1/7/2005
i'm a copyleft commie!

the flag

A commentary on the CNET News.com article interview, 'Gates taking a seat in your den'

Yes folks, I'm a Copyrightleft Commie, and I'm proud to be one! But wait a minute, how can I be a Commie when I've earnestly declared wanting a share of any commercial profit made from my works?

But seriously folks, for all the PC technology marketing that he has blessed us with (it is during His Billness' rule that we have a computer in almost every home), he sometimes just don't have a clue. The flag above links to BoingBoing. Also from Lessig (where I discovered the link for the second third time before deciding to post).

But inside, I still hope he's just pretending to be against progress (for the benefit of his investors), or something...

in other news: the disaster's not over yet, folks:)

addendum: I should kick myself in the head for not realising this earlier, but Bill Gates also dissed Firefox in the interview! (read it before Lessig's blog from Bed Goodger's). Talk about making enemies. Whew....

Furthermore on Bill's statement that "the idea that the United States has led in creating companies, creating jobs, because we've had the best intellectual-property system--there's no doubt about that in my mind,", one only has to look at how fast (among others) Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, Singapore, Malaysia, and Brazil has caught up both technologically and culturally (somewhat through Free Software and Culture in Brazil's and Malaysia's case) to see the fallacy in that copyright law comparison. And if they keep up the pace, just think how soon it would be before these countries would surpass. Remember folks, just some fifty-odd years ago (right after World War II) these nations were in econonomic, socio-cultural shambles.

on the other hand

But I digress. This is the man which almost single-handedly brought personal computing to the consumer masses. And I guess while I'm at it I should also shed some positive light unto the interview. Yes, some of Mr. Gate's comments actually do have a point.

search (aka. the semantic web)

CNET (C): It sounds like the next step in search might be audio and video.
Bill Gates (B): Oh, sure, everybody is working on those things, but just take the idea of finding your local pizza place and doing that right; search doesn't do that well today. Search is really crummy today--it's just that it used to be really crummy, and now it's better, and there never was anything like this before. So most of the results people get back today are irrelevant results. Deep analysis can take us much further, and that's why we're investing a lot, and you'll see us more very rapidly.

I agree completely. Almost. Search still sucks. Content still sucks. A lot of high quality free content is available on the Web but it takes hand-crawling to find it. But it is not true that there "never (has been) anything like this before". "Deep analysis" is not new. In my opinion this is all because too few members of our illustrious World Wide Web of hyperlink developers are actively working on, or have even ever actually heard of, the semantic web [from Tim Berners-Lee].

The semantic web was the original vision of Tim Berners-Lee. It is kinda like the present day World Wide Web, connected by hyperlinks, with data packets traveling the world at the speed of light. The difference is that the hypertext that we create is just that; pure hypertext. The presentation (style, or layout) is suggested by an external file (using CSS in the case of HTML documents, or XSL and XSLT for XML documents). The metadata (data about the hypertext such as its author, its creation date, its topic) is defined by an RDF file (or, like in previous HTML standards, with <meta> tags). Et cetera. Or these elements could be contained in a single document (XML) but internally would remain separate.

More proposals from the creator of the World Wide Web on the Web's architecture (also design issues). Bare in mind that TimBL's docs are more like freeform, speed-typing, techno-creative outbursts when you spot one of the many typos littered all over his site.

And so how does this separation of content from style (and other extrenuous metadata) help in creating better search technology? Well supposedly that separation would make it easier for machines to parse (or understand, makes heads of tails) of the content. Mr. Berners-Lee can explain this better than me; I suggest you follow the above links. I had tried to put explanations into words, but it's just takes more effort than I can afford right now. I still have a graduation paper to finish.

But basically HTML was not originally made to be a content layout language. And it most definitely was not originally meant to be a programming language. XHTML documents are supposed to be easy to type; you were just supposed to type plain text. The most programming anyone is supposed to do is mark content to give it context (linkage being the first context proposed). This text is inserted. This text is deleted. This is Heading 1. This part is in French. XHTML is supposed to stand for Extensible Hypertext Markup Language. And when all that context has been defined, not much computing power is needed to categorize it.

And we as a web community have got to realise something: if we don't work together toward a semantic web, do you know who will?

B: Whether it's understanding maps or virtual worlds or document analysis, today's search is nothing, and we've got the software technology that will drive it to those new levels, as well as being a very significant business.

Of course Bill could be bluffing, but even if he can't develop it himself brute force natural language analysis sounds like the kind of software that he would just love to buy. And don't tell me nobody is working on that.

But there has been progress made (web authors in particular should follow that link).

cheap internet

C: This year, there is a big push to make cheap computers for emerging markets. How is that going to have to evolve? A $300 computer is still going to be too expensive for many, probably, in Russia, India and other places.
B: Well, that's not really true. The expensive thing is the connectivity. Getting Internet connectivity is expensive. If all they had to do was pay for the computer--$300--and the communications were free, then we'd see that PC usage would be very, very big. Ironically, communications costs tend to be highest in developing countries.

Yup, 'net and phone rates really suck here. And I'd really love it if someone would start something in Indonesia like (the succesful) CUT. Yeah, we Indonesians really like to complain but rarely offer solutions now don't we:)

On the other hand, if Indonesian people would just realise that we can buy used inexpensive Rp 600.000 (US$ 70) Pentium II PCs (or brand new Via C3's). And they would still be relatively usefull for 'Netting when loaded with GNU/Linux or other Free OSes. There are many, many more people here buying used cell phones than there are using PCs. And a lot of used PCs are a lot cheaper, and a lot more usefull, than old cell phones. The Web is a rich repository of free knowledge, if you just know where to look...

But then again you'd be hard pressed to find that knowledge. Even the cheapest Indonesian ISP, TelkomNet Instan (state sponsored, with allegations of anticompetitive behavior creating near-monopolistic market dominance I might add), charges relatively expensively at about Rp 9000 (US$ 1) per hour, compared to the average monthly income percapita of about Rp 1 Million (US$ 108). Bill's still right; it still does ultimately boil down to connection costs.

Although Rp 9000 an hour (phone billing included) is much cheaper than most other Indonesian ISPs. TelkomNet's billing is low because its also run by PT Telkom, the former (at least officially) state run telephone service monopoly company that still runs most of Indonesia's local phones (it's majority stock is now owned by SingTel).

internet cafés

B: So you need to do shared PCs through cafes or community centers. We're doing a lot of so-called mesh networking research that could use wireless spectrum to try to bring those connectivity costs way, way down, and that's where you really see widespread computing breakthroughs.

And so witness the Internet Café phenomena in Jakarta and other Asian Metropolises. And the WiFi networks (both legal and quasi-legal), though these networks are still elitist. With only ivory-tower R&D conducted in that direction (no widespread public deployment of the results yet). And a significant portion of them are using pirated Microsoft software, furthering our dependence on His Billness. But at least some 'net cafés have switched to Linux servers to get better and more stable connection speeds. Now if they would only also provide Linux client stations...

I could go on (and I do want to), but I've spent more time than I can afford.

In closing, I'd like to add that perhaps Lessig does have a point when he opines "what a total (intellectual) disappointment this man is." I mean, an intellectual luddite such as myself can actually make this much commentary against him, even when what I was actually trying to do through this article was to balance negative opinions towards Bill's statemets. Yes, I was trying to support Bill. But I don't think that Bill is not philosophical. He has got to be philosophical (at least, if not philosophically good). Like Lessig I "constantly hope to be surprised (or amazed ed.) by Mr. Gates". But unlike Lessig (who claims he never was), I have been amazed by Gates. I admire the man as a skillfull marketer and businessman. I admire him as a succesfull promotor of PC technology to the masses. Without the likes of him it would be more unlikely for 'mere mortals,' non-gurus like us (or at least like me if you are a guru) to sit in front of a PC like we are doing right now.

Makes you kinda wonder: why did Bill agree to an interview just now? Could it be because RMS had also just done one? Maybe Bill should have examined the (arguably) scathing response to that interview before agreeing to his own.... High profile geeks need PR media managers.

And so I wonder: will any copyright police come knocking on my door for copying this much text from CNET? Probably not since I've got practically no audience. Supposedly creative criticism falls under Fair Use, but you never know...

addendum: and for more Copyleft Commies propaganda, Link 1 and Link 2.

in other news: yup, that's right Folks, the disaster's still not over yet:)

addendum (1/21/2005): Bill Gates has made a clarification. Details on a newer blog entry.


Posted at 9:18:40 am by ferdikom98

fERDI:)
January 15, 2005   06:24 PM PST
 
Ruse! Sorry I didn't notice your comment earlier :p I'll tag you soon enough...
Ruse
January 11, 2005   11:09 PM PST
 
how do you make the words look like there crossed out like that??
 

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I don't write intellectually. I write expressively. I don't claim to be accurate, fair or thorough. I don't wanna get stuck on certain topics. Though I sometimes do. But not that often. I'd like to expand. I wanna write more poems. But I'll only upload them if they're good. I only rant about my life's hardships if it will rescue just a little bit of my sanity. I'm saner than I make myself out to be, though.

If I am an OS kernel, and I just had a kernel dump, I'd imagine that the text in this blog is what it would more or less look like.

There. Do you get it?

   

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