Donate to Wikimedia Foundation!

The year is about to end (here in Argentina it's still 2010) and the Wikimedia Foundation is doing another round of fund raising to sustain next year's operations. They need only 16 million US dollars (they have 15.2 M already).

Do you use Wikipedia? The english version? The spanish version?

I have donated already. In the process, i discovered that there is an Argentine chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation (not every country has one).

You can donate here (english) or here (spanish). You can also donate to the local chapter (see the bottom of the page).

You can check how much money they have already raised by just going to the main wikipedia's page for any language. There is a detailed fund raising page, yet it seems to have different information (out dated?).

I hope you all have a happy 2011 and, if you didn't donate in 2010, consider making a donation as one of the first actions of the new year.

This is enough to be my sixth post.


About (abuse of) Power

This is an unusual post as it started with something unrelated to IT but i think recent events made it relevant to our industry because of the Java TCK licensing kerfuffle (AKA: Oracle versus ASF).

A few months ago, i was having lunch with some friends and we were talking about power in politics. Abuse of power in politics, to be specific. After all the talking, i realized that we tend to believe power has properties that it actually doesn't have.

Idea of Power - Forklift carrying bricks
We tend to think power is a solid. Something like bricks.

The idea being that we can get as much power as we can pile bricks.

Such was the mental image i had when the conversation started, but the image changed rapidly.

Reality of Power - Hand holding some sand
I figured that comparing power with a solid was not entirely right. I was missing something.

I think power is more of a fine grained solid. To continue the construction metaphor: power is like sand.

You can have some small amount of power and hold on to it, the same way you can do with sand.

Too much power - Hands pouring sand
You can even succeed and get a lot of power for a while.

Yet, as it happens with sand, power filters out eroding while it filters, making the leak bigger and bigger.

And as you see the leak you begin to get desperate because you are loosing what you hold dear. And you start doing stupid things. Just as anybody does when they have lots of power.

This has happened to genocidal maniacs, dictators, presidents, political parties, police, mobsters, gangsters, companies, CEOs, bosses, abusive husbands, abusive wives, child molesters, bad teachers, bullies, big brothers, little brothers, etc.

We all have abused power in some situation or another.
We all know abuse comes back to balance the score.

I think we have recently seen an example of abuse of power in the way Oracle used Java's ownership. My guess: as a way to get Google to pay for using Java on Android (J2ME enabled phones probably pay royalties of some sort). I don't have anything against Oracle making money, yet i personally disagree with this move because it gets the open source programming community and the ASF in the middle of a corporation war.

Oracle may succeed in the short term in getting some more money, but the forces propelling open communities will route around this issue and when that happens, this will undoubtedly come back to bite Oracle on the hand.

Abuse of power has happened before and will happen again.
Loss of that power has happened before and will happen again.
No matter who. No matter why.

Disclosure: i'm not active in any open source community.

This is enough to be my fifth post.

PS: photographs are from stock.xchng and iStockPhoto