moving a bit slowly today

Not much to say, so I'm resorting to posting a few links

Palin is more than just a former mayor, governor, vice presidential candidate and political force. She has catapulted over most politicians to a status of entertainment icon. She has become a brand -- and she's trying to protect it by trademarking her name.

I'm not sure if this is really cool or really scary
The State Department is organizing a conference designed to convene those with an interest in government use of Open Source technologies and those who can envision an “Open Source future” that supports improvements to the world’s information infrastructure.

This one the other hand is nothing but scary
Oysters aren't disappearing from the dining table anytime soon, but they may be disappearing from our oceans.

A recent study published in BioScience has shown that the mollusks, declared "functionally extinct," are disappearing quickly as 85 percent of their reefs have been destroyed through disease or over-harvesting

I can't remember the last time snow was such a constant presence on the streets in NYC. It's pretty but it sure is getting boring.


The end is near!

It has finally happened. The world has run out of internet protocol addresses! The internet is over!

Well, it's not that bad, but it is a serious milestone in the history of the intenet.

The current scheme for ip numbers (called IPv4) has a total of about 4.3 billion possible addresses. At one time, I'm sure no one could ever imagine that we would get to the point where all 4.3 billion numbers would be assigned. Luckily, the nature of the internet allows for long term planning. About 10 years ago, a new scheme called IPv6 was thought up and slowly implemented. It's not completely in place yet but I'm sure today's news will speed things up.

For the average internet user, this is meaningless and will not have any impact on your lives. For some of us however, this requires a pretty serious change. I need to re-learn how to create DNS entries, the names of the different types of records are changing, and where I could once have some hope of keeping an ip address in my head, that's now a thing of the past. I still remember the ip number of the dns servers from my first ISP,, such simple numbers will soon be a thing of the past, gone the way of 7 digit phone numbers and all of NYC being in the 212 area code.

Even localhost (probably the most simple ip number to remember) is changing, in ipV4 is now 0:0:0:0:0:0:0:1. I guess I can keep that one in my head, but something like 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334? no way.

More on this esoteric topic can be found, of course, via google

Today's photos:


The mystery of the colored snow solved! Some artists have been going around the neighborhood with cans of spray paint.

somehow I don't think this bike is going anywhere until spring

Thoughts on the invisible generation

A little over a month of daily posts and part of me is thinking "wow, that went quickly" and another part is wondering how the hell I'm going to manage to keep this up for another 11 months.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how Generation X has become, in many ways, an invisible generation. We were so much smaller than the generations before and after us that in many ways we seem to get lost in the blur between the Baby Boomers and Millennials.

Nowhere is this more clear than in digital archives of newspaper coverage of activism during our college years. Most newspapers that covered the campus anti-apartheid movement; anti-militarism movement; Central American solidarity movements, etc used freelance reporters. We were worth covering, but not worth the assignment of staff writers.

At first glance this was no big deal. The coverage we got was not compromised by this. But years later so much of that coverage has ended up down the memory hole.

Unless a researcher or student is willing to go old-school and use printed indexes to look up articles, so much of that content is missing from their search results.

I remember when a friend was in law school in the late 90s and I had access to his lexis/nexis account -- I could find hundreds of articles about actions I had participated in during my years at SUNY Buffalo, there was a rich and detailed history of what my generation tried to do and what we managed to get done.

If I do that same search now, almost nothing shows up. My history has been erased.

This happened when the Supreme Court ruled on the case of The New York Times v. Tasini in 2001.

The Association of Research Libraries' history of Copyright Law has some details on the case and the unintentional result

On June 25, 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in the case of The New York Times v. Tasini. In a decisive 7-2 ruling, the Justices upheld an appeals court ruling that the reuse of a freelance author's work on CD-ROMs and in commercial electronic databases without the author's permission constituted copyright infringement. In its ruling, the Court rejected the publishers' argument that a ruling for the authors would have "devastating" consequences, requiring them to delete freelance writers' works in commercial electronic databases. The Supreme Court explicitly noted in its opinion that deletion of the freelance writers' articles was not necessarily the only outcome and that publishers could explore other alternatives. The Justices pointed out that there are "numerous models for distributing copyrighted works and remunerating authors for their distribution" such as the system of blanket performance licenses for musical compositions.

The New York Times now requires permission for electronic republication of works by freelance authors, but this was not standard industry practice until the 1990s. Equally important, implicit in the Court's decision was the recognition that the nation's libraries and archives continue to provide access to the historical record of periodicals and newspapers. In addition, the Court's ruling recognized that certain archival media, such as microfilm and microfiche, do not infringe freelance authors' copyrights. Ultimately, The New York Times and other publishers chose to remove the freelance writers' works, as many as 115,000 articles, from Lexis/Nexis and other full-text databases

I totally understand why the writers were upset; I support their desire to be compensated for use of their content in the new media of the internet. I however fail to see the logic of the Court. How could they ever think that the media giants would do anything but remove this content from digital databases?

Oh well, I guess its up to us to fill in the gap and start to tell our own stories.

Over the next year, I'm going to try to do that. I'm going to try to tell some stories. I know that my memory is not as good as it once was; I'm sure I will forget some people, attribute one person's actions to another, combine some people into one character. I wish I could be more accurate, but those minor failings are nothing compared to letting us remain an invisible generation of activists.

Next week's initial post on this will be a story that touches on 3 Mile Island, the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant and my first political arrest.

Until then, enjoy the photos:



Free Software and Net Neutrality News

At least someone in Washington understands the issues around Net Neutrality
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced the Internet Freedom, Broadband Promotion, and Consumer Protection Act of 2011...

"Network neutrality principles are the foundation the Internet was built on," said Senator Cantwell. "They support a layered architecture, open standards, and an end-to-end design that gives end users the power to create and commercialize their innovation without having to ask permission from network operators.

"The reason a seemingly technical issue such as net neutrality has become such a politicized fight is that the financial stakes are so high. If we let telecom oligarchs control access to the Internet, consumers will lose."...

"Net neutrality is one of the most important issues facing our country today," said Senator Franken. "The recent FCC ruling on net neutrality does not do nearly enough to protect consumers, and this bill is designed to maintain a free and open Internet. This isn't just about speech, it's also about entrepreneurship and innovation, and it’s about our economy."

If this is actually a usable tool, it could be a big deal. Microsoft Exchange Server has, up until now, not had a serious competitor in the world of Free Software. Open Xchange might change that. I'm going to have to install this on a test server and give it a try.




Finally, a name for my site!

For the past 9 years, I've used eric.openflows as my site's name. Initially at, and then at

I've struggled with the issue of registering a domain for my site, I've come up with so many good ideas and even more bad ideas.

Finally, I've made a decision and done it. Welcome to

When doing presentations about the history and nature of Open Source/Free Software, I tend to put a certain amount of focus on the meaning of Free. The old saying is Free as in Speech, Not as in Beer. Even though Free Software is most often also free as in beer, the word Free is used to denote Rights, not cost. Free Software protects the rights both of the creator and end-user.

It's easy to lose sight of the reality that even though it is Free as in beer; even though you don't pay a license fee, that you will still need to spend money or time to get the most out of Free Software.

It's better to look at it as a change from software as a commodity, where who owns the tool's source code is the primary point of control, to Software as a tool, where who control is secondary to contribution. As I said to the New York Times in March 2009: "We’re throwing out the idea of software as a commodity and replacing it with the idea of labor and participation being valued more than ownership."

Given that this way of doing things is rather alien to free market capitalism, it's important to make sure people understand the reality of the situation. To give people a way of better understanding it, I've been using the phrase "Free as in Kittens": you can have the kitten for free, but you need to care for it, take it to the vet and clean out its litter box.

Even though I am not the one that coined this phrase, I've sort of grown attached to it over time. But, I want to give credit where it is due: the phrase came to my attention when I read an article and a blog post by a librarian, Karen Schneider, where she discussed Open Source/Free Software and compared Free Software to kittens, she got it from someone else but I don't know who.

Today's photos: