01 July 2015

Consorting with The Devil [update]

Well, the R Consortium has been born. Should we be happy, or call an exorcist? Will our beloved R sit in bed, spin its head, and spew green vomit on "the community"?

Consider who man it: M$ and Oracle, among others. M$ has had agita with Open Source at least since linux came along. Oracle, in particular, has a checkered history with java, which is not, legally, open source but was given a rather wide berth when part of Sun. Harmony limped along under Sun, but Larry put a stop to that. Since Larry took over it's become the current corporate COBOL. Given that SAS has refused to mate with some corporate IT behemoth, this IT cartel makes sense when one considers that M$/Revolution's RBAR extension make R syntax compatible with disc/tape data (including the Big species) sorta, kinda transparently. Skip SAS and go RA/R. That's a bit of angst for IBM with SPSS, but they'll get over it. SPSS is dying (or not?) anyway.

If Oracle should win the API case now that the Supremes have punted, Open Source effectively ends. Any software publisher, including the Consortium, *could* do quite the same to R. Will they (if Google loses, again)? Silos as far as the eye can see. Only The Shadow knows.
"An API is a description of what the software is going to do," Cantrill tells us. "You can think of the API as the plot as opposed to the novel. If you're saying that that abstract notion of the plot is copyrightable, then everything is derivative."

One might wonder whether "the community" wants R to become the New SAS the way java has become the New COBOL.

Turns out, some (most, as I type) of the comments on the announcement at RStudio are, believe it or don't, even more acerbic. Who knew?

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