Platform Independent

O'Reilly editor Andy Oram's monthly column on technology and politics.
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Structure and Service: Illuminations from a Trip to the Forest
What do end users really want? Andy Oram got some answers talking to an unusual individual in the woods of Northern Oregon while on a mission to drum up new attendees for O'Reilly's upcoming Emerging Technology Conference. The bottom line: give users rich interactions mediated by a format of their own choosing. Perhaps we'll find those adventurous developers who will be able to satisfy these needs at this spring's conference. Be there--you never know who might show up.  Feb. 13, 2003

Media is Ripe for a Convergence of a Different Sort
New technology always presents a range of possible new practices. Andy Oram summarizes the ways that various observers have suggested handling the onslaught of the digital age in media. But are studios ready for constructive alternatives to the DMCA? Jan. 23, 2003

Applications, User Interfaces, and Servers in the Soup
The standalone application, once the central fixture of computer use, is dissolving into a soup of servers, application fragments, and user interfaces. Andy Oram looks at new trends that could predict where applications are going. Dec. 12, 2002

Why Human Rights Requires Free Software
Human rights workers should be universally feted and supported. Instead, however, they are chronically underfunded, goaded to justify every detail of their work, and threatened with dire harm. For these reasons, human rights work requires free software.  Oct. 11, 2002

European Union Researches the Benefits of Open Source Software
Andy Oram looks at the possible implications of a recent study, sponsored by the EU, which explored the reasons behind the widespread use of, and support for, free and open source software. Sep. 16, 2002

The Opening of the Channels
Two competing visions of the future--digital rights management versus free Internet access--go to extremes in a futuristic skit by Andy Oram. Aug. 27, 2002

Marshall McLuhan vs. Marshalling Regular Expressions
Andy Oram explains why the success of Mastering Regular Expressions should help assuage the panic Marshall McLuhan envisioned. Jul. 8, 2002

A Nice Way to Get Network Quality of Service?
The Internet2 effort includes a plan to guarantee high priority for time-critical packets, like those in streaming media. But would an alternate plan, which let users opt for lower priority for their traffic, do as well at reducing congestion? O'Reilly editor Andy Oram looks at Quality of Service efforts. Jun. 11, 2002

The Semantic Web: It's Whom You Know
One of the ways proposed to deal with the mass of content online is to create a Semantic Web by tagging content so that machines can parse meaning out of it. O'Reilly editor Andy Oram says the scheme confuses the syntax (rules of organization) with semantics (meaning). There are better ways to make sense of volumes of data, including intelligent search engines, collaborative filtering, and old-fashioned networking with people with good ideas.  Apr. 19, 2002