Corante

About this Author
Dana Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist for over 25 years and has covered the online world professionally since 1985. He founded the "Interactive Age Daily" for CMP Media, and has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age, and dozens of other publications over the years.
About this Site
Moore’s Law defines the history of technology. It held that the number of circuits etched on a given piece of silicon could double every 18 months as far as its author, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, could see. Moore’s Law has spawned constant revolutions since then, not just in computing but in communications, in science, in a host of areas. Moore’s Law applies to radios, and to optical fiber, but there are some areas where it doesn’t apply. In this blog we’ll take a daily look at new implications of Moore’s Law in real time, as it rolls forward to create our future.
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In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

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February 27, 2006

The Legend of Dennis Hayes

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

dennis_Hayes.gifThose of you under 30 may never have heard of Dennis Hayes.

But once he was somebody. I knew him. His was one of the first tech stories I wrote in Atlanta, back in 1982.

Dennis Hayes made modems. His company, Hayes Microcomputer Products Inc., dominated the market for PC modems in the 1980s. A modem, short for modulator-demodulator, would turn data into tones, then send those tones along the phone line, so an analog system could mimic a digital one.

As modems approached the 64,000 bit/second speed level, in the early 1990s, Hayes wanted to move data faster. He called me in one day to show me what he was up to.

It was something called ISDN. It was an all-digital system. It was faster than modems. It was cool.

But in order to get to ISDN, Hayes needed the cooperation of the Bell companies. They promised cooperation. They said they were committed. He waited and waited. He bet the company on ISDN.

And he lost. He lost it all. By the time the Bells began offering real digital services, in the late 1990s, they were offering ADSL. Originally considered an alternative to cable TV (yes, really), ADSL offered 1.5 Mbps downloads and 384 kbps uploads, while sharing the line with your phone. But by the time ADSL became a player, Hayes was bankrupt, gone, out of business by 1998.

The moral: don’t trust a Bell company. Don’t bet on a Bell company fulfilling its promises. Ever.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | History | Internet | Journalism | Politics | Telecommunications | personal

February 26, 2006

Evolution Changes Its Mind (Again)

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

ba_evolution.jpgOne of the great absurdities of the “intelligent design” debate is when someone says “science says.”

Scientists say a lot of things. Scientists agree (and sometimes disagree). The consensus among scientists is what science “teaches.” But that consensus can change, and does.

If you’re not accepting of all this, it’s not science. What we teach and what is are different.

This is especially true for evolutionary science. A generation ago there was the great revelation that dinosaurs didn’t die out, per se, in one great disaster 65 million years ago. Many survived. Avian dinosaurs survived. Birds survived.

But what were the mammals’ role in the dinosaurs’ world? Some “Intelligent Design” wahoos posited something like The Flintstones, people and dinosaurs living together. And scientists, who could find no human-like fossils going back nearly that far, ridiculed them for it, positing that mammals existed only on the fringes of the dinosaurs’ world, in tiny niches, the way mice and cockroaches live in our world.

Well, not exactly. Recently Chinese paleontologists have been making some remarkable finds. Most recently we have a platypus-like mammal, 164 million years old, buried among small dinosaurs and fish in Inner Mongolia. Other mammals, with similar age, have been found in Colorado.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Futurism | History | Journalism | Science | faith | personal

February 25, 2006

Welcome to 1966

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

1966-impalla-SS.jpgAnother of those political-historical things. Move along, oh lovers of tech stuff. (That's the 1966 Buick Chevy Impala to the left.)


It disturbs me when people ignore history, even the history they themselves have seen. Like Brit Hume today saying "let's move on" about the Cheney shooting and having no one respond "but Monica Lewinsky wasn't even shot."

I guess I expect this kind of willful ignorance out of the Stalinists who profane themselves "conservatives." It upsets me when liberals, who should know better, do it.

So let's set the wayback to 1966, an equivalent time for the conservative movement to 2006.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: History | Politics | personal

February 23, 2006

What Must Craigslist Do?

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

legal%20scals%20Image.gif
News of the Civil Rights lawsuit aimed at making Craigslist mediate its listings has hit The New York Times.

The Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law says that the company’s current ads often violate laws against non-discrimination. People advertise to hire folks, or to rent apartments, and don’t think that “whites only” applies to them.

The newspaper industry is downright gleeful over this. Julie Bosman’s lead is dripping with sarcasm.

FOR several years, Craigslist.org has been aggressively taking classified advertising from newspapers.

Now Craigslist is the one under attack.

The story, and the suit, are deliberately misleading. They both ignore the fact that the ads in question are free.

In that way they’re not really ads at all. They are speech.

Which changes the legal principle. To force on site managers a responsibility to police all speech for all potential legal violations would render free speech impossible.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Copyright | Internet | Journalism | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

No Such Thing as Free WiFi

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

earthlink%20logo.jpgEarthlink is busy turning all those dreams of free municipal WiFi into broken promises.

Both the municipal deal they signed in Philly and the one they’ve joined in San Francisco (with Google) carry user price tags. In Philly they say they will re-sell capacity to other ISPs for just $9 per user per month. In San Francisco the plan is to give away 300 Kbps links, but charge $20/month for true ADSL-like speeds.

I’m of two minds on this. Let me talk out of both sides of my mouth for a moment:


  • Earthlink is betting the company on this new way of doing business. The San Francisco investment alone is estimated at $25 million. They have to get their money out somehow. And they have to gain some control of infrastructure in order to stay in business, now that the Bells and cable guys have gotten Bushie permission to monopolize the rate-payers’ infrastructure.
  • On the other hand what happened to free? And how can the cities promise any exclusivity in these deals? They don’t have any more right to the frequencies than Google. Why should taxpayers let them offer exclusive access to traffic lights and other city-owned infrastructure, and grant an “exclusive” cloud license to anyone?

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | B2B | Business Models | Digital Divide | Internet | Investment | Politics

February 22, 2006

The Internet As A Political Issue

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

moveon%20logo.gifGenerally, political issues involving the Internet are handled by elites.

Voters don't understand things like the "Brand X" decision, or the ICANN mess. All they care about is that the resource is there when they want it, at some price they can afford.

The practical result for the last decade is that a handful of large corporations have determined Internet policy. This is no longer working, because many of those corporations are engaged in a greed-fest aimed at making temporary advantages (often gained through government lobbying) into permanent taxes on Internet users.

The first hint we got that people were starting to pay attention was a few weeks ago, after BellSouth and AT&T said they should be able to charge those with data available, who were paying ISP charges, for access to "their" customers, who were also paying ISP charges. They wanted to hold you hostage, because your customer relationship to them made you "theirs." They actually said those things.

That fight is far from over, and the latest news should tell every Internet user why they need to get involved in the political side of the resource.. After paying a lot of lip service to the idea of network neutrality, a House subcommittee has passed a bill that says nothing about it, and in so doing endorses the Bells' position.

The ironic thing here is that, on Internet issues, activists on the left and right are in wholehearted agreement, as are activists in the center. The only "people" on the other side are giant corporations, which should not be people at all. It's the corporate control of America's government which makes this kind of nonsense possible, and everyone involved in online politics, no matter their views on the issues (or each other) needs to be up in arms about this.

Unfortunately, it turns out this is not what they're up in arms about.

...continue reading.

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Politics | law | personal

Google Images Ruled Illegal

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

HowardMatz_small.JPGGoogle's Image Search service is illegal.

U.S. District Judge Harold Matz of Los Angeles delivered this stunner in a suit originally filed by a porn firm, Perfect 10.

At issue is the Google Image Search caching and delivery of "thumbnail" images, which is the only way to tell someone what an image hit consists of. Perfect 10 not only sells its images to Web sites, but sells smaller "thumbnails" of those images to people with mobile phones, and those thumbnails, by themselves, represent product it wants money for.

Last March Agence France-Presse also filed suit against Google, claiming its delivery of thumbnails as well as portions of its news stories violated its copyright.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Copyright | Internet | Telecommunications | e-commerce | law | online advertising

February 21, 2006

Fall of Radio Shack

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

r-shack.jpgNews that David Edmondson, the CEO of Radio Shack, had to quit after a week because he phonied-up his resume was sad to read.

The more I thought about the story, the sadder I got.

That's because Radio Shack had every opportunity to be a dominant player in the computer space. Back in the early 1980s, when investors thought Microsoft CEO Bill Gates needed "adult supervision," a Radio Shack executive named Jon Shirley was hired to provide it. Before that, Radio Shack was one of the very first PC makers,

Its TRS-100 was still one of the best portables I ever had -- $400, an internal modem, a decent keyboard, 4 pounds in weight, and enough storage to deal with most writing assignments. During a 1984 documentary on the failed Gary Hart campaign, "The Boys on the Bus," the TRS-100 stole the show. As time went on the boys started ignoring the story around them and gathered around the machine, exchanging tech tips.

Even after leaving the PC business Radio Shack remained a very vital retailer, surfing from PCs to cellphones to satellite dishes, and keeping up its quirky stock of electronic parts -- batteries, headphones, etc. In many small American towns, in fact, Radio Shack is the only game in town.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | History | marketing

February 18, 2006

Dana's Quick Writing Course

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

dana%20closeup%20xmas%202.jpgI've been writing for over 40 years, professionally for 30. If you're interested in doing the same, here's a simple four-step process that will make your writing all it can be.

Writing is easy to learn, easy to do. But it's the work of a lifetime. I'm still learning, and will be until I die. So get started now.

  1. Write. Don't think, write. Write everything about what you want to say. Don't worry about grammar, or spelling. Just think about everything you want to say and say it. This is sometimes called "writing down the bones." It's simple, it's pure, it's exhausting, it's exhilirating. And when you're done you may have an unholy mess. Don't worry about it.
  2. Find the story. After you finish your draft, and after you take some time away from it (an hour, a day, or even several days, depending on how long it is) go through what you have and find the story there. Look for the beginning, middle, and end.

    • If you're writing non-fiction, find your lead. Move your key point to the front. If this is a news story, you then take the next most important point, and the next, and the next, in order. (The inverted pyramid lets an editor chop from the bottom.)
    • If this is a magazine story, your lead is a sales pitch for what follows. You next want to tell the story in a coherent order, and finish with a revelation, a present for ther reader who finishes it, sometimes called a tag ending or rim shot.
    • If this is fiction, find a key moment of high tension and start there. Then tell the back story, and lead your reader toward the climax.

...continue reading.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consulting | Journalism | blogging | fiction | fun stuff | personal

February 17, 2006

Blog Pimple About to Pop?

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

pimple.jpgSlate has another of those "blog bubble about to pop" stories out. (The doll's name is pimple, available here. We are not into grossing y'all out here at Mooreslore.)

As a business story it may be 100% accurate. As a barometer of blogging itself, it's dead wrong.

Blogging is not a separate business from the Internet. Blogging is simply another way of producing a Web site. It brings coherent, regularly-updated Web sites within the budgets of every business, every individual, everywhere.

Blogging can be journalism. A blog can be a personal journal. A blog can be a store. A blog, like a Web page itself, can be anything you want it to be.

So when someone writes "blogging bubble about to pop" and cites a few business case studies involving the creation, purchase and selling of companies involved solely in blogging, I laugh. Because that's not blogging.

...continue reading.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Internet | Investment | Journalism | blogging | marketing | online advertising

February 15, 2006

Show Trial

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Christopher%20H%20Smith.jpgDuring Mao's Cultural Revolution, show trials were used to cover-up the evils of the regime. Innocent parties were brought in, tried without justice, then either killed or sent to "re-education" camps.

The U.S. House held its own version of such a trial today, only without the education.

Nominally, the hearings were held to investigate the censorship of the Internet in China, with the connivance of U.S. search companies like Microsoft, Yahoo and Google.

But the hearing was chaired by Rep. Christopher Smith, (right) who has never questioned the Bush Administration’s use of the same firms for the same purposes. To see Smith perform in this role is just like watching Libya heading the UN Human Rights Commission. To hear him fulminating against China on CNBC, as I had to do last night, with absolutely no rebuttal, is to feel like I am indeed living in Mao's China.

Here we have an Administration that claims the absolute right to spy on all its citizens, to record their phone calls and search their Internet files, to imprison American citizens without trial – merely on the assertion they’re an “enemy combatant” – to torture and murder hundreds at secret detention centers all in the name of an amorphous “war” it claims might last generations.

And a chief supporter of that policy is attacking Google on human rights?

Oh, I hear you say, but you’re writing this, and I’m reading this. How can be this be Maoist?

Maybe we’re just not that efficient. Yet.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Copyright | Digital Divide | Futurism | History | Internet | Journalism | Politics | blogging | ethics | law | personal | war

February 14, 2006

Yahoo Gets Lost in Translation (Badda-Boom, Badda-Bing)

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

freedom.jpg Yahoo tried to draw some favorable press coverage today.

(That's actress Charlize Theron, but she's very small, hard to recognize. That's deliberate, as you'll see.)

In the wake of a scandal over the fact its Chinese affiliate cooperated with authorities to silence dissidents, the story Americans were told by Yahoo today was that it will do everything it can to fight Web censorship.

That’s not the way the story was carried in China. An American correspondent to Dave Farber’s list wrote:

“In my Beijing hotel room this morning CNN aired a piece about Yahoo calling for search engines to cooperate to deal with China's ‘search engine rules.’”

As the TV correspondent was about to say the word censorship, this writer added, the sound went blank, so it might have appeared to Chinese that Yahoo was, in fact, continuing to cooperate with its government. The Farber correspondent used asterisks in writing the word censorship, in order, he said, to get it past possible Chinese censorship. It got through.

The use of asterisks, of inference, of badda-boom badda-bing, in discussing subjects like freedom in China is widespread. It’s titillating – as sex was in America under the Hays Office. The level of sex in America didn’t decline under the code, but many Americans who were alive then say it was enjoyed more than it is in today’s era of free Web porn.

Could this be true for freedom as well? Chinese people share the government’s fear of anarchy. Americans, fortunately, have not faced the prospect in centuries, and this generation firmly shied away from it in the 1960s. We still prefer Nixon to Woodstock.

Should the Chinese be any different? Must they be?

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Copyright | Futurism | History | Internet | Journalism | Politics | Security | blogging | ethics | faith | law | personal