortable.
  • Amen brother. I'm growing tired of the Microsoft defenders that point to it as being good enough, better, or all you need. I want choice, and yes sometimes that choice can be Microsoft, but if they are the only choice, you won't even know what you are missing.

    Open source software has been somewhat like a religion in that it is opening the eyes of people to different methods of doing things ("I was blind but now I see"). This is not bad, the grousing by Microsoft supporters is mostly just because the ease of their choice is being removed, you have to make decisions based on merit, cost etc. and not just based on that being the only thing you can get.

    Having choices is a liberating thing.
  • A thing that is being teared apart by three or four more or less extremist religious movements and that explodes as soon as you prod it? A thing that people go to for the clensing of their souls, only to return unchanged, only a bit more tanned? A thing that people/fractions will fight over for millennia just to get to say "we saw it first"? Nah.

  • You are a fucking asshole!

    How the hell do you get moderated to the top being the rude little bitch you are. Jon Katz is an excellent writer and I enjoy reading every article he writes. Occationally he doesn't fully understand the technical details, but he is one of the only columnists that takes a step back from the details to look at the larger picture and asks, "What does all this mean?"

    If you don't like his comments don't read them. Go back to trolling like I am here and get off my bandwidth!
  • That comment is hillarious, moderate it up, please! :)
  • P.S., I'm always fascinated how people hold a distaste for organized Christianity and a love for the Lord of the Rings and Siilmarillion simultaneously, given the unashamedly Catholic
    imagery woven throughout those two books.

    AFAIK, no one has ever killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people because they didn't like LotR. I have no particular problem with Christianity in general, it's assholes like these guys [] that I can't stand.
  • If you consider "the 'Net" to be an example of "Open Source" - well, consider.

    : Cancer

    True - though the greater scientific collaboration available due to the utility of the Internet has certainly allowed research to proceed faster.

    : World Hunger

    I'd be interested to know if efforts like the Motley Fool's [] annual charity drive on behalf of organizations like Share our Strength [] is having an impact.

    : Suicide

    I've known a lot of depressed individuals who have found support from online communities that could never have existed without the Internet. MUDs and MOOs and MUCKs, web-based discussion forums, you name it. A friend of mine recently started a website that focuses on sexual freedom and expression for the physically disabled []. By virtue of its place online, that effort is able to reach a far greater audience than the individual would ever have had the chance to reach on her own.

    : War

    I'm not sure there's an example of the Internet stopping a war yet. But I wouldn't be surprised if it happened in the near future.

    : Britney Spears

    That truly *would* be a service to mankind. I suppose if we look at communities like Napster [] as providing greater access to alternative or otherwise unknown artists, then maybe it has the ability to broaden people's palettes to where pap like Britney Spears will no longer satisfy the masses. We can hope, anyway.

  • I'm beginning to wonder if JK is the ubertroll. I mean, I used to be able handle the highfalutin pop psych, but this is just silly. The concept of Open Source is as old as copying your mate's homework. The fact the internet allows it to happen quicker, and more effectively, is significant but it is NOT a new paradigm. It is even less a revolution. I think we all need to get out a bit more. The net has changed many things - but only in that it amplifies and speeds up just basic expressions of human nature. It turns your personal volume up - a programmer can influence more people, good can do more good, evil can be more evil, Open Source can be more Open and More Sourcey. But this doesn't change anything fundamental about society, in the way a real revolution does. The sexual revolution, the communist revolutions, the American and French revolutions all changed their societies for ever...the internet hasn't. Probably never will. Anyway...whilst I'm here, can we suggest a copy-editor is employed at Slashdot. Let's take this paragraph for example:
    This revolution -- a convergence of programming, computing, and coding with the Net and the Web -- isn't over, so much as it's reeling from the harsh realities of contemporary life. Everybody likely has his own nominees for the most enduring ideas and movements of the unfinished Net Revolution. My two are the hacker and the Open Source movement, the two most inherently political, idealistic and powerful ideas, the two most likely to leave marks on the world. Open source software, whose explosive growth grew directly out of the Net, has turned out to be a viral transmitter of openness. It is hard to imagine how it could ever be shut down.
    This is just weird Jon, old chap. In the same par, you have the revolution both reeling from harsh reality, and then being hard-to-imagine-how-it-can-be-shut-down. Which is a bit of a contradiction. Then you have Open source being a viral transmitter of openness. Which is kinda like saying Cheese is the perfect conduit for dairy products. Well, yes. By definition.
  • by ReadbackMonkey ( 92198 ) on Thursday March 22, 2001 @08:38AM (#347886)
    Last of a series.. ah what sweet words.
  • Jon you've gone way too far. Open source is great but open source is NOT, I repeat NOT what defines us a human beings. A revolution? Of what? <sarcasm > oh wise Jon Katz, why don't you define revolution for us </sarcasm> I'm sorry but I hardly compare open source software to our independence from much less the return of Jesus to earth.

    And this segment is downright inflamatory ... not only is it stupid but it completely degrades a belief that a lot of people find very important.

    Jon you might as well claim you're Jesus and start some sort of bizarre techno cult

    I think I'll turn you off in my preferences now, you used to at least be entertaining with your naivity but there's no execuse for being completly stupid.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • by Vanders ( 110092 ) on Thursday March 22, 2001 @08:56AM (#347888) Homepage
    Hackers at MIT were using "Open Source" software long before the internet. They would post up source code, and leave their paper tapes in the drawers for anyone to copy or update as they saw fit.

    Hardware Hackers at Homebrew meetings freely exchanged hardware designs and information, as well as neat hacks for the new machines among each other. GNU was started in the early 80's, before the Internet became commercialised.

    What the Internet has done, however, is to increase the speed and audience that Open Source code can reach. Instead of paper tapes in drawers hackers post their source to an FTP or CVS site. The ideals and ethics of Open Source software have been spread much farther than a small room in MIT or Berkeley. The Internet didn't start this though.

    If anything, hackers had their Utopia long before the corporations took control. There were hackers in the world before there were software companies. All the companies did was to see a market, and sell to people who in many cases, had little knowledge of computers. Open Source and hackers carried on just as they had before.

    So are we on our way to a New Jeresulam? Nah, we were already there Jon, it's just that people have only just begun to realise it.
  • Don't be so quick to start a fight. Its simply an anology... political correctness is for the weak.

    It was just something that made sense to the author... if it offends you, do you want to censor it??? Maybe your browser should indicate your religious preference so you aren't offended.
  • "Last of a series."


  • Oh, that's easy--Jon is the owner and founder of the revolution. He decided what day it started, what day it's going to end, and can naturally calculate how far along we are as a consequence.

    The fact that nobody else seems to think there's a revolution going on at all is irrelevant.

  • What does this mean:

    This revolution is ... another revolutionary new technology -- railroads, gold mines, steam engines -- that promised to bring the whole world closer together and unify everyone under one single God."

    GOLD MINES????
  • Father Mersenne ran a low-bandwidth bulletin board in Paris: scholars sent him papers, he passed them around to other scholars.
  • Of all the metaphors to use...why NJ? Following the trend (albeit backwards) of ESR's Cathedral and the Bazaar?

    I couldn't read the whole thing (the passioned, self-important writing style is disturbingly odd) but I will react to the sentiment that the very ones who worked so hard to create them. In the case of Free Software and/or Open Source (depending on your politics) the revolution cannot be co-opted. Did the hackers start the trend? Yes. Have people tried to profit off their labor (with or without adding value)? Yes. Have some of these profiteers failed? Of course. But the software is still Free, still Open.

    Once Free the software cannot be imprisoned. Once Opened it cannot be shut. (There's another metaphor-in-waiting from Rev 3 ready for the taking, Jon; "...Who opens and no one shuts").

    Whether or not the profiteers find the way to make money or not is irrelevant to the fact that the hackers have branched off from the closed way. The only thing that can stop FS/OS would be the end of hacking, the end of scratching at itches.

    Here's another metaphor to examine: the history of the Open and Closed Brethren [AKA Grace Brethren and Plymouth Brethren].

  • Book of Revelations

    It's singular, not plural: "The Book of Revelation". It's "The revelation of Jesus Christ...". One revelation. It's a common mistake, but it is a mistake. Why does it matter? It's another case of the significance of words. Once I realized the revelation was singular I understood the book at a much deeper level.
  • by kpeerless ( 122687 ) on Thursday March 22, 2001 @11:12AM (#347896)
    After hanging out in this dimension for 62 years, I've been led inexorably to the conclusion that any society based on greed and arrogance is doomed to fail. Open Source is one of the few bright spots. I find it very reassuring that folks I have never met, nor likely ever will, generously share the fruits of their intellect and labour with me. I suspect that this is the essence of the Christian 'New Jerusalem'. Sharing. As for Open Source being revolutionary... may I suggest that it is part of an ongoing revolutionary struggle that has been happening since man has been able to communicate with the other members of his species. There has always been a core of folks struggling for freedom. Open source is part of that struggle. Unfortunately, revolutions are generally co-opted by the very people they were designed to displace. You only have to look at the French Revolution, the Russian, American, Chinese, Filipino, the list is long, to see that this is true... and you only have to look at our small segment of the larger picture to see the dangers. It is vitally important that we defend the GPL against all attempts to co-opt it. And you may be sure that the mega-corporations are trying. One can only hope they will die in the attempt. Finally, it would seem that folks think of revolutions in terms of blood and the struggle of armies. Ours is not. It is a rediscovery of a beneficial mind set... the belief that sharing is the only way to ensure the survival of our species. The Net and Open Source have done more to transcend national borders than any other technology in our history. Unfortunately, but inevitably, it has been under attack by transnational corporations who have attempted and are attempting still to co-opt and corrupt it. The good news is that they have pissed their pants so far in the attempt. I must say that I'm a little disappointed in the attacks on Mr. Katz by ./ participants. His piece may be a little euphoric but hardly deserving of the vituperous rhetoric it seems to have attracted. Perhaps we, the participants in Open Source, are a little embarrassed by praise. I hope so. Then again, perhaps Mr. Katz's detractors are simply corporate shills. Bear up, Mr. Katz. The light at the end of the tunnel, although distant yet, is not an approaching train.
  • Cancer - why not? if all research facilities required open source, then we wouldn't waste a lot of effort duplicating methods that don't work

    But they do. Or they do when they've found something definitely does or doesn't work. "Publish or be damned" makes certain of that.

    World Hunger - again, it would be a good thing if all the ways to harvest, bring water, etc were open sourced, then even the poorest countries would be able to afford the details and could figure out how to make it happen.

    Poor countries aren't suffering from lack of information, they're suffering from lack of money. If you can't afford access to a computer, it doesn't matter how many O'Reilly books you buy, you'll never get a program running...

  • ...the state of this revolution, the Net Revolution, can't ultimately be judged by ... the hysterical judgments of the popular media, by the revenue it generates, by the narrow perspectives of techo-elites who created it, or the people who misuse, abuse or exploit it.

    So since you fit into all these categories, you're the worst person to judge how it's going?

    The hackers brought joy, freedom, exploration and enterprise back to work...

    I've always enjoyed my work - I work in embedded software engineering, which is what I've always wanted to do. There's enough software jobs that anyone who is really keen on it doesn't have to take a job in McD's instead - only if they want to. And if you choose to take a dead-end job instead of doing what you really enjoy, that's your choice! If you can't live with the choices you've made, don't expect too much sympathy.

    Open Source and it's offspring, open media and an open society...They're both intensely political...

    Where did these come from? "Open media"? What's that? And how do you get a more open society from hackers writing C code? Sorry, this is pure hype. In addition open-source is completely apolitical. From the user side it doesn't care about your convictions or your use for it, it merely provides a known-good base structure. From the programmer side, it's all about fun, as you say later, and doing something bcos you enjoy doing it, and sharing that interest with other ppl, is completely natural to everyone. Politics doesn't come into it.

    Proprietary instititions, from education to media, will have no choice but to open up the processes by which they operate.

    Let me know when it happens. Most of the options I can see for proprietary institutions involve staying profitable, and opening up to anyone who comes along, for free, can be summed up as "killing your profit stream".

  • Not necessarily. Some certainly do have that problem - Burkina Faso would be a good example. These are the worst hit of all.

    But most have the capacity to feed their populations, but either: (a) piss it away on pretending to be a super-power, eg. Russia; (b) piss it away in civil wars and border disputes, eg. Ethiopia; or (c) piss it away in government back-handers and slush-funds for politicians, eg. too many to mention. Or there's a fourth category, achieved by the USSR - piss it away by chronic mismanagement.

    Most could be solved by the government of the countries concerned, but human nature says it won't be. And it's these places where you really feel sorry for the ppl - they could be living quite comfortably, but instead they're just getting screwed over by the tribal/army/religious/political leaders.

    • Cancer
    • World Hunger
    • Suicide
    • War
    • AIDS
    • Pollution
    • Violence
    • Britney Spears

  • "I think RMS more 'religious' about free software than most church-goers are about what they believe. "

    Agreed, I wanted to run when I saw him put an old 12" disk platter on his head like a halo and talk about the church of emacs. *shiver*

    Yes. It's true.

    That and his discussion of free love (bad mental image) have given me nightmares.

  • Cancer - why not? if all research facilities required open source, then we wouldn't waste a lot of effort duplicating methods that don't work.

    World Hunger - again, it would be a good thing if all the ways to harvest, bring water, etc were open sourced, then even the poorest countries would be able to afford the details and could figure out how to make it happen.

    Suicide - so? Do you really want people who commit suicide in the gene pool?

    War - as long as there are people, there will be war. That's the way it is.

    AIDS - see cancer

    Pollution - see cancer

    Violence - see war

    Britney Spears - umm, you got me there, I'm not sure there is a cure. Maybe Natilie Portman petrified made out of grits?

    Cav Pilot's Reference Page []
  • by HerrGlock ( 141750 ) on Thursday March 22, 2001 @08:37AM (#347903) Homepage
    Just let me choose what I want, what I want to do, what I want in a software package. I don't give a darn what the ethos is or what the theology is for a software package. I want the best package for the best (not necessarily least) price I can get. I do NOT want stuck with one company (read microsoft) products because they are the only fish in the pond and they squash all competition one way or another.

    Open source is another type of competitor. It's better in that MS cannot buy up the IP rights and then jack up the price or kill the project just because it competes with one of their packages. They have to actually play by the best software wins rules and they are not doing a hell of a job of that.

    One way or another, let me choose, don't force the choice no matter which side of the house you're on.

    Cav Pilot's Reference Page []
  • Katz keeps talking about how the Net made open source inevitable. I don't agree with that view and would argue that Katz doesn't know his Internet history very well. The Inernet in its earliest history was a research network setup to facilitate communication between national laboratories and universities. The culture of the participating institutions has colored the Internet to this day. The world of academia and espeically science relies on open communication to function. Consequently, one would expect this to become cultural value in the world of the Internet. Then there are the indiviuals who built the system. A lot of these guys came of age as technically educated adults during the sixties. They transmitted their values into the new world they were creating. Already we can see that Net was a reflection of its builders. Then there are very real technological decisions that shaped the Ineternet. Back when this whole enterprise was called the Arpanet, it was controled from the top on down. There was a small body of people making design decisions. They could have done the logical thing and gone with the vendor that had the best stuff for the cheapest, but they didn't. Instead, they decided on a software solution that would work with what was already installed in all the various institutions. They went one step further with the solution. Driven by hardware and OS incoimpatiblities, they developed a set of standards that defined how data would be communicated between machines. The implmentation was left up to individual members. This set of standards is what we call TCP/IP.

    The standards were developed democratically through a series of commitees populated by engineers. There's a good treatment of this in David Comer's TCP/IP series of books, and another one in The Simple Book. Their outlook was epitomized by the statement "We reject kings and presidents! We run on rough consensus and working code!". I forget who uttered that, but it tells a lot about the people working on what we would come to call the Ineternet.

    The point of this whole diatribe is to point out that the Internet didn't have to be that way. The Internet was designed to be open by people who held those values close to their hearts. The existence of an open set of communication protocols was an invitation to students and professional developers alike to develop implementations that suited their particular needs. As long as it adhered to the protocol, any implementation would work. And, remember until fairly recently, the only people on the net were employed in academia. The culture of academia is one of openess and co-operation--or at least it used to be--and software was freely distributed to colleagues and collaborators. This is where the open source movement came from.

    Thinngs didn't have to be that way. If, say, DEC, got the contract to develop the Arpanet, they wouldn't have given a darn about openess and interoperablity: They had their own functioning protocol, DECNet, and they could have locked everyone into using their implementation if not their hardware. Instead,the Arpanet was developed by university academics. While the Internet has gone through many different incanarions, DARPANet, ARPANet, NSFNet, and so on, throughout most its history the Internet has been academia's private reserve. Things have opened up now, and while one might expect to lead to still more openess, the Net has been subjected to the values a larger world, and those values do not necessarily include open and free communication.

  • by Prof_Dagoski ( 142697 ) on Thursday March 22, 2001 @10:18AM (#347905) Homepage

    Another poster back up correctly pointed out that open source did not begin with the Internet. Yep, he's most definitely right. However, the openess of the Internet and the freedom of open systems fed off one and other. Infact, I would argue that the neither would have been possible today without the other. Opensource and the Internet have a very symbiotics relationship.

  • But the Internet is not a "revolution". Merely the logical evolution of existing technology: computers and telecommunications.

    Well said! -- wish I had moderator. "Revolution" is just a marketing term they us to sell subscribtions to AOL and wireless phones.


  • GCC has made revolution by itself in the world where a professional compiler/development studio might cost four digits.

    It was the one who spawned the entire revolution.
  • Perhaps you mean licences such as the MPL. Hardly considered heretical- just ill-ideal.

    I'd say it represents a significant "embrace of practical reality" from the Open Source community. Even RMS would accept mozilla as "better than nothing".

    You should not begrudge those software developers choose to give freely and wholly unto all. Neither should you be surprised that some recepients who have partaken of free software tend to prefer it. What would a movemant be if nobody really beleived in it?

    Plus you will find that 99% of free OS users are wholly pragmatic.

  • Let's not turn this into a political diatribe.

    That's petty.

    Besides, the analogy is flawed; the Hebrews were there first, and the problem is because the early Muslims tried to convert the Jews, and towards that end, they co-opted the Judaic holy sites.

    A better analogy would be the Romans as M$ and the Jews as hackers...

    Wait.. This is good.

    In the beginning, the Jews (Open Source hackers) were. They were going along pretty good. Admittedly, they started to fracture. In these new scenaria, they still were as they were within their area, but others were unwelcome.

    Some, like Stallman, sought a purity of faith through esoteric cults (like the kaballah and the Zealots).

    When the Jews/hackers were fractured, the Romans (Microsoft) came in. They brought some of the Jews in, and within the new structure, they felt they were in the same position. To those outside, though, they were traitors.

    The Romans weren't all bad; they brought infrastructure. Roads, sewers, water poisoned by the lead pipes they were in. Microsoft did something similar; they brought people in by the mega to purchase PC's and try the murky waters of the Internet.

    Before the Romans, travel between towns was a bitch and unsafe. With them, it was easier. Without the Micronazis' influence, the PC and the Net would not have come around as quickly.

    When the Christian cultists started to spread The Word (tm), the Pax Romana let them go anywhere, until they spread FUD about their intentions.

    Similarly, the Net and availability of M$ rigs allowed those of us seeking The Good News of GNU/Linux (present company included). M$ didn't care until it looked like a real threat. Now, they're involved in an active disinformation campaign.

    The Christians beat the Romans in the end.

    Let's hope we get there.
    Ruling The World, One Moron At A Time(tm)
    "As Kosher As A Bacon-Cheeseburger"(tmp)
  • I'm pissed my little off-the-cuff ideological run got nil moderation. For somethine that looks that decent (lemme get your opinion), I wish I could've gotten a bit of karma!!

    Secondly, this article talks about a 'New Jerusalem'. I can't think of another word or name (besides God, itself) which is so inherently religiously charged. I mean, the city was founded by the Hebrews as their capital and was the home of the Temple of Solomon and the Ark of the Covenant's resting place.

    Christianity adopted the city by having the titular founder Emmanuel (aka Jesus Christ) die there and resurrect a couple of clicks away in a private tomb.

    And the Muslims, who thought (and, one can argue, still think) that a) they were the rightful heir of Abraham and b) converting the Jews would be easy and to their advantage, adopted aspects of the Judaic religion (eg. the ban on pork and certain alcoholic beverages) and Judaic holy sights, namely the Temple Mount.

    That makes up, oh.. about a THIRD OF THE WORLD'S POPULATION. Maybe more.

    That means that, to no less than every third person you talk to, Jerusalem has a religious significance.

    My particular rant was based upon a more reasonable assumption than the troller that started the thread: that neither side was necessarily Good v. Evil (hell, I'm working on a script based around a more realistic set of spectra of gender, sexuality, politics, and morality. Talk about a mind f~(k.) , and that the current scenario in the Middle East wasn't a good analogy.

    Ruling The World, One Moron At A Time(tm)
    "As Kosher As A Bacon-Cheeseburger"(tmp)
  • Really! Why compare Open Source to a lame mythology that has millions of people brainwashed into buying it?

    I think Microsoft would be much more of a valid comparison...


  • All Katz ever talks about is how "disappointed" he is with the state of the internet today. Get over it or get out Jon - we are sick of hearing it.

    I for one, am quite satisfied with what the internet has become - it is the ultimate form of balance - something we need nowadays.

    That having been said, I'm going to check the Jon Katz box now. I've really had enough of his inane blabbering. You guys can defend him if you want to - but he brings it upon himself - he really does.

    Maybe he should start taking walks or even go out and get laid. In otherwords: GET A LIFE JON!

    Signing off...
  • Hate to tell you but open source software is not the same as new jerusalem (or the beginning of a new heaven and earth). Open source software is nice, but it is not earth shattering and is not going to change our lives much at all. I really see no reason why he should take one of the most important things in the Christian faith and try to equate it something as mundane as software. Katz needs to get a clue. Now I'll go read the article...
  • What narcissistic hooey. You're a footnote in the history of software folks, be happy with that.
  • But why do you feel the need to reinvent every single important piece of social theory ever made in your own half-baked way? Is it some kind of situationist joke about Linux? Crack the spine on a book or two and you may find your questions have already been answered.

    Just picking one example at random from an article littered with them:

    what Hannah Arendt called the "authoritarian" logic of bureaucratic systems. (In our time, she might have added the monopolistic logic of "corporatist" systems as well.)

    Hannah Arendt would not, because, having read Weber in her lifetime, she knew that corporate bureaucracies have the same internal dynamics as state bureaucracies. That's why the word is the same. Hannah Arendt also knew a lot about the various theories of bureaucracy, how they worked, what their characteristic behaviours were, which is why she would (and I do not mean this as an insult) have written a far better article on this subject than you have.

  • JonKatz says the Web is safe 'from corporate and political domination'
    Dangerous words.
    There were those of us in the past that put our faith in an already achieved victory: the ST community thought the Falcon 060 could bring it back to the fore; the Amigans thought the A1200, CD32 et al. was destined to save their preferred format. It was not so - the pathetic PC won out(even though I own a PC it ires me still 8).
    There are forces greater than any one hacker, programmer and/or local user group. They aren't mystical or magical(well, maybe a little bit, in an evil way 8). They are the corporations and political powers who daily try and wrench back control of things from the open source community, the personal web page owners et al - which are all very much connected and interlinked. If it weren't for the concentration of the true hacker spirit in continental Europe, the money of liberal Americans and a good deal of serendipity, the whole thing would have turned to crap a good many years ago.
    The greatest danger that now exists is that we rest on our laurels, we say well done, congratulate ourselves and let our guard down. Not to paraphrase Robespierre, but JonKatz is betraying the very revolution he's trying to commend. We call that counter-revolutionary where I come from(yes, Ireland).

    Just as a side note on the imagery used - the whole mixture of movements shouldn't be categorised as a religion, in my opinion. It is not. If anything this is war, uprising even.

    Face the future, but always guard your back.

  • agreed. Katz is an optomistic idealist, however, and his ideologies reflect the massive counter-media misconceptions about technology and their use & distribution. I think everyone needs to slow down and start using their brain again whenever refering to computer technology and internet 'hype'... I actually find it kind of funny that 50% of us here could have predicted a giant stock crash of internet 'dot-com' stocks long before they did, but no real market analysts were able to say so publically... people en mass are stupid, let them flock where they will I suppose.

    And I've yet to see that open source movements are a proven method of producing capital in this, our capitalist environment. Progression of intellectual property ideas and such sure, but no proven business models AFAICT
  • revolution [] (rv-lshn) n. Abbr. rev. 1. a) Orbital motion about a point, especially as distinguished from axial rotation: the planetary revolution about the sun. b) A turning or rotational motion about an axis. c) single complete cycle of such orbital or axial motion. 2. The overthrow of one government and its replacement with another. See Synonyms at rebellion. 3. A sudden or momentous change in a situation: the revolution in computer technology. 4. Geology. A time of major crustal deformation, when folds and faults are formed.

    I think you may be limiting the definition of revolution to 2. as defined above. The Internet is an incredible revolution that isn't even halfway through. There has been a momentous change in how people interact on all levels:

    a) social, through email, instant messaging, personal webpages, blogs, newgroups etc, ideas and thoughts can be exchanged,

    b) commercial and financial, through B2B which has greatly changed the way that companies do business with each other and to a lesser degree through B2C,

    c) governmental and political, the masses have gained easy access to the sources of law and we might soon have internet voting, political movements and parties can be organised and moblised with much greater ease.

    And no, this revolution isn't limited to those of us with net access as we will affect the lives of those who haven't (through B2B which will decide which sweatshop gets a trainer contract or through net lobbying against globalisation, etc...)

    As a final note, every revolution is a natural and logical extension of existing technology. Type and paper existed before moveable type brought about the printing revolution, mechanical computers existed before electronic ones, valves existed before transistors, a revolution is when existing circumstances come together to bring forward an explosion of change. And that isn't limited to hanging the bourgoise from lamp-posts (and the French and Russian revolutions had been percolating for years).

  • When WASN'T the net dominated by corporate and political interests? People and institutions with M-O-N-E-Y created the net for use in government and corporate projects. Use of the net as a PRIVATE activity didn't really start until the early 1990's.

    Domination by government and corporate interests isn't its fate - that's NORMAL. The new thing on the block is the incursion of private individuals. The people that actually OWN the net, namely the corporations and government, will eventually take it back.

    Sad, but true. They who own it, control it.

    Not a troll, but just a fact...
  • Katz, I don't have a thing against you, but comparing OSS to the New Jerusalem? That's not only insulting, it rings of a terribly limited imagination.

    Do you really think that God, in all his infinite creativity, couldn't create a utopia any better than some smatterings of scripts and tangled C code?

    I guarantee you I'll have better things to do than parse web logs by then.

  • Well, with all of this hoopla, people tend to overlook things. I do not believe that things are going to be as rosy as some people make out.

    Check Out this tibdit []. The music industry has developed tools to track down music server/sharers on an IP by IP basis, going after the individuals themselves. (screenshoots at the article). This type of thing is going top bring about more of a loss of freedom that many people have realized.

    Abusing the system only leads to a tightening of the screws, or to chaos. This olde editorial [] about the Tragedy of the Commons is useful to look at. The comment posted [] the other day in regard to spam is a great follow up.

    The point being that everyone with a political agenda to twist someone's nose contributes to a weakening of the system.

    In a different area I made the following rambling classification of trolls:

    Some trolls are the under the bridge types, that are only interested in goats.

    Others are more interested in hoarding their shiny objects and collect their favorite gadgets, and try to prove how their collection is better. This relates to the article in New Scientist some months back about guys flaunting cell phones in bars as a display to attract women.

    You also get the trolls whose main purpose is to smash (Hulk SMASH!), break and destroy. Depending on the topic, gets into a repeating cycle, since to only way to break the cycle is to take an honest look at the thing involved. Some destructive trolls have too much invested in this. Tradition has it that there are Microsoft trolls who seek to destroy Linux. And Linux Trolls too.

    Too many people are in touch with their inner Troll, and think that is the only way to be.

    This does not help things in the long run, and threatens the very goals we seek to achieve.

  • The whole point of the post to which this message is a reply, is that this Brave New Word, this New Jerusalem, is threatened by the predomince of the things that we do not want to look at, the predominance of trolls, the spammers, the lusers, etc.

    It is the classic unmentioned assumption of most Utopias, that all would be well if we do not have to deal with these folks, or if there are no undesirables around.

    Look at the world around you, and see how many fall into the category of "undesirables". Take an inventory. If it crawls much above single diget percentage points, then there is a problem.

    When you include these "folks" (spammers, lusers, etc), it certainly meets illustrates the problem of the commons as seen in classic games theory.

    Now saying this will upset some folks. It will upset those well in touch with "their inner troll".

    It will hold up a mirror that we each have to look into long and hard. If you do not like what you see in the mirror, is the solution to break it?

  • ...Why i don't remove Katz articles from my preferences, and the answer is this title:
    Is Open Source The New Jerusalem?
    Sorry but it caught me by surprise, and i couldn't stop a laugh.

    Not that I'm going to read it... looks like the densest 8825 bytes ever...
  • Despite the overall tech downturn, Microsoft is one of the top gaining stocks this year, while Linux companies are hitting all-time lows.

    Of course, as I'm sure "ZicoKnows", Microsoft is a top gaining stock *this year* because it started this year at a 3 year low.

    I'd love to see in just which time period MS managed to increase it's share of the desktop market. And the PDA marketplace... as the Mad Hatter said, "It's easy to have more than nothing."

    As for .NET and HailStorm... Oooh. Ms has better vapourware. Shocking news. Let me know when they've got more reality behing them than doctored xbox screenshots.

  • Used to teach university logic. Have you taken it?

    Microsoft is up between 8 and 10 points from January 1. They're also down between 10 and 15 from February 3. On Jan 1, they were down 20 from Dec 1 and down 30 from November 1.

    They're only a "big gainer" because the point you're counting from happens to be the lowest possible point to count from in the last 3 years. Sure, they're up 8 on the year. And they're up 12 over the last 3 years. That's pretty hideous performance. Of course, not as bad as being down 60 from this time last year, with no serious recovery in sight.

    Oh, and Merrill Lynch (I believe it was) recently downgraded it from a long term "buy" to a long-term "hold". Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

    (Stocks such as VA linux, btw, aren't on the DOW index, and aren't expected to maintaintain any particular level of stability. Stocks like Microsoft are.)

    MS PDAs - zero market share is easy to improve upon. They haven't had a viable PDA until last year.

    .NET - HailStorm is the first aspect of .NET actually to be fleshed out in concept. The rest of it hasn't even been described (as anything other than what it "will" accomplish, by some unknown means. It's the software equivilant of a block of iron ore. It works great - as a paperweight. Too bad it has to be judged as a box of paperclips./p)

  • Open Source is far more successful as an ideology (sharing from which everybody benefits) than a commercial or technological development model.
  • I can see where you are coming from. That description of New Jerusalem from the passage that Jon quoted is a prophetic vision of some actual event that will occur at the end of the world (according to the Christians anyway). To ask if Open Source is that event -- The New Jerusalem -- is just silly. Of course though, it's supposed to be a metaphor, so let's extend it a bit to show the absurdity more clearly by asking "Is RMS the Second Coming of Christ?"
  • yes, I do. Just so that he doesn't get too depressed with you guys. :-)
  • "Off Topic"

    Hehehe ...
  • What planet is Katz living on? As far as I can see, the net is nowhere near being saved from corporate and political domination. In fact it's sliding further towards that fate. And having people like Jon Katz deny the fact is not helping one bit.
  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Thursday March 22, 2001 @09:26AM (#347932) Journal
    Jon- I'm not so sure that open source software has been a significant victory. It has resulted in less technological development than closed source, and it has been less successful in the marketplace than closed source. While some may claim that Linux is a victory, only about 1% of computers actually use it. And for a failure, one need only look at Mozilla.

    I'm not sure the marketplace is the correct measurement for the success of opensource. It is not a traditional product. Who cares if only 2.5% (according to my web logs) of systems use it? (That's still millions of users anyway). To me, opensource is successful because:

    - it gives me a choice of tools to use: without OSS (Linux and FreeBSD in particular) my choice would be between a couple of Microsoft operating systems. But now I (and everyone else) can choose to run the right tool for the right job. Even if all that OSS does is to force MS to pull out all the stops to compete and make a better product, it's benefitted everyone.
    - I don't judge Mozilla a failure. Sure, it's usage is not as widespread as MSIE (and MSIE is a good browser), but Mozilla works well (certainly on my system at home at least) and helps to give me that choice of tools I (or anyone) can use.
    - The point is that Linux and FreeBSD are here to stay. They aren't going to suddenly go away because of the whims or failures of a company: that's the important difference with an established piece of OSS.

  • Because of emotional persistance, not logical, just the way we are wired.

    Repeated stimulation (pro god comment) without reacting will eventually result in the loss of "you stupid" reflex.

    reverse education can be educating
  • Extending your Jerusalem metaphor here, not submitting a troll: When Jesus was walkin' the earth, he had an astounding new way of interpreting the same old information, and eventually got killed for it, partly because it was destabilizing what existed before him.

    The metaphor carries well into understanding the future of Open Source. Within a few decades of his death, the movement of people who believed in Jesus's 'Open Source for the Soul' ie: a much freer way of interpreting religious rituals & traditions was swarmed with fakers and poseurs, people who were eager to call themselves popes and bishops and use the foundation of freedom to shackle their sheep.

    You can expect the same thing to happen with the Open Source movement, although faster because we got fax machines, BBSs, and e-mails. Yes, it is pure and beautiful now, re-interpreting all previous proprietary-information-dissemination-techniques. But it will increasingly be swarmed with people using it for their own selfish ends. Human nature.

    Human nature, and the fact that the United States still has a strong Christian ethos driving it: for example, the apocalyptic end-of-the-world nature of the Book of Revelations played a big role in the Y2K scare of only a coupla years ago.

    These factors must be considered when you look at whether Open Source is what it says it is, and whether it will still be the same in ten years.

    The funny thing is, most programmers/hackers have a Tolkien/Star Wars/and even specifically nonChristian kind of mythology driving their personal end-time worldview, but the generalizations I just made still hold. Why is this funny? Because people who are adamantly nonChristian now PRECISELY BECAUSE of the thick hypocrisies laden in this religion, don't see the parallel that in 50 years, Open Source will be laden with hypocrisies, too, and people will think of it in cynical, jaded terms.

    In those days, there will be a few stalwarts who hold to it fiercely, just like there are some fundamentalists now in the Bible Belt, who ain't gonna let you tell them that Jesus ain't God.

    Hope you see my point and don't respond to the trollware woven throughout. This is a conversation about Open Source and New Jerusalem, and I think it's a valid question. Well framed by John Katz.

  • Choice has been there all along. Apple has always been there. Solaris for x86 has been around for a while. There have always been choices. Maybe did you mean to say 'free' choices...?

  • Are you new Jewish-a rusalem?!!!

    I love all races!


  • Jeez, people can be so literal-minded. Whatever happened to lateral thinking, or imagination ? I find it rich with irony that among the first responses to this piece are tired old prejudices about religion. As if the world wasn't already ****** up enough thanks to the inability of different faiths to co-exist. There may be hyperbole here - but it's (shock) 'good' hyperbole - the sort whereby people have to think, and challenge their assumptions, rather than meekly cow-tow to the latest inane offerings from more traditional media. The Internet is not, never was, and never will be, a commercial medium. Don't agree ? How much are you being paid to read, think about, or respond to these words ? We are all here because we want to talk to each other, and because we can ! Add up all the cumulative profits of pure-play Internet companies over the past 4 years, and you probably get to about - $10bn, give or take the odd billion. The Internet in its first, prime, instance is a communications channel. No corporation in its right mind would boast of being 'THE telephone company' simply by having all its employees use the phone. The Net is already that well ingrained in corporate culture, or it nearly is. I'd rather have the visionary 'bible-bashing' (but without the religious overtones that gets the zealots all worked up) than facile smiley-talk from tired old world media any day. love..

    [You Are A Karma Whore And I Claim My Five Pounds]

  • Here on Slashdot we have Buddhists, Hindu's, Zoroastraisn, Atheistics, Agnostics, Scientologists, and even a Wiccan or two. Plus, since so many Slashdotter's are from California, we must have a whole slew of New Age crystal-Ramtha worshippers, too
    Thank you for noticing that not *all* of us are of the judeo-christian, or muslim path of religeous thinking :)
    (I only mention the two as they are the largest of the cumulative # of religeons based on # of followers-muslim being the top)
    Just Another Pagan Shedding Light in this Dark Age~ JAPLDA
    Just Another Pagan Shedding Light in this Dark Age~ JAPLDA
  • I'm mostly a self-taught programmer with a degree in Computer Science. If it wasn't for open source, it would probably using Goto statements and programming in BASIC. I learned how to program by reading books, looking at other peoples source code, and internal logic of my Brilliant mind. I don't think OSS is the New Jerusalem, more like a modern day Avalon, but its certainly changed the world of nerds.

  • "Open Source has bred some powerful offspring -- a more open society."

    With all due respect, that's utter bollocks.
  • Just like the title, does anyone give a crap what katz thinks? Does he post this article to boost his own ego? If I wanted to read egotistical essays I would read Bill Gates's webpage..... Jorell Kovin

  • This article begins with "Halfway through the Net Revolution...". Pardon me, but how on earth would you know that we are halfway through anything?? Much like a recession, the only way to know if you've reached the halfway point (or the bottom of a decline) is by looking in your rear-view mirror.

  • The whole point of this revolution is the sharing of information, rather than hoarding it for personal gain. Interestingly, it embodies the original ideas of Christianity; that we should act in the common good, rather than for the benefit of ourselves alone while igoring the harm that it might do to others. Such is the conflict between the hoarders of "Intellectual Property", and the sharers of "Open Source".
  • Apache, Perl, FreeBSD, mySQL... Need I list more. The web runs off open-source software.
  • Oh come on, it must be OK to post some long, dreamy, idealistic rants? It's not as if he is harming anyone.
    I suspect that people post the katzhate posts without reading his article... :-) actually I know. Spare us for that please. We know that a lot of people hate his articles and probably him. You don't have to read them. In fact you don't even have to see them, with a little configuration you can make slashdot like katz never existed (for you of course). I prefer to choose for myself. Why bitch when you can configure?

  • Your unenlightenment is showing. I am an atheist too, but why go out of your way to put people down who are not.
  • by s20451 ( 410424 ) on Thursday March 22, 2001 @08:39AM (#347950) Journal

    I am a fan of Open Source, in part because of its generous nature (as the article suggests), and in part because it allows peer review and dissemination of ideas.

    However, it bears pointing out that revolutions normally corrupt themselves by insisting on a certain dogmatism, rather than embracing practical reality. In the open source literature one sees very little consideration or mention of ideas such as hybrid open source, in which the source code is revealed but the owner still retains some IP control over its use. In fact such an idea is considered heretical by many open-source practitioners, who view anything other than GPL as counter-revolutionary.

    Is there any room in the open-source community for licenses that are more friendly to business? I think there are.

  • "The hackers brought joy, freedom, exploration and enterprise back to work..." Uh, no...and I think this attitude is telling. This is the second time this idea has been posited in this series, and it just isn't true. The tradition of technical and creative excellence applied to a craft has existed since the beginning of time. While there's an arguement to be made that the actual appreciation of such didn't start until the last few centuries, it's clear that modern "hackers" sure as hell didn't invent the idea as much as they embraced it..and then only as "Johnny come latelys". The difference between a 14th century Venetian glassblower and someone hacking code is one of available tools and technology, not outlook. The idea that hackers brought this ethos back into vogue just demonstrates what a narrow worldview the author, and by inference hackers, has. The only thing that makes the assertion even remotely possible is the perception that a particular technology (computers) has come into widespread usage without an equal increase in the general population's understanding of it. But that assertion ignores historical examples of the so-called "hacker ethos" having existed forever. A better example demonstrating the uniting power of a powerful, mass produced technology, but one that would invalidate the writer's overwrought article, would be to say that "Hot rodders brought joy, freedom, and exploration back to work." When the car became a widely available technology it created a sub-culture of technically and creatively skilled users united only by thier love of the machine. An overall wearing hillbilly cranking up his car to run 'shine and a dissolute piece of Euro-trash tuning up his Papa's race carraige for the next run against Jeanne Luc had the exact same love for the machine. And either could attain just as much economic gain from thier skills as modern day hackers. To this day you could plop down a Detroit engine designer with an African mechanic, forced to keep his car running with the most absurdly primitive tools and materials, and they could spend hours talking about the common technology that unites them. *That's* the ethos that brought joy, freedom, and exploration back to work- a love and appreciation for the possibilities of technology bordering on art. And "hacking" is at best it's latest incarnation, at worst a self-concious attempt at validation through the intentional ignorance of history.
  • The net teaches one quickly that *most* thoughts and ideas have already been posted or said or done... Every now and then I feel like posting mine anyway, despite that statistical law of human com. Kudos to Katz for his latest writing. He's been a strong and reliable spokesperson for the conscience and concerns of many of us out here. And Katz' writings give us perspective, when we are too busy trying to keep it all running to think about the big picture. Maybe another aspect of the Open Source movement is that we will have to accept that success requires the understanding that each module (each human) has it's own capabilities and expertise, and that cooperation creates excellence. Put it all together, and we get a strong machine. I think Katz shows up here so often because we've already, as a tribe, accepted him as a voice we share and need. Thank you Katz.
  • Actually, it was initially the military, searching for a way of decentralising command; then academics who first used internets. Neither had the M-O-N-E-Y motive. In fact, the idea of 'business models' and 'profit streams' on the Net is the relative newcomer.

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong