Amy Wohl
Candid opinions about the technology industry


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Permanent link to archive for 4/12/04. Monday, April 12, 2004

After Easter Thoughts

It's been a very long week.  My husband, a more-or-less retired (not his plan) mainframe programmer, has been in the hospital, after a scary trip to the emergency room, being treated for cellulitis.  Things look like they're coming under control and the cat and I (he's her person) are hoping he will be coming home very soon.

Our holidays -- we celebrate both Easter and Passover in our very American and heterogeneous family -- were a bit off pace without him.  Dinners got switched around, although our menus (can't be Passover without gefilte fish and chicken soup with Matzo balls or Easter Sunday without Lamb and asparagus) stayed the same.

I was fascinated with how our local public television station did its Easter programming, going from a wondrous interfaith concert hosted by the Pope in Rome, featuring Mahler's Resurrection to a 2001 production of Jesus Christ SuperStar with Judas in Biker Clothes and the Roman soldiers as (I think) Nazis.  When you visit someone in the hospital, watching TV together can seem like a good thing to do.

Then I came across Betsy Devine's post on how Easter always brings to her mind all the ambiguities of us moderns, struggling to decide just exactly what we do think and, as always, she made me pause.  I was in the right mood, I think.

I was listening to an NPR radio broadcast on one of my auto-pilot drives back and forth to the hospital this week and listening to a former power broker who decided to spend the rest of his life work in the-non profit world say that if you wanted to know what is the right thing to do, you had to get so quiet you could hear the very small voice within you.  That resonated. 

Most of us -- certainly me -- are way too noisy most of the time to hear anything.  I think I'll try some listening.

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Permanent link to archive for 4/6/04. Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Can Sun Open Java?

Jason Broooks of eWeeks Labs has written a good and thoughtful article on Java and what the advantages to Sun might be in open sourcing it.

Of particular interest, I think are two important points:

(1) Sun won't (and shouldn't) do this unless it's valuable for Sun.  Greatly expanding the Java market and making Sun a good citizen in the Open Source community now that they are aactively marketing Linux systems would be two good reasons.

(2) Sun needs a way to open source Java that would allow them to maintain their use of the brand and some control.  Jason recommends that a double-license plan, much like it uses for and StarOffice would work.  Sun could "give" Java to the Open Source community, yet reserve final say over content of its own version and the use of its brand.

Of course, there are other interested parties (IBM, for example).  But the parties who are most interested are developers who want to be guaranteed that they are working with Open Source and the customers who are buying into the notion of Open Source/Open Standards as the way they'll go. 

Surely, there is a way for Sun to homor its commitment to its intellectual property and, at the same time, to insure that Java gets the broad distribution and commitment it deserves?  We hope Sun takes one more look at an Open Source Java.  After all, now that they're not at war with Microsoft, it should free up some time for this important discussion!

Permanent link to archive for 3/31/04. Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Writing SW for Users

Clay Shirky has just posted a terrific (and fairly long) article on what he calls Situational Software. 

By that, he means software that is written by members of a small group for its own use.  He contrasts that sharply with what he calls Web software, by which he means more traditional software, written by programmers for large, generic groups of users, which must be written to scale, and be durable.

He makes great arguments for why such software can be much more useful, since it can omit things that the group already know about itself (such as the reputations of individual members) and it can rely upon group dynamics for some tasks not included in the software itself.  (For example, it offers a student buying system with no formal method for dealing with non-payment, since the students could deal with that via suasion or ostracism.) 

This is not an argument for abandoning formal software development, but rather a recognition that it is useful to also have informal software that is developed closer to its users, and intended for less formal, shorter usage, just for a particular group or purpose.  He also makes the argument that as the number of formal sw developers in the U.S. may diminish (which has been predicted), this informal programming, a new part of many people's skill sets as how we program changes, may grow -- just as typists and secretaries have all but disappeared, but all of us create and enter our own data today. 

April 2004
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This Page was last update: Monday, April 12, 2004 at 10:20:21 AM
This page was originally posted: 4/12/2004; 10:06:36 AM.
Copyright 2004 Amy Wohl

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