Webmink In Draft

Things cooking in the Minkiverse. They move elsewhere when the oven pings.

An interesting repeated motif in the anti-trust conference I attended yesterday in Brussels was the assertion that there is no big tech in Europe like there is in America and that Europe is sandwiched between big country (China) and big tech. The question I kept wanting to ask is “why is there nothing you recognise as 'big tech' in Europe?”

I did ask a few of the speakers this question and they seemed slightly bemused by it. The most stupid answer was someone who should know better saying Europe had spent all its energy on regulation and none of it on innovation – you may guess that was someone from the merger industry!

It's not like Europe has never had big tech. The dominant technologies in mobile phones arose from a European context and I can think of several other examples of world-monopolising technologies which have arisen in Europe in previous generations. I don't think it's overregulation either, although I defer to subject experts on that.

What I do wonder is whether the legacy big tech of the mobile & consumer electronics industries has a resulted in the regulatory capture of European standards by the winners of that event, and that has led to the stifling of each new technology wave as it has commenced in Europe. What innovation has happened has then moved elsewhere to avoid the problem, usually by acquisition.

To discuss this post please reply from Mastodon etc. (search for the URL) & include @webmink@meshed.cloud as WriteFreely still doesn't display replies. More.

(English)

Me presento de nuevo a la reelección para la junta de The Document Foundation (TDF) como candidato independiente. Lo más importante que necesita TDF es una visión unificadora para el futuro de #LibreOffice, la principal herramienta de preparación de documentos #OpenSource. He aquí el esbozo de una visión que propondría a los Administradores y a la Junta Directiva en caso de ser elegido, obviamente evolucionada en colaboración con ellos.

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(Español)

I am standing for re-election to the board of The Document Foundation (TDF) as an independent candidate again. The most important thing TDF needs is a uniting vision for the future of #LibreOffice, the leading #OpenSource document preparation tool. Here is the outline of a vision I would propose to the Trustees and Board if elected, obviously evolved collaboratively with them.

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If you are using an Intel-powered Chromebook, did you know you can install LibreOffice on it, as a local app? It's extremely easy!

  1. Enable the Linux subsystem and AppImage support
  2. In the Linux folder, create a folder called Applications
  3. Download the AppImage build of LibreOffice into the folder

That's it! ChromeOS will (probably) do the rest. Go to the applications menu (press the search button on the keyboard) and look in the “Linux Applications” group to launch LibreOffice. It's as easy as a Mac!

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Dear client,

Setting aside the challenges of using Zoom under ChromeOS and Linux, I have mostly been declining invitations to Zoom calls because of the terms they introduced from April 2023 in section 10 of their Terms of Service which seemed to force every user, with no opt-out to the Terms available and with recourse only via arbitration, to agree that Zoom could (whether they currently do or not):

  1. Train their AI on anything uploaded or created on Zoom (including transcripts and recordings) and use the consequent model for absolutely anything;
  2. Have indefinite and ownership-equivalent rights to do so in the future and
  3. Be indemnified by me if it turns out someone else owns the IP or has their rights infringed (for example to confidential materials everyone on the call is entitled to review).

Following public complaints they first tried to apply “you poor children don't understand” tactics and adding to the Terms to say they wouldn't do this (but leaving the terms that said they could intact), and then when that didn't fix anything they rolled back the whole thing again as if they were not using AI and it was not their fault that the whole thing happened..

Given Zoom did this once and were essentially unapologetic, they could do it again any time so I try to avoid using their service and will most likely just dial in by phone if I have to join your call.

I prefer Jitsi instead; it has equivalent functionality, is platform independent, is open source and can be self-hosted.

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A clause in a software license that says something that sounds as simple as “you must follow the law” is problematic in practice and likely to render the license unapprovable as open source. Here's why.

Sign on a gate saying "Please Leave Free To Swing"

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Graduated to a Meshed Insights article

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Of the many attributes of software freedom that could move to front-of-mind, it strikes me that the minimal license compliance burdens for open source software users are actually a comparative strength. Having them presented as a dangerous weakness by commercial interests in various contexts (what has been called “the compliance-industrial complex”) applies a “frame” that serves only the detractors of software freedom. No wonder proprietary vendors want to divert our attention! Open source is so much easier!

A woman sits strapped to the top of a bi-plane painted in US patriotic decor and about to take off

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During the discussions around European digital agenda legislation, I have frequently heard people proposing to define “open source” within a draft instrument. But that's a surprisingly difficult thing to do – it turns out that despite being a globally-understood term-of-art, capturing the whole thing in a phrase simple enough to use in a recital requires a great deal of thought and experience.

So people mostly defer to the OSI Open Source Definition, which is not designed for that purpose. This post considers three different ways to consider open source — knowing it when you see it, knowing it by its goals and knowing it by summarising its mechanism — and includes a recital-ready definition of open source for use in legislation that embodies the global consensus of its meaning.

Gold-coloured figure of a traffic policeman halting traffic, pictured on a glass surface above a keyboard

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Ultimately software freedom is a matter of personal liberty, however it is framed. Whether you describe it as “open source” or “free software”, the goal is for each individual user of software to be self-sovereign in their software and data. Where the privilege of choice is available, this is a matter of consciously choosing liberty, and it is strictly a matter for each individual to make a set of choices — which will necessarily be inter-related.
A gull in flight against a blue sky with a whisp of cloud

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