Measuring Help
Monday November 27th 2006, 15:39h
Filed under: Development Cooperation, Politics

Last Friday I visited the for me revealing conference “Is Africa suffering from too much development aid?” of Alliance Sud in Bern. With 300 participants it was completely booked out since there is currently a heated discussion going on about efficiency of development cooperation and particularly the one in Africa. The article “Sehnsucht nach der Kolonialzeit” (strange, the text is instead of most of the Weltwoche articles available for free…) shows the populistic arguments of the critics, based on Easterly’s book oversimplifying the matter. The speech by Peter Niggli on the African blues describes for instance the historically complex background of the issue so the weakness of general critique on African development aid becomes obvious. And if someone still prefers fighting on the lower levels, have a look at last weeks Arena discussion on the exact same topic (also available as video stream).

Open Source Before the Next Hype
Wednesday November 22nd 2006, 16:47h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, Linux

Actually, the ISB conference on Monday that I co-organized was titled “Open Source After the Hype”, however, after listening to the various speakers I think we’re still before or at least within the OSS hype. Because it seems like it’s still some sort of believing if OSS will come or not. Well, judge yourself and listen to the 16 speeches (unfortunately Gartner didn’t agree on publishing their presentation) we recorded on MP3 (sorry, next year it will be OGG) and have a look at the nice photos Peter took during the day. Highlight was definitively Florian Schiessl from Munich’s OSS migration project LiMux - such a great case study that he had to do another presentation in the evening again in Zürich. Many thanks to Munich and all the best for their great pioneer project!

OSS Conference

How to Not Kill Your Ubuntu
Sunday November 19th 2006, 15:37h
Filed under: Ubuntu

After a couple times accidently shooting down my Ubuntu by using the great feature of typing — and thus terminating X Windows I figured out on a list of great Ubuntu enhancements how to protect my work from my unhandy writing skills: Go to your Xorg configuration file at /et/X11/xorg.conf and add at the end:

Section "ServerFlags"
    Option    "DontZap"    "yes"

Always One Step Ahead
Tuesday November 14th 2006, 20:22h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, Politics, Research

Before leaving office I have to write a final blog post today - I just can’t resist… On heise open I just noticed the publication of another OSS report by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO, this time concerning OSS in German public administrations. As I’ll moderate next Monday’s OSS conference of the ISB I’ll definitively quote some parts of our obviously much more mature brother’s current findings:

Wie in dieser Studie gezeigt werden konnte, führt Open Source Software verstärkt zu regionaler Wertschöpfung und stärkt das Innovationspotenzial der IT-Unternehmen. Um diese Basis weiter zu stärken, sollten EU-Kommission sowie Bundes- und Landesregierungen verstärkt bestehende Mittel in die Förderung von Informationstechnologie und Open Source Software umschichten. Das bietet die Chance, dass aus öffentlichen Mitteln wieder »öffentliche Güter« in Form von Open Source entstehen, die dann sowohl öffentlichen Einrichtungen aber auch IT-Unternehmen zur wirtschaftlichen Verwertung frei zur Verfügung stehen.

Finally Libre Sunny Coffee
Tuesday November 14th 2006, 15:16h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, Research

Yesterday’s open source news headline was clearly held by Sun finally publishing Java below the GPL. In the Heise interview (in German) with Sun’s director of web technology Tim Bray he explains why free revealing of knowledge makes economically and technically sense for the high tech company - another motivator to quickly finish my Open Source Jahrbuch 2007 article on this issue…

The Evil of a Sleepless Night
Tuesday November 14th 2006, 13:37h
Filed under: Private

Dienstanweisung für einen Unterteufel. Things I usually don’t read are - books. It’s sad to admit, but somehow I prefer to read newspapers, Economist articles or academic papers, but not books. They are usually just too long for my impatient nature so I lay them aside after a couple of pages… However, in 5 hours of today’s sleepless night, I read one of my first novels since high school at a draught: The Screwtape Letters (in German: “Dienstanweisung für einen Unterteufel“) written 1941 by C.S. Lewis, the inventor of Narnia. I had started to read it years ago, but never finished. Strange enough, since it’s really a fascinating story of the orders of head devil Screwtape to his nephew on how to get his human patient to hell - a recommendable reading for everyone thinking there’s no such thing as evil.

Promoting the Penguin
Monday November 13th 2006, 12:51h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, Research

This Thursday, Nov 16th from 12h to 14h there will be an Innovation Brown Bag presentation at our chair focussed on open source software. Prof. Joachim Henkel of TU München will speak about his and Oliver Alexy’s working paper “Promoting the Penguin: Who is Advocating Open Source Software in Commercial Settings?”:

The engagement of individuals and corporations in Open Source Software (OSS) projects has received considerable research attention. Yet, the diffusion process of OSS engagement within corporations is largely unknown, as are the reasons why individuals in their role as employees consider and, eventually, decide to engage in OSS. In this paper, using concepts of innovation diffusion by Rogers and Davis’ Technology Acceptance Model we analyze individuals’ tendency to get their company and themselves involved into OSS. We find that the intention to engage in OSS has in many cases not yet transformed into actual engagement, and analyze the reasons. For this, we introduce inventories on innovativeness and openness to OSS research and analyze in how far they influence an employee’s view on OSS. We also consider the impact of peer influence and promoting behavior. We find that benefits to the corporation play an important role in employees’ evaluation of OSS. Still, its further diffusion and an increased commitment culminating in the revealing of proprietary software are inhibited by a fear of organizational change and a lack of promotors.

About Naked Skin on Walls
Sunday November 12th 2006, 21:38h
Filed under: Politics

Well, yes, with correct stuff it’s always much harder to get public attention, so this is NOT a blog post for more naked skin on the walls… It’s the opposite: On November 30th, the “petition against sexist advertisement” is handed over to the Swiss government - so hurry up if you want to be #13′000 signing up. And whoever is getting bored by all these 90-60-90 girls posted on every street advertisement may get a smile by watching this smart Dove movie, showing the wonders of make-up and Photoshop.

Meeting Mrs. President
Friday November 10th 2006, 0:22h
Filed under: Fairtrade

Last week we started the grass root action “Fairteilen” in four Swiss cities. Armed with bundles of little cards with fairtrade slogans like “Fair ist mehr” (fair is more) we talked to pedestrians and tried to convince them to hand-in these fairtrade cards while shopping in a non-fairtrade store, using the “Fairteilen-Leitfaden” as a guideline. One of them was Mrs. Micheline Calmy-Rey, Swiss federal council, accidently passing by the booth and being informed about fairtrade by Heiner Studer, national council of the EVP. So maybe she already distributed some of the cards on her this week’s visit at EU in Bruxel ;)

PS: Today there was a review article in the newspaper “Der Bund” about food labels in Switzerland. Although the research study of WWF, Vier Pfoten and Konsumentenschutz was critized by several lower ranked organizations, the Max Havelaar Stiftung (Schweiz) fairtrade label got rated among the bests.