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Businesses The Almighty Buck

Is Open Source the Answer To Giving? 105

uctpjac writes "Mark Surman, Shuttleworth Foundation fellow, writes that open source is the answer to philanthropy's $55 trillion question: how to spend the money expected to flow into foundations over the next 25 years. While others have lashed out at 'Philanthro-Capitalism' — claiming that the charitable giving of Gates and others simply extends power in the market to power over society — Surman believes that open source shows the way to the harmonious yin-yang of business and not-for-profit. Sun, Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Yahoo, and Facebook are big backers of Creative Commons; Mozilla has spawned two for-profits. Open source shows that philanthropy and business can cohabit and mutually thrive. Indeed, philanthropy might learn from open source to find new ways to organize itself for spending that $55 trillion."
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Is Open Source the Answer To Giving?

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  • You Can't Ever Win (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn@@@gmail...com> on Sunday April 20, 2008 @09:22AM (#23134378) Journal
    I haven't had a chance to read the entire essay, just the article and I must agree that there's so many caveats to 'giving.' There's no way in hell you're going to please everyone.

    Open source shows that philanthropy and business can cohabit and mutually thrive ...

    I'm not certain that everyone shares this view. The article seems to posit that open source is a 'perfect' donation vehicle with no down sides but I know several people who directly disagree. Why just this week, The Standish Group released a report [standishgroup.com] (that you can have for a mere 1000 USD) and this is the summary:

    Boston, April 16, 2008 -- "Open Source software is raising havoc throughout the software market," said Jim Johnson, Chairman, The Standish Group (www.standishgroup.com).

    "It is the ultimate in disruptive technology, and while to it is only 6% of estimated trillion dollars IT budgeted annually, it represents a real loss of $60 billion in annual revenues to software companies," said Jim Johnson, Chairman, The Standish Group International, Boston, MA.

    Five years of research has gone into this new report titled "Trends in Open Source". The Open Source report discusses The Standish group's research study of the top 10 drivers that are influencing decisions on how IT is adopting open source technology.

    "The Standish Group's new study clearly shows how pervasive Open Source Software is used in industry today. It is a shocking examination of Open Source usage by commercial and government organizations," said Timothy Chou, Ph.D. former President of Oracle OnDemand and author of "The End of Software: Transforming Your Business for the On Demand Future," "The Standish Group has successfully quantified both user and market behavior so that we may more fully understand what is driving this IT trend."

    "The Standish Open Source Report is a thoughtful, objective and extremely useful tool for understanding the impact free software is having on the entire IT industry. Every CIO, CFO, and CEO of any corporation with large IT expenditures should read this report," said Wayne Sadin, CIO, Loomis USA, Houston, TX "The impact of Open Source on IT will be profound and The Standish Group research helps business as well as IT management make vitally important investment decisions."

    The Standish Group's "Trends in Open Source" report is available free of charge to Standish Group subscribers. Non-subscribers may obtain copies directly from The Standish Group at: http://www.standishgroup.com/market_research/index.php [standishgroup.com] for $1,000 per copy.

    Emphasis mine. So you can see that there is definitely a mentality of open source "costing" industries. I'm sure the people at Brittanica and other encyclopedia publishers claim millions in losses to Wikipedia.

    Allow me to point out something I think the article missed which is that when you donate to open source, you're avoiding a huge loss of donations through third parties and local governments. Example, say I donate a 100 dollars every month to an African village through Africa Needs Help International (made up, it applies to almost every organization though). Well, I'll bet that ANHI takes a cut of that to run staff and transportation and such so let's say we're down to 75 USD. That 75 USD is probably used to buy from a predetermined company (usually not in Africa) and not at the best possible rate so we could probably estimate that 5 USD is trimmed off in pre-arranged agreements so we're down to 70 USD. Then whether or not that 70 USD of goods actually makes it to the village is another story. It could very well be intercepted by local guerillas, Janjaweed or the Mujahideen (often the very reasons the local villages are in need) which would actually be directly contradicting what you are trying to do.

    When you donate to Open Source proj

    • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Sunday April 20, 2008 @09:59AM (#23134530)
      ""It is the ultimate in disruptive technology, and while to it is only 6% of estimated trillion dollars IT budgeted annually, it represents a real loss of $60 billion in annual revenues to software companies,""

      Love this argument. It's just like the RIAA and their "We're losing billions to piracy!" argument. In fact it's worse because nobody's even performing copyright infringment.

      It's as if they take it as read that they are entitled to this money. It's usually unsupported crap.

      Maybe he should also look at things like the cost to companies of switching all servers/desktops etc to expensive, non-linux platforms. The coasts of everyone developing or buying their own solution to certain problem instead of making use of quality open components.

      No, OSS greases the wheels for companies. If all you're concerned about is desktop software sales then you're not thinking big enough.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Exactly. My company is in the upper 50s of the Fortune 500... guess what? We use at least 7 F/OSS options to achieve our goals in my department. Funny thing? Other departments ask how we get so much done with such a limited budget (since they had to buy Software X for $1000 per seat, they can't afford Software Y, yet they notice we are able to do everything they could have done with Software X _and_ Software Y (and also Software Z and A, B, and C) and we still have budget available to spend on hiring mo
    • by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Sunday April 20, 2008 @10:10AM (#23134580) Homepage

      "It is the ultimate in disruptive technology, and while to it is only 6% of estimated trillion dollars IT budgeted annually, it represents a real loss of $60 billion in annual revenues to software companies," said Jim Johnson, Chairman, The Standish Group International, Boston, MA.
      Mmm. Then that's $60 billion dollars in broken-window [wikipedia.org] spending saved every year!

      Broken windows? Broken Windows (tm)? Something like that, anyway.

      • by Junta ( 36770 )

        $60 billion in annual revenues to software companies

        They limited the scope. This may be still arguable, but by limiting the scope of discussed impact, the flow of the revenue to other companies outside that scope can be ignored getting out of having the broken window argument apply to his statement.

        The report was targeted toward the software industry. I'm wagering the report in general is a warning of what software companies need to prepare for, rather than an attempt to stop it. Any attempt to even basically understand the pervasiveness of open source s

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      And therein lies the crux of the problem. If the enterprises that BUY the software dont have to pay for it then they will SAVE that money and increase their bottom line. This money thing is a zero sum game. All that is happening now is that the vast majority of all this loot is ending up in the pockets of billionaire bill and his cohorts. This wealth has been EXTRACTED from users (poor and rich alike). Try looking at this as a black box with inputs and outputs only. For the poor, open source allows them to
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dk.r*nger ( 460754 )

        This money thing is a zero sum game. [....] This wealth has been EXTRACTED from users (poor and rich alike).
        Please read just a single economics textbook.

        As for the zero-sum game; look up growth. For the all-caps extraction; you might consider a chapter on opportunity cost.
        • If I make a widget from wood (free as in I don't have to buy it - trees were here long before economists) and sell it for a loonie (buck) the total cost is zero. - my labour - $1.00 minus selling price $1.00. The money part is just there so that corporations and governments can extract profits and taxes - I mostly don't have a problem with that. That $1.00 from my buyer represents wealth from him, thus the transfer of wealth, some of which is taken for tax and profit. IANAE (economist), nor do I wish to be
    • Well, I'll bet that ANHI takes a cut of that to run staff and transportation and such so let's say we're down to 75 USD. That 75 USD is probably used to buy from a predetermined company (usually not in Africa) and not at the best possible rate so we could probably estimate that 5 USD is trimmed off in pre-arranged agreements so we're down to 70 USD. Then whether or not that 70 USD of goods actually makes it to the village is another story.

      If philanthropists start donating to open source in big ways the
    • by Nephrite ( 82592 ) on Sunday April 20, 2008 @10:34AM (#23134700) Journal

      It is the ultimate in disruptive technology, and while to it is only 6% of estimated trillion dollars IT budgeted annually, it represents a real loss of $60 billion in annual revenues to software companies
      In other news, prostitution industry claims they lose $100 billion annually due to marriage sex.
      • yup. and anti-aids drug researchers are adding another 50 for monogamic relationships as a whole..

        by the way, i've got a plan: i'm gonna make a game that consists of moving a cube. when you reach the upper left corner, you win. it'll suck, but i'm gonna charge $350 for it and sue the people making cheaper, better games for billions of dollars in damages. should work, right? are you in? :D
    • Ever hear of a Carnegie library [wikipedia.org]? 3,500 of them, look around.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JohnFluxx ( 413620 )
      It also seems that a lot of times companies deserve to lose out to open source.

      I purchased an expensive HP printer for the office, and yet HP refuse to provide me with the PPD files for it. This _forces_ me to use, and support, open source drivers.

      I simply cannot understand why HP refuse to the provide the ppd file for their printers. It's plain text and probably wouldn't take them more than a day to write. Yet they seem to actively refuse to do so.
      • by chromatic ( 9471 )

        I purchased an expensive HP printer for the office, and yet HP refuse to provide me with the PPD files for it.

        You can probably extract it from the Windows driver. Unless something has changed dramatically since I most recently touched a printer driver, HP's drivers tend to include PPD files.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      That guy's argument is completely retarded. Yes, those large software companies get $60 billion less in pure profit, but its not like that money just evaporates---the businesses and individuals spending it will spend it on something else, maybe even something useful to their business.

      Buying yet another Microsoft Office license and yet another Windows Vista license and yet another Adobe Photoshop license, etc. is the economic equivalent of fixing broken windows that are only broken because the software vend
    • Wow! A thousand dollars for a report that tells proprietary software companies that open source is eating into their profits by forcing them to compete. I could have told them that for free.
      • Re:$1000?! (Score:5, Funny)

        by ichigo 2.0 ( 900288 ) on Sunday April 20, 2008 @03:52PM (#23136548)
        In other news, The Standish Group reports that a slashdot poster is causing them a loss of $1000 dollars in revenues.
      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )
        The report also does one other vary useful thing, it highlights an underlying change in human society. A return to the concept of "contribute and share, share and contribute", as one of the most important and socially constructive principles of human society. As it turns out, "Free Open Source Software" could be thought of as 'digital enlightenment' ;).
    • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Sunday April 20, 2008 @11:37AM (#23135046)
      I know that you are playing devils advocate, and pointing out the other side, so don't take this as a comment on your comment, just on the report.

      It is the ultimate in disruptive technology, and while to it is only 6% of estimated trillion dollars IT budgeted annually, it represents a real loss of $60 billion in annual revenues to software companies
      This could easily have been written:

      It is the ultimate in disruptive technology, and while to it is only 6% of estimated trillion dollars IT budgeted annually, it represents a real savings of $60 billion annually for businesses and consumers.

      So clearly thier claim of "objective" is total BS.
    • The only way Free Software can be loosing people money is because it reduces duplication of effort. Otherwise it's just money going to different people. I consider that a good thing as it means the money could be spent on something else, like wages. Not that anyone would do something so foolish as to pay their own workers properly in this day and age.
    • "It is the ultimate in disruptive technology, and while to it is only 6% of estimated trillion dollars IT budgeted annually, it represents a real loss of $60 billion in annual revenues to software companies,"

      The MP/RIAA says the same but just as many movies and songs are being created, probably even more because of technology. Just like disruptive technologies [wikipedia.org] do Open Source only reduces how much the incumbents, in this case software businesses, may make. Many others can profit while they and others ga

  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Sunday April 20, 2008 @09:39AM (#23134446) Journal
    Transparency.

    Transparency was notably absent from his discussion of capitalism, open source, and philanthropy. I don't see how you can have a discussion about philanthropy, much less "open source" without talking about transparency.
  • TAXES, TAXEs TAXES (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Despite all the claims of selfless humility. the prime motivator for "bigtime commercial philanthropy" is the tax man. Today, millions of dollars worth of valuble software products have been donated to educational, charitable and other institutions - with no incumbent financial reward. I know these products have real value, because of their extensive use, so why isn't their a mechanism for offering a similar tax reward to the authors.

    The obvious reason is that they lack political clout.

    Perhaps the Shuttle
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RobBebop ( 947356 )

      I have (one year) written off hours spent developing Open Source as "independent business losses" to avoid sending Uncle Sam a check for $1000 that my tax software told me I owed. The real value of my Open Source time contribution is obviously quite undefined, but I certainly could have spent the time (200-300 hours) that I estimate that I spent doing something for a much more profitable project - so I think it was justified.

      Really, what would be great would be if Shuttleworth could create a "Non-for-pro

      • by kz45 ( 175825 )
        ""Open Source software SAVES the national community of software buyers $60 Billion that they can allocate to more profitable areas of their business.""

        I thought the "free" in "free software" was supposed to be about speech and not beer.
        • The F in FOSS in practice tends to mean both Free (libre) and free (beer). Minus a very small amount of projects (e.x. Linux XP). PS: If this was worded awkwardly, it is because I am tired.
        • by kelnos ( 564113 )
          Depends on who you ask, who you are, what you make of it, and what you want from it. Some people use it because it's free, others because it's better, and still others for ideological reasons.
          • by kz45 ( 175825 )
            "Depends on who you ask, who you are, what you make of it, and what you want from it. Some people use it because it's free, others because it's better, and still others for ideological reasons."

            1% use it for ideological reasons. The other 99% use it because they don't have to pay for it. Why can't the FSF just admit that it's not free as in speech, but free as in beer.
            • by kelnos ( 564113 )
              [citation needed] 1%? I doubt it's that small. Regardless, the usage reason percentages are pretty irrelevant to the FSF's views or agenda.
              • by kz45 ( 175825 )
                "[citation needed] 1%? I doubt it's that small. Regardless, the usage reason percentages are pretty irrelevant to the FSF's views or agenda."

                yeah, it does. The FSF's view is that you can charge for software and that the freedom isn't about having a price tag of %0.

                But, all articles I have seen that talk about using open source in business involve getting it for free (not speech, beer). Why not advertise the free speech aspect? It's because most people just don't give a shit.
  • The answer is to send it all to me.
  • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Project2501a ( 801271 ) on Sunday April 20, 2008 @09:51AM (#23134494) Journal
    The idea of philanthropism (soup kitchens, clothes depots and your semi-mandatory sermon after the act) historically came about to aliviate the destitute who were flocking into the industrializing towns of the 18th and 19th century.

    It's the socialeconomic structure that's broken, mostly because it *requires* penniless and poor and impoverished people in order to work. Philanthropy is not gonna fix anything, it will just maintain the current status quo.

    and yes, who gives a flying circus ass about giving money to free software projects, when there's people all over the planet starving and living with less than a dollar a day?

    i mean, look who the heck is proposing this "Open Software philanthropy". Someone who is on a stipend from a damn-rich institution. This is not about helping FREE SOFTWARE (yes, i'm yelling on purpose). It's about making more money.

    Louis Althusser, anyone?

    • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Interesting)

      by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Sunday April 20, 2008 @10:31AM (#23134676) Homepage

      It's the socialeconomic structure that's broken, mostly because it *requires* penniless and poor and impoverished people in order to work.
      Not true. We can, today, reproduce most of the interesting work done by the Poor and Penniless people with machines, operated by (fewer) middle-class-ish people. And no one worries if poor, penniless machines suffer. However, this does mean that there are fewer opportunities available for unskilled labor. Society's real middle-long-term problem is to get those unskilled laborers a few Skills so they can do something useful and won't be completely obsoleted by a robot some day that's more cost-effective.

      Unfortunately, there are some significant cultural barriers which can make this difficult. School, often seen as a prerequisite for many important skills, is never going to be as cool as sports (basketball) and hanging around with friends wasting time, so you need someone around who can really push children and youth to achieve - and many don't have that.

      • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

        Why does basketball get a mention in particular?
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Inner-city poor black kids with nothin' but net.
      • Not true. We can, today, reproduce most of the interesting work done by the Poor and Penniless people with machines, operated by (fewer) middle-class-ish people. And no one worries if poor, penniless machines suffer. However, this does mean that there are fewer opportunities available for unskilled labor. Society's real middle-long-term problem is to get those unskilled laborers a few Skills so they can do something useful and won't be completely obsoleted by a robot some day that's more cost-effective.

        Agreed. But its only in the 20th century where the lower-middle class, who are semi-trained, replaced the penniless.

      • "... this does mean that there are fewer opportunities available for unskilled labor"

        De-skilled labour, I really wish the whole unskilled labour thing and the social status conferred upon the 'unskilled' myth would die.

        The truth of the matter is this: We've changed the environment in which people exist radically and their biology was designed for a world radically different then modern society with all its technology.

        The fact that technology and 'de-skillization' is on a collision course with white collar
        • we refer to people as 'unskilled' rather then 'de-skilled'
          Unskilled may be an unfortunate choice of word to use, but it has a specific meaning, being someone whose job requires less than 2 years training.

          Where I work, a large proportion of workers are "unskilled". Some are pretty highly skilled "unskilled" workers. You could certainly not take them out and drop in replacements who didn't know what they were doing and stay in business.
      • It's the socialeconomic structure that's broken, mostly because it *requires* penniless and poor and impoverished people in order to work.

        Society's real middle-long-term problem is to get those unskilled laborers a few Skills so they can do something useful and won't be completely obsoleted by a robot some day that's more cost-effective.

        I have to interject and rephrase your statement of the "problem" as being biased and closed-minded. --- "Society's real middle-long-term opportunity is to get develop automated systems that have the useful skills to free society's intellectual vanguard to ponder bigger-better problems instead of mundane, repetitive shit." (Show of hands - how many have re-implemented a 5 to 25 year old designs for "modern" tech?).

        Meanwhile, with costs driven down by automated systems producing everything from food to

      • It's the socialeconomic structure that's broken, mostly because it *requires* penniless and poor and impoverished people in order to work.

        Not true.

        Actually, it is true. It isn't the requirement of skilled or unskilled labor that is the cause, it's the system of using fractional reserve lending to provide money supply. It means that the available dollars being released is always less that the debt produced, since the dollars are produced as debt at interest. Therefore, somebody will be unable to pay thei

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by shish ( 588640 )

      who gives a flying circus ass about giving money to free software projects, when there's people all over the planet starving and living with less than a dollar a day?

      You would rather we completely ignore the lower income 50% of the world (who would benefit from free software), because 1% of the world have bigger problems?

      • You would rather we completely ignore the lower income 50% of the world (who would benefit from free software), because 1% of the world have bigger problems?

        [citation needed]

        thanks.
      • by bungo ( 50628 )
        You would rather we completely ignore the lower income 50% of the world (who would benefit from free software), because 1% of the world have bigger problems?

        Well, I'm just as self-absorbed as the next westerner, and sometime I honestly find it hard to even care about the thrid world, but one thing I don't like is willful ignorance.

        According to The Economist, edition April 19th-25th 2008, page 31, there are over 1 billion people living on $1 a day, and a further 1.5 billion people living on $1 to $2 dollars
        • by shish ( 588640 )
          I fully concede that my numbers were there in order to make the point of "This project is aimed at a different target; focusing 100% on one target would be bad", and not because I thought that the numbers were accurate. But now that you mention it, I'm curious, what does a dollar a day buy you in those countries? I suspect that while it's still very little, it's a lot more than a dollar a day would be worth in the US~
          • by bungo ( 50628 )
            A dollar a day gets you a meal with rice and some vegetbles. The people who are in dire trouble are the ones on less than 50 cents a day, they have rice, no vegetables and not always a meal. The people on $1-$2/day get to have some meat with their rice and vegetables.

    • It's better to teach somebody to fish instead of giving them the fish, but the person might die of hunger during the lesson....
    • The idea of philanthropism (soup kitchens, clothes depots and your semi-mandatory sermon after the act) historically came about to aliviate the destitute who were flocking into the industrializing towns of the 18th and 19th century.

      There's a word for what you just did...
      Ethnocentrism [wikipedia.org]

      Have you ever head of bread and circuses [wikipedia.org]?
      I'm sure the Ancient Egyptian, Ancient Chinese and Sumerian kingdoms had the equivalent of soup kitchens.

      It's the socialeconomic structure that's broken, mostly because it *requires* penniless and poor and impoverished people in order to work. Philanthropy is not gonna fix anything, it will just maintain the current status quo.

      Blaming the structure does nothing to change the fact that there is a certain number of penniless and homeless people.

      If you remember anything from highschool economics, you'd know there is always going to be a group of unemployed people who are not searching for jobs and are homeless. It's the nature of the

    • It's the socialeconomic structure that's broken, mostly because it *requires* penniless and poor and impoverished people in order to work.
      ... isn't that how they get out of being penniless and poor?
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      > Philanthropy is not gonna fix anything, it will just maintain the current status quo.

      Bullshit. I work for a large NPO and we have done quite a lot to help people get permanently away from their problems. Namely, by providing infrastructuve, food, and housing so they can weather the nasty storm life has brought them and so they can go back to being regular boring productive members of society.

      Your statement is ignorant of how real life works. One day you'll step out of your mother's basement and see the
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      It's the socialeconomic structure that's broken, mostly because it *requires* penniless and poor and impoverished people in order to work.

      No it does not. Your mistake is called the Zero Sum Fallacy. There is a Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] but it isn't good enough to precisely dispel your mistake. This fallacy was basically debunked ~230 years ago by Adam Smith in the book that founded the subject of economics; The Wealth of Nations [wikipedia.org]. In one of the first chapters Smith uses his own method of manufacturing; "The Di

    • and yes, who gives a flying circus ass about giving money to free software projects, when there's people all over the planet starving and living with less than a dollar a day?

      Every dollar you save on software is one more dollar you can donate to "Feed the World". Money which can then be pooled with money from other donors to improve the lives of those in the Third World.

      Falcon
      • Donating money is normally just a waste of your own money; little of it gets to other countries, and even less of it does any good. Giving money is a largely irrational response to poverty, and makes little difference. The correct answer is to make it easier for them to sell their products to us, or make it easier for them to immigrate over to the West. There aren't a lot of resources in many places in the Third World, and it seems pretty pointless to try and continue the settlements.

        Furthermore, the v
        • Donating money is normally just a waste of your own money; little of it gets to other countries, and even less of it does any good. Giving money is a largely irrational response to poverty, and makes little difference.

          I agree, I'd rather teach a person to fish than give them one.

          The correct answer is to make it easier for them to sell their products to us, or make it easier for them to immigrate over to the West.

          While making it easier to sale products will help it'd help more if the US, EU, Japan, a

          • I agree entirely with everything you said. You're right about subsidies. You're also right that I was mistaken in saying that all 3rd World settlements should be abandoned. I really meant to say that there are some settlements which cannot realistically be continued.
    • You make a wealth of unsupported assertions, and I dispute all of them.
  • Since most killing in the world is done by small arms, Why not use the money to bomb all the small arms and amunition factories? Without the supply of AKs and ammo for them, rag-tag guerillas and oppressive governments the world over will be forced to pay a higher freight for such weapons. They'll think twice about giving a 10 year old the weapon when it costs $50,000. With cheap war more costly to wage, it will become less frequent, freeing up the supply lines and alleviating the hunger provlem. Govern

    • Since most killing in the world is done by small arms,

      Source please.

      Natural resources [globalpolicy.org] lie at the heart of most if not all conflicts and wars. "The twin roles of natural resources[pdf] [un.org] in fueling and motivating violent conflicts is being increasingly recognized in strategies for conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding."

      Falcon

      • Well, the whole post was a joke. My only real "source", I must confess, is the movie "Lord of War". Yeah, I know, I know. So, I googled around for a few minutes and couldn't find anything to confirm or deny it, unless you count somebody from the American Muslim Society saying it in a speech (for all I know, he may have seen the same movie). I have a feeling that if you define "war" as the active conflict between armed parties, small arms are a significant fraction; but the key here is which war you are

  • by earthforce_1 ( 454968 ) <earthforce_1 AT yahoo DOT com> on Sunday April 20, 2008 @09:55AM (#23134514) Journal
    Even if companies made a policy of open sourcing their abandonware and old products like ID games does with their old game engines it would help a lot. Hell, even open sourcing the hardware specs on their obsolete products would be a boon - old hardware could enjoy an extended life with open source drivers, as poor people likely couldn't afford their shiny new "Vista ready" peripherals anyway. At least it keeps it out of landfills.
    • Even if companies made a policy of open sourcing their abandonware and old products like ID games does with their old game engines it would help a lot.

      When id gives away an old game engine that is marketing, not charity. They are as much in the business of licensing game engines as they are in the business of game sales. Getting future programmers to cut their teeth on an id engine is branding and familiarization, it makes their current licensable engine a little more valuable.

      I'm not saying there is
      • Sure, but doing a good thing for selfish reasons is still doing a good thing. Now if more companies realize this and jump on the bandwagon, it can be a win for the company and a win for the world at large. The lower the cost and the greater the benefit, the better your chance you have to swing it with the CEO.

        Almost every company involved with open source does it for selfish reasons, but the FOSS community still benefits.
    • You are giving a very good reason why hardware vendors should *not* release the specs. So that their old hardware *can't* enjoy an extended life and they can sell new stuff.
    • "old hardware could enjoy an extended life with open source drivers"

      It could, and this used to be the thing to do before about 2004 or so. But if you are needing something of modest performance there is almost always something that uses next to no electricity to do it... and weighs a fraction as well (hence less total resource use). It's probably better to retire the hardware to a scrap metal dealer than cause more coal burning at the other end of your wall outlet.

      Landfills are already being mined. As our r
  • If open source wants to contribute to the well-being of the world, poor nations specifically and charitable organizations in general it needs to encompass both the software and the hardware.

    There are many many things you can do with cheap donated hardware and free software that will help a charitable organization reduce costs and thereby increase the percentage of their funds which make it into the hands of those they intend to help... this is a good thing. BUT when it comes to teaching those people how to
    • Imagine if Intel or AMD were to open source some of their older generation of CPUs, motherboards, etc and allow companies in Africa or Eastern Europe to begin developing their own local hardware platforms.

      It sounds good open sourcing older electronics components but it wouldn't really help much as a Fab, Semiconductor fabrication plant [wikipedia.org], can cost hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars. On the other hand opening factories where the end product is assembled, as is happening in China, can give the

  • Philanthropy is great - organizations worldwide are short on funds and would be able to do so much more with additional funding. I don't think we should underestimate the needs in non-technology areas, remembering that almost a third of the world's population lives in "extreme poverty" (\\
    Where I really see a large portion of that money going is to "triple bottom line" ventures, for profit companies that consider their social and environmental bottom line equally with their financial bottom line. The peopl
  • by vkg ( 158234 ) on Sunday April 20, 2008 @01:13PM (#23135528) Homepage
    not from a charitable approach, but from a foreign policy approach.

    http://www.guptaoption.com/2.long_peace.php [guptaoption.com] - Winning the Long Peace

    http://www.guptaoption.com/5.open_source_development.php [guptaoption.com] - Saving the World through Open Source

    (also relevant: http://appropedia.org/ [appropedia.org]

    Basically, if governments or foundations pay for open source innovation in key areas, like solar cookers and efficient cooking stoves, rural water purification technologies - hell, basic sanitation - they can get a very great deal of leverage on the fundamental problems of the world for only a tiny fraction of the money it would take to try and solve them directly.

    It's like Linux or Apache - even counting corporate funding, not that much money went into these things, but the value created in the developing world is *huge*. Can you imagine trying to run the IT infrastructure of the developing world, where techs are rare and expensive, on Windows?

    Well, we could do the same for infrastructure in general.

    More at http://hexayurt.com/ [hexayurt.com] - click on the infrastructure links.
  • Writing open source software is not philanthropy. It is not a charity for the "have nots". Nor does it really create a better place stop wars, improve education.... Open Source is a politics of licensing. Just because it is free and the "Have Nots" can use it doesn't mean it is a philanthropic movement. You can use Open Source in a way to aid philanthropy. Giving people FOSS teaching them how to use it to improve their lives. But it is not philanthropy by itself. If you think that FOSS will save the world
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by qbast ( 1265706 )
      5. Because it is fun
    • 4. I received value from other open source apps, and I want to return back to the community.

      That isn't philanthropic? An action doesn't have to save the world or even a life in order to be philanthropic. The first sentence of the Wikipedia article on Philanthropy says it all:

      Philanthropy is the act of donating money, goods, time, or effort to support a charitable cause, usually over an extended period of time and in regard to a defined objective.

      I guess, in order to understand that definition, you need to understand what a "charitable cause" is. In this case, developing free software and donating it to the community is charitable on two fronts:

      • Advancement of education
      • Advancement of software for the purpose of benefiting the global community of software developers
  • "claiming that the charitable giving of Gates and others simply extends power in the market to power over society"

    so the idea is that bill gates should sponsor open-source? :D
  • by CSMatt ( 1175471 ) on Sunday April 20, 2008 @04:08PM (#23136690)

    Sun, Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Yahoo, and Facebook are big backers of Creative Commons
    One of these things is not like the others.
    • by McGiraf ( 196030 )
      I got it! One is in boldface!

      What do I win?
    • by gyepi ( 891047 )
      This whole list sounds quite weird. In what sense, for instance, is Facebook a "big backer" of Creative Commons? Their terms of use is in direct contradiction to the CC license. Take e.g. these lines from Facebook's website:

      By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy,
      • by WK2 ( 1072560 )
        No it doesn't. Whatever public license you publish your work under, you are not bound by that license. You can do whatever you want with your own work, assuming you are the sole copyright holder.
        • by CSMatt ( 1175471 )
          Correct. You would be able to do whatever you want with your own copyrighted work, even if you already release it under a certain license. This is, after all, what makes dual licensing possible. Where you would run afoul of the EULA is when you post someone else's CC-BY-ND-* material on Facebook without permission. This probably applies to YouTube as well.

          Then again, the legal code might have an exception for third-parties making money indirectly off of works in this matter.

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