Tumbling and twittering

From an SvN Sunspot I was pointed to Ricky’s rant about Tumblr

“Words have relative values. Someone who talks a lot has less value to their words than someone who rarely speaks. But when that quiet person speaks, people listen. When you publish 20 posts a day, your individual posts lose value.”

So I guess by that metric Tolstoy has no ‘value’ give that he wrote what has become the definition of a weighty tome (the first version of War and Peace I found on Amazon has 1296 pages). Quality and quantity are not necessarily inversely related – the words of someone who rarely speaks but says something stupid are not more valuable than the words of someone who tells an engaging story all night. And vice versa.

Also linked on SvN was this follow up from Fred Graver which has pop at Twitter

“It’s why I hate Twitter. There’s more of a chance that my dog will type Ulysses than that I’ll get an intelligent Twitter message… Why? Because WRITING IS THINKING. Good writing reflects good thinking. It’s why we go through multiple drafts of anything… to get to what we REALLY want to say.”

Which strikes me as equally silly. No-one needs the pressure of trying to write Ulysses for every type of communication – sometimes the word just needs to get out quickly and easily without much thought. Besides haven’t we all hit the witty one-liner almost without thinking, in amongst all our unthinking undrafted realtime chatter – and this seems to me what twitter is best for; simple, realtime, chatter (intelligence optional).

Please, Ricky and Fred, don’t take it all so seriously.

More Android questions

As ever a bang upto date follow up on Andriod (i.e. about a week late). See the previous post for disclosure and background (if you’ve been living under a rock).

First up; one of my concerns is that, given the non-reciprocal nature of the licence, it would require extreme discipline from all parties to not fragment the platform. Well fear not, ZDNet reports that everyone in the OHA has signed a non-fragmentation agreement

“All of the partners have signed a non-fragmentation agreement saying they won’t modify [the code] in non-compatible ways,” said the spokesperson. “That is not to say that a company that is not part of the OHA could not do so.”

Without seeing the agreement and not being a lawyer I have no idea how enforceable such an agreement would be. As ever the devil would be in the details – defining fragmentation, or ‘modifying code in non-compatible ways’.

Also on ZDNet is an interesting interview with Andy Rubin, director of mobile platforms at Google,

“The platform is completely open in a variety of ways. Of course it has open APIs, but it’s also open source, and it being open source means it’s (open to inspection).

So expect to have the entire industry crawling all over the source base, trying to make sure that there aren’t security issues, and there aren’t inefficiencies in how the platform is designed.”

But when exactly will we get to do that? Before or after the first phones ship?

The alliance is completely open. It’s not a closed thing; it’s not a club. We welcome anybody. Members who wish to join the alliance actually have to contribute something, so I encourage people to join and contribute.

So it’s a little unclear but it seems you have to contribute first and then get to be a member. Who decides? Google? Some percentage of the existing OHA members?

As ever with these kind of interviews it’s always easy to pick out something to poke at but this was too tempting;

Apple has a great business in building really, really high-quality consumer products, and the platform that we’re building can go into a lot of different products.

Including really, really low-quality products presumably.

Do Androids dream of open handsets?

Like sogrady, I have a few questions (and no answers yet) about the whole Open Handset Alliance / Android announcement.

DisclaimerDisclosure: My employer develops software for mobile and embedded devices and one of our clients, OpenMoko, has developed the worlds first 100% open mobile communication platform. And as usual these are my opinions and not those of any employers past or present.

So my questions resolve around community and governance;

Q: Is Android going to aim for a community around the code or is it simply code thrown over the wall with an Apache2 licence stuck on the crate?

Opinion: There are too many open source savvy people at Google for me to think that they are just going to throw code over the wall, even if that is how it appears atm.

Q: If it is supposed to be a community, i.e. OHA/Android are going to actively solicit outside involvement and contribution, how is that going to work? Who gets copyright? What’s the process for eventually getting SVN access.

Opinion: As I’m sure Luis would point out there are many open source projects that don’t have this clearly sorted, so in that sense Android isn’t on it’s own. However given the involvement of so many corporations you’d think this would have to be sorted, for their own sakes, up front.

Q: Since the FAQ makes great pains to point out that the Apache2 licence avoid all that ‘viral’ GPL nastiness and allow proprietary extensions of the platform, what’s to stop a handset manufacturer or carrier add a tonne of proprietary stuff to the phone which you can’t get rid of? As a 3rd party developer how is this better / more liberating than developing on top of Windows Mobile or Symbian?

Opinion: It seems to me that the whole drive here is to attract developers with the promise of an open platform. A platform where ’..application could call upon any of the phone’s core functionality such as making calls, sending text messages, or using the camera,…’ or ’… does not differentiate between the phone’s core applications and third-party applications. They can all be built to have equal access to a phone’s capabilities…’. I have nothing against the Apache licence per se, but given this is an alliance of a large number of companies, many of whom could be considered competitors, working in a very competitive market, it’s going to take an inordinate amount of discipline to not use the proprietary extension property of the Apache licence for ‘competitve advantage’, with 3rd party developers getting caught in the crossfire. I hope I’m wrong.

[So this sat in Draft mode all week, and I finally found a minute to tidy up here and there and push it out, just as the SDK is about to be released]