Martin Peacock sent me a link to this fascinating study of ant behavior in The International Herald Tribune. The article tracks the research of Iain Couzin on ants, locusts, and even humans and their instinct and ability to swarm.
While it doesn't call out open source specifically, I found the "follow-the-leader" behavior corresponds nicely to the forking of open-source projects. Despite the talk about the importance of the fork to open source, we actually rarely see it happen. Why? Probably because the group inertia is such a strong force:
Couzin and his colleagues have built a model of the flow of information through swarms. Each individual has to balance two instincts: to stay with the group and to move in a desired direction. The scientists found that just a few leaders can guide a swarm effectively. They do not even need to send any special signals to the animals around them. They create a bias in the swarm's movement that steers it in a particular direction....… Read more
Today, as promised, the first preview version of the Android Development Kit (download it for Windows or Mac) surfaced on the Google Code site. Last week, Google made big news by announcing Android, an open, cell-phone platform being developed in conjunction with the more than 30 companies that compose the Open Handset Alliance.
If you're a developer of mobile-phone software, you'll likely want to dive right into the documentation for Android. If you're not, you likely won't read about Android again until next year, when (and if) it starts surfacing on consumer-end cell phones.… Read more
If I didn't already have a religion, I might set up a new one to worship Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal's amazing midfielder. Humble and yet incredible on the pitch, Fabregas may well be the best player on the planet right now (though Kaka, Messi, and others might beg to differ).
Which makes Fabregas' comments in Sunday's Times so refreshing, and so applicable to open source. Responding to a question as to why he has scored so many goals this season compared with last he notes:
The transformation, if there?s been one, is explained in team terms. "It's true I feel more free to go forward and that's down to [Mathieu] Flamini. He doesn't stop running, chasing the opponent. He has amazing energy....… Read more
Two aspects of Facebook Ads--the "Beacon" and friend-recommendation-equipped "Social Ads"--have already garnered some skepticism around the Web for being potentially invasive, annoying, or both. Many Facebook users, myself included, haven't even seen these advertisements yet, but code-savvy developers like Nathan Weiner of The Idea Shower have already decided that we might want out.
I don't mean to pat myself/my company on the back, but I wanted to share some data that indicates just how important it is to open up. In two years my company, Alfresco, has grown from 0 to 29,500 active deployments of our software (and tens of millions of end users). To put that in perspective, it took FileNet/IBM 25 years to get to the same number.
Not too shabby.
But it's not just about users. It's about speed of development. Jon Williams, CTO at Kaplan, the multi-billion dollar testing company, notes that it took Alfresco just three days to integrate with the (open) Facebook API and make a meaningful integration of the two. What he doesn't note is that it took Alfresco just six months to get to a code release that several billion-dollar enterprises thought worth buying.
Again, not too shabby. How did we get so many users? A great product and open distribution. How did we get that great product so fast? By building on exceptional open-source components like Hibernate, Spring, Lucene, and others. We're just one example among many open-source examples, too. Look no farther than MuleSource, Zimbra, SugarCRM, etc. to find others.… Read more
There is a persistent myth that open source operates like Linux, with a global team of developers holding hands and praying for world code peace. Most open-source projects don't work this way, looking much more like Eric Raymond's "cathedral" rather than the holy grail, the "bazaar," as Juergen of SnapLogic points out in an exceptionally insightful post on open-source software development.
The problem with many open-source projects is that while familiarity may not breed contempt, it can certainly breed institutional incompetence:Why do so many open-source projects not have the active community of external contributors they are hoping for? Because they have been largely developed by co-located teams of hired software engineers, 100% dedicated to the project, managed and organized like any traditional software development effort. This seems to be especially true for the new crop of 'custom build' open-source companies, which would like to take advantage of the open-source business model. They might hope to also enjoy the advantages of the open-source development model one day, but achieving that requires a conscious effort.… Read more
The details of Facebook's "SocialAds" initiative, set to debut on Tuesday, have leaked through enough channels so that we have a pretty good idea of what we'll be hearing. SocialAds will not only serve up uber-targeted ads based on your Facebook profile information, there will allegedly be some sponsored vertical categories involved, as well as e-commerce tie-ins that will tell your friends what you've been buying, preferably with an opt-out clause.
Facebook rival MySpace, meanwhile, has recently introduced "HyperTargeting," a similar advertising strategy.
The debut event itself, intended to be shrouded in mystery, … Read more
Silicon Alley Insider editor Peter Kafka had the opportunity for some cocktail conversation with Facebook investor and board member Jim Breyer of Accel Partners on Thursday night, and he had some interesting news to report.
Most intriguing is the fact that Breyer refused to outlaw a Facebook partnership with OpenSocial, the Google-created social networking platform that's managed to steal a whole lot of Valley buzz from Facebook right as it gears up to make a major advertising announcement.
"Jim said that the company isn't philosophically opposed to what Google is trying to do, and that its business … Read more
Who would have thought that Thom Yorke (Radiohead) would pine to be Linus Torvalds? Yet this is effectively what we're seeing as the music industry contemplates giving its wares away in order to make a buck. Or many of them.
This is the point Zenbullets makes:
Data is a post-scarcity commodity. Post-scarcity, as the name suggests, is the successor of scarcity, upon which our current economic systems are built. When you consume scarce goods - eat a chocolate bar, or buy a CD - there is one less of that commodity in the marketplace. But when you consume a post-scarce item - download an application, or an mp3 - you copy it. Meaning there is now one more of that commodity out there, not less. This is how the success of a post-scarce product is measured, by the number of times it has been reproduced.… Read more