Digital Tipping Point

This series of 11 interview segments is part of Digital Tipping Point, a documentary and Interet archive on open source software produced by Christian Einfeldt. They feature John William Templeton, a widely published historian, journalist, and business commentator. John is president and executive editor of eAccess Corp. in San Francisco. As editor of the San Jose Business Journal, he helped pioneer coverage of technology industries in the 1980s. His popular book, “Success Secrets of Black Executives,” highlighted the pivotal role of African-American technology executives. Since 1999, he has presented the 50 Most Important African-Americans in Technology list and published the annual Silicon Ceiling report on equal opportunity in technology. He is an honors graduate in journalism from Howard University, and completed the Minority Science Writers Seminar and the Stanford Professional Publishing Course.

John is also a leading historian of African Americans in business, and his Digital Tipping Point interivew connects current efforts by African Americans in Free Open Source Software to the deep history of African Americans in the broader technology field. One of the primary themes that emerge from John’s interview is the appeal that Free Open Source Software (FOSS) holds for African American entrepreneurs. He says that FOSS holds the appeal of lowering the barrier for entry of African American innovators creating small to medium businesses, which is where most new jobs are created. He thinks that FOSS appeals to African nations intent on preserving culture and language that would be lost to the predominantly European languages in which proprietary software such as Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office. FOSS allows African nations to localize Free Software into the 5,000 small-population languages spoken in Africa, thus preserving the thoughts and cultures of the speakers of those languages. John’s experience as an expert witness in the anti-trust trial against Microsoft reminds us of the perils of entrusting culture to a monopoly whose interests are not always parallel to the interests of the users of software.

This footage is our raw rough-cut footage. It lacks transitions, music, special effects or finish rendering. It is our “source code”. Please feel free to rip, mix and burn this footage consistent with our Creative Commons license as disclosed on this page.

In segment 07 (Tape 159~004), John says that since the US government is such a huge purchaser of software licenses, it is important for them to avoid vendor lock-in. A decision made today can tie the hands of the government for decades if proprietary solutions are required. He talks about ways that Free Open Source Software helps beat the digital divide. Mostly, it has to do with lowering the barriers to entry for African American businesses and lowering the cost of digital technology. At the end of this segment, he says there is a long tradition of innovation among African American companies and pushing the envelope, and Free Open Source Software can asist with that. [It is necessary to play this segment immediately before the next segment, as our default settings on our software cut him off in mid-sentence.]

All of John Templeton’s interview segments can be found here: (segment 01 (segment 02) (segment 03) (segment 04) (segment 05) (segment 06) (segment 07) (segment 08) (segment 09) (segment 10) (segment 11)


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