a couple nights ago i went to a presentation by John Ralston Saul about the evolution of globalization, it's current(!) demise, the depoliticization of populaces in democratic nations, the resulting rise in nationalism and racism and even a bit on the Canadian identity. he's an amazing thinker with amazing intellectual reach. his contention is that we are currently in an "in between state": in between the failing of globalization as a movement and whatever will come next. he said he truthfully doesn't know what that will be, which is pretty impressive. usually pundits like to swagger in with some soluton on their shoulders. but what he does "know" is that the general population has more influence in these periods than in more stable periods and that we must get involved to ensure democracy is maintained in our world.
my political and philosophical side felt thoroughly satisfied by the event as it was a mentally challenging and essentially upbeat presentation. if he was a movie, i'd see him again and again ;)
and speaking of processes that are breaking, apparently Microsoft's Longhorn won't ship with the new command line. apparently they need another 3-5 years to get it right. that's a sure sign of a very broken process. yes, their OS isn't built for a command line, but an OS that isn't is the result of a broken process. it is an exhibition of short sightedness and inflexibility. their clientele ought to take notice of this.
discussing the reasons for this sort of result with a friend tonight, i posited the theory that it's an inevitable result of the direction productization of a technology. you can not ship when it's ready nor allow yourself the space necessary to Get It Right when you are looking down the barrel of 3-year-ROI.
with Open Source software, we can ship when it's ready and productization follows somewhere in behind as befits the product (as opposed to fitting the product to the ROI schedule). this is why, for instance, commercial Linux distributions ship with older kernels whilst newer kernels are officially released. and there are many more examples. the technology develops according to a pace healthy for it, and others who care to productize somewhere within the wake of that process.
immediate productization made all the sense in the world when distribution was prohibitively expensive. nobody could afford to press a CD every day for every one of their developers and ship it via post to them. no developer would want this either. the internet, as Vincent Cerf kept telling us all for years, allows us to ship bits not atoms and therefore bring the cost of distribution effectively to zero. this allows for instant global distribution, which allows for the decoupling of the development and the productization of technology.
this is the unspoken revolution that the Open Source development model as enabled by open and global computer networks has wrought upon the IT industry. it is the underpinning of dual-license strategies as well as phenomena like "enterprise Linux distributions"
it also puts Microsoft in a hard position, because their business model is based on the coupling of productization and development. this made sense 15 years ago. it makes less sense every year that passes. they are venturing into the Open Source world one toe at a time, in part driven by this new order of things and in part because i think they see the fruitlessness of fighting the inherent success of it.
but until they can ship a feature like a shell in less than 10 years, their development process is obviously broken.
KDE, on the other hand, is agile. and not because we're a small boat to their supertanker, but because we are riding the reality of zero cost distribution.