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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December 30, 2005

Credibility is the Coin of the Realm

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

sony%20v%20apple.pngI have long believed that the Internet makes us all journalists.

By that I mean all of us -- as people, as companies, as institutions -- have an account called credibility. You build that account slowly, through words and actions. But withdrawals from that account can be sudden and total. You protect your credibility, it's your reputation, by getting in front of trouble, even over-reacting to it, acknowledging fault quickly, making amends, using it as a learning opportunity.

Never was this more true than in 2005, as Mike at Techdirt reminded me this week.

Let me make Mike's point with a few words.


Each leaves 2005 with a quite different credibility value than they entered it with, all based on how they responded when they were attacked. Google and Apple responded aggressively, with an eye toward alleviating problems. Sony and WalMart acted defensively, grudgingly.

The proof is in the market. Apple Computer, which at the beginning of this decade was worth a fraction of what Sony Corp. is worth, is now worth 50% more. (Wal-Mart is still worth more than Google, but the margin is now less than 2-1. At the start of the year it was over 4-1, and Google was considered overvalued at that price.)

It is inevitable that success brings jealousy. It is true that those who disparage you may have impure motives. But how you respond matters, too. If you respond with petulance, you increase the number of enemies you have dramatically, and this damages your credibility, which will eventually impact your growth rate.

In line with that, let's look at what must be the stupidest decision of 2005.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consulting | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Investment | marketing

December 29, 2005

End Impeachment Talk Now

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

bush%2012-18-05.jpgThere has been some talk on the left calling for the impeachment of President Bush.

That talk should end now.

No competent legal authority has the facts justifying any charge. The Congress is the only such authority, and Congress has not investigated. If Democrats want Congress to investigate they have their whole 2006 campaign.

We'll look into it.

It's all that need be said. When Democrat X stands up to Republican Y, that's all they say. Say, we'll look into it. Does anyone seriously think the present Congress has looked into charges against this President, or that a Republican Congress will? No such promise by any Republican candidate in 2006 has any credibility. So forget everything else this campaign. Just say we'll look into it.

Then, when you're elected, do.

Look into it. Use Congress' power under the Constitution to conduct oversight and investigate all charges against this President and his Administration. Run through the list and look into it.

What will they find? I don't know. Neither do you. Could be simple, honest political disagreements regarding the powers of the President in wartme.

Could be a lot worse.

But Dana, you say, now we're into 2008,. and all we've got is this investigation. Maybe it was stonewalled. Maybe there was no cooperation.

Maybe. Maybe not. But again, the answer is simple. If investigations by a legally constituted Congress can't be made, or if it is found the charges being made today have a basis, then it's clear our system is incompetent to provide justice.

Given the hyper-partisanship that would surround even the words I've written up until now, it is very likely that the American System will prove incapable of finding justice in the case of the People vs. George W. Bush.
So the issue for 2008 (in this theoretical) becomes, what to do?

The answer, transfer it to a competent legal authority. Promise to pass and sign whatever treaties are necessary in order to pass on jurisdiction. Let impartial judges rule. Funding the case should not be a problem.

And if those judges should rule that George W. Bush and all his henchmen have a case to answer for, so be it. Should they find him innocent of all charges, so be it. Should their investigation show there is no case to answer, so be it.

Just look into it and find competent authority to take a case, if there's one to make. Shut up about things you cannot do, or things that wouldn't do any good if you could do them.

And then, at the end of the day, after all sides have been heard, if an international court rules it just...

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Journalism | Politics | law | personal | war

December 28, 2005

Om mane padme WRONG

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

om-malik.jpgI always wanted to write that headline, and finally got the chance today.

Om in this case is Om Malik, whose broadband blog has become one of my regular stops in daily newsgathering.

Om's view? Speed doesn't matter. Who cares if it's 1 Mbps or 2 or 10 or 20? The applications are all the same. What are you going to do with it?

Well in one sense he's right. The faster speeds being sold and claimed by cable and Bell companies right now are bogus. I switched to cable a few months ago and I'm switching back. The cable claims it's running at 5 Mbps, but not really. It's like a hose that sputters and drips. Sometimes it works at that speed, but usually it doesn't. When it comes to such things as latency and real throughput, an ADSL line, like the one I had before, is faster. (I'm sorry Earthlink. I'll hurry home as fast as I can.)

But in the broader sense, he's full of, well, the remains of holiday food. Because just as faster chips meant new applications (and interfaces) in the 1980s and 1990s, so faster broadband can mean that today.

...continue reading.

Comments (13) + TrackBacks (1) | Category: 802.11 | Business Strategy | Digital Divide | Futurism | Internet | Politics | computer interfaces

December 27, 2005

Memo to Soros

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

george%20soros.jpgGeorge Soros (left) has emerged as one of the primary boogeymen of the Right Wing. Not only do the Warbloggers invoke his name in order to justify their continuing to wear Vast Leftwing Conspiracy tinfoil hats, but so do corporate conservatives, who resent his interference in their feeding at the Republican trough, and the scare he helped put into them during 2004.

But in fact Soros has been quiet since Kerry lost. Very quiet. Too quiet. On the whole he's gone back to doing what he did before, make money arbitraging currencies and commodities. This is a noble profession that dates back to the days of George Peabody. (Maybe you heard of the man Peabody left in charge of his enterprises. Junius Morgan. No? How about Junius' son, the one he named for the preacher, J.P.? Getting warmer?)

Anyway, George may be looking for a good, cheap way to turn America into a new, more profitable direction, and here's one right here. Fund TeleTruth.

...continue reading.

Comments (5) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Digital Divide | Internet | Investment | Journalism | Politics | Telecommunications | law

December 23, 2005

This Week's Clue: The Spring of Consensus

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Robert_Prechter_small.jpgThis week's issue of A-Clue.Com is my annual Year in Preview essay.

You're invited to join the A-Clue.Com community by clicking this link. Always free.

One problem I have with Robert Prechter's work is its apocalyptic nature. It's the deep breath before the long plunge. The forest is about to burn, the world as we know it about to come to an end.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consulting | Economics | Futurism | History | Linux | Politics | war

Family Fun, for Christmas

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

myheritage%20mingaling.jpgJust in time for Christmas, Atlanta blogger Mingaling (right) offered me (and therefore you) access to a great family fun game for the holidays.

It's actually the beta test for something called MyHeritage. It will act as a genealogical research site, helping folks find relatives based on facial characteristics.

The beta test lets you input a mug shot into the site, and have it select, from a collection of 2,000 celebrities, who you most look like. I know of one family where the father looks like Donald Rumsfeld (supposedly), the mother looks like Shirley Temple (supposedly) and the kids look like Muhammed Ali (also supposedly). And they're not even black!

Mingaling looks like Luci Liu (lucky girl). Who do you look like?

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consumer Electronics | Internet | fun stuff | marketing | online advertising

December 22, 2005


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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

personsoftheyear.jpgOf all the dumb-ass things Michelle Malkin has ever written (and she does it deliberately) this is the one that got me mad:

Sorry, but Melinda Gates? She marries the software mogul after he has done his greatest work...and that makes her a co-person of the year?

Melinda Gates is more than worthy. She gave humanity to a man who needed it desperately. And in turn she is shaming the rest of us into action (well, those of us with hearts and brains).

What struck me most in Times' cover story is how old Bill looks. He's younger than I am, for gosh sakes! (Oh, right.) His face is lined, his neck is stretched. Only a few pictures showed anything different -- those where he was looking at his wife.

Bill married Melinda rather late. He was 39. It was the year his mom, Mary, passed away. Melinda was a product manager at the company. He was ready. What she saw in the shuffling geek I don't know. It wasn't the money.

Melinda changed Bill into someone Mary would be proud of. She's as bright as he is, but she brought a new perspective to Bill's life, and a moral imperative he had avoided for years. She gave him back his humility, she took him out of his mind and into his heart, a place many geniuses never get to go.

...continue reading.

Comments (7) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Futurism | Journalism | Politics | personal

The Social Generation

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

rjchristmas.JPGA posting from Bernie Goldbach in Ireland helped remind me of just how much progress we've seen in the last decade.

The best way to see it is through the eyes of people who are growing up.

I've got two right here.

Robin and John are part of the Internet Generation, just as I am part of the TV Generation. It's their vocabulary. It's where they're most comfortable. We have one TV in our house, and not too many fights over it, because both kids are more likely to be spending time online than slumped in front of the Idiot Box. (He likes Comedy Central, though, and she still likes cartoons.)

A decade ago they were well ahead of the curve.They're not anymore, which is fine by me.

A few points about their own use of technology:

  • They assume technology. (Robin's shirt refers to a robot her club made this fall.)
  • They assume an immense amount of choice.
  • They assume a PC will be available, at hand.
  • They take e-mail connections as a given. Also IM.
  • They type fast, although they don't know they're doing it.
  • They assume broadband is available. When it was down earlier this fall, well, it was rough.
  • They know how to avoid bad people, liars, and predators.
  • They are dedicated to favorite activities, no more likely to stray from them than, say, I am. The difference is their favorite activities change.

Your mileage, of course, will vary.

There are also the usual accoutrements of youth -- an assumption and acceptance of constant, even accelerating change. Optimism, impatience, curiousity, energy, humor, mood swings. And something I can't explain -- they get along with their parents. (I have no idea how we lucked into that one, frankly. But I treasure it.)

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consumer Electronics | Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | Internet | fun stuff | personal

December 21, 2005

Web Bloatware

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

bloatware.gifOne of my favorite Web bugaboos has always been bloatware. (This cute guy came up in a search for the term, but he's a blowfish, delicious batter-fried with tarter sauce. Like an aquatic drumstick.)

My first run-in with this imperative was over a decade ago now, at the old Interactive Age. The art director wanted to force folks to go through her home page before getting to my daily news hole. The home page was pretty, a mock-up of each magazine's cover. But it was bloatware.

Bloatware wastes time without providing value. And it's creeping into the Web again.

Two examples:

...continue reading.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | computer interfaces | e-commerce | online advertising

Sun COO Endorses Intel

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

jonathan%20schwartz.gifNot literally. Nowhere in this blog item does Sun COO Jonathan Schwartz even mention Intel.

CORRECTION: Jonathan did mention it in passing, in terms of what not to do. Since I've been getting hammered in the comments on this one (no offense, keep hammering) let me add that Intel's market share, and the effort required to turn the entire corporation into the direction of low-power, are vital elements to the story.

But he's complaining about something Intel has turned its entire corporate ship around in order to deal with.

Intel made a big decision in 2005. It would no longer follow Moore's Law toward tighter-and-tighter chip densities, if that meant generating more-and-more heat, and requiring more-and-more power. Instead it would re-define Moore's Law in order to emphasize something better.

And one of those somethings better was low power.

...continue reading.

Comments (5) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Digital Divide | Economics | Moore's Lore | Semiconductors

Law & Order Twist in Blackberry Case

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

techdirt.gifThe patent case concerning the RIM Blackberry has taken a twist that could have come out of the TV show Law & Order. You know, those shows where the fights are over which of two adults killed the mistress and it turns out to be one of the kids?

Anyway, Derek at TechDirt reported yesterday that, just as patent claimant NTP was about to turn off Blackberry service in order to enforce its rights, those patents are about to be tossed by the Patent Office.

The USPTO is worried that NTP is winning the court case based on what they now know to be bad patents, but patents which they mistakenly granted. Not only is this massively unfair to RIM, but the credibility of the entire intellectual property system in the US is in jeopardy.

The case points to a need for reform in the patent system, major reform. But that should not start with changing how we apply for patents, or who should win them. It should start with higher fees for patents, which could perhaps be paid out of future revenues, and an immense expansion of the Patent Office's ability to investigate such things as prior art, originality, and editing the patent to cover only the new stuff -- no more broad claims.

Think it will happen?

...continue reading.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consumer Electronics | Economics | Investment | Politics | Science | law

December 20, 2005

The CES Hype Machine Tunes Up

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

netblender.gifWhile you're all tucking into your Christmas turkey the hype machine for the next round, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, is already filling media inboxes.

CESlong-ago replaced Comdex as the technology industry's premier trade show.Somewhere between the Internet and the iPod, computing bifurcated into a gadget market, which is CES' bailiwick, and a server market, which doesn't need the trade show hassle.

One 2005 success you've probably got under your tree right now is the games DVD. It may be a sports title, a fashion title, or a trivia title. It sells based on the brand (ESPN, Trivia Pursuit) standing behind the maker (as opposed to a publisher's brand). Play is divided between some sort of game board and the TV, on which the DVD plays the answers.

The next step in that evolution is bringing the Web into the mix, making the whole thing instantly updateable, and providing a continuing revenue stream in terms of new content and Web stores. That's what NetBlender is touting. They sent two PDF press releases here today (the bulk of the site is password-preotected) and the language would make P.T. Barnum proud.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Consumer Electronics | Software | e-commerce | marketing

The eBay Myth

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

ebaylogo.jpgThe eBay Myth is that you are somehow safe there.

This has never been true. From the beginnings of the service, in the 1990s, eBay deliberately tried to hold its security expenses to a minimum.

First, "the community": was to be relied upon. Then you were told, it's your risk. The eBay financial system has never been a member of Visa because achieving that level of security would be too expensive. So eBay bought PayPal and tried to turn it into a private bank -- only it lacked banking security.

It is natural to rely on cops in the financial world -- after you have done everything possible to protect yourself. That costs money, and money is something eBay has always been reluctant to spend, at least on computer security.

Now eBay admits that many accounts are being hijacked by crooks, and it acts surprised. Once again, they seem to blame crime victims and "phishing" e-mails when in fact it's their own security (or lack of it) that is at fault.

Successful eBay merchants have been pushing-back on this story, with letters claiming they're happy bunnies, but they're insiders here.

The fact is that eBay has never paid-out what was necessary to assure any level of security. It has pocketed that money as profit, and now it's reaping the whirlwind for that.

Want to prove me wrong?

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Security | e-commerce

December 19, 2005

Time Warner Dips Into the Funny Money Again

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

aol-timewarner.jpgLike an addict going into a bar after just getting out of jail for their last bender, Time Warner is going for the Internet funny money again.

This time it's Google, which has promised to rescue Time Warner's AOL investment by valuing the failing online service at $20 billion.

For Google, this is funny money. When your stock is like gold, while you know it's water, it's easy to give everyone a drink. Bubble companies always go through this phase. Yahoo did, Microsoft did, and now Google could buy Time Warner about five times over so why not toss it a bone?

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Internet | Investment | marketing | online advertising

The Terrorists Won

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

bush%2012-18-05.jpgThis is an easy call to make.

When you’re terrorized, the terrorists have won. And Americans remain terrorized.

When a democracy is spying on its own people, when it claims the right to do this with impunity, when it’s attacking the right of college students to research history, when it claims the power of the executive is absolute, when it is engaging in torture, you can bet that democracy is terrorized.

When the supporters of a government call the other side “traitor” and mean it they’re scared. That’s the goal of terrorism, to scare you, to force you to become the evil they see in you, to make you unhinged.

Americans today are unhinged.

This has been a natural over-reaction in America since its foundation. We acted like Communists in the name of stopping Communism, engaged in ethnic cleansing in the name of stopping Fascism, we forced people into the Army at the point of a gun to fight slavery. We even, in the earliest years of the Republic, copied the worst excesses of the British system because we hated them so much.

It’s called projection. We copy our enemies thinking they are better, that they might have a point, that they might be right. We punish ourselves, we engage in proxy wars, we burn down the villages in order to save them.

When it’s over we always apologize, and the world always seems to forgive us. But the world never really trusts America. The world does not believe in American Exceptionalism, except as it refers to our exceptional military, with its exceptional soldiers, who will do the impossible or die trying. At this point, only Americans believe American rhetoric anymore, and as the terrorism continues those numbers keep dwinding.

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It’s true for politicians. But it’s also true for nations. Corruption isn’t just driven by greed. It’s also a product of fear, and when fear becomes paranoia the corruption does indeed become absolute.

Nations suffer under corruption, regardless of its cause. They lose power. Their economies lose steam. Their people lose faith. Their armies become occupiers, and are treated as such.

In 1946 James Cagney starred in a movie called 13_rue_madeleine, as an OSS agent behind enemy lines in France. What he’s engaged in, primarily, is terrorism – blowing up bridges, harassing the enemy. He wants them to send people behind the lines and worry about him so there will be fewer troops at the front lines.

He is, in other words, a terrorist. And America has always engaged in terrorism as a technique of war. Jimmy Doolittle's raid on Tokyo in 1942 had no military value. It was terrorism, an attack on civilians. And it was glorious.

You can’t really beat terrorism once it’s in your heart. You can only beat it within your heart.

...continue reading.

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Futurism | History | Journalism | Politics | blogging | law | personal | war

December 16, 2005

The Traffic Economy

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

blogger%20traffic.gifWhat motivates a blogger most? (Image from the blog of James P. MacLennan.


It's not really money, although money is nice. What bloggers want more than anything is traffic, and the attention that traffic generates.

Traffic validates. Traffic defines our value within the blogosphere.

There have been many attempts to calculate this over the last few years. There were blogrolls. There are link numbers. But these are mere approximations. What we want are page views, audience, comment strings so long that we ignore them or (maybe better) turn them off (because we're now so powerful and important).

Despite the talk among bloggers about how we transcend the "old media," what jazzes us more than anything is a TV or radio appearance. Then, unless we already work in TV or radio (in which case our blog starts with a huge head start) we put on our best suits, we luxuriate in the makeup chair, and we preen for the cameras.

I've often said writers are shy egomaniacs, and it's on display all over the blogosphere. Even though the talents needed in writing, blogging, and TV appearances are all quite different, what most bloggers really want is to be, in some small way, "king of all media" (at least in our minds).

Now, what are the business implications of all this?

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Digital Divide | Internet | Journalism | blogging | e-commerce | personal

Is This Google's Riskiest Move Yet?

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

googlelogo.gifGoogle has launched a music search service, just a week after the Music Publishers' Association launched a legal move to close lyric sites and put their owners in jail.

Google has been at the forefront of the Copyright Wars and has always taken an aggressive position in favor of the free flow of information. It has yet to back down in court, although it has watched some things (newsgroups and Blogger) wither on its watch.

In this case, Google insists it will only act as a link, using legitimate "music partners" like iTunes and providing only snippets of data on its own, like song lists. In fact, there is no Google "tab" as there is with News, for instance. Instead, a "search music" button appears when you do a search on a relevant term in the regular Google search box. This can be based on a specific term, or the button can lead you to music-related results even on a general term.
By combining with other tech companies in this effort, Google seems to be pushing a compromise on the recording industry, which has tried to force users into accepting its technology choices, its terms and conditions.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Economics | Internet | Podcasting | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

This Week's Clue: Slouching Toward Armageddon

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

This week's issue of A-Clue.Com is my annual Year in Review essay.

You're invited to join the A-Clue.Com community by clicking this link. Always free.

bush%20bubble%20newsweek_cover.jpgThere are many forms of depression.

There's the economic kind.

There's the personal kind.

There's also the political kind. It's this last America is suffering from right now. Left and right are reacting to one another with anger and hatred, while the rest shake their heads and mutter curses on both.

When this era is over, and we're able to get all the facts on it, we may conclude that George W. Bush and his minions were truly alien to the American culture. We may find that he stole both his elections (and others), that he corrupted our entire system -- economic, tax, spending, judicial, media - that he worked systematically all his life to destroy America and replace it with his own warped Theocratic Fascism.

That view will be wrong.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consulting | Economics | History | Journalism | Politics | ethics | law | personal | war

December 15, 2005

Windows Live Why?

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

windows%20live%20local.pngI was attracted to Windows Live by a Web blog I respect, but whose name I have somehow lost.

The claim which struck me was images with Windows Live were clearer than those with Google Earth. Some examples were shown.

I tried it. The differences are marginal. In many ways Google Earth is better. In some ways Wndows Live is better.

But I'm left with a question. Why is Microsoft wasting money copying what someone else is doing, when it could be using that money doing what no one else can? This is a question that has been bothering me ever since Google rose to challenge Microsoft.

The only answer I can come up with is that this is the way Microsoft has always operated. It copies others' innovations, then crushes them with its marketing might. The difference is that Google operates on the Internet, not inside a client Windows can crush. Netscape, the challenger a decade ago, offered a browser, a client program which Microsoft could copy, throw inside its operating system, and crush.

...continue reading.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Software

Nationalize the Phone Network

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

leakyrowboat.jpgIt's a crazy notion that is going nowhere.

But it would solve a lot of problems, most especially for the Bells, who would be the idea's staunchest opponents, if it were proposed. (It's not being proposed. I'm just blogging here. This is a thought experiment.)

The problem is there is billions of dollars in copper infrastructure that is becoming worthless faster than the loans made to build it can be paid off. This fact is the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about.

So throw those assets, and the debt behind them, into a pot. Sign yearly management contracts with the present owners (mainly the Bells) to keep those assets going.

Then anyone who wants to build on those assets (including the Bells) or provide services using those assets (like ADSL) can do so without discrimination. The Bells no longer have an incentive to stifle competition. They do have an incentive to build, to build fiber, to build what amounts to a cable system, because every dime they use in that effort is a new dime, and every dime that comes in as a result of that effort is their dime.

The Bells would all create management arms, and cash flow from the contracts. But the corporation as a whole would have a different set of incentives. It would want those costs kept down. It would be pushing all its assets into advanced services, and seeing the management company as a cash drain. Fine. If they try to starve the management company, there would be a process by which customers could complain and have a new manager appointed.

Why should the Bells agree to this?

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Digital Divide | Economics | Internet | Investment | Politics | Telecommunications | fun stuff | personal

December 14, 2005

Monopolists at the Academic Gates

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

fondren%20library.jpgFor the last few days I've been needlessly obsessed with a study I found at Georgia State University, about peer-reviewed journals. (The image is of Fondren Library at Rice University, where I got some really great naps during the 1970s, and worked for a peer-reviewed journal.)

The article cites a study from England indicating academics prefer peer review to simply posting studies on the Web and letting everyone criticize them.

I grabbed hold of a telling detail, while nearly half believed open access (as using the Web is called) would undermine the current system, 41% said that would be a good thing.

I should have waited, because today the folks at Georgia State gave me (as they say) "the rest of the story."

It's an article in Library Journal which the publisher (Reed-Elsevier) has conveniently declined to make available on their Web site, which offers the smoking gun.

The article, by Theodore Bergstrom and R. Preston McAfee, charged that the publishers of peer-reviewed journals are collecting monopoly profits on labor donated to them by universities.

It's time to recognize a simple fact and react to it: the symbiotic relationship between academics and for-profit publishers has broken down. Large for-profit publishers are gouging the academic community for as much as the market will bear. Moreover, they will not stop pricing journals at the monopoly level, because shareholders demand it.

So far, universities have failed to use one of the most powerful tools they possess: charging for their valuable input. Journal editing employs a great deal of professorial and staff time, as well as supplies, office space, and computers, all provided by universities.

Academic journals cost very little to print or distribute. They are produced, in fact, by researchers who agree to be part of the peer-review process. They are a bottleneck through which knowledge must pass before the rest of us get a crack at it.

Yet these same journals are owned by for-profit publishers, who keep raising their prices, forcing universities to pay for them, often with government money

At ZDNet Open Source recently I called this a battle between academe and open source. But in fact there's more to it than that. There's the abuse of monopoly power, and the acceptance of an abusive relationship by the academic community.

When private companies are allowed to gain monopoly profits, often paid-for by government funds, and act as a bottleneck to knowledge, something is clearly very wrong.

With apologies to Bergstrom and McAfee there are, in fact, several things schools could do:

...continue reading.

Comments (6) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: B2B | Business Models | Copyright | Digital Divide | Economics | Internet | Science

The Right Way to Economic Development

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

jeff%20skolnick.jpgThis month Atlanta lost Rafael Furcal to a $40 million LA Dodger contract, but picked up Jeffrey Skolnick for $7 million.

I'd say we came out ahead. Skolnick is a leader in bioinformatics, the use of computer technology to model biological processes and steer research toward breakthroughs. Furcal is a good shortstop, but that's about it.

I'm being a bit flip here. The point is that cities and states are bound to do better going after academic superstars than sports stadia or fading industries. Yet most deals are aimed at sports stadia or fading industries.

Georgia, for instance, put over $180 million in tax revenue into building Philips Arena, where the elite eat sushi in luxury boxes lining one side, while the rest pile into seats on the other. They are offering all sorts of tax breaks to Ford if it will keep its Hapeville assembly plant open.

But for $5 million in laboratory expenses and $2 million for an endowed chair (some of it privately-funded) Georgia gets Skolnick, along with 19 colleagues and $1.5 million in grant money. Not a bad deal.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Consulting | Futurism | Investment | Politics | Science | medicine

December 13, 2005

Surrender, Billy

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

rayozzielong.jpgIn The Wizard of Oz the Wicked Witch of the West writes "Surrender Dorothy" in the sky. But she can be destroyed by a bucket of water.

Microsoft's problems can't be solved that easily. And their best course at this point is for Bill Gates to retire.

As chief software architect and board chairman, Gates is in the way of what Microsoft must do in order to grow again.

I mean no insult by this. It's simple historical fact. Every businessperson, no matter how brilliant, has one act, one great achievement. Gates' was Windows, and all the politicking and marketing savvy needed to give it control of your PC. (Steve Jobs is the exception that proves the rule. The iPod is simply a reflection of his one true craft, which is consumer electronics marketing.)

But if a company is to survive and become a real institution it must have a second act, another life. And you get that with new leadership. IBM, Microsoft's arch-nemesis, has had three lives over the years with three great leaders:

  1. Thomas Watson Sr. built the company around the punch card machine.
  2. Thomas Watson Jr. re-built the company around the computer.
  3. Lou Gerstner re-built the company again around services.

...continue reading.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Economics | Futurism | History | Software | personal

December 12, 2005

This Just In: People Can Be Bad

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

andrew%20orlowski.jpgLet's review the results of Wikipedia-gate:

  • The perpetrator was found in less than a week.
  • The item in question has been changed.
  • The change has gotten a lot more publicity than the original mistake -- try getting that out of a daily newspaper.
  • The person who falsified the record has lost his job.

The result: someone is trying to use lawsuits to get the site shut down. (Their registration data tells us nothing about who they are.)

So what's the problem?

The problem, Andrew Orlowski of The Register thinks, (that's him to the right) is that Wikipedia dares call itself an encyclopedia. You see, that's -pedia at the end of the word. (That's the only source for the claim I can find.)

But the front of the word is wiki. The origin is supposedly Hawaiian for "quick," but the word itself dates from 1995 -- it is wholly a product of the Web. It means "a collaborative Web site set up to allow user editing and adding of content." (By the way, Andrew, there is no definition of pedia.)

Is there any claim to great authority or accuracy in that word? No. No more than what the people involved might have both together and separately.

And that's the real problem here.

Not everyone is good. Not all the time.

Sometimes people are nasty. Sometimes people lie. And sometimes (gasp) a wiki can be polluted by this. As can a newspaper.

...continue reading.

Comments (5) + TrackBacks (1) | Category: Digital Divide | Internet | Journalism | ethics | law

False Lessons of the Dreamworks Deal

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

steven%20spielberg.jpgThe sale of Dreamworks to Viacom's Paramount unit, for cash and the assumption of debt, is teaching the media and the Bellheads the wrong lesson.

They lesson they're hearing is that distribution trumps production. Phone companies hear this and think that, if they can force information providers to pay for reaching "their" customers (something they can already do with cellular) that they will be in the same "catbird's seat" Viacom and the other media behemoths (Time-Warner, GE, Fox, Disney) are in now.

The background to this deal proves that is not the lesson.

  1. Dreamworks co-founders Steven Spielberg and David Geffen come out of this with $1 billion cash and their debts cleared.
  2. Viacom itself is splitting in two, with its distribution arm being separated from its production arm. This is because its growth has been sub-par -- the parts are worth more than the whole.
  3. Jeffrey Katzenberg, the third member of the Dreamworks triumvirate (the K in SGK) is not part of this deal. His production capacity remains intact. So does Geffen's record company. The only production asset moving is that of Spielberg.
  4. Even the assumption this is all about the "library" is bogus, because the library is being spun-off, which Viacom thinks will net nearly $1 billion.

What's really happening is simple:

Spielberg is being hired to run Paramount for $600 million in debt. It's Dreamworks' movie operation that is taking over Viacom's, not the other way around. It takes a peculiar genius, a rare talent, to make money in the movies consistently. Spielberg proved, through his time with Dreamworks, that he has that talent. And that is what Paramount is acquiring. Spielberg will have his own studio, just as Geffen retains his, and Katzenberg retains his. Everybody is happy. It's just that Spielberg's studio will be called Paramount.

Now what should this teach the Bellheads?

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | History | Investment | Telecommunications

December 09, 2005

This Week's Clue: Kilby's Law

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

In this week's issue of A-Clue.Com we take a new look at Moore's Law, the process that stimulated The Blankenhorn Effect: How to Make Moore's Law Work for You. I come to some new conclusions, about this and other things.

You're invited to join the A-Clue.Com community by clicking this link. Always free.

kilby.jpgWe live in an analog world.

Moons cycle around planets cycling around Suns cycling around the black holes of galactic cores.

Electromagnetic waves cycle in frequencies ranging from visible color and sound through invisible radio frequencies reaching toward infinite speeds.

We live our lives in cycles, from youth and strength to decay and death. Yet DNA assures that death is always replaced by birth. Evolution continues, species cycling through.

Our digital age masks this, in our time, by delivering binary on-off, yes-no choices. Most analysts think the Intel microprocessor is the most vital part of our era, but that's wrong. The most vital part is the Texas Instruments Digital Signal Processor (DSP), which let us model the analog world much as calculus lets us model curves into algebraic forms.

Since the 1980s DSPs have worked their magic in real time, compounding the impact of Moore's Law, giving it depth and dimension in the analog realm. Perhaps the biggest mistake I made in my book "The Blankenhorn Effect" (other than the title) was not naming this Kilby's Law, after TI's Jack Kilby.

Now that we can model and even accelerate analog change through Moore's and Kilby's Laws, it's time to take the blinders off the way we've thought of change and the future.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Futurism | History | Journalism | Moore's Lore | Politics | law | personal

Moore's Handwriting On the Wall

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Alltel%20NEW%20Logo.JPGThe market isn't stupid.

The market understands Moore's Law. It sees through the Bells' rhetoric.

The market understands that the three-year, replaceable property of a wireless network is a better economic bet than the 30-year old depreciation schedules the Bells must keep.

The market votes with its dollars, and those with a Clue follow.

AllTel, in Little Rock, has been accused of many things over the years, but stupidity is not one of them. So look here. They are dumping their wireline business and becoming a wireless outfit. It's all being spun-off to some schlubs in Texas, and even though AllTel shareholders will own 85% of the resulting firm the meaning here is clear -- sell it.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Investment | Telecommunications

December 08, 2005

Mobile WiMax (Finally) Approved

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

focalpoint.gifThe IEEE has finally approved a mobile version of the WiMax standard, 802.16.

Intel has been a big booster of WiMax, but its insistence on moving quickly to a mobile WiMax standard after the fixed standard caused many suppliers to slow the design and production of kit.

Now that mobile WiMax is approved it faces new competition from other schemes, in both the carrier space and the unlicensed space.

Intel has driven this from the beginning.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) | Category: 802.11

December 07, 2005

Big Boost to Medical Always On

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

focalpoint.gifThe Always On medical market won a big endorsement today from a San Francisco research house, FocalPoint Group, which advised hospitals that the technology is ready to lower costs and improve care.

The study projects that more than $7 billion will be spent on wireless data applications in the United States by 2010. Technologies, including WiFi, RFID, cellular, and low-rate ZigBee modules will be used to improve asset tracking, patient monitoring, and emergency response situations. In each case, these technologies are being implemented in health environments today and are expected to restructure the ways in which hospitals are organized and to handle patient needs.

In terms of the work I've been writing about these are fairly primitive applications. Track the medicine in the pharmacy, give doctors on call instant access to records they can read, that kind of thing. We're not yet talking about wireless monitoring of patients, or following those patients after they leave the hospital.

Despite this we're talking about huge savings:

With the vast majority of hospitals relying on paper-based systems, more than 770,000 Americans are injured or killed every year from adverse drug events, costing between $1.5 billion to $5 billion annually. Personal digital assistants (PDAs) can improve the legibility of drug orders while patient-worn wireless bracelets communicate information about drug allergies or deadly drug interactions -- potentially saving the healthcare system billions. In addition, long-range wireless transmissions and electronic patient records provide more complete and continuous data feeds about patient history, health and activities.

So what is holding things up?

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Models | Consulting | Futurism | medicine

Bruce Arena's Big Mistake

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

bruce%20arena.jpgYou're used to my occasional forays into (usually political) non-tech irrelevancy here at Mooreslore.

Well, I'm about to do it again, but this time, at least, I'm speaking of sport.

Specifically football, the game other Americans call soccer.

UPDATE: In the World Cup draw after this was written, the U.S. wound up in a group of Italy, the Czech Republic and Ghana. Italy is a favorite, the Czechs came within a game of winning the European cup, and Ghana is a hungry African side. Mexico, on the other hand, gets Iran, Angola, and Portugal. None are soccer powers (although Portugal used to be).

My kids have played it since they were very little. At the recreational level, it's a very safe game. At the highest level, it has become a very compelling game, thanks to replacing leather with lightweight plastics in ball manufacturing. The resulting spheroids are lighter, less dangerous for kids, less deadly for grownups, and faster, causing top teams to send balls whizzing all about the pitch. Not to mention creating a generation of soccer moms (and dads) in American suburbs.

Where you think J.K. Rowling got her ideas about Quidditch from -- cricket?

Anyway, turns out the U.S. has built itself a nice little mens' national soccer team. Credit goes mostly to Bruce Arena (pictured), one of the world's best coaches, but an American (and a former goalie).

Unfortunately he made one big mistake, fairly recently, one that will keep the world from having to watch a bunch of Yanks hoist their most precious trophy (to yawns from here) next summer in Germany.

Want to know what it was?

...continue reading.

Comments (8) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: fun stuff

The Platform Challenge

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

computer%20platform.jpgAmerica's biggest tech companies are focused today on the problem of creating, not technologies, but platforms.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. Intel and Microsoft and Cisco all rose to prominence with platforms. The first two had "WinTel," a marriage now on the rocks (Windows works fine with AMD, Intel will make Apple chips). Cisco had the Internet platform.

These companies changed the world. But the world is a funny place, a "what have you done for me lately" place. In business, it's a "what are you going to do for me next" sort of place.

Microsoft, like it or not, has defined a platform strategy. To that extent, Windows still works. The problem is seen most visibly at Cisco and Intel. Let's tackle Cisco first.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Always On | Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Futurism | Moore's Lore | Semiconductors | Telecommunications | computer interfaces

December 06, 2005

Web 1.0 Bust on Web 2.0 Boom

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

ecost_logo.gifOne of the hidden ironies in the present Web 2.0 boom is that it occurs against the backdrop of a continuing Web 1.0 bust.

Companies that arose in the 1990s in such niches as e-commerce have never really recovered from the dot-bomb of 2000. In particular online department stores like Buy.Com, Overstock.Com and have come to look as faded as old Penney's and Sears department stores did a decade ago.

Nothing unusual here. The reason we've had so few recessions in recent decades, and such short ones, is that new booms pile on behind the old ones, so that a failure in one segment is matched by the rise of another.

Anyway, Buy.Com is planning an IPO because they need the capital, eCost is being de-listed, and Overstock.Com lost money in its last quarter.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (1) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Internet | Investment | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

Buckytubes Phone Home

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

carbon%20nanotube.jpgOne tragedy of the late Richard Smalley's life was that his beloved Buckytubes did not make more progress into the world of real products.

So I'm sure he's smiling from heaven at this news, word that Fujitsu has learned to use carbon nanotubes in a "heat sink" for mobile base station amplifiers.

Fujitsu has even learned to grow tubes on a wafer substrate, using iron as a catalyst. The problems of manufacturing Buckytubes in commercial quantities has long been daunting -- Smalley's own company, CNI, pioneered a process using carbon monoxide.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consumer Electronics | Moore's Lore | Science | Semiconductors | Telecommunications | cellular

Point of Personal Privilege: -ic

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

lefty%20donkey.jpgMuch of the disrespect found in American politics today can be traced to two letters -- ic.

The letters come on the end of the name of the current opposition party. It's the Democratic Party. Democrats belong to the Democratic Party.

Yet for many years I've seen conservative Republicans call their opponents the Democrat Party. The -ic is usually dropped right at the point of personal insult.

...continue reading.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Politics | personal

December 05, 2005

Lessons From Virgin Mobile

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

virginmobile.gifWired phone assets are plunging in value.

It's that simple. Wireless assets are rising in value, wired assets are plunging in value, so the Bells figure if they can run the wired like the wireless they'll create more value.

The problem is they're looking at the wrong lesson. As usual, the Bellheads are being dumber than dirt.

The light bulb went off in my head when I saw, today, that NTL (a cable company) offer abougt $1.5 billion (817 million pounds in real money) for Virgin Mobile, which is no more than a reseller.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Internet | Telecommunications | cellular

What The World of Always On Needs Now

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

internet%20of%20things%20itu.jpgThe International Telecommunications Union has released a full report on what I've been calling The World of Always On, which they call The Internet of Things.

The report correctly identifies the biggest problem, user acceptance:

Concerns over privacy and data protection are widespread, particularly as sensors and smart tags can track a user’s movements, habits and preferences on a perpetual basis. Fears related to nanotechnology range from bio medical hazards to robotic control.

None of these are unreasonable fears. Addressing them requires acceptance of some very new, and important societal values:

  • Privacy
  • Personal control of personal data

These must be enforceable to have meaning. The technology and tools for all this have been around for years now, but the business has not gone anywhere because no country on the face of the Earth has yet accepted the fact that it must give up absolute rights to its citizens' data before people can trust the technology enough to use it.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Futurism | Moore's Lore | Politics | Security | Semiconductors | Software | Telecommunications | cellular | law | personal

Good News From New Orleans

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

novodevichy_tower_lg.jpgNew Orleans has become the first U.S. city to escape the Bell Gulag.(That's the Novodevichy Tower in Russia to the left. Figured you were tired of Bell logos.)

It is doing this by building a WiFi network in defiance of a hissy-fit from BellSouth, the local monopoly.

Here it is, straight from The Washington Post:

Hours after New Orleans officials announced Tuesday that they would deploy a city-owned, wireless Internet network in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, regional phone giant BellSouth Corp. withdrew an offer to donate one of its damaged buildings that would have housed new police headquarters, city officials said yesterday.

According to the officials, the head of BellSouth's Louisiana operations, Bill Oliver, angrily rescinded the offer of the building in a conversation with New Orleans homeland security director Terry Ebbert, who oversees the roughly 1,650-member police force.

BellSouth disputes this, and claims negotiations are ongoing. But the best thing for New Orleans to do right now is hang tough.

...continue reading.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Politics | Telecommunications

December 02, 2005

Universal Mobile Phones Coming Soon

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

wispry_header_05.jpgThere are cell phones, there are WiFi phones, there are cordless phones, and there are VOIP phones. But never the twain shall meet.

Now a universal wireless phone has come a big step closer, with news that WiSpry has perfected final elements of the chip design, and will work with Jazz Semiconductor to produce the necessary chips using CMOS technology.

The two firms' release on this subject is deser than a good bagel, but like such a bagel it's worth the effort. WiSpry calls its technology RF-MEMS, combining Radio Frequency (RF) technology with Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS), a combination of electronics and mechanics on one chip.

The result, in this case, is a one-chip tuner, like a radio that carries its own channel selector. The difference in this case is that the channels are different communications networks. Thus the same device can handle the frequencies used by cellular carriers and those used for WiFi, and more. In quantity, at no additional cost. Voila -- universal phone.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Futurism | Moore's Lore | Semiconductors | Telecommunications

Getting to Cellular Always-On

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

heart_anatomy.gifThe folks at ABI Research have an interesting report examining how application developers might create Always-On applications using cellular.

It's not good.

The "problem" is that an Always-On data appilcation (say a heart monitor which phones the doctor when there are potential problems) won't use the network very often. (ABI calls these applications M2M, for "machine to machine.") As a "user" a heart monitor is a $10/month account (maybe). The distribution channels used for cellular, which depend on people, can't deal with that kind of account. (I'd always thought you piggybacked on your individual account, but never mind...)

The direct route is for the carrier to create a gateway, as Orange has in the UK. The problem with that is the carrier is only going to deal with large-scale developers. They might sign a deal with an ADT (for security) or a Honeywell (for home management), but not with a small, local guy -- too much trouble. The indirect route is to have someone else run a gateway equivalent, allowing the creation of a Movile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) to handle data services. The trouble with that is that the operator gets cut out of some of the revenue, which they find unacceptable.

The result is nothing. There are no big application developers because there are no small scale successes. And there aren't any small scale successes because the carriers won't do business with them directly.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (1) | Category: Always On | Business Models | Futurism | Investment | Telecommunications | law

December 01, 2005

Bells Formally Seek End of Network Neutrality

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

wsmith.jpgBellSouth has joined AT&T's call to end "network neutrality" and let it charge rents for sites' access to customers.

BellSouth CTO William Smith said he only wanted to charge some sites for "better" access, but he used the exact same rationale as AT&T head Ed Whitacre, that BellSouth's investment in lines justifies its killing the basic principle behind the Internet. .

A House subcommittee has begun auctioning off the end of network neutrality as it considers new broadband legislation. The Bells have all the money in the world, and can win this fight with a corrupt Congress unless you act now.

If you have an AT&T or BellSouth DSL line, you need to seek out an alternative and send those companies a letter saying you will switch unless they back off. A marketplace response to a marketplace threat is the correct alternative here.

...continue reading.

Comments (8) + TrackBacks (2) | Category: Internet | Telecommunications | law