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On a New Road

Google's EarthFriday September 17, 2010
WIlliam Gibson wrote a great op-ed piece for The New York Times. It's all about the universe that's being built around us by Google (and Facebook, and many of the other social media sites). Despite their good intentions and 'do no evil' mantra, they're getting perilously close to some of the dystopian nightmares that should stay in the pages of fiction. With every line of code we engineers write, we have to ask ourselves: does this move us closer to the world of Star Trek, or of Blade Runner? I, for one, would rather not live in the Blade Runner universe, and yet that's what we're sliding into building.

One small act that can help avoid the dystopia is to keep the pressure on Oracle to do the right thing. I don't believe that parading around in protest t-shirts will convince them to do what they committed to, but it'll let them know that the community is watching.

I have an offer to members of the press: a free dinner anywhere in the Bay Area to anyone who gets a straight, reasonable, intellectually defensible official answer from Oracle to the question of why their demand for the creation of an independent Java Foundation applied to Sun, but now doesn't apply to Oracle.


"Why their demand for the creation of an independent Java Foundation applied to Sun, but now doesn't apply to Oracle?" We'll try and keep the pressure on from our side. Perhaps Larry will be taking questions after his keynote on Sunday?

Posted by Cameron McKenzie on September 17, 2010 at 10:30 AM PDT #

There are some strong indications, that the t.kurian keynote will deliver some more insights. I had the pleasure to listen to him yesterday, speaking very passionate about java, google, jcp and other things. It's pretty clear. Things are run different now. But there is still strong hope, that they finally will get better!

Posted by Markus on September 17, 2010 at 03:58 PM PDT #

James - not that I disagree with you but can you explain why you didn't free java in the many years you were in charge? Frank

Posted by Frank on September 17, 2010 at 06:22 PM PDT #

Since when does oracle care about what we "nerds" think ? We're weirdos in love with a programming language for god's sake ! And are endlessly arguing about its syntax. In their opinion we're only weird, expendable, "resources" they tolerate. If you can convince the customers to wear the t-shirt... THAT would strike sensible note at oracle.

Posted by Jan Goyvaerts on September 18, 2010 at 03:25 AM PDT #

@Frank it is a fallacy to think that because he created the language, he had absolutely all control over it. Remember, the credit may go to him (as creator) but the licensing rights can go to some corporation if he is working for them and commissioned by them to do such creation. #JustSaying

Posted by on September 19, 2010 at 12:25 PM PDT #

The answer is plain simple: It is Human!. If we ware an alien race with higher IQ , Intellectual,Technology, etc ,maybe, just maybe Oracle could keep their promise but how are Humans does not. But is not bad, that is the nature of Human, Human only care for their own survival and when they don't have the piece of bread or the power, they beg to free it for them to the other but when this human gets the power and the piece of bread they keep for their self and thats it, they don't share it and that is natural law of this living creatures. Only one man, about 2010 years ago tried to change that but it could not after all, the nature of this living creatures called humans is more strong than anything, The Humans never will change. Been there, Done that. 2c.

Posted by Otengim on September 19, 2010 at 02:31 PM PDT #

Or a bit like the mirror universe in Star Trek! :) ........ On a weird note, I have a personal question if you could answer it? ... Did you ever know a scottish guy called Richard Gair Hynd from Sun at all? He claims he worked on java and I just wanted a confirmation as he has a way of telling a few tall tales if you catch my drift! :) Many thanks.

Posted by Simon on September 19, 2010 at 05:38 PM PDT #

Mr. Gossling why don't you start the worlds very own Independent Java Foundation? Oracle does not seem like the type to do one, and neither would Sun back then. So basically nothing has changed, Sun did not do it and now Oracle probably wont. Time for you to give it a try. Actually I have no idea if you can even do it, but if you cant why not tell us why?

Posted by George on September 19, 2010 at 09:38 PM PDT #

Why it no longer applies to them? Because it is good to be the king. Thats why.

Posted by Sakuraba on September 20, 2010 at 12:16 AM PDT #

I'd still like to hear from James and I think we need to set Oracle aside for the sake of argument. James -- You still need to explain your position. As you know, there was enormous pressure on Sun for years to do exactly what you are now advocating Oracle do, except that Sun was never willing to "free" Java. This is NOT a new discussion. My question remains -- as you were in charge of Java at Sun for over a decade -- why didn't you "free" Java? What was your rationale for not doing exactly what you are now advocating? Frank

Posted by Frank on September 20, 2010 at 06:27 AM PDT #

@Frank, having the same questions, I can only assume that James enjoyed his employment at Sun rather than start grassroots campaigns against them to Free Java. Not that there's anything wrong with that, everyone has to make a living, it just makes the shrillness and urgency less sincere. The only sliver of logic that could justify it is that Oracle wanted Sun to do it, (and pledged to do it) and now they are in charge, they are not willing to do so and deal with the consequences of doing it. This is not much different than your position of publicly calling for it to be done now you are no longer a force within the organization able to do it, nor are you bound to the consequences of doing it. Its like an ex-politician complaining that taxes are too high after spending years living on them.

Posted by Ring on September 20, 2010 at 01:26 PM PDT #

I am in this move to at-least show Oracle that its not just about money always.

Posted by Priya Dandekar on September 20, 2010 at 03:45 PM PDT #

Can anyone explain to me what is meant, when we say "Java is not free."? Don't we already have Iced Tea? Doesn't that make java "free"?

Posted by Pooria on September 21, 2010 at 03:22 AM PDT #

Still trying to understand by what kind of alien logic will asking Oracle to free Java deliver us from a Blade Runner future and will also cure Google's (largely perceived) evil. You're not making much sense, James.

Posted by Steve on September 21, 2010 at 07:36 AM PDT #

Hello James, you probably know that they kill javaFX script and I'm so so furious about that. Do you think there is a way to purchase F3 spirit, if yes, i would be your soldier.

Posted by Galien on September 21, 2010 at 02:38 PM PDT #

Could someone explain to me how the part of java that catches errors works. I mean what does the actual code for it do. And can it be replicated using java or c++? Feel free to email me a reply at

Posted by on September 22, 2010 at 07:46 AM PDT #

Hi James, basically you have to remember that companies such as Oracle, will seek at all times to increase their earnings, no doubt, Java is a very complete language extraordinarily rich quality, the only thing I'd recommend is the creation of a new language the which take the features of Java and perhaps in some sense the better. Be very careful not to violate the rights of Oracle, now presumed to own. But it would be fantastic, that a person like you which has all the experience began a new language that can freely compete with Java. Clarification: I'm from Latin America (Honduras), so my native language is Spanish, then I apologize for my possible mistakes in their language, thanks.

Posted by Edwin Contreras on September 22, 2010 at 08:43 AM PDT #

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