Some of you may recall the black day when the learning management software company Blackboard dot org decided to file for some fairly outrageous patents.
I registered the domain BoycottBlackboard.org on 2006-08-02, in direct response to the issue being raised amongst the members of the SecondLife Educators mailing list, which incidentally as of Oct 2007 had around 3.5K members… We (generally as a group) were horrified with this crass move by Blackboard, the incredulous sweeping manner of their patents, the utter disregard for prior art, the complete ignorant and falsity of their claims, and decided appropriate action was called for.
The petition itself, and the way in which it grew in force, can be seen as a classic example of how social media can move mountains, just looking at all the names and institutions on the petition is proof of that, and do go ahead and look.
Though I’d never claim sole responsibility for helping change their mind, the petition did however get heard, there is no doubt about it Blackboard took note of the academic community and changed their stance on the patents and dreamed up the “The Blackboard Patent Pledge”. Of course if your learning management software is not open source, all that has no meaning, tough luck!
In fact they changed many of the ludicrous ideas and released press releases stating so. The boycott blackboard petition has become part of the wiki entry for the history of the company, and I was personally interviewed for numerous educational publications concerning this.
But now some time has passed and I’m curious to know where you stand on this currently in terms of your feeling towards the company, and I’d appreciate it if you would post your comments up here.
Do you have any recent dealings with Blackboard, how do you feel, has it gone away now, has your anger depleted, have you forgotten the crime, are they excused??