Dictated because of a slightly dodgy keyboard into Arcturus
I have had two responses to my post about Bio med central and their 10 year celebration at which they are honouring open data. The responses highlight and comment on the fact that Microsoft is a sponsor of the occasion.
; glynmoodyHighly Influential: “Biomed Central and Microsoft honour Open Data – http://bit.ly/9eZHIW oh look, Microsoft trying to snuggle up to openness again… #opendata ” 3 minutes ago view tweet retweet Filter tweets […]
I still have to be convinced that a convicted monopolist will bona fide support anything truly “open source” or “free software” or “open data” or anything “open xxx”. I sincerely hope you are not getting netted by a purely PR operation for M$.
Scientist at CNRS, Paris, France
Free software developer for scientific applications
These are serious concerns and I will address them. I have previously blogged about the relationship of me and my group to Microsoft (http://wwmm.ch.cam.ac.uk/blogs/murrayrust/?p=2249 ) where I have shown my reasons for working with them. The current concerns are different in that they relate to sponsorship but basically have the same concern that Microsoft are guilty of actions which put them beyond the bounds of acceptability.
I do not know Filippo, but I know Glyn Moody well. He and I share positions on the Open Knowledge Foundation advisory board and most of our views coincide. However he and I differ on Microsoft. I believe his view is that Microsoft is inherently “evil” in a way beyond the natural commercial orientations and activities of any large company. I do not take this view at present although as I have acknowledged some of Microsoft’s past actions were clearly unacceptable.
Filippo describes Microsoft as a convicted monopolist, and I believe this to be essentially accurate although I do not know the precise details. From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft )
Throughout its history the company has been the target of criticism, including monopolistic business practices and anti-competitive strategies including refusal to deal and tying. The U.S. Department of Justice and the European Commission, among others, have ruled against Microsoft for antitrust violations. (See also United States v. Microsoft, European Union Microsoft competition case.)
I also believe that they have been brought to justice and have been made to pay. Whether the punishment fitted the crime is a matter of for the courts and the society that convicted them. These views mirror our own approach to criminality in society: that a criminal is basically always a criminal; or that a criminal once brought to justice can change their ways.
There is nothing inherently evil in manufacturing software and information systems. I personally believe that some industries must be challenged, such as tobacco and armaments. I am not an expert on company reorientation after conviction, but I don’t believe it to be impossible. The policy of a company is made of a complex mixture of market perception (which can include ethical issues), shareholder values and the attitude of its staff. I have primarily interacted with Microsoft Research and found the staff there to be highly aware of the need to change and looking for the directions.