The Real Silicon Valley

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Mike Masnick gets it again:

many folks look at Silicon Valley and try to replicate the outward manifestations (a good university, some venture capitalists) and miss the underlying details that create the real culture of Silicon Valley, because they almost seem counterintuitive. And the most basic element of this is enabling the free exchange of ideas (that engine for growth). Instead of doing that, most focus on protecting ideas and limiting that free exchange, falsely believing that hoarding information beats sharing information (even with competitors).

So, what happens is that other countries set up their own Silicon Valleys by focusing on protectionism (greater intellectual property rules, non-competes, hugely funded labs), and ignore the power of the cross pollination of ideas and people throughout Silicon Valley, which make it that much more difficult for any single company to abuse the trust of the people they serve. Should any company turn away from benevolence, that openness almost guarantees a more open competitor shows up in return (sometimes with the same employees from the older company). That openness drives innovation, but also keeps these benevolent dictators honest.

Saint Firefox, Defender of the Weak

News that Firefox 3.x will be adding support for Ogg Theora and Vorbis is welcome, since the latter find themselves in a typical Catch-22 situation: nobody uses them because nobody supports them. But I was struck by the following comment:

there is a risk to bundling even an open source codec like Theora because of the possibility of submarine patents -patents nobody knows about until a product that unknowingly infringes it, succeeds, becoming a target for the patent owner who will seek monetary compensation and a good licensing agreement. This is why the HTML 5 spec doesn’t recommend any encoder so vendors don’t have to choose between taking this kind of risk or not complying with the standard.

During today’s announcement at the Products and Technology Roadmap Mozilla Summit session, Mitchell Baker commented that Mozilla would be a bad target as it is a project with a product a lot of people cares about.

Mike Shaver, interim Mozilla’s VP of Engineering, also commented “Somebody had to do it. It’s good it was us”.

Indeed. And it's further proof of the ever-more central position of Firefox in the free software ecosystem.

Originally posted at Open... This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales Licence. Please link back to the original post.

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