Adversity Inspires Innovation
I just listened to a fascinating interview with Simon Phipps on FLOSS weekly. He's the top open source advocate working at Sun Microsystems. You can check out the interview here. He covers a lot of ground in about hour, including how adversity inspires innovation, the future of open source software, and why sun created Java in the first place. He describes how, in terms of a technology company, creating free software moves the value farther down the chain and how it is still possible to profit greatly from that value.
I've always wondered why sun created Java. There never seemed to be much of a profitability model around it, at least as far as I could see. But Simon explained that the creation of Java was motivated by the fear of an Intel hardware monoculture. Which makes perfect sense, its bad for everyone, especially another chip maker like Sun. Its also pretty clear how open sourcing Java would only further this goal. Now I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner.
I wish the interview had been longer. One point that was quickly covered was his view that the creation of the internet was an accomplishment of even greater historical significance than the creation of the first printing press in Gutenberg. It has me thinking about that printing press and how significant the mass produced written word has been. Fascinating.