There is more to innovation than secret science and patents!

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Opportunities to foster innovation based on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS): There is more to innovation than secret science and patents! This talk was presented at the LLiSA conference on November 24th, 2009 in Pretoria, South Africa.

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There is more to innovation than secret science and patents!

  1. 1. Opportunities to foster innovation based on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) There is more to innovation than secret science and patents! Prof Derek W. Keats Deputy Vice Chancellor (Knowledge & Information Management) The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg http://kim.wits.ac.za [email_address]
  2. 2. What do I mean by innovation? <ul><li>Having a new idea
  3. 3. Implementing it in technology
  4. 4. Taking it through to operation </li><ul><li>a business
  5. 5. a new organizational or business process
  6. 6. a new product or service
  7. 7. something that changes the way we do things </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Intellectual Property Rights from Publicly Financed Research and Development Regulations (April) <ul><li>disappointingly modern for a post-modern world
  9. 9. one dimensional </li></ul>
  10. 10. Freedom 1 and Freedom 3 require the source code The four freedoms of Free Software
  11. 11. Barriers to innovation Successful innovation Starting point Knowledge Permission Cost
  12. 12. No such thing as scratch Operating systems Compilers Programming languages Core applications
  13. 13. No such thing as scratch Operating systems Databases Webserver Compilers Programming languages Scripting languages Frameworks Digital object store Libraries Core applications Version management Scalability tools Load balance
  14. 14. No such thing as scratch Operating systems Databases Webserver Compilers Programming languages Scripting languages Frameworks Digital object store Libraries Core applications Version management Desktop applications Web applications Integrated development environment Embedded environments Testing tools Scalability tools Load balance Deployment tools Complete applications Communities use study adapt Collaboration tools
  15. 15. Built on a stack of FOSS applications and libraries using a suite of FOSS development and collaboration tools
  16. 16. The stack Cross platform RESTful API Ajax Mashable XMPP Mobile phone Online package management Version 4 will be fully distributed & cloud-ready Fedora gstreamer GNU/Linux PHP MySQL PEAR Open Office SWF tools CURL Chisimba FFmpeg Java Python Flash Open fire RED5 Javascript jQuery extJS Jabber prototype SWORD Open Zoom
  17. 17. software engineering software engineering software engineering software engineering
  18. 19. Knowledge <ul><li>When you have an idea, limited coding experience, and few resources, how do you learn to code it?
  19. 20. Free Software as a learning resource </li><ul><li>Dissect
  20. 21. Study
  21. 22. Use </li></ul><li>Community as a learning resource </li></ul>
  22. 23. Permissions <ul><li>Every permission is a barrier
  23. 24. Proprietary licenses severely limit permissions
  24. 25. Every permission may also have a cost
  25. 26. It may be extremely difficult to determine what permissions you need early in a project </li><ul><li>or what it will cost to acquire them </li></ul><li>Even without the cost factor, the permissions alone can be enough to reduce the likelihood of success </li></ul>Please sir, I want to license two more CPUs
  26. 27. Cost <ul><li>Start-up costs
  27. 28. Scaling out costs
  28. 29. Lock-in costs
  29. 30. Maleability costs </li></ul>
  30. 31. Some recent major software innovations <ul><li>Started in parents garage in Durbanville in 1995
  31. 32. Still a student at UCT when he started experimenting
  32. 33. VeriSign acquired Thawte for US$575 million in 1999
  33. 34. Started Canonical and Ubuntu GNU/Linux to give back to FOSS. </li></ul>
  34. 35. Some recent major software innovations <ul><li>Founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were students at Stanford University
  35. 36. Maxed out their credit cards to buy hardware
  36. 37. Became a private company on September 4, 1998
  37. 38. Larry & Sergey #5 on Forbes list in 1997 with a net worth of $18.5 billion each </li></ul>
  38. 39. Some recent major software innovations <ul><li>Launched Facebook from Harvard University dorm room on February 4, 2004
  39. 40. Time magazine named Zuckerberg as one of The World's Most Influential People of 2008
  40. 41. Market value of $15 billion in 2007 </li></ul>Mark Zuckerberg
  41. 42. Scarcity Abundance Proprietary software Free software The scarcity is entirely artificially maintained
  42. 43. Scarcity Abundance Permission Everything is forbidden unless it is permitted Everything is permitted unless it is forbidden Social model Paternalism (&quot;We know what's best&quot;) Egalitarianism (&quot;You know what's best&quot;) Profit plan Business model drives investment Lets do it, we'll figure something out Decision process Top down, rule driven Bottom up, experimental Organizational structure Command and control, planned and managed Out of control, unplanned, perpetual beta Cost Full cost of all ingredients, permission costs Marginal costs, business process only Knowledge Protected, controlled, secret Shared, freely available, no secrets Starting point Close to the bottom Close to the top -- modified after Chris Anderson, Free: The Future of a Radical Price
  43. 44. Model Characteristics Use existing The organisation uses existing FOSS tools, such as GNU/Linux, and does not contribute to their development. Adapt existing The organisation makes minor adaptations of exist-ing tools to serve its own peculiar business needs. Sponsor a project The organisation sponsors an external agency to create a tool on its behalf, and may assist that agency to locate other sponsors who could join the project. Join a project The organisation puts resources, either money or a software developer, into an existing project. Create a project The organisation creates a new project, puts its own developers onto writing the software and seeks other sponsors or others who may join the project. FOSS strategies Product Process
  44. 45. Model Characteristics Use existing The organisation uses existing FOSS tools, such as GNU/Linux, and does not contribute to their development. Adapt existing The organisation makes minor adaptations of exist-ing tools to serve its own peculiar business needs. Sponsor a project The organisation sponsors an external agency to create a tool on its behalf, and may assist that agency to locate other sponsors who could join the project. Join a project The organisation puts resources, either money or a software developer, into an existing project. Create a project The organisation creates a new project, puts its own developers onto writing the software and seeks other sponsors or others who may join the project. FOSS strategies Product Process
  45. 46. Model Characteristics Use existing The organisation uses existing FOSS tools, such as GNU/Linux, and does not contribute to their development. Adapt existing The organisation makes minor adaptations of exist-ing tools to serve its own peculiar business needs. Sponsor a project The organisation sponsors an external agency to create a tool on its behalf, and may assist that agency to locate other sponsors who could join the project. Join a project The organisation puts resources, either money or a software developer, into an existing project. Create a project The organisation creates a new project, puts its own developers onto writing the software and seeks other sponsors or others who may join the project. FOSS strategies Early innovation
  46. 47. FOSS strategies Use Adapt Join Sponsor Create Strength of ecosystem Low barriers to innovation
  47. 48. Does this only apply to software?
  48. 49. May be consumed by one consumer without preventing simultaneous consumption by others Consumption by one consumer prevents simultaneous consump-tion by other consumers
  49. 50. Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush, image from Wikipedia I just had to take the hypertext idea and connect it to the Transmission Control Protocol and domain name system ideas and — ta-da! — the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the first webserver from Wikipedia When core things are free and open, there are no barriers to innovation. When Bob Khan and I created TCP/IP and a bunch of us built a platform for internetworking, we did not patent the technologies used. We set TCP/IP free. Had we not done so, it is doubtful if the Internet as we know it today would have come into being. The freedom given by Cerf and Khan, and Berners-Lee, together with Free Software made it possible. The original Google servers, from Wikipedia
  50. 51. Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush, image from Wikipedia I just had to take the hypertext idea and connect it to the Transmission Control Protocol and domain name system ideas and — ta-da! — the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the first webserver from Wikipedia When core things are free and open, there are no barriers to innovation. When Bob Khan and I created TCP/IP and a bunch of us built a platform for internetworking, we did not patent the technologies used. We set TCP/IP free. Had we not done so, it is doubtful if the Internet as we know it today would have come into being. The freedom given by Cerf and Khan, and Berners-Lee, together with Free Software made it possible. The original Google servers, from Wikipedia
  51. 52. Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush, image from Wikipedia I just had to take the hypertext idea and connect it to the Transmission Control Protocol and domain name system ideas and — ta-da! — the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the first webserver from Wikipedia When core things are free and open, there are no barriers to innovation. When Bob Khan and I created TCP/IP and a bunch of us built a platform for internetworking, we did not patent the technologies used. We set TCP/IP free. Had we not done so, it is doubtful if the Internet as we know it today would have come into being. The freedom given by Cerf and Khan, and Berners-Lee, together with Free Software made it possible. The original Google servers, from Wikipedia
  52. 53. Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush, image from Wikipedia I just had to take the hypertext idea and connect it to the Transmission Control Protocol and domain name system ideas and — ta-da! — the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the first webserver from Wikipedia When core things are free and open, there are no barriers to innovation. When Bob Khan and I created TCP/IP and a bunch of us built a platform for internetworking, we did not patent the technologies used. We set TCP/IP free. Had we not done so, it is doubtful if the Internet as we know it today would have come into being. The freedom given by Cerf and Khan, and Berners-Lee, together with Free Software made it possible. The original Google servers, from Wikipedia
  53. 54. Bioinformatics <ul><li>the open sharing of the algorithms and methods used to make new observations from biological data drove the explosion in bioinformatics
  54. 55. Data are often openly shared according to FOSS type licenses
  55. 56. Software is often FOSS and shared as well </li></ul>
  56. 57. Activation energy Publicly funded science?
  57. 58. The world produces 103 scientific research papers per million people
  58. 59. The USA produces 690 and Canada 723 scientific research papers per million people
  59. 60. Africa produces 8.2 scientific research papers per million people
  60. 61. We need to reduce barriers to innovation, not increase them
  61. 62. The output of scientific research that is only published in ways that are only accessible to some people, or that is locked up in the newly altered form of patents that are designed to withhold disclosure and lengthen monopoly privileges. Secret science
  62. 63. Final message <ul><li>There are always barriers to innovation.
  63. 64. The more barriers you create, the less innovation you will get.
  64. 65. Every permission is a barrier.
  65. 66. Secret science and patents nouveau are not the only way to foster innovation.
  66. 67. Should we not look carefully how public science can best serve the public good?
  67. 68. Currently, we implicitly assume knowledge to be rivalrous, and our laws and policies are based on that implicit assumption.
  68. 69. Don't create barriers, remove them.
  69. 70. Don't control, facilitate! </li></ul>Say no to secret science with public funds!
  70. 71. http://twitpic.com/qnhpo Dedicated to the public domain. You may use it for any purpose without permission or attribution.
  71. 72. Attribution file: http://www.dkeats.com/usrfiles/users/ 1563080430/attribution/attrib.txt No secret science

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