Three Good Ideas From Gnomedex

When my aunt is looking at travel photos, she only wants to see my best three. In that vein, here are the three most interesting ideas that I heard at Gnomedex:

  • Tara Hunt: Software companies don’t necessarily have to aspire to become the 800 lb gorilla in a given sector (why can’t we have eighty 10 lb spider monkeys instead?).
  • Phil Torrone: Why don’t we have more open source hardware?
  • Mitch Ratcliffe: We need to open source the presidential election, providing way more acces and making it like a reality TV show. If the camera is constantly over the candidate’s shoulder, that might re-engage the populace. If you were an unlikely candidate in the primaries, it might make the difference.

Derek Miller appears to have the best summaries of the sessions.



  1. I don’t think there’s anything especially new about these ideas. My comments on them:

    – a lot of software companies ARE content being spider monkeys, but most of them have something in common – they’re private. Once you go public, the board is legally bound to do his best to maximize shareholder value, and often the best way to make a whole lot of money is to become really big.

    – In 20 minutes, I can sit down, write up a nice perl module, and throw it on CPAN. Anyone with an internet connection can then use my work, build off of it, modif y it, or just read the source for fun. What can I do if I’m a hardware engineer? Do I make copy my chip and give it out for free? Do I upload the VHDL in hopes that millions of enthusiasts out there will print off their own circuit board? It just seems like the possibilities of F/OS hardware are inately limited because of its meatspace dependency.

    – unfortunately, I think “open sourcing” elections (is that term starting to be applied to too many things?) would end up being a bad thing. Who do we trust to hold the cameras? Everyone knows that editing can make the same series of events look very different. This would also increase the importance of being “TV-friendly”, something I don’t necessarily want to judge a candidate on. For an easy example, look at the last two presidential elections – the more personable / TV-friendly candidate won, and we all know how well that turned out.

    Just a little ranting, hope it sparks some discussion 🙂

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