Monkcast #10: One day, they'll grow fruit with bar codes on the skin & Yeah! Socialtext

Monkcast #10: One day, they'll grow fruit with bar codes on the skin & Yeah! Socialtext

Summary: In this week's Monkcast, our 10th joint production between the research outfit Redmonk and ZDNet, we ponder worldly topics such as the idea of cows making skim milk. Apparently, this is already being done somewhere (eeek!

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TOPICS: Open Source
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In this week's Monkcast, our 10th joint production between the research outfit Redmonk and ZDNet, we ponder worldly topics such as the idea of cows making skim milk. Apparently, this is already being done somewhere (eeek!) and we can only wonder when, if ever, fruit and veggies will be grown with the barcodes already on them. Why care about such esoteric ideas? As it turns out, Redmonker Michael Cote heard this week's Dan and David Show where both Dan and I ranted about self-checkout technology of the sort you see at your local grocer or that frustrated me to no end during a recent visit to Home Depot. Dan and I reached the same conclusion: you can save more time by using the manned registers instead (yes, we know, it's supposed to be the other way around).

Cote argues that the self-checkouts in his neighborhood work pretty well. But on the other hand, he suspects that his local superstore had to jump through some hoops to suppress the parasympathetic response that's rendering these systems less productive at other retailers. Meanwhile, Redmonk co-founder James Governor sided with Dan Farber that self-checkout systems really break down when it comes to produce. On the Dan and David Show, Farber complained that he has no way of telling the difference between different types of the same produce which one must do in order to look the right code up in whatever lookup guide is by the self-checkout counter. That's what led us to the conclusion that fruits and veggies should be grown with the bar codes already on them. Maybe self-checkouts sound good in theory. But in practice, they're just not working out. Yet.

We talked about a great deal more. BMC, a titan in the systems plumbing arena (in other words, it's software isn't very sexy, but it's very necessary) and also Redmonk client, has apparently gotten some open source religion as of late and is looking to harness the bazaar development method (common to all open source) for the betterment of it's products. However, it's more toe in the water than say, what Borland did when it made the Eclipse IDE the center of its universe (rather than the preceding proprietary-to-Borland IDE). The Redmonkers see similar moves in BMCs future.

While we were on the topic of open source, I issued deep praises to Ross Mayfield and company over at Socialtext for pushing an attribution-friendly license called the Common Public Attribution License (CPAL) through the official process at the Open Source Initiative (the OSI). Prior to getting the OSI's approval on such a license, there have been a great many providers of Web-based solutions such as Socialtext (wiki) , SugarCRM (customer relationship management), Scalix (e-mail), and others claiming to have open source solutions, but offering their solutions under licenses that were never approved by the OSI as conforming to the official OSD (the Open Source Definition). Now, with Mayfield (CEO at Socialtext) having taken the lead on reconciling what at one point seemed irreconcilable, we have an OSI approved license (the CPAL) and an opportunity for others to follow Socialtext's lead in using it as the license for their software.

Within the open source community, attribution oriented licenses are a controversial issue. But now that the OSI has weighed in and approved the CPAL, you won't hear complaints like the one from me that kicked off the controversy in the first place (or this one) so long as that's the license that some of these "open source" software companies license their wares under. Or, some other open source license. For example, SugarCRM just exited the controversy altogether by switching to the GPLv3 (another issue mentioned in today's podcast).

Topic: Open Source

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  • Why stop at barcodes?

    Blueberries would indeed be a problem for barcodes, but how about RFIDs? Imagine genetically engineering fruit (or any other fresh produce) such that it included a passive RFID. Given it'd be little more than a tiny antenna and some simple logic, perhaps a biological analog could somehow be designed and retrofitted into the plant's DNA. Fascinating speculation, though somehow I suspect we're a little far off that particular innovation. :)
    Jason Etheridge