The Real Paul Jones

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Date: 1/11/2005

Giving Patents Back to the Commons

The news is alive with the rustle of pundits trying to make sense of IBM‘s giving 500 patents [list of the patents in PDF] back to the Commons (or in this case the Open Source Community). There are over 160 stories in Google news on the subject.
Not one to be left out, I too took a call from a local paper (also known as the News and Observer — hopefully called “Nuisance and Disturber” when I was in school) to opine on “what does it mean?”
Since my contribution may not make the paper tomorrow as the number of stories begin to push over 200, I give it here:

IBM is one of the biggest patent holders in the world. It takes a lot of guts to step up to the plate and not only say that the patent system in the US is badly broken, but to also here are some patents back. Things that should not have been patented. Things (processes or inventions) that should be out there free so that they could facilitate innovation. IBM need not give up all their patents, only the ones that should not have been patented in the first place, patents that were filed as a defense against false patent claims later.

Matthew Szulik,
CEO of Red Hat, was also adamant about false and defensive patents during his talk today. Red Hat has assigned several patents to the Free Software Foundation, he said, in order to make sure that the processes remained free for all to use.

UPDATE: The N and O story is out and I’m not in it. I must become more pithy and less insightful! The story is a remix of yesterday’s NYTimes story with two paragraphs of local quotes dropped in. The NYTimes reporter is credited and the local reporter “contributed to this story.”

Tech Pres jokes – NetApp edition

Thomas Mendoza has been taking public speaking lessons. This is my guess anyway. And I do have a basis for it. His stance. His timing. His presence. The are all studied but casually studied and friendly.
He had several cute jokes. Here’s one.

Backgound: Yahoo! is a major client of NetApp having bought petabytes and petabytes of fileservers.

Mendoza is out to dinner a few weeks before the Google IPO. His dinner partners were the Google founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and his boss NetApp Board Chair Don Valentine.
In the course of the meal, Mendoza pitches NetApp solutions to Google only to be rejected by Page who goes on about how Google has such brilliant people that they design their own storage systems etc and will never buy a NetApp.
Soon after the bill is delivered. Brin pushes the bill over to Mendoza. Mendoza pauses for a minute. He realizes that these folks are 1) weathier than even he can possibly imagine or will be in two weeks 2) are not going to be his customers. He says as much to Brin and passes the check back.
Brin looks up and says. We make you rich without buying a single NetApp.
How so? asks Mendoza.
We brought out Gmail with gobs of free storage which was a slap in the face to Yahoo! What did they do? They immediately called you up and bought a whole large batch of NetApps. You pay.
And Mendoza did.

The Localness of local news

My collegues, Phil Meyer and Jock Lauterer, were two of the guests on yesterday’s State of Things call-in discussion show on WUNC. They were joined by Ken Ripley of the Spring Hope Enterprise. Along with them was, Robert Ashley, the new editor for the now-Paxton-run Durham Herald-Sun who had, as Rickie Ricardo would say, “Some ‘splanin’ to do.” The Paxton Group recently took over the Herald Sun and immediately and without ceremony canned over 20% of the staff from top to bottom.
I, like many of you, listened to the show in the WUNC SoT Archives as I was in a very exciting faculty retreat almost all day yesterday.
I did catch the end of the show during the evening rerun. Enough to hear Phil challenge newspapers to get out and make mistakes, to take audacious chances and to change the business. This was in a response to a call from “David from Greensboro” who asked if the Herald Sun might follow the Greensboro News and Record’s ground breaking staff blogging effort.
Ruby has some comments on this and other parts of the show on

On listening to the archives, I’ve been enjoying Jock’s insights into the odd space that the Herald Sun occupies. Jock says that the Durham newspaper market is like a teenager — not quite a full grown daily and a community newspaper. Sometimes it shows itself off, flexing its muscles, then it panics and retreats to smaller more local behavior.

Phil Meyer is as deep and insightful as always describing the odd travels of newspapers over the past few decades esspecially the changing advertising market and the changing nature and competition in classifieds.

During call-ins, resourceful Fiona Morgan of the Independent makes up for the fact that Ashley wouldn’t return her calls. She jumps into the fray quickly naming names of those who were let go — more that Ashley had confessed to. He split hairs on who was a reporter and who wasn’t. The conversation turns to a discussion of news cartooning which Ashley (thinking now of Jock’s comment) says is no longer merited in a market the size of Durham. Jock also laments the firing of Ross Taylor the photographer. The gist seems to be that the paper is thinking like a small town paper (in Jock’s definition).

Today’s show will be Latino Media in North Carolina.

Off to presentations by NetApp President Thomas Mendoza and Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik.

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