Origin of Wealth is a very entertaining and captivating survey of recent developments in economics. He repeatedly takes traditional economic theories to task for failing to match real world empirical data while painting a picture of the economy as a complex, adaptive, and evolutionary system rather than the traditional overly simplistic system of market equilibrium. This is definitely worthwhile read.
August 16, 2008
January 3, 2007
I just finished Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig. This is a well written and historically grounded argument about the intellectual property (IP) “wars” being waged between IP distributors, the “Big Media”, and pro public domain advocates. He contends that there should be a limit to the rights afforded IP owners and creators. He also believes that those limits and regulations should be structured in away as to provide an effective incentive to creators in innovators to produce IP, but at the same time they should not afford monopolies to any single distribution industry or technology.
Our current laws do not accomplish this. I was a music performance major in college before switching to computer science. I have worked as a musician, teacher, film projector operator, and computer programmer. In all of my career, all of my money has been made through either the creation or dissemination of intellectual property. It is in my best interest for my IP property to be protected, but it has also been my observation that it seems that the biggest beneficiaries our current IP protections were the distributors. Lessig provides a historical perspective about why the law and market forces have established this system, and how this system once was, and could be again, different.
I have always been an active supporter of open source software, and the creative commons approach to content creation. I have argued for OSS from a technical perspective (security, reliability, vendor neutrality, etc.), and a strictly social-lefty standpoint (collaboration, community, greater good, etc.), but this is the first time I have seen the legal and economic argument laid out this completely and strongly. This is definitely a must read for anyone in the business of intellectual property.
February 12, 2006
I just recently finished reading Just For Fun, a biography of Linus Torvalds by David Diamond and Linus Torvalds.Â It provides an excellent insight into the ideology of the of the biggest names in open source programming.Â Torvalds life is told in a very light hearted style with comical self-deprecating comments on his ‘nerdiness’.
I was surprised to find that Torvalds was not the “all software should be open” zealot I had expected him to be.Â In fact, his politics lined up more with a libertarian point of view than a communist (in the true sense of the word) point of view.Â Sure, he has and sees problems with greedy companies fighting for their intellectual property tooth and nail, but he also sees the flip side and feels that ultimately it should be an individuals choice about what to do with their IP.
If you have at all been involved in developing open source software, or using it, Just For Fun offers a great insight into how and why it is created.
February 8, 2006
I am always hesitant to purchase new computer books since it seems that they will be outdated, or at least lacking the latest features, by they time you get them home. At forty bucks a book, this seems like a little bit of a waste, not to mention the space they take. Most computer books are rather thick, and justifying the extra space is difficult in a one bedroom apartment. Furthermore, computer books often fall into one of two categories: references that will be read occasionally but never straight through, and tutorials that will be read once and never again.
So, in light of this observation, I decided to try O’Reilly’s Safari Bookshelf for their 14 day trial period. I have been fairly impressed. You get a 10 slot bookshelf (the default level, you can pay more for more space) and access to most of the O’Reilly library (3600+ books). Though you are limited to checking out the ten books (most books are one slot, some are concidered two slots) at a time, they can leave your shelf after a month. This works fine for me as I don’t see myself reading 10 computer volumes in a month. I can keep the two or three tutorials I may be working on and fill the rest with references for current projects. The serveric after the initial 14 days is just $19.99 a month.
So far, I have been pleased with the service. It allows me to have access to the latest tech books for an affordable price, and doesn’t clutter my appartment.