The Mass Debate
This was an open Q&A session chaired by Jono and with 4 open source luminaries, actually 3 open source luminaries and one guy from Microsoft. The panel members were Chris DiBona ofGoogle, Nat Friedman of Novell, Becky Hogge from the Open Rights Group and Mr X from Microsoft. Unfortunately I did not catch the guy from Microsoft’s name but he described himself as an evangelist, which was kind of ironic given that Alan Cox’s talk earlier was saying how Open Source people used to shun the word marketing and talk about being an evangelist but now big corporations were catching on so it was becoming a dirty word.
As you might expect the guy from Microsoft got quite a “shoeing” particularly in relation to the Open XML standard and he played it quite well. When the question or sometimes the speech masquerading as a question was on the whole pretty rhetorical he would just smile and not comment.
Other topics included the panel’s views on the the BBC’s decision not to provide the iPlayer for any other platform than windows initially. On the whole they saw it as a poor decision but all said the way to get something done was to engage in dialog with the organisation rather than trying to do some sort of boycott. An interesting comment from Nat Friedman was that these large corporations are not monoliths and there may well be people in the organisation that have closer sympathies to your position. You should find these people out and enter a dialog with them.
Nat Friedman also made an interesting comment about the future of the Linux desktop and how as more applications go to the web the underlying platform in a sense becomes less important and this could be the point where Linux starts to gain real ground in the market, which has a certain irony about it. However he also suggested that this could mean the Linux desktop will go in some new direction providing a user experience that the web can’t provide.
On the whole it was a reasoned and fun debate.
The final session of the day was from Chris who is Google’s code manager, responsible for licence compliance, releasing google code and the Summer of Code.
After some entertaining slides about the hardware Google used over the years he went on to explain that the main reason Google use FLOSS is because they want always to be master of their own destiny and not beholden to any other software provider.
He finished by explaining how the Summer of Code works from both the students’ side and the projects’ side.
Chris is a really entertaining speaker and clearly very knowledgeable across a range of FLOSS issues.