New book: After the Software Wars

Posted by keithcu on Nov 18, 2008 11:21 PM EDT
Lulu; By Keith Curtis
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I have just finished a new book about free software. Excerpt: Given the technology that's already available, we should have cars that drive us around, in absolute safety, while we lounge in the back and sip champagne. All we need is a video camera on the roof, plugged into a PC, right? We have all the necessary hardware, and have had it for years, but don't yet have robot-driven cars because we don't have the software. This book explains how we can build better software and all get our own high-tech chauffeur.

Here is the start:
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Given the technology that's already available, we should have cars that drive us around, in absolute safety, while we lounge in the back and sip champagne. All we need is a video camera on the roof, plugged into a PC, right? We have all the necessary hardware, and have had it for years, but don't yet have robot-driven cars because we don't have the software. This book explains how we can build better software and all get our own high-tech chauffeur.

The key to faster technological progress is the more widespread use of free software. Free versus proprietary (or non-free) software is similar to the divide between science and alchemy. Before science, there was alchemy, where people guarded their ideas because they wanted to corner the market on the means to convert lead into gold. The downside of this “strategy” is that everyone would have to learn for themselves that drinking mercury is a bad idea. The end of the Dark Ages arrived when man started to share advancements in math and science for others to use and improve upon. In fact, one way to look at history is to divide it between periods of progress and stagnation.

Computers are an advancement whose importance is comparable to the invention of the wheel or movable type. While computers and the Internet have already changed many aspects of our lives, we still live in the dark ages of computing because proprietary software is still the dominant model. One might say that the richest alchemist who ever lived is my former boss, Bill Gates. (Oracle founder Larry Ellison, and Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page are close behind.)
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The book talks about why free software is superior, implications for Google, the Java mess, patents and copyright, Vista, remaining challenges for free software, and many other things.

The book is available on Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/content/4964815


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Subject Topic Starter Replies Views Last Post
Heads up: Free copy Sander_Marechal 8 2,173 Nov 20, 2008 5:38 PM
auto autos mrbobeau 2 897 Nov 20, 2008 3:43 AM

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