Thursday, February 18, 2010

Evil Will Always Win

Facebook just enabled a 'smart lists' feature to help build out their understanding of you and your connections. Certain lists (eg. family) add a profile suggestion for everyone that you add to the list. As a result, I have been bombarded with many family confirmations from fairly distant relatives.

This is a fairly sneaky way to get more information about their users without each user needing to enter stuff...because everyone has that one crazy relative that spends way too much time on facebook, tagging you in all your own photos, and filling out lots of extra relationship details just for you to 'confirm'. Its thinking like this that will keep them ahead of competitors like Google who can't seem to crack the "social" nut, I guess. Its like in spaceballs:
Anyway, in this case I really would like to acknowledge the relationship, but the exact relationship is not defined on the dropdown box (there's no such thing as a 2nd-cousin-in-law). So, it seems the system will not let me confirm a relationship exists without picking exactly what that relationship is (for which there is no option). Dear Facebook, please provide a 'write-in', 'other', or 'unspecified' option to these confirmation dialogs...I feel bad hitting the 'ignore' button like this.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

If you can't beat 'em...

One of the things I consider most strange about commercially-tied open source projects is the lack of co-opetition.

Why do we need separate Apache projects for Axis2 and CXF?
Well that's because IBM and WSO2 'run' Axis2 while CXF is backed by Progress Software.

Why do we need OpenJPA? Why not just storm (I mean collaborate within) the EclipseLink project?

Its amazing to me how many open source projects have only a single company's backing. What happens when that company deinvests? I think organizations like Apache and the Eclipse Foundation work hard to get these players to see the light and work hand-in-hand on a common code base (for the good of the community), but I guess its somewhat against the open source ethos of letting "a thousand flowers bloom".

Maybe it has something to do with whether the companies involved are market leaders or not. Second and third tier companies have the most incentive to collaborate. If you're not the market leader, its in your best interest to band together to 'defeat' (or at least compete with) a common enemy. And open source is the perfect place to do that.