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Conforming to Norms...

I just came from an STS (Science, Technology, and Society) class where we had NO ELECTRICITY (yet again) to power the building facilities -- no lights, no aircon, no electric fan, and a lot of sleepy people. I realized a lot of things while sitting in my armchair and wondering why the University of the Philippines couldn't afford to get electricity from Meralco instead of the lackluster and less than desirable service of Napocor. Why UPLB cannot afford a lot of things beats me and is beyond my control/knowledge but I nevertheless could say a lot of things regarding OTHER things.

We touched upon the issue of brain drain, and why Filipino researchers and scientists tend to give knowledge away to foreigners or people from other lands easily or with less fuss than expected. It seems also that the socialist idea of knowledge/property for everyone is parallel to the rationale behind file sharing and open source. But I will be talking about that later.

First off, people who would like to earn a living through R&D shouldn't do it in the Philippines mainly because there is little to no R&D happening here. If there are breakthroughs brought about by Filipino engineers and scientists, usually other countries get their hands on it before any other Filipino does. That would be considered lucky, since most if not all of the times that Filipino's make a breakthrough, it is usually accompanied by lucrative offers from multinational companies based on other countries. With the breakthrough usually comes an offer to live somewhere else where his/her breakthrough would be most appreciated both monetarily or figuratively.

Another thing would be the training regarding the Filipino scientist where transparency and honesty is key -- whereas "white papers" released by foreign companies and researchers usually contain little to no details regarding the actual study performed. If you compare the level of detail which UP students give away in their papers (which is actually required) and the level of detail you get from foreign journal articles, you'd be surprised to find very little details in the journals. However, you'd be surprised too to find a paper from the Philippines with very little detail.

The issue of socialism embodied in open source and file sharing is a very pilit correlation. Actually, I remember vaguely reading it somehwere else. But I am too lazy to cite the source, since I'd have to google it through the net first. However it does make sense (the original notion) and may be one of the reasons why the corporation or capitalism hates the idea so much. First of all, the concept of common ownership is a "red pill" to the current system where you only own as much as you're worth -- something the capitalist wouldn't want you to take. And since the rationale behind open source and file sharing is basically the fact that knowledge and thus information in the form of software and data should be available to everybody, the corporation the embodiment of the capitalist would defy the idea outright.

I'm not advocating file sharing nor socialism -- but I am advocating open source. I believe that the software used to protect the lives and investment of people should be as transparent and open as possible to people who have the know-how to improve and scrutinize these software systems. Imagine a car with the hood sealed tight and the engine closed from the world -- would you trust it blindly to get you to where you want to go? How about a softdrink you didn't know the contents of, would you trust the manufacturer blindly on its contents to be kept "secret"? I think it should be the case with software which runs your company's database system, your servers, and even your cellphone. You don't want your computer reporting privileged personal information to big brother right?

Anyway, it would be a long way for the Philippines to recover from its current state of things. My friend Sacha is going to Japan, and that's one less brilliant Filipino here in the Philippines. And by the time I'm gone, there'd be one less cynical blabbermouth here in the Philippines -- I'm not sure if that's a good thing, or a bad thing. Nonetheless, I'd still like to think that the Philippines is going nowhere FAST -- unless someone else shows me how the Philippines could get out of the ditch it dug itself.



  1. There are two big economic differences between material goods and information.

    1) The cost of reproducing information is virtually nil. Paper, diskettes, and other material media cost money.

    2) In open systems, the cost of information decreases when information is shared. Since virtually the same information can be accessed from more than one source, the cost of accessing information decreases.

    You cannot really compare cars and computer programs.

    Computer programs are information. For more information, look up "externalities" and "public goods" in an economics textbook. Samuelson recommended. Will elaborate more on this after work.

    You were referring to the legendary Sacha Chua, I presume?


  2. my, my. aren't we optimistic today. hehehe.

  3. The brain drain stops when everybody stops escaping.. But I guess nobody's stopping you.. I know I'm not..


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