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Community vs Compliance

This a very interesting discussion about GPL law suits and GPL enforcement. The main point of debate is whether to use law suits to enforce GPL or not. Both of the parties agree that having upstream contributions and user freedoms are important but disagree about the particular methods to pursue that goal. The side which pushes for law suits or threats argue that otherwise companies won't comply, we don't get the code back and users loose on freedom. The other side argues that law suits or their threats turn companies into law suits turn companies into enemies. They are less likely to coorperate, meaning worse software. Instead the way should be through internal negotiations, and changing the culture from inside, companies eventually do contribute upstream they also benifit from it and also because the law requires them to.

My personal opinion is that GPL is important, and the possibility of existance of a law suit. If a company is going very antagonistic there needs to be a law suits because otherwise when the companies know that no one realistic change of law suit then GPL is powerless. Stallman himself gave examples of cases where they were able to get GPL compliance simply about asking companies to do and telling them that they are legally required to do so. So to me the question is really about threshold, not the fact that they should be law suit or not,

Anyway as Linus says it is often easier to change things by working with your opponents rathan working against them but against them should appear like a realistic senario when things don't work out.

The Streetlight Effect: A metaphor for knowledge and ignorance

This was a fascinating piece about Streetlight Effect and using it a as metaphor to describe knowledge and ignorance. The really interesting bit was where author described totalitarianism as something where there is only one view point be it of boilerplate Marxism or free market capitalism or anything. The totalitarian view point assumes that their framework can explain it all and everything else. Totalitarianism is the like the streetlight where you try to find all your answers but they don't exist there. The opposite of totalitarianism isn't another view point but darkness where good and bad aren't well defined and where the difference of between truth and false is not known.

Another rant about academia and open source

> You can win in two ways: you can research something that helps somebody beat > somebody else up or consume more, so that they give you funding. Or you can win > by not losing, by pulling some wild theoretical stunt that puts you out of > range of everybody else so that they can’t come after you. You become good at > critiquing things in ways that sound smart, and tell people who disagree with > you that they haven’t read your cannon. You hope that if they call your bluff > and read it, they will be so converted by the experience that they will leave > you alone.

This para drives home the point at so many levels. This is also something I need to be really careful while doing inter disciplinary research. Being from computational sciences I can use tools which no one in the humanities area understand and it will be trying to answer questions which no one in the area of the computational science cares about. So you'll be virtually unbeatable, which is a really bad place to be in.

Keeping your research in open and helping access it as much as possible not only increases the value of your research but also gives a proof that what you are working on is something somebody cares about.

Reason as memetic immune disorder

This was a very interesting analysis by PhilGoetz how "reason" can be thought of a memetic immune disorder. The idea is that people have lot of belives which might come from religion or tradition or culture. Since belives are often very general, they might not generalize well. In a situtation where live with that belive for a long time with people who's behaviour are based on similar belives you learn socially which parts of belives to follow and which you shouldn't. When some one tries to reason out those belives they loose the immunity they loose the immunity they have gained from the herd and try to apply the rules where where they shouldn't be used. EY puts is pretty well "rationality (is) a failure of compartmentalization - the attempt to take everything you hear seriously."

Machine Bias

There are two lessons I take out of this story:

  1. Promote Free Software, Free as in Free Speech, rather mandate their use in such cases. Even Free Software can also be biased but in case of non free software it can become practically impossible to find their biases and correct them.
  2. We as should selling algorithms as magic, instead of saying there is 60 likelihood that person X will commit the crime again, say according to my system the person X is sixty percent similar to other people who commit the crime again with my rather transparent definition of similarity. Ram and Rahim are brother, as brothers of course they are similar at many levels, Ram has commited a crime does that mean Rahim will do it too?