Subject: Re: Tim's paradigm shift
From: Tim O'Reilly <>
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 2004 10:21:21 -0700

On Jul 9, 2004, at 11:38 PM, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:

> Please note---I don't really disagree with your conclusions.  I don't
> see an alternative to things going this way for while.
> However, I don't think data, even if incarcerated behind website
> firewalls, is inherently all that different from code.  So many of the
> same techniques and arguments that we have successfully used to
> liberate a lot of software should be adaptable to liberating databases
> as well.

I completely agree.  That's been the rallying cry I've tried to use in  
the talks I've given on the topic.  But I also believe strongly in the  
lesson that I try to bring out in the article, that it's not in appeals  
to volunteerism or the idea that information *ought* to be free that  
the solution is to be found, but in architecting free and open source  
systems in which the architecture promotes the creation of open  
collective works on the data level as well.  Or even architecting  
systems on top of non-free software where the data architecture ends up  
open.  That's another whole way to leverage the paradigm shift -- get  
ahead of the monopolists, and get large critical pieces of data  
infrastructure into the public domain BEFORE the monopolists get into  

I think where I disagree with you is in the idea that we need to figure  
this out for every database.  CDDB has not really been onerous, and it  
doesn't look like it will ever be a real control point.  The fact that  
Amazon uses its critical mass of reviews to gain competitive advantage  
isn't really critical to anyone else's success, or setting limits on  
the industry.  But there may be other databases where this is NOT true  
-- location data, for instance, or identity, or RFID.  All of these  
should be very high on the radar of open source developers.

Tim O'Reilly @ O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol, CA 95472
707-827-7000 (company), (personal)