Software and the Law

If you check the sylabus on most it ComSci degrees, it is unlikely that you will find a course or even a hat tip towards anything legal. Even the course that I took which included subjects on Communication, Managment and a full year project had no content on anything legal.

This is why my friend Thomas Otter is investigating in his efforts to become a Pointy Headed Doctor err… a Pretty Harmless Driver … err Purple Headless Dragon. Actually none of those. He is completing his PhD. Not to be confused with PHP which, I grant you, at some level is very similar but on others completely different.

Anway enough of the rambling.

I will let Thomas actually describe what he is doing:

Legal systems have evolved over centuries to codify rights and obligations in societies. Throughout history law and technology have interacted, modifying each other along the way.  It is often an uneasy relationship…

I want to ask as many software people as possible about what they understand of the law that can impact software, and what their attitudes are towards a couple of legal concepts in a software context.

It is designed to gather information about the knowledge, education and attitude of software developers towards the law related to software, and how law is or isn’t built into software. My goal is not to just have a small survey of a couple of hundred developers, but to really survey lots of them.

To do this, I want to tap as many of my readers  as I can to spread the news of the survey, and for as many of you to take the survey as possible. The more answers I can get from around the world, the richer the results will be. I will also be following up with telephone interviews with a much smaller sample group.

In this survey I have used the term software developer rather broadly. I define this to be anyone working professionally to design, build or maintain software (information technology). So if you are a product manager, solution manager, implementation consultant, systems architect, business analyst, or a systems tester, for instance, then we would be just as interested in your responses. The survey isn’t just aimed at those who code, but those who make a living from its construction and maintenance. Much of this group would fall under that definition. The Germans have a rather nice term,informatiker, but it doesn’t really translate very well.

You can access the survey here or use this link in twitter to get the word out to your friends social network, tribe or whatever the new word for friends is this week.  http://is.gd/eACI

In a world of SOX and Data Protection this is very timely research.

The goal is to get at least 1006 responses so that the data is statistically significant.  (You did stats 101 didn’t you?) I am reliably informed that it is progressing well but until you take 10 minutes of your precious time to add your response it will not be complete.

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1 Response to “Software and the Law”


  1. 1 theotherthomasotter Wednesday, 7 January 2009 at 17:59

    Nigel.
    You are a gent. Thanks!!!
    Great cricket match BTW, and a fulfilling end to a great series.


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