Archive for February, 2009

Orwell’s Twitter

February 13, 2009

I’ve said in the past that I don’t quite get what’s so attractive about Twitter and I’ve argued that what it was looking for was some kind of killer app. This prompted a conversation (by that 20th century technology – email – I’m afraid to confess) with my friend from university, Martin, about what you could actually do with the technology.

Being an inventive chap he went away and came up with something. As an ardent sailor he’s familiar with modern navigational technologies such as AIS, a system which allows automatic identification of ships. Martin has an existing site www.OrwellAIS.com that tracks ships in his local area, on the south bank of the River Orwell, and also provides local weather forecasts and navigational tips. He has now twitterfied this information (is that a verb?) at: http://twitter.com/OrwellAIS. The obvious advantage is that anyone can follow this via their mobile phone and other people can potentially feed in information.

Incidentally the writer George Orwell named himself after the River Orwell. I wonder what the inventor of NewSpeak would have made of twitter’s 140 character communications.

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Justin Erenkrantz Interview

February 4, 2009

Towards the end of last year I did an interview with Justin Erenkrantz, the President of the Apache Software Foundation. Apache is a non-profit virtual ‘company’ which specialises in open source software projects and is famous for giving the world the Apache Web server (amongst many other things). The interview was for Oxford University’s OSS Watch service, which was hosting the workshop where the interview took place.

The thing I found interesting when I interviewed Justin was how little pieces of open source history came together—how people’s reactions to certain events were key in creating more formal structures. The final piece is called Meritocrats, cluebats, and the open development method and if you want to know why you’ll have to read the piece.