We made it. A decade of Groklaw as of today. Who'd a thunk it?
When I started, I thought I'd do a little fiddling around for a couple of months to learn how to blog. But then all you guys showed up and taught me some important things that I didn't know, and vice versa I hope, and here we are, on our 10th anniversary, still going strong, together on a very different path than I originally imagined. The important moment for me was when I realized the potential we had as a group and decided to try to surf this incredible wave all of you created by contributing your skills and time. I saw we could work as a group, explain technology to the legal world so lawyers and judges could make better decisions, and explain the legal process to techies, so they could avoid troubles and also could be enabled to work effectively to defend Free and Open Source Software from cynical "Intellectual Property" attacks from the proprietary world.
And it worked! That's the amazing part. It actually worked. So far, so good.
If I take three things away from our experience, it's this:
1.) Education is never a waste, Group dynamics are awesome. Whenever there is a new need, somehow the right people show up and fill it. Whether it was meticulously demolishing SCO's claims, one by one, or doing patent prior art searching, or explaining that software is mathematics and hence unpatentable subject matter, or noticing what the real game is in the patent smartphone wars, you came through with competence, donating your knowledge, research, and skills to the group effort. And you did it entirely as volunteers, as a free gift to the world.
2.) All of us together are smarter and more powerful than any one of us alone, and
3) FUD withers in sunlight. It only works when people lack accurate information.
Groklaw was attacked with venom, of course. But here we are, ten years later, still standing.
Here's the secret to survival (so far): stay carefully within the law at all times, don't get discouraged when your good name is being dragged through the mud unjustly, trust the community but keep an eye out for submarine operatives working to damage from within, keep right on explaining and explaining, and don't sell out.
You know what else we proved? It is possible to have an open message board and still have standards upheld, even on the Internet, even allowing anonymous commenting. In fact, some of our best contributions were from anonymous commenters.
Happy anniversary, everyone! Thank you for sticking to the job for ten years without giving out, and for funding the necessary activities that make Groklaw Groklaw. We made a difference in this old world. It's an achievement we can tell our grandchildren about some day. Not everyone can say that, but we actually made a difference. And nobody can take that away from us. I'm really proud of Groklaw.
I'm proud of all of you who never quit, including me (because sometimes you feel like just kicking back and not working so hard), and I'm proud of those of you who volunteered for awful, boring tasks -- those thousands and thousands of Comes v. Microsoft exhibits! -- but who did them because someone had to, those who researched and those who patiently explained the tech to me so I could explain to the world, those who donated when you could barely afford it yourselves, those who attended hearings and trials for us, serving as our eyes and ears, those who send in articles for News Picks, those who did text versions of court documents and audio of hearings and teleconferences so everyone could easily search them, including those with handicaps. The result is that we have chronicled tech history for the last decade, particularly as it impacted FOSS.
Ten years. You guys changed my life, you know. And very much for the better. If the whole world were geeks, I believe it would be a much better world.
There's more work to do, particularly on the patent front. But the fact that we now see articles trying to argue that software is *not* mathematics means our educational effort is not in vain. When we started writing that, patent lawyers just laughed at us. They are not laughing now. Now they are feverishly trying to prove us wrong. They won't be able to, though, because it's true.
I don't want to overstate what we can accomplish, because the pressure from the monied patent lobby is real, but for sure we can be happy that what we *could* do, we did. We did what we could, and our message is now in the center of an important discussion.
Thanks to reddit, I have a pictorial message for all those who through the years thought they could destroy Groklaw with their smears and sneers:
I know. But
I couldn't resist. I yam what I yam.
That's the other thing I'm so proud of, actually -- that we stayed ourselves. We never pretended to be anything but what we are, we stayed true to community values, told the truth as we found it, admitted when we goofed, and it's that authenticity that makes Groklaw trusted all over the world. I believe that, anyway.
The uncropped original of that delightful dog is here.
I love the pets on reddit. Love them. I love all the guys who find a stray kitten while out walking the golf range, and take it home in their hoodie pocket and keep it forever. When I get down-hearted, as we all do sometimes, I go to reddit and laugh a while, and then I feel better and can dig into work again. There are a lot of wonderful people in the world, it reminds me, decent, pleasant folks who care about things people are supposed to care about, and I see that God made the world funny and charming and beautiful. I see that in the animals' darling little faces and endearing ways, and it makes me happy to watch their antics. Exhibit A. You can't look at that and stay down-hearted. The world isn't *just* politicians and lobbyists and patent trolls. Sometimes it's good to be reminded.
Let's enjoy today, then. In fact, I've been almost speechless ever since the CLS Bank decision was published. Did you notice I just couldn't write anything much for a while? That's a Groklaw first. I see the progress so clearly in that decision, in the reactions too, and I ponder with real satisfaction the possibilities. I never thought the message would spread so quickly, so every time I'd have to edit another article about what software is, I'd be asking myself, how many more of these will I have to do? I thought I was condemned to years and years more of it before we'd get this far, to tell you the truth, if it would in fact ever be enough to matter.
But here we are. So, let's enjoy a day off, and then tomorrow, it's back to work! The world also isn't just doggies and kittens and geeks and Groklaw. So there is still plenty more work to do.
Here's what I'm thinking about for what we could do next. I'm thinking our next step should be to do an amicus brief the next time an important case reaches the Federal Circuit or the US Supreme Court. It could even be CLS if there is a further appeal. We have Mark Webbink now as co-editor of Groklaw, so we can do things that we couldn't before we had a lawyer on board. We can spread our wings a bit now, so why not?
Keep your eyes open, then, for that right case, and we will too. And meanwhile, please make note of what pro-software-patent folks think are winning arguments. Really think about what their belief system is made up of and how to explain why it is off-base technically.
Somebody needs to explain to the judges what software is and what it is not. I see from the dissents in CLS Bank that some judges are a teensy bit confused, so someone should lend them a hand.
If not us, who?