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Last week I took a dispassionate look at economic cycles. This week let's take an equally dispassionate look at political cycles.
Political cycles are generational in nature. (The cartoon is from 1800 and AmericanPresident.Org. ) They're set in a time of great crisis. They're re-set when a new crisis occurs that the old assumptions can't deal with.
But they also wear out. Ideologies are like roads. You set off in a direction but, at some point, go beyond your destination. Yet the road keeps leading you on. And the kids finally say, let's go a new way.
Short answer. No.
It can be, of course.
When journalists blog, when we ask hard questions, dig for facts, and take mistakes seriously, well then yes journalism can happen on a blog. (Cartoon from Cox and Forkum.com,)
But a blog can be a diary. If you invite just a few people to post, and those same people are all who can read it, a blog is groupware.
A blog can be a community. Let a lot of people offer posts, organize the comments, add polls and ratings.
And that is not all, oh no, that is not all...
The secret to being a successful entrepreneur is learning how to handle NO.
I learned this lesson from an entrepreneurial friend of mine today, and it's so important I had to blog it.
Entrepreneurs bring ideas to businesses and people. They sell these ideas, as businesses. They take a lot of meetings. And most of the time, maybe over 99% of the time, the answer at the end of the day is No.
"You have to turn it into an opportunity," my friend said. You do that by finding someone else -- a money source, another business -- who will either run with your idea, finance your idea, or buy it outright.
And you keep moving.
The difference between entrepreneurs and other businesspeople is that most businesspeople are in the yes business. In a going concern you mostly hear yes. People do come in the door, people are satisfied, you do create systems that wind up giving value for money. If you're not doing this, you're out of business quickly.
Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are constantly being told no. It's only when they get the yes that they have the chance to build that business they were describing, and this is usually the end of a long, long process. Yet the businesses an entrepreneur launches are often much better than those run by businesspeople, because they've been tested, vetted, and designed to grow fast.
Personally I dont think this is necessarily the case. Newspaper companies will be able to use computers and on-demand pagination to mass produce paper products that are relevant to future audiences. Just as radio and TV only forced the industry to change, not disappear, so it will be in this case.
But lets assume Murdoch is right. How can incumbent newspaper companies achieve anything on the new medium? His speech read like someone anxious to learn. I'll take him at his word.
Following are some ideas.
Amid all the recent stories about the U.S. abandoning basic science I offer a counter-example.
Rice University, my old school has an $11 million deal with NASA to develop carbon nanotubes that will, at first, be big enough to act as power cables and could, with time, produce the technique for a space elevator.
Last year a team under Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Richard Smalley (right) found that nanotubes assume the properties of metals in the presence of a magnetic field, Smalley has always been excited about tubes' superconducting properties. The problem has been manufacturing.
The contract emerged following a successful workshop in Boerne, outside San Antonio, co-sponsored by NASA and Rice. The Rice manufacturing technique is called HiPco, and originally involved growing tubes on catalytic iron in chambers of carbon monoxide, producing carbon dioxide and nanotubes at a rate of nearly a half-gram per hour.
The idea is to expand on on this by starting with "seed" tubes that "teach" the carbon around them how to grow into the required shape. The specific goal is to produce one yard of nanotube "wire" after four years. Dr. Smalley describes the final result as looking like a fishing line.
By starting the process with the desired shape in the chamber the scientists hope to avoid the problem of having to "sort" whatever tubes emerge from the HiPco process.
Rupert Murdoch told the American Society of Newspaper Editors their industry is just about dead, according to the New York Observer. People, he said, "want control over their media, instead of being controlled by it....Unless we awaken to these changes and adapt quickly, we will, as an industry, be relegated to the status of also-rans."
Update: Eitan Caspi sent a link to the speech from Israel. It's on the Newscorp site.
A few weeks ago we were bombarded with news items claiming spam isn't all that bad, that we don't care about it anymore.
Ferguson is using SkypeOut. He calls the spammer's contact number using SkypeOut and leverages Skype's inherent cost advantage to keep that phone busy, so victims can't get through. No victims, no money to the spammer.
Ferguson can go even further, automating his SkypeOut calling so each call takes just three seconds, barely long enough for the spammer's phone to ring. That line is continually tied-down and Ferguson's SkypeOut charges remain minimal.
There was some misunderstanding about a recent item that caused me to re-think a lot of what I'd considered standards in publishing items on a blog. (A reader writes that this picture was originally published in The New York Times, and I apologize for not acknowledging it earlier (but I didn't know)).
The standard used here is to write an item, bring it to its own inside page, and then write another item. I was convinced this was right by Nick Denton (left), who found that Google Ad revenue jumped on inside pages, because high CPM ads were brought to more specific content.
Not everyone works that way.
What brought these thoughts to a head?
Back in the 1990s a lot of Americans wasted a lot of bandwidth worrying about the Digital Divide.
Americans were wealthy. We could afford PCs and fast networks. Those poor black and brown people were being left behind by the future. There were even proposals that Americans tax themselves so that poor people could get broadband faster.
Now, a decade later, the digital divide is back.
And this time Americans are on the other side of it.
Our broadband networks now stand 13th in the world, behind those of our trade rivals. Chinese, Japanese and Koreans are being offered speeds and prices we can only dream of. Asian cellular networks are years ahead of those here, and mobile broadband is common. In the most remote parts of Africa, cellphones are being turned into makeshift phone kiosks, or simply rented on a per-call basis, so folks can stay in touch with markets and the growing world economy.
Meanwhile, a decade of growing monopolism in this country means broadband take-up is now below the rates elsewhere. Cellular networks are two years behind those in Asia. You pay more to get less bandwidth than people in most of the world, and the situation is getting worse.
The best way to understand the future is to look into how chips are changing.
Two transitions are transforming Moore's Law. The original article, in 1964, described only the density of circuits on silicon substrate.
The rule implied that chips could get better-and-better, faster-and-faster. Doubling bigger numbers means bigger incremental changes in the same time. Over the years chemists and electrical engineers learned to apply this exponential improvement concept to fiber cables, to magnetic storage, to optical storage, even to radios, so that 802.11n radios will transmit data at over 100 Mbps -- twice what earlier 802.11g models could deliver, but still 50 Mbps more.
The transitions have to do with what we mean by better.
NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.
The America Diaspora is a sequel to The Chinese Century.
The survival of Virgin Maverick was celebrated long into the night.
But we knew we were far from being out of the woods.
In The Lost Point, I wrote that Google risked being outmanuevered because it didn't pay proper attention to Blogger.
Today Duncan Riley of The Blog Herald goes further. He says the game is already over, that Microsoft won, that the field is consolidating into the three big portal players so Movable Type needs to sell out to Yahoo, quick.
Riley is right as far as he goes.
But if you click below, we'll go a bit further.
China puts more people to death each year than any country in the world. (Yes, even more than Texas.) China is a brutal dictatorship that oppresses its people as no other country, the most Totalitarian regime on Earth. My mentioning this may get Corante blocked to all of China, by the state's firewall system, the most extensive Internet censorship regime on the planet.
By contrast, Emperor Hirohito and the brutal system he led are dead. Japan acknowledged its sins in the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco and has since been a functioning democracy where politicians must accomodate the views of voters. Japan's Constitution forbids it to make war on its neighbors. Japan contributes more to good causes than any other national governnment.
This is power politics. China is pushing Japan out of the world power picture, letting Taiwan know that resistance is futile, and successfully challenging America's status as a Great Power. Just 12 years ago we were The Hyperpower. Now we're becoming second rate, losing our status to tyrants.
The reaction in the U.S. to all this has been silence. Deafening silence.
Few U.S. outlets have covered the story. The right-wing Cybercast "News" Service actually offered a balanced perspective. The New York Times offers only a fearful editorial on possible Chinese revaluation of the Yuan -- at another time this would be called appeasement.
The reason for this silence is not subject to dispute.
Moves by cellular companies to introduce a rating and filtering system for all product they proves these companies will never offer Internet services. Such controls can only be mandatory on closed networks.
The bidding for MCI hit nearly $10 billion, although no one is yet asking what Verizon or Qwest are buying.
Now that dual-core chips are a reality (to be followed in time by four-core, eight-core, etc.) software companies face a dilemma on pricing. (Picture from AMD.)
Traditionally software companies have priced per-processor. But if a single chip has multiple processors, which could be doing different things, then shouldn't you require two licenses?
That's because, on most issues, there is no majority view. Most people don't care.
Learning an issue, and becoming committed to it, teaches you the source code of politics.
If your organization is tightly-knit, if your issues are driven by corporate interests, then your politics is closed source. On issues that mainly interest businesses this is determinative. Lobbyists and financial contributions fight and often come to settlements that aren't half bad. Traditionally most issues before regulators, from the EPA and FTC to the FDA and FCC, have been closed-source arguments.
If your organization is loosely knit, and if your issues are driven by personal feeling, then your politics is open source. Open source politics defines social issues, and the numbers involved in turn drive American politics as a whole. Politicians can win with only committed minorities on their side, if those minorities stand united.
What happens when closed source and open source politics collide? It depends on how much real interest those on the open source end can manage.
This collision is now apparent in telecommunications.
Today I want to introduce you to another new member of our blogroll.
It's Tom Abate, whose blog is called MiniMediaGuy. He doesn't post nearly as often as I do, but his posts are always thoughtful.
Tom's blog is in the media space. He's constantly brainstorming about how the "minimedia" of blogs and mobiles and podcasts can succeed against Big Media types who are constantly looking for new ideas.
The point lost by my stupid mistake is that Google, despite its enormous short-term success, is showing cracks in the armor.
I'm going to divide this into lessons to bloggers (including myself) and lessons applicable to site managers or editors. And there's a special section at the end just for you.
Let the scourging begin!
The lessons for editors are especially important, because it's a new job. Editing is what turns blogs into journalism, and a lot can be done after the fact.
No one elseis responsible.
I was in such a hurry to make a point that I didnt double-check to see that the object of my attack was still on the job.
Its a fair cop. The criticism is richly-deserved.
But there is also a compliment there. (Not the obvious one about being able to put myself and Dan Rather into the same sentence.)
Corante has grown a lot since I joined it nearly two years ago. It has evolved from a few individual blogs into a virtual news network, with a host of vertical and geographic beats.
People depend on Corante to get it right. Theyre surprised and upset when we dont.
This is a good thing.
It means were not just a collection of blogs. Were a news outlet. Were doing real journalism. You, our audience, expect quality.
You will get it henceforth, from this reporter. I will double check everything I can. I will still hold strong opinions, and write on a variety of subjects. But I will make sure Im certain of my ground in the future.
To all those whove dumped on me the last few words, I have but one word.
So, as Dana agrees, his post the other day about Evan Williams was off-base and embarrassingly misinformed. I'm sure he'll have more to say about his own lessons learned from the experience but suffice it to say that he sincerely regrets it, knows his credibility has taken a hit, and has apologized to Evan and me.
But as I wrote briefly last night the mistake wasn't his alone: it was mine as well for not handling the situation better and for taking too long to respond.
To recap what happened:
Dana posted the article in question and I, in the middle of a meeting, pinged him back, curtly and without a recommended course of corrective action, with the info most everyone knows: that Ev left Blogger/Google last year.
I (Hylton) will be posting more in this space in the coming hours but wanted to make this space available for those who'd like to comment on the issues raised by Dana's post the other day about Evan Williams and Google and how we handled it. The original post. Dana's blogging to resume shortly.
But the danger is like that identified every week by Mythbusters. Don't try this at home. We're what you call experts.
The problem is that the press defines any provocative statement as a "good quote," but those made by experts like Ornstein merely place context in the obvious. In reaching for a good quote, you can easily reopen old wounds, start new controversies, and make yourself foolish at the same time.
Exhibit A. James Governor of Red Monk decided to re-open the (rapidly closing) question of the GPL's legality in order to get into a local magazine, and to suck-up to a potential client, Fortinet.
There's nothing about this "point" on Governor's blog, and Red Monk has issued no press release, although the point is highly provocative. In fact, Governor advertises his willingness to mouth off. "Need a quick reaction to a breaking story? A detailed explanation of the signficance of a recent merger? Whatever your needs, feel free to contact us."
Fine, if you're not just going to throw bombs. And here's where I get in trouble...
NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.
The America Diaspora is a sequel to The Chinese Century.
They were coming. We were doomed.
That was how I felt as the march began from the township of Soweto towards the Johannesburg CBD, where Virgin Mavericks offices lay.
How did it all come to this, I asked myself, knowing the answer because Id been there.
And knowing that maybe I had been the cause of it all.
We all think of economic cycles in terms of the general U.S. economy. But that's not the whole story.
There are, in fact, regional and industrial cycles underneath the general cycle, cycles that are far more important and whose impact can be permanent.
Let's start with an example from the past. Back in the 1980s we had a recession, then a general recovery through 1987, then a slump after the stock market crash and a second recovery.
Underneath all that, we had an honest-to-goodness depression in Texas (and in the rest of the oil patch), and a tech boom followed by a near-bust starting around 1986, otherwise known as the waiting-for-Windows period. During this time Japanese manufacturers had their heyday in the U.S. market.
The Texas oil industry never recovered from the bust of the 1980s, as the chart above (from a Dallas Fed analysis) shows. It's not like things could just stay quiet until needed, then go back to the way they were a generation later.
Now let's apply that lesson to today.
The success of Google has been based on the fact that technology drives its train. Technical success is the most-sought value.
This is becoming a problem.
In many of the new businesses Google has launched, technical values (while important) are not going to be the sole drivers of success. In blogging, in RSS, in Google News, in Google Desktop, in Google Local, and in other areas, other skills are required.
Business skills. Marketing schools. Journalism skills. Political skills. Artistic skills.
Leonardo DaVinci (celebrated above) could not get a job at Google today. In a well-rounded company, his genius would find a place.
The need for these various skills will only increase with time. Google must find a way to recruit these skills, and to reward these skills, without giving the people with these skills control of the company.
This will not be easy.
The following will seem to contradict the item below it.
The secret to success in every field is found in the skills of the journalist.
Whatever you wish to be -- a scientist, an artist, an entrepreneur, a preacher, an economist, a politician -- you will go further if you have a journalist's basic tool set.
Research thoroughly. Ask good questions. Listen carefully. Write clearly. Explain simply.
These are the skills of journalism. You can pick them up in a few college courses. Some are even taught in journalism schools. Most are learned in the School of Hard Knocks.
The rest of what passes for journalism education is bunk. So learn rhetoric, learn public speaking, learn writing, read as widely as you can. That's what newspapers and TV stations are looking for. They know they can teach the rest of the skill set on-the-fly. Most journalists never went to j-school.
How do I know this is true?
Want a career in the exciting, fast-paced world of 21st century journalism?
Don't go to journalism school. You can learn to write anywhere. The way to write better is to practice. If you love writing you can pick up the rest on-the-fly.
Instead, go to business school. Why? Because the only way you're going to have a good career in this business is to have the skills of a publisher. And those are the skills taught in business school.
In my first lecture at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, in 1977, we were told firmly that if you wanted to make a good living there was a fine businesss school on campus, the Kellogg School, and we should go there. So I've got their logo at the top of this item. I should have taken the advice.
More on why you should go to business school to learn journalism after the break.
There was a gratifying reaction to my calling out Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg the other day.
But here's a question no one asks, and getting in tune with Seidenberg's arrogance actually keeps us from asking this.
What's he buying in MCI? For $6.7 billion it's not much.
Then again, maybe it's everything.
I'm not just talking about RSS items that are in fact links to ad pages, but RSS items that, while containing links to stories, have additional ads inserted into them.
Now there's another, far more dangerous abuse of the RSS system, phony links.
Phony Links are RSS items from registration-only sites. Most U.S. newspapers are now requiring registration. RSS feeds from these sites now go to sign-in pages, not to the stories themselves. In other words the link is a bait-and-switch. It doesn't go to content, but to a sales pitch.
The AP is abetting that requirement by demanding royalties for online content.
It's already starting to bite.
I often feel it in reaction to items I write here or on ZDNet. Excuses. Reasons not to try. That will never work.
Young people new to a field don't think like that. Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, we didn't think like that. Whether or not our politics become more conservative as we age, our lifestyles do. A 50-year old programmer worries more about what they're making and fears the future, while a 20-year old thinks about what they might make and embraces the future.
It's a cliche, but that doesn't make it less true. Young Americans are shunning technology for business, for real estate, for law, for things that redistribute wealth rather than create it.
Leaving the future to be made by others.
Because technology changes so rapidly, we feel the impact of change here very, very quickly, and this is like a cold wind in November.
Want some good news?
The hole is the whole U.S.
Intel plans on mass producing WiMax chips and going into rapid deployment, offering end-user speeds far in excess of what U.S. phone outfits provide with DSL.
The problem is that's the speed limit for most backhauls. Go to most WiFi hotspots, or most home networks, and DSL is the backhaul platform. We're talking 1.5 Mbps, max.
I declined to get involved in the Larry Summers sexism affair. (That's Larry at left, along with other future cast members of Saturday Night Live.)
But an opportunity has come to make a relevant comment, and brag on the old alma mater at the same time.
One big difference between Harvard, where Summers is President, and Rice, where I went to school, is that Harvard has an extensive Old Boy Network and Rice does not.
As an alumnus it pains me to admit this. Rice offers a high-quality education, better than Harvard in many ways, but once you're out you're on your own. There's no big power network in New York and Washington waiting to give you a leg-up.
But we're now seeing the flip side of this. Rice is a pure meritocracy. If you've got the goods, the Owl will shine his light on you. Harvard openings often go to those in the know, or those who know those in the know.
This may be why Larry Summers has trouble finding high-quality female scientists. Rice has had no trouble at all in that regard. In fact, the new Rice engineering Dean is Dr. Sallie Keller McNulty. The science dean is Kathleen Matthews, who chaired the search committee.
That is not all. Far from it. Dr. Rebekah Drezek and Dr. Jennifer West of the biochemistry department have recently found that silica-gold "nanoshells," another form of the Buckyball first found at Rice 20 years ago, can help cure cancer through imaging. They were following up on pioneering work on nanoshells by Dr. Naomi Halas, an electrical engineer. Dr. Halas, in turn, is currently being featured on PBS' Nova.
The key benefit of open source is transparency. (That's a transparent Mozambique garnet, from CLDJewelry in Tucson, Arizona. Transparency doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.)
The key benefit is not that the software is free. It's not that you can edit it. It has nothing to do with the obligations of the General Public License. It's inherent in every open source license out there.
The key advantage of open source is you can see the code. You can see how it works. You can take it apart. You can fix it. You can improve it. Most people do none of these things, but all benefit from this transparency.
The benefit became clear when I got responses to a ZDNet post called Is Linux Becoming Windows? The news hook was a Peter Galli story about how some folks were getting upset over the feature bloat now taking place in the Linux 2.6 kernel.
Those who responded said simply that the complainents, and I, had lost our minds. Kernel features aren't mandatory. Just because something is supported doesn't mean you have to do it. You can pick and choose among features, because you can see the whole code base -- it's transparent. You can look at the various builds out there and, if there's something you don't like, something you can do better, you can fork it, and maintain your own enhanced code base.
When Microsoft changes its software it makes things incompatible. When Linux software changes this doesn't happen, because the change is transparent. New builds are transparent, and if you come to a fork in your operating system road you can take it.
Transparency is the key term. And it doesn't just apply to software:
We interrupt your regularly-scheduled tech blog for a sports column.
Adobe will buy Macromedia for $3.4 billion, further consolidating the PC applications space. The Linux applications space, by contrast, is filled with start-ups. Hmmmmm.......
Having done this work for a few years now, I do sometimes ask myself what the best bloggers have that I might lack.
The answer comes down to one thing. The best stay on one thing. They know their beats, know their limits, they do the research, and they don't flit around outside those subjects (the way I often do).
The most important blogger of our time is probably Pamela Jones of Groklaw. Groklaw is more a community than a blog (but so is DailyKos). Despite the extensive help her audience gives her, Jones still gives her beat rigid attention, tons of supporting materials, and she gives her enemies plenty of rope for hanging themselves so that, when she does speak her mind, she has both authority and supporters.
If I have to guess, here's my guess.
In a remarkable interview with Todd Wallack published this weekend in the San Francisco Chronicle, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg (left) reveals the arrogance and contempt for competition inherent in the Bell System.
Municipal WiFi? "One of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard," he said. "It sounds like a good thing, but the trouble is someone will have to design it, someone will have to upgrade it, someone will have to maintain it and someone will have to run it."
Exactly. Someone else.
But is this just another Marty Rimm study?
Rimm, you may or may not remember, wrote a paper at Georgetown Law in 1995 claiming 85% of Web traffic was dirty pictures. This was later disproved, but the damage was done and Congress passed the ill-fated Communications Decency Act.
Mike Godwin, the former EFF counsel who fought the Rimm study and is now senior counsel at Public Knowledge, remains skeptical, noting that the Cachelogic study hasn't gone through peer review. He also notes that, since Cachelogic sells systems to control P2P traffic, it has a natural bias.
The Cachelogic claims may have logic behind them, however. Many ISPs do report that over half their traffic is on ports commonly used by P2P applications. Brett Glass of Lariat.Net, near the University of Wyoming, says the claim seems accurate, noting that unless ISPs cut-back capacity to those ports (a process called P2P Mitigation), the applications quickly discover the fat pipe and divert everyone's traffic to it, filling it at the cost of thousands per month.
And that is at the heart of the problem.
Evidence is increasing of a backlash against mobile phones and the behavior of those who over-use them. (The image comes from a page on celliquette from Indianchild.com.)
What is the meaning of all this?
A friend introduced me to a blog I'm adding to the blog roll, one that is only marginally about technology.
Seth Goldstein runs Majestic Research, a New York outfit that produces very high-end (and I hope very expensive) reports on trends for hedge fund managers. Before that he ran Site Specific. He advises Del.Icio.Us. He's smart.
His blog consists of long essays, published at long (for me) intervals, on a wide range of subjects. Recent pieces include one relating client Del.icio.us to German essayist Walter Benjamin, whose Frankfurt School was overwhelmed by the horrors of the Hitler era, another calling APIs "the new HTML," and a third seeking a system of PeopleRanking, very similar to my own piece Finding the Good Stuff.
There are two types of chips key to the Always On world.
These are sensor chips and RFID chips.
Both contain tiny radios. The two can also be combined.
A sensor chip, as its name implies, tests specific conditions, and is reporting back with data on those conditions. A motion sensor is an example. A heart monitor is an example.
An RFID chip merely identifies the item its on. The chips that will go onto passports will be RFID chips, and RFID identification is at the heart of efforts by retailers by Wal-Mart, as well as service providers like Grantex.
Ive also written, recently, about applications that combine RFID and sensor ships. Bulldog Technologies is rolling out a line of these chips that not only identify containers in transit, but monitor their condition and shippers know the contents are safe.
Always On applications will use all these types of chips as clients on WiFi or cellular networks, with applications located on gateways that run at low power, with battery back-up, and have constant connections to the Internet.
Critics of my Always On rants (and I know they get tiresome) see the expense of radio-equipped sensor chips as a stumbling block.
In fact, sensor chips are already the Next Big Thing.
As Inc. notes this month putting a chip inside a consumer product is a hot trend.
I hate to quote Carly Fiorina, but here goes. "Anything with a chip in it becomes a platform for the delivery of services."
The coming issue of Business Week features a short story on the Internet of Things, or Machine to Machine (M2) applications, which this blog calls Always On.
The story focuses on cheap cellular radios and industrial applications.
The story misses the opportunity and the market.
It's a good example of the Intel failure noted below because if no one is going to tell the story a reporter can't write it.
Cellular can enhance an Always On application, making it mobile and ubiquitous. If you have a heart monitor in your shirt you don't want to die just because you walked outside the reach of your Local Area Network.
But these are enhancements. And the industrial market is just the tip of the Always On iceberg.
The big money, as I've said, is based on the wireless broadband platform.
It's true that wireless broadband isn't seen as a platform now. It's seen as an end-point. It's seen as a way for you to link your PC to broadband resources. It is seen as an extension of an existing IP protocol. And a lot of people are waiting for IPv6 to tag every device with a unique number before getting excited over linking such devices.
This is very misguided. You can build true PC functionality into something that runs on rechargeable batteries for just a few hundred dollars. Instead of placing the processing of applications on a desktop PC that's turned off, or a laptop that might be taken away, this puts processing for these new applications on the network itself.
Last month Intel's mobility chief Sean Maloney was in the hunt to head H-P, a job that eventually went to Mark Hurd of NCR. (Watch out. Dana is about to criticize a fellow Truly Handsome Man.)
But how well is Maloney doing his current job?
Intel's role in the development of Always On is crucial, and its strategy today seems muddled. It's not just its support for two different WiMax standards, and its delay in delivering fixed backhaul silicon while it prepares truly mobile solutions.
I'm more concerned with Maloney's failure to articulate a near-and-medium-term wireless platform story, one that tells vendors what they should sell today that will be useful tomorrow.
Intel seems more interested in desktops and today's applications than it is in the wireless networking platform and tomorrow's applications.
Incoming CEO Paul Otellini says Intel is going to sell a platforms story, not a pure technology story. Platforms are things you build on.
Intel will pay $10,000 for a pristine copy of the original Electronics Magazine where Gordon Moore's ground-breaking article appeared. Librarians say copies are being stolen off shelves as a result.
Criminals have discovered blogging.
The BBC reports this quite breathlessly, but there's no need to be either surprised or unduly alarmed.
There are two types of scams going on, according to Websense, which was the BBC's source for the story:
In both these cases you can substitute the words "Web site" for "blog" and pre-date the release to 1997. Free Web page companies found this problem fairly early-on in their evolution, and now those offering space to bloggers need to be aware as well.
Sun's plan to release Solaris under its CDDL open source license got a boost yesterday with an endorsement by...The SCO Group? (This cute Linux penguin keychain from Promotion Potion doubles as a stress ball.)
"We have seen what Sun plans to do with OpenSolaris and we have no problem with it," is the way eWeek's Steven Vaughan-Nichols quoted SCO's Darl McBride in a conference call yesterday.
The question is, with friends like these, does Sun need enemies?
Bridgend, Wales and a WiFi provider called The Cloud are about to turn on a network within the city that can be accessed from customers of 20 different ISPs, using their current accounts.
One problem journalists have with blogging is it does away with gatekeepers.
Printers are gatekeepers. They cost money and make you think before you publish.
Editors are gatekeepers. That's their job. They assign stories and edit them carefully so you don't mispel words.
Publishers are also gatekeepers. Traditionally their role has been to shield the poor, innocent journalist from the nasty world of business.
Mark Glaser of OJR examined this today without reaching any conclusions (as good journalists are taught to do). (The recent picture of Nick Denton is from the OJR story.)
Glaser interviewed three people whose blogging companies seem to be bringing in bucks -- Denton (of Gawker, Wonkette, etc.), Jason Calacanis (of Weblogsinc) , and Rafat Ali (of Paid Content) -- about how they pay people who work for them.
By the month, said Calacanis. By the story, said Ali. By the reader, said Denton.
Shock! Shock and dismay, responded the folks at Slate and Salon, representing the traditional industry.
To which I respond, huh?
I'm a big James Surowiecki fan. (Not a Truly Handsome Man yet, like I am, but don't you think his barber is starting to get creative?)
When I got into journalism, nearly three decades ago, I harbored a secret dream of writing for The New Yorker. I never got a sniff. But I harbor no grudges because Surowiecki did. And he's run with it.
The headline his editors give the piece is "In Yuan We Trust." His point is that our debts to Japan and China are so massive neither can afford to end their support for us. Thus the air will go out of our financial balloon slowly. We won't know the dollar's a peso until it's reached par. He concludes, "So be afraid. Just dont be very afraid."
That's the part I take issue with.
I depend on the BBC.
I'm not alone in this. Hundreds of millions of non-Brits do. The BBC's high quality and impeccable impartiality are what give the UK its continued relevance in the world.
But the BBC is in the midst of a brown-out.
The government-funded corporation is in the midst of a forced turnover plan. It's cutting staff now, but planning on hiring new staff later. It wants to get younger people with new ideas in the door, and get those who've grown stale out the door.
Sounds like a good idea. But meanwhile quality suffers. Especially in their reporting on tech issues.
Lenin named his small movement the Bolsheviks, a word meaning majority. He called his majority opponents Mensheviks, a word meaning minority.
The point is that if one side is large and undisciplined while the other side is smaller but tightly disciplined, the smaller group can win a political struggle.
That seems to be the case with municipal wifi. It's an undeniable good everyone wants. It's relatively cheap to install and maintain. It should be a no-brainer.
But it's losing to telephone monopolies because of lax discipline.
NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.
The America Diaspora is a sequel to The Chinese Century.
I had been expecting him, but it was still a shock.
In a nice commentary about how Wired is now Tired, David P. Reed (left) got me thinking about what today's key economic good might be.
The answer is attention. The world is entering an attention economy.
In many ways this is not news. What's news is how we're bifurcating our attention -- splitting it into parts -- and how media must now compete for slices of it. (Would this item get more hits if I called it The ADD Economy?)
It's a worldwide phenomenom because cellular or mobile service is worldwide. Mobile service competes well in the Attention Economy. Watch people chat on their phones while driving. (It's like elephants tap-dancing -- what's amazing is they do it.)
More after the break.
Glenn Fleischman and I disagree so seldom, we both get confused when it happens.
Long story short I thought it would help if I described what might be a better plan for citywide WiFi. Apologies to those of you who have read this before.
The short answer is WiMax. The long version follows the break.
Donald Wallace has launched a new blog about what I call Always On, dubbed Industrial M2M for Machine-to-Machine. We're adding it to our blogroll.
Today's big lie is a misinterpretation of the latest Pew Internet Survey. We think spam is no big deal.
(The great-tasting pork-shoulder-and-ham concoction from Hormel pictured to the left is still a very big deal in Alaska and Hawaii. They love the stuff.)
Well, nonsense. (I would use stronger language, but I want everyone to get the point.)
Here are some facts from the same study. Barely half of us now trust e-mail, down 11% from a year ago. Over one-fifth of us have cut down our e-mail use because of spam, just in the last year.
As for the rest...users have learned to deal. We have spam filters. I use Mailwasher. We don't get as much as before because more of it is being stopped at the server level.
That doesn't mean we like it. And it's deliberately misleading to say it is. It's like the battered wife syndrome. Why doesn't she leave the jerk? Why don't you just go offline?
It's the same question with the same answer. You find ways.
But if someone would finally arrest the batterer and throw his butt in the slammer for a good long time she'd learn to be grateful.
Which reminds me...
There is a tyranny to having a narrow beat. (The image, by the way, is from the Oak Ridge National Lab.)
Yes, you can develop sources. Yes, you can develop expertise. But with a narrow beat you're limiting yourself, and you're becoming increasingly dependent on your employer, since beat knowledge is often non-transferrable. You're also more likely to "go native" with a beat, internalizing sources' views as your own without analyzing them.
Blogging and RSS are, at their heart, designed to let us do away with this Tyranny of the Beat. Your subject can be read based on its subject matter, or you can develop your own personal fan club.
I have always resisted having a narrow beat in my work. You'll see stories here ranging from Internet Commerce to Always On to law, science, even politics, along with what Hylton thought was my beat when he took me on -- semiconductors.
I think this keeps me fresh. It keeps me interested. That keeps the quality high.
But that's not the way publishers look at things, even blogging publishers. There are now several companies that run a stable of blogs, besides Corante, and each one places writers in narrowly-defined beats. Weblogsinc may be the most aggressive in de-personalizing their blogs. They now have 75. Most can change out the staff in a nano-second and keep going. Good for them, bad for writers.
And weren't blogs created so we'd have something that was good for writers?
A look at the Technorati Top 100 offers a good illustration on the rise of these corporate blogs.
Like Kremlinologists of the past, people are now analyzing Google's every move the way they once followed Microsoft.
Exhibit A today is a piece from Jim Hedger on Google's latest patent application. But the same things can be found any day of the week. Just enter the word Google at Google News and here's what you'll come up with today:
And that's just on regular news sites. We're not yet talking about the blogosphere:
ICANN approved two new top-level domains, .jobs and .travel, and authorized AfriNIC in Mauritius to oversea distribution of IP numbers on that continent.
I am a big supporter of free WiFi. But Philadelphia's project will go down in history as a failure.
Those are the obvious problems. But wait, there's more:
If your company runs all its Internet traffic through an internal server, and that server runs Microsoft Windows, then you're vulnerable to a new type of hack known as DNS Cache Poisoning. (The illustration here comes from a Brazilian blog, marketinghacker.br.)
The alert went out about a month ago. The idea has been around for a decade, but it's now being adopted by sophisticated criminal gangs.
Here's how it works.
Criminals break into a Windows server caching DNS requests for an Intranet, then insert instructions redirecting users to poisoned pages. The 12-digit IP address chosen by the criminal is thus linked to a chosen Internet address, and requests for Google.Com (for instance) could go to a site that downloads spyware or key-logging software in the background.
What can be done about it?
That's the gist of last week's WTO ruling which both the U.S. and Antigua are spinning as victories for their side.
Once upon a time there was an Ugly Prince.
His nose was long. His eyes were crooked. His face was horsy. The whole head seemed to be leaning to one side.
He was ungainly. He was unathletic. His voice was a croak and his laugh made you want to cover your ears.
The Prince was Ugly inside, too. His concerns were petty. His solutions were pedestrian. He argued in a pedantic way.
In all this he was no better than his subjects.
He did have one Great Gift. The Ugly Prince was capable of a great love. For love he would be constant, he would be sincere, he would be earnest and true.
The following appeared today in my free weekly e-mail newsletter, A-Clue.Com, now into its 9th year of publication.
You can get it free any time.
The next U.S. recession will result from a real estate crash. (The picture is actually from the inspiring story of an English school, but you don't want your home portrayee as rundown, do you?)
U.S. residential real estate is overvalued because its purchase is subsidized. It is the only good consumers can buy while writing off the interest. Builders also have a host of tax incentives to build. Most have been in place for generations. While there has been enormous abuse of these tax loopholes over the years they will have nothing to do with what is to come.
The whole idea of a home as an investment needs to be questioned. An empty home does not get more valuable. It falls apart. We have one on my street and, even in today's white hot market, it's falling apart. It won't bring back the investment of the idiot who owns it.
I've seen the TV ads and maybe you have, too. "Get a free ringtone. Simply text (whatever) and get (name of hit song) as a ringtone!"
Well, it's a scam. It's not free. In fact, writes Stephen Lawson for The Industry Standard, it's a lot more costly than a regular ringtone. This is because you get multiple texts in reply, with directions for the download, and these texts cost money -- $1.99 plus call charges each. It's an easy case to make, it's simple consumer fraud, it's aimed at teenagers. A state attorney general who wants to make a name for himself (or herself) can have a field day with this.
Want to know the best part?
What's the difference these days between the developed and developing world?
One difference can be found in their attitude toward mobile phones.
In countries like the Philippines, there is great concern these days over mobile phone theft. In some cases they're after purses and other valuables, with the phones just being an incidental. In places like Kenya SIM cards are hacked and the phones are re-sold.
Much of the media ignored or downplayed Alan Greenspan's remarks yesterday on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two huge mortgage guarantors.
History may well show this to have been a significant event. Greenspan admitted the U.S. economy has no clothes.
Greenspan said he wants the two agencies limited to holding $200 billion in paper. Right now they hold $1.3 trillion. The regulator in charge of these agencies has quit, in an "accounting scandal" that may result in a "restatement of earnings" totaling $9 billion, and while Greenspan downplayed the potential impact of a change, mortgage experts know better.
I will have more on how this could play out in my a-clue.com newsletter, being sent to subscribers tomorrow. A copy of that story will then be posted here.
It's beginning to look like the SCO-IBM case won't make it to the finish line, an end to discovery and summary judgement.
SCO's sponsors are blowing up. Literally.
Maureen O'Gara (left), whose name is like fingers rubbing a balloon to most in the open source community, and is regularly accused by them of being an SCO shill, reported last month that both Ray Noorda's daughter and another executive with Canopy Group, SCO's largest owner, committed suicide.
More telling, perhaps, was her reference to SCO itself, a company she has regularly defended on teleconferences. She called it "the infamous SCO Group."
When your shark-jumper jumps ship, who's left?
The real news from last month is that Canopy's position in SCO has transferred to former Canopy CEO Ralph Yarro, who chairs the SCO board. When the former VC leaves his firm and becomes your CEO, you've got no net below you and (most likely) no new money coming in the door.
SCO could use new money, because when it finally delivered its financial results for fiscal 2004 (on April Fool's Day no less) it had a net loss of $23.3 million on revenue of $42.8 million, against profits of $5.4 million and $79.2 million in revenue. Why? Because sales of licenses to Linux users totaled just $809,000, down from $25.8 million in 2003.
How can this be bad news for open source?
Simple. If SCO fails to make it to the end of discovery, the judge in the case can't set a precedent that will keep others from trying the same con.
The great struggle of our time, between "major media journalism" and "blogging" involves who sets the agenda.
Exhibit A. I've been writing about the economic threat of India and China for years now. I've called the War on Terror a mere distraction from the real game. I know other bloggers have done the same.
But suddenly, wonder of wonders, Thomas Friedman of The New York Times goes to Bangalore, discovers we're right and now it's on everyone's radar.
I've written before here of the methods by which the major media is trying to co-opt the blogosphere and eliminate the threat. They're taking on some people, attacking others, and in this case, just taking others' ideas and claiming them for their own.
Here's an interesting juxtaposition of headlines. (The lovely idiot is from UC Berkeley.)
Hitachi Eyes 1 Terabyte Drives, writes MacWorld, noting new technology the Japanese company says lets it put 4.5 Gigabytes of data on a single centimeter of hard drive.
I'm like, don't the first people read the second paper?
Moore's Law of Storage is rocketing along right now even faster than Moore's other "laws" (as described in The Blankenhorn Effect). Magnetic storage is eliminating the cost of physically maintaining content, any content, with profound implications for everyone.
Neither effort is serious, in terms of 2005 serious. Both are attempts to place markers on the future and gain agreements with the content industries they think will mark the future.
And this is just what's wrong with them.
You don't open up a new market by focusing on the seller side of the transaction.
You open up a new market by focusing on the buyer side.
I bought a new laptop yesterday.
And to my surprise I violated my Iron Law.
Dana's Iron Law of Laptops holds that an ounce on the desk is a pound in my hands.
My favorite laptop of all time was a 2-pound Sinclair ZX-81. It had a tiny screen (nearly non-existent) but it had a pliant membrane keyboard that let me write and send stories from a beach. I haven't seen anything so light, rugged and useful since.
Instead, laptops have been desktop analogs. When desktop power increased, so did that of laptops, and they became no lighter in the process. Even today most laptops on the market weigh 7-8 pounds.
So why did I get one?
Eric Rice (left), responding to Dana's Law of Content, asked a real good question yesterday:
And who will be the ultimate judge of what is and is not good and compelling?
The short answer is you would. Not you, Eric. You. The person reading this. And you. And you.
The biggest problem blogging faces right now is it's hard to find the good stuff. Oh, much of the good stuff does get found. And, of course, what constitutes good stuff is all in the eye of the beholder.
What do we do about this?
When CNN was new they decided to cover a Midnight Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral. What I remember was how the anchors chose to talk over everything, so you felt their ego trips rather than the ceremony.
I got the same feeling, in triplicate, watching coverage of Pope John Paul II's death today. Grief is shared through human interaction, but all we got on TV today was a simulation.
Catholicism is the most ritualistic of America's major religions, but viewers saw little of the power in this ritual. Instead we listened to talking heads on all channels, complete with anchors' ego trips, experts speculating, and cameras thrust in peoples' faces when they had nothing to say.
If you looked at major media Web sites you got more of the same. It was about them, not about him, and certainly not about us.
What about the blogosphere?
The following appeared today in my free weekly e-mail newsletter, A-Clue.Com, now into its 9th year of publication.
You can get it free any time.
Science is the political issue of our time.
It will surprise many to hear it's controversial. But to those with an historical perspective it's no surprise at all.
Over the years I've been critical of Vint Cerf, one of the original gearheads credited with TCP/IP.
(One look at the hairline, of course, and one must admit he's a Truly Handsome Man. The picture is from Computerhistory.org, a page describing his early work.)
When Cert looks into the future today, he gets it. He understands where we should be going, and perhaps more importantly where we should not be going, in regards to the Internet.
He shared some of that wisdom Wednesday at a dinner called Freedom to Connect.
Following are some of the high points:
An IEEE study shows the excesses of venture capital in the late 1990s actually stifled innovation.
The image, taken from the IEEE Spectrum story, shows what a venture capitalist should be doing, looking for ideas. In fact, as the study indicated, most 1990s' VCs replaced that light bulb with a dollar sign.
It's something I strongly suspected at the time. It's one reason I called my newsletter a-clue.com, because I saw so many Clueless people drawing such fat checks and directing such big funds toward the cliff.
But it is nice to get some confirmation.
In the study by Bart Stuck & Michael Weingarten, over 1300 public offerings over 10 years were analyzed, and scored 1-5 for innovation, with 1 being very innovative and 5 being me-too.
The study's conclusion is poignant. "Based on our experience, we believe that VCs really aren't the risk takers they're often made out to be."
Here's what I think really happened.