Dell Does Linux

Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Computer Corp., was in Silicon Valley yesterday to give the opening keynote speech at the Linux World Conference and Expo. You read that right.

Dell may be as closely aligned with Microsoft as any company, but Michael Dell is going where his customers go. More in my Wednesday column.

Note, toward the end, that Dell advises the music industry on listening to customers. The music industry should listen to him.

Speaking of Speaking

I’m giving a talk at the Hot Interconnects symposium today at Stanford University. The gathering is for high-level engineers and researchers to show off their latest ideas in high-performance chips, software and systems. In other words, the people I’ll be addressing know way more about technology’s inner workings than I do. So what can I tell them that might be even slightly interesting?

My talk has three parts:

  • A reflection on Moore’s Law and its counterparts in storage and bandwidth. We can easily understand how something might get twice as fast or powerful or dense in a short time, but the compounded effect of this trend is hard to grasp. Not only that, the combined impact of that progress is more than just additive.
  • Binary choices. Technology is creating some truly yes-or-no choices for us in areas where we once were able to find a middle ground. That includes encryption, intellectual property and other issues that defy compromise.
  • The intellectual property wars of the emerging era are going to define more of our future than most people appreciate. What’s going on now is a supremely greedy land grab in every area of IP — patents, trademarks, copyright and more. The owners of IP are winning almost all of the legal battles, having tamed Congress, but they’re losing all the technical ones as Napster and other technologies come along.

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