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Business of Software 2008 - Richard Stallman

Business of SoftwareI'm starting a series of blog posts from the Business of Software conference that I attended last week in Boston. If you are part of a small technology business (software, hardware, etc.), especially if you are an owner, I'd highly recommend that you attend this conference next year. It's small, 250 or so people, and everyone is interested in business. It's not a lot about technology, but it's inspiring and exciting to talk about business with lots of people looking to build their businesses.

I was kind of excited to hear Mr. Stallman speak. I've read about him for years, and I agree with some of his thoughts and opinions, and I'm glad he's out there working on free software. But I have to say that I became disapointed quickly and it wasn't a good talk for one simple reason. 

The crazy came through.

He talked about software patents for an hour. He had examples, and he'd thought out his position, but he stammered here and there, didn't have any slides (Powerpoint being a horrible piece of closed software) and he pounded the same thing home over and over. And the crazy shown through, which diluted his message.

That and his abrasive, bordering on rude, delivery.  And it's a shame because he has a good message. He pointed out many of the problems with software patents and the difficulties with being able to develop software independently. If you have any sort of success, you might easily run afoul of someone that claims a patent on your idea. He games examples of the gzip/pkzip fiasco and a few others. He showed how hard it is to find a patent, decipher the filings, and even the problems with patents that are under consideration. All pose problems and Mr. Stallman is right, we need to do something.

However he's not the person that should lead this fight. He doesn't come across well. 

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Steve Jones is the editor of SQLServerCentral.com and visits a wide variety of data related topics in his daily editorial. Steve has spent years working as a DBA and general purpose Windows administrator, primarily working with SQL Server since it was ported from Sybase in 1990. You can follow Steve on Twitter at twitter.com/way0utwest


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