January 5, 1999

from the Friends-of-the-Revolution dept

Open Human Source Code

By Brian Day - January 5, 1999

On a recent visit to Chicago, I met up with an old friend who is currently doing a medical fellowship in vascular surgery at Northwestern.? While enjoying a particularly mild weekend, we stopped in a coffee shop and started a discussion about the human gene mapping project and of course? Linux (the free open source code version of UNIX).? You may be asking what the heck does Linux have to do with the genetic mapping?? Let me explain.

To be or not to be?
As I described Linux and the threat that it poses to Microsoft, my friend kept insisting that I tell him who owned and developed Linux. When I answered ?everyone? and ?you and me? it was no assistance.? We discussed the relative benefits and shortcomings of Linux, and then he cut to the chase; ?Which is better Open Source Code or Proprietary Systems??? He had me stumped.?? I like the ease of use and complete integration of a Macintosh system (Windows to a lesser degree), but I also like the reliability, security, choice, performance and price of Linux.

An Answer?
Our answer would come in a later discussion about the research underway to map the human genetic code or the Human Operating System. While some companies have received venture funding to discover and sell genetic research, other organizations (mainly academic institutions) are sharing their research for free over the Internet with the hopes of speeding up the discovery process.? It seems clear that the public would benefit most from the sharing of knowledge (the academic approach), it also seems unfair that a company investing time and money in a project should not receive a reward for their risk.? At second glance, one must ask whether the research would be moving at the same pace without the funding and potential reward of first to market.? Perhaps these two systems can co-exist?? The proprietary research to drive innovation, and open sharing to quickly diffuse and foster new ideas.? The breakdown occurs when the proprietary researcher spends their time blocking others from making progress rather that continuing to innovate.? Are Microsoft?s products designed to make the best product for the consumer or to block new competitors?

Maybe the DOJ case is a blessing and perhaps it is time for Microsoft to release the source for 98 and NT?

Friends of the Revolution
by Brian Day

A column that comes out every so often, and talks about something or another... To subscribe to Friends of the Revolution email bcd2@cornell.edu

The information contained in this newsletter reflect the opinions of Brian Day, and do not represent actual fact. Any decisions made based on these opinions is your own fault. Yadda...Yadda... Yadda...

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