Why Open Access for Textbooks is Inevitable


Nice summary here:

With high up front costs and (relatively) low marginal costs, textbook publishing is like other media: the big winners are obscenely profitable and the losers have no hope of turning a profit. Thus, textbook publishers are exactly like record labels: they grew accustomed to high profit margins on winners both to cover their losers, but also to transfer wealth to shareholders and executives.

Without practical or legal protection, that business model will be as extinct as the dodo bird. It happened to CDs, it’s happening to textbooks, and movies are next. The publishers’ anti-piracy czar said “It is troubling that there is a culture of infringement out there.” No duh.

Unfortunately the author then goes on with a complete non-sequitur:

I’m really furious at both the publishers and these student self-appointed Robin Hoods, because together they are creating a generation of information pirates. To all these students studying organic chemistry: would you really prefer a world without IP — that instead of having a job producing information, you will instead have a job making things, delivering personal services or digging ditches? Is that really your nirvana?

A "world without IP" does not imply that everyone ends up digging ditches: it simply implies that business models are not based on exploiting one-sided intellectual monopolies.

I (and many others – hello Mike) have written much about the alternatives to the "eye-pea" mentality, but if you want a single counter-example you could do worse than consider how open source companies make money. Hint: it's not by locking up their code. Although the GNU GPL *does* depend on copyright law to function, that's simply - if paradoxically - to make it available for all, not to forbid such re-use, which lies at the heart of the traditional copyright system.

Open Domotics

Marc Fleury has already written computer history once when he set up JBoss with a new model of holding all the copyright in the code - hitherto the coders usually owned their own contributions, as is the case for the Linux kernel - and a bold move up the enterprise stack into open source middleware. That paid off very nicely for him - and why not? - and now he's back with what looks like another very interesting move:

I have been studying a new industry lately, it is called Home Automation or Domotics in Europe. It is really a fancy name to describe the age old problem of "why can't my mom operate my remote". Every self respecting geek has one day felt the urge to program his or her house. Home Automation in the field is lights, AV, AC, Security. Today it is a bit of an expensive hobby, even downright elitist in some cases, but the technology is rapidly democratizing, due to Wifi, Commodity software/hardware, the iPhone and the housing crisis.

Although Fleury is a hard-headed business man who speaks his mind, he's also a true-blue hacker with his geekish heart in the right place:

We are an Open Community in Domotics, product design is rather open. We provide a hardware reference implementation on Java Linux it will help us develop but also provides the physical bridge to IR/RS/Ethernet/wifi. On the software side use JBoss actually as the base for our server leveraging packaging and installation. It is an application of JBoss in a way. We use Java to map protocols.

Open domotics - worth doing for the name alone.

India's $10 Laptop


"The government aims to provide 10-dollar laptops to students and research in this direction is on," said D Purandeshwari, Minister of State for Human Resources Development in New Delhi.

Well, at that price, it won't be running Windows - unless Microsoft prices it *negatively*, which it might be driven to.... (Via Valleywag.)

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.

Now read Glyn Moody’s Open Enterprise blog

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