Linked by snydeq on Mon 12th Oct 2009 15:24 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces InfoWorld's John Rizzo chronicles the 20 most significant ideas and features Microsoft and Apple have stolen from each other in the lead up to Windows 7 and Mac OS X Snow Leopard. 'Some features were stolen so long ago that they've become part of the computing landscape, and it's difficult to remember who invented what.' Windows 7's Task Bar and Aero Peek come to mind as clear appropriations of Mac OS X's Dock and Expose. Apple's cloning of the Windows address bar in 2007's Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard as the path bar is another obvious 'inspiration.' But the borrowing goes deeper, Rizzo writes, providing a screenshot tour of Microsoft's biggest grabs from Mac OS X and Apple's most significant appropriations of Windows OS ideas and functionality.
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Even today, several of high-profile GNU projects are nothing but copy-and-rewrite something that someone else came up with. I appreciate them doing all this work and they make good (alternative) tools, but at the fundamental level they are just "copying".

I'm afraid I can't agree to that. Even though you used quotes around "copying". To copy is to not do any work, or to do very little. But if you're given the task of replicating functionality by implementing it from scratch it's certainly not as easy as "copying" would make it seem. Yes, innovation and breakthroughs in conceptual development are hard and those who do it deserve credit. But actual implementation, even if it is re-implementation, is work that is just as hard and also deserves credit. And very often those who reimplement software perform feats of innovation themselves, during the creation of their particular solutions of implementation.

This is actually why sharing ideas and allowing reimplementation is good, and why blocking ideas or software or fundamental knowledge like math with patents is bad. Because by building upon ideas from others we evolve much faster.

Let me put it this way. If you see a public park arranged in a particularly nice way and you go home and work hard and make your garden look that way too, does it mean that you stole from that park? Yes, those who made the park payed for a skilled designer. But they meant the park to be seen by the public at large and once you saw it you cannot "unsee" it.

Should I avoid following the philosophical ideas in a book because the author thought about them first? Even though he meant for them to be read? Should we refrain from using things that get into our brains because we feel like we owe whoever had that idea first?

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