Saturday, March 14, 2015

Open Code project now all on third party companies

Even big companies that can do everything sometimes withdraw and allow third parties to take the lead.  Google has announced it is withdrawing from Open Code for most purposes, suddenly announcing there would be no new projects;  then making the project read-only in August and closing in March of 2016. Google says that GitHub and Bitbucket now provide better platforms and encourages remaining users to migrate with tools.  It says most legitimate open code users have done this already, leaving them with abusers.  Google’s announcement is here. There has been some anger on Twitter (particularly from people attending  SXSW in Austin right now), but the reactions don’t seem well justified.
Google has pulled the plug on other services, like iGoogle in November 2013, but with considerable notice. In more recent times, Google seems to making notices more abruptly, like with the Blogger porn issue (Feb. 26) which it largely deferred. 
Even very large companies find it is better not to tackle everything,  Apple extends its iMovie with FinalCutPro, which is a staple in the film industry.  But it does not do this with iTunes, for example;  it is perfectly content to let Avid keep hold of making music composition software work well in both Mac and PC environments. 
AOL had a precursor of blogging software, called Hometown AOL, which it had opened in 1996, and I was an early user.  AOL withdrew from offering it to accounts in 2007, allowing users to export to Blogger.
I often wonder how the business models for these companies really can work.  I don’t do a lot of stull to generate income for anyone, and I am minimally receptive to ads (although I have my favorites, like a Walt Disney World water ride commercial, or a particular Audi short film).  Could “free service” platforms like Blogger suddenly pull the plug, or be much more restrictive on the quality of visits (as from analytics)?  I wonder.  I still think it would be a good idea for Google to offer hosting contracts (beyond Picasa photos), or be much more public about third-party companies that it works with on hosting contracts, in order to provide more structured support for content developers.  This seems clear enough with Wordpress and some companies that specialize in hosting it, like BlueHost.
Open Code and Open Source should is not the same as Open Access.  I’m seeing more about this latter problem in Jack Andraka’s book “Breakthrough” which I will review soon.
By the way. Julia Belluz has a piece on peer review and science journals to pass along on Vox, here

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