04 June 2010

Does the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Get the Web?

Bill Gates's decision to move away from day-to-day running of Microsoft was doubly shrewd. First, because it allowed him to leave when his company was at its apogee, and to avoid association with its current - inevitable - decline (notice how the meme that Microsoft is irrelevant is becoming widespread?) And secondly, it enabled him to help Microsoft extend its reach - especially in developing countries - by other means, while earning plaudits for his charitable work.

Unpicking the complex weft and weave of philanthropy and self-interest at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would require an entire book (and no, don't worry, I won't be writing it). Rather than plunging into that maelstrom, I wanted to pick up an extraordinary aspect of the Foundation's site, spotted by Thierry Stoehr.

It's rather telling that the Terms of Use for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation run to no less than *seven* pages when printed out (who knew that using the Web was such a complicated and risky operation?). But even more extraordinary is the following clause:

Our Links to Other Sites: Our Site may contain links to Web sites of third parties. We provide these links as a convenience, but do not endorse the linked site or anything on it. While their information, products, services and information may be helpful to you, they are independent entities and we do not control or endorse them. You agree that any visits to linked sites are at your own risk and governed by their privacy policies (if any).

Your Links to Our Site: You are not permitted to link or shortcut to our Site from your Web site, blog or similar application, without obtaining prior written permission from us.

Which is worse: the hypocrisy or the cluelessness? It's a tough call....

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca.


P.Jacob said...

Did you get a written permission for the links above? Did you? Did you? :)

glyn moody said...

@P.Jacob: it's a fair cop, but society is to blame...

Carlo Piana said...

@p.jacob: to be arguably obliged to comply to that silly ToS you first have to:
- have accessed the website
- have accepted those ToS (even implicitly)
Just putting some boilerplate stuff somewhere does not constitute a binding agreement in any place of the civilized world.

PS: I know you were kidding ;-)

glyn moody said...

@Carlo: you mean it was a mistake to have sent an email to Bill Gates saying I accepted the t&c...?

hingo said...

@glynmoody: Hah, you made me laugh.

Also: maybe you shouldn't ask for legal advice in a blog thread, why not talk to a real lawyer. Oh, wait...

Br3nda of coffee.geek.nz said...

This is not the first time I've seen that requirement on a website. I previously found it on a government funded museum / archive website. (Te Papa)

glyn moody said...

@Br3nda: no, it's certainly not unique, but rather ironic given this particular site's origins, no?

Anonymous said...

Story tip:


"Aalto University and Microsoft to start research cooperation"

"The cooperation focuses at this point on two research projects: Crafting New Concepts of Search for the Home Host and Denial-of-Service Resistance for Internet Services."

New concepts for bingo@home?

Our corrupted Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen visited Bill Gates back in 2008 and from that meeting he brought us Live@Edu for primary, intermediate and high schools.
Now the plan went forward and also three most well-known academic schools, nowadays bundled together as Aalto univ are pwned by Microshaft.

Most of the schools in the whole country are using only Windows exclusively, from servers to desktops.
All the problems with viruses, trojans, break-ins, slowness and breaks in lan/wan networks, problems with different incompatible (MS)office file formsts etc. are not released into the news, even within the organizations.

"Established in 2010, the Aalto University is a new university with centuries of experience. The Aalto University was created from the merger of three Finnish universities: The Helsinki School of Economics, Helsinki University of Technology and The University of Art and Design Helsinki."

And Aalto = Wave in finnish, but it comes from the name of famous .fi architect, Alvar Aalto.

Recent news about PM Vanhanen:

They're playing time, together.
Vanhanen is retiring from PM position next weekend and parliament elections are coming up in April 2011.

glyn moody said...

sadly, this kind of high-level influence is commonplace. The good news I don't think it matters any more: it's becoming quite evident that Microsoft is a spent force, and that it's only momentum that carries it forward...