God I Love Open Source
So if my idea pans out you would be able to download Thunderbird and ClamWin Antivirus, (both are free) and all incoming emails would be disinfected automatically. Clamwin and Thunderbird are not currently compatible, Clamwin will quarantine your entire inbox if one message is infected.
The raw efficiency of the process is what struck me. I emailed this guy in Italy on a whim, proposed an idea, offered him a few dollars and got a response within a few hours. No lawyers in sight, no negotiations with the developers of ClamWin or Thunderbird, no haggling over intellectual property rights; just code that I can put on the computers we donate to schools and foster families to make their lives a little less frustrating. And of course if this plan bears fruit, you or anybody else in the world can make use of it. It's a beautiful thing. Benkler's and Lessig's ideas are starting to gel in my mind. If I were a philanthropist I'd find little open source projects that need a little inertia and get things moving. It's longtail economics applied to charity. Here's a weird idea: Philanthropy, venture capital for an open source world.
I think it's a sign that open source is maturing. The archipelago of little projects that comprise the open source movement are beginning to connect in weird and useful ways. Web 2.0 is used to describe the applications built on the Internet standards that have emerged over the last decade or so. The brain runs much slower than a computer chip but R2D2 remains science fiction because we're enabled by the connections between lots of relatively simple neurons. People wonder why this post dot bomb Internet revival took so long. If open source is following the same path then it would appear that a 2nd open source boom is about to emerge from the maturing simple pieces of the open source landscape that are starting to connect. This is the definition of emergence, for me it's the closest thing I've found to a scientific religion.
Here's a tweaked quote from wikipedia:
"According to an emergent perspective, intelligence(high quality, interoperable global software framework) emerges from the connections between neurons(smaller applications), and from this perspective it is not necessary to propose a "soul"(mega-corporation/government) to account for the fact that brains(the Internet+MIPS) can be intelligent(intelligent?)."
Next Time: Space ships and cash registers