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The Media

Talk To an Astute IT Industry Observer 275

Dan Gillmor is about as high on the IT journalist and industry pundit "respect" totem pole as you can get. Slashdot has linked to hundreds of his articles. What do you ask this veteran observer of the Silicon Valley scene? Whatever you like, one question per post. We'll email 10 of the highest-moderated questions to Dan 24 - 36 hours after this post goes up, and run his answers shortly after he gets them back to us.
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Talk To an Astute IT Industry Observer

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  • by Raul654 ( 453029 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:03PM (#4403303) Homepage
    What operating system do you think (most) desktop users will be using 10 years down the road, and why? Will it be *nix, or Microsoft, or something else?
  • BS industry (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lovebyte ( 81275 )
    Why do you think so much bullshit is going on in the IT industry? Much more than in any other industry anyway.
    • I don't think there's any more BS in the IT industry than in any other industry. You just hear about it more often because you read /. :)

      If you check out other web sites devoted to other idustries, you'll find just as much BS.

    • Re:BS industry (Score:2, Insightful)

      by GT_Alias ( 551463 )
      Wow...I can see why that has been moderated as "insightful" because boy was it.
  • by dmuth ( 14143 ) <doug...muth+slashdot@@@gmail...com> on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:05PM (#4403323) Homepage Journal
    Vi or Emacs?

  • Future (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Valiss ( 463641 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:06PM (#4403327) Homepage
    Do you foresee Silicon Valley as the continuing center of tech jobs, or has its reign of the markets long since been gone and will never return?

    • Re:Future (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tsetem ( 59788 ) <tsetem@gmail . c om> on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:26PM (#4403523)
      To further expand upon this, if you do not see Silicon Valley as being the center, what geographic areas do you foresee being new centers of excellence.

      Additionally, what do you see companies looking for in non-Silicon Valley areas? Low taxes, low costs for manpower, low utilities, access to bandwidth?
  • Question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Raven42rac ( 448205 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:07PM (#4403335)
    We all know that the old-style model of the internet is broken, websites are unable to rely on banner ads and (ick) pop-ups anymore pay the bills. My question to you then is this, how do you believe the future of the web will be, will it be that every website will just have a donation box, or will they all make you pay a subscription fee like is now happening with some of the bigger websites? Or do you see a third answer, sponsorship, whether corporate or by a bigger website that can already pay the bills?
    • Activism? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:18PM (#4403441)

      IIRC, back in the day you were pretty seriously activist: I seem to remember you at Usenix handing out buttons and carrying signs.

      Do you still consider yourself an activist? If not, what changed? Is there still a place for activism in the geek community? What is it?

    • that is a really simple answer....

      Host content that people are willing to pay for.

      yup that's right... you have to have something of value for them to pay for it. Many many sections of Internet industry does make gobs of money from subscribers.... Porn is the best example.. people pay for porn. If you had a information source that a large segment of the population would pay for.... Example... downloadable 320x240 Divix's of television shows that are past the air date... and I'm talking only the past 7 days worth. to hell with an extended archive of the past year/ etc..

      I'd pay $2.00 to download (hear that word DOWNLOAD.. for me to copy from you and put on my computer so I can view it 90,000,000,000,000,000 times on all 30 of my computers at home) of "good eats" or "enterprise" or "junkyard wars" or whatever... and I'm a guy that despises television... the true addicts would swarm all over it and make whoever figures out how to offer it a multi quadrillionare.

      you have to offer something people want. not what the 95% of all the websites on this planet offer.

      you need to be innovative.. which is something htat is not common on the internet in respect to websites and the ideas behind them. get the networks to allow you to sell low-quality copies of just-aired shows 48 hours after the show was aired, and offer them hefty royalties... ($2.00 a download? the Network get's $1.00 of that!) and you can probably make it fly.
  • The "Big Player" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JamesCronus ( 592398 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:07PM (#4403338)
    which of the "big " players in silicon valley, hp sun etc do yo think will stil be here in say 20 years? and why? it seems that companies pop in and out of existance almost on a daily basis in the technology world
  • by phsolide ( 584661 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:09PM (#4403353)

    What's your best guess on how Judge Kollar-Kotelly will rule? The Judge Jackson's ruling came as an utter and complete surprise to almost everyone who hadn't followed *web* reports on the trial. The mass media did a very bad job protraying the issues of the original trial, basically parroting MSFT and Wag-Edd's "freedom to innovate" press releases, rather than reporting on the fairly straightforward restraint of trade case that the DoJ made. This time around, the web reporters seemed a bit confused by how the case went as well.

  • IT Industry (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AAAWalrus ( 586930 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:10PM (#4403358)
    How do you see the current weak economy affecting the IT industry today? Is the lack of corporate spending hurting the number of jobs, increasing the workload of IT professionals, or reducing the amount of technology brought into the modern workplace? Or is it merely affecting where companies choose to spend their dollars? (such as Linux instead of Solaris or Windows, open source instead of closed source, new faster hardware or older, not-as-fast but adequate hardware)
  • Employment? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lumpish Scholar ( 17107 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:10PM (#4403364) Homepage Journal
    For a lot of us, the biggest issue on our personal agenda is employment: the chances of being laid off, and (worse) how long it will take to find a decent replacement job. (Underemployment is an issue, too; staying in the tech sector but taking more than a 25% pay cut, or leaving the tech sector in order to pay the rent/mortgage.)

    It's not just relative to the dotcom bubble. There are few jobs, and those that are out there process applicants via companies that specialize in resume processing. (The latter means it's all about keywords, not how good you are.) The most reliable way to get a job continues to be working your personal network; but many networks have dissolved, as everyone gets laid off in a short period of time.

    What's your take? From where you sit, have you seen any bright spots, or any indications things might get better (or worse)? What coping strategies have you seen people find for sucessfully getting new jobs, or surviving unemployment well?
  • Microsoft .NET (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Qrlx ( 258924 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:12PM (#4403388) Homepage Journal
    My question is about the Microsoft .NET product. It's rather a simple question, but one that nobody seems to be able to answer:

    What the heck is .NET??? Will it dramatically change the world? What do you think the results of .NET are going to be?
    • As far as I can tell, ".NET" is Microsoft's latest creation of an obfuscated buzzword that is their newest attempt at making a new technology the "standard" for desktop operating systems. It started out as a nifty idea that is being blown to Microsoft-marketing-department proportions.

      As far I can tell, it's simply a virtual machine that uses a common-language-runtime (CLR) to allow multiple languages to interact with each other via the VM with just-in-time (JIT) compiling of native .NET components. It's supposed to replace COM, eliminate "DLL Hell", allow "secure" components be presented to the web, and have high performance.

      Ultimately, what you have is a cool VM technology that runs exclusively on Windows machines that are .NET enabled (Windows XP comes with the .NET runtime installed).

      With so many people asking "What is .NET?", the more interesting question is, "If nobody understands what .NET is supposed to accomplish, how is Microsoft going to sell it?" Also, I'd like to know what (not if!) anti-competitive devices have been built into the .NET platform by Microsoft.
      • People didn't understand what Enron did, but they bought into it anyway.
      • Re:Microsoft .NET (Score:3, Informative)

        by rnd() ( 118781 )
        Most people who are asking "What is .NET" aren't looking very hard to find out. It's been pretty well publicized. You can download lots of info about it from the Microsoft homepage and from MSDN.

        Keep in mind that there is a strong incentive for Microsoft not to change the .NET API. If they did that, then there'd be the equivalent of DLL hell. This is why projects like Mono are going to be successful.

        I suggest taking a look at the concept. Regardless of how you feel about Microsoft, .NET is a step in the right direction. With Mono, there is no longer a legitimate complaint that it's not Open Source.

      • by tadas ( 34825 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @03:28PM (#4405089)
        Given that Microsoft has inflicted COM on us, and is now working on .NET, can "Microsoft .ORG" be far behind?
    • it is exactly what it says, a net. What are nets used for?
      think about it.
  • by georgeha ( 43752 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:13PM (#4403391) Homepage
    It's getting easier and cheaper to outsource programming jobs to India, Russia and Singapore (among other nations). How much longer can programmers count on a healthy, US based industry?
    • by Hanno ( 11981 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:18PM (#4403448) Homepage
      Being a German software developer, I don't quite get your question. Software development was never a solely US-based industry.
      • Hanno -

        There are a decent number of "US based" software companies in which design work or other is done here, and the programming itself is exported to places such as India where they will work for pennies on the dollar.

        Lots of US citizens who are programmers are ticked off about that fact.
        • Exactly the same here in Germany. I've seen Siemens-Nixdorf source codes written by Indian developers in India, at an Indian daughter-company of Siemens.

          Also, there are German companies outsourcing software development to the US and US companies hiring German companies to do the work for them. (We do, albeit for a very very small application and probably mostly because that American businessman is a German US-immigrant who knows us personally, but hey.)

          Then, there are US companies manufacturing computers using Asian electronic parts, hiring Taiwanese engineers in Taiwan to do the electronic design.

          The Microsoft keyboard I am typing on was made in Thailand, the Microsoft mouse I am using was made in China, the computer by "Apple, California" on the desk next to me was actually manufactured in the Czech republic and designed by a company based in Germany.

          There are Japanese, French and German car makers who have car plants in the US, employing US workers to manufacture cars with a Japanese, French or German brand name.

          There's a Coca-Cola bottling plant right next to where I live, run by a German family business for more than 40 years. They use German water, German sugar (and I presume most of the other ingredients are German too) to make a product sold under an American brand name, using advertisement controlled by their American mother-company to sell an American lifestyle.

          Big deal, it's a global economy. Your point?
          • by Jester99 ( 23135 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @01:12PM (#4403888) Homepage
            My point is that IT workers living in America require "hefty" salaries. Nobody's going to want to be a programmer in America for less than $20-$25 an hour; the cost of living is simply too high.

            So how are they supposed to compete with Indians who will do it for $5/hour?

            Programmers in America see themselves as professionals. The ones who do it on the cheap in India, don't. If this trend continues, there won't be many (or any) programmers in America, because the work will all have been outsourced to somebody who will do it for 5 times less than s/he is worth.

            If somebody living in another country is genuinely a better person for the job, then by all means, that's great. I hope that Americans get German contracts, and Germans get American contracts. And everyone pays each other a fair wage for the work.

            But no German is going to work for 10 DM an hour doing programming.

            If Indians were to charge the rates that are commensurate with the task, that too would be fine in my eyes. My problem is simply that it hurts everyone when workers of a certain type are undervalued.
            • Sure. But how is this different than the situation of the workers in, say, the computer hardware industry? Taiwanese mainboard designers are cheaper than US designers, too. Or how about steelworkers? Or even the sports shoe industry?

              You and I, we already compete with the "foreign" competition in software development, just like any other worker in any other industry does.

              In your original question you implied that software development is mainly a US industry. It never was, it isn't and it won't be in the future.
              • Assumptions (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Dirk Pitt ( 90561 )
                In your original question you implied that software development is mainly a US industry

                No, he didn't. He was asking specifically about the health of the US software industry, of which Dan Gilmour is a pundit.

                But how is this different than the situation of the workers...

                It's not--and he never said it was. I'm sure many /. readers would agree that there are equally unfair working conditions for exported steel jobs, car jobs, and hardware manufacturing. But again, the topic stated in the article focuses on a journalist who covers the US software industry. No one's trying to be short-sighted about globalism.

                This is like saying back in the 70s that "US car workers see themselves as professionals, yet those who do it in the cheap in Japan don't

                This is totally wrong and irrelevant. Japanese line workers during the 70s and 80s enjoyed a very similar lifestyle to UAW members. Japan was not and is not a third-world country. Cheap cars != cheap employment. The poster's talking about Indian workers who are the IT industry's equivalent of sweat-shop workers. And no, no one's saying that ALL or MOST of India's IT people are on the cheap.

            • Wanted to comment on that one:

              Programmers in America see themselves as professionals. The ones who do it on the cheap in India, don't.

              I strongly doubt that. This is like saying back in the 70s that "US car workers see themselves as professionals, yet those who do it in the cheap in Japan don't." This may tickle your ego, but you evade the problem that they offer a similar or better product for a lower price.
    • The programmers in those countries keep listing classes they took in College/high school on their resumes as actual jobs.

      • American's keep blaming everyone but themselves for their problems. A little personal accountability goes a long way.
    • Great question, but I would like to add to it.

      How long before I.T. unions are as big as other unions. Or do you think that the current unions will join together to form one large union?

      Being a conservative in nature it is a shame to see all these votes going to the Democrats...

      On a side note, I can't wait for foreign software development to be taxed like imported cars are.

  • by knightwolf ( 457910 ) <jwm05c.mizzou@edu> on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:14PM (#4403399) Homepage
    Currently, most of the industry relies on a silicon based technology, using optics to burn silicon wafers. What technology areas do you see the industry looking into, as well as what are areas the industry isn't looking into that it should? Add to this, what technologies are out there that in your opinion aren't looked at heavily enough? As a last part of this, where do you see most of the innovation. Is it in large corporations, such as IBM, or smaller corporations or startup companies?
  • by Dr. Bent ( 533421 ) <benNO@SPAMint.com> on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:15PM (#4403405) Homepage
    While reading articles about new technology from various mainstream media sources, I get the impression that they have absolutly no idea what they're talking about. It's clear to me that the average mainstream journalist has, at best, a minimal understanding of the techology that he or she is reporting on.

    What impact does this have on the public's perception and awareness of new technoloy, and will this lack of understanding dissapear as older journalists are replaced by a younger, more tech-savvy breed?
    • While reading articles about new technology from various mainstream media sources, I get the impression that they have absolutly no idea what they're talking about. It's clear to me that the average mainstream journalist has, at best, a minimal understanding of the techology that he or she is reporting on.

      The other possibility is that they are "encouraged" to hype stuff from particular vendors, or even all vendors. A magazine that criticizes latest trends and products is going to draw *less* advertisers than one that goes along with the hype. After all, why put in an ad for your latest greatest gizmo if the mag is just gonna bash it next month?

      Thus, a variation of this question would be: "How can excess hype be counteracted in spite of the pressure to hype vendors' new stuff?"
  • the cycle of things (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hanno ( 11981 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:15PM (#4403408) Homepage
    We all know the economy is going in cycles, but how cyclic is IT, in your experience? When was the last big downturn, what happened back then and what changed because of it?

    Right now, most of "us" IT-workers are facing the results of "new economy" bubble and the consecutive downturn of IT.

    Here in Germany, I remember that in 1991 when I finished high school, people told me not to go study computer science because back then, the career outlook was bland and many IT academics were unemployed or received low figures. Then came the internet, salaries and everything else exploded, which was nice while it lastet, yet incredibly surreal.

    Right now clients are sitting on every single penny , I know highly-skilled IT workers who are nevertheless unemployed because companies stopped hiring and around us and even some of the former key players of the industry are going bust...

    So, do you remember a similar economic situation in IT and how did you experience it?
  • by timmie... ( 141368 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:15PM (#4403409)
    Many of us here are happy to criticise IT Journalists in general for inaccuracy or biased opinion. You've managed to build a reputation for yourself without attracting much of that bad karma.

    What/where/who do you read/research/ask to stay abreast of the many technical aspects you need to report on (to keep technical accuracy) without simply taking various companies words for granted (and thus loosing your unbiased approach)?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Do you think this is a good businessmodel that will survive?

    1) Give stuff away for free.
    2) ???
    3) Profit!
  • Conflict of Interest (Score:5, Interesting)

    by joyoflinux ( 522023 ) <thejoyoflinuxNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:17PM (#4403430)
    Have you ever had a conflict of interest; like, what you should write, rather than what would get you promoted or would be better for your career? How do you deal with this?
  • Dan, you are often referred to as one of the voices of power in IT, freedom on the Internet, etc. But, I have a hard time swallowing that in light of your much-publicised problems with Verio regarding your open SMTP relay. Can you please explain the logic behind your actins to us rabid anti-spammers here on Slashdot? Specifically, why keep an open SMTP relay which can be (and has been) used by spammers to propogate their evil (and sue your ISP for the right to run said SMTP relay) when there are numerous secure methods of SMTP relaying out there? Was this simply a matter of principle, or was there actually some technical reason for not wanting to deploy a secure relaying method?
    • by davidu ( 18 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @01:38PM (#4404193) Homepage Journal
      Wrong guy

      You're thinking of John Gilmore.

      http://www.toad.com/~gnu (which appears down at the moment)

  • by Lumpish Scholar ( 17107 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:17PM (#4403433) Homepage Journal
    Ubiquitous personal computers, ubiquitous fax machines, ubiquitous e-mail (I can send e-mail to every member of my family), ubiquitous Internet access (especially the Web), ubiquitous wireless voice service: telecom and computing innovations keep changing the world. Do you see anything that's just a blip on the radar screen today, but which might have a big impact on people's lives in a few years?
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:19PM (#4403454) Homepage
    I'd really LIKE to believe that Apple is taking a conscious and principled stand against digital restrictions management, as suggested in your article here. [siliconvalley.com]

    Your article is, however, basically speculative.

    Do you have any evidence that Apple really has an anti-DRM corporate strategy? Gateway has issued a limited but significant public statement of support for fair-use rights. Do you have any ideas why Apple has not done anything like this?
  • Digital divide.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by encrypted ( 614135 ) <encrypted@NOspam.geekz.za.net> on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:19PM (#4403462) Homepage
    Many people talk about doing something about the "digital divide", where third world and developing countries are fast falling far behind, most with very few computers and little or no internet access, do you forsee this ever changing or will this situation just get worse as time goes on?
  • In hindsight... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hanno ( 11981 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:21PM (#4403478) Homepage
    ...as a longtime observer, what has surprised you most about the current technology, in a positive (what did you never expect to happen?) and in a negative (what should never have happened?) way?
  • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:21PM (#4403482) Homepage Journal
    Thanks for taking the time to field our questions, Dan.

    Silicon Valley venture capitalists in the late 1990s turned their money and attentions to bear on creating dozens of companies that never had any hope of turning a profit.

    From personal experience I've seen just how powerful VCs are in shaping the development of the IT market through their iron-grip control of individual startups.

    Have you noticed any fundamental power shifts or changes in the way startup IT companies are being funded and created in the Valley over the past couple of years?

  • Market Saturation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nweaver ( 113078 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:22PM (#4403485) Homepage
    Market Stauration has been seen coming since around 2000 or before, combined with the end to the "software gets slower" Corrolary to Moore's law ("Groves Giveth and Gates Taketh away"). For the last couple of years, the IT bubble covered up many of these effects.

    Now that the bubble is gone, Mr Bill's Corrolary has (mostly) failed, and the market is obviously saturated, when are Intel/AMD/Microsoft going to admit to this, and what are the general industry plans to deal with this, beyond the obvious software rental model?
  • dating tips... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:22PM (#4403489)
    after reporting so much on geek interests you must have interacted with a lot of geeks. do you have any dating tips/suggestions for geeks (male and female)? i mean besides the obvious, "bathe more," and, "larts can also be used for fending off persistant suitors."
  • by d3xt3r ( 527989 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:24PM (#4403498)
    In both the open source Unix (FreeBSD, Linux, etc.) and the Microsoft worlds, there is a lot of talk right now about making the file system more like a database and vice versa.

    Microsoft's approach is to tune the database (SQL Server) to act as a file system, scheduled replace NTFS in 2006. The open source community, however, is taking the opposite approach and aiming to make the file system more database-like.

    One of the most promising ideas right now for Linux seems to be coming from Hans Reiser, soon to be implemented in a future version of Reiser FS. Reiser FS will store many attributes about a file in other files, basically expanding the capabilites of the file system into a database.

    Which do you see as the more promising approah? What do you think the impact of such hybrid filesystem/databases will be on DBMS such as Oracle, Sybase, and DB2?

  • Desktop Linux (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Soko ( 17987 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:25PM (#4403511) Homepage
    What, in your opinion, is the greatest stumbling block to Linux getting bigger marketshare numbers on the desktop? More specifically, is RedHat on the right path with RH8.0 (psyche)?

  • by Hasie ( 316698 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:26PM (#4403521)
    A number of people are painting a very bleak future of software engineering in the future. The reasoning is that it will soon be possible to write any useful program without it containing something that violates a patent or a law somewhere in the world. In this case only large companies with deep pockets and large patent portfolios will be able to compete in the marketplace and others, including open source/free software developers, will be pushed out of the market.

    What is your opinion on this issue?

  • by prostoalex ( 308614 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:26PM (#4403526) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps you would like to share your view of several standards and technologies that you think would go down in the near future? What of current technologies would you not recommend investing in?
  • by Nomad7674 ( 453223 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:26PM (#4403528) Homepage Journal
    Many have been saying that convergence is the way of the future - combine Cell Phones& PDAs, standardize on a single OS, etc. Other have been pointing to Linux, the renewed stength of Apple, etc. as evidence that divergence (i.e. more choices) is the way of the future. Which trend will be more powerful in the short and long terms?
  • Seriously... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hanno ( 11981 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:28PM (#4403545) Homepage
    ...what do you think of Slashdot's reporting style?
  • by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:29PM (#4403557) Homepage Journal
    I'm always amazed at how industry commentators have re-written history, particularly when it comes to the computer industry.

    For example, in Robert X. Cringely's book "Accidental Empires", he tells the story of how the personal computer grew from a hobby toy to one of the most important devices ever made.

    But it's a decidedly left-coast "californa-centric" point of view. Very little mention of IBM is ever made, except how they screwed up and gave the golden key to Bill Gates, and computer industry pioneer Commodore doesn't even seem to warrant a paragragh, although at one point in the early 80's CBM held over 33% of the market.

    So, my question is: Do you feel that the number of reporters hovering around Silicon Valley have distorted the view of the rise of the industry?

    While I also believe that Woz is due saint-hood, I also have tempered that view with the knowledge that both Commodore and Clive Sinclair did more to raise the bar on the Personal Computer than most others, despite the Mac being "insanely great".

    When I watch "Pirates of Silicon Valley" I can't help but feel that we're cheating ourselves by allowing the "pundits" to dictate how this industry came to where it is now.

    It does appear at times that the those reporting on technology are often just cheerleaders for whatever large software/hardware company pays the advertising bills for the magazine that reporter works for.

    How do you feel about these issues?

  • by phorm ( 591458 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:31PM (#4403571) Journal
    When computers, first became widely available to the public, there were a lot fewer governing laws and regulations. The also applies to the internet in its initial stages.
    Nowadays, it seems that one can't do anything with a PC without a bunch of rules, regulations, or disclaimers. While it's understandable that many companies wish to protect their products, and also protect themselves from lawsuits, it seems that today freedom in IT is becoming increasingly narrow.

    What do you think the future of the internet is, in a legal and freedoms sense? Will it continue to become a medium for free expression (quite strongly accented by sites such as here, slashdot), or will insane lawsuits and regulations put to much fear into using the freedoms which are so easily stepped on today.

    As the world integrates IT more and more into our lives, what will happen with it as a medium of freedom Vs one of restriction. Will we still be able to speak our minds online, or will we live under the chains of lawsuits, speed governers, and surveillance devices.

    Technology is a wonderful medium for crossing new boundries, but often it seems to also be used to impose new ones. Which usage for technology do you see being stronger in the future: the wings or the chains, and how would you see each being applied?
  • Apple bashing? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zaren ( 204877 ) <holdthis@mail.com> on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:31PM (#4403580) Homepage Journal
    Can you offer any insights as to why, even after all these years, forces in the IT and journalism scenes still insist on beating up Apple Computer? The cries of "Apple is dying!" have echoed in my ears for over ten years, and Apple still survives - in fact, Apple is one of the few computer companies to continue to make a profit in the current slowdown. From it's early days as the first true home PC, all the way up to it's current award-winning accomplishments - Firewire, the iPod, the first true consumer-oriented Unix OS - Apple has positioned itself as a leader in the industry. So why is it that the industry is forever running it down, instead of giving it the credit it deserves?
  • In your opinion, what are the most notable events you have witnessed in the computer industry, the good, the bad, and the ugly?
  • I have several friends who are Journalists. In general, though they claim impartiality, I've found that most Journalists tend to be very biased with regards to anything upon which they are reporting. The question is how do these biases affect reporting of the technology sector?

    We all hear stories of different reports being paid for by corporations such as Microsoft. How are many of the current stories, newspapers, and other printed (electronically printed or otherwise) stories affected by corporate sponsorship, biases, etc.? Which industries, points of view, or otherwise get promoted heavily with regards to importance due to these biases or sponsors? Is this a way to manipulate public viewpoints, in an arena which should be impartial?

    What sources are doing this the most? Are there any sources that truly seem impartial in most of their judgements? It all comes back to who do we trust?

  • Hidden corruption? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PhotoGuy ( 189467 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:34PM (#4403594) Homepage
    I've seen an awful lot of money spent during the .COM boom, in awfully questionable ways. Ways that were just completely beyond comprehension. I've often thought that a better explanation than sheer stupidity, might be that there were kickbacks and other shady dealings going on (you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours).

    With so much money having been tossed around, surely there was a lot of corrupt dealings; however, I haven't seen any press or other talk of such happenings.

    Is it primarily because these companies weren't public and thus publicly accountable that any mini-Enron's were simply never discovered?

    In some ways, corruption would be a little more comforting of an explanation than sheer stupidity.

    I feel like I might be pretty naive in not realizing some of this is going on. What's your take on corrupt dealings, patronage, and such in the industry?


  • Merger (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CaptainZapp ( 182233 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:34PM (#4403595) Homepage
    What's your take on the HP/Compaq merger?
  • by PenultimatePenguin ( 588422 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:36PM (#4403614)
    As an IT security specialist, poor software quality - both in design and implementation - is my greatest headache (and my surest job security). How aware are consumers and the media of this problem, do you think the critical mass of demand for quality software ever coalesce, and what effect will/would this have on the industry?
  • Dinosaurs (Score:2, Interesting)

    I'm a dinosaur: 51yo, IBM mainframe background, lost my technical edge years ago, can't stand being a lying salesman, can't delegate well enough to be a manager, and don't have two dimes to rub together. Is there any hope for me? Thanks, I'll listen to your answer offline.
  • open source for all your needs? if not, what products are needed in the open source community to get you to 100% open source?
  • by Genady ( 27988 ) <gary@rogers.mac@com> on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:48PM (#4403697)
    There has recently been a push in serveral governments, though not so much in the US, to adopt a policy of favoring Open Source solutions above commercial solutions. Do you see these initiatives as some grass-roots desire for glasnost, or a reaction to US technological imperialism?
  • Is IT Discredited? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:48PM (#4403701) Journal
    The payoff between technology spending and actual rewards (profits) has been difficult to establish in statistical studies.

    In the 90's companies seemed to believe in IT benefits dispite this lack of a solid connection. Has the tide now turned such that companies are going to shun IT projects and revert to more traditional (manual) processes for the borderline functions that are not clear candidates for automation?

    In my observation, whenever there are no clear and/or agreed-upon metrics for the usage of a given technique or approach, then its popularity is highly subject to whim, speculation, and fads.

    For example, the "market-share over profits" viewpoint was popular in the 80's during the Japan boom. Now it is pretty much dead. Is IT in the same boat now?
  • by kipple ( 244681 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:50PM (#4403710) Journal
    Dear mr. Gillmor,
    you've seen a lot of things happening in Silicon Valley so far, from the VC-financed dot-com big-blow to the latest enforcement of "security" and "digital rights management" to other less known things.
    Now, being an EU citizen, I fear that Europe may slowly want to catch up with the "famous" Silicon Valley in terms of technology, state of mind, rate of growth, and so on. Manager are fascinated by the possibilities of 'making money', young students in Economics are told that Silicon Valley Was A Good Thing No Matter What, et cetera.
    What do you think will happen over here? Will Europe take just the good ideas from the Silicon Valley (grass-root movements, improvements in technology just for the sake of it, improvements to the whole mankind) or will we all become subject to EULAs and draconian laws imposed by some multinational company?
    What can be done to avoid the dangers that a too-obtuse management class can do? (don't suggest "move to another country" please :) )

  • Promises, Promises (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gcondon ( 45047 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:53PM (#4403725)
    The IT press has been promising us a variety of malarkey for years - Microsoft innovation, Apple going out of business, Linux on the desktop, flying cars, ...

    As I see it, to a large extent this is due to an over-reliance of IT journalists on industry contacts and a highly incestuous meme-pool.

    Since industry contacts are driven by their own agendas to poison the meme-pool with hype and FUD, reporters typically serve only to reinforce entrenched concerns in the industry.

    This is particularly troublesome given that the IT industry of uniquely reliant upon innovation which has traditionally emerged from smaller players & upstarts.

    Therefore, does IT journalism really contribute positively to the industry and, if so, how?
  • by jlowery ( 47102 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:53PM (#4403731)
    Do you feel that patent law is driving innovation as originally envisioned by our founding fathers?

    Should we shorten the term of patents in emerging technology fields, such as in software and other relatively new high tech industries?
  • Paradigms (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GigsVT ( 208848 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:56PM (#4403751) Journal
    Do you forsee an end to the "write once sell many" paradigm of commodity software? Red Hat's stated business goal is to turn a "multibillion dollar software industry into a multimillion dollar one". Are the days of getting rich by resting on one's laurels and selling licenses over?
  • by Strange Ranger ( 454494 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:56PM (#4403754)
    Gone are the days where we can be best at whatever we like and be sure of paying the bills. In light of the job market and future trends, what would you pick as the top 3 to 5 technologies to learn right now, to help insure our paychecks don't shrink or stop coming.

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:57PM (#4403761) Journal

    During the dot-com boom, a big wod of "IT professionals" came out of nowhere to help with web projects.

    Many of these people seemed mostly interested in money and prestige, and not true computer-lovers like us real nerds on slashdot :-)

    Some now seem to be moving toward the currently hot accounting field.

    What percentage of IT workers seem to be like this and what percent are successfully moving out of IT into a more happening field?

    Will enough of them disappear from IT to return computer employement to normal?
  • The Internet (Score:2, Interesting)

    Now that the old business model for the Internet (banners, etc) is no longer a reliable source of income for small web sites, and with the possible new billing schemes proposed by many of the major ISPs (billing for actual bit usage, not the speed of the connection), do you feel there is going to be a place on the Internet for smaller companies and individuals, or will the Internet be controlled exclusively by big business within the next 5 years?

  • EFF. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PrimeNumber ( 136578 ) <PrimeNumber@@@excite...com> on Monday October 07, 2002 @01:05PM (#4403833) Homepage
    I have read about your involvement with the EFF and the "Living without Microsoft" blog on silliconvalley.com.

    However, as much as I and many others on Slashdot agree with these causes, do you believe that as a journalist your involvement with the EFF etc, has made you biased? And if not why?

  • Career focus (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dazdaz ( 77833 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @01:07PM (#4403846)
    What career advice would you give to people in IT in the 21st century.
  • by grumpygrodyguy ( 603716 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @01:11PM (#4403885)
    There is an almost hemmoraging debate occuring right now regarding the DMCA, and DRM in general. On the one side of the debate, there are programmers and designers who understand the importance of IP and how it maintains thier salaries. On the other side, many technologists believe that DRM threatens the future of technology by disallowing free experimentation. Both sides of the issue appear to be absolutely correct. Turning every general purpose computer into a "protected appliance" will mean the end of an era for all of us, but abandoning DRM will effectively nullify the ability to make "content for profit". How can we save the "future" of technology, and at the same time ensure that we can continue to make a living? Has there been any murmuring in SV about this problem? Is there a light at the end of this tunnel?

  • Philosophy. (Score:2, Insightful)

    You think there's a deeper meaning to the constant need to upgrade and upgrade even further? Do we really need more technology (specifically, IT products)?
  • Computer Security (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lanolr ( 473324 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @01:17PM (#4403955)
    Security is a term being tossed around by everyone currently (Microsoft, Intel, US Government etc)

    Do you believe That Palladium is a sincere attempt on Microsofts/intel/etc part to offer secure Computing or is it merely a gimmick to cash in on security and remove the open source software as an option to the basic computer User?

    Do you see any change in computing Law in the next 20 years in regard to Vendors culpability for security Flaws?
  • Ease-of-use, etc. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by yamla ( 136560 ) <chris@@@hypocrite...org> on Monday October 07, 2002 @01:18PM (#4403965)
    I am a computer professional with twenty years of experience in the computer field. I do a variety of jobs, including programming and system administration. I know my computer stuff and I'm still in my (very late) twenties.

    I am, however, getting sick of what passes for operating systems and applications these days. Many of my tech-savy friends are taking a serious look at Apple hardware and software 'because it just works'. The company I work for runs a collection of Windows and Linux machines. With Windows machines, we have to spend far too much time keeping the system patches and antivirus software up to date and generally managing them. I love Linux and use it all the time but I am still very aware that I am using a Linux system, not just a 'computer'.

    And I am tired of it. Why should I have to care about the operating system? I want to use the computer to do my job. I don't want to fight with patches. I don't want to reinstall software and spend hours tuning the configurations. I'll do that for our servers because, at the moment at least, I have to. But why should I spend large part of my day managing the computers rather than just using the damn things? Why don't they just work? Why do I even still care what operating system I am running?

    The reason is, of course, fairly obvious. But how do you see this changing over the next decade? Can we get a handle on the complexity? What influence will Apple have? Do you see operating systems becoming to a simple commodity (choose what you want, all your applications will work regardless)?
  • by kisrael ( 134664 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @01:24PM (#4404031) Homepage
    J2EE vs .Net in a room, with some knives: who wins? (Maybe with Perl, Ruby, Python in there for good measure)
  • Microsoft's Apogee (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jodo ( 209027 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @01:25PM (#4404042)
    Microsoft, a convicted monopolist, runs on something approaching 95% of desktop computers. It is seen by the rest of the world as a U.S. company.(not a strong endorsement in many quarters)Its code is closed, not open and is therefor (my opinion) insecure in that no one but Microsoft (and maybe the U.S. gov't) knows the back doors. What government in their right minds would willingly choose such a platform to run their future on. Especially given the availablity of "free", open software capable of doing the job. Witness Germany and KDE.
    So the question is... Has Microsoft reached its apogee? Has it seen its best days from a growth and profitability standpoint? & if so is this a good or bad thing for IT & Silicon Valley?
  • Hello Dan (Score:3, Funny)

    by Jack Wagner ( 444727 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @01:34PM (#4404150) Homepage Journal
    I don't know if you remember me but we sat together at the IOAC conference in Cupertino back in 1998. I still impress my friends with that story. Anyways, what I want to know is:

    If two trains are exactly 150 miles apart and one of them heads north on the tracks at 30 mph heading into wind gust of 25 mph which only occur at 15 second intervals for exactly 10 seconds and the second one heads south at 27 mph on a 15 degree incline with a crosswind of 12 mph at an angle of 42 degrees, how long will it take for them to meet?

    Warmest regards,
  • by puppetluva ( 46903 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @01:43PM (#4404226)
    As a big Linux fan, I've wondered silently about this issue.

    As linux overtakes Solaris, other Unices, and M$ Windows in the server and workstation tiers, it could be a huge boon to businesses that use this technology. At the same time, could it actually hurt those employed at various levels of the high-tech industry? For example if linux is more efficient and scalable, might it:
    • Hurt hardware sales: Since older hardware (using Linux) can suddenly be good enough for common tasks such as mailrouting, print queuing, and file serving won't there be a short-term dip in sales for chip/hw makers?
    • Hurt software sales: It is obvious that software sales would hurt if there are free (as in beer) alternatives available. It seems that since people can not figure out how to make software free (as in liberty) without making it free (as in beer) so that they can make money, then the software market might be hurt by this. It seems that people would be caught between M$'s bullying and the free retaliation. The combination would seem to suck all of the money out of the industry.
    • Hurt the sysadmin segment: It seems that there are thousands of MCSE's that would just be unemployeed because it takes many fewer SAs to take care of Linux. (remote administration + more reliable). Won't this cause a big displacement. What do those people do?
    • Have a ripple effect: New application software installs often-times prompt hardware installs. Following on the heels of both are hiring binges for new support-personell to take care of the new infrastructure. If Linux can work on older hardware, it has true standards that don't require retraining at every release, and it performs more reliably and robustly, then shouldn't we see a long-term cutback in IT?

    Please note that I'm not decrying this potential effect of the use Linux or free software. If our industry is too fat (especially on the support side) then great. . . it should be cut down and people retrained. But it seems logical that the free software movement will cause efficiencies that will force a good percentage of this work-sector to "get with the program or get off the bus". The problem is that without consistent innovation at the business layer (businesses' use of technology) then the tech industry may not expand enough to allow retraining as a saviour for disenfranchised MCSEs, CNEs, etc. etc. If most businesses are content with basic file-serving, routing and printing without investing in technology then many people will just plain lose their jobs.

    It seems to me that M$ has created a bubble with their inefficient and unreliable software. A LOT of people are employed to keep that junk working. In effect, businesses are subsidizing this "ill" part of the industry by throwing employees at a series of problems M$ has created. Similarly, forced dependence, and file incompatibilites, have allowed M$ to maintain a pricing bubble for software basics such as word-processing and simple spreadsheets. If they lose the OS war to free software and some of the office-turf to openoffice won't the air go out of a lot of balloons? Should people be bracing themselves for this?

    I've wondered about these issues for a while and I'm sure you have much better insight into these topics than I do. What is your take?

  • Security/Privacy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MagicFab ( 7234 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @01:44PM (#4404234) Homepage
    When do you expect people will take security/privacy issues seriously enough to guide their choices of products/services providers accordingly ? Will they ever ?

    Is security/privacy something providers of goods/services should take care of, or is it the end-users problem to deal with it ?
  • by Lucas Membrane ( 524640 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @02:17PM (#4404505)
    Why is so much of the 'reporting' on and even ratings of and published recommendations of tech products based on what the maker says the product will do (ie feature lists) and so little based on actual performance (ie quality)? After buying a few highly-rated products way too buggy to use, why would anyone want to pay any attention to the press anymore?
  • Blue Collar? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by visionsofmcskill ( 556169 ) <.vision. .at. .getmp.com.> on Monday October 07, 2002 @02:19PM (#4404518) Homepage Journal
    I fear and believe that IT is increasingly becoming blue collar, until one day well be about as usefull as mechanics, and pay'd somewhere near the same, what do you think?
  • by ellisDtrails ( 583304 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @02:46PM (#4404727) Homepage
    Will the DMCA be overturned or changed? Will the freedom-loving internet/technology community ever be able to coalesce and become an effective lobbying organization to effect politics in a real way (e.g. the NRA, the farm lobby, Microsoft)?
  • by pjrc ( 134994 ) <paul@pjrc.com> on Monday October 07, 2002 @03:13PM (#4404955) Homepage Journal
    The IT industry is so-and-so, and this-and-that are huge problems, and the internet bubble / economy downturn have caused such-and-such....

    So what do you think?

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak