Obama's Techies Want To Open Source Their Work, But Politicians Want To Keep It Secret

from the techies-vs.-politicians dept

Right after the election, we noted the stories showing how Obama's technology advantage was impressive, while the get-out-the-vote technology that the Romney campaign built up appeared to fail spectacularly. However, there's an interesting post mortem to this, which shows how techies and politicians still usually come from very, very different worlds. The world class team of technologists who helped build up Obama's campaign tech are trying to release their work as open source -- but Democratic Party operatives are trying to keep it secret, believing (almost certainly incorrectly) that this gives them a proprietary advantage:
But in the aftermath of the election, a stark divide has emerged between political operatives and the techies who worked side-by-side. At issue is the code created during the Obama for America (OFA) 2012 campaign: the digital architecture behind the campaign’s website, its system for collecting donations, its email operation, and its mobile app. When the campaign ended, these programmers wanted to put their work back into the coding community for other developers to study and improve upon. Politicians in the Democratic party felt otherwise, arguing that sharing the tech would give away a key advantage to the Republicans. Three months after the election, the data and software is still tightly controlled by the president and his campaign staff, with the fate of the code still largely undecided. It’s a choice the OFA developers warn could not only squander the digital advantage the Democrats now hold, but also severely impact their ability to recruit top tech talent in the future.
The politicians who want to keep it locked up are making a huge mistake for a very large number of reasons that people who are steeped in technology understand. Let's list out some of the ways in which it's stupid to keep this secret:
  1. It basically makes the technology useless. As one of the techies who worked on the project notes, the software "will be mothballed," meaning that four years from now it'll be useless. What the politicians see as keeping an advantage is really just squandering a useful framework.
  2. It completely misunderstands how technology advances and works. No one expects software from today to be the same four years from now. By mothballing the tech, it will mean that the next campaign will effectively be starting from scratch. Open sourcing it would allow additional work to continue on this.
  3. You can learn from others as well. The really shortsighted part is this insistence that open sourcing it "helps the other side." Again, what will be used four years (or even two years) from now will be quite different as the technology advances. And having it open sourced means that lots of folks can jump in and build on the tech in the meantime. And, yes, even Republican techies might work on it, and the Dems can learn from them as well.
  4. Keeping it closed pisses off the techies, who will be less likely to contribute or join the team next time around.
  5. If the Democrats believe they have stronger technologists, then next election they should still be able to make innovations faster than their opponents.
  6. It quite possibly violates some open source licenses, since much of the code was built on open source software, some of which requires any additional work to also be open sourced.
  7. Keeping the tech secret also means that other campaigns (beyond just elections) can't make use of the technology as well, which could actually hurt causes that the Democrats support.
In many ways this is the same old battle we've seen from legacy companies vs. more open upstarts for years. The legacy players think their advantage is in keeping the code secret. The upstarts know that's wrong: the pace of innovation and the rate of change means that by being open you can better keep up and do more. Keeping it closed guarantees stagnation and falling behind.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 12:03pm

    Irony

    Having followed the "poli-tech" for a while, I can say that the Democrats reverse engineered a lot of their plotting and planning from Karl Rove.

    She, they want to keep this secret from conservatives, hoping to land this weapon again but as noted they won't need to.

    1) The "center" of the country is moving left.

    2) Liberals have an advantage in tech over cooperatives already. A lot of the technology comes from the Googles and Apples, not the Microsoft and Intels (notice the generation gap here if you don't get it)

    3) To bar others from making this better, you're effectively relying on an old mousetrap for a bigger mouse. That leaves other parties to take away your advantage and keeps you stuck in the potty instead of planning your next campaign.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 12:40pm

    Why would the D's want to share this with the R's who are practically Amish in their campaign technology? I understand this perfectly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Crashoverride (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 12:49pm

    Uhm wow this is an incredibly poorly thought out posting.

    Four years try two years.... Winner is in four years software gets used in two you know to get the person elected in four years.

    The Republicans have basically nothing. They chose not to invest in technology. To then hand them what is widely considered one of the biggest keys to winning the 2012 election would be fool hardy by any measure.

    Competition is good. It kept the US on it's toes and continuing to innovate and investing in sciences, technology even infrastructure all throughout the cold war.

    I might be wrong on this but just because you use open source software doesn't mean you have to mail your competitors a copy of what your company invested in creating.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 12:50pm

    All very good points, except point 6, which probably just ain't so... GPL is about the most stringent "must give back" license and it only kicks in once the software is "distributed" outside the organization. It's quite possible that there's no legal obligation to release anything. Morally it can no doubt be viewed differently, but if the Microsoft/Kerberos fiasco demenstrated anything, it's that a moral stance and a few bucks may buy you a coffee, but not much else. Still, I have suspect that a lot of the "soft" support for the Democrats is from people who still think that they are the more moral of the parties, so maybe there is something of a point here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Chas. Wegrzyn, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 12:53pm

    Upstarts know its wrong?

    Where does bias like that come in an article? It is neither wrong or right to release code into the open source community. One article claimed an equally silly statement: programmers have a need to make things open source. Neither of these are relevant to the discussion nor are they at all accurate.

    I know how long and hard my son worked on the OFA/DNC system (he was one of the people highlighted in the Time magazine article). I have an idea of how much money the DNC/OFA poured into building the software, and it is what gave them edge. Now why would anyone want to give that technological advantage to the "other" party? It makes no more sense than any company releasing their big data projects into the open source community. Some things give you the edge...and this was one of them

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 1:05pm

    Re:

    Distributing binaries to the DNC, other campaigns, volunteer organizations, or anyone else not part of the legal entity that is the campaign counts as distribution. Including the 08 campaign vs the 04 campaign because of how they legally structure them.

    And since they're acting as private entities while running rather than part of the govt, they can't invoke the "FU, we're the feds" clause and ignore it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 1:07pm

    The problem is easily explained, Politicians and management approach the world from a competition and must win viewpoint. Their main objective is to increase their own power, and cooperation is a sign of weakness.
    Technicians approach the world from a cooperate and build on the work of others viewpoint, and hate re-inventing the wheel. They try to avoid re=-inventing the wheel, as it allows them to devote time to making things better.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Upstarts know its wrong?

    Right or wrong, dunno. I do know if they used GPL code while writing for the DNC they can't give binaries to ANY campaign that isn't directly administered by the DNC unless they release the source.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 1:10pm

    Re:

    GPL only requires that code is mad available to those to whom the software is distributed to. If all these keep the source to themselves then the terms, but not the spirit of the license is met.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    BentFranklin (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 1:13pm

    Speaking as a supporter of open source software, and also as someone who has used the technology in 2008, 2010, and 2012 I can say a lot of this is off base. The Democrats enjoy a numerical advantage that has often been stymied through lack of organization. This system helps the Democrats use their numerical advantage. Why would they give away a major advantage for a bunch of iffy paybacks?

    It basically makes the technology useless. As one of the techies who worked on the project notes, the software "will be mothballed," meaning that four years from now it'll be useless. What the politicians see as keeping an advantage is really just squandering a useful framework.

    Actually it has gotten much stronger through continual improvement. In 2008 the system crashed. In 2012 the servers were much more robust. In 2012, the mobile app became usable.

    It completely misunderstands how technology advances and works. No one expects software from today to be the same four years from now. By mothballing the tech, it will mean that the next campaign will effectively be starting from scratch. Open sourcing it would allow additional work to continue on this.

    They have lots of funds to improve on it themselves.

    You can learn from others as well. The really shortsighted part is this insistence that open sourcing it "helps the other side." Again, what will be used four years (or even two years) from now will be quite different as the technology advances. And having it open sourced means that lots of folks can jump in and build on the tech in the meantime. And, yes, even Republican techies might work on it, and the Dems can learn from them as well.

    That's a very weak advantage to be gained from giving away the store.

    Keeping it closed pisses off the techies, who will be less likely to contribute or join the team next time around.
    If the Democrats believe they have stronger technologists, then next election they should still be able to make innovations faster than their opponents.


    The Democrats have plenty of funds to pay techies good salaries to keep development moving.

    It quite possibly violates some open source licenses, since much of the code was built on open source software, some of which requires any additional work to also be open sourced.

    Open source licenses do not require you to give away your improvements.

    Keeping the tech secret also means that other campaigns (beyond just elections) can't make use of the technology as well, which could actually hurt causes that the Democrats support.

    It is available to other Democratic campaigns, for a fee.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    weneedhelp (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Upstarts know its wrong?

    "technological advantage to the "other" party?"

    How about the benefit to society?

    I know PPL like to try and claim it was IT that helped Barry win. Maybe is was the cocky half-assed smile Mitt had throughout the whole campaign. Ya think? Maybe it was he came off a just another douche bag Republican. Maybe Bush's legacy has left a bad taste in American's mouths.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 1:20pm

    Re:

    Open source licenses do not require you to give away your improvements.

    The GPL certainly does if you want to use GPLed code and distribute binaries to anyone not directly part of your organization.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    pixelpusher220 (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 1:24pm

    Re: Irony

    Without commenting on whether it should be released or not..

    "To bar others from making this better, you're effectively relying on an old mousetrap for a bigger mouse. That leaves other parties to take away your advantage and keeps you stuck in the potty instead of planning your next campaign."

    I would disagree. If your side is 'better' at building something from 'scratch', then keeping the other side from reaping your benefits isn't a bad idea. (Since obviously the GOP would have the same start position if it was from Rove)

    Yes you have to reinvent the wheel next time, but if you're better at that, then it's still an advantage.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 1:24pm

    Re: Re:

    Only works in theory though. In practice any entity of a non-puny size will have someone who is going to post the code somewhere publicly and there's jack and shit you can do about it since the GPL allows further distribution.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    pixelpusher220 (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Irony

    Without commenting on whether it should be released or not..

    "To bar others from making this better, you're effectively relying on an old mousetrap for a bigger mouse. That leaves other parties to take away your advantage and keeps you stuck in the potty instead of planning your next campaign."

    I would disagree. If your side is 'better' at building something from 'scratch', then keeping the other side from reaping your benefits isn't a bad idea. (Since obviously the GOP would have the same start position if it was from Rove)

    Yes you have to reinvent the wheel next time, but if you're better at that, then it's still an advantage.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 1:29pm

    Re: Re:

    Only works in theory though. In practice any entity of a non-puny size will have someone who is going to post the code somewhere publicly and there's jack and shit you can do about it since the GPL allows further distribution.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 1:34pm

    If it's the tech that does not use the cvv from a credit card I say keep it secret.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 1:36pm

    Re:

    Why would the D's want to share this with the R's who are practically Amish in their campaign technology? I understand this perfectly.

    Thing is, the code alone, isn't going to do it. It's knowing how to use the code. And the D's should still have an advantage in (a) understanding the code better and (b) being able to build on other innovations with the code.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 1:36pm

    Re: Re: Upstarts know its wrong?

    Actually the requirement is to offer to provide the source code, and keep this open for some period. They do not need to supply the source code automatically.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 1:37pm

    Re:

    The Republicans have basically nothing. They chose not to invest in technology.

    This is simply untrue.

    To then hand them what is widely considered one of the biggest keys to winning the 2012 election would be fool hardy by any measure.

    The code, by itself, did not win the election. And, again, in two years, this code will be obsolete. So, not sure the point.

    Competition is good. It kept the US on it's toes and continuing to innovate and investing in sciences, technology even infrastructure all throughout the cold war.

    Um. That has nothing to do with anything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 1:39pm

    Re: Upstarts know its wrong?

    I know how long and hard my son worked on the OFA/DNC system (he was one of the people highlighted in the Time magazine article). I have an idea of how much money the DNC/OFA poured into building the software, and it is what gave them edge. Now why would anyone want to give that technological advantage to the "other" party? It makes no more sense than any company releasing their big data projects into the open source community. Some things give you the edge...and this was one of them

    Sounds like the EXACT same statements that proprietary software companies have long argued against open source ones... only to watch the open source companies continually eat into their markets.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 1:42pm

    Isn't this technology paid for by the people?
    And shouldn't it then be released to the public domain?
    Yes we can change, but we choose not to

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Upstarts know its wrong?

    You know, I don't believe the period has ever been stated or litigated. I always assumed it was simply a minimum of as long as you continue to distribute the binaries.

    As for automatic delivery, not necessary and isn't even the norm. They can do anything from throwing it up on the Internet to sending a guy over to recite it to you as far as delivery goes. Most choose putting it on the net because it requires no further action on their part but the method doesn't matter.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 1:52pm

    Re:

    No, it's largely done on a volunteer basis and, even if paid for, campaigns are not government entities.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 2:13pm

    Re: Re:

    It might be true that the R's don't know how to best use the tool, but I see no sense in handing it to them. They're not idiots and after this cycle's beatdown and the embarrassingly inaccurate modeling, you can bet they are working hard to address this. No way I'd hand the competition a chainsaw when he's using an axe- even if I knew I could still use it more effectively.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 2:14pm

    Quick make more Kool-aide...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    Gwiz (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 2:18pm

    Re:

    I might be wrong on this but just because you use open source software doesn't mean you have to mail your competitors a copy of what your company invested in creating.

    You are wrong on that. In most cases of open source software, if any of your software is built off of open source code then you are required by license to provide a copy of your source code along with your software, so others can build off of what you have done. That's the "open" part of open software.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 2:18pm

    Re: Re: Upstarts know its wrong?

    Sounds like the EXACT same statements that proprietary software companies have long argued against open source ones... only to watch the open source companies continually eat into their markets.

    Except here we are talking about head-to-head competition. And how to you think the R's would repay this act of kindness? The D's would be mocked as chumps. And rightly so. There's no upside here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    mudlock (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 2:18pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Not quite. GPL relies on copyright. The only thing it changes is it requires you to release the source code to anyone who you release the program to. But you can still, by license, restrict who they can give the program (and therefore, the source code) to.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    icon
    mudlock (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 2:21pm

    Re: Re: Upstarts know its wrong?

    They only need to release the source code to the organizations they release the compiled code to. Just because Obama'12 gives their binaries (and source) to Clinton'16, doesn't mean they have to give their binaries to _everyone_.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 2:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No, you can't. Reread.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 2:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Upstarts know its wrong?

    Yes there is. Technologists would want to work with the D's since they're using up to date tech. The R's might be able to use it, but they would have a lot to learn which keeps the D's ahead of the game.

    Let's think about this in another context...

    Let's say I play chess and I have two years more experience than you. Of course, I play against you, and you have a hard time beating me. Then, you learn on your own while trekking to others to catch up to my level while I play at a more advanced level myself. Maybe you beat me 4/10 times instead of me dominating you.

    Now think about politics as chess. The D's would remain two steps ahead by learning from their own mistakes and not having to relearn new software after they have an advantage.

    The positives of releasing that info and attracting new people to that party outweigh the negative of worrying about R's gaining an advantage.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 3:04pm

    How about this?

    The Democrats put their work out in the commons and the Republicans allow more of the environment to move into the commons. :-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    icon
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 3:05pm

    Re: How about this?

    Oh, and can we get more of the info about what's in fracking fluid to be made public?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    icon
    Crashoverride (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 3:16pm

    PLEASE OH PLEASE PLEASE....Explain how the most advanced software developed by the two political parties becomes obsolete in two years???

    In addition we are talking about a business entity not the US government. Why do they deserve ire for not sharing their customization's.... than say Exxon or...the Republican party


    I'm still not seeing where the code would be obsolete in two years....when it gets used again for the next Presidential cycle... and that assumes no one touches the code until then

    I highly doubt that the code will not be tweaked and updated or even shelved and only used for presidential elections.

    Obama even announced that in an unusual step his campaign fund raising machine wasn't shutting off but continuing forward to promote his and the democratic party's key agendas.... which sounds like it's still being used.

    Furthermore I have worked at many a business that I would've been happy to use software that was made in the previous decade. Hell just look at how many businesses are still today using Windows 98. Even though it is no longer supported.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 3:16pm

    Re: Re:

    "No, it's largely done on a volunteer basis and, even if paid for, campaigns are not government entities."

    But... they get government dollars.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 3:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Upstarts know its wrong?

    True, but whoever they release the code to is free to further distribute it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 3:18pm

    that's been the trouble all along and will continue to be the trouble, with having people in control who know too little about what they are controlling

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    icon
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 3:21pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    But... they get government dollars.

    Presidential Election 2012 To Play Out On New Campaign Finance Field: "The 2012 contest will be the first since 1972 in which neither major-party candidate will accept presidential matching funds in the general election."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    icon
    mudlock (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 3:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Ver 2 or ver 3? (That may be the crux of our disagreement here.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    icon
    Crashoverride (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 3:22pm

    Forgot to add....

    Arguing that releasing the code wouldn't aid or benefit the other side as they wouldn't have the training or experience with the code.... is counter to the whole argument of releasing it.

    That's like saying leave the car unlocked with the keys in the ignition because no one has been trained on the particulars of starting this particular make and model of car.... code is code a car is a car... unless someone is trying to argue the GOP is too dumb to figure out how to use the software in the four years the writer is falsely claiming until it's needed again.

    and if as the author argues it will be obsolete.... than whatever gained by releasing will already be learned and thus making the release moot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    icon
    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 4:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Either. The GPL explicitly grants permission to modify and redistribute in both.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    icon
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 4:43pm

    They probably don't need it

    If you can prevent people from voting and if you can make sure the votes that you do get always add up in your favor, why bother with campaign software?

    We did the math: how the GOP will gerrymander its way back to the White House — MSNBC

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 6:53pm

    D's amaze me

    They re-elect a guy who spent $1 trillion plus per year in new national deficit while a D controlled Senate never even put forth a budget. At the rate Obama is going the next election won't matter, this country will be sunk.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 7:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Upstarts know its wrong?

    I think the knowledge to stay a (giant) step or two ahead of the R's is likely just as accessible without handing them the keys. While you might learn from them, they'd get more out of the deal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 7:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Upstarts know its wrong?

    But they have their own problems.

    You have four strains of conservatives that make up the Republican party:

    The plutocrats fund all of the events and get legislation passed. They don't wasn't taxes raised on them and get the most deals out of the budgets since they own Congress.

    The Neo-cons care about foreign policy and the US being number one in their military.

    The social conservatives are the ones preaching the message and they're usually behind on technology issues (think Rick Perry or Sarah Palin)

    Finally, you have the libertarians/moderates who are usually up on technology issues but don't seem to connect well with the other groups on other issues.

    With those for main strains of conservatism vying for control of the party, I doubt that they can shine up Republican politics to take advantage of new technology. At least not until they recognize that their messaging and their message are atrocious to the new majority in America.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 7:36pm

    Re: D's amaze me

    Can we please stop trying to blame parties?

    Here's a new rule:

    If you have to play partisan politics, be prepared to look at your own party with a critical eye. Blaming one party for all ills doesn't help anyone figure out the problem, nor does it actually find solutions.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    icon
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 7:59pm

    Re: D's amaze me

    They re-elect a guy who spent $1 trillion plus per year in new national deficit while a D controlled Senate never even put forth a budget. At the rate Obama is going the next election won't matter, this country will be sunk.

    During the Bush years when Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate where was that focus on reducing the deficit? Somehow during those years the country went from a surplus to a deficit. Maybe if someone has said, "You know, if we want to fight these wars, we'd better raise taxes. Or maybe we shouldn't be fighting these wars in the first place."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    Eponymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 1:34am

    Fairytales and Make-believe...

    This is the fetishizing of the product and not the system that produced it. To the uninformed this looks like the goose that layed the golden eggs, meanwhile the techies know that sooner rather than later this goose will stop laying. In this analog the techies want to release the genetic code of the goose so that more can be born, and more people can share in their value. And the idea that we have to keep progress a secret because, GASP, our "enemies" might make use of it is disgusting beyond belief. Can you imagine if DHS told the CDC to disallow further studies in communicable diseases for fear that terrorists would use such science to attack us?! We obviously don't know what the overall net benefit of releasing this would be, but do you really want to gamble those future gains for all just over a percieved stronger hand in the next election? If the Dems do stick to their guns on this, then I (as a liberal) welcome someone inside to leak it anyway for it would be the right thing to do.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    Eponymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 1:46am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I say hand them the chainsaw for they'll most likely cut themselves off at the knees with it before they level the woods. And besides some of their base is out there advocating to just burn the whole thing down anyway; which means it's better to have them being somewhat productive with sophisticated tools then to have the whole thing ruined for all involved.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 6:36am

    yes, it's why open source operating systems are so much more technically advance than the closes (proprietary) versions.

    Oh wait.. the open source OS's are years behind the commercial and closed equivalents, FOSS has not really ever been able to display what they have always said was the strongest suit of OSS. That is it's technical superiority.

    What is displayed is that OSS has to wait for the commercial versions to show new concepts and some years later (with much effort) a clunky version of the same thing is introduced by the OSS crowd.

    But lets not let mere facts get in the way of a good story..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 7:07am

    Re:

    You're not a tech are you? Windows is extremely technically inferior to Red Hat Linux. iOS basis was the next computer which was also Linux. You really think Steve Jobs or Bill Gates actually invented anything. You need to read a different book.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 8:23am

    Re: Re:

    The next operating system was BSD based, still open source, but with the BSD license. Apple is not required to release source code to their users, which they would be with Linus, where the kernel is under the GPL.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    Zach, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 9:50am

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jan 25th, 2013 @ 12:50pm

    Beat me to it. You only need to provide source when distributing. You can add to gpl licensed works and still keep it in house

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    identicon
    hopponit, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 1:21pm

    open source

    If they can't be trusted with this gift because they are still too old school to understand it. LEAK it, put it on the web and let them try to put it back in the bottle. Sometimes the best choice is to just do the right thing and watch the screaming start then die away as the fear is replaced with reality. In other words, just rip the band-aid off, it will be over and done with. Probably cause a whole lot less damage to the party in the long run too!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    icon
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 27th, 2013 @ 8:54am

    What if the program had been developed for stock trading or gambling?

    As I wrote earlier in the comments, my suggestion would be to do a trade: put this software in the commons along with putting more environmental assets into the commons. Everyone gets something in the deal. I'll share when you share.

    But actually, perhaps we should look at this in comparison to what might happen if someone developed a trading program that gave a brokerage house an advantage or gave a gambler an advantage. Fairness would suggest that putting code out into the public would be good, but if doing so would eliminate the advantage the original possessor had, would it happen?

    Can we eliminate competition around the world with shared code? I know that in Techdirt it has been argued that it is always execution that makes the difference. But what if the goal is to eliminate differences in execution so that there are, at best, only momentary advantages? What if a country develops something that gives it an advantage over another country? Should coders feel an obligation to publish the info to make sure there are no competitive advantages among countries? Similarly, should coders work outside the corporate system so that once they learn how one company excels over another, they feel obligated to teach all potential competitors to eliminate those advantages?

    I think the ethics of open source are the driving force behind the P2P Foundation. The goal isn't just to share code, but to share EVERYTHING as much as possible to significantly change marketplace economics. Open source at its most expansive level seeks to limit inequalities and competitive advantages throughout every system.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    icon
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 27th, 2013 @ 9:29am

    Re: What if the program had been developed for stock trading or gambling?

    Many of my comments on Techdirt are to encourage people to think about a world where everything that can be copied will be copied, and a world where more items are put into the commons to be shared.

    Right now the business structure of the world is actually headed the other way, with power/wealth concentrated in fewer hands, facilitated by the rise of multinationals. But at the grassroots level, more people are experimenting with a shareable economy, either because they like playing around with an open source/P2P economy, or out of necessity because they don't have enough money/resources to do otherwise.

    We can either see the world owned by more Googles/Facebooks/Apples, or we can see a world where everything is decentralized and no one amasses ownership of anything in significant amounts.

    Here's another one of those "disruptive" papers pondering the future.

    Cloud Computing as Enclosure | David Bollier: "There are already signs that large corporations like Google, Facebook, Twitter and all the rest will quietly warp the design architecture of the Internet to serve their business interests first. A terrific overview of the troubling issues raised by the Cloud can be found in the essay, 'The Cloud: Boundless Digital Potential or Enclosure 3.0,' by David Lametti, a law professor at McGill University, and published by the Virginia Journal of Law & Technology."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58.  
    identicon
    David Newman, Jan 27th, 2013 @ 4:12pm

    Overseas use

    The point isn't about open licensing for use by one other political party in the USA. It is about changing the world, making software available for non-political campaigners in the USA and political parties in the civilised world, just as nationbuilder.com is open for everyone to use (although with technology that is state-of-the-art in 2008).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    icon
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 27th, 2013 @ 4:29pm

    Re: Overseas use

    It is about changing the world, making software available for non-political campaigners in the USA and political parties in the civilised world, just as nationbuilder.com is open for everyone to use (although with technology that is state-of-the-art in 2008).

    According to this article, the value of the technology was in how to reach the right people in the right ways. It was about maximizing resources.

    Is that something that you think is part of changing the world?

    I'm just tossing that out there for discussion. Is this technology important for non-political campaigners, either to counterbalance what the political campaigners are doing, or to allow them to use the same techniques as political campaigners? What about big data that companies like Google and Facebook and others might be collecting? Would it be useful to put that into the public domain? Should they? What is open source and what is proprietary?

    The Real Story Behind Obama's Election Victory: "Persuasion models tackle a particularly intricate form of prediction. Beyond identifying voters who will come out for Obama if contacted, these models had to distinguish those voters who would come out for Obama in any case (sure things) – as well as those who in fact were at risk of being turned off by campaign contact and switching over to vote for Mitt Romney."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    icon
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 27th, 2013 @ 10:59pm

    Re: Re: What if the program had been developed for stock trading or gambling?

    And I just saw this article. A great piece. It talks about how change can play out, either in a good way, by allowing lots of people to enjoy the rewards of not having to work, or in a bad way, by having lots of people with no jobs and no income. The open source movement can be quite revolutionary when you envision where it can go.

    America Has Hit “Peak Jobs” | TechCrunch: "... in the coming decades you can expect a self-perpetuating privileged elite to accrue more and more of the wealth generated by software and robots, telling themselves that they’re carrying the entire world on their backs, Ayn Rand heroes come to life, while all the lazy jobless 'takers' live off the fruits of their labor. Meanwhile, as the unemployed masses grow ever more frustrated and resentful, the Occupy protests will be a mere candle flame next to the conflagrations to come. It’s hard to see how that turns into a post-scarcity society. Something big will need to change."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    icon
    ahow628 (profile), Jan 28th, 2013 @ 9:42am

    Re: Re:

    So you would put the pieces (modules, databases tools, etc) into open source repositories. You wouldn't email the whole system to the Republicans. The republicans would still have to figure out how to organize it, build a useful website, fit all the pieces together, manage the whole project, and on and on.

    If someone sent me the source code for Android, it isn't like I can just copy it over to my phone and BAM! I've got an awesome phone. There are about a million moving parts that need to be fix and massaged.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
    identicon
    rob, Jan 28th, 2013 @ 10:44am

    Re: Re: D's amaze me

    so it is all right to have a deficit since the other guy (Bush) did it first?

    And not only have a deficit, but have one that is four times as large?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 8:27am

    Make R's Plead for Open Source

    With all of the favors Bill Gates and other commercial software moguls have bought (H1-B and other visa programs for cheaper workers, etc.), and for all of the FUD that M$ and others put out there for years to try to fight the tide of open source software, I'd love to see the Republicans have to plead, whine, and cry for the release of this software. It wasn't developed/paid-for by the public, but by donations, and so long as they don't 'distribute' the binaries, they don't need to distribute the source.

    I would be all for open-sourcing the code, if and when the same government contractors that suck the teet of government contracts, start pushing for more and more code to be opened up. Because, then, we as tax-payers can finally get THEIR code opened up - you know, the code that we actually did fund through our tax dollars.

    And I only see the advantage of code improvement by opening it at this point, as a minor one. They aren't going to reap large benefits of having Republicans hack away at the open source code anyway, b/c those guys are generally building (commercial/proprietary) .Net apps on their Windows machines and won't take on the learning curve of open source or take to its culture of sharing. They'll hack away on their own improvements to what's been shared, but never contribute back.

    I speak from experience. Most of the major federal gov contractors take open source tools such as Metasploit, Drupal, Alfresco, Plone, and leverage 95% out-of-box functionality, but then charge the gov millions for that custom 5% of secret sauce they cook up, which they never contribute back to the community project. They are parasites, benefiting from the community, but rarely, if every, giving back to it. Trust me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
    icon
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 8:39am

    Re: Re: Re: D's amaze me

    so it is all right to have a deficit since the other guy (Bush) did it first?

    And not only have a deficit, but have one that is four times as large?


    No. It just shows that even when the Republicans run Washington, they don't get rid of the deficit. Therefore, there's no reason to assume they are the solution.

    If we eliminated all government jobs, contracts, and transfer payments, the economy would crash. That would likely be good for the environment because consumption would decline significantly, but I doubt any politician would support such drastic measures.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This