Monday, March 30, 2015

Open Source & Intellectual Property

Open source contribution is regarded as a "virtue" for hackers, and intellectual property as a foundation for modern 'creative economies'. Ideally these contrasting ideas needn't conflict, but special consideration is warranted during pivotal moments in the growth of a business.

Open source code offers a reserve of knowledge and wealth, without which, this project (along with many others) simply would not exist. Publicly available code enhancements and solutions can be likened to 'good-faith donations' to the community, the value being inherent in the coder's investment of time and effort. The philosophy of 'open source' fosters environments in which one can't help but occasionally wish to 'pay it forward' by personally contributing to the priceless reserves of available code. Intellectual property law, by my shallow understanding, offers, in exchange for demonstrable novelty, limited government-mandated financial protection (a temporal buffer, if I may) against mimicry. All things able to be replicated eventually (to date this post, '3d printers' will soon be able to reliably reproduce [for example] musical records, which could have unforeseen implications on the music industry), 'intellectual property' offers financial security as incentive towards innovation.

Unfamiliar with every detail, and without proper council, I am left to lean towards the merits of intellectual property law, temporarily eschewing any attempt to foster an open source community. But if I abide by one, I must regard the other. As such, I (as 'Fire') currently seek technical partners and legal protections, intending to revisit open source involvement at a later date.
(Edit: specifically, Fire will become involved in the open source community once its core business and functionality has been established, and begins producing excess, well polished code.)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

On mass communication

As an unofficial motto, the phrase "reunite the tribe" begs elucidation.
I offer only, "reconcile our inborn communicative tendencies with the current state of technology", as a vaguely less vague imperative, recompense for any perceived offense, and an intermediary toward a proper embellishment of the idea...

Earth-wide, mankind has tended, particularly recently, towards improved self sufficiency and increased autonomy for small groups and the individual.* Evidence of the "rise of the individual" includes the proliferation of the cell phone, automobile, and the single family home, habitable remote establishments and dense metropolises, as well as general equality. We as a species have earned ourselves unprecedented leisure time and personal and creative freedoms - no longer must we toil in the fields to feed ourselves or endure bondage to be fed.  In our brave new world with prolific access to information, I look to the devices which have loyally accompanied our journey: originally newspapers and the telephone, which made distances obsolete, next the television and radio, tools for sufficiently capable entities to broadcast content to a wide audience, making way for computers and the internet, allowing anyone with the intent, to distribute content and engage an audience, finally "smart phones" and tablets, which, in our most impressive turn yet, have endowed individuals with unlimited information access, at any time, in any place.

Popular media and empirical evidence will attest that more than an insignificant portion of people's lives are spent engaged with devices. And yet, devices often bear the brunt of the burden for the blame of what has been deemed a modern "malaise", or "neurosis" in both people's personal and social lives. Though subtle, something as simple as dismissing a device only to reengage it moments later, not to talk to anybody, not to look up information nor jot down an idea, but apparently just to stare in anticipation, or feigned interaction, makes me question the merit of these devices. The more engaged with our devices, it would seem, the more susceptible to or entrenched within this undiagnosed neurosis we become. It is as if the culmination of humanity's interminable drive towards progress and innovation were not inherently existentially satisfying. It is as though we have collectively developed a physical and emotional reliance on our own creations, a symbiosis less with natural processes and communities, and more with the worldly manifestations of our imaginations. The unspoken malaise threatens to worsen. While the content of newspapers, television or radio used to supplement conversation; "Did you see X?", "Have you read Y?", they now have become replacements for interaction altogether; we idly scroll through "image macros", short quips and video clips (don't let me undermine the impacts of modern social apps [I personally thrive on 140 characters]), affirming to ourselves the value in them.

The goal of fire is to remove or diminish the social and technological barriers that prevent individuals from actively engaging groups and other individuals in an immediate and meaningful way. To imbue the modern layman's luxury of globally unconstrained information access with uninhibited real-time communications, pandering to whatever aspect of the human persona bears genesis to cooperation, community, belonging, purpose, and happiness - which allows us to engage a person or group of people with a voice as meaningful as any other. To remove the technological boundaries isolating people within real-time ecosystems by providing a universally accessible, functionally transparent, non-intrusive, platform-independent 'chat' application with an attractive, intuitive and inherently useful interface, and to diminish the inter-personal-psycho-social concerns of meaningfully engaging people by tailoring to every conversational preference from impersonal anonymity to intimate formality. To emphasize our ability to empathize through technological immersion, giving clear purpose to modern devices.

*Mention of human progress as pertains to mass communications would be remiss without mentioning political systems. So to speak briefly to democracy - we have tended towards individual freedoms in exchange for the mandatory tolerance of a governing body (to manage the details, tax collections, roadways, utilities, petty squabbles and the like). And we further lean (perhaps in retrograde) toward the importance of the individual voice, which has been drowned by noise since the days of town hall meetings, wherein every family in a community had not only the potential to voice their concerns, but the opportunity to inform their decisions. A proper communal discussion (in addition to information dispersal) helps to expose flaws in arguments and prevents hypocrisies from manifesting, contributing to a more educated consensus.