On Monday and Tuesday, I had the privilege of doing a keynote at the Holland Open conference.
This was an interestingly, “different” kind of meetings, as it seemed to include both folks from public administrations as well as hackers in the audience. Maybe this was because, as one of the presenters mentioned, problems with some of the larger investments in information technology have featured big time in the Dutch press recently?
I talked about the Snowflake Effect: you can read a report (in Dutch) on the conference web site.
Jo Lahaye challenged me afterwards: he would like to see information included in Creative Commons licenses on the technical format. His main concern is that some formats are inherently not-open: if you want to play an MP3 file, you have to use an MP3 player; those who develop MP3 players need to pay a license fee to Fraunhofer (I think – please correct me if this is not true). I “respectfully disagree”: information about technical issues is orthogonal to information about a resource. Also, this kind of information can change over time: powerpoint used to require Microsoft Office, but nowadays, you can open most powerpoint files in Open Office. (BTW, did the OpenOffice folks have to pay Microsoft to be legally allowed to do this?) Anyway, this is more a question about practicalities: Jo and I agree strongly on the goal of openness as an enabler of innovation, I think.
With GerardM, I had a really exciting discussion about the potential to integrate support for automatically generating learning object metadata in the wikimedia software, with a potential for having it enriched through a community process. Gerard is deeply involved in OmegaWiki, a wiki of “relational information”. I’m excited by this discussion because, if we add such support to mediawiki, then wiki’s become “just another kind of learning repository”. (We already treat Wikipedia that way in Alocom.) Add in David Wiley’s send2wiki tool and you can create a nice content chain for derivatives of wiki content.
And I was extremely impressed by the short presentation that the folks from e-hulp gave. These folks have developed a “safe” instant messenger application that is used in the “kindertelefoon”: a telephone help line for kids. They have been very successful in this work, to the extent where their success has become a problem for them, as they need to scale up their operations. In their own words: “Failure by success: How an open source instant messaging application for care institutions can not conquer the world due to its own success.” This is very similar to the theme behind our What Went Wrong Workshop (call is still open!). They are a very young and energetic team and to accept their “breakthrough project” award with a speech on their problems was a bold and daring initiative. Three cheers for them – and consider helping them out if you can!