Re: Respose to Joe Hall: Transparency and Access...

From: Cameron L. Spitzer <cls_at_truffula_dot_sj_dot_ca_dot_us>
Date: Sun Jul 30 2006 - 14:01:50 CDT

>Date: Sat, 29 Jul 2006 18:31:27 -0700
>From: "Joseph Lorenzo Hall" <>
>To: "Open Voting Consortium discussion list" <>
>Subject: Re: [OVC-discuss] Respose to Joe Hall: Transparency and Access to
> Source Code in Electronic Voting
> Open Voting Consortium discussion list
> <>

>On 7/29/06, Arthur Keller <> wrote:
>> Dear Joe,
>> I'd like to focus on the issue of the risk vs. benefit of public
>> disclosure of the source code, with redactions only for passwords.
>> 1. Linux appears to have better security than Windows, in part due to
>> its focus on security and the fact that the source is disclosed.
>> Linux does not rely on "security through obscurity" and its security
>> has not been adversely compromised by disclosure.

Joseph wrote:
> While the comparison to Linux is
>easy to make, Linux was not an ugly commercial project and then
>suddenly its source was opened. For example, could you imagine what
>would happen in the short-term if all of Windows was released under
>GPLv2only tomorrow? How could we take something like Windows (or
>BallotStation and GEMS) and go from purely commercial to open source?

>I believe there needs to be some transitional procedure and I think
>it's going to take the cooperation of a bunch of constituencies.

I've pointed out in other fora that successful FOSS was FOSS
from the beginning. Terms of access to source code (and patented
algorithms) strongly influence fundamental
architectural decisions at the very beginning of
a software design project. Degree of modularity. Choice of
data formats and algorithms. Programming language and libraries.
(Say, aren't algorithms discovered in nature? How come they're

Consider Mosaic Communications' aka Netscape's Navigator.
Very large program written hastily in proprietary code.
Not only did it have to be completely rewritten to be usable as OSS,
but its primary application data format needed an overhaul too.
Communicator 4 and HTML 3.2 were dead ends, due to their origin
in secrecy, haste, and a destructive "standards" battle.

Among my friends, Greatful Dead music illustrates the point.
The Dead released the vast majority of their work in freely
distributable form, while retaining copyright. But they also
produced proprietary tracks for commercial radio play and
record sales. (Several made the Top 40.) Same songs, same
musicians, but a completely different audience/market. And
the Top 40 tracks sound so different from the same songs off
Dick's Picks (concert archive releases on CD, remixed to broadcast
quality) you'd hardly know it was the same band. Like computer
software, music made to be free is different from the ground up.

BTW it's no accident John Perry Barlow ended up at Electronic
Frontier Foundation. He'd been working with intellectual property
pioneers for three decades already. It's too bad the entertainment
industry so carefully ignored the Grateful Dead model.


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Received on Mon Jul 31 23:17:09 2006

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