The Politics of Software: Open Source Utopia

In a time where it seems impossible for Netflix to make an original series that isnโ€™t politically charged, where tech startup CEOs criticize Trump freely, and cryptocurrencies threaten to render the finance industry obsolete, software news has taken a step back from the dry figures of the latest Oracle merger and brought issues like power, accessibility, and discrimination to the forefront.

In this series, I’m going to explore the increasingly politicized nature of software. Here, I’m starting with one of the oldest and most contentious issues: open source licensing and distribution.

Before looking into it properly a few years ago, the phrase “open source software” conjured up images of gray, ugly, bug-ridden software that forever languished in the shadow of paid alternatives.…   [continue reading]

Is Netflix the New TV? Not Really

In 1997, Netflix wasn’t formed to disrupt our TV habits, it was formed to support them.

It launched with a library of 925 DVDs. The main thing that separated it from something like Blockbuster (and what eventually ended up allowing Netflix to trump them) is the monthly subscription. All-you-can-eat content, with a much wider selection than traditional TV or cinema.

Netflix Logos

By 2000, Netflix had already declined an acquisition offer of $50 million from a terrified Blockbuster, and then went on to make DVD rentals obsolete with a revolutionary on-demand platform and a discovery algorithm within the space of 6 years.

Using similar tactics to YouTube, and emerging within the same year, Netflix represents the YouTube-ization of television.…   [continue reading]