links for 2007-04-29


I’ve started sketching some ideas out in Processing.

It doesn’t work on PowerPC Linux you know.

links for 2007-04-28

Criticism of Web 2.0 sites remains weak

Participation on Web 2.0 sites remains weak | Technology | Internet | Reuters

Similarly, only two-tenths of one percent of visits to Flickr, a popular photo-editing site owned by Yahoo Inc., are to upload new photos, the Hitwise study found.

So let’s get this straight. 0.002 of the hits that Flickr gets are to upload photos. Which means that out of every million hits, two thousand are uploads. And by all estimates Flickr gets several million hits every day.
So if you actually do the maths that’s much better participation and distribution than traditional media.

You can see the headlines if 99% of hits were uploads. Web 2.0 would be vanity sites that no-one ever reads.

So assuming that participation is increasing (which it will even if the percentage remains constant) and that Web 2.0 allows mere consumption (which it clearly does), it is both a new kind of democratic media and a threat to traditional media. If only there was some way to misunderstand statistics in order to put a negative spin on this?

links for 2007-04-19

Fair Use And Free Software

The third GPL3 draft mentions Fair Use in a manner similar to the Creative Commons licences, guaranteeing the Fair Use rights of people who receive copies of the work. Fair Use can be an extensive exception to copyright, allowing derivative works to claim a new copyright separate from that of the parent work.

This means that proprietary derivatives of GPL-licenced sofwtare could conceivably be made under Fair Use as long as they satisfy one or more of the criteria used to evaluate Fair Use claims. This is true of GPL-2 licenced work as well, and the FSF’s GPL FAQ make this explicit. Nobody has exploited this as far as I know. It may not be possible to claim Fair Use of source code in a way that is harmful to Free Software.

But if it is possible to make Fair Use of GPL licensed source code to create proprietary software or to distribute binaries without source this results in a number of ideological and practical double-binds that will need some subtlety and a sense of irony to resolve. Even if it is not actually possible this will not stop Fair Use claims against the GPL being funded by the usual suspects. It is important that the Free Software community considers Fair Use before this happens so that a measured and effective response can be made where appropriate.

Art for Society?

“Britain is full of teachers pretending to be “artists”, “Artists” pretending to be French Philosophers, curators pretending to be revolutionaries, etc., etc. Now bourgeois art teachers pretend they are socialist artists-It is the same recurring problem: the historical conditions they are really in are ignored in favour of the historical conditions they want, need, believe, feel intimidated into supporting, feel as though they ought to be in.”

– Art & Language, “Art for Society?”, in Art-Language, Vol. 4, No. 4, June 1980, pp.8-9. Quoted in

Free Screwdrivers

Screwdrivers are useful tools. You can open consumer electronics with them, you can assemble furniture with them, or you can misuse them to open tins of paint. There is nothing profound about them, they are just useful devices. They are not something you have to think about, just go to the shop and buy one then use it as you see fit.

In a free society, people should be free to use screwdrivers for whatever tasks they have at hand to pursue their own chosen ends within society. For the state or other entities to try to prevent them from doing so would be an infraction of personal liberty. It would be coercion, unfreedom. It should be resisted by the people and wherever possible the ability to use screwdrivers freely should be defended.

Screwdriver freedom is a trivial but vitally important matter. It’s trivial because all you have to do to support it is to make sure that people can use screwdrivers. It’s vitally important because how free would you be if you were not always free to use a general-purpose device to pursue your chosen ends within society?

links for 2007-04-17


Well that’s three days lost to a Debian upgrade screw up.

On the plus side I have a nice clean install of Etch now.

Thanks to Matt Lee for help and emotional support. 😉