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The biggest Open Source Software acquisitions ever

Posted by bryan on January 26, 2014 in E-Business with 1 Comment

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Logo Open Source Initiative

Logo Open Source Initiative (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Open Source Software (and more recently, even Open Source Hardware) have become not just rising trends but the de fact standard for true technology innovation. Open Source accelarates innovation due to the way it fosters a creative, cooperative environment and is usually (especially when compared to traditional IT) much more inclusive of ideas from people of all types, genders, races, nationalities, income brackets, etc.

When it comes to Open Source, the best ideas and most efficient solutions are typically those which get adopted. Contrast this to the way things work in Enterprise where a specific managerial opinion or corporate agendas often trump efficiency or quality of solution, and you can see why Open Source can offer many benefits to developers (especially independent developers, consultants or those in Enterprise who are luck enough to have some degree of autonomy). Whereas flashiness, certifications or accreditation (i.e. “reputation” of the company/technology being proposed to work with) can be most important in Enterprise; the ease-of-use and low cost for implementation/maintenance become top priority for Open Source. In addition, every commit, push/pull or merge is scrutinized for adhering to the very principles of Open Source; more than can be said in Enterprise where Code Review process may be extremely fickle, inconsistent or non-existent.

That said, Open Source is also quickly becoming big business. Major Enterprises from Fortune500 companies all the way to Government organizations are quickly adopting, utilizing and/or acquiring open source for their own business purposes. We’ve seen a particular heat-up in flat out acquisitions of Open Source companies, which presents some key questions, such as:

  • What happens to the community built around the project, library, or tool? Shouldn’t it be protected from being absolved and having blogs, forums, FAQs, docs, code repositories, and official website URLs taken down so they can live on somehow?
  • How about the community members who’ve contributed to the technology? Don’t they deserve a cut of the sales that the parent organization previously presiding over the open source software may have enjoyed in the acquisition?
  • When do current users of the software need to be legally given notice that the software will be commercialized and what their options are for continuing to use the software? Should they be “grandfathered-in” for continued access in some cases? Why not all cases?
  • Should there not be a requirement to maintain & support the last version before acquisition in the very least?

Here’s a quick summary table showing the top 20 of the biggest Open Source technology acquisitions of all-time (to date):

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FOAF and the Facebook Death Star

Posted by bcmoney on May 18, 2012 in E-Business, JSON, Semantic Web, Web Services, XML with 2 Comments

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An updated SVG of the FOAF logo...

The Facebook Death Star

Since the February confirmation of the Facebook IPO, Facebook has continued to stagnate in user-base yet as an organization it holds no punches as it attempts to grow internationally, and its stock price continues to soar as Class A shares finally open up to the average person (major investment firms had first dibs at the initial Class A shares released during the IPO). Facebook founder and owner Mark Zuckerberg maintains 58% control of the company through complete control of Class C shares and veto power over all Class B shares. This is indeed shaping up to be a new Galactic (global internet) Empire, similar to that sought by a young Annakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith. The new schematics for a seemingly unstoppable battle station would be the carefully-timed Facebook Timeline rollout along with Facebook Connect and OpenGraph protocol. So if one can draw vague parallels between Mark Zuckerberg and Darth Vader, who can play the role of the Emperor? An obvious choice would be early angel investor Petr Thiel of PayPal, but a more appropriate figure is Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, whose company owns approximately 2% of Facebook:

Symbolizing Facebook as the death star is hardly a new concept, just check out these previous references.

Enter the FOAF project and its RDF/XML data format for representing friendship connections in a social network, as well as personal interests and contact info. Although the FOAF file format is designed first of all to be machine readable, it is often desirable to be able to browse it as if it were a usual Web page.
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OpenRecommender v1.0 released!

Posted by bryan on November 11, 2011 in Semantic Web, Web Services with 1 Comment

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This is a post to announce the ALPHA release of OpenRecommender, version 1.0.


Project logo w. Chinese characters for 'Trust'

Have you ever wondered if there was a better way to find information on the web? Before today, there has been lots of ways from targeted search to surfing aimlessly, or from social sharing via SNS platforms like Facebook or Google+ to required reading assigned by professors, co-workers or managers by email (i.e. “Recommended reading”). Even “stumbling” across interesting content via tools like StumbleUpon, Digg and Delicious is also commonly mistaken as being a form of “recommendation” service. These tools are not Recommendation Engines though, they are most accurately described as Social Bookmarking tools (i.e. users must manually save something for later, or, “mark their place” so they can take up where they left off in browsing/reading). In fact these tools have some opportunity to become web-wide Recommendation Engines since links can be submitted on any topic, and some (such as Digg) even have “Related Content” suggestions that group item or user similarity, however the problem is that similarity is just one small measure of relevance for true recommendations. OpenRecommender identifies 15 algorithm types for generating high quality recommendations. The more the merrier, in fact, so any algorithm could be used as long as it can be ranked in real-time.

Today, I’m proud to be able to share a first look at a new approach that represents a “Recommendation” more completely than ever before. The OpenRecommender project ALPHA release realizes the first step in a talk I gave exactly one year ago at AWOSS 2010:

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BC$ = Behavior, Content, Money

The goal of the BC$ project is to raise awareness and make changes with respect to the three pillars of information freedom - Behavior (pursuit of interests and passions), Content (sharing/exchanging ideas in various formats), Money (fairness and accessibility) - bringing to light the fact that:

1. We regularly hand over our browser histories, search histories and daily online activities to companies that want our money, or, to benefit from our use of their services with lucrative ad deals or sales of personal information.

2. We create and/or consume interesting content on their services, but we aren't adequately rewarded for our creative efforts or loyalty.

3. We pay money to be connected online (and possibly also over mobile), yet we lose both time and money by allowing companies to market to us with unsolicited advertisements, irrelevant product offers and unfairly structured service pricing plans.

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