Corante

About this Author
Dana Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist for over 25 years and has covered the online world professionally since 1985. He founded the "Interactive Age Daily" for CMP Media, and has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age, and dozens of other publications over the years.
About this Site
Moore’s Law defines the history of technology. It held that the number of circuits etched on a given piece of silicon could double every 18 months as far as its author, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, could see. Moore’s Law has spawned constant revolutions since then, not just in computing but in communications, in science, in a host of areas. Moore’s Law applies to radios, and to optical fiber, but there are some areas where it doesn’t apply. In this blog we’ll take a daily look at new implications of Moore’s Law in real time, as it rolls forward to create our future.
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February 27, 2006

The Legend of Dennis Hayes

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...continue reading.

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

February 26, 2006

Evolution Changes Its Mind (Again)

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

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

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

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

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

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

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

...continue reading.

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

February 25, 2006

Welcome to 1966

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

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


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

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

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

...continue reading.

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

February 23, 2006

What Must Craigslist Do?

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

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

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

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

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

Now Craigslist is the one under attack.

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

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

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

...continue reading.

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

No Such Thing as Free WiFi

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

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

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

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


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

...continue reading.

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

February 22, 2006

The Internet As A Political Issue

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...continue reading.

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

Google Images Ruled Illegal

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

HowardMatz_small.JPGGoogle's Image Search service is illegal.

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

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

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

...continue reading.

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

February 21, 2006

Fall of Radio Shack

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

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

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

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

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

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

...continue reading.

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

February 18, 2006

Dana's Quick Writing Course

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

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

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

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

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

...continue reading.

Comments (8) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consulting | Journalism | blogging | fiction | fun stuff | personal

February 17, 2006

Blog Pimple About to Pop?

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

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

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

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

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

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

...continue reading.

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

February 15, 2006

Show Trial

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe we’re just not that efficient. Yet.

...continue reading.

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

February 14, 2006

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

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Should the Chinese be any different? Must they be?

...continue reading.

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

February 12, 2006

The Phony Fon "Scandal"

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

fon-logo.pngBy ignoring what blogging is about, The Wall Street Journal has created a scandal out of whole cloth.

Here's the conflation, in a nutshell. Journalists can blog, and blogs can be journalism. Thus many journalists assume all blogging is journalism.

Uh, wrong. Much blogging, perhaps most blogging, is anything but journalism. Experts can blog, executives can blog, little children can blog, players in a story can blog about the games they are playing.

Thus, Rebecca Buckman's "story" claiming corruption in that Fon has a number of bloggers on its advisory council, who blogged about Fon once the company announced its entry into the market.

She hangs her charge on a single dubious claim by The Poynter Institute, which does have some claim on journalists but not on anyone else:

Some lawyers and academics with expertise in the Internet said the disclosures by the FON advisers were adequate and appropriate. But Bob Steele, an ethics specialist with the Poynter Institute, a journalism organization in St. Petersburg, Fla., says bloggers with financial ties to companies -- disclosed or not -- have "competing loyalties" that could taint their independence as writers. "It's still a problem," he says. While many bloggers don't consider themselves journalists, anyone putting information into the public domain about people or companies has certain ethical responsibilities, Mr. Steele says.

Over at Roughtype, Nicholas Carr calls this "unsavory buzz."

Some news for Nick, Rebecca, and the rest:

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (1) | Category: 802.11 | Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | ethics

February 10, 2006

The Return of Political Spam

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

roger%20a%20stone%20small.jpgSpam is back in politics.

But this time, the industry insists, it's different. This time it's e-mail marketing.

Leading the charge is an outfit called Advocacy Inc., headed by Roger Alan Stone (he uses Alan so you won't confuse him with the OTHER Roger Stone). Their client list includes a large number of names and organizations from the left side of the aisle, including Tim Kaine, who won Virginia's governor's race last year.

What makes it different? Stone insists his company is using all the disciplines of the old paper direct mail business to trim lists down to names of real prospects. That means he prospects from existing lists, like those of Moveon.org, which he knows are opt-in. And he limits his mailings further through targeting, so liberals don't get e-mail about Oregon candidates if they're living in Georgia.

Had the e-mail marketing business been doing this 10 years ago today's spam problem would not have happened. But it did, and it did. As a result, any list to which people are sent e-mail without notice is considered spam by most users.

But not the government. In writing the CAN-SPAM Act the government was very careful to make itself (and the politicians who work for it) immune from the legal charge. What Stone is sending is spam-that-is-not-spam. It is legal.

But is it ethical?

The National Journal Hotline has a feature up on Stone today, which conflates Stone's story with those of other folks, notably Tim Yale of VButtons Inc., who are actually in different businesses. (In VButtons' case, it's embedding webcast ads in Web pages.)

What they wind up doing is merely confusing the issue.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Consulting | Internet | Politics | ethics | marketing | spam

February 09, 2006

The TV Barrier

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

bruceATpiano.GIFOn another list I’ve been discussing the nefarious Bell plan to kill the Internet by hoarding digital bandwidth.

Bruce Kushnick’s e-book, “The $200 Billion Broadband Scandal,” is fascinating in this regard.

But what if the Bells aren’t solely to blame?

The thought occurred to me when Kushnick began talking about “The TV Barrier.” The TV Barrier is the speed at which the real-time exchange of HDTV video becomes possible over the Internet.

Right now we could breach this barrier. Other countries – Korea, China, Japan – already have. We don’t really need fiber. We can do it with copper, we can do it with wireless. Stop wasting copper bandwidth on voice and your DSL line could deliver it. Give us enough unlicensed frequencies and your WiFi set-up could deliver it. Stop hoarding local bandwidth for cable competition that will never happen and it would be easy.

But here’s the problem. If bits are just bits (and they are just bits) then how do we get continuing revenue for our movies and TV shows? Cable does this by dividing bandwidth into “channels” and charging both sides of the transaction for everything that goes through, whether you watch it or not. Everyone gets paid. The channels get their monthly fees even if you leave the TV off.

This doesn’t happen when bits are bits.

Even the iPod “compromise” doesn’t answer this business model problem. OK, we’ll pay for songs we value. But what about songs we don’t value? What about TV shows we don’t value? Where is the payment for that?

Fact is, it costs just as much to make a bad TV show or a bad movie as it does a good one. Hollywood is limited in its ability to produce by what it can expect to get out of its many flops, plus the profits it can get from its few hits.

It costs more money to produce good video than it does good text, and the percentage of hits is just as low. It’s this continuing revenue stream for failure that “Tellywood” wants to protect, and in this their interests are aligned perfectly with the Bells which are hoarding broadband bits, and the cable operators who are doing the same.

The only way these industries will allow the Internet to burst through the TV Barrier is by solving this business model problem. And they’re perfectly willing to take the U.S. economy down with them while they wait.

...continue reading.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet

The Superbowl's Most Important Ad

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

The funniest Super Bowl ad was probably the FedEx bit with the caveman saying "it's not my problem" FedEx hadn't been invented and the other caveman's package got stomped by the dinosaur. (Although my 14 year old son howled at the Diet Pepsi Jackie Chan set-up, with a Diet Coke getting squished as a "stunt double.")

The most important ad, however, came at the end. It was a fairly straight ad, although (like everything else about the game) horribly overdone. In it a man with a cellphone walks through a world populated by sports of all kinds -- baseball, football, basketball, NASCAR and track all going on around him.

It was a house ad, really. It was for Mobile ESPN. ESPN is owned by Disney, which also owns ABC, which ran yesterday's game.

So why was it important? It was important because neither ESPN, nor ABC, nor even Disney owns any cellular assets. They don't hold frequencies, or towers, or run networks. They are re-selling.

Richard Branson's Virgin Mobile has already created billions of dollars in equity value through cellular wholesaling. Others want into the business. It's a good business, good for the wholesaler, and good for the network (usually Sprint) doing the wholesaling.

Yet this is the business the Bell companies have spent the last decade destroying when it comes to Internet access. They ignored the promises of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. They killed all the CLECs, claimed they didn't have to wholesale on "new builds," made everything a new build (even cutting copper to guarantee it) and topped it off by getting governments on the state and federal level to sign-off on the scheme.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Consumer Electronics | Telecommunications | cellular | computer interfaces | e-commerce | marketing

February 08, 2006

A Blogger Ethics Panel

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

I have been a journalist for over three decades now, and a blogger for almost five.

Want to know the difference between the two?

Bloggers admit mistakes.

Why is that? Simple.

  1. News cycles.
  2. Authority.

The first is an outgrowth of journalism's print origins. Mistakes can't be corrected until the next print run, so you avoid acknowledging them until you have to, and then hide the admission. This is so as not to waste space (or in the case of broadcasting, air-time).

The second? Mistakes are a firing offense. I was fired from a job for making simple mistakes, and I don't question it. I would have been much better-off doing fewer stories, and doing them perfectly, than trying to be a one-man staff and missing stuff.

So why is blogging different?

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Journalism

February 05, 2006

AOL, Yahoo Will Sell You Out for a Penny (Maybe Less)

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

goodmail%20partners.gifAOL and Yahoo have begun offering corporations "preferential delivery" of their marketing e-mails to users for prices ranging from .25-1 cent per message.

The scam is being run by Goodmail Systems, whose home page advertises "if it's certified, it's safe." (The illustration, from the Goodmail Web site, is an animated .gif of the company's "partners.")

The claim is that this is "opt-in" only and "not spam." But the incoming lists aren't audited. This is, in fact, a pay-off to let "spam that is not spam" through the company's spam filters.

Here's the real Clue to what is going on, from the New York Times piece found on the International Herald Tribune:

The two companies also stand to earn millions of dollars a year from the system if it is widely adopted.

Get it? They want to charge protection to spammers.

For outfits which have been part of the Internet for a decade and more, Yahoo and AOL don't know much about the Internet, do they?

I run a mailing list which may be subject to the charges, and I can tell you right away it's no sale. No operator of a free e-mail newsletter service is going to pay protection on what is legal opt-in traffic.

Who will? Marketers .

...continue reading.

Comments (6) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | e-commerce | ethics | law | online advertising | spam

February 02, 2006

A World of Rationed Liberty

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

jet%20li%20hero.jpgIf you want to launch a lynch mob against the "Chinese Communists," I'll probably be there with a pitchfork. I'm an American who believes in ordered liberty, after all.

Of course, when Congress tried to get the leaders of the search engine business to launch such a party today there were no takers.

All the major search engines are now in China, and all censor the results they deliver from their Chinese servers. (Outside China they all operate differently.) Thus China's "great firewall" seems, from the outside, to be effective in keeping citizens there from knowing anything about political issues other than what the government chooses to let them know.

All true. But something else is happening.

China is rationing liberty for its own survival.

China has nearly 1.5 billion people. China has been destroyed, literally destroyed, in ways only Southerners and American Indians can imagine, by politics several times over the last century. First came the democratic revolution against the Emperor, then came the Japanese invasion, then came the Communist Revolution, and finally several renewals of that revolution which left literal starvation in their wake.

Before that, for 2,400 years, China's system of rationed liberty, run by Mandarins, kept the nation fairly stable, at peace, and whole. Since the death of Mao Zedong China has returned to this pre-democratic order. It is run by Mandarins. Except for the facade of Communism it's run a lot like Japan (which retains a facade of democracy).

By that I mean there's an educated elite at the top, and a long series of steps which can lead a Chinese child into that elite:

  1. Rural peasants have almost no freedom, and little contact with the outside world. Government can take their land (and does), natural disasters can wipe them out (and do). A peasant who is fortunate will have relatives in the city, and their knowledge, their freedom, will be limited by what those relatives choose to share.
  2. Urban workers have a little more freedom. They live in cities, where there are many people, and many ideas. But their ambition is channeled totally into earning more money, because with each raise comes a little more liberty. A TV, a refrigerator, eventually (maybe) a computer.
  3. Urban professionals have a little more freedom, but it's limited. They may have phones with data capacity, and they may have broadband Internet service, but what they can do with both is limited. They learn what not to ask, what not to say, and in finding these boundaries begin to test them. Their ambition is for education, which leads to promotion, and for trust, which leads them to become
  4. Chinese travelers have the full Internet. Once a Chinese goes overseas they see it all, the decadence, the rhetoric, the full panoply of what freedom can be, and what freedom can do. By this time, however, they have background, and enter the fire of liberty with eyes wide-open to its dangers. Which may lead them to become
  5. Mandarins. People who have high positions in the government are truly free. Those who are part of the system must know the world, all of it, or they can't function. Their liberty is full, but it is tempered by responsibility, for the ranks below them, and for the nation.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Digital Divide | Futurism | Internet | Journalism | Politics | Security | Telecommunications | cellular | war

Corruption On The Web

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

sclavos.gifVerisign CEO Stratton Sclavos is a big investor in incumbency. And he gets value for money.

OpenSecrets.Org reports that he gave $84,000 in political contributions during the 2004 cycle, and has (with his wife) given another $24,700 in 2005. The Verisign PAC, meanwhile, has spent another $36,200 this cycle, in hard money contributions.

That’s not all. The same Web site reports Verisign put out $124,000 in “soft money” contributions during 2002, and $88,600 in the 2000 cycle. While some of the money (about 15%) goes to Democratic incumbents, the vast majority goes to Republicans.

That's just the money I found searching OpenSecrets under Verisign and Sclavos. It doesn't count other money that may have been sent from Verisign executives, or their families, or third parties under Verisign's direction.

What does Verisign get for this money? It gets the full legal authority to rob the Internet, to take you, for everything it can grab.

And it's grabbing with both hands.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | Politics | e-commerce | ethics | law | online advertising | personal

February 01, 2006

St. Google and the Dragons

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

st%20george%20and%20the%20dragon.jpgChange is the one business constant. Those who embrace it succeed, those who resist it fail.

But change also dislocates.

Workers threatened by change organize unions and seek protection from government. The Luddite movement was a call by workers to smash the new textile mills that threatened their jobs.

Business calls against change are heeded more often, because they may speak the language of change and back it up with cash. In autocratic societies the cash is called a bribe. In a democracy it’s called a campaign contribution.

History proves that in every case, the public interest governments must follow is to embrace change. This is tough when the threatened industries have enormous political power.

Yet America has done this for 200 years.

  • 19th Century Whigs embraced change as “public works,” ports, canals, and (later) railroads and telegraph companies that needed scarce capital.
  • Turn of the Century Progressives embraced change as antitrust, worker protection and (perhaps most important) the income tax, which replaced the tariff as the funder of government and made America the world’s business leader.
  • Mid-century Europeans forged free trade agreements, starting with Iron and Steel, evolving into the European Community. America embraced this movement through the WTO and such treaties as NAFTA.

Cars replaced railroads, oil replaced coal, suburbs replaced cities, and as the American blackboard was erased, rewritten and erased again, incumbents were allowed to wither away.

Today Google is the face of corporate change. Google has become a corporate stand-in for the changes the Internet makes necessary. Thus the incumbents have their knives out for it:

  • Telephone companies threatened by the Internet’s end-to-end principle, in which services are defined at the edge, want government to give them power to define services within their networks that everyone – including Google – will be forced to pay for.
  • TV and movie studios threatened by the fact that video can be passed as bits have demanded, and gotten, the power to halt distribution of bits they own.
  • Newspapers threatened by the Internet’s power to organize everything and make it available through links want government to make Google (and then the rest of us) pay for “linking rights.”
These forces are made more powerful by the fact that networks, studios, and reporters have no new business models to replace what’s lost as Google and its followers (Level 3, Craigslist, eBay, Amazon) march forward.

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