The goal of the Linux-Society (LS, dating back to the mid-90s as a professional club and tech-mentoring group) has been a purely-democratic Information Society; many of the articles are sociological in nature. The LS was merged with Perl/Unix of NY to form multi-layered group that included advocacy, project-oriented learning by talented high school students: textbook constructivism. Linux has severe limitations such that it is useless for any computer that will, say, print or scan. It is primarily used for webservers and embedded devices such as the Android. (Google is high-invested in it).

Technology is problematic. During the heyday of technology (1990s), it seemed it had the democratic direction Lewis Mumford said it should have in his seminal
Technics and Civilization.

Today, we are effectively stuck with Windows as Linux is poor on the desktop and has cultured a maladaptive following. Apple is prohibitive, and all other operating systems lack drivers, including Google's Android, an offshoot of linux.

In the late 90s there was hope for new kernels such as LibOS and ExoOS that would bare their hardware to programs, some of which would be virtual machines such as Java uses. Another important player was the L4 system that is a minor relation to the code underlying the Apple's systems. It was highly scientific but fell into the wrong hangs, apparently, and has suffered from having no progress on the desktop. There is a version, "SE" that is apparently running in many cell phones as specialized telecom chips, but is proprietary. SE's closed nature was only recently revealed, which is important because it is apparently built from publicly-owned code as it is not a "clean room" design it may violate public domain protections, and most certainly violates the widely-accepted social contract.

Recent attempts to enjoin into L4 development as an advocate for "the people" have been as frustrating (and demeaning) as previous attempts with the usual attacks to self-esteem by maladaptive "hacks" being reinforced by "leadership" (now mostly university professors).

In short, this leaves us with Windows, which is quite a reversal if you have read earlier posts here. But, upon Windows, we have free and open software development systems in the forms of GTK+ (the windows usually used on Linux) and the Minimal GNU Windows (MinGW and MSYS) systems. It is very likely this direction that development should go (that is, on Windows) such that s/w can then be ported to a currently-valid microkernel system that includes a driver system that can be adapted by hardware developers to reuse of their windows and apple drivers.

From a brief survey of L4, it appears that the last clean copy was the DROPS system of the early 2010s, was a German effort that used the Unix-like "OS kit" from an American University.

If we are going to be stuck on Windows, then it seems that a high level approach to free and open systems integration, such as creating fully transparent mouse communication between apps so that they can seamlessly work together as a single desktop (rather than deliberately conflicting). This would be very helpful for GIMP and Inkscape, both leading graphics programs that are strong in the special ways, but suffer from an inability to easily interrelate.

Another important issue is the nature, if you can call it that, of the "geek" or "hack." Technology is formed democratically but "harvested" authoritarian-ly --if I can coin a term that Mumford might use. Authority is plutarchy: a combination of aristocracy and oligarchy that is kept alive after all these millennia by using, or maligning, the information society as a part of the civilizing (or law-giving) process that embraces the dialectic as its method. Democratic restoration, that is to put humanity back on an evolutionary (and not de-evolutionary) track, I think, will require the exclusion of the "geek" from decision-making. As is, the free/open s/w culture attempts to give leadership to those who write the most lines of code --irrespective of their comprehension of the real world or relationship with normal users. We need normal people to somehow organize around common sense (rather than oligarchic rationalism) to bring to life useful and cohesive software and communications systems.

Interestingly, the most popular page on this site is about Carl Rogers' humanistic psychology, and has nothing to do with technology.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Technological Sharing, The MP3 Rebellion

With the advances of Internet networking to what we now call broadband, and innovations in the creation of electronic music files called MP3s, there suddenly developed along with the concept of the mass sharing of music through the Internet. People could query servers to find the machines of people who had converted their CDs into MP3 files and who made them available for sharing. Those downloading files would in turn would share their new files. Quickly the music industry complained and after various lawsuits over a period of a few years, the companies offering the query services where shut down. But, just as that was happening, a new distributed technology was created where there where no central servers providing information as the location of music to share. The is the Gnutella network, written with code created by e-mutualists in the public domain. Now, instead of using commercial servers to locate the songs, people’s machines relayed location information to each other in a more random matrix. There was no longer a commercial target for the music industry to focus on, only millions upon millions of Internet users. For a while it appeared that the majority of broadband users where engaged in this file sharing legally defined as piracy by industry lobbyists and politicians.

There were a few lawsuits but the likelihood of being sued by the music industry was even less than that of being struck by lightening. Eventually the music industry relented by allowing listeners to download individual songs legally, for a dollar each, rather than being forced to buy CDs, which are expensive, inefficient with respect to space and contain second-rate filler songs most listeners don't want to hear.

This small rebellion by such a large portion the people from wealthy nations was remarkable in many ways. It showed that a “Robin Hood” mentality exists with many people. The record industry, represented by examples of waste and hedonism such as scenes of rap stars dumping thousands of dollars of champagne on the floor to display their wealth could no longer hold the high moral ground. Possibly more important, this new Gnutella network represents a computer paradigm that is truly open, where all the different represented nodes of computers work with each other in total trust and, most important, there is no central controlling computer system or network. It is truly democratic and it benignly forced the controllers of the music to meet their needs for face tremendous losses.

Still more uses may come from the Gnutella network, it will very likely help independent artists to get a start in conjunction with web related promotions and fan networking. Also music historians can share access to rare and obscure recordings bringing back important examples of music that would otherwise be forgotten. Social networking would help enhance the computer networks effectiveness.

Moving away from the benefits of sharing music, a concept of sharing “computer abilities”, where the very code that runs the computers can be provided by neighboring computers. In combination with networking breakthroughs and more efficient code design, this distributed form of sharing would keep every computer up to date. Smaller devices, such as the "wearables", whose storage is limited, could throw away less used code and replace it with recently accessed code, and then throw away that code and get other code, giving them unlimited capabilities despite their small size and limited resources.


Memcco said...

Hi John van V., I was looking for peer to peer related info for my site at http://www.p2p-mp3-filesharing.com and thought I would check out some blog sites. I get sidetracked easily these days....getting old...lol. It was an interesting read. Thanks, mike

MikeMc46 said...

John van V.. Some of these blog sites have more info on them than the regular websites. I've been searching websites looking for peer 2 peer related info, I decided to try blog sites. And it seems like everybody has one but me. Anyway, I'm trying to improve the traffic flow to my site at http://www.p2p-mp3-filesharing.com and needed more substantive information I could use but got sidetracked again. Back to my search. Had fun though. Thanks John van V., Mike