CyberTech Rambler

July 24, 2006

How important is neutrality?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 6:23 pm

How important is neutrality when it comes to collaboration? A lot.

When IBM decided to form the Eclipse Foundation to take Eclipse out of its hand, I thought it is just a manouver to placid other companies (and competitors) that wants to use Eclipse. In Dana Gartner’s podcast, one of his interviewee says that this decision is important for his company’s adoption of Eclipse as its standard platform. Still, I dismiss it. Ultimately, I thought, whoever is in charge is not important, the way the software evolves and how much the core developers listen and act on feedback is.  This is partly shaped by my experience in academic world, where there is suppose to be a “free flow” of information. More on this later.

As usual, I need a wakeup call.  It came in the form of an article talking about Microsoft’s requirement for attendees to its Windows Security Conference to sign a document that allows “Microsoft to use whatever anyone says in the conference”. The important factor to me is that this is a routine document, one that a lot of other security companies routinely signed in previous conferences of the same kind. However, this time, something changed. Microsoft is now in the security market. Suddenly, signing this document become a dilemma for security companies. There is no doubt on the importance of Microsoft organized security conference for their product. Security requires Microsoft, making of the ubiquitous Operating System, cooperate with security companies to secure the operating system. However, this time round, examplified by the document, everyone is fearing that they give Microsoft an edge over them. We see a conflict of interest here. This is a very simple scenario that even I, a pighead, can understand.

That makes me reevaluate my participation in conferences. On reexamine it, I find that I do withhold information about my work plans etc for the fear that others might “steal” my idea and most importantly, get there first! I am sure others have the same thoughts as well. Nevermind that most of the projects over here requires a lot of money, meaning that things are more-or-less in the open as others can see from your grant applications, I am going to hide what I am doing, and spring it out as a surprise 2 years later when I get there first!

To be honest, I did think that the two years gap is short enough that discussion at conferences can be considered “Open” before. Right now, I have doubts. This does not seem any shorter than the speed we see technologies appearing. The only difference is that companies normally launch it as a new product, but we launch it in conferences or as journal publication.

Hmm, interesting ….

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