Gold, riots, Microsoft and type design.

I’m in two minds about what the important news is this week.

On the one hand, the economic collapse continues to be riveting. Mexico is becoming a failed state (this is especially noteworthy for me because the Guardian headline “Mexico in free fall” is no surprise to me as I read about that over a month ago on Mike Ruppert’s blog, with much better analysis - whole police departments walking off the job on strike, the head of police’s head turning up in a freezer box, and the USA trooping up the border - no doubt exacerbated by the old peak oil news about Cantaell’s oil production going off a cliff multiplying the loss of the state’s income from the temporarily collapsed oil price); Eastern Europe is collapsing quick enough to make the “soft landing for Europe” thesis questionable, with the Latvian government collapsing first; British expats are fleeing early/temporary social collapse; the gold price pushed $1,000/ounce again, and record £684 highs (I’m sad I wasn’t more confident in my financial research in November/December, but I reckon with this high there’ll be a selloff down to $850 or so, and if so there will be a chance to buy in more before there is a run on fiat money - or at least, sterling.); and China’s peak oil endgame starting to play out.

On the other hand, Microsoft sued TomTom over software idea patents. TomTom is a mobile computing developer and semi-free software business; semi-free as they use GNU/Linux and GPL software as a base for a proprietary mapping application. Larry Augustin makes a good case for treating this like GIF (via Linux Elitists mailing list); boycotting the patent-lumbered format from now on, which for GIF resulted in the excellent PNG.

This lawsuit, if TomTom looses, will effect Android, the free software operating system for mobile phones that I am aiming my typeface design at. It will also mean that plugging in portable music players and digital cameras is likely to stop working “out of the box” on free software systems, just like the MP3 audio format: The best software in the world for dealing with the format is free software, but the patents mean it is effectively censored. I hope this attack will only add momentum to the campaign to end software patents.

This is important because it has reminded me about my I’m studying type design and font software, and helped me to de-rivet from rubber-necking the collapse. It is wrong for a state to assert total control and power over people (even in the name of terrorism) and, similarly, it is wrong when proprietary software developers assert total power and control over the users of software. Especially when that power is neglected. There was an inspiring lecture today about the 230 million people who write the Bengali script with zero OpenType fonts available…

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The Gold, riots, Microsoft and type design. by David Crossland, except the quotations and unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

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