07 June 2007

Microsoft, Its Rose and the Canker

Now here's an interesting thing:

Developing the Future is an annual report examining the impact of the software development industry on the UK economy, from both a local and global perspective. The report is a collaborative work with partners from the IT industry and academia. By exploring emerging trends, the report stimulates debate between stakeholders and calls for positive action to support the UK software industry.

It's interesting because:

The second edition of Developing the Future not only comprises original research commissioned by Microsoft on these fascinating themes, it also includes independent articles from luminaries such as Will Hutton, outlining unique perspectives on the massive change now taking place in Britain.

You'd pretty much expect this to be standard Microsoft propaganda, along the lines of its risible TCO "studies"; but you'd be wrong. Developing the Future is an extremely interesting look at major issues affecting UK software development in the near-future. It is one of the best-presented digital documents I have seen in a while, with excellent photography, and a nice clean design.

The contents aren't bad either: for the most part, the writing is neutral and fair. Only at one point is it clear that there is a canker at the heart of this rose, when the section on innovation starts wittering on about that mythical beast of "intellectual property", and comes out with this extraordinary self-evident truth:

The lack of intellectual property protection for algorithms, software or enhanced business processes are barriers to innovation.

Creating intellectual monopolies in something as fundamental as algorithms is about as sensible as handing out government monopolies on air and water. It's sad to see an otherwise forward-looking document stuck so firmly in the past, instead of promoting innovation and prosperity in the "Knowledge Economy" through the liberation of its wondrous, non-rivalrous, raw stuff: ideas.

No comments: