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Newsbyteblog: the blog of newsbyte regarding all things IT, free speech, copyright and patents and other things deemed interesting.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Academic research

Ah, slashdot...you can't live with it, and you can't... ah well. It's great for having discussions, now and then. Sometimes, they even are pretty damn interesting. Anyway, not too long ago, I stumbled upon a /. article about "The Law of Unintended Consequences: Patents" which linked with the relationship between patent law and innovation to the Fortune-article.

Now, I found it to be a pretty interesting read. As did at least some others on /., aparently. But, as always, you have those that are staunch adepts, and those...well, that are not. Pros and cons, as usual - with heated debates, also as usual. I stumbled upon one such discussion, and felt compelled to respond to a guy called 'tambo', whose real name, it would seem, is a certain David Stein. While at first I thought it was a troll, just like the parent posters before me, as the discussion between me and him went on, I was less and less convinced that he was. First of all, it's rare for a troll to place a name on his posts, and secondly, I remember all to well the times *I*'ve been called a troll, merely because I have strong libertarian opinions about diverse issues, and because I'm not afraid to have some criticism where I feel it is necessary (regardless of the popularity of the person or product). Tambo (or Stein) was opinionated, for sure, and what's more, he had a totally different opinion, and in my view, not much of substantiated argumentation. Especially concerning the content of the article, he wasn't very convincing or reasonable, exept for a demand for more hard proof (which is always something that should be welcomed, obviously).

But...he *did* do the trouble of responding in a rather calm way, and some of his theories, while unsubstantiated and no doubt biased, were at least internally logical and contained little contradictions. All by all, he made some good points too, IMHO, despite his unsubstantiated theory and sometimes esotheric conclusions. In any case, it was clear to me he wasn't out to just create a flamewar and to troll people into angry fits: he did too much trouble trying to be coherent for that. So, where I first even doubted he RTFA (as did many others, seen his first comments that seemed to disregard complete pages of the article), I have reverted my opinion. At least, I have the impression he did read the article at some point during the discussion, if it wasn't from the start. ;-)

For people who want to read up on the developing discussion about the pros and cons of academic research verus profit-driven research at universities, and about the validity of what is said in the article, feel free to have a look at this slashdot thread and this one.

And, of course, feel free to comment about your position on this issue.


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