Rodney Gedda's piece of the Web

October 31, 2014
by Rodney Gedda

Open source as a case study in software reformism

Having read the Anarchist FAQ a number of years ago I found the brief mention of the open source movement quite interesting, no doubt owing to my personal interest in open source software.

I won’t summarise the FAQ here (that’s for another long post) only to draw a brief comparison of how open source projects resemble what an anarchist society is meant to look like across the entire spectrum of production. In the free software world:

  • The concept of central nanny state is meaningless and irrelevant (nation states)
  • The concept of a private corporation controlling the IP of the software is also meaningless and irrelevant (capitalist firms)
  • The fabric of society is centred around discrete open source projects (trade unions)
  • The open source projects interoperate with each other as required (resource sharing)

Open source production essentially operates in parallel with proprietary software production and, while including artificial state constructs like copyright, trademark and patent provisions as part of the final product, would continue unabated if the state broke down. If copyright did not exist every open source product would function as intended.

There’s no doubt open source is a revolution in software production, but for the purpose of this post I’ll discuss how it’s also a good example of reformism as well.

Anarchists consider “reformism” as developments intended for public good, but do not solve the root cause of social inequality. Welfare, public housing, land rights and education funding are all examples of reformism within the existing state-capitalist social structure we live in (monarchies and theocracies aside).

While revolutionary, open source projects, their sponsors and end-users (most everyone these days) are still subject to state-capitalist interests and can be on the receiving end of use exclusions, copyright and patent claims, trademark infringements and can be corrupted by capitalist interests. This is most apparent with today’s fascination with cloud computing and smart devices. Every cloud service and mobile device uses some open source software, but many are not very open systems (especially mobile) and are very tightly tied to the vendor’s interests.

Nonetheless, open source is still a leading example of reformism. The projects are not waiting for some fanciful “post revolution” era when the developers are all free to product what software they like without fear of prosecution. As anarchists say, their idea is to “create a new world in the shell of the old” and the open source software movement is doing just that.

Free software principles can also be applied to other industries. Take mutual banking (and to some extent crowd funding) as an example of pooled resources with interest and fees charged at a rate that covers the administration costs. While also an example of reformism with the current system, mutual banking is a worthwhile “new world in the shell of the old”. It would still have to stave off the established institutions, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a worthwhile to many people in need of financial services.

Open source software combines the platform of revolution with the practicality of reformism. Let’s hope the movement carries on strongly in parallel with the new era of cloud-mobile computing.

September 30, 2014
by Rodney Gedda

Wearable computers at work

This month I received a smart watch as a gift and one of the first things I did was wear it into work. I don’t have any big plans to use the device for my work, rather I’m probably like most people that “bring” their portable computers into the workplace – I’ll gradually adopt applications that are useful to both my personal and work requirements. If your watch can count your steps why can’t it receive your email?

We’ve all heard about BYOD and, increasingly, BYOA, so there is no reason to think wearables won’t fall into that category. Just this week I was interviewed by The Australian about the proliferation of wearable computers (and their apps) into the workplace.

Wearables in a workplace could deliver everything from operator assistance to safety alerts and fire drill instructions and would have “a profound impact” on business.

Companies will offer work apps for smartwatches, says Telsyte report – Chris Griffith, The Australian, September 30, 2014


Like most “new” trends the business market has actually taken advantage of the technology for some time. When I was an engineer I remember walking around the plant with a wearable gas detector for safety reasons. Today’s wearable computers could easily be adapted for such purposes. BYOW anyone?…

August 31, 2014
by Rodney Gedda

New named writer report

Catapult your content with a named writer

Catapult your content with a named writer

Hot on the heels of my content marketing report I have written another on using a named writer for content.

The report, Catapult your content with a named writer, is aimed at organisations that have some content focus, be they media outfits or content marketing efforts.

A “named writer” is a writer that brings a personal brand along with their content. My guide covers the reasons for using a named writer, what approach to take when engaging a named writer and what to expect as a result.

Download the report


July 30, 2014
by Rodney Gedda

F-Droid open source app store on BlackBerry 10

I’ve been an Android user for many years, but only recently dabbled with a few alternative app stores to Google Play.

F-Droid: An open source app store

F-Droid: An open source app store

I now have Amazon’s app store and the F-Droid open source app store running on my Android device.

Even more recently I acquired a BlackBerry Z30 device running BlackBerry 10 OS. After hearing Amazon’s app store will be shipping by default with the next version of BlackBerry 10, v10.3, I decided to fire it up now to see what happens. I also did some searching to see if was possible to run the F-Droid app store on BB10 and there’s not much of a word of that combination on the Internet. Voila! It was as easy as pointing the browser to both those stores’ Web sites, downloading the app store .apk package and touching to install them.

I now have both the F-Droid and Amazon app stores running on both Android and BlackBerry 10 (10.2.1).


That said, while the two app stores work fine and download apps on the BlackBerry device fine, it’s a big Your App Mileage May Vary as to how many of the apps actually run on the QNX-based OS. In my (limited) experience it’s about 50-50. As in 50% work fine and the other 50% start and then crash immediately.

I hope the main ones I use, like the Sparse RSS reader, work across both devices so I have a reasonably standards-based approach to personal mobility, and can avoid being at the helm of one walled garden.

June 30, 2014
by Rodney Gedda

Free content marketing report

Content Marketing Report cover

An Introduction to Content Marketing

I have written a report on the phenomenon that is content marketing and made it available under a Creative Commons licence. The report (in PDF) is available for free download from my blog here: An Introduction to Content Marketing.


The report is free for both commercial and non-commercial use, but cannot be sold or included as part of a derivative work. Why not charge for it? Well, I want the report to be used by as many people as possible regardless of any commercial imperative. Organisations like:

  • Not-for-profits
  • Open source projects
  • Start-ups
  • Charity groups
  • Educational institutions

Can all benefit from content marketing and should not be have any less of an opportunity to publish their stories than an organisation with a billion dollar marketing budget.

One of the benefits of good content is it democratises the reach of the brand: content produced by a start-up can be just as interesting as content produced by a multinational.

Content marketing has a definite ‘flavour of the month’ feel about it, but in my experience it’s nothing new and I have been producing it since my cadet journalist days. There is a definite land grab out there and a surprising number of businesses have popped up with ‘content’ in their name, however, I can only see the relevance of content marketing increasing for a few reasons:

  • People are tired of hearing the same old marketing messages and brand messaging needs to become more creative and informative to remain relevant.
  • Independent content production by non-media organisations has been around for a long time – it just wasn’t known as “content marketing”.

I will attempt to keep it updated at least quarterly. In fact, just looking at with fresh eyes, it could do with a design makeover so maybe that’s where I’ll next direct my attention.

May 29, 2014
by Rodney Gedda

The Business interview

Appearing on the ABC's The Business program in May 2014.

Appearing on the ABC’s The Business program in May 2014.

I appeared on ABC’s The Business program last night talking about a possible Google acquisition of for around $1 billion. The episode is hosted on iView here but don’t count on that link being useful in the future.

This was actually the second time I’ve been on The Business. I was interviewed about BlackBerry in January last year.

I must say after years of holding the pen/recorder/microphone it still feels strange being on the other side of the interview equation. Since becoming an analyst I’ve been featured in print, online, radio and TV, but shouldn’t I be asking you questions?

Time to dig out that old guide to media relations I wrote and put it to use.

March 30, 2014
by Rodney Gedda
1 Comment

A memorable March

This month was very extraordinary as I celebrated the birth of my first child, a baby boy.

They say child birth is a life-changing experience and they are not wrong. It’s one of those things that you only understand the gravity of once you’ve experienced it for yourself.

With a new baby you immediately realise how insignificant everything else in life is.

There are quite a few sleepless nights, but, hey, sleep is overrated, right?


When life is getting you down, just put your fingers in your ears.

January 30, 2014
by Rodney Gedda

New smartphone options for local telcos

These days you can buy a smartphone from almost anywhere, from a mobile carrier to a grocery store. This month we put out an announcement on how this trend might impact telcos. Now, the telcos may turn around and say “that’s good, we don’t want to be smartphone retailers anyway” as their core business is mobile services, not handset sales. The problem is they risk loosing their advantage of being a trusted advisor for valued-added mobile services as well, particularly in the business space.

The smartphone market has rapidly solidified around the two big incumbent platforms, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. BlackBerry and Microsoft are holding their own, but the new range of smartphone operating systems:

  • FirefoxOS
  • Ubuntu
  • SailfishOS
  • Tizen

may also help carrier differentiation, in addition to consumer choice. There are already handsets available running each of those and 2014 is looking like a big device launch year for Ubuntu and Tizen.

Telstra has already signaled its intention to evaluate FirefoxOS as an alternative smartphone platform. It will be interesting to see if all three mobile carriers come through with a alternatives to the incumbents. The reward could mean more than just handset sales if they provide a path to more value-added services.