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政經

香港電子書的大鬧劇看香港特區政府的心態

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From the ordeal of e-book to the nature of HKSAR governance
I had recently writing too much on Christian right, to the point that I almost forgot that I was once a FOSS activist, which I only criticize HKSAR for its colonial complex and entanglement of business interest and politics. Now there is yet another case to demonstrate the validity of my claim of 'crony' capitalism practice by HKSAR: Originally the e-book scheme proposed could reduce the cost of textbooks for many lower class parents, while stimulate the growth of creative industry: Programming and create a local ecosystem of knowledge workers and layperson expertise. However, in the name of free market and fairness in procurement, it devolve to the point where it is not longer affordable by not just lower class, but the lower end of middle class. What is happening?
Because once and again, HKSAR always has a heart for Big Business monopoly just like itself being a political hegemony. So the operating system of choice to run this scheme has switch from stable and free Linux which is free to modify and improve to Microsoft Windows system which has hundreds of software patent. Once HKSAR has chosen the stupid road of Intellectual Property in its local software development industry, those who can participate switch from tens of thousand of Netizen who barely made their ends meet to hundreds of certified Microsoft expert. And inevitably, the rich and knowledgeable only become richer and more knowledgeable; the poor and needy of knowledge in Age of Internet only become more deprave in terms of knowledge and money. Why?
In order to become a certified Microsogy expert like MCSE, one would have to be able to afford more than just a broadband Internet connection, but a computer with all latest and best hardware certified by Microsoft to be comparable, on top of the expansive but not so stable Windows-XP, plus a few suits of softwares like Visual Basic Studio along with Anti-Virus softwares. Beside, you can't cooperate with your friends using this software since it is against the user license agreement that you can't disagree. Then you got to pass MCSE and the like only to discover that the final decision whether developing such a software is feasible depends on:
A. Would you like your knowledge to be copyrighted(monopolize) by Microsoft(which is how they license the so-called 'Wikipedia of music')?
B. Would such a software hurt Microsoft's future business plan?
So much investment in Microsoft that would made anyone become a partner in business interest of Microsoft.

In comparison, when this software is develop locally using Free and Open Source operating systems like FreeBSD/Linux. The cost is mostly to maintain your Internet connection and your computer working. Since Linux/FreeBSD doesn't require the latest and best hardware certified by a convicted Big monopoly, nor you need a license agreement with Microsoft to utilize the patented software technologies of Microsoft. Most of your resource needed to develop e-book is freely available in the Linux/FreeBSD community of on the Internet. Plus you can use FOSS software to collaborate with your friends from all over the world legally and without cost. Certainly you don't need any 'approval' from Linux/FreeBSD community, nor worrying about hurting the 'business interest' of LUGs. Beside, you can always make you and other Netizen's contribution acknowledged by using one of the donzes license from Common Creative. How would such a software be qualitatively poorer than those who made by patented technologies, so to warrant HKSAR to choose Microsoft instead of FOSS alternative?

It is ridiculous and extremely backward to utilize the legal mechanism of copyright protection for protecting the intellectual property of textbook, since Netwon and Einstein never got a dime from the producers of Physics textbook. It is even worst when the prices of textbook has become prohibitively expansive for some parents in those few years at Hong Kong. In the Age of Information yet we still charge textbook by its content which also freely available in Wikipedia but not charge by its unique method for synthesis and organizing data into useful system of knowledge! What unique value that those textbook publisher produced in the process of making this textbook that no educator could thought of (in terms of teaching method), and what advance and latest knowledge that Netizen has no idea of? When a GPL technology is freely available for HKSAR to take advantage of, why doesn't HKSAR to make the best out of it? Is that the idea of 'I will get the job done' of Donald Duck? Is that such a decision so hard to made, or a non-substainable oligarchies of Hong Kong would always perfer non-substainable policy over people's long term development?

Living in HKSAR is great for all of us, since the citizen is always lightyear ahead of its Idoitic Government. I wonder if Donald Tseung is still reading 'Dummy's Guide to Governing'?

我寫得太多關於基督右派的文章,有時也忘記了自己曾是自由軟件運動的一名活躍份子,我曾發表文章痛批因香港特區政府的官商勾結和祟洋情結,把本來可以既減低一般學生家長的子女書簿費負擔、二來可發展本土的電腦創意工業﹝Linux/FreeBSD﹞及建立公共知識領域的電子書計劃,由所謂自由經濟的所謂公平競爭之名,竟然變成比實體書本更令一般學生家長負擔不起,何解?因為香港特區政府又一如以往選擇了微軟作業系統為其基礎,而一但使用擁有軟件專利的微軟系統,則由於走的不是開放源碼的路,可以參與的人就由一大堆普通網民變成一小撮間接被微軟操控的「微軟專家」,商業利益繼續被一小撮相對富有的壟斷者瓜分,富有更富有,貧困的更貧困。想像一下,學Linux的入門成本只是互聯網的費用,大部份學習資源都可以在全球Linux社群取得,不用未見官先打三百大板,先買最新的微軟作業系統,因為微軟作業系統要買較大的硬碟、較快的處理器以及由微軟認證的一大堆電腦硬體,再買一大堆的合法軟體如 Visual Basic Studio﹝只可以一人用,不可以和朋友一起研究,否則違反使用者條款﹞,然後考完多重的試MCSE,再由微軟決定你是否合格,當然,你最後可不可以在微軟的平台上發展電子書,還得看會不會有損微軟的商業利益﹝即微軟是否有意發展電子書﹞,以及你打不打算把公有知識的版權都當成微軟的﹝如微軟的音樂庫百科全書要求使用者放棄自己的版權﹞,投入了這麼多資源/時間,你怎可能不成為維護微軟既得利益者的一份子呢?

相反,如果發展電子書工業用GPL註冊的Linux系統,不單發展者不要付一筆龐大的版權費,發展者之間可自由交流,並由交流之中推動民間經濟的發展,把發展時累積的技術知識回譴給一般網民,而且系統相對安全穩定,病毒、木馬更是罕有中的罕有,且要求的硬體較低較便宜,不用最新最快最有名的,而且內容可由教師及公共知識份子、一般網民提供,以相同方式共享的版權註冊,甚至是不用版權。現在已經是資訊時代,知識的形式及內涵竟然還受版權保護的實體而收費,卻不是以資訊整理的方法和手段而收費,實屬落伍荒謬可笑,再者,魯迅未曾從香港的中文教科書收到一分錢,卻有市民因負擔不起中文教科書連CD而生活困頓被迫退學,但是起中文教科書連CD有什麼內容是原創兼結合最新最有效的教學手法,連教師及一般網民都想不到呢?如此,所謂教科書有價,它的價值來自哪兒?知識的傳播因官僚的因循而成為天價,有免費的開放源碼技術又不加以善用,造福社會,就是不給以不法手段的技術壟斷者多一分錢不安心,不單是慷納稅人之慨,更非迫市民大衆支持自己愚蠢的選擇,這叫什麼「打好這份工」?令富者愈富愈有控制資訊的能力,這叫什麼社會公義?一但微軟沒有興趣去支援電子書的作業平台,納稅人除了被迫向微軟「年年進貢,歲歲來朝」之外,還可以作什麼呢?這叫什麼可持續發展?

我看的是:一個不可以持續發展的政權,理所當然地選擇了一個不可以持續發展的政策,理所當然地傾向最富有最有勢力的洋集團,對香港未來一點承擔也沒有!

按:highlight為編輯所加。

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