From the NYCBSDCon brochure: Escaping the Database Doldrums, James K. Lowden Relational Theory describes information retrieval in mathematical terms. Yet its power -- simplicity of expression, verifiable correctness -- remains unrealized because the market and the vendors have agreed on SQL. The problems of the proprietary development model have resulted in generations of programmers skeptical of the Theory and resentful of the tools and libraries they're forced to use. The market is an idiot. We will never see the promise of Relational Theory realized by firms vested in the dumb-user approach. If we want smart-user tools, we'll have to build them ourselves for fun and profit. Open source databases depressingly mimic proprietary ones: SQL, incompatible libraries, undocumented protocols. They have an opportunity, though, to change the world by being more like the IETF: to devise a standard I/O library, a standard wire protocol, and a standard language. A real language, not a 4GL of the 70s. The free database management systems -- MySQL, Firebird, Postgres, Ingres, Rel, MonetDB, SQLite, SAP MaxDB, et al. -- could, for the first time, add UNIX fuel to the Relational fire. Let's use the tools that forged the Internet to get out of the database doldrums. Before the horses die of thirst. James K. Lowden is a quantitative analyst for AllianceBernstein and a NetBSD user since 1.5. He began working with C, C++, and SQL around 1985. In his copious spare time he has for many years been the maintainer of the FreeTDS project (www.freetds.org). He lives in Manhattan with his daughter, girlfriend, and cat, sometimes in that order.