Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Saturday, April 8, 2006day link 

 Software Freedom Conservancy
Yahoo. The Software Freedom Law Center will offer a non-profit umbrella for any free or open source software projects that want it.
"The mission of the Conservancy is to provide free and open source software developers with all of the benefits of being a tax-exempt corporate entity without having to do any of the work of setting up and maintaining such an entity," said Dan Ravicher, legal director for the Software Freedom Law Center and one of the initial directors of the Conservancy. "Letting projects pass off the mundane administrative burdens placed on those wishing to benefit from nonprofit status is a significant way to keep developers focused on what they do best -- writing software."

The Software Freedom Conservancy will be a fiscal sponsor for FOSS projects by providing free financial and administrative services to its members. It will provide individual developers protection from personal liability for their projects and will seek to provide participating projects with tax-exempt status, allowing them to receive tax deductible donations. The Conservancy will file a single tax return that covers each of the member's projects and will handle other corporate and tax related issues on behalf of its members. In addition, the Conservancy can hold project assets and manage them at the discretion of the project, which removes another fiscal burden from developers who are focused on software innovation.

[ | 2006-04-08 16:21 | 4 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

"Web2.0" is one of the hot buzzwords right now. But a fuzzy term that a lot of people seem to dislike, because, well, it is a buzzword, and there's not wide agreement on what exactly it is, or whether it really is something new. But largely it has something to do with a new breed of websites that have more sophisticated user interfaces, particularly ones that use Ajax to update stuff on the page without having to reload it. And it has something to do with engaging large numbers of people in contributing content and in adding value to existing content. And it has something to do with web services, like RSS feeds. I.e. standardized ways one can access stuff, no matter where it comes from. And thus that new possibilities open for creating "mashups", i.e. new combinations of data from various sources. For example, Flickr is a photo sharing site, and it makes it easy for you to show those pictures in all sorts of settings other than their own site. GoogleMaps allow you to create maps based on their data, putting your own stuff on the maps.

Dion Hinchcliffe is one of the most articulate proponents for Web2.0, providing ongoing updates on his blog on where it is at. Like, see his recent State of the Web2.0. From there, a little overview of what it IS:
For those who don't follow it all the time, it might even be hard to remember what all the pieces of Web 2.0 are (and keep in mind, these elements are often reinforcing, so Web 2.0 is definitely not a random grab bag of concepts). Even compact definitions are sometimes a little hard to stomach or conceptualize But the one I like the best so far is Michael Platt's recent interpretation just before SPARK. Keep in mind, the shortest definition that works for me is that "Web 2.0 is made of people." However, it's so short that important details are missing and so here's a paraphrase of Platt's summary.

Key Aspects of Web 2.0:

- The Web and all its connected devices as one global platform of reusable services and data
- Data consumption and remixing from all sources, particularly user generated data
- Continuous and seamless update of software and data, often very rapidly
- Rich and interactive user interfaces
- Architecture of participation that encourages user contribution

I also wrote a review of the year's best Web 2.0 explanations a while back and it goes into these elements in more detail if you want it. But there's a lot more to Web 2.0 than these high level elements would indicate. A key aspect not mentioned here, though I cover it in Sixteen Ways to Think in Web 2.0, is the importance of user ownership of data. The centrality of the user as both a source of mass attention (over a hundred million people, probably 2 or 3 times that many, are online right now) and an irreplaceable source of highly valuable data, generally encourages that the user be handed control of the data they generate. If control over their own attention data is denied them, they will just go to those who will give them that control. This gives some insight into the implications of Web 2.0 concepts, which were mostly gathered by examining prevailing trends on the Web. Forrester is calling the resulting fall out of these changes Social Computing and it'll be interesting to see what the effects of the widepsread democratization of content and control will ultimately be a generation from now.
From the comments to Dion's blog posting, it is obvious that there's a lot of disagreement. About half of them seem to think that Web2.0 is a useless buzzword that just muddles everything. But some of them are also helpful with definitions. Nathan Derksen:
"Web 2.0 is comprised of applications that use sophisticated user interfaces, that use the Internet as an operating system, that connect people, and that encourage collaboration."
OK, that's simple and clear. Or, to give an idea of where it came from, from Varun Mathur:
On April 1st, 2004, Google launched GMail, which went on to ignite the whole Web 2.0 / AJAX revolution which we are witnessing right now. There is no agreed definition of Web 2.0. I like to think of it as the re-birth or second-coming of the web. The Web 2.0 websites are more like web applications, and have a rich, highly interactive and generally well designed user interface. They could also be using web services offered by other sites (for eg, Google Maps, Flickr photo web service, etc). Syndication and community are also associated with a site being Web 2.0. AJAX is the technical term which is responsible for the increased interactiveness of Web 2.0 websites. But the fundamentals remain the same - what's under the hood of a Web 2.0 application is as important as it was a few years ago.
OK, it seems that it is part Collective Intelligence and part more lively user interfaces. It is about creative engaging, immersive websites that form open communities. Not communities as in a member forum, which is something that has existed for a number of years. But community with less barriers and boundaries, where one rather freely can both contribute and consume lots of stuff in real time.

And, yes, maybe nothing very obviously new, but rather what the web was supposed to be all along. But in a more bottom-up and pragmatic kind of way. Being allowed to contribute and share more widely, and have somewhat uniform access to the contributions of many others, but without very many restrictions being imposed on y ou. An evolution, rather than a revolution. But it seems that collective intelligence becomes more visible and more a target, which changes things.
[ | 2006-04-08 23:44 | 17 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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