> The five-hundred-year Dark Ages were a period when alchemists
> labored in secret. Every alchemist jealously guarded his
> research outcomes, so whenever an alchemist discovered the hard
> way that drinking mercury was poison, that knowledge died with
> him (literally). The Enlightenment accomplished real alchemy:
> converting research into knowledge through the application of
> full disclosure. Once alchemists began to share their research
> outcomes, they became true scientists, and the hundred years
> that followed made more progress than the half-millennium that
> preceded it.
On Sun, 27 Nov 2005 17:51:06 -0500, Gerald Oskoboiny
> while reading
> Royal Society: rent-seeking is more important than science
>> Once alchemists began to share their research
>> outcomes, they became true scientists, and the hundred years
>> that followed made more progress than the half-millennium that
>> preceded it.
I think it would be worth looking a little deeper. The last few decades
have seen a distinct increase in the use of commercial-in-confidence
protection of research results in medicine, and yet more has been achieved
than in the half-millenium before...
Oh wait. First, there is the bit about standing on the shoulders of
More to the point, there is a crucial question about funding. In a world
where science is largely funded by public money, it seems inexcusable to
hide the results from the public, but there is a limit to the amount of
public money available. When private individuals or companies profit from
the work, what is the appropriate way to ensure that they return something
and so make the model sustainable?
There is a similar issue with Open Source development. Although there are,
of course, shining examples, there are also many cases where there is
massive duplication of initial effort, no real product being developed,
and no apparent model to ensure that it happens. Mozilla and Linux have
both benefitted from huge amounts of money being poured in by corporate
giants promoting them as rivals to MS. Minimo and WebKit's mobile browser
are both getting significant corporate funding, yet still come nowhere
near Opera for size, speed or functionality.
In the accessibility world I have seen serious problems getting decent
tool development, because people take open-source stuff that is very basic
and think they can just use it without investing. Which means the
commercial alternatives are generally very poor quality since they don't
have to do any more. Meanwhile many good developers who do understand how
to make proper tools are driven out of the market for lack of sales
ability, and spendd their time doing something completely different. As a
result, web accessibility tools are, almost a decade after the first ones
became publicly available, pretty woeful, and the accessibility of the Web
is also in a pretty sorry state.
I don't think Opera has anything against Open Source in principle - we do
release assorted things as open source, such as extensions to Opera (which
we design to be compatible with Firefox too) - but our development model
is based on paying smart developers, and we do that by selling a product,
not just the service of installing it. Nokia, Apple, IBM, Sun are all
selling products that are more interesting if they have a browser, so for
themm the investment in Open Source is an attempt to get something cheaper
and better than what's available. Google sells information, and they get
the information by being built into more and more products people use, so
it makes sense for them to support Firefox and Opera too.
Opera just makes a browser. (well, really a suite, like Mozilla) Currently
the competitors in the market that pays for the development are all
closed-source. (WebKit's browser effort is interesting, but it is not
*yet* at the level of competing - nor is MiniMo). I don't actually plan
the future of the company, but it is interesting to speculate about
different possible futures and the business models that go with them...
Charles McCathieNevile firstname.lastname@example.org
hablo español - je parle français - jeg lærer norsk
Peek into the kitchen: http://snapshot.opera.com/