Sunday, February 19, 2006

European effort to compete with Google/Yahoo, and local open source advocacy

France and Germany want to compete locally with Google and Yahoo which makes sense. Setting aside hype about web 2.x, internet bubbles, etc. I think that we can agree that the future prosperity of any country depends strongly on home-grown technology, a great educational system, and a (relatively) honest government to promote commerce and free trade with fair laws that balance public and business interests. (Huge and economically inefficient military superpowers are so 19th and 20th century. I hope that economic superpowers will be our future: economic efficiency making militaristic inefficiency irrelevant. Economic superpowers do not, by my definition, necessarily have to be large countries or corporations: I am talking about the efficiency and wealth generated per person.)

Every time I hear about a country starting a national program adopting Open Source, I also think that they are doing the right thing for long term economic and technical power. Really, what country should depend strongly on proprietary software written and owned by a company in a foreign country? I expect to see hardware and network costs go down (both better power efficiency and purchase price) and software to become a commodity - but software services as a business will grow. The only thing that I see as a possible problem for my rather optimistic outlook on the IT industry is last ditch efforts by a few corporations and corrupt governments to enforce a general lack of social and business freedom through DRM and hardware devices that might keep businesses and organizations from getting maximum economic utility from the computer equipment that they own.

I believe that countries that do not honestly promote business and free enterprise while protecting public interests will simply be "routed around" (in the internet sense :-) and will fall by the economic roadside.

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