Open Tech Today - Top Stories

Friday, February 16, 2007

Global Warming's Next Victim: Peru

Global warming sure does produce pretty photos from distant places, pretty photos with ugly implications. The next page in the global warming scrapbook comes from Peru. While India is losing islands and Canada its ice shelfs, Peru is losing its glaciers.

A story from The Times (UK) reports the impending loss (that is, melting) of Quelccaya, the main glacier of the world’s largest tropical icecap, located in South America's Andies mountains. It is melting faster than scientists previously measured. Current prediction: Quelccaya will lose half its current mass by next year and disappear entirely by 2012, only 5 years from now.

Here is how the glacier's retreat has progressed in the past 25 years ...

But why worry about a pile of ice far off in the Andies Mountains?

Peru's glaciers feed the rivers that supply water to rural communities and cities where most of the population lives. Glaciers are vital for water supplies, essential for drinking, electricity and agriculture. No glaciers means less water, and less water means less food and more human hardship. It's a simple equation with devastating consequences.

Categories: GlobalWarming, Peru

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Outing Groklaw & Open Source Bloggers

Anonymous blogging is becoming a risky proposition. And if you blog about legal issues related to open source, be prepared for real trouble. As part of its court case attacking Linux vendors and users, SCO has subpeonaed Groklaw blogger Pamela Jones, a frequent commentator on the SCO lawsuit. SCO intends to force Jones to sit for a deposition. Why? They claim Jones is somehow associated with IBM, or might even be one of its lawyers.

Even if true, what will SCO gain, other than the embarrassment of outing an online commentator or exposing how advocates use the Internet to project their views to the world? Groklaw posts about the SCO case are mainly commentary based upon court documents and filings. So SCO is basically harassing a blogger for her widely-read opinions (protected by the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution). Sounds like a cheap shot, and a move almost guaranteed to create a storm of bad press for SCO. And they would deserve it.

It is unclear what relevant evidence Jones (whoever she is) would have for the lawsuit and SCO. If she was a lawyer for IBM, any information beyond the blog posts would be protected by attorney-client privilege. If she is a paid mouthpiece for IBM or associated with it in some other way, nothing indicates that she has any information beyond what is publicly available in court documents. In the end, this looks like SCO attacking a person for her support for open source.

Allowing this subpeona of a blogger would set a dangerous precedent and send a chilling signal to anyone who posts online. Intimidation and reprisals should not be part of the blogging experience.

Categories: opensource, SCO, IBM, blogging

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Network Effect of Open Source

Open source is breaking out of software and starting to drive innovation in sectors beyond ICT. As pressures increase on companies (and labs and universities) to develop and discover faster, they are finding open source to be a model for networked collaboration and a catalyst for innovation.

The Human Genome Project is a famous example of open source collaboration in science. Now comes news that a giant drug company, Novartis, will build upon this open source approach for its diabetes research. Instead of hoarding its genetic data, Novartis is sharing it to create a library of diabetes data freely available online, expecting to both accelerate its own innovation and spur new partnerships.

Open source is making similar inroads in education, consumer products, even medical devices for amputees.

This connection between open source and innovation beyond software will be a focal point for the next phase of the Open ePolicy Group.

Categories: opensource, innovation, OeG