Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ubuntu Brainstorm and the Cross Pollination of Ideas

Today Ubuntu announced Brainstorm, a site devoted to letting Ubuntu users nominate and vote for their favorite ideas related to Ubuntu. The premise is based around the assumption that any idea garnering enough votes will be worked on by either Canonical or the Ubuntu Developer Community for inclusion in a future Ubuntu Release and goes a long ways towards including some of us less technically-capable devotees.

I love this idea, and there are two things about it that really surprise me . The first is that it didn't exist before and the second is that I never noticed that it didn't exist before. This is one of those win, win, win, win, win ideas that fits in so perfectly with what has already been put into place that while it's difficult to understand why it took so long, you're still just glad its come around.

A beautiful thing about Brainstorm is that it has essentially been in place for a while over at In fact, it was through Dell's own version (called Ideastorm) that the first Dell Ubuntu machines were proposed, voted on, and ultimately released. This cross pollination of ideas is something that the technology sector has gotten down really well. It seems like most other industries actively avoid sharing ideas, first by protecting them to absurd degrees and then by trying to reinvent a wheel (sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing) that others have already built.

Our government seems even worse at this, refusing to acknowledge that successful programs in other countries could possibly work in America (as if we were so unique). This isn't a political blog, but one of the first steps for any educational technologist to undertake in attempting to solve a problem is to look around for any existing solutions. Maybe I'm naive, but this seems like a pretty common sense tactic and I fail to understand why it wouldn't work for pretty much any issue (healthcare, welfare, taxes...).

But I digress. Brainstorm may be a Dell ripoff, but it makes much more sense for Ubuntu than it could ever over at Dell (I've never even heard of a "Dell community" before, but maybe that's just me). Here's to Ubuntu, Brainstorm, and the continued cross pollination (or ripoff if you prefer) of ideas. -joe

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