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Conferences and the Coronavirus: Guidance for Associations and Event Organizers

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rsz_caronavirus_image.jpgAs the world goes into social lock-down to prevent further spread of the COVID-19 virus, many conferences, face-to-face meetings, and other in-person gatherings are being cancelled or postponed.  While the mass cancellations are disappointing and disruptive for everyone involved, they are potentially devastating for non-profit associations—such as open source foundations and standard setting organizations—that rely on in-person events to sustain themselves financially and facilitate collaboration and community.  If you participate in the leadership of a collaborative association that hosts conferences or other large events, read on for tips on how to navigate likely challenges in the upcoming months.

VC Madness Redux: Stop them Before they Kill the Economy Again

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Courtesy of Spechtarts via Wikimedia Commons,  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Austria license. Heaven help us all, they’re doing it again. The “who” are the venture capitalists, and the “what” is super-inflating another start-up company bubble. Consider the following valuations, as summarized by Steven Davidoff-Solomon in this morning’s New York Times: Instacart, a same-day grocery delivery service (remember WebVan?) wants to raise $100 million at a $2 billion valuation. Too modest? How about WeWork Companies (why not share your office space the way Uber shares cars?), which closed on $355 million at a $5 billion valuation. And then, of course, there’s Uber, with a $41 billion valuation, but only a modest share of the $7 billion a year people spend on cabs.

EU Clears Way to Use Consortium Standards

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Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

While the decade long debate in the European Union over the definition of “open standards” has been well-publicized, it may come as a surprise to some that EU member nations are required to utilize a second standards filter in public procurement as well.   

That filter relates to whether a standard has been developed by a “formal” standard setting organization (SSO).  In other words, by either an EU SSO, such as CEN/CENELEC or ETSI, or by one of the global “Big Is” (ISO, IEC or ITU).  If it doesn’t, then it’s supposed to be off limits - until now.

Avoiding a Cloud Computing Armageddon

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Cloud computing is all the rage today, with everyone from the U.S. Federal government to Apple herding us into a brave new world of remotely hosted data and services.  There are, of course, many advantages to the cloud concept.  But as usual, this new IT architecture has some inherent and serious risks that cloud proponents hope potential customers will not dwell on.

There's nothing new about that, of course - except for the stakes.  Innovation usually outruns caution and comprehensive consideration of concerns like safety and unintended consequences.  But if we want to put all of our computing resources and data into one bucket, we had better make damn sure that it's got a pretty strong bottom.

Here's a nightmare scenario of what could happen otherwise.  And it's not pretty.

Here We Go Again: How to Tell a Bubble When you See One

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Oh my goodness. It's happening again. Will there be anywhere to hide this time, or are we already trapped — tied like poor little Pauline to the railroad tracks as the engine of another high tech bubble barrels down upon us.

Until last Thursday, there was some cause for hope. True, the day before the New York Times had written a piece reporting on the growing prevalence of "acqhire" transactions. That's where a company (like Facebook) buys a company for millions of dollars, only to promptly shut it down. Why? Because it wants the employees — $500,000 to $1 million per engineer is the current going rate. That's not quite as high as it was during the Internet Bubble years, but the same companies are doing lots of big-ticket acquisitions as well. Whether or not these transactions pay off in new revenues, the dilution to existing stockholders will be the same.

Pamela Jones and Groklaw: An Appreciation

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If you’re a regular reader of The Standards Blog, there’s an excellent chance that you already know that Pamela Jones – "PJ" to one and all – announced on Saturday that she would post her last article at Groklaw on May 16. Certain aspects of the site will remain available indefinitely.

It’s difficult to know where to begin in saying “goodbye” to Groklaw. What PJ and her many cohorts accomplished there has been unique in my experience. In many ways, Groklaw exemplifies the transformational power that the Internet has brought to law, society, technology, and the advancement of all things open.   

Open Network Foundation to Promote New Network Architecture

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This morning brings news of what may become another new and important consortium – the Open Network Foundation (ONF).  This time the goal is to adapt network architecture to streamline its interoperation with cloud computing. And while the news is intriguing, the way in which it has been broken is a bit odd, on which more below.   According to the press release announcing the new entity:   Six companies that own and operate some of the largest networks in the world — Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Verizon, and Yahoo! — announced today the formation of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting a new approach to networking called Software-Defined Networking (SDN). Joining these six founding companies in creating ONF are 17 member companies, including major equipment vendors, networking and virtualization software suppliers, and chip technology providers.   

Are There Too Many Consortia?

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Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

Companies that participate in hundreds of standard setting organizations (SSOs) often bemoan the continuing launch of more and more such organizations. Why, they are wont to ask, are so many new ones being formed all the time? And indeed, the aggregate participation costs for such companies in terms of membership dues and personnel are very high.

Of course, if you read the press releases of the new consortia launched in any given year, you'll see that almost all include some of the same companies among their founding members. So which is the more accurate picture — that there too many consortia, or too few? The best answer to both questions almost certainly is "yes."

Please Welcome Open AXIS Group

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Have you discovered The Alexandria Project? 

At any given time I'm helping to set up two or three new consortia and open source foundations, and it's always a pleasure to see one of announce their public launch.  Yesterday it was the turn of Open AXIS Group, the latest in a seemingly endless string of initiatives formed to recruit the versatile magic of XML to address a global need.

In this case, that need is dealing intelligently and efficiently with the growing number of services that an airline can sell or assist with (e.g., exit row or aisle seating, extra bags, and so on) in addition to booking the seat that you rent for a few hours.  That will all work more smoothly if not only every airline, but also every travel agent, travel site, and others all input information in the same, interoperable way. 

That goal can, of course, best be accomplished through XML, and in this case, by using an already developed XML schema that will serve as the starting point for Open AXIS Group's ongoing development and promotional work.

Elliott Associates and Novell: All About a Game of Cat and Mouse

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Have you discovered the Alexandria Project?

By now you've probably read endless takes on the news that Elliott Associates, one of the oldest hedge funds, with over US $16 billion under management, has made an unsolicited offer for Novell.  Almost all of these articles have focused on whether Elliott means business, what they'll do to Novell if they are successful, and whether another (and perhaps ultimately successful) bidder will enter the scene. 

I haven't seen any article yet, though,  that describes in detail how the high stakes game of tender offers is played, and how the usual process maps (and doesn't) to a high tech company like Novell.  So I thought I'd provide an overview for those that haven't had occasion to follow a tender offer in the past, and also my thoughts on what may happen over the next several months in this particular game of cat and mouse.

So here goes.

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