Michael J. Radwin

Tales of a software engineer who keeps kosher and hates the web.

ApacheCon: Closing Keynote

In his keynote address “New Ways of Thinking About Security: Open Source Thinking in a Bunged-up World”, Richard Thieme spoke about the contrast between linear thinking and network thinking in society. He posits that the Open Source movement represents a new kind of freedom and that chaotic and continually evolving.

Thieme spoke about how members of the CIA and the KGB had more in common with each other than they did with their respective political environments. Even though we think of free-market and communist countries as being opposites, the suppositions and the schemas to understand and categorize the world used by the intelligence community set them apart from the rest of the communities. He made a parallel to Open Source networks of programmers.

He claimed that writing code is a form of leadership, because leadership is saying what you think of the world in a clear and visceral way. It doesn’t require structural authority. Rather, writing code is functional leadership. Since leadership has two components (saying and doing), coding is in fact a true expression of leadership because it both expresses ideas and it performs a function.

He also spoke about authorship and intellectual property rights, and how these concepts were completely foreign before the invention of the printing press. Centuries later, Open Source and distributed networking are working to undermine those concepts. How do you define property when you share the information back and forth?

Security, identity, borders, and intellectual property rights are a function of clear boundaries. But, Thieme says, boundaries are not clear (and they’re getting less clear). We are moving towards a collective identity, away from the nation-state.

He wrapped but by describing Richard Stallman as a saint (saying that all saints are a little crazy), that it takes someone of an obsessive-compulsive mind to make truly amazing things happen.