Doc Searls's blog

The silent victory of Linux-as-geology at CES 2007

Three years ago, out of more than 2300 CES exhibitors, the word "Linux" appeared in text associated with just 11 of them, in the show's online guide. This year at CES 2007 has more than 2700 exhibitors; yet "Linux" appears in text associated with just 3 companies: Interact-TV, Neuros Technology and Pixel Magic Systems. Yet it is clearer than ever that Linux has become the bedrock on which more and more companies build their solutions. more>>

Embedded in CES

More and more hot new hardware runs on cool and stable Linux, plus a growing abundance of open source building materials. Since relatively few open source components are graced with publicity ambitions (much less departments), they tend not to make themselves obvious. Meaning that reporters like yours truly need to go hunting for them.

So I'd like your help. I'm here at the Consumer Electronics Show — CES — in Las Vegas, getting ready to launch out onto the trade show floors to see What's Up with Linux amongst the 2,700 exhibitors spread across 1.7 million square feet of exhibit space. more>>

Can we relate?

Imagine being able to relate to vendors -- productively, on mutually agreeable terms -- rather than just paying them money for whatever they're selling, and occasionally giving them "feedback" through surveys that aggregate our "input" inside some impersonal "customer relationship management" (CRM) system. That's the idea behind VRM, or Vendor Relationship Management. It's the reciprocal of CRM: a toolset for independence and engagement. That is, of independence from vendors and engagement with vendors.

VRM is also a development effort -- ProjectVRM -- that we've started at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. There are no VRM tools yet, so we're starting with a blank slate. We've begun filling that in with a wiki and a mailing list, both open. Find them through ProjectVRM.org. more>>

Unsucking Linux app installation

In Software installation on Linux: Today, it sucks (part 1), Ian Murdoch (whose first name is the second half of Debian) writes, Unless an application is included with your Linux distribution of choice, installing that application on Linux is a nightmare compared to Windows., and proceeds to say exactly how. more>>

Let's go bust some silos

The Internet Identity Workshop starts tomorrow (Monday, December 4) and runs for the next two days, at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. Every time we have one of these, progress happens. It's a remarkable thing to watch, and to participate in.

But the challenges remain very high. To illustrate how high, I'll start with a conversation I had one year ago, when we were driving back from a Thanksgiving visit to relatives who live 250 miles away.

With the kid asleep in the back seat of the car, my wife asked me to fill her in on a subject that had preoccupied me over the last several years, yet had remained opaque to her. "Tell me about this whole identity thing", she said. more>>

Follow the lack of money

Jeff Jarvis is looking for better stewards of journalism's future. He explains,

I don’t see enough development going on in new news efforts — enough to save journalism from the sinking news business. And that’s what’s troubling me. The old players are proving to be quite ineffective stewards — we knew that — but there aren’t enough new stewards joining the church.

Problem is, you can't make a new business out of an old business that's turned into a church. Wall Street isn't up for that, and most of the big papers work for Wall Street. The word "stewardship" alone is a boat anchor on any company's stock price. more>>

Ten ideas about Ideas

Which has more leverage in the marketplace — A) disclosure or B) secrecy? Which is more supportive of growing markets — A) public infrastructure or B) private platforms? Which is better for inventive entrepreneurs — A) sharing one's great ideas to drive development and adoption, or B) patenting and keeping secret one's "intellectual property"?

I'm sure most Linux Journal readers would answer "A" to each of those questions, plus other questions like them. Yet I suspect that most venture capitalists would rather fund the "B" choices. more>>

Let's do for news what we did for software

There have always been problems with distributing urgent public safety information. These problems show up, over and over, with every hurricane, tornado, flood and wildfire. At this moment in history, problems fall in three areas of responsibility (and, for that matter, responsiveness):

The old official channels (radio, TV, newspapers) are scaling back on live news coverage (or on news coverage, period) The new official channels (web sites and services, "reverse 911") are still, as we've been saying since 1995, "under construction". The new unofficial channels (cell phones, blogs, RSS feeds, phone trees) are still no substitute for the Real Thing, whatever it will become.

Lately I've been thinking about some simple hacks we can do in #3 that will give some needed assistance to #s 1 and 2 as well. more>>

Turning the world I-side out

While huge progress has been made toward "user-centric" identity, I still have problems with "user-centric" anything. The point-of-view is still outside the user. It's still organizational, corporate. If you're "centric" about users, where are you? Right, outside the user. And inside something that's, well, not quite human. Or worse, that's super-human. Not a peer, but a superior.

Think about it: Are you "user-centric"? more>>

Making Peace (and/or products) with Marketing

There are a range of ways that marketing can relate to engineering. At one end are companies where engineering is the core competency and marketing "leadership" is an absurdity. At the other end are companies where marketing tells engineers what to do.

The most extreme example of the former comes from fiction. It's the nameless fictional company that employs the cartoon character Dilbert. In three daily Dilbert strips starting July 27, the character Alice -- a competent, under-appreciated and violence-prone engineer -- relates to marketing people by banging their heads on furniture. In one strip she tells a prospective employee, "I'm going to bonk your head on the table. If it sounds empty, you'll work in marketing."

The most extreme example of the latter comes from reality, and stars in "The Phone Companies Still Don't Get it", by Mark Gimein, in the July 31, 2006 issue of BusinessWeek. more>>

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