In his keynote this morning, Mark Shuttleworth sketched a future where by 2014 Ubuntu will be an universal platform on all devices with a screen. He mentioned Ubuntu-powered phones, TVs, tablets, cars, with the existing desktops and servers, all connected to the cloud. It’s a huge challenge.

I’ve been hearing this story of the universal operating system many times in the past 20 years and nobody has managed to come up with one. I’ve seen the failure of LiMo, Maemo and Meego later (not Tizen), WebOS and more in direct competition with iOS and Android on the mobile/embedded space. Mark may succeed where others have failed.

  • Reminder: logging out of Facebook is not enough. ShareMeNot is better http://t.co/n08mmXWf #
  • Next !Ubuntu version will solve my problem with Evolution, switch to Thunderbird and integrate with GNOME Evolution data storage #hope #
  • cryptic name for a neat online events engine http://ifttt.com/ #
  • For all Europeans: how to get ALL of the data that Facebook keeps about you, not just the things you uploaded http://t.co/2ZN1j3vI #
  • ♺ @wadhwa: Lawyers and patents both are inhibitors of innovation. Put them together and you have a lethal brew. 🙂 #
  • Study reveals Patent Trolls Cost The Economy Half A Trillion Dollars http://t.co/FbbcjJqx #swpat #
  • Answer my question on identi.ca: what's your favorite Android phone in the US and why? http://t.co/MAFMKzOR #
  • Samsung and Apple Clash in Dutch Court http://t.co/XNfltEYD #swpat #
  • Decreasing orders of IPad parts from China by Apple may not be what it seems http://j.mp/oVAS1F #
  • EU should note Microsoft, Skype bundling risks-rival http://j.mp/oTM4U6 #
  • agency IT departments will be busy managing data, not devices. http://j.mp/qcNv1a #
  • Spotify says it's made the move to promote better music discovery. That's lame and untrue. http://j.mp/qpqjAo #
  • The next step for OpenStack http://t.co/8nsOcSIs /via @tcarrez #
  • Anti-Google drones use Google services: because they're good! They want regulation not competition http://j.mp/oD99Pz #
  • A pony whose only trick got finally old? Zynga's Profits Down by 95% http://j.mp/pvCL9f #
  • Well, the price is right if it can be easily rooted: Amazon Unveils $199 Kindle Fire Tablet http://j.mp/pNmYNK #
  • Should we believe Zuckerberg? Facebook Defends Getting Data From Logged-Out Users http://j.mp/ralv9D #
  • Didn't you see this coming? Updated Skype iOS apps adds nasty, annoying advertising http://t.co/Ko6S0Xu0 #
  • Mercadolibre.com going live with OpenStack Diablo installation http://j.mp/nCE612 #
  • “We have to extend beyond cellular”, says Verizon < Yes, please, just be a pipe that transports data http://t.co/39jj1DYp #
  • Should You Donate To Open Source Projects? http://j.mp/p06sgM #
  • I tend to agree with this: what do you think? Why Facebook Works for All, Twitter for Some http://j.mp/qxiGF4 #
  • The dream will never die: Samsung joins forces with Intel, LiMo+Meego=Tizen http://j.mp/qqzbOm #
  • Dear @Ubuntu, CTRL-ALT-Backspace to kill X should be active by default! #
  • The new Facebook wants you to understand your life from the comfort of its walled garden. http://j.mp/oSYt3V #
  • Should You Donate To Open Source Projects? http://j.mp/p06sgM #
  • I don't know you, but I hate those ads: MediaPost Publications TidalTV Has Deal With Roku For OTT Video Ads http://j.mp/rjRXAx #
  • The evolution of Facebook: paying to be spied. Amazon's browser Silk will monitor consumer behavior http://j.mp/p5ymm5 #
  • T-Mobile wants to prevent U.S. ban on Samsung products http://j.mp/pFUctb #
  • Nokia, Siemens To Inject EUR1 Billion Into Nokia Siemens Networks http://j.mp/qdTEtC #
  • supercommittee to propose spectrum auctions to solve the financial crisis. Anybody remembers UMTS license crazyness? http://j.mp/qLhbo7 #
  • DOJ Puts Google/Motorola On Hold With Request For More Info http://j.mp/n4WL6Y #
  • Still valid after many years: Impact of the Creation of the Mozilla Foundation in the Activity of Developers http://t.co/968cJV69 PDF #
I spent many months together with IBM Italy during the first years of their ‘Linux initiative’ and learned to appreciate this huge corporation. I worked with their engineers certifying the now-defunct Linux distribution MadeInLinux for IBM x86 servers and later in a big marketing nation-wide tour to demonstrate the power of Linux to their massive VAR channel that had never heard anything good about Linux and Open Source before.

I was lucky enough to meet Irving Vladawsky-Berger, the brilliant strategist that helped shape the present of IBM, leading the Linux initiative. I consider myself lucky to have met one of the leaders that turned a huge ship around and brought it to modern times.

Nancy Koehn on HBR blog summarises the lessons worth sharing about IBM’s capability to Outlast Depression, War, and Competition

First there was Orkut, FriendFeed, MySpace. Then Facebook came and took 750 million people behind its wall as they eagerly connected with school friends, shared baby photos and played Farmville.

Now Google Plus, the coolest kid in the block, has arrived. Facebook and Google seem to be competing to build the best single website where billions of users go to keep in touch with their friends and family, get the news and more. But it doesn’t have to be this way: Google Plus can be part of a federation of social sites.

Google Plus is a good product that has already reached 10 million users with innovative features like Circles and Hangouts. Google plans to add API soon, so that outside developers can add even more features to it. Facebook, however, is not standing still: Mark Zuckerberg will keep adding features, improving the design and pushing the expansion of its great walled garden beyond 1 billion users. And the competition will continue, until the race is about who builds the biggest single garden.

There is one thing I believe Google can do to win this race now: change the rules of the competition. Google should make Google Plus the (biggest?) part of a federation of Plus-like sites. Imagine hosting providers like 1and1 or Rackspace offering Plus sites alongside their email and web hosting. I could run my own plus.maffulli.net and use that as a private space to communicate with my extended family around the world. The local church, the schools, all could run their own Plus and the participants in those group could still add people to circles across different domains, like you can send email regardless of where the recipient has her account. Google Plus is email on steroids and the Circles are the next generation of the addressbook.

Facebook is good at building walls: the site is designed to attract users inside, convince them with subtle tricks to leave their precious personal data on the site — then they sell that information to the highest bidder to serve ads.

Google, on the other hand, is good at crawling data across distributed sources and extracting information from it. By fostering the creation of thousands or millions of Plus-like sites, all linked together, Google can pull the rug out from under Facebook and end the competition.

Google has all the knowledge on how to make money out of such federated structure: email is a federation, the World Wide Web itself can be read as a federation. Google’s core competence is how to extract information from distributed data and use that to present valuable advertising to distributed services. Instead of billions of users on one site, think of tens of billions of Google Plus sites, most of them showing AdSense.

Do us a favor, Google: end the race, kill Facebook or Tulalip before it even starts and any other service that tries to build silos to contain users. Enable a federation on Google Plus and keep on innovating.

Article first published as How Google Can Win the Social Network War on Technorati.

After many years talking about the damages to innovation created by patents on software, I believe that the we can consider the battle won: the free software/open source movement should focus its attention on other battles.  While I agree with Florian Mueller that the Europeans are still pestered by patents on software, I believe that our campaign was to mainly raise wider awareness.

During the long march to reject the directive on ‘computer implemented inventions’ we put the issue of software patents in front of millions of Europeans, thousands of small businesses and hundreds of MEPs. We convinced the majority of  MEPs to reject, for the first time ever, a Directive approved by the Council. We started a debate about the threats to innovation posed by patents and we made sure the business community knew about the risks to their activity. The issues of patents on software and math are now visible to all those affected in the business community: entrepreneurs, small-and medium-size businesses and big business.

The business community at large is the ultimate victim of software patents. With trolls constantly at work, all companies face potential damage. Companies, small and big, are now aware of the problem and the debate about how to fix it is now a fire that burns on its own. Academics publish a lot more papers and research projects demonstrating that the current patent system is broken and dysfunctional and may be harming economic development of the US.

Looking at it strictly from the perspective of the free software movement: we won! We did our job, software patents are now a mainstream issue, our arguments are being pushed forward by people with vast resources, much more than the FSF or OSI can put together. I believe that Google, HTC, Apple, Microsoft etc. are the main victims of this stupid system. Some argue that the whole US and European commercial power is being harmed in the competition with China. Let them finish the fight: they have all reasons to want to change the system.  We as the free software movement can continue provide expertise when needed, follow the progress of the issue.

We need to liberate resources and energy for other fights that are still not mainstream: online privacy, DRM and locked devices are some that come to mind.

I believe that the victory in the European Parliament was and still is a full clear victory.  As Jack Welch teaches: celebrating a victory is always a good thing, even a small one.

I see a world of games, competitions, fun to be added to online communities using social currency platforms.

Social currency is shared information that encourages further social encounters. It’s not a new concept, but the social web increases its prevalence. In the web-based collaboration software platform called Rypple, a simple act of thanking someone on a team and using a badge as a way to show your gratitude is a form of social currency. A platform called Badgeville promises to add virtual rewards to your digital media property through leaderboards and virtual “badges” that act as reinforcements to reward certain behaviors and encourage others.

via Serious Play: The Business of Social Currency – David Armano – The Conversation – Harvard Business Review.

A discussion on identi.ca started by Bradley Kuhn when he said

I am becoming increasingly convinced that if your #FLOSS project needs a “Community Manager” or similar position, it’s in trouble.

The conversation that followed on identi.ca  doesn’t seem to consider two things: FLOSS projects are often the effort of for-profit (or simply revenue seeking, as you prefer) organizations and that there is lots of interesting projects out there. Putting aside the objectives to raise funds, the competition between FLOSS projects is what’s interesting most. As a community manager I have learned that projects compete for attention of contributing developers. Attention is rare and to find it is a full time job.

A good community manager focuses on getting the attention from developers, so they chose to contribute to your project instead of going to another one. While others in the organization can focus on developing software, finding sources of revenue, assuring quality and the rest of the stuff, the community manager must focus on grabbing attention.

I think that when FLOSS projects outgrow the basement where they start they need somebody inside the group that can look outside, to users and contributors.

I was very concerned when DG Competition announced that they needed to take more time to investigate the merger of Oracle and Sun because of MySQL. The deal for me seemed not only natural for business reasons, but also naturally neutral towards consumers.  MySQL is safe also in Oracle’s hands because the project, with so many big companies knowing its internals, is basically too big to fail now. Even if Oracle should decide not to finance its development (which makes absolutely no business sense for them) there should be enough providers out there capable of offering support to users and further its development (software patents threat excluded).

I’m very happy that Funambol has sent a letter to European Commissioner Neelie Kroes asking her to approve rapidly the Oracle + Sun merger. I totally agree with Fabrizio Capobianco, Funambol’ CEO, put all his

The database market is highly dynamic, and the software on which these enterprises are built can neither be owned nor their development paths easily controlled or curtailed.

And the damage for this wait is huge, not just for the companies, but for the employee. With Sun loosing $100Million per month, there is not much time to waste. Says Fabrizio:

The alternative to a full merger is likely to be the exit of SUN Microsystems from the database market. […] Their likely exit from the market will harm the open source software market and further entrench the position of proprietary software providers.

I hope that Commissioner Kroes listens and that Funambol’s letter can help clear her doubts.