Free software campaigns

Windows 7 Sins

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) have launched an attack on Windows 7 by dropping 499 of the Fortune 500 companies a letter advising them to consider a switch to Free Software instead of Windows 7. Theres also been a protest and site setup for the whole thing.

I'm quite critical of the FSF's approach to these things but the only reason why is because I think there in the grand scheme of things actually right. But they seem to go about it in such a odd way. Yes writing letters to the CEOs sounds good but honestly, do they think this will make any difference let alone will anyone actually admit . to reading it? So the message is falling on deaf ears? Does it gather any additional publicity? Maybe. They could have done with something a lot more effective like the Freedom Fry thing, although I got to say it was odd having Stephen Fry giving a speech about software and hardware freedoms while being a big Apple consumer. By the way his latest podcast is well worth listening to. Actually it would be good to have a FSF podcast thinking about it, something like Linux Outlaws but less tech and more laws and infringements.

So my main gripe about the FSF is the scale and scope of some these things they do. I think they need to be more like Creative Commons in there tackfulness and campaigning but also consider much more smarter ways to raise awareness like how Firefox did. One of my worries is that unlike those other successful campaigns the FSF guys are not very good about being native to the web. Which is strangely ironic because with the work going into HTML5 and the mobile web, it seems like a really good time to be native to the web. So with a more refined look at the web the FSF could be pushing good system and practices. For example I've not seen any link to the Open Microblogging standard on the FSF site. In the darker corners of there site, there are some interesting things. The Play OGG one is a no brainer right? Even my Pacemaker editor exports OGG over MP3 for the exact reasons of cost There are some other campaigns which I think deserve as much attention like FreeBios, GNUPDF and a Free software replacement for Skype.

Actually the last one is very important, we're looking at alternatives in BBC R&D for cheap, effective P2P video conferencing. Skype does the job but its restricted in its quality and size which is a pain when your on a super thick pipe using a 2 megapix video camera. My real bets for a solution lie in the work Google has done recently in the video space.

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Exposing the myth of digital native generation

In the New York Times yesterday was a piece about how a certain teenager would text most of the day away but wouldn't use twitter, saying quote I just think it’s weird and I don’t feel like everyone needs to know what I’m doing every second of my life. The post goes on about how its not Teenagers driving the usage of Twitter and then starts to look at how the traditional view of early adopters being teenagers is no longer correct.

Twitter, however, has proved that “a site can take off in a different demographic than you expect and become very popular,” he said. “Twitter is defying the traditional model.”

In fact, though teenagers fueled the early growth of social networks, today they account for 14 percent of MySpace’s users and only 9 percent of Facebook’s. As the Web grows up, so do its users, and for many analysts, Twitter’s success represents a new model for Internet success. The notion that children are essential to a new technology’s success has proved to be largely a myth.

Adults have driven the growth of many perennially popular Web services. YouTube attracted young adults and then senior citizens before teenagers piled on. Blogger’s early user base was adults and LinkedIn has built a successful social network with professionals as its target.

The same goes for gadgets. Though video games were originally marketed for children, Nintendo Wiis quickly found their way into nursing homes. Kindle from Amazon caught on first with adults and many gadgets, like iPhones and GPS devices, are largely adult-only.

So finally will people stop thinking of early adopters as teenagers? Will the eternal myth that all teenagers are digital native finally go away? I'd certainly like to think so, but I sadly doubt it.

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