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Will you declare your IT independence?

By Mark W. Kaelin Editor ·
A colleague sent along a press release entitled Developers Enthusiastically Embrace the IT "Declaration of Independence" Sponsored by The Open Group.

The "Declaration" calls for the adoption and protection of open standards by corporations, governments, organizations, and individuals to ensure a fair competitive marketplace, to give information technology customers freedom of choice and provide interoperability among all vendors.

The text of the "Declaration" can be found at the Opengroup.org Web site:
http://www.opengroup.org/declaration/declaration.htm

The cynic ]:) in me notices that the sponsors of this group are basically the largest and most vocal competitors of Microsoft, which makes me wonder about the veracity of their commitment to open source development and question the worth of their IT "Declaration of Independence". ;\

As a developer, what do you think about this organization and the declaration? Will you sign it? Is it just a dig against Microsoft or is there merit in it that I don't see?

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Still a Lock

by Bucky Kaufman (MCSD) In reply to Will you declare your IT ...

All the declaration says is that instead of "locking in" to a proprietary platform, they recommend locking them out.

Arguably EVERY business already adopts open standards in one way or another - HTML, XML, ANSI this and that, etc. So asking folks to adopt them when they are already doing so is pointless.

The point of this Declaration is not so much to avoid lock in, as to practice lock-out. After all, if you build a platform on the Open PERL or Open Unix or other open technologies - you done gone and locked yourself into something you might not be able to get out of any more than with a proprietary technology.

They are asking us, in essence, to not use software we may want or need - for NON-TECHNICAL reasons. That is, almost always, a bad way to make technical decisions.

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War of the Titans and the Angels.

by john_haefeli In reply to Still a Lock

Historically, proprietary solutions have grossly impeded progress in computer technology, social and business effectiveness, and have wasted incredible amounts of human resources reinventing the wheel.

There were few events that the public has shown any power against, when it comes to proprietary monopolistic efforts -- one of those was the flight from IBM Microchannel architecture. And, by definition, no company is innocent of proprietary empire-building.

Obviously, another public effort ought to be the public-domain ownership of the Microsoft Operating System, and Internet Explorer browser technologies.

As Health Care has been promoted to a "human right", add to this "information technology", as the conveyor of our First Amendment right to freedom of speech and expression, and productivity.

Along with an "Open Systems" approach, there should also be an "Open Economy" approach, where software is free to acquire, and is paid by companies who profit from it, such as via their tax returns. This would go to an Open Systems development fund, available to any developer or company who works on it commensurate with their contribution.

I applaud the effort at the creation of an Open Systems business model, as opposed to the old and awful Proprietary business model .. let's ensure that Open doesn't become a wolf in sheep's clothing -- so I encourage your involvment in this effort, to tear it apart, analyze it, build and steer it in the right direction, or else shout "wolf!" ...

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Macro- vs. Micro- Economics

re:
Historically, proprietary solutions have grossly impeded progress in computer technology, social and business effectiveness, and have wasted incredible amounts of human resources reinventing the wheel.
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That depends on your perspective on history. Personally, and for 25 years, I've always found that proprietary solutions have been the quickest, cheapest, fastest, easiest way for me to do my job, and help others do theirs.

I don't want to tell a law office that wants to buy two PC's with word processors that they'll have to become pseudo Gurus in Linux in order to do their jobs as lawyers - that's why I give 'em Microsoft and Dell.

The basic word processing and PC skills they learned to use 10 years ago (when they *started* abandoning VAX) are (and should be) valuable throughout their careers.

While proprietary systems may be slow to develop - there's a LOT to be said for stability. Unless somebody comes up with a MAJOR technological innovation in Word Procesing - I don't recommend they switch.

I need them to spend their time being better lawyers or truckers or doctors - and NOT waste resources with confusing trends.

It's important for techies to remember who the *users* are. We have a very bad reputation for being cocky and forcing confusing, conflicting (and often unnecessary) changes on users.

A 2000 Gartner survey said that 90% of all internal IT projects failed. I saw, during that same period, that many were rolled out anyway - further giving us a collective black eye.

While these kinds of bleeding edge experiments are fine and even desirable for huge, multinationals and other over-funded organizations - the overwhelming majority of people don't work within those enterprises and find these grass-roots dalliances to be counter-productive.

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Delivery...

by FBuchan In reply to Macro- vs. Micro- Economi ...

In the almost 20 years I have been in the IT field I'm relieved to know that my hit/miss ratio has been significantly better than what the 2000 Gartner survey revealed about internal IT projects. In fact, I suffered only three failures in hundreds of projects, and only one of those was entirely my responsibility.

The secret to this success has nothing to do with genius on my part, since most of those I have worked alongside are better-educated and inherently smarter than I would ever claim to be. My success is a direct side-effect of two rules I have consistently applied:

1) Remember at all times that the users only care about the technology if it fails (proprietary or open-source, matters not a whit); and
2) Delivery is an ongoing process that calls for planned support of any solution, complex or simple.

This drive to open-source fails end-users not because of any failing in open-source offerings, but because it ignores those two rules studiously. Bluntly put, only technicians care about nonsense like whose technology they run their word processor on; and the challenge with open-source is not quality of technology, but lasting satisfaction related to delivery. (Yes, a Linux guru is a talented person, but the fact remains that there aren't as many truly talented Linux gurus -- and hence many businesses fail equally with open-source because they haven't the brain-trust available to them.)

Like any proposition put forward by well-monied companies, this declaration is self-serving. We would be better off with a declaration stating we will deliver what the clients need effectively, and make those solutions last.

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This solution too much like socialism

by Montgomery Gator In reply to War of the Titans and the ...

Putting MS operating systems and IE, along with an "Open Economy" approach sounds just like socialism. I would not want my work to be rewarded based on the decision of a commisar in charge of an "Open Systems Development Fund". Such a fund would suffer from corruption and cronyism. Without the incentives come from private enterprise and private ownership of property, innovation will slow, and may even cease. The profit motive is a very strong motive for innovation and is necessary for a free society with a strong economy. The failed experiment with socialism in Russia that started in 1917 demonstrated it does not work. Free enterprise and private property (which includes proprietary systems, such as Microsoft's systems) is what made the United States strong. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, et al might not have made their innovations, or not to the extent they did, without the incentive of profit and free enterprise.

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Technology or Philosophy

re:
Open Economy" approach sounds just like socialism.
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You say that like it's a bad thing.

re:
I would not want my work to be rewarded based on the decision of a commisar
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That describes communism and capitalism - but NOT socialism. In socialism, there is no all-powerful central authority - except the will of the people.


re:
The profit motive is a very strong motive for innovation and is necessary for a free society with a strong economy.
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Socialism too, include a profit-motive. Instead of getting paid for what you *own* you get paid for your *work*.

In the 70's, Gates wrote an article pronouncing software as a product, and NOT a service. Now, we have to maintain and update an INCREDIBLY complex set of "Intellectual Property" laws that stymie capital growth - and which run counter to human nature.

In the mid-80's at the World Trade Expo I was thrown out of the Soviet pavillion for making this statement - "KNOWLEDGE BELONGS TO THE PEOPLE". Of course, I was walking out with a stack of stolen books - Marx, Lenin, Dostoevsky.

re:
The failed experiment with socialism in Russia that started in 1917 demonstrated it does not work.
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Again - you're confusing Socialism with Communism.


re:
Free enterprise and private property (which includes proprietary systems, such as Microsoft's systems) is what made the United States strong.
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Actually, it was the nuclear bomb that made the US strong. Before that, free enterprise was kicking our butts. Even though we had the most efficient transportation and communications systems in the world, it wasn't until the introduction of nuclear technology (especially in the private sector) that the US economy left the rest of the world behind.

Finally, it's notable that you refer to the heavily regulated Intellectual Property industry as an example of *free* enterprise. While IP laws may indeed be a good thing, it's not rational to use them as an example of FREE enterprise.

People who exercise "free" enterprise in the IP industry tend to go to jail or get fined.

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