Today is Document Freedom Day. If you’re not one of the open source faithful, or even if you are, you might not be familiar with this digital independence day. According to the web site at http://documentfreedom.org, “Document Freedom Day (DFD) is a global day for document liberation. It will be a day of grassroots effort to educate the public about the importance of Open Document Formats and Open Standards in general.”
A post on Mashable brought this to my attention. It should be no surprise that a CA Linux startup, A La Mobile, is the first to offer a suite of apps based on Android, Google’s mobile platform. Let’s hope open source can play an increasingly important role in the mobile and handheld scene. I’m interested to see what Android looks like. Googleis pushing hard to become the backbone of all our connectivity; I’m suspicious of their methods. The licensing issues in Android are fuzzy. Based on the Linux 2.6 kernel and other code released under various open source licenses, Android can never be “nailed down tight”, a condition Morgan Gillis claims is necessary for adoption by handset makers.
What we need next is clear to me: an open source hardware platform for mobile devices. The PC was open sourced by IBM in the 80’s, allowing other manufacturers, large and small, to offer competing designs. This was the single biggest factor in the success of the technology. Now, one of these mobile hardware companies with deep pockets needs to step up and release a design spec that can be developed openly.
Why can’t I purchase or build my own mobile device and choose my own OS and applications, select a carrier and enjoy communicating my way? Why do the carriers and handset makers dictate what my mobile communication experience will be? Wait a minute, I have an idea for a new project!
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Reading some of the comments on the Robert Scoble v. FaceBook issue this morning, which centers on an issue of great importance for all of us. It seems FB suspended Scoble’s account because he was using a script to gather data from his account. FB’s IDS probably caught the activity and took automated action. But this is where it gets sticky. What is the purpose of banning the scraping of data from your own account?
I don’t see how it can be a violation of any reasonable TOS for a user to employ a script to gather the information stored in their own account, the same data that could be harvested with a pencil and paper. The only possible issue is the load on the servers, not data ownership. Who owns the “relationship data” that exists in my cell phone? T-Mobile? Samsung? Ridiculous! I own it. It doesn’t matter that I used the tools and services these companies provided to make new social connections. They were paid for the use of those tools for that very purpose.
If the system load is the issue, that is a valid concern. The burden is on the providers of the service to offer a way to export your data in a way that taxes the system minimally. If they can’t afford to do this in the context of a free service, perhaps they need to reexamine their business model.