[Ksummit-discuss] [CORE TOPIC] GPL defense issues

Karen Sandler of the Software Conservancy raises an issue–actually a set of issues–that has galvanised more than the usually vocal in the free-software communities. Sandler raises it as an issue related to enforcement of license but I think it touches on far more than that. I find interesting a basic question and one that’s shadowed and conceptualised my own interventions from the get-go, back in the late 90s: How the GPL and related licenses on the copyleft have been “normalised” (as in, routinised, and treated less as the essential key to a kind of relationship to making than as an aspect of the commodity in question, emphasis commodity or product). Making free software a regular, routine part of life is hardly objectionable. Gelling over those differences that make it more than just another commodity is.


Source: [Ksummit-discuss] [CORE TOPIC] GPL defense issues

Feds expect provinces to ratify free trade deal next year, with booze in the mix

The lede focuses on interprovincial alcohol commerce but that’s probably the least interesting part of the article. The most interesting, if not the most newsworthy, is the point made by the minister regarding immigration and its economic benefits to the region:

“Immigration is an economic driver,” he said. “Frankly, immigration was looked on in a very different light by the previous government. There was a lot of fear-mongering around immigration. It held back innovation, I think it definitely had a negative impact in the past.”

Canada’s provinces and territories will ratify a free trade deal next year and the federal government is pushing hard to include an ambitious liberalization of alcohol laws in the agreement despite provincial intransigence, the country’s economic development minister says.

Source: Feds expect provinces to ratify free trade deal next year, with booze in the mix

A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering: Attack of the week: FREAK (or ‘factoring the NSA for fun and profit’)

Matthew Green is a particularly interesting writer on cryptography, theory and practice. He’s joined the EFF in a lawsuit to undo one of the most contentious and problematical provisions of the DMCA, Section 1201, which limits a user’s rights over a digitally locked object. (See EFF sues US government, saying copyright rules on DRM are unconstitutional | Ars Technica .) The argument by the EFF is that the provision unconstitutionally limits free speech; Green relates the provision to his own work, cryptography and its use on behalf of the (US, at the least) public good, to argue that Section 1201 compromises his work, puts him in legal (and financial) jeopardy, and thus endangers US society. He makes a good case.

But this account below actually relates to issues that have less to do with copyright than with the ways we secure many of our routine electronic communications. And it’s told well.


With all that in mind, there’s a third aspect of SSL/TLS that doesn’t get nearly as much attention. That is: the SSL protocol itself was deliberately designed to be broken.

Source: A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering: Attack of the week: FREAK (or ‘factoring the NSA for fun and profit’)

Samsung Acquires Joyent, Twitter Buys Magic Pony and Accenture Buys Israeli Firm Maglan

That Samsung has bought Joyent is actually interesting news. Joyent is not an insignificant player in open source cloud. And it also has the frankly brilliant Bryan Cantrill, not to mention Scott Hammond and others. (I mostly know Bryan personally from Sun days and conference intersections.) Samsung has been quietly working in open source for some time (It had taken in a fair number of Sunnies) but its output has been—at least to me—less visible than others’. Much of this doubtless has to do with the nature of the software it’s worked on—Infrastructure, mobility, etc.: not user-facing apps. That won’t change with Joyent’s acquisition, but what will, I would surmise, is Samsung’s strength as a cloudy provider relative to AWS and others.


Samsung Electronics has agreed to acquire Joyent, Inc., a leading public and private cloud provider….

Source: Samsung Acquires Joyent, Twitter Buys Magic Pony and Accenture Buys Israeli Firm Maglan

What’s holding up Canada’s internet? • The Register

From the article, which accurately describes the general situation. The costs of fast Internet access (if you can get it, that is), are high; coupled with the extraordinarily high costs of mobile (Canada is one of the most expensive in the world for mobile), the urban consumer ends up paying considerably more for less than her cohort equivalent elsewhere.

Canada is seeking to transition from a resource-based economy towards one that is more knowledge-based. If we are to keep up with the Joneses in the G-20, we have little choice. This means businesses based on something other than cutting down trees and pulling oil out of the ground.

A brief examination of regulatory capture

Source: What’s holding up Canada’s internet? • The Register

Opinion: Reimagining the Paper | The Scientist Magazine®

Breaking down lengthy, narrative-driven biomedical articles into brief reports on singular observations or experiments could increase reproducibility and accessibility in the literature.

Source: Opinion: Reimagining the Paper | The Scientist Magazine®

Power tools: Sorting through the crowded specialized database toolbox | Ars Technica

With so many choices today, matching database to need isn’t getting any easier.

Source: Power tools: Sorting through the crowded specialized database toolbox | Ars Technica

Rational Faith: The Utility of Fairness in Copyright by Stephanie Plamondon Bair :: SSRN

The biggest debate in copyright law is also the most fundamental: for what purpose does copyright exist? There are two schools of thought about the appropriate

Source: Rational Faith: The Utility of Fairness in Copyright by Stephanie Plamondon Bair :: SSRN

When Is It Ethical to Withhold Prevention? — NEJM

From the conclusion:

Realistically, no framework that we could develop will eliminate what appear to be ethical inconsistencies between these different situations. But we can acknowledge that we currently have a systemic bias against prevention and that decisions about whether to provide or withhold proven preventive actions are not just tough budgetary choices, but are also ethical ones. Because withholding primary prevention leads to unnecessary suffering and death, I believe that as a society we should be just as creative in finding ways to pay for it as we have been in finding ways to pay for the penniless woman’s lung-cancer treatment.

I recently presented a paper on a subject close to this, on big data ethics. A framing argument had to do with the obligations “the public good” puts on agencies, public or not. The classic turn in the NEJM perspective is to be “realistic,” which is to say, recognise scarcity or the inability to satisfy all. But the conclusion also raises some deeply problematic terms, like “we” “as a society” and so on. Terms that assert a unified society and, thus, the possibility of an identifiable public good, or that which benefits the people as a whole.

I find the terms problematic not because I would disagree with the notion of  a “we” or of “society” to which the we would be belong or comprise it. It’s problematic because these same terms so easily become terms of division, of exclusion, not inclusion; of nations bounded by essential identities, wherein “culture” might as well be bred in the bone and not just what one does.

Yet, of course, medical decisions are inevitably nowadays financial ones, and no more so than in the US. It’s not likely to change soon or fast; and indeed costs are only going to rise. Which is where the logic of the public good comes into play, and solutions that serve that good and articulated by governmental agencies become very real.


Perspective from The New England Journal of Medicine — When Is It Ethical to Withhold Prevention?

Source: When Is It Ethical to Withhold Prevention? — NEJM

Jörg Blumtritt: Data driven storytelling: from facts to narratives – Content Strategy Forum 2014 – YouTube

At this week’s Strata+Hadoop conference, I had the great good fortune to meet and talk with Jörg Blumtritt of Datarella. And since then–since yesterday–have been going over some of the interesting work he’s generously posted. Like this: