On the Web - Reaching the People

This month, the LJ Web site offers an interview with the developer of GNU Radio and more voices from the new hacker democracy.

In late 2003 and so far in 2004, much has been made of the effect the Internet is having on the 2004 US presidential election. From candidate blogs to open-source celebrities installed high in certain candidates' steering committees, it's true that the Internet and open-source mentalities have altered the national campaign playing field. If nothing else, the Dean campaign aptly demonstrated what can happen when people have the means to connect digitally with like-minded people across the country. Does it still qualify as grass roots if some of the grass is in Oregon and some is in Massachusetts? Or has grass roots been replaced by “Net roots”?

Being in the midst of one of the most contentious campaigns in the past 100 years, it's hard to have the distance necessary to understand the real effect the Internet has on these proceedings. What's more important, reading Kerry's blog from the road or determining whether on-line voting has the potential to make more people vote and to deliver those votes in an accurate manner? Perhaps the part of this changing electoral/political landscape that offers the most potential for serious good is the application of open-source philosophy. Doc's feature article in this issue, “Hacking Democracy”, explores some of these questions and the larger issue of what should be open source's role in government proceedings of all types. A companion piece, “Voices from the New Hackers of Democracy” (www.linuxjournal.com/article/7474) on the Linux Journal Web site, offers more commentary by some of those involved in this conversation.

As the Internet and Internet-based technologies grow and reach more people, what becomes of old technologies, such as radio? They morph into something else, in this case, software radio. In this issue, Eric Blossom writes about GNU Radio, his project that involves “getting code as close to the antenna as possible”. In a follow-up Web interview with our Editor in Chief, Eric talks about the prospects and politics of software-defined radio (www.linuxjournal.com/article/7502).

As we head into summer, we're at work on the design for the 2004 Ultimate Linux Box. Don Marti is back to author this year's article, and he offers a “ULB 2004 Preview” (www.linuxjournal.com/article/7503) on the LJ Web site. He writes, “Our first four-way SMP Ultimate Linux Box will run a 2.6 kernel. It's also the first Ultimate Linux Box with more memory than can be addressed with 32 bits. It has more memory than our 2000 Ultimate Linux Box had hard drive space. We built a 2.6 kernel with the default configuration, in a tmpfs filesystem in RAM, in 1 minute 41 seconds. Drivers permitting, it'll be a personal video recorder, too—for HDTV.” It's about time someone remembered ultimate is the key word in Ultimate Linux Box.

Our Web site also features regular columns by Dave Phillips, writing on Linux and audio; Bruce Byfield, writing on OpenOffice.org; and Chris DiBona, writing on, well, whatever he feels like. Other upcoming topics include a multipart article on the quest for fast boot times and an introduction to the Pygame library.

If there's a topic or application you'd like to see covered on the Linux Journal Web site, or if you have an open source in government project you would like to write about, drop me a line at heather@ssc.com.

Heather Mead is senior editor of Linux Journal.

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