Duelling Models

Posted on: March 14, 2008 - 00:08 By: carl

There have been three articles appearing in Computerworld NZ recently that highlight the benefits of the Open Source and Open Standards model vs. the stagnant, closed, restrictive, myopic, proprietary business model favoured by some.

The first is "Ohm, Sweet Ohm" which covers Jonathan Oxer in Melbourne and Rob Wilcox in Auckland. The question posed with regards to Jonathan is 'Can you take the smart home concept a little too far?'. As far as I can tell the rfid chip Jonathan has had implanted could be considered as just a slight variation of body piercing... what interested me more was that Jonathan has been able to develop and build a home automation system out of component parts of his own choosing with no restrictions and has integrated it not only with real world but the virtual world. He is able to share that knowledge with whoever he wants for whatever purpose. And he is enjoying himself. Jonathan isn't the only one having fun in this area... Glen Wightwick from IBM in Australia gave a presentation at linux.conf.au earier this year on his experiences with Linux and Open Source software that you might like to check out here (Ogg format). I especially like Glen's appliance purchasing criteria... "must have a serial port"...

Contrast that with the glorified stereo system (with a webcam enabled doorbell!!!) that Rob has built... and even then he has apparently had to wait a couple of years till the proprietary vendor involved actually shipped some code that worked. I'm sure Rob is pleased with what he has been able to do with the tools he has available to him but I can't help thinking of what he could achieve if he became a free thinker...

The second and third articles are a pair... Our own Don Christie on the cons of the, ahh, errmm, 'problematic' proposal that is ooxml and Brett Roberts (Microsoft NZ's slightly oxymoronicly titled 'director of innovation') with a marketing piece on why the 6000+ page, unusable-by-open-source proposal is a Good Thing(tm).

I'll leave you to read and form your own opinions but I'm still irritated by the constant rhetoric from Brett and his ilk that somehow two standards, one open and one demonstrably closed, will benefit society.

We don't do 'drive on the left unless you have a brand X car'.

We don't do '240 volts, 50Hz unless you live in Auckland'.

We shouldn't do 'all your base are belong to US'...