About this Author
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
Moores 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. Moores Law has spawned constant revolutions since then, not just in computing but in communications, in science, in a host of areas. Moores Law applies to radios, and to optical fiber, but there are some areas where it doesnt apply. In this blog well take a daily look at new implications of Moores Law in real time, as it rolls forward to create our future.
February 27, 2006
Those 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.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | History | Internet | Journalism | Politics | Telecommunications | personal
February 23, 2006
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.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Copyright | Internet | Journalism | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
Earthlink 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?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | B2B | Business Models | Digital Divide | Internet | Investment | Politics
February 22, 2006
Generally, 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.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Politics | law | personal
Google'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.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Copyright | Internet | Telecommunications | e-commerce | law | online advertising
February 17, 2006
Slate 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.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Internet | Investment | Journalism | blogging | marketing | online advertising
February 15, 2006
During 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.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Copyright | Digital Divide | Futurism | History | Internet | Journalism | Politics | blogging | ethics | law | personal | war
February 14, 2006
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?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Copyright | Futurism | History | Internet | Journalism | Politics | Security | blogging | ethics | faith | law | personal
February 12, 2006
By 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:
+ TrackBacks (1) | Category: 802.11 | Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | ethics
February 10, 2006
Spam 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.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Consulting | Internet | Politics | ethics | marketing | spam
February 09, 2006
On 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.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet
February 05, 2006
AOL 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 .
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | e-commerce | ethics | law | online advertising | spam
February 02, 2006
If 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Digital Divide | Futurism | Internet | Journalism | Politics | Security | Telecommunications | cellular | war
Verisign 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.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | Politics | e-commerce | ethics | law | online advertising | personal
February 01, 2006
Change 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.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Copyright | Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | History | Internet | Investment | Politics | Telecommunications | e-commerce | law
January 31, 2006
Info-Tech has a release out that says they analyzed the HIPAA law and found it useless. (The image is from the blog of David Hoffman.)
HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It was signed by President Clinton in 1996, when he was trying to triangulate the new Republican majority in Congress with the idea of regulation, but managed by the private sector.
”HIPAA is a toothless tiger,” says Info-Tech analyst Ross Armstrong. “The first problem is that HIPAA is complaint driven, and complaint-driven enforcement doesn’t work. The second problem is that in the one HIPAA-related conviction that has occurred, only the individual was charged, not the organization itself."
“If HIPAA is to be truly protective and useful, healthcare entities and their executives must be held accountable in the same way that Sarbanes-Oxley holds CEOs and CFOs responsible.”
I'll go Armstrong one better. HIPAA is worse-than-useless.
HIPAA isn't entirely to blame for this, but it has driven the bulk of the medical profession into a very expensive case of Luddism. That's because HIPAA:
- Theoretically makes hospitals and insurance companies liable for mistakes; and
- Lets small practices out of this problem by refusing to computerize.
Mistakes in records and their release can happen. They do quite often. By accident. Not on purpose. But because there are automatic penalties (if someone complains) two things happen. The handling of all patient information becomes heavily bureaucratized, and patients are given legal gobbledygook aimed solely at keeping them from pursuing their rights if they arre violated.
It's the small practice exemption that really bites, however.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Economics | Internet | Politics | law | medicine
January 30, 2006
A few years ago some wags talked about people having a "right" to Internet service, and they got laughed at.
Let's try it another way.
America's economic future requires every citizen have access to Internet resources, and full freedom to use them.
Everyone needs Internet access, and literacy, to be part of the modern world.
FAST Internet access. Just as it's stupid to tell someone an 8086 machine is equivalent to a modern computer, so it is sheer ignorance to claim the availability of dial-up means everyone has Internet access. It's got to be fast enough so all modern applications run.
In a recent essay Visicalc co-founder Bob Frankston compares the Internet to roads. In a recent piece here at Mooreslore , I offered something similar. What if the railroads had a veto over road development, I asked, even after the car became popular?
But this dramatically underestimates what we're talking about.
The Internet is becoming a universal database, a universal discussion, almost a hive mind for humanity in the 21st century. If you don't have access you can't contribute. And you can't benefit, either.
This is the Century of the Mind. We've already seen business gravitate to those cities with the best connectivity, with the best chances for minds to connect. That's what Silicon Valley is about. That's what Boston is about, what New York is about, what Atlanta and Austin and Washington are about. Connections.
But with the Internet it's not just cities which are judged on their connectivity. It's nations.
And we're falling behind. Already, just in the last few years, we've fallen to 19th in broadband penetration. We're about to be passed by Slovenia, for God's sakes! Slovenia! Slovenia was, in the 1990s, part of Yugoslavia, a country which destroyed itself in civil war. Now Slovenia is passing us in the access its citizens have to the Essential Resource of our Time.
Why is this? Simple.
We've allowed Internet service to be monopolized by two sets of companies - Bell companies and cable operators - who are paying for obsolete infrastructure, who are forcing us to pay for that infrastructure before they deliver more, and who think only in terms of billing for specific services, not selling bits.
The Internet is just bits. Video bits, sound bits, e-mail bits, Web bits, text bits. The meaning of the bits are defined at the edge, on the computers that exchange them. All producers are consumers, all consumers can be producers. But the gatekeepers won't accept that. They see the Internet as services - TV, phone, e-mail - billable events which they define and they control.
And so, with Internet connectivity held hostage to these so-called "service providers," your ability to be part of the future atrophies, disappears, dot by dot, bit by bit. So does America's competitiveness.
Frankston calls the process through which this has happened the Regulatorium. He's talking about a network of political connections, state and federal agencies, think tanks and Bell-sponsored "consumer groups" who push the Bell-Cable duopoly more effectively than Jack Abramoff's K Street Project dreamed of.
Here, he says, is what we need instead. Some simple statements:
- Connectivity is fundamental. The Internet is not a service. The Regulatorium doesn't have the language for this. Giving it the language is the leverage point.
- Speed is useless if you can't communicate. It's easy to speed up the network - what we need is pervasive connectivity. This means that wireless connectivity - be it Wi-Fi or other protocols is our basic right.
- Rather than giving carriers the ability to define our services, connectivity must be infrastructure like roads and power lines and "just be there". We can then create services and solutions.
This is light years from the way the world works today. But we have to get there.
I've written a lot about these issues here, tangentially. Moore's Law drives the world, not just as it relates to chips but as it relates to telecomm technology too. Moore's Law of Fiber shows that optical fiber capacity can grow exponentially, just by changing out hardware. Moore's Law of Radios shows we can have the same capacity increases using the air that we have with fiber.
All the laws and rules we have in place for telecommunications are based on the idea of scarcity. Capital to build networks is scarce, so only a few big companies can play. The frequency spectrum is a scarce good government must distribute.
I don't know of a better way to say this, so I'll just say it.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | History | Internet | Investment | Politics | Telecommunications | law
Google has to obey the law.
Doesn’t matter if the law is oppressive, as in China. If Google wants to do business in China, it must obey the law.
Google can fight stupid laws, as in the EU Google can argue in court against some laws, as it’s doing in the U.S.
But Google must, in the end, obey the law.
I’m sick and tired of sanctimonious claptrap from people who state, baldly, that Google’s stated intent to “do no evil” means it must defy the law. Google is a public company. Google can’t do that. No public company can.
You can complain all you want about Google’s actions within the law. People do. They complain about its cookies, about its tracking usage patterns. They complain about its habit of leaving projects out to dry if they don’t work, about how some projects aren’t worth the spin that’s placed on them. They complain about its lack of lobbying prowess, or how little it has spent lobbying.
But Google has to obey the law.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | Politics | e-commerce | ethics | law | marketing | online advertising
January 23, 2006
Something occurred to me when reading of how the Justice Department wants a week of Google search records, ostensibly to enforce the failed law against Internet pornography, but with authority under the Patriot Act.
This is getting someone’s rocks off.
We all know that, for many people, fear is part of their sex drive. Whether it’s fear of discovery or the ability to instill fear in others, it’s real. And both these fantasies are threatened in an open sexual environment. It’s like the movie Monsters Inc. – what are you going to do if the kids can’t be scared anymore? (In the end Sulley, pictured, found he could produce a lot more energy with laughter than with fear. That’s an important lesson.)
This aspect of sexuality is, on the whole, far less healthy than an appetite for seeing naked bodies, private parts, even things going into things. Fear can be harnessed in sexual play of many kinds, but its abuse is more physically dangerous than, say, voyeurism is. Abusive voyeurism is a Peeping Tom. Abusive fear junkies become sadists, rapists and murderers.
But it’s obvious, from the history of the last few decades, that many of those advocating the elimination of porn have sexual kinks themselves. For some it’s mere repression, but for others it’s a form of sadism. Keeping others down gets them off.
And this sadism, under the guise of moral certitude, is driving much of our sexual law enforcement. Make it dirty, make it forbidden, make it sordid, make it hidden. Then, in the dark, where no one can see, the sadist can do whatever he wants.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Copyright | History | Internet | Politics | law | personal
January 21, 2006
NOTE: The following entry is being mirrored at the new Infrastructure Held Hostage blog.
We live in an uneasy relationship with the past.Photograph courtesy RPI
The whole past is available to us, there to teach us lessons, to give us Clues that can help us avoid yesterday’s mistakes.
We can find multiple analogies within it. While our politics may seem, to some, analogous to those of the early years of the Cold War, in terms of technology they’re far more like those of the early Progressive Era, the early 1900s.
So imagine if the railroads of that time controlled all the roads.
That’s precisely what AT&T and Verizon, aka Bell East and Bell West (making Qwest and BellSouth into Bell North and, what do you know?) are doing to the Internet right now.
Jay Gould should have been so clever.
They’ve gotten away with it (so far) because the Internet uses the old phone network (cars using the old railroad tracks) for transport. As with railroad tracks and cars, the phone network brings irrelevant, even obnoxious, artifacts with it.
Take out the frequencies used for phone calls (which you can easily do with VOIP) and your DSL line could handle up to 7 Mbps down, no problem, without changing out the underlying technology.
Still don’t believe me? If you have a home LAN (and millions do) you’re assigning IP addresses to each PC on the network, creating your own private Internet.
Your transport to the Internet backbone could be delivered just as easily with a cable modem as with the phone.
- When the cable company offers you phone service they’re not rebuilding the old infrastructure, just modeling it on data.
- Internet transport could be delivered over power lines, and where my inlaws live, in Flatonia, Texas, it is.
- Internet transport could even be delivered using radios, through a Wireless ISP (WISP) using the shared unlicensed WiFi frequencies your home network (and garage door opener, and cordless phone) use.
Whether that WiFi cloud is owned by your city or a private company is irrelevant – it would work.
Many large companies create their own networks, linking to the Internet only at competitive peering locations where they can get the best prices on fiber transport. Long distance fiber remains a competitive market (for now). Their fear is that, with so much of the U.S. transport market now held by the Bells, their prices could be squeezed just as yours are.
Given that the cable operators have powerful lobbies, and cable does not cover everyone, the phone companies are, in their own lobbying for privilege, allowing them to exist. It’s also convenient. Their current efforts at “improvement” are aimed solely at delivering TV to homes, as cable does, not at improving Internet service.
By allowing this dual-monopoly on consumer Internet transport, or duopoly, the cable and phone monopolies mask reality. Having a choice between only cable and a Bell for ISP service is like having a choice between only Coke and Pepsi for the liquid you need to live. It’s a false choice.
In his book $200 Billion Broadband Scandal, Bruce Kushnick details how we got from the open, competitive market of 10 years ago to today’s duopoly. But I’m more interested in how we get out of this, and what a truly competitive Internet market might look like.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | History | Internet | Investment | Politics | Telecommunications | e-commerce
January 18, 2006
Video is NOT the future of the Web. (This picture, by the way, comes from a fine student project at the University of North Carolina on Webcasting rights. Go Tar Heels.)
It’s part of the future, no doubt. It’s even part of the present.
But the assumptions that Internet traffic is growing mainly in response to video, that Internet-capable networks must give video 99% of their capacity, or that Internet Law must be changed to accommodate video are fictions.
The Video Fictions are relics of the pre-Internet age. They’re wrong for three reasons:
- Video is passive -- When you’re watching a video you’re watching, you’re not interacting. The Internet is all about interaction. It’s about ideas. It’s about interruptibility. It’s about cutting your attention into as many pieces as you can, multi-tasking in order to do more. Video takes all your attention, and demand for it is limited by audience attention.
- Video is expensive -- A quality blog item, like this one, can be created by one person in a few hours. A quality video takes the work of many people over many days, and bad video takes just as much time to make as good video. You can’t have both good video and interactive video. Good video just takes too long to make.
- Video has plenty of channels – Most of your cable bill is taken up by worthless nonsense already. There isn’t enough quality programming to fill the DirecTv and Dish Network satellites. Broadcasting has worked for almost 90 years. All these deliver more programming at far less cost than the Internet ever could. The Internet, as a video medium, is best served for tiny niches, with low demand, and it already does this.
The assumption that “the future of the Internet is video” is driving just about all the stupidity we see among big companies and policymakers today.
There are video applications which have value on the Internet, but they don’t need the bandwidth or Quality of Service (QoS) up-sells of true video. Videoconferences are of value (sometimes) and video VOIP calls can be of value (to long-separated family members). But the idea that we need the Internet to watch the same TV that comes to us via satellite and cable is nonsense.
There are also some applications that can use QoS standards, and payments. Interactive games can use QoS, especially when players are going against one another in real time. Medical applications can use QoS, although those applications that really need it should be done in clinics or hospitals with ample bandwidth, not the home.
Meanwhile, there is an enormous, and growing bandwidth shortage in the average Internet home. I face it every day. Why?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Always On | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Politics | Telecommunications | computer interfaces | law
January 15, 2006
The Windows Metafile Format (.WMF) dates from 1990.
Personally, I'd hate to have to take responsibility for what I did back in 1990, but I haven't made $50 billion in the last 15 years so I don't have to.
The WMF format was designed to move graphics among Windows programs, and one of its features was to allow the execution of code within images. I'm calling this a feature because, at the time it was written that's what it was. What we now know is it was also a flaw.
It means that exploit code can be hidden in any Internet graphic, not just those with the .wmf extension. And it will run. It can turn into a keylogger, or a virus, or any other type of malware. And since the relevant code has now gone online, malware authors are hard at work creating exploits, all of which will continue to steal from innocent people until Microsoft finishes testing and distributing its own fix.
This has a lot of people, like the folks at Softprose, very mad at Microsoft. But it's not the code, or the vulnerability, which troubles me. It's the process.
I understand the need to be certain before pushing out a cure that may be worse than the disease. But we're not talking about a flu vaccine here. We're talking about code and a computer feature.
The easy thing to do, as Google software engineer Matt Cutts notes, is to turn off the vulnerable code. "You’ll lose some thumbnail previews and such, but if you want to be safe until a patch is available, click Start->Run and then type “regsvr32 /u shimgvw.dll” to disable the vulnerable DLL."
Of course, this can cause other problems, Cutts admits, but there's a way around those
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Internet | Linux | Security
January 11, 2006
The Media PC ain't gonna happen. The "walled gardens" of the cell companies are going to come down. The telcos' plans in cable are non-starters.
All these huge corporations are subject to the Content Chimera, the idea that networks are pipes for selling content to people, and that it will all "converge" somewhere.
This is nonsense:
- TV standards are moving toward those of movies. None of the "Media PC" offerings at CES took HDTV into account.
- Networks are not pipes for selling content to people. They are two-way bit pipes. The future is
synchronoussymmetrical, not asynchronousassymmetrical.
- It's not all going to "converge" in any particular place. We will seek to consumer entertainment where we are, with whatever attention we can give. But we also create, we communicate, we interact. Different levels of attention require different types of devices.
The Content Chimera goes nowhere. It's the technology version of the Oil Chimera that now drives America's relations with the world. The solutions in both cases are remarkably similar.
The "choke point" for the content market is NOT in production, or distribution, or marketing. It's in each one of us. It's in the time we have to consume, and the attention we can give to creation. Creation of content, by its nature, involves the consumption of older content, and the laws must reflect this, or they're economically non-productive. (Energy creation and consumption must similarly become a two-way street, all of us creating what we can from the Sun or wind or heat around us, and the current grid evolving into something remarkably like the Internet. But that's anoither show.)
So what happens now?
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January 10, 2006
Too bad it's not my government.
The Korean government has jawboned an agreement from that nation's mobile operators to get rid of the walled gardens and make mobile Internet service, well, Internet service.
Mike over at TechDirt picked up this story yesterday and noted that Helio, formerly SK Earthlink, could use the lesson to pick up some market share here. He's right.
But the example shows just how far away we are from rational government policy in the U.S., and how easy it would be to make radical improvements with just minor changes to that policy.
If the Bush Administration would put its foot down and DEMAND network neutrality, the Bells would quickly shut up about violating the policy.
If FCC chairman Kevin Martin were to go to the March CTIA convention and say, for instance, that walled gardens are wrong, and that the industry would be wise to do away with them, it would have a major impact. Especially if he were willing to back up his soft words with a big stick.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Politics | Telecommunications | cellular | computer interfaces | law | marketing
January 09, 2006
The news business is going to try cracking down on the Web this year.
Already, I'm seeing all news pictures, even common mug shots of celebrities, given labels. They're small, usually in a corner. They read AP or AFP or Reuters. But they mark these pictures as property, and allow the rights-owners to track them as they're used on other Web sites.
The next step, of course, is to send out RIAA letters to Web sites, demanding that the pictures be taken down or (more likely) that the news agencies be paid cash money for their use.
Personally, I'm avoiding the issue by avoiding the pictures, but that's not likely to be viable over the long run. Because just about every image file out there is owned by someone, and most don't have Creative Commons logos on them.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: B2B | Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Digital Divide | Internet | Journalism
If Congress thought Netizens were angry before, now we're furious.
Declan McCullagh revealed today that buried inside some must-pass legislation from last year is a provision from Sen. Arlen Spector, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that bans all anonymous Internet speech that "annoys."
Annoys? Excuse me? You may not know this, Arlen, but the Federalist Papers were extremely annoying. So were the anti-federalist papers. (You may not have known such existed, but they did.) All of this debate, which is at the heart of our system (and which predates the Bill of Rights, not coincidentally) was conducted anonymously. The Founders rightfully feared legal harassment from the several states for their annoying speech, and kept their names to themselves as they debated the questions publicly. One thing to emerge from all this, of course, was a promise to cofify specific rights of the people, of which Freedom of Speech would come in the First Amendment.
Since then we've had ample precedent and rhetoric upholding the principle that annoying speech, even anonymous annoying speech, is OK. (The legal problem emerges when you get into deliberate falsehoods, into libel or slander, not annoyance.) Among the most recent such defenses is one from Mr. Justice Thomas, in McIntyre vs. Ohio Election Comm., 1995.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Digital Divide | History | Internet | Journalism | Politics | law | personal
January 06, 2006
Ever play the old board game Risk?
There were two winners at the end, and one ultimate winner. The first kid would pile all his counters up in one spot (usually Greenland, because it was big on the Risk board) and place one or two on adjacent squares. The second kid, the one who won, would right their way across the board strategically, taking on the first kid only at the end. Once the final battle started, and everyone knew how it was going to go (the first kid was going down), they'd walk away, someone would upend the board, and the first kid would claim he won, or got a draw, or something.
In computing Bill Gates is the first kid. The desktop is Greenland. Everything is focused on Windows and Office. And when computing was based on the desktop -- in the early days of the Great Game -- Gates looked dominant.
But the world is connected. Larry Page is playing the role of the other kid. He's sweeping the board right now, thanks to the Google Bubble, and today at CES he showed the hand he'll play against Gates over the next year.
The talk is going to all be about Google TV, and the scuttlebutt will all be about the Google PC, while software types (like me) will look really closely at the Google Pack of software.
It's what the Google Pack doesn't contain that most intrigues me.
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January 05, 2006
We haven't had that kind of spirit here since, 1999.
And watch out. It lies like cocaine.
How else do you explain Google supposedly heading to $600/share? How else do you explain a company with $500,000 in revenues over its entire lifetime thinking it can go public at $270 million? How else do you explain rumors of Google replacing the phone company with WiFi or bringing out its own PC? Where else do you get rumors of Microsoft offering $80 billion for Yahoo, and Yahoo (worth under $60 billion currently) saying no?
Now Google is not to blame for this, and Google has a responsibility to shareholders to use its virtual wealth and create long-term value, something it is trying hard to do. Bubbles are not born in Silicon Valley. They are born on Wall Street. They are born by salesmen, stock salesmen, people pretending that "this time will be different," as they've done since the 19th century.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Economics | History | Internet | Investment
January 04, 2006
The AP had a headline yestoday that Luddites and the RIAA will love. "File-Sharing Barons Face Day of Reckoning."
The story is that old file-sharing sites are closing up shop. The RIAA beat them.
But what really beat these shops was technology.
Systems like BitTorrent don't depend on a central site. Its legitimate uses -- for distributing software, and for breaking international censorship regimes -- are compelling. Many copyright holders, like GE, have found that releasing videos (like CC-Chronicles of Narnia) directly to sites like YouTube is good for business. MySpace (and its imitators) are giving music lovers what they really wanted, community. A host of companies are now working to make file sales online a legitimate business, and some, like Apple, are succeeding.
This is what users wanted. They wanted access to files, they wanted the copyright industries to come to them. Gradually, grudgingly, the industry is obeying the market. But the market won't sit around and wait forever. That's why music sales are declining. (That and things like Sony's Rootkit fiasco, which causes people to distrust all CDs and DVDs they see.)
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Economics | Internet | ethics | law
January 02, 2006
Folks who were wondering how Rupert Murdoch and Fox would try and capitalize on the purchase of MySpace over the summer don't have to wait any longer.
They're doing it by trying to break network neutrality, from inside a Web site.
Net neutrality is a basic principle of the Internet. It means you can go where you want. But if you are a registered user of Murdoch's MySpace today, you can't go to YouTube, which MySpace has deemed (without telling anyone) a competitor.
Alice Marshall's Technoflak reports that Murdoch's site has blocked access to YouTube from MySpace users, giving them white space instead. The site has also erased all references to YouTube from MySpace posts.
I thought that as word of this gets around the MySpace site it would be interesting to see how enthusiastic people are to remain there, and how many might be looking for a new online home. Oh, wait, it's already getting around. (Things happen fast in the blogosphere.)
Here is the story at the BlogHerald, with more details (the idiots are even modifying user profiles to erase references to YouTube) and while the rebels tried to get organized against this, they made the mistake of trying to launch their campaign from within MySpace.
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December 28, 2005
I 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.
+ TrackBacks (1) | Category: 802.11 | Business Strategy | Digital Divide | Futurism | Internet | Politics | computer interfaces
December 27, 2005
George 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.
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December 23, 2005
Just 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?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consumer Electronics | Internet | fun stuff | marketing | online advertising
December 22, 2005
A 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.)
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consumer Electronics | Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | Internet | fun stuff | personal
December 21, 2005
One 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.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | computer interfaces | e-commerce | online advertising
December 20, 2005
The 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?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Security | e-commerce
December 19, 2005
Like 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?
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December 16, 2005
What 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?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Digital Divide | Internet | Journalism | blogging | e-commerce | personal
Google 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.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Economics | Internet | Podcasting | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
December 15, 2005
I 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.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Software
It'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?
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December 14, 2005
For 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:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: B2B | Business Models | Copyright | Digital Divide | Economics | Internet | Science
December 12, 2005
Let'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 Dictionary.com 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.
+ TrackBacks (1) | Category: Digital Divide | Internet | Journalism | ethics | law
December 06, 2005
One 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 eCost.com 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.
+ TrackBacks (1) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Internet | Investment | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
December 05, 2005
Wired 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.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Internet | Telecommunications | cellular
December 01, 2005
BellSouth 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.
+ TrackBacks (2) | Category: Internet | Telecommunications | law
November 28, 2005
One of my biggest problems with the whole podcasting "phenomenon" is the shortage of good aggregation tools.
There are many Podcast organizers out there, in other words, but no one place you can go to see it all.
Until now. A Japanese outfit called Podium has launched a beta of just such a service. Here, on one page, you have all the major podcast "networks," and their top downloads, one-through-ten, along with direct links to the sites themselves. (Given its location, it's no surprise that the page is available in Japanese, Chinese, and English. The link is to the English-language page.)
The same page also features quick links to the RSS feeds of any existing aggregator. One-stop shopping.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Internet | Podcasting
Mapquest, the AOL-owned first-mover in online mapping, is about to fall.(That's their map of Cancun to the right.)
The Clue here is an AP story that looks like it was ordered-up by the AOL marketing department, but which can't resist showing cracks in the veneer.
The headline is about Mapquest pushing mobile mapping (which is good). The unwritten story is how Mapquest may be signing carriers to exclusive deals that keep rivals off, something that is possible since mobile "Internet" service is not Internet service at all, but private networks controlled by carriers.
Still, there are big problems revealed here, such as:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Telecommunications | cellular | computer interfaces | e-commerce | online advertising
November 25, 2005
Stories like this are getting to be old hat.
A blogger is arrested after being nominated for a "freedom of expression" award. Chat sites are closed for allowing dissent. To many western eyes the Middle Kingdom seems secure, a totalitarian state which works and will keep working until its economic success buries us.
That's not true, although I no longer believe that the Internet, by itself, will make the difference.
Instead, it's stories like this that will turn the tide. Harbin, a city of 3.8 million (bigger than Chicago), had its water system completely shut down because of a chemical spill. Hundreds of villages nearby have been evacuated, the BBC reports, because of some 100 million tons of benzene which were released into the river after a chemical plant exploded.
The Western media is focused on the fact that China is actually allowing its state-owned media to report the event. But there are dozens, maybe hundreds, of smaller spills occurring every year throughout the country. The skies above Beijing are a sickly yellow, and it's environmental issues that are the most common cause for political protest throughout the country.
In this, as in the West, China is traveling down a well-trod path. And it's a path that has led, in every country, in the same direction -- democratization.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Economics | Futurism | History | Internet | Journalism
November 24, 2005
AT&T and MCI are a giant step closer to pricing power over the Internet backbone because of a 2003 visit to a topless bar.
The visitor was apparently Savvis CEO Rob McCormick (left), , who with just three friends ran up a bill of $241,000, paid for it with an AmEx card, then disputed the charge for two years.
McCormick, 40, was canned Wednesday.
But this was no ordinary lover of the dance. McCormick transformed Savvis after joining it in 1999 from Bridge Information (later bought by Reuters).
Back then St. Louis-based Savvis was a medium-sized backbone and hosting provider whose big innovation was the use of Private Network Access Points (PNAPs) to reduce latency. McCormick transformed the company, taking it public in 2000, then buying Cable & Wireless' U.S. assets in 2004 for a reported bargain basement $155 million. While Moore's Law of Fiber was turning backbone provision into a killing field, in other words, McCormick was one of the killers.
Savvis is now known as a data center company and tthe leader in what McCormick calls "utility computing" -- virtualizing services and breaking the link between the applications and the hardware they supposedly run on. Here's how he put it to Infoconomy in July:
"You should not buy from someone who says they can cut your spending by 3%. The real problem is to cut your spending in half, or you are not going to get anywhere. Unless you fundamentally change something, rather than incrementally change it, then you are not going to fix it."
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | Telecommunications
I don't know, frankly, whether President Bush sought to bomb Qatar in order to destroy al-Jazeerah TV.
But the way this story has been reported, and not reported, makes me question just how freedom-loving the U.S. and Britain really are.
Let me summarize that:
- The story has been virtually ignored by the U.S. press. It has been left to political blogs to carry it forward.
- The British government is prosecuting those who leaked the story under its Official Secrets Act, and the BBC has given it no coverage, making it appear to be a government propaganda organ.
Clearly there is circumstantial evidence for the charge. The agency's offices in Afghanistan and Baghdad were bombed. Both times the U.S. claimed it was an accident. The U.S.-backed government in Baghdad later kicked Al-jazeerah out of the country. The U.S. said Iraq was acting on its own.
But the direct evidence of a 2004 memo on the subject of bombing Al-Jazeerah's main office in Doha, Qatar, if it's real, shows George W. Bush to be nothing more than Saddam Hussein in a business suit. Add the use of white phosphorous (it's a chemical weapon), the horrors of Abu Ghraib, the Cheney fight to maintain torture as an option, and impartial observers will draw their own conclusion.
The point is, simply, that this was an important story.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: History | Internet | Journalism | Politics | blogging | ethics | law | war
November 23, 2005
Evaluating blog traffic has always been a dicey proposition.
There have been many attempts, with many different methodologies. There were blogrolls, hits, unique visitors, all sorts of nonsense.
Feedster has recently adjusted their methodology. They try to count all links, and discount the spam ones. The most interesting innovation here is the tag cloud, which you can see to the right of the list. Notice that popular tags are bigger than less-popular ones. The biggest remain politics and tech, followed by gadgets (which is a sub-set of tech). (Oh, and let's not forget to send a little link love to Robert Scoble (number 76), who turned me on to this.
What's interesting here is that these are subjects for which print publishers either have poor publishing models or failing ones. If you were invested in computer magazines over the last decade, you lost your shirt. Political publications have always been money holes.
As you will note from the headline, Corante is number 21 on the list, with 18,446 adjusted links. That's well ahead of such reportedly popular sites as Gawker, TalkingPointsMemo, Eschaton and Kottke..
You can see some of the unfairness right there.
Here I'm comparing a whole bunch of people (of which I'm proud to be one) to the sites of individuals. And, in fact, the big MSM blogging headline of 2005 has been the rise of "group blogs," so-called blogs that are actually running some sort of Community Network Service, like Dailykos (number four on the list), and the Huffington Post (number seven).
So let's be fair, with a bunch of group blogs Corante out-polled:
And that's just in the first 150.Don't you wish there were some solid business models on that list somewhere?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Copyright | Internet | Journalism | blogging | e-commerce
November 18, 2005
The year 2006 is shaping up to be a bad political year for incumbents, a good one for challengers of all sorts.
It may be the best opportunity ever to end the Copyright Wars and gain political neutrality (at least) for issues like unlicensed spectrum (WiFi) and open source.
Challengers may have Karl Rove's K Street Project to thank for this chance. As soon as Bush took office, Rove began pressing lobbyists to end their even-handed treatment of the parties and put all their eggs in the Republican basket. The result is most corporate lobbies are locked-in to supporting GOP incumbents, which until now let them write their own tickets.
But in a democracy political winds shift. Democrats are not interested in doing lobbyists any favors, even with the wind at their backs.
And Democratic challengers may be downright antagonistic, especially if they come to office as so-called "netroots" candidates. That's because one of the main policy differences between Washington and the netroots involves technology policy, such issues as copyright, network neutrality, and competition for broadband.
But that's not all.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Copyright | Digital Divide | Futurism | Internet | Politics | blogging | law
The launch of so-called Open Source Media (no, they're not open source, in fact they try to keep people from even using fair use quotation through a EULA, don't get me started ) is proof that a Blogging Bubble is well underway.
Why? No business model.
Everyone doing a blogging network, whether AOL (Weblogsinc), Gawker Media, Metroblogs, Huffington Post, OSM, you name it -- they're all using a media strategy. And Dana's First Law of Internet Commerce is:
It's not publishing, it's not TV, it's the Internet.
Any strategy based on bulk advertising, based on pure page views, is going to fail. No strategy based on pure star power can succeed, because it doesn't take into account the fact that stars fade and stars emerge. (It's not who you are, it's what you're saying, that counts.)
So, smart guy, what do we REALLY want?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Internet | Investment | blogging | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
November 16, 2005
I just spent several hours working (free) for a friend, tearing through and reviewing several dozen blogs he thought were pretty good. (That's George Reeves, at right.)
This helped me a great deal. I learned a lot about what I like to see in a blog, and what I don't like to see.
Let's start with what I like to see:
- Good thoughtful writing.
- The feeling that there's a person there.
- Availability of comments.
- An RSS feed that at least tells me what I need to know about an item before it's truncated because they're looking for ad revenue.
- Some reporting that involves more than a hotlink would be nice.
This is part of what's wrong with corporate blogging. Whether it's an executive blog, a publisher blog, or a product blog, it's just too predictable. The writing is often so strait-jacketed (in order to make it replicable and corporate-approved) that the life is knocked out of it.
Blogging is a very human activity. So is reading blogs. Given that general topics such as "politics" or "technology" are going to result in a lot of coverage of the same things, it helps if the writer has a unique take. There better be someone home. Talking points, whether corporate or political, are a waste of my time.
Which leads me to what I don't want to see in blogs:
+ TrackBacks (1) | Category: Digital Divide | Internet | Journalism | blogging | personal
November 15, 2005
There's a lot of hyperbole there. (Patrick Henry, right, was nothing if not hyperbolic.)
But the fact is that the tools and technologies needed to create a "hot zone" -- an area that can get 802.11 wireless coverage -- keeps going down.
There is no need for such zones to be defined by political boundaries. There is no need for there to be just one such network in an area. There are tons of places near me that have multiple networks in reach. That's the beauty of the unlicensed band.
What you need to deliver a HotZone to a corner, a neighborhood, or a development are:
The biggest danger to this vision is coming, the mergers of local and Internet backhaul outfits to be known as Verizon and AT&T.
If those companies are allowed to consolidate and control Internet backhaul and sell it through an eye-dropper, as they now sell broadband through an eye-dropper, then they can halt the American wireless revolution in its tracks.
But there's a dirty little secret for these boys.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Models | Business Strategy | Digital Divide | Internet | Investment | Moore's Lore | Politics | Telecommunications
John Robb, at his Global Guerillas site, today has one of his most fascinating posts yet, a comparison between terrorism networks and phishing networks.
He starts with an analysis of the phishing business from Chris Abad of Cloudmark, which found that its vertical integration is very loose. Instead it consists of specialists in various horizontal skills -- mass e-mail, templates, chat rooms, fences - which individual gangs then put together. Then he notes this is just the way the IED market is run in Iraq.
The result is intense competition at each stage of the supply chain, and incredibly low prices for phishers and terrorists. A terrorist can get an IED to blow up an American convoy for just $50.
The bazaar for such transactions is the key. It's virtual.
+ TrackBacks (1) | Category: Digital Divide | Internet | Politics | Security | law | spam | war
One of the strangest aspects of the post Bell break-up era has been the continuing Bell fascination with content.
The reason for it: cable envy.
While phone service, and Internet service, take money only for bits, cable companies have long made money three ways. They make money on the bits they transmit, they make money from the content companies sending those bits, and they make money from local advertising.
Seen from that point of view, Ed Whitacre’s nonsense about charging Google rent for reaching “his” customers makes a little sense. It makes more sense when you look at history. ADSL was first launched a decade ago as a way for phone companies to offer cable service. BellSouth, Sprint, and MCI all bought MMDS bandwidth in the 1990s to deliver wireless cable service.
The triple play has nothing to do with consumers, in other words. It has to do with revenue streams.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | History | Internet | Investment | Telecommunications
November 11, 2005
eBay is going down.
The collapse of its stock price may be followed by the collapse of the entire company. Certainly a fire sale is in the offing.
I can say this with some certainty because eBay has bought itself an enormous political problem with Skype, a fight it can't win because of its diminishing goodwill.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | e-commerce | law
The real difference between mere "blogging" and "journalism" is a functional one.
And here is the test. What does the opinionated blogger do when the story goes against them?
Analysts cover the story. They may or may not admit to error, but they write through the pain. The real journalists among them put their feelings about the event completely aside, they go into the winner's locker room, they get the quotes, they describe what happened, and (based on the facts they gathered) they help the reader or viewer understand what may happen next.
The advocates drift away. They change the subject. They're full of "oh, yeah" because they were never in the fight to begin with, just in the crowd.
There are many people who are paid to do journalism who are, in fact, merely doing advocacy today. They're the columnists who write about something else when events go the other way. I find such behavior all over the blogosphere -- liberals who were quiet through November 2004, conservatives who are now silent on the Administration's scandals. I also find it in the nation's biggest newspapers, and on the TV news.
Advocates wait for the talking points, or they change the subject and keep attacking rather than dealing with what anyone else may be saying.
Analysts admit defeat, and try to see what is next.
Journalists act like they don't care, and that's a good thing. They look for facts, they write up what they find, and they move on.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Copyright | Internet | Journalism | Politics | blogging | personal
November 10, 2005
Two press releases came in today and demonstrated to me that the biggest problem we have in this world right now is a lack of ethics.
In one a business research group, Info-Tech, is asking us to ban eBay's Skype from corporate system, saying the software is dangerous. In the other, the Electronic Fronter Foundation basically wants us to boycott Sony CDs because they're secretly installing malware disguised as a DRM that keeps people from fairly using what they thought they bought.
What these stories share is an assumption, a very dangerous assumption in an interconnected world.
The assumption is a lack of ethics by all. Sony is treating all its customers like criminals, and acting in a criminal manner in response. Info-Tech is assuming that Skype, along with other "peer to peer technologies" such as "IM," (as noted in their press release) is dangerous and must be outlawed from corporate networks.
We can speculate over why this has happened, but a fish rots from the top. CEOs get the big money because they're responsible. So in the case of Sony Corp., it rots from Howard Stringer. In the case of Skype, it rots from eBay CEO Meg Whitman. If we can't assume good ethics in their products, nothing their employees do matters much.
It's one thing for large institutions to be on guard against consumers or employees, to take precautions against theft. It's quite another for them to take the law into their own hands, or to take on the characters of a police state in response, to assume by their actions that everyone is a thief.
Once that line is crossed, all bets are off and the market becomes a war of all against all.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Internet | ethics
November 09, 2005
The hidden flaw, or Achilles Heel, of scaled technology systems like Amazon, eBay and Google is that the technology replaces human action.
Techdirt's recent story of the angriest eBay seller is just one example. The folks at eBay have always been lax in putting human resources against their computerized auction house, and frankly I won't do business with it as a result. A seller who threatens buyers physically should not be on the system, period.
It's an open secret that eBay is beset by fraud, on both sides of transactions, that Google results can be clickfrauded, that Amazon is robbed by identity thieves. These companies regularly calculate the cost of real police against the perceived benefits from better policing and keep the wallets in the pocket. We all suffer from that.
The danger is that every Web 2.0 start-up I've seen or heard of goes the same route. Computer interactions are replacing human interaction, cutting the costs of transactions. Perhaps we're cutting too deeply.
The problem, technocrats insist, is that people "don't scale." I can only do a certain amount of work each day. Same with you. When it comes to computer work, just put in another server, another T-3 line, and the same software's impact is multiplied.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Economics | Futurism | Internet | e-commerce
November 07, 2005
The failure of the Online Freedom of Speech Act has provoked intense anger in Left Blogistan (pictured), directed mainly at its own representatives in Congress, and those interest groups supporting "government reform."
It's easily dismissed as a left-wing copy of the right's anger over the Miers nomination, except that while Bush eventually pulled Miers and gave the right what it wanted, liberal bloggers are not going to get what they want, which is an exemption from the demands of the McCain-Feingold Act.
The rage is especially acute against the Pew Charitable Trusts, which worked with other liberal foundations to pass campaign reform and then beat back the Online Freedom of Speech Act. For the first time, liberal bloggers are comparing Pew with the right-wing Scaife, Olin and Heritage Foundations, and not in a good way either.
Regulations for the Internet under McCain-Feingold have not yet been finailized, and while the left rages, let me offer another view..
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consulting | Digital Divide | Internet | Journalism | Politics | blogging | law
November 04, 2005
With a "crack" of thunder last Friday I was plunged into the deep past, into the 20th century.
The sound fried my phone line. More important, it knocked me off the Internet.
The world of the 20th century, I quickly learned, is a world of limited information. I had to watch Hurricane Wilma on TV. I couldn't get any word on my favorite football team (Sheffield Wednesday). My view of the local scene was limited to what my newspaper chose to print.
It took me back to my own life in that century. I gathered information by phone. I entered it on a typewriter. I flashed my eyes across typewritten notes to produce my copy, and I filed the results in real file folders.
I also worked within a functional business model, one I'm still trying to replace.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Digital Divide | Internet | Investment | Journalism | personal
Instead of attacking Windows, Linux, or the Mac, today's hip, new virus writers are going after the anti-virus programs.
Russian-born Israeli Andrey Bayora has documented how this is done at his company, SecurityElf. He dubs the attack, "The Magic Byte." and the trick is simply to hide from anti-virus scans the type of file you've inserted into the system.
In hexadecimal (which is where all software actually lives, no matter how it's written) all executable, or .EXE programs start with the characters MZ, expressed in hex as 0x4D5A. But many files let the header start anywhere, not just the head, so by just adding a byte in front of that header, or prepending, you're giving an anti-viral scan the equivalent of "go on along, there are no droids here." When in fact there are.
This problem affects just about every anti-viral scanner out there, including the one you're probably using, and definitely including the one I'm using. Bayora took some old, easily-disabled viruses, used this trick on them, and bango - they were invisible (but still active).
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consulting | Internet | Security | Software
November 02, 2005
There was a reversal in American politics during the 20th century. Democrats went from Woodrow Wilson's racism to Bill Clinton's liberalism. Republicans went from being the Party of Lincoln to the Party of Reagan.
We may be seeing a second reversal here in the early 21st century. Republicans who once preached deregulation are now micro-managing the market and defying science. Democrats who urged regulation are now calling for it to end and embracing technology.
The reasons for this reversal come down to money and power Republicans see money as fueling their power. Democrats are stuck relying on bits. But bits can set you free.
Bob Frankston's latest essay, called "Reality vs Regulation," illustrates this profound shift. Copyright and telecomm businesses threatened by rapid change have gone to Washington, campaign contributions in hand, to halt technology in its tracks. Moore's Laws of fiber, storage and radios, on the other hand, have moved us from an age of information scarcity to one of abundance.
Until this week, however, the rhetoric had not decisively shifted. Republican regulators still pretended to be in the deregulation business. Democrats were calling mainly for different regulations, not deregulation.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Copyright | Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Investment | Politics | Telecommunications
Worldcom was a classic “roll-up” which hid the truth behind accounting tricks, clever lies meant to create the appearance of profits where there were none.
Now TeleTruth charges SBC with doing the same thing (PDF warning on that link), except this time the lies were told to government regulators across the nation.
Writes analyst Bruce Kushnick, “It cut the fiber optic deployments in 13 states, California, Texas, SNET Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, etc. and in all all of the states, the companies got billions extra in higher phone rates, higher USF (Universal Service Fees), tax breaks, etc. And they all promised fiber to the home, 45mps, 500+ hannels. And when SBC merged, every fiber optic service was cancelled.” (Boldface is mine.)
Is this actionable? Were any of these promises made in contracts, or under oath? Is there a state attorney general willing to take this on as a case of fraud? And if they do, what can they turn up in discovery?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Digital Divide | Economics | Internet | Journalism | Telecommunications | law
November 01, 2005
Some recent posts at Techdirt have me thinking of some basic questions, about the pace of change and the continuing battle between cops and robbers.
In successive entries, we have dismissal of new anti-crime ideas from the banking industry, copyright cops taking on tricks of online robbers, and the same industry trying to push DRM technology onto analog devices. (I know, the order should be reversed, because the last item was written first, and the first last, but what can you do?)
In many ways robbers have natural advantages over cops in technology crime. Cops have to stop everything. Robbers only have to succeed once. But that's misleading, because once a robber is caught they're "in the system" -- you only have to be caught a few times to have your life ruined.
Robbers can also use many open source advantages, sharing tips freely while cops obsess over secrecy, engaging in innovation while cops have to maintain standards.
These are some of the concepts John Robb deals with in his Global Guerillas blog. How popular must an uprising become before it becomes impossible to take down? Put in terms of more ordinary crime, how many must oppose a law before it becomes virtually unenforceable?
What cops, and civilization, fear more than anything else is that the answer to that question drops as technological sophistication rises. They see civilization as digital, either existing or not existing.
This is the great false assumption of our time. It's false in two ways.
First, technology does increase the need for consensus, rather than narrow majorities, in order to hold society together, because the percentage of "objectors" needed to threaten society does go down as technological sophistication increases. This is not a bad thing. In fact, consensus is far more stable than democracy. Consensus is what keeps the Internet together.
Second, civilization is analog, not digital. The alternative to the absolute triumph of law and order is not chaos. We're talking about a much more complex structure. A certain amount of chaos must be acceptable in order for progress to continue. Shrinkage is natural. We work to balance shrinkage with costs in all our enforcement efforts. It's the only rational way to go.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Copyright | Digital Divide | Futurism | Internet | Moore's Lore | Politics | Security | law | war
A lot of people are (rightfully) upset over SBC CEO Ed Whitacre's recent statements dismissing the concept of network neutrality.
Given that SBC will take the AT&T name once its merger with that company is complete it has many fearfully humming the theme from "Empire Strikes Back," seeing the Death Star in the sky again, preparing to see the Internet lights turned off all over the world. (The song is now a favorite of every Enormous State University band, usually played in the Third Quarter as Little Sisters of the Poor are crushed.)
Frankly, Mr. Whitacre is an idiot. There are many reasons why net neutrality, and not paid content access, will triumph in the U.S.:
- Google is one of the largest owners of dark fiber in the world. That's what their San Francisco WiFi bid is really all about. They need to fill that fiber, and WiFi can easily render wired phones (and lines) obsolete.
- Sprint has some interesting deals going with cable companies that create a "triple play" with cable networks combining phone, mobile, and television service. Network neutrality in that offering could cause millions to switch off their phones.
- Level 3 can easily link their fiber backhaul capacity to new providers via WiFi and WiMax, delivering another alternative for consumers.
- People aren't stupid. Consumers understand what the concept of network neutrality means. If it's threatened they will demand it from regulators and Congress.
- The U.S. is an increasingly small portion of the Internet. Continued slow growth will make the U.S. an economic backwater, and people know that.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | Politics | Telecommunications | e-commerce | marketing
October 31, 2005
A friend tells me that Eric Schmidt isn't really in charge of Google, that it's still Sergey and Larry's show.
I don't know. That might be. If it is they have tipped their hand as to their corporate culture.
They're collectors. They collect great minds. Whether they listen to these minds is unclear. But they love to collect them. Get the whole set, like other kids collect trading stamps.
The latest "great mind" to join the collection is Elliot Schrage (above). He follows Vinton Cerf, "the father of the Internet" (so called) and Dr. Schmidt himself, the "father of Java" (also so-called).
The collectors like those kinds of titles. They like credentials. They're Stanford guys. They want proof of quality. Credentials are proof of quality.
Schrage is considered a "guru" on "sustainable sourcing." He's a lawyer, not just a PR guy, although the title he takes includes PR. He's a Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations.
He's a Big Head.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet
Hiow is this for a Halloween story?
Like Frankenstein's monster, AT&T is coming back from the dead.
The genesis of this stupidity is probably the old North Carolina National Bank. It acquired dozens of banks, large and small, and became NationsBank. That was a new, powerful brand. Then it acquired the Bank of America, based in San Francisco. After the deal was done it took that name. Now, in downtown Charlotte, there are homages to the old BofA on the cornices of its downtown office campus, along with some of its other kills. The bank thinks it's a nod to history, but I think it's more like the old hunter who puts deer heads on his wall.
In this case, it's SBC chairman Ed Whitacre who has the big ambition. He thinks that, by using the AT&T name, he can inherit the Bell System and, eventually, recreate it. Put back together what was torn asunder, only this time with no regulation, no controls, all powerful.
And in control of your Internet.
In his first move with the power of AT&T, Whitacre wants to start charging sites rent in order to reach his customers. Forget network neutrality. Forget about the nature of the Internet, which is that users route around attempts at control. If you're using SBC (excuse me, AT&T) DSL, Ed Whitacre will decide what sites you can see, what services you can use, what protocols you can support. My guess is he won't start by demanding rents from Google. He may go after smaller sites, like Corante, first, in order to set the precedent. But this is his promise.
This is the way Bellheads think, and it's good to get it out in the open. It's all about control of the customer, total control. Whitacre seems under the impression that today's political status quo will survive forever, that he will be allowed to control his customers as he wants.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Politics | Telecommunications | e-commerce
October 30, 2005
Since its passage the CAN-SPAM act has done more to enable spam than any other act by anyone. It legalized specific forms of spam, it overturned stiffer state laws, and it has gone unenforced.
The primary enforcement of this "law" has come from private parties. Microsoft, which urged the act's passage, has been the most aggressive. And they're making one more attempt to make it work, suing 13 spam gangs that use malware to turn ordinary PCs into "spam zombies."
The lawsuits should make clear a dirty little secret of the spam wars. It's homegrown. Much of the spam supposedly coming from Korea, Russia or China is actually being bounced off servers there to mask its origins.
The likelihood of this being effective in stopping spam is nil. I also disagree on the need for new laws. Instead of going after spammers, go after the people who pay for spam to be sent.
A lot of spam represents fraudulent offers and those who make those offers should be prosecuted. Shaming corporations into policing their distribution channels and re-sellers would get rid of another hunk. Illegal offes should be prosecuted under fraud statutes. Attorney General Gonzalez might enjoy prosecuting porn spammers under obscenity statutes.
Shaming can work. There is little political spam for that very reason. Candidates and causes who spam lose support. When this happens to corporations, they will take the appropriate action.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | law | spam
Om Malik has an article that goes inside the Bells’ loss of DSL market share (and then phone lines).
In order to serve customers, phone companies must install expensive DSLAM equipment in each switch, and when that’s maxed-out they must install more. Cable operators, by contrast, made all their capital investment up-front. The “burden” of a higher market share is borne by the customers (who must share a limited resource), not the company.
Last week, as I noted here, I switched from DSL to cable modem for my broadband service. This was not the fault of BellSouth. It wasn’t really the fault of Earthlink, my DSL provider. A lightning strike hit my phone system, and the only way to learn that it also killed my PC’s Ethernet circuit was to come in and test it. The cable modem guy did that.
The question occurs, then, what about the rest of my phone service? I’m paying $60 for a single phone line, one I’ve used for nearly a quarter century, one I’m known for. That’s a lot to pay for a brand that, in theory, I can switch to a cell phone.
A decade ago, when I was with Interactive Age my employer, CMP Media, made me install an extra phone line they would be billed on. BellSouth actually had to replace the box outside my house with a new unit that could handle as many as six lines. Now one line lives where six were supposed to…and it’s hanging by a thread.
Is it time for me to kill my personal Bell?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Internet | Telecommunications | personal
October 28, 2005
Wal-Mart is under fire for its lack of benefits. It's running ads where an employee calls the company her "support system" after a liver transplant. Oil companies are under fire for price-gouging. They run ads claiming to be green. Mutual fund operators who've pled guilty to stealing from customers run ads saying they've earned our trust.
This is par for the course in corporate America. Advertising is used to make people forget. As the press moves on to other stories, it often works.
But it doesn't work in the blogosphere. There is no business model corporations can use to induce forgetfulness among bloggers who oppose corporate actions.
That's why Forbes has placed, behind its registration firewall, a front-page feature on "dealing with blogs" through lawsuits and intimidation. There have long been powerful weapons employed against whistle-blowers and individual muckrakers. Forbes suggests these be deployed against individual bloggers.
But there is a problem with that, the same problem that befits the copyright industries. Copying.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Journalism | blogging | ethics | marketing
October 27, 2005
I was ready to write a slam against Earthlink this morning. Twice they have lost my order for a new DSL modem. On the phone yesterday I grew quite testy.
But this morning the UPS guy showed up at my door, with a box from Earthlink. A DSL modem. Hooray!
Well, not hooray. First I had trouble getting it to go on. Turns out one of the plugs on my UPS was fried in Friday's lightning strike. Then I couldn't get the DSL light to go on, indicating the modem was working. After several hours on the phone (and several times on my knees) I was sent to a local Radio Shack for a DSL filter.
I had just installed the filter, and the green DSL light was still not there, when a miracle occurred.
It was a cable guy.
In my anger on the phone the previous day, I followed through on my threat to call the cable company. I told them I was a long-time cable subscriber (true) and asked how long it would take to get modem service. Three to five days, I was told. So I forgot about it.
Yet here on my doorstep was a cable guy, in a white truck, promising to have me on the Internet within minutes. Oh, frabjous day, calloo callay! I chortled as he worked.
But the install took longer than expected, and the explanation showed why I was wrong to curse Earthlink.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consumer Electronics | Internet | Telecommunications | personal
October 25, 2005
The naming of Chris Anderson as AdAge's "Editor of the Year" caps one of the biggest comeback stories in publishing history.
While Wired wasn't tjhe biggest boom-and-bust magazine story of the 1990s (The Industry Standard holds that honor) its sale to corporate America was seen as an ending. I (and many others) wrote often that Wired is Tired, using a cliche from the magazine's own pages. The magazine's horizons shifted inward, from revolution against the corporate system to service on its behalf.
Under Conde Nast, Anderson has turned that around. He has made Wired relevant again. He did this in part by thinking big thoughts himself, as in his own Weblog-book The Long Tail. But this is a team event. Anderson built a great team, which managed to produce many articles that turned heads.
I have great respect for this award, and new respect for Anderson, because I once wrote for AdAge and I know the process that goes into making this kind of announcement. AdAge's staff is putting its own prestige on the line by honoring Anderson. It does not do this lightly.
Congratulations, Chris. You obviously earned it. You're obviously Clued-in. Keep up the good work. And best of all, you're a Truly Handsome Man.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | marketing
October 24, 2005
Regular readers of this space may wonder where I've gone.
There's a story there.
It starts Friday evening, when a sudden lightning strike knocked me offline. Turned out that my phone service was knocked out -- not the cable, not the electrical, just the phone.
I called for help from my cell phone, and (fortunately) the phone company was nice enough to make an appointment with a serviceman for this morning, Monday.
So what happened Monday you ask.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Futurism | Internet | personal | spam
October 21, 2005
In my spare time I'm helping a start-up.
This has given my e-commerce newsletter, A-Clue.Com a realism it never had before. (Subscribe here.)
Now, as in this week's issue, it's the thinking of a real entrepreneur, inside the process. Strange days, indeed.
Young people are naturally entrepreneurial.
I have two in my house. One wants to be a lawyer. The other isn't sure what she wants to be. But both work very hard, they are on the lookout for opportunity, and when something comes along they grab it.
I wish one of them knew PHP.
An aging society naturally has fewer people who will grab for a chance, who will move, who are willing to learn new things in order to make something happen. As the pool dwindles, many young people start getting old habits. They grow lethargic. They want to be shown. They want a guarantee. We see it in Japan, we see it in Europe, we see it in the U.S.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Investment | personal
When Craig Newmark sold 25% of his Craigslist to eBay last year, there was some skepticism. "This is a mistake. eBay bad and robotic, Craig's List human and good. And now on the way to selling out."
Well, that writer need not have worried. Craigslist can be robotic, too.
Before, and since, eBay bought an early executive's stake in his company, Newmark has been busy trying to control what the Internet says you can't control -- links.
Techdirt has a summary of the latest. Just as eBay blocked out people who tried to link its auctions with those of other companies, Craigslist has forbidden aggregation, even searches across multiple Craigslist sites.
Had Craigslist not sold its stake to eBay it might be difficult for it to get away with this. But lawyers are wonderfully useful creatures, able to stop even obviously-legal things, like linking into the site, by firing papers and money over the bow.
The queston isn't, is this right. (It's not.) The question is, is this helpful to Craigslist?
The simple fact is that, in the short term, it's not, but in the long term, it may be.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | e-commerce | law
A childhood friend of Warren Buffett is engaged in a power play that could raise your Internet bills.
NOTE: I have been informed by commenters, and confirmed, that Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway sold its Level 3 stake in November 2003. Level 3 founder Walter Scott, however, is a childhood friend of Buffett's, and a member of the Berkshire-Hathaway board. The correct headline should thus be "Walter Scott's Internet Power Play." I deeply regret the error.
He's doing it through Level 3. Buffett
owns bought a big, quiet stake in Level 3, through secured notes bought by Berkshire- I Hathaway in 2002. Also, Level 3 chairman Walter Scott is on the Berkshire-Hathaway board.
Level 3, one of the largest Internet backbone operators not owned by a Bell company, is losing money. It's trying to change this by getting tough on peering, the linking of its network to other ISPs.
Specifically it cut connectons with Cogent Communications, a smaller backbone provider, early this month, and plans to do it again next month. The effect is to render 15% of the Internet invisible to Cogent customers, and vice versa.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | Telecommunications
I have been reluctant to dive into the Google Print controversy because all the rhetoric is phony.
The rhetoric is about principles, fair use vs. copyright.
The reality is this is about money, about monetizing something that had no previous value and the obligation that places on the person doing the monetizing.
The plain fact is that everything Google has done, and everything Yahoo did before it, is based on monetizing fair use. The concept of fair use arose based on the idea it had no economic meaning, that it represented a necessary intermediate step on the way to meaning (and money).
But now we find, 10 years after the Web was spun, that fair use has enormous economic value. Through the magic of databasing, finding is now more valuable than having.
What then is the obligation of those who extracted this value to the holders of the data providing the raw material? The legal question has been answered, there is none. If publishers can stop Google from offering books online without payment, they can stop Google from linking to books without payment, because Google is only going to offer extracts that represent fair use free. It's the physical equivalent of the "deep linking" proposition we dealt with in the 1990s. If a book isn't read because it can't be located it makes no sound.
The moral question is something different entirely. If Google extracts a profit from Google Print, I think it does have a moral obligation to spend some of that money on activities that benefit writers and other content creators.
+ TrackBacks (1) | Category: Copyright | Internet | e-commerce | ethics | law | online advertising
October 19, 2005
The question is serious.
I have seen a ton of blogs lately which have all the pretentiousness, all the assumed (rather than earned) authority, and all the tone-deafness to reality of anything in the so-called Main Stream Media they're criticizing.
We live in a time of immense selfishness, and hollow ethics. This is true in both parties. This is also true in all media -- including the blogosphere.
Just because reporting is "open source" does not mean you believe all sources. It means you take responsibility, as part of the conversation.
An example follows.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Journalism | Politics | blogging | ethics | personal
October 14, 2005
Yahoo has begun offering some blogging results on its News search page. This, they think, puts them a step ahead of Google, which isolates blog results caught in the RSS net to a separate blogsearch page. (Both sites are in beta.)
Yahoo thinks this puts them ahead of Google in an important functionality. I think the folks at Yahoo would actually use a word like functionality.
But it does them little good (or this is barely alpha software):
- Most blogs aren't indexed. This blog isn't indexed in Yahoo News.
- No more than the first page of results are really available in any search that comes up with blogs. I got timed-out repeatedly trying to get past the first page of results today.
- Blog results are segregated to the right of the news results. I think this will continue.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Journalism | online advertising
October 13, 2005
The Macintosh interface has been around, in one way or another, for 30 years. It has been the dominant computing interface for 15 years.
Jakob Nielsen (left), the King of Internet Usability (my title for him), says it is time for this to change.
The first attempt at that, he adds, will be in the next version of (wait for it) Microsoft Office.
The new interface displays galleries of possible end-states, each of which combine many formatting operations. From this gallery, you select the complete look of your target -- say an org chart or an entire document -- and watch it change shape as you mouse over the alternatives in the gallery. The interaction paradigm has been reversed; it's now What You Get Is What You See, or WYGIWYS.
I don't know how far this will get. We already have elementary versions of this interface in blogs. Blogs are based on templates, which specify typefaces, page design, and other elements before the writer starts to work. Here at Corante, these specifications are made centrally, and all Corante blogs look similar. That's also the way it works with such community network services as Drupal. Drupal calls such designs "themes," and the theme you choose for your community is the design every user gets -- reader, writer or administrator.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Consumer Electronics | Internet | Moore's Lore | Software | blogging | computer interfaces
October 06, 2005
Internet businesses are easy to get into, easy to compete with, easy to replace.
This is a truth Internet entrepreneurs know and big media companies have yet to find out.
That's why Jason Calacanis sold out Weblogsinc after just two years. That's why the owners of MySpace were willing to take Rupert Murdoch's money so quickly.
They know they can come up with another idea quickly, and compete effectively with it quickly, if they get unhappy with their new corporate parents. They also know that their peers in this business know this, and would gladly sell out to the same companies if they don't.
Thus, as soon as a position is a established, and a big company thinks, "ah hah, a barrier to new competition," the owners of those companies are going to take the money.
They know there's no such thing as a "barrier to entry."
The cost of building a scaled Web site is falling, not rising. It's attention and talent which are the quantities in short supply. So talent will take the money and look for the exits every time, knowing that, since no one online knows you're a dog, no one knows that you've slipped your chain, either.
What does this mean about today's Weblogsinc deal?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Investment | Journalism | blogging | e-commerce | online advertising
San Francisco is hopping this week over Web 2.0.
What is it? It's a database.
When you use a database as your basic site design template, then everything becomes a database call or a database interface. Thus, you can do anything. You can do blogging, you can do identity, you can do customization, you can do community.
The problem is getting stuff into that database. Can you share data among databases? Users don't like that. But how do you get permission for all the relevant, needed data to get into the database?
The obvious answer to that is that users have to live inside the database. A lot. This restricts choices, because time is limited. It means there are only a few "winners" -- a few sites will scale to get everyone's data and everyone else will lose out.
Thus there's a self-liimiting aspect to Web 2.0 trials. Unless....as with Sxip, you can take your personal data (the stuff that would fill a database) with you, and control it. Then you point that data to whatever database you choose to be a member of.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Investment | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
October 05, 2005
I wrote something today suggesting that Dr. Eric Schmidt leave Google.
I was told, by my editor, that it was over-the-top. "A series of cheap swipes," "rather than a reasoned case."
Maybe it was. I didn't post it. I wrote something much milder, more humble, more seeking of counsel rather than snarky and smart. (I like editors. They save us from ourselves. They're very important people. Buy an editor lunch today.)
But like many people here I feel a personal kinship to Google. And I think that is the company's chief asset. Mess with my GoogleLove, and you're messing with your own GoogleSelf.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | e-commerce | online advertising
October 04, 2005
Discussion of the possible DNS fork by the UN or ITU continues on Dave Farber's always interesting Interesting People list. (And if Dave Coursey doesn't like it, he can leave.)
Perhaps the most interesting comment was this from Paul Vixie, father of BIND:
I've pondered the meaning of all of this within the context of the dns protocol and of my company's open source
implementation of that protocol, and I think I can see a way to define and support alternate roots in a way that will reduce their chaos -- but not their harm. Given that the US-DoC/VeriSign/ICANN trinity pursuing "a policy contrary to their own interests" and that the inevitable result of this will be hundreds if not thousands of chaotically interrelated dns namespaces, i'm ready to consider ways that DNS and BIND might be extended to make that inevitable condition less painful to live in.
But if i do it, it will be with rage in my heart against hose who could have helped us preserve name universality but who squandered that opportunity for short term political or financial gain. (Emphasis mine.)
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Digital Divide | Internet | Journalism | Politics | Telecommunications
October 03, 2005
The mesh networking era is finally here, according to InStat.
A mesh, in which all devices on a network are connected to all other devices, finally has a hockey-stick chart. InStat's new report has last year's $33.5 million in sales growing to $974.3 million in 2009, a classic hockey stick formation.
InStat credits military needs with developing the technology, but there are many advantages to installing a mesh as opposed to a single hotspot:
- A mesh can cover a large area.
- A mesh can make certain the coverage area is completely covered.
- Mesh can connect to many different access technologies, not just WiFi but UWB and WiMax on the wireless end, or WiMax and a fiber pipe on the backhaul end.
- Mesh is primarily a North American technology.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Futurism | Internet | Telecommunications
October 02, 2005
I'm about to go off on the Bush Administration again, but at least this time it's on a subject near to this blog's stated purpose.
Some days I think George W. Bush was imposed on us by our enemies. If there were a Manchurian Candidate, he is doing that candidate's bidding.
Our brave armies have been destroyed in Iraq. Our budget has gone from surplus to unrecoverable deficit, and our currency is heading south. The Gulf Coast lies in ruins while a system of kleptocracy that would make Vladimir Putin blush rules in Washington.
And now the Internet's gone.
What follows is from Milton Mueller of Internet Governance:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Digital Divide | Futurism | Internet | Politics | Telecommunications | law | personal | war
September 30, 2005
The Internet War we've warned about here for years has begun, but in a most unexpected way.
While most attention was being placed on the UN and ITU, which were making noises about seizing control of Internet resources, perhaps by building their own DNS root servers, a private U.S. company just went up and did it.
The company is Neustar, and they have created a root DNS server for their .gprs domain, which will serve the mobile phone industry. (Warning -- that link above is to a PDF file.)
NOTE: As reader Jesse Kopelman has correctly noted, this action was taken on behalf of the GSM Association, a trade group of mobile operators based in London. Here's their press release. Essentially, the GSM Association has created its own private Internet. And no one has done anything about it.
Tne Neustar move is a direct challenge to ICANN, which previously approved a domain for mobile phone services called .mobi. But carriers may prefer the Neustar "solution," as it might enable them to control what users have access to on "their" Internet, and to shakedown information providers wishing to be accessed. A private Internet with private gatekeepers. Is this what the government meant when it said it preferred private control to government?
Meanwhile, the U.S. government (a Mack Sennett production) was attacking EU proposals to even consider obsoleting ICANN. "Some countries want that. We think that's unacceptable," said Ambassador David Gross, the US coordinator for international communications and information policy at the State Department.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Digital Divide | Economics | Internet | Politics | Telecommunications | cellular | law | war
September 26, 2005
The movement of network boundaries ties together all the trends of the present time.
By the network boundary I mean the point where your client, which you control, ends and a network which is beyond your control begins.
Crossing the network boundary requires more than a cost-benefit analysis. It also requires a trust-benefit analysis. You have to trust the network, and the network owner, before you make the jump. (The illustration of the word Trust is from Professor Myoung Lee of the University of Missouri.)
So trust is a vital asset to any company seeking to lure people across the boundary. This is why Google's credibility is so vital, and why CEO Eric Schmidt has to go, because he doesn't understand that and his actions threaten Google's credibility.
The frontier in computing today is the placing of personal data and applications on the other side of the network boundary. GMail represents both data and applications. That's what makes it an important product.
But there are many other appications that could be handled on the other side of the network boundary. All the things we consider desktop applications could be handled on the other side of that boundary. Trust,. or the lack of it, is what keeps those assets on our side of the boundary.
We have known for years there are many benefits in placing our data and applications on the network side of the boundary. Our clients can become simpler, for one thing. Our costs can be reduced, for another thing. Our stuff is more accessible, especially if we build access to it into all our clients.
But there are risks to doing this, trust risks. Government could get into our stuff if it's on the other side of hte boundary. So could private actors -- bosses, competitors, hackers. And then there's the question of how fast and reliable the network connection is, which now separates us from our stuff and our applications.
This is why the U.S. technology lead is threatened by politics today. Our lack of trust in the government keeps us from moving our stuff and our appilications across. And the government's asinine policy on networks -- private unregulated duopolies of cable and phone giants -- means the cost benefits of moving these things across is lower for Americans than for people in other countries, in Asia and Europe.
The speed of networks determines our technical ability to cross the network boundary.
But that's just one of many questions.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Always On | Business Models | Consulting | Copyright | Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Telecommunications | ethics | law
Regular readers here will recall how I called Rupert Murdoch's deal to buy the owner of MySpace, well, ill-advised.
It may be worse than that. The company now finds itself fighting a rear-guard action by former CEO Brad Greenspan, who wants to buy a controlling interest for more than Murdoch's paying.
But it doesn't stop there. Greenspan is also making some serious charges against Intermix management in his Web site on the deal, Intermixedup. He charges, among other things, insider trading the price-kiting, essentially saying they used pump-and-dump tactics.
Despite all this chicanery, Greenspan charges that MySpace is worth far more than Murdoch is paying, and he could get a better price. Which leads to some questions:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | e-commerce | online advertising
September 25, 2005
With The New York Times' new Web strategy having been in place for a week now, and with its having been debated for months before implementation, it amazes me that no one has identified where that strategy came from.
ESPN has been a part-pay site for years now, and did it the same way the Times is trying to, by putting what it considered valuable content behind a paid firewall.
Even the tiny thumbnail "in" icons used on the two sites to designate content that is behind the firewall are nearly identical.
So, why did it work for ESPN but it isn't working for the Times?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Journalism | Telecommunications | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
September 23, 2005
Here's a story that illustrates well the time we're living in. (The picture, from Pravda, shows Indian and Pakistani nuclear sites. Its meaning will become clear in due course.)
I had a meeting scheduled with a programmer for around 9 AM. I booted up my computer, and as soon as it came up Google Talk woke up with "hi" from Tariq Mustafa.
I immediately began trying to set up Tariq with my boss here in Atlanta, who was on his own IM connection, to get our meeting started. As I did so the doorbell rang, and in walked a co-worker, who promptly sat down at my home network to join in.
There was just one problem.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consulting | Digital Divide | Internet | Telecommunications | computer interfaces | fun stuff
September 21, 2005
Apple has released iTunes 5.0.1, which it says fixes problems found on iTunes 5.0.
I was frankly surprised at the number and vehemence of responses to my earlier item about iTunes 5.0 The reason? Reports on the problems have gotten very little traction in the mainstream press.
George W. Bush must envy Steve Jobs in some ways. Kanye West, who famously dissed the President during a Katrina fund-raiser, actually sang at the Apple iTunes 5.0 announcement, and didn't go off-message either. This story is being carried mainly in the blogosphere, where there are currently 176 posts under iTunes 5.0 problem (although not all are on-point).
Instead, Jobs and Apple continue to be hailed as heroes in the mainstream press:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Internet | Podcasting | computer interfaces | e-commerce
September 20, 2005
Let me take a stab at explaining Google's grand strategy.
My friends at ZDNet call this the Google PC, or a network computer.
Well, sort of. You may, instead of buying Microsoft Office, suscribe to Google's GMail and have a rudimentary office system with a gigabyte or two of storage.
But to say Google is going after Microsoft, the way we said Microsoft was going after IBM, is really to damn with faint praise.
If that were all there were to it, why would Google be planning on building out WiFi, or build out an optical network?
Google isn't aiming at Microsoft, or at IBM. It's aiming at the entire computing-telecommunications complex, building out what I'll call the Google TeleComputing Environment.
The idea is to take advantage of not only the Internet's ability to disintermediate clients, but its ability to disintermediate the phone network at the same time, and to do this in an entirely open source way.
What do I mean? Here are the ingredients:
- Universally-accessible applications, based on search.
- Universally-acessible networks, at broadband speeds.
- Universally-competitive systems, worldwide.
Google is flattening the world. More on what this means after the flip.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Investment | Telecommunications | cellular | computer interfaces | e-commerce
September 19, 2005
Americans are finally following the rest of the world toward the controlled interface of the cellular phone.
This has profound implications. Mobile carriers are not Internet Service Providers. They control where you go and what you do on their networks. They act as gatekeepers, and take a proprietary attitude toward every bit transmitted.
The difference between the Internet and a mobile network is like the difference between a downtown city center and a shopping mall. There is nothing inherently wrong with a shopping mall, but it is controlled by the mall owner, and everything which happens there must be aimed at making the mall owner (and his tenants) money, all assumptions of liberty to the contrary.
In other words, cellular turns the Internet into a shopping mall, neutering it, and making it solely a means toward a commercial end.
Thus, is has been difficult for mobile (Americans call it cellular) to gain the kind of reach and use that we find even in Africa. But that is changing:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Futurism | Internet | Telecommunications | cellular | e-commerce
The winds of change are blowing hurricane-force in Washington. Every politician in town knows it. So the natural inclination is to push the envelope as far as possible, knowing that it will be pulled back fairly quickly.
This is as true regarding the Internet as anywhere else. The Bell-cable duopoly hangs by a thread. Wireless ISPs have Moore's Law on their side. The incumbents need something very strong to counter.
This is precisely what they're going for with a bill in the House that would raise entry barriers to the sky and prevent independent ISPs from ever gaining a market toehold. (That's the chairman of the committee proposing the legislation, Joe Barton, up above.)
Naturally they call it "pro-competitive," but in the Orwellian Washington of today those with a Clue should never listen to what they say but look at what they do.
The bill is also filled with goodies for broadcasters and TV networks, such as:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Politics | Telecommunications | law
September 14, 2005
Amidst all the wailing over the Times' experiment in forcing people to pay subscriptions for Internet newspaper content, an important fact is being lost.
The International Herald Tribune.
I have seen no announcement that the IHT is changing its policies, or changing what content it offers. (The Tribune is owned by the Times Co., which bought out The Washington Post Co.'s interest a few years ago.) Here's today's opinion front page.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | Politics | e-commerce
Here is the situation:
- If blogging has a business model, it is based on advertising.
- Blogs are posted on Web sites, which carry the advertising.
- RSS feeds are increasingly adding ads to the feeds, BUT
- The revenue from the ads goes to those providing the feed, not to the content creators.
Below is a typical Feedburner RSS ad, which appears in Newsreaders but not on Web pages. We'll discuss it after the flip:
UPDATE: After this was posted, Feedburner vice president-business development Rick Klau wrote the following. It is directly on point (as the lawyers say):
While I can only speak for FeedBurner, we only splice ads into feeds for publishers, on behalf of the publisher. We never splice ads in a feed that the publisher didn't ask for, make money from, or know about, ever. It's the same type of model as web advertising solutions that you use on your site, and you make most of the money.
FeedBurner is a publisher service. We only perform those services on a feed that a publisher wants us to perform, and that goes for everything, whether it's splicing ads, applying a stylesheet, or tracking statistics.
No blog site manager running our service can be unaware that their feeds have ads in them because it is impossible to get ads in your feed at FeedBurner without either directly contacting us or selecting the AdSense for Feeds program and providing us with all the details needed to splice in those ads.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Journalism | blogging | computer interfaces | e-commerce | online advertising
September 10, 2005
NOTE: There is an update to this article. Please go here to view it.
There are apparently serious problems with Version 5.0 of iTunes for Windows, which comes bundled with Version 7.0 of QuickTime.
Users are reporting that not only doesn't the software work, but they can't back out of it, and can't load older versions, once the upgrade button is pressed. Some complete computer failures have been reported.
Lauren Weinstein, co-founder of People For Internet Responsibility, reported on this to Dave Farber's Interesting-People list today:
I've personally now seen two systems that have fallen into this black
hole -- no working iTunes, no working QuickTime, and attempts to
install older versions (even just of QuickTime) fail miserably, even
after complex (and in some cases dangerous) attempts at cleaning out
the leftover muck. It's really a mess -- reminds me of early DOS
Hopefully this is a short-term problem.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consumer Electronics | Internet | Podcasting | Software | computer interfaces
September 09, 2005
After $2 billion, Rupert Murdoch's Internet strategy has become clear.
Murdoch finished off his buying spree by putting $680 million into IGN, which runs Web sites devoted to video games. This followed his earlier purchases of Scout Media, which runs sports sites for various sports teams, and the company that owned Myspace.com, the music fan site.
Murdoch has called a special "summit" of his top corporate chiefs for this weekend at his California ranch. Prince Alwaleed bin Talals Kingdom Holding Company of Saudi Arabia has apparently endorsed his strategy. (Didn't know the Saudis had their hooks into Murdoch quite that deeply, did you?)
So, is this going to be a gusher or a dry hole?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | e-commerce | online advertising
September 08, 2005
The folks at Google write that they've appointed Vinton Cerf as their Chief Internet Evangelist, and brag on his nickname "Father of the Internet."
But what is he going to do? And what can he accomplish?
While Cerf was a fine engineer in his day, his record as an executive leaves a lot to be desired. Those with memories recall that he was with MCI all through the Worldcom disaster. He gave speeches, he took awards, and he had nothing to do with the fraud. He was out of the loop.
He was lipstick on that pig.
Will he be any closer to the loop at Google? Or does this mean Google is about to turn itself into another MCI?
The sad fact is that Google is rapidly becoming a bureaucratized mess. Current CEO Eric Schmidt ignored Blogger, he gave his corporate credibility a padding, he has loaded up on his personal fortune and generally made a hash of those things it was in his power to make a hash of.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Telecommunications | ethics
September 04, 2005
This week's issue of my free weekly newsletter, A-Clue.Com, dealt with journalism. (Subscribe here.)
Specifically, I'm looking at the impact of Google Maps on our business, and how we practice journalism, as well as how we deliver it to readers. (Speaking of which, Google has satellite imagery of New Orleans taken at 10 AM on August 31 available here.)
Talk about shock and awe...)
There's a saying that bloggers are journalists who won't make a five-minute phone call, while journalists are bloggers who won't spend five minutes on Google.
Both views have something to them, although I'd say that Google keeps getting better, while the phone doesn't.
But there's a bigger secret neither side tells you.
We seldom leave our desks.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Internet | Journalism | blogging
August 29, 2005
The fight has barely begun for control of the new Internet interface, the RSS reader.
NOTE: We were honored to get two important responses to what follows.
Markos Moulitas says he never had an "exclusive" on Cindy Sheehan (I usually reserve the term for the first to get a story, but Sheehan's words have since been on many other blogs) and that there are RSS feeds to Dailykos diaries. (My point is the feeds are separate from the main subscription.)
Nick Bradbury, creator of FeedDemon, wrote to say that FeedDemon inserts no ads in feeds, that those ads are placed by sites. (This may mean the New York Times has a major ad campaign underway, using blogs as delivered by feeds. If you use another reader, let me know if you see Times ads.)
CORRECTION: Upon further investigation, I have learned that the Times ads come from Feedburner.Com, which is in the feed creation-and-management business. So Nick's right.
Please note that the data in parantheses does not question the honesty or truthfulness or veracity of either correspondent's words, but simply describes the responses I gave them, and the thoughts I had in writing this post.
We're always honored here at Mooreslore when newsmakers respond to our posts about them, when they correct what I write or report. Thanks again. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled post.
But already it's getting interesting.
I have written before how publishers have been placing ads in raw RSS feeds. this means my e-mail list of RSS stories is cluttered with "brought to you by" notices. This is on top of the outright advertisements sent as RSS, which if they hit a keyword you like means they're coming right at you.
What's more interesting, perhaps, is what's happening in stand-along RSS readers.
There are many in the market, but the examples here are going to be concerning FeedDemon (logo at left), now owned by Newsgator, which I have been using a few months:
- Some advertisers, notably the New York Times, have taken to advertising within these products. I have gotten a steady stream of Times ads in FeedDemon, a reader I paid for. (Before, ads only came in shareware.)
- Some site owners, like that of Josh Marshall, have begun truncating their RSS feeds to near-meaninglessless, in order to force users to go from the reader to the site, which then displays in the feeder's window, exposing you to their ads. Full disclsoure demands I mention that Corante is a leader in truncation. If you see Mooreslore through FeedDemon you see just a few lines of content, not enough to know what the story is about.
- Other sites, like TPMCafe, meanwhile, publish everything in a feed, but without the paragraphing. Go figure, since TPMCafe and TPM are run by the same people.
- Sites that use "diaries," based on Scoop, don't automatically send out RSS on what's in the diaries, only what's on the main site. Dailykos, which at first seemed to have an exclusive on the thoughts of anti-war protestor Cindy Sheehan, may have lost that because of this. (That's speculation on my part, but on a blog you speculate, and if you're wrong someone writes to correct it. Hint, hint.)
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Software | blogging | online advertising
Om Malik has a wise commentary today on how peer-to-peer services (p2p) is the killer app for broadband.
He offers a Cachelogic chart showing how p2p services (but more specifically eDonkey) are driving total Internet traffic. In fact, more than half the total Internet traffic monitored by Cachelogic, according to the chart, is eDonkey traffic. (The illustration was copied from Malik's blog, but credit should go to Cachelogic.)
Then Malik makes some really key points (boldfacing is mine):
- In the long term, however P2P traffic if not managed properly is going to become a big problem.
- The explosion in P2P traffic is going to have an impact on the people who dont use the P2P services as well.
- Due to P2Ps symmetrical nature on average 80% of upstream capacity is consumed by P2P.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Telecommunications
August 28, 2005
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Internet | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
August 27, 2005
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Digital Divide | Internet | Politics | law | war
August 26, 2005
One sad headline from this year is how Google has become so opaque and observers so suspicious that its moves are now studied the way Microsoft once was.
CEO Eric Schmidt did neither himself nor his company any favors when he cut-off News.Com reporters, after one of them questioned the privacy implications of the service by Googling him.
The launch of Google Talk (in beta) and the official launch of Google Mail (out of beta) sent this into overdrive.
I contributed with a positive comment on Google Talk, helped by a Pakistani friend. Other observers noted how Google Mail is now open to cellphones.
But not all the commentary was positive, either to myself or to Google. In fact, ZDNet colleague (and longtime friend) Russell Shaw gave me a right padding:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Telecommunications
August 24, 2005
NOTE: Many of the claims made in the item below have been questioned by Russell Shaw. See the full story here.
It's ironic, but my first invitation to use Google Talk came from Pakistan. From Karachi, actually.
Specifically it was from a long-time online friend named Tariq Mustafa (known as Tee Emm), who works in the high-tech sector there.
I am really excited on this Google IM thing (and so would be tens of millions of users very soon). I think I was ahead of you just because of the time-zone difference. Anyway, here is the summary I wanted to share with you of the excitement.
Why the excitement? IM has been around for ages.
The excitement is because this isn't really IM. Or it's not just IM. It's VOIP, integrated from the start with IM.
What this does is absolutely kill international long distance in a way Skype only dreamt of. I'm actually a naive user, but I was able to download, and load, a VOIP client (with IM) in less than a minute.
So can anyone else, anywhere else.
More from Tariq after the break.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Digital Divide | Economics | Internet | Telecommunications | fun stuff
August 22, 2005
David Berlind, one of my bosses over at ZDNet, came up with an incredible statistic recently that deserves a lot more play than it got.
His source on this is Bob Frankston, co-founder of Visicalc and one of those great online friends I've never met personally. (As you can see by this picture, he's also well on his way to being a Truly Handsome Man (that is to say bald)).
Here's the key bit, as Berlind saw it:
By Frankston's calculations, for example, Verizon is reserving 99 percent of its government-ordained right of way (in the form of bandwidth that should be available to us as well as its competitors) for itself so that it may compete in the IPTV market.
Frankston's got the whole story, in hiw own words, here.
More on the flip.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Investment | Politics | Telecommunications | cellular
Krystal restaurants (think White Castle with mustard, Kumar) have finished a full year with their free WiFi hotspot program, and have decided to extend it to all 243 company-owned restaurants (as well as recommend it to their 180 franchises.)
The evidence of increased sales are anecdotal, but CIO David Reid told CMO Magazine he has already tracked a bottom-line advantage.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | marketing
The fastest way to save energy in this country is to build-out the Local Web. (The illustration is from the PRBlog, in a story about a local Web conflict.)
Every day I find limits in the local Web. Right now, for instance, I need a USB Bluetooth connector for my laptop. It's on the Staple's Web site, but delivery is three days away, and it's not at Staple's. It's on the Best Buy Web site, but it's not at the local Best Buy. I'm going to Fry's tomorrow (a 40-mile roundtrip) and if it's not there I'll have to wait for delivery.
All this driving would not be necessary if local inventories were rourtinely tied to Web sites (as they sometimes are at BestBuy.Com). That's one Local Web application.
There are many others.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Internet | Telecommunications | computer interfaces | e-commerce | energy
August 18, 2005
When people are throwing money at you, then you're really foolish not to take some of it.
At nearly $280/share, Google is Bubble-Priced. So it makes sense for Google to take some of this money. Over 14 million shares means more than $4 billion in cash, a Microsoft-like horde (especially as earnings continue to accelerate).
How can they do better with this cash than Microsoft has?
Analysts are already speculating on what Google will do with the money. It's burning a hole in the M&A pocket. Will they buy China's Baidu? Will they take out American start-ups, like Technorati? Who will they hire next? How plush can the offices be made? (If spokesman David Krane were given enough money to buy me a beer and a nice dinner, I wouldn't object.)
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Investment
Verizon has begun selling one of the dumbest machines I've ever seen, a "DSL modem," (their term), wireless router and cordless phone combination dubbed Verizon One.
Essentially this ties together the obsolete telephone network with the Internet Verizon is actually selling and tells customers it's the same thing. It pushes fancy PBX capabilities on residential customers who don't need them. (Just to make things a little better, it locks them into its cellular service, too.)
The FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) can be easily seen in the phrase "DSL modem." DSL is a digital service. It doesn't need modulation or demodulation to trick an analog line into taking a digital connection, which is what a modem does. It is an oxymoron.
Dave Burstein wrote in to say this is a Westell device. Westell has a long history of making things on-demand for phone companies, so Verizon gets all the "credit" for this piece of nonsense.
What's ironic is I happen to know Verizon was talking to Netopia two years ago about a massive contract for DSL gateways that would have been far superior to this piece of nonsense. (Here's a 2001 press release, delivered in the early days of the relationship.) I have one of these gateways in my house now, a review unit. What would have made them powerful was a promised co-branded service providing full security to home users, saving them as much as $200/year on "security suites" from various software vendors. (There are currently no Netopia press releases, going back to 2002, referencing Verizon.)
More on what a truly clued-in person feels after the break.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Internet | Investment | Telecommunications | cellular | computer interfaces | marketing
August 17, 2005
Mark Glaser has an OJR piece up about Cook's Illustrated, which has drawn 80,000 paid subscribers.
Glaser credits "cross-promotion and deep research" with the site's financial success.
The truth is simpler, and comes in one word -- credibility. Glaser sums it up this way, "the Consumer Reports of food." (That's publisher Chistopher Kimball, from an appearance on CBS.)
It's an apt description. I pay for Consumer Reports online. I don't use it often, but when I face a big purchase, I get my money out. Because CR is absolutely, 100% credible. There are no ads. There are no conflicts of interest. Everything they do is about earning my trust -- mine, not any vendors -- and they succeed at that.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Internet | Journalism | e-commerce
August 16, 2005
The Computer Science and Telecommunication Board has released a fairly Clueful report on the Domain Name System that manages the Internet.
Unfortunately the Bush Administration has, on the very day the report came out, moved to undercut its key recommendation.
Here's the key bit:
Before completing the transfer of its stewardship to ICANN (or any other organization), the Department of Commerce should seek ways to protect that organization from undue commercial or governmental pressures and to provide some form of oversight of performance.
The report, in other words, supports ICANN under the U.S. government because it sees this as keeping ICANN independent of government or commercial interests. Moving toward ICANN's independence is desireable, the report says, in order to minimize the perception that the U.S. government is controlling the Internet.
So far, so good.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Digital Divide | Internet | Politics | Telecommunications | law
People often ask me what's wrong with journalism.
The answer comes down to one word -- arrogance. Even junior members of the trade think they're in a profession, whose job it is to rule on what's true and what's not, all decisions final.
Take William Beutler of The National Journal, for instance. Beutler just got a pretty amazing gig. As editor of the Hotline Blogometer he spends the day scouring the political blogosphere and tallying up the points. (He is still listed as writing The Washington Canard, but he doesn't update it often anymore. The picture is from that Web site. Beutler's a shy fella.)
It's hard work, as some in Washington might say. And mistakes will happen. Journalists complain that bloggers won't spend 5 minutes on the phone to get something right. Well, journalists won't spend 20 seconds on Google to do the same thing. And Google's improving much faster than the phone.
Anyway, Beutler's August 15 missive began by referencing Cindy Sheehan as an "alleged" gold star mother. I went ballistic. Whatever you think of Sheehan's protest, no one can argue that she is, in fact, a Gold Star Mother (all caps), this being " an organization of mothers who have lost a son or daughter in the service of our country."
After considering my e-mail for some time, Beutler made a slight change. He didn't acknowledge the mistake. He just took the alleged out. And gold star is still lower case, still in quotation marks.
Now, before you click below, get out your hankies.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consulting | Copyright | Internet | Journalism | Politics | blogging | personal
August 15, 2005
The recent contretemps over Google's Digital Library plan proves that the essential conflict between copyright and connectivity has not been resolved.
I was chilled by this comment from Karl Auerbach, (right, the cartoon featured on his home page) former ICANN governor and certified "good guy" of Internet governance, to Dave Farber's list:
I've become concerned with how search engine companies are making a buck off of web-based works without letting the authors share in the wealth.
I've looked at my web logs and noticed the intense degree to which search engine companies dredge through my writings - which are explicitly marked as copyrighted and published subject to a clearly articulated license.
The search engine companies take my works and from those they create derivative works.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Copyright | Digital Divide | Futurism | Internet | ethics | law | personal
August 09, 2005
SMS.Ac is hoping for a PR boost from a press release offering a cellular customer bill of rights. (The release went out over the signature of CEO Michael Pousti, right. from sms-report.com.)
But this had many of us falling out of our chairs laughing. As Oliver Starr of the Mobile Weblog notes (and my experience is identical) the business of SMS.AC is built on spam.
Here's Oliver's charge:
This is a company about which DOZENS of websites have multitudes of individuals complaining of things such as spamming everyone in their personal address books, which they exposed to SMS.ac during what can only be described as a deliberately deceptive sign-up process where unsuspecting people, many of them young or speaking English as a second or third language unwittingly provide the username and password to their primary email accounts, thus making it possible for SMS.ac to scour their friends and family member's addresses and solicit them with messages that look as if they come not from SMS.ac directly but from the known individual that subscribed to the service.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | cellular | ethics | spam
Like many protective laws, the HIPAA law covering the protection of your medical records comes with a small business exemption.
The exemption works both ways. Small businesses who fund their own plans don't have to comply. Neither do medical providers who don't computerize. As an NFIB alert on the law states, "Health-care providers -- such as doctors, nurses, on-site clinics, etc. -- are exempt from these regulations if they do not transmit electronically, but this exemption applies only to providers, not to group health plans." (Boldface is mine.)
The result of this is that small practices now have a major incentive not to computerize, and not to transmit anything electronically. Thus, they don't.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: B2B | Business Strategy | Internet | law | medicine
August 08, 2005
Intel holds the telecommunications balance of power in its hand.
Here's how The Register puts it, with its usual hyperbole:
Intel is throwing its financial, technical and lobbying weight behind the rising tide of municipally run broadband wireless networks, seeing these as a way to stimulate uptake of Wi-Fi and WiMAX and so sell more of its chips and increase its influence over the communications world.
And Intel is not going to back down. As ZDNet notes today, there's money to be made.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Politics | Telecommunications | law | marketing
August 07, 2005
Coke and Pepsi do not represent competition. It's a shared monopoly, the Drinks Trust.
The same is true for Wal-Mart and Target, Home Depot and Lowe's, and, to cut to the chase, your phone and cable companies.
By endorsing duopoly calling "competition" what is in fact a Trust, new FCC chair Kevin Martin has shown us clearly where the Bushies stand. Those who believe in competitive markets that can compete in the world need to digest this.
And Martin's model for the Internet policy? China.
So, do you want to be an ISP?
There is only one way to do it now. You have to be a WISP. You have to connect WiFi to WiMax, and reach competitive fiber.
Otherwise you're officially dead.
The FCC ruled, over Friday and Saturday, that Bell companies no longer have to wholesale their lines to competitive ISPs. They don't even have to charge competitive prices for backhaul to the Internet. They essentially repealed the 1996 Telecommunications Act.
Those phonr lines that were built with government-controlled monopoly powers over decades? They're now the sole property of four corporate entities. And they can do with this monopoly power whatever they want.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Politics | Telecommunications | law
August 06, 2005
Back in the 1980s, Wall Street played a game on Microsoft's duo of Gates and Ballmer, demanding "grown-up supervision" for the then 20-something computer software duo.
Fortunately, Bill and Steve did not take the hint (get lost). They kept their stock, kept control, isolated a succession of adults, and finally came out the other side, billionaires and still in control to this day.
Well, I think Google has now outgrown its grownup.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin not only founded Google, but set many of its most important standards. They understand Google's corporate direction in their bones. But, like Gates and Ballmer back in the day, they were forced by Wall Street to get "adult supervision" in the form of Dr. Eric Schmidt.
Schmidt is, at heart, a computer scientist, and a good one. He is known as the "Father of Java," for his work on that language while at Sun. Then he went to Novell, and nearly rode the thing into the ground. (This should have been a hint, boys.)
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | computer interfaces | e-commerce | ethics | online advertising | personal
August 05, 2005
The question of Wi-Fi and real estate is about to come to a head, at Boston's Logan Airport. (Picture from MIT.)
Declan McCullagh reports that the Airport is trying to close Continental Air's free WiFi service, based in its Frequent Flyer lounge, in favor of a paid service on which it gets a 20% cut of revenue.
Continental has appealed to the FCC under the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Massport, which runs the airport, is making bogus arguments about security (its paid service uses the same spectrum as Continental so if one goes under its argument, both go).
If this thing goes to trial it will be a very important case. Here's why.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Internet | Moore's Lore | Telecommunications
The mystery is, how are these people still in the game?
Overstock is a money-losing Amazon clone which seems to spend its entire marketing budget on cable television.
Maybe it's the salt water. Overstock is based in Utah, former home of Novell, current home of SCO, the place where me-too tech ideas get a family-friendly makeover, then die.
The TV ads are mostly image pieces, a spokesmodel in her 30s oohing about the various departments -- clothes, office supplies, video, jewelry. (Her name is Sabine Ehrenfeld, and she's actually 42. She's done some other work, but she's best known for these ads.)
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | e-commerce
Om Malik's pointing to Robert Scoble's friends hammering Andrew Orlowski over the IE7 beta got me thinking about blogging social structures. (The image is from the archives of Johnstown, New York's Colonial Little Theater.)
It's becoming gang warfare, done on a psychological level.
Every top blogger has a gang of toadie blogs that will do its bidding. I got a little taste of that with the Ev Williams mistake (not that I didn't deserve the hammering) When a top blogger identifies a target for ridicule, others can jump in like wolves.
It works the other way, too. When an individual becomes a target a mob of bloggers may take them down, unled. This is what happened to Dan Rather. The story about Bush being a chickenhawk was sound. There was a problem on one of the sources. But a mob of bloggers brought him down, and now they celebrate this, daily.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Copyright | Futurism | Internet | Journalism | blogging | personal
August 04, 2005
There is no way to put this nicely.
Cisco Systems considers itself above the law. (Did you know Cisco
chairman CEO John Chambers (right, from USA Today) was an alumnus of West Virginia University? I didn't, until now.)
Justin Rood of Congressional Quarterly looked into the recent Black Hat incident and shared his story with Dave Farber's Interesting People list.
Apparently Cisco didn't even tell the Department of Homeland Security about the bug in its software that leaves the Internet as we know it vulnerable to hacker attack. This despite the fact that Cisco's notification would have been confidential, and that it is required.
DHS learned of the flaw just like you and I did -- through the presentation of Michael Lynn at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas. Before his talk, Cisco sued to prevent it, Lynn's employer (ISS) demanded he desist, and Lynn quit his lucrative job at ISS.
In other words, had Lynn not been willing to quit his job, the Department of Homeland Security would still not know about a critical flaw in Cisco equipment impacting the entire Internet, a flaw the vendor was supposed to notify it of.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet
August 02, 2005
Today's politics is cultural.
Even economic and foreign policy issues are, in the end, defined in terms of social issues. This creates identification, and coalitions among people who might not otherwise find common ground -- hedonistic Wall Street investment bankers and small town Kansas preachers, for instance.
I am coming to believe the next political divide will be technological. That is, your politics will be defined by your attitude toward technology.
On one side you will find open source technophiles. On the other you will find proprietary technophobes.
It's a process that will take time to work itself out, just as millions of Southern Democrats initially resisted the pull of Nixon. Because there are are divisions within each grand coalition we have today, on this subject.
- On the right you see many people who work in open source, or who worry about their privacy, asking hard questions of security buffs and corporate insiders.
- On the left you see many people who consider themselves cyber-libertarians facing off against Hollywood types and those who create proprietary software.
This latter split gets most of the publicity, because more writers are in the cyber-libertarian school than anywhere else.
Initially, the proprietary, security-oriented side of this new political divide has the initiative. It has the government and, if a poll were taken, it probably has a majority on most issues.
But open source advocates have something more powerful on their side, history. You might call it the Moore's Law Dialectic.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consulting | Copyright | Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Moore's Lore | Politics | blogging | law | personal
July 31, 2005
As previously noted, I became an un-person last week as the Social Security decided to waste my time over a "mistake" some one made back in 1970. (Image from Mindfully.Org.)
Either my wonderful mother (who still walks among us, to my great joy) failed to check the box indicating I was a citizen on my Social Security application, or some clerk failed to do so when the data was entered because there were separate forms then for citizens and non-citizens.
The clerk who put me through this hell blamed "Homeland Security." But I think he was really responding to the reality of how this number is used.
As I've noted many times before, the Social Security Number is an index term. Everybody has one. Everyone's number is different. By indexing databases based on Social Security Numbers (SSNs), government and businesses alike can make certain there's a one-to-one correspondence between records and people.
Stories like this AP feature don't really address this need, this fact about how data is stored. Without the SSN we'd have to create one. Some companies like Acxiom do just that. Every business and individual in their database has their own unique identifier, created by the company. Which also means that the Acxiom indexing scheme is proprietary. The only way toward a non-proprietary indexing scheme, in other words, is for government to provide one. Which gets us back to the need for an SSN.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Economics | Futurism | Internet | Moore's Lore | Security | law
July 29, 2005
The big trend of this decade, in technology, is a move toward openness.
It started with open frequencies like 802.11. It then moved into software, with open source operating systems and applications. Now we have open source business models. The ball keeps rolling along.
Open source has proven superior in all these areas due to simple math. The more people working a problem, the better. No single organization can out-do the multitudes.
But this simple, and rather elegant, fact, is at odds with all political trends.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Futurism | Internet | Moore's Lore | Politics | Security
July 28, 2005
I believe that one of the cruelest businesses of our time are the so-called "payday loan" folks.
You see these shops in every ghetto. Victims write checks that are due to be made good when they get paid. The interest rates on these things can be as high as 100%.
Banks think that, at this rate, it's good business.
Now the business has come online through a San Diego outfit called Spotya.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Digital Divide | Internet | Investment | e-commerce
July 27, 2005
Rebecca McKimmon (left, from her blog) took a shot at Cisco's China policy recently, confirming through a spokesman that the company does indeed cooperate with the government.
This is not news. So does nearly every other U.S. tech company.
The U.S. policy is, and has been, full engagement with China. This has already hurt Cisco. Back in the 1990s one of the prices for getting into the market was to share technology. Cisco did so, and a few years later Huawei, a Chinese company, had routers and bridges very similar to Cisco's old stuff, along with most of the Asian market (thanks to lower prices).
McKimmon's point now is that
China Cisco is cooperating with the worst excesses of the China government, which is seeking to have both the world's best Internet technology and full control over what people do with it.
That is a good point, but I don't think you
don't go after Cisco to make it.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Journalism | Politics | Semiconductors | Telecommunications
July 23, 2005
I'm a big fan of both Marc Canter (right) and Joi Ito . (NOTE: The picture, by Dan Farber of News.Com (and ZDNet fame), was taken off Marc's blog.)
They're both brilliant. They're both A-list bloggers. They're both rich. I've known both for about two decades.
But I think Marc has a vital Clue Joi has missed, about one of the most important trends of our time, the rise of the open source business process.
Here's why I think that.
Joi has put a lot of money into SixApart, which runs Movable Type, which powers this blog. It's good stuff. But it's being left behind because it is, at heart, proprietary. It doesn't interconnect with other software. It isn't modular, scalable, and it can only be improved by the SixApart team.
In other words, it doesn't take advantage of the open source business process, and thus there are whole new worlds it hasn't been able to scale into. It's not a Community Network Service (like Drupal), and it's not a social networking system (like MySpace).
Marc, on the other hand, has just released GoingOn. It's a new engine for digital communities, like MySpace. He launched with Tony Perkins, who will use the system as the new heart of his AlwaysOn network (no relation to my wireless network application idea of the same title).
Marc calls GoingOn an Identity Hub, something to which other identity systems can connect. (It's interoperable with Sxip Networks, for instance.)
But Marc also understands that his stuff can't be the be-all and end-all. Let him explain it:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Always On | B2B | Business Models | Business Strategy | Futurism | Internet | Investment | Software | computer interfaces | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
The Bells promised to serve us broadband if we let them run over Wireless ISPs. Done. No broadband.
So they promised us broadband if we would give them absolute control over their lines, ending any requirement for wholesaling. Done. No broadband.
Then they promised us broadband if we'd stop cities from buildig out wireless networks that might compete with them. Nearly done. Still no broadband.
Now, Qwest is pushing a plan in Congress to tax your broadband access and hand it the money, promising broadband in rural areas.
It's amazing anyone would believe such hollow promises, given the history. Color Democrat Byron Dorgan and Republican Gordon Smith (both represent areas covered by Qwest) as believers. The National Journal reports the two Senators are working together on just a Qwest-subsidy bill.
Here's a quote from the National Journal article:
Aides to Smith said the bill would make money in the Universal Service Fund available so telecommunications providers could build out broadband facilities. "It would be built into the same structure, and might end up as a stand-alone fund, within the current system next to the high-cost fund," an aide said.
Here's why this is not only theft, but stupid.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Digital Divide | Internet | Politics | Telecommunications
July 21, 2005
That headline could have been written about me. (But let's see if I can't make it up to you right now.)
It's the oldest dodge in the blogging world. You call another reporter lazy in order to cover up the fact you haven't looked at a story.
The usually-reliable Rafat Ali (right) did just that this week in his PaidContent, calling out The Guardian's Emily Bell for her skeptical take on Rupert Murdoch's $580 purchase of Intermix.
Just how lazy is that? Click below and find out.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Journalism | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
VRWC is shorthand for "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy."
It's something conservatives laugh at. But it's real.
UPDATE: Various people, some affiliated with this site, have been issuing comments here over the last few days. Most have been taken down. I stand by this story, the opinions expressed in it, and my opinion concerning sympathizers with these bozos.
It's the lynch mob mentality fostered by preachers, by politicians, by demagogues, a mentality used to attack Miami vote-counters, Vince Foster, Joe Wilson -- the list goes on and on.
It was also used to attack Andy Stephenson.
Stephenson was a blogger. He worked with sites like Democratic Underground and BlackBox Voting. He died this week of pancreatic cancer.
But not before teaching us all just what evil lurks in the hearts of men.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Politics | blogging | personal
Adam Penenberg channels
IDC IDG head Pat Kenealy (left, by Jay Sandred) on another of those occasional "you're going to have to pay for Web content someday" pieces we see every so often.
Well, he's right. But he's also wrong.
He's right because there's already some Web content people do pay for. Dow Jones loses reach and influence, but does make money selling online subscriptions. Lexis-Nexis and Dialog haven't gone free with the dawn of the Web. Last time I checked iTunes was selling songs online, at a profit.
He's wrong because he insists that "micro-payment technology" will stimulate the growth of pay-for-play content. We've been hearing that one for 10 years now, and it's as wrong now as it was in 1995.
There's already a micro-payment program in place. A very successful one.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Internet | Journalism | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
July 20, 2005
I was giving more thought to a recent item, based on Joi Ito's brilliant piece on The Internets, and it occurred to me that the fight for "One Internet" has, in many ways, already been lost.
(The term Balkanize, or Balkanization, is often used in English to refer to this splitting up, which often (as in the 1990s) is accompanied by enormous violence. This picture of the Balkans as they are today is from Theodora.com.)
Think about it. How often do you use a Web site outside your own country? If you're an American, the answer is not very often. This is true for most people.
A lot more follows.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Digital Divide | Futurism | Internet | Telecommunications | law | war
July 19, 2005
Monty Python used to have a running gag called the Gumbys. They would put on moustaches, shorts, place diapers on their heads, and talk sheer lunacy for effect. CORRECTION: There's an update to this piece below the fold which could make this reference even-more apt.
Former FCC commissioner Harold W. Furchtgott-Roth, now a fellow of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute , is a Gumby.
This guy is so Clueless that, in an age when any wingnut can practically become a millionaire by snapping his fingers, he can apparently get his stuff published only in the New York Sun, a right-wing daily with few readers, no business model, and a crappy Web site that won't let you inside its home page without giving them tons of personal information. So no link.
Instead, you'll have to read the whole thing:
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+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Investment | Podcasting | e-commerce | medicine
July 16, 2005
That's the title of the most "popular" spam in my inbox right now, and maybe in your inbox as well.
It represents a new form of brazenness by U.S. spammers against the Net, because when you input the phone number in the message into Google you find the same message, as comment spam, attached to a host of different topics.
When you publicize a phone number like that, and get away with it, it's pretty obvious that the authorities are simply not interested in pursuing you. The CAN-SPAM act has gone from sick joke to tissue paper, a dead letter, and the entire Internet is now under attack from American spammers.
So am I.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Journalism | Politics | law | spam
July 15, 2005
I'm not trying to start a rumor here. I have no insight into whether Dave Sifry (left, from Marc Cantor's blog) has considered any offers for his Technorati site, nor how he would react if one came in.
But since Barry Diller bought Bloglines (via AskJeeves) Technorati's performance has been falling behind that of its rival.
Robert Scoble (who works for a possible acquirer, Microsoft) offers the numbers, three times as many links to Sifry's own blog from Bloglines as from his own engine.
There is a vital lesson here about the technology space:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | blogging | e-commerce | marketing
For people who like gaming, their games (or online environments) are their main interface to the Web. This has been true for some time, and unremarked upon.
There are other new interfaces that many people depend upon. The iTunes player can be an interface, when linked to Apple's Music Store. Any music player, or multimedia player, is a separate Web interface, which may or may not connect to a Web page at any time. People who swap files use those programs as interfaces.
The point is in many niches the Web browser has already been replaced as the main interface to the Internet. Microsoft's five-year campaign to dislodge Netscape was worthless, which may be why they're letting Firefox run off with so much market share.
And now, even readers are getting their own, separate interface, the RSS reader.
I use FeedDemon. Steve Stroh uses NetNewsWire on his Mac and calls it fabulous. This field has yet to shake out.
I have noticed some big differences occur in my work when I'm using FeedDemon instead of the browser as my interface to the Web:
- I'm seeing more content, faster.
- I'm seeing fewer ads.
- I'm finding great differences among sources in how they react to readers. Some post just a few sentences to the reader, others let the whole article run. The latter sites are seeing far fewer "hits" on their pages than the former, thus far fewer page-views overall, and far-fewer ad reads.
- Publishers are waking up to this by shortening, even eliminating, the text that goes into the "newspaper" format of feedreaders. The Wall Street Journal is especially aggressive in this. US News is especially lenient.
Steve Stroh has more after the break:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Economics | Futurism | Internet | blogging | online advertising
July 13, 2005
E-mail service here may experience some delays as I undergo a personal trial by spam.
In this case it's a Joe Jobber, most likely a spam gang, that has grabbed both my e-mail address and my server's IP address to illegally sell prescription drugs without prescription.
For the last few days I've been firing off myriad alerts to firstname.lastname@example.org, the government's address dedicated to fighting fraudulent spam, with no response.
A domain registrar called Yesnic is apparently cooperating with this spam gang. They're the registrar of record on every Joe Job in this bunch. Most of the registrations, on investigation by me, seem to be made-up, but two carry the actual name, and a legal address, fo someone in Columbia, SC. This criminal should be easy to find if someone is interested.
Meanwhile, we learned today that the most popular anti-spam technique, like the so-called CAN SPAM Act that enables spam in the U.S., is in fact becoming a spammer favorite.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | ethics | law | marketing | medicine | spam
CBS has decided to do a Web log.
It sounds stupid, but isnt necessarily. The Public Eye will be written by Vaughan Ververs, formerly editor of The Hotline, which has been drawing crowds of paying customers for The National Journal since 1992.
In its earliest incarnation the Hotline made Mike McCurry a star. McCurry was then the spokesman for candidate Bruce Babbitt, and his missives there gave Babbitt a boomlet. Later he was a Clinton press secretary. The point is there's a history of online financial success here.
The point is that Ververs, rightly or wrongly, is being given credit for some long-term success, and told to duplicate it on a larger stage, just as local anchors are often given the network gig and expected to produce big numbers.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | blogging | online advertising
July 12, 2005
Joi Ito took up a challenge I laid down recently, in my piece on the possibility of Internet War.
Joi's point is that the Internet split has already begun, and it is based on language. Chinese and Japanese people don't care for English. People want URLs in their own language. And these URLs are unreachable by those whose keyboards only write what the Japanese call "Romaji," Roman letters.
"Why should these people be forced to learn some sort of roman transliteration in order to access the company page where they know the official Chinese characters for the names" he writes. (This is a very short excerpt. I urge you to read the whole post -- it is very wise.)
The peculiarities of language provide an excellent source of control for tyranny. Most Chinese don't leave the Chinese Internet, leaving them at the mercy of the authorities. Many Japanese choose not to leave their own language, leaving them ignorant of how others feel.
Language can also provide cover for terrorists. We can't translate all the Arabic-language e-mail or Web sites out there. We can't even find the URLs, unless we know how to look for them. So many of our problems in the War on Terror are exacerbated by a shortage of translators, or mis-translations. This problem continues to get worse.
There's more, of course.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Digital Divide | Futurism | Internet | Politics
July 11, 2005
The papers are full today with stories about "citizen journalists." (That's Will Ferrell as Anchorman Ron Burgundy to the left.)
Here's one in the Wall Street Journal. Here's one in The Washington Post. Editor and Publisher ran the official AP story. The Salt Lake Tribune copied the Chicago Tribune's coverage.
All these stories convey a common misconception. They assume this is a trend, and they assume that mainstream media will be able to dominate this new field.
Both assumptions are wrong.
In many ways this is a fad. It's a fad because, as camera phones proliferate, the volume of such pictures available is just going to become overwhelming. Making sense of what's out there, and getting rights to the good stuff, are going to be keys to success.
Also there is nothing really new here. Cable shows have been taking calls from individuals at news sites for decades. Talk radio is all about the callers. What's new here are the means the the medium, not the phenomenon.
But there's a more important point being missed in all the self-congratulation:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Internet | Journalism | blogging | online advertising
The search for online business models is a continuing fascination of mine at A-Clue.Com.
This week I returned to the theme, and readers of A-Clue.com got an earful. (You can get one too -- always free.)
Most online stores fail their editorial mission. (That's Joseph Pulitzer to the right, from his eponymous journalism school at Columbia University in New York.)
You may have great merchandise, you may have great service, you may have a nifty shopping cart. But if you can't bring the values of your shop floor to your Web site, you won't succeed online. Over time you may not succeed offline either.
An editorial mission replicates the value of your store online. What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)? For Amazon it's a database, a huge variety of merchandise. Works for Amazon, works for Wal-Mart, but it won't work for you.
In fact, Wal-Mart's failures online can be attributed to this editorial mission failure. They were unable to replicate the values of a real Wal-Mart in their online efforts. While the store looks a jumble, regular shoppers know you can actually get what you want there fairly quickly. What they should have enabled was a form of "shopping lists" that people could print-and-use at home, adapting to their own needs, then input regularly on the site, along with a delivery service.
The difference between editorial values and commercial values is that the one defines what you are, and the other puts your name in mind. If branding is to be worthwhile you must deliver the values the brand promises. That is exactly how editors think, too. What you call your reputation they call credibility.
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I believe there is a truth in any situation, which can be found through investigation.
This should not be controversial. But Ive learned that it is.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Journalism | blogging | ethics | personal
July 08, 2005
The blogosphere's quick reaction to the London strikes was driven in large part by the mass market in camera phones and video phones.
Within minutes of the bombs going off pictures and short videos began appearing online. In many the smoke from the blasts was clearly visible. Cameras worked even where phone functionality was absent, and images could be sent as soon as connections returned.
A second notable fact was the willingness, especially at the BBC, to get this footage up quickly. One amateur picture, of a double-decker bus with its top end ripped off, was the site's feature picture for most of the day. (That's the picture, above, from the BBC Web site.)
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Internet | Journalism | blogging | war
Americans pay more for less broadband service than citizens of any other industrial country, and our take-up rate for fast Internet service is approaching Third World levels.
The reason? Lack of competition. Phone and cable networks, created under government control, have been made the private monopolies of corporate interests whose lobbyists dominate all capitals against the public interest.
Does new FCC chairman Kevin Martin see any of this? No. Just the opposite, in fact.
The Supreme Court affirmed the FCC's decision to refrain from regulating cable companies' provision of broadband services. This was an important victory for broadband providers and consumers. Cable companies will continue to have incentives to invest in broadband networks without fear of having to provide their rivals access at unfair discounts. The decision also paves the way for the FCC to place telephone companies on equal footing with cable providers. We can now move forward and remove the legacy regulation that reduces telephone companies' incentives to provide broadband.
This is Orwell's FCC. Monopoly is called competition. Martin claims there is intense competition from Wireless ISPs and satellite providers, when in fact those companies are being driven out of the market. The vast majority of consumers and businesses today have just two choices for broadband -- their local phone monopoly and local cable monopoly, who together enjoy a duopoly and monopoly profits that lets them write-down their 30-year property in a world best served by three-year write-offs.
There's more spin after the break.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Digital Divide | Internet | Investment | Telecommunications | law | personal
July 07, 2005
Since I was handing out royal titles last week I thought it might be fun to consider what J.D. Lasica might deserve for Darknet.
NOTE: That's the royal crown magnolia from mytho-fleurs.com. Like it? It's yours.
A long evening spent reading Lasica's book brought the title to me: King of Irony.
Remember, this is a book. Thus it is subject both to a book's business model and its rights regime.
Want a copy? $25.95 plus tax and (if you buy it online) shipping get it for you. Or wait for it to appear at your local library. Or borrow one from a friend, free. Or wait some months for it to appear in a discount bin, or a remainder lot, or a garage sale. The price you pay is a function is a function of the time you're willing to wait for it.
What can you do with this book? I typed an excerpt today by hand. The length of the excerpt, again, is a function of time, and the cost of my time to produce it, unless I want to string it out a page or two. In that case, technology might be deployed -- a scanner -- plus a few minutes with the scanner's OCR software, some cutting-and-pasting, and voila!
Want to steal some more? Production costs are going to get you. A Xerography process may give you a bound book for just a few dollars, if your order is small. An offset process costs less per book, but the order in that case must be bigger. I guarantee the printer will want to know you're a Wiley fella (or lady) before they take the order.
And we haven't even cracked the cover yet. Easy to see where Lasica's crown comes from.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Journalism | Software | computer interfaces | e-commerce
The blasts that hit central London today struck a city with vast experience in dealing with terror, its aftermath, and the issues underneath it.
It also represented the first time that the blogosphere actually gave better coverage to a major event than any news organization.
UPDATE: Media outlets like the BBC and GMTV are featuring calls for photos and eyewitness accounts as part of their ongoing coverage.
London suffered a decades-long IRA bombing campaign which killed hundreds. It was able to bring many bombers to justice, and discredit their cause in the eyes of their Irish-American sponsors, before finally reaching a political settlement which, while tenuous and setback-filled, is still an ongoing process.
Each time an event like this happens, moreover, we learn more about what citizens can do to cover it, and how media can adapt to citizen journalism.
The picture above, for instance, was taken by commuter Keith Tagg and quickly posted to photo-blogging sites like Picturephone. It's not a great picture, it's certainly not professional, but it does catch the immediacy of an eyewitness. That's probably why the BBC quickly adapted it in its own photo coverage, adding a second photo of commuters moving along the tracks from Alexander Chadwick.
The BBC Online site in general scored high marks for innovation and audience participation, teaching the important lesson that most people don't want to be journalists, but to be heard, and that those who listen will win their loyalty.
David Stephenson, looking to increase his exposure as a security expert, quickly linked to several important documents, including the London Strategic Emergency Plan, which guides the city's response to such events. (Does your city have one? Great follow-up story.) And John Robb offered the real low-down on all this at Global Guerillas.
Prime Minister Tony Blair also needs to be singled out here. He understands that, in a time of crisis like this, the head of government becomes, in essence, a mayor, and needs to act like one. He left the G8 Summit but didn't cancel it, quickly convening a meeting of his emergency committee, dubbed Cobra. (The Brits are much better at naming things than Americans.)
A blog called Geepster quickly linked the blast sites to Google Maps, using their API to deliver an excellent map and RSS news feed within a few hours of the event. Flickr created a quick pool of London blast photos.
Overall the blogosphere coverage of this act was an Internet year (at least) ahead of what we saw during the winter's tsunami, let alone the Madrid 3-11 blasts of 2003. The fact this happened in London had something to do with it. So did advances in blogging technology.
The question, of course, is what can we learn from this?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Journalism | Security | blogging | war
July 01, 2005
Don't like fiction? I understand.
But you still need your summer reading. The season is upon us.
So might I offer you the latest from my new friend J.D. Lasica, Darknet
I've been covering the Copyright Wars for nearly a decade, and wish I had looked up from the day-to-day to try something like this book. Its subtitle is Hollywood's War Against the Digital Generation, and it covers a ton of ground.
If you're not familiar with the digital underground, or what digital editing is capable of, then Lasica's book will be a revelation to you. Even for old hands like me it's good sometimes to get it all down so you can ponder it as a whole.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consulting | Copyright | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Journalism | e-commerce | law
The U.S. government has announced it will continue to control the DNS root structure, indefinitely.
Is this how the Internet War starts?
Until today the U.S. position was that it wanted to transition control of the root over to ICANN, a private entity, and several extensions were given.
Earlier this year, ICANN hesitated in extending Verisign's control of the .Net registry, following the SiteFinder scandal, where Verisign redirected "page not found" errors to a site it controlled (and sold ads against). Control was finally given, through 2011, but Verisign's ethical attitudes have not changed. As we noted earlier this week, it is Verisign that is behind the Crazy Frog Scandal.
Some felt that ICANN caved under U.S. government pressure. What you have here is assurance that such pressure will continue to be effective, and on behalf of a very corrupt company. If that is not seen as a provocation by the ITU I will be very surprised.
So how can that result in Internet War?
The problem, as former ICANN board member Karl Auerbach noted to Dave Farber's list today, "the only reason that the NTIA root zone is 'authoritative' is because a lot of people adhere to it voluntarily." Security expert Richard Forno (top) noted, to the same list, that "the timing is weird, coming as it does only a short time before the forthcoming meeting of the UN-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)."
I would assert that the timing is not weird at all. The U.S. government has told the U.N. that it can shove any thoughts of international control over the DNS where the sun don't shine. It has, in effect, thrown down a gauntlet and dared the international community to challenge it.
More after the break.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Politics | law | war
June 30, 2005
I just got my first piece of franked spam.
It came from Rep. Madilyn Musgrave of Colorado. (That's her, from a Congressional Web site.)
I don't know how, but my Mindspring address somehow landed on her Congressional e-mail list. The spam is filled with news of her efforts on behalf of Colorado's Fourth Congressional District, about 2,000 miles from my home in Atlanta.
You know what I can do about this spam? Absolutely nothing. That's because the federal CAN-SPAM Act (wonderful name, since it means you can spam all you want) states that I must opt-out of this spam, by hitting a link inside the letter.
The law she passed says her spam is not spam.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | ethics | law | spam
Politically I think Senator Russ Feingold is one of the Good Guys. So, to be perfectly bipartisan about it, is Senator John McCain. (You know what McCain looks like, so here's Feingold.)
This is especally true regarding campaign finance. Proponents of reform have been pushing uphill with scant success ever since the 1976 decision in Buckley v. Vallejo, which basically said money is speech, and those with more money can out-shout the rest of us.
McCain and Feingold tried to fit that decision inside their eponymous campaign finance act, and while on most counts the Supreme Court ruled they did, that act also covered the Internet, and both men have insisted to this day that's true.
Now that the blogosphere has pushed-back on this, pushed back hard, from both sides of the aisle, the good guys have not been heard from.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consulting | History | Internet | Politics | blogging | law
T-Mobile has become the first cellular operator to offer full Internet service on its mobile phones.
The service will be sold under the name Web'n'walk, with Google.Com as the designated home page. (Yeah, I know, in the real Internet world you could change the default to, say, http://www.corante.com/mooreslore. But one step at a time.) New devices, with larger screens, will also be sold as part of the campaign.
The decision is critical, because up until now all cellular providers have offered only their own "walled gardens," sometimes using a small i (for Internet, customers think) on their phones, but in fact offering only a tiny fraction of the Internet connectivity customers are used to.
But as phones move to offering true broadband speeds, and some users use cellular broadband on their PCs because of its better coverage, this is finally breaking down.
It will be interesting to see how, and when, T-Mobile starts advertising this feature, and what Verizon and Cingular will say (or do) in response. T-Mobile, while owned by Germany's formerly state-owned phone company, is the smallest of four major operators in the U.S.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Internet | cellular | computer interfaces
June 29, 2005
It's nice when "real" (paid) market analysts agree with one of your premises. Especially when it's a key premise to you, as Always On is to me. (This is advertised as an Always On Server, from Virtual Access.)
So I was pleased to read Chris Jablonski's recent piece at ZDNet, Forget P2P, M2M is where the next party is.
M2M stands for Machine to Machine (ironically this sits right below an item about how poor most tech nicknames are) but we're talking about the same thing, intelligent sensors linked to wireless networks. Programming the sensors to deliver some result, then automating delivery of the result in some way (sending an alarm, telling the user, etc.) is what I mean by an Always-On application.
As I have said here many times the tools are already at hand, and cheap. We're talking here about RFID chips, WiFi and cellular networks, along with standards like Zigbee that let these things run for years on a single battery charge.
There are problems with every application space, however:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Security | medicine
June 28, 2005
The Supreme Court has decided that cable networks, created under government franchises, under monopoly conditions, are entirely the property of their corporate owners who don't have to wholesale. (That's the BrandX rocket ship -- they lost the case. What follows is directed to them as much as anyone else.)
Some ISPs bemoaned this bitterly. In the near term it means most of us have two choices for broadband service, the local Bell and the local Cable Head-End, both known for poor service, high prices, and loaded with equipment it will take decades to write off.
Smart folks, however, should be celebrating.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Strategy | Internet | Telecommunications | law
The recent theft of 40 million card numbers at CardSystem Solutions is a turning point in the identity theft wars.
Previous thefts involved third parties, insiders or numbers left in bins, things that are easily fixed.
The CardSystems case stands out, first, because it happened at an actual processor and second, because it involved the use of a computer worm.
My wife works at a payment processor in Atlanta (most processors, for some reason, including CardSystems, are based here) that has (knock on wood) not been hit (yet).
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Economics | Futurism | Internet | Security | computer interfaces | e-commerce
June 27, 2005
By a 9-0 count the Supreme Court has held that Grokster (and its ilk) can be sued.
The decision was written by David Souter (right, in an old picture from Wikipedia), a conservative-turned-liberal appointed by the first President Bush.
Here's the key bit:
"We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by the clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties."
I've highlighted the most relevant portion. To me it looks like they wouldn't hold against BitTorrent, but that Grokster's business model, which did sell the service as a way to infringe, crossed a legal line.
As written I find it hard to argue against the language, but I guarantee I'll disagree with the interpretation, especially the spin being placed on this by the copyright industries.
As I see it the decision puts a limit on the "non-infringing uses" language of the Betamax decision, but does not overturn it. Grokster falls because its business model is based on infringement. BitTorrent has no business model, and thus may be exempt.
Trouble is that is an assertion that will be tested in courts that will twist this result just as the DMCA was twisted to reach this decision. Congress was told by the Copyright industries in 1998 that the DMCA would not overturn Betamax, that it would protect fair use, that it would not be extended in that direction and should not be interpreted as going there.
With this decision -- a unanimous decision as opposed to the 6-3 Betamax ruling -- I guarantee you the industry's lawyers will try and turn this into open season on the Internet.
But can they?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Copyright | Internet | Politics | law
I spent last week in Texas, dependent on free WiFi hotspots, and I learned a powerful lesson.
There is no such thing as free WiFi.
When "free" WiFi is provided by a bar, coffee shop or restaurant, there is a quid pro quo. You're going to eat. You're going to drink. And when you're no longer eating and/or drinking (and ordering) you're going to get nasty looks until you leave.
There is a cost to a shop's WiFi that goes beyond the cost of the set-up. That is the cost of the real estate, the cost of the table, and the cost to a shop's ambience when a bunch of hosers come in and spend all day staring at laptops.
Now here's an even-more controversial point.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Models | Digital Divide | Internet | Investment
Former RIAA president Hilary Rosen finally gets it about copyright.
This volume needs to be embraced and managed becasue it cannot be vanquished. And a tone must be set that allows future innovation to stimulate negotiation and not just confrontation.
Her column at the Huffington Post (she apparently chose not to take feedback on it) is filled with honesty about both the tech and copyright industries, honesty she never admitted to (in my memory) while shilling for the RIAA.
But is it possible that this honesty is what finally caused her to leave? (Or did her life, and its imperatives for action, take precedence?)
That would be a shame, because the fact is, as she writes, that the answers here must lie in the market, not the law courts. For every step the copyright industries take in court, technologists take two steps away from them. This will continue until the copyright industries really engage consumers with offerings that are worth what they charge, and which aren't burdened with DRMs that restrict fair use.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Economics | Internet | e-commerce | law
June 17, 2005
We returned to the topic of e-commerce, and the effort to make money in journalism, with this week's A-Clue.Com, which went out to subscribers this morning. (You can get one too -- always free.)
The topic this week might be called the new media's old media problem, with a proposal for solving it. (I have no idea whether the book here is good or not. If someone can send me a link to sales, we'll see.)
In software terms blogging and commerce are incompatible. They're two trains running on different tracks.
Bloggers aren't really thinking of making money. They may put up begging bowls, and they make take BlogAds, or put in Google AdSense, but their Achilles Heel is that, when they think of money at all, it's in Old Media terms.
Let's sell ads.
Community Networking Systems like Scoop, Slash and Drupal also share this problem. They have an advantage over blogging systems in that they can scale. They can take a lot of traffic, and a lot of users. Those users are empowered to create their own diaries, or polls, or multi-threaded comments. But again commerce is secondary, in this case even tertiary. The most successful "commercial" community sites are those, like DailyKos and Slashdot, that direct people off-site to give money or time to important causes. There is no built-in business model.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Journalism | e-commerce | online advertising
June 16, 2005
Regular readers of this space will know Mark Cuban as a recurring character in my two online novels, The Chinese Century and The American Diaspora.
I think it's important to note that the Mark Cuban of those novels is a fictional character. He has the same name, face, and background as the real Mark Cuban, but his motivations and actions are purely imaginary. The world of my alternate histories diverge from the real world right after the last election, with the imagined meeting of an American ambassador and a Chinese official. From there on out it's my world, not your world, not the real world.
There is, of course, a real Mark Cuban. You can find this Mark Cuban at his personal blog, BlogMaverick. It's telling that, to my knowledge, Cuban is the only blogging billionaire. I hope it's telling in a good way.
What's the real Mark Cuban like?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Copyright | Internet | blogging | fiction | fun stuff | personal
For the last few months I have had a keyword search on Newsgator covering topics of interest here, things like cellular telephony and open source. (Last call to buy the book.)
I have watched as it has gradually become worse than useless.
I'm getting nearly 500 e-mails a day on this feed, but the signal-noise ratio keeps going up. Newsgator has begun designating some of these posts as spam, but they're missing most of them, including this one.
Even some of the "editorial" hits on this list are worse than useless. Here's one. No offense to the writer but it doesn't belong in a keyword feed for cellular, despite the fact that one of the entries in this list is "I have a mobile phone."
It gets worse, but maybe I have a solution.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | blogging | spam
June 15, 2005
It should surprise no one that "professional" journalists hate Wikis and blogs.
A little history lesson shows you why. Only this one's fun. As part of your summer reading get yourself a copy of H.L. Mencken's Newspaper Days. (That's Mencken to the left.) It's his memoir of Baltimore's newspaper business around the turn of the last century.
Newspapermen at that time were lower class, hard drinking, smoking, swearing, worthless ne'er do wells. You wouldn't bring one home to mother. They hid in saloons, spun lies, spied on people, made less than the corner grocer, and were generally shiftless, lazy bums. Despite this, they considered themselves a class apart.
This last is still the case. But today's newspaper writers are either middle-class bores or upper-class twits. Those who report on Washington, write columns or work on editorials are among the most twittish. Many make more than the people they cover, especially if their faces are on television.
Blogs, wikis and the whole Internet Business Model Crisis threaten these happy homes. (Although I've got news for them -- stock analysts treat newspaper stocks like tobacco stocks and their ranks are being thinned like turkey herds in September. They'd be a dieing breed even without the Net.)
What's most galling to "professional" journalists is not the loss of jobs, or money, but their continuing loss of prestige. On the upper rungs of the ladder they're being replaced by "players" -- sports stars, lawyers, politicians, former entertainers. On the lower rungs they're being driven into poverty -- we've talked before of the corrupted tech press. And in the middle rungs you've got these blogs, wikis and the continuing problems of being treated like a mushroom. (You're in the dark and they're throwing manure on you.)
Our times are, in many ways, a mirror image of the 1890s.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Economics | History | Internet | Journalism | Politics | blogging
June 13, 2005
Glenn Fleishman shared a piece he freelanced to The New York Times whose point is, simply, that even free WiFi needs a business model.
The story is about how some coffee houses are turning off the WiFi because they don't like the fact that their shops become offices. People shut up around WiFi. They bring in their PCs, turn on, and tune out the world around them. They may buy a coffee (increasingly they don't) but that's all you're going to get out of them.
Coffee shops and restaurants have beren the leaders in the WiFi "hotspot" movement based on the assumption they will be good for business, that people who WiFi also eat and drink.
Turns out we don't. Not that much, anyway. And we don't leave the table, either.
All of which leaves these shops without a valid business model. Would those using free WiFi object too much if they grabbed a piece of your browser's real estate and forced ads on you while you worked? How about if they put in a WiFi tip jar? I'm open to suggestions here.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Business Models | Digital Divide | Internet | Telecommunications
June 10, 2005
This is a note to the nice people at the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Some of your money has gone astray. Specifically, it has gone to George Washington University for something called the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet, formerly the Democracy Online Project.
GWU put a woman named Carol Darr (right, from the Center for National Policy) in charge of this group, and she has proven to be, well, not to put too fine a point on it, an idiot. Clueless, in the parlance of this blog. To be blunt about it, she is using money given for promoting democracy on the Internet in order to destroy it.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consulting | Internet | Journalism | Politics | law | marketing | online advertising
One reason I (unreasonably) went off on Jamais Cascio is because I'm sickened at how the press generally treats Always On solutions. They only see the threats to civil liberties and tend to demean the potential user base.
After Jamais (rightfully) went after me I began looking for an article illustrating this point. It didn't take long to find one. (And the picture at right is from that very story.)
Here it is. It's a piece by Thomas Ricker of EnGadget on what are some really nifty Always On applications in the medical field.
He gets it all down, the fear of "Big Brother watching you" and the outright contempt for the infants, parents and older folks who might need this stuff.
Given all the deaths from SIDS I would think parents would love a mattress that could warn you before your child dies. Given the ravages caregivers face with Alzheimers (not to mention patients), a network of motion sensors telling you when you really need to help grandma (and when you don't) sounds like a very, very good thing indeed.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Internet | Journalism | Software | blogging | medicine
I guess I felt a little down this week -- about the direction of technology, about the economy, about a lot of things.
So the readers of A-Clue.com got an earful. (You can get one too -- always free.)
There are times when history, like television, goes into re-runs.
We have literally turned Iraq into another Vietnam. But we've seen this movie before, so when Rumsfeld does his McNamara imitations, or Bush plays like LBJ's dumber brother, we change the channel.
Yet the fact is that when history repeats (unlike television) it does so in spades, in triplicate.
World War I was horrible. World War II was worse.
Iraq is not the only Vietnam repeat out there. We're doing the same thing with the Internet.
We're ignoring history. We know what would work to secure our computers, and the networks they run on. But we don't act. So we get this incremental escalation, this drip-drip-drip that leaves us, in the end, worse off than we would be had we taken decisive action at the start.
There are laws on the books that should deal with spam, with spyware, and with the problems of identity theft. They can be found under headings like fraud, theft, and fiduciary responsibility. Nothing is being done today that wasn't done before - only the means have changed.
Instead of moving against these problems together, as was attempted in the 1990s, we're leaving everyone on their own, and sometimes the cure winds up being worse than the disease.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Copyright | Economics | Futurism | History | Internet | Politics | war
June 09, 2005
When evolution accelerates size becomes a disadvantage.
It's true in nature, and it's true in technology as well.
The Bells (and Comcast) are the big bottlenecks in our technology universe. With Moore's Law sweeping through the telecomm landscape they are competitive liabilities in our economic ecosystem.
There is no malice in saying this. The Bells can't help being pointy-headed bosses. They are bureaucrats. Their loyalty is to the inside of their system, not to the customer. In a stable environment the ability to retain such people is a boon. In an unstable one it's disaster.
More proof comes today from Techdirt. It's a so-called BellSouthWiMax trial. But it isn't WiMax. It isn't new technology. It's an excuse to keep charging $110/month for DSL ($60 for the phone line) when the phone component is (with VOIP) unnecessary.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | Investment | Telecommunications | personal
June 08, 2005
When something is overpriced there are always excuses.
I had a friend tell me the other day, with a straight face, that housing is still a great buy because the population will keep growing. Maybe so, but prices are a function of the amount of capital available to buy the goods, not the size of the population. Just because there are a lot of people in Soweto doesn't mean you should plunk down 100 million rand for a shanty.
The housing bubble, in other words, is based on unrealistic expectations. People are taking out interest-only loans, adjustable rate loans, and loans of over 100% of the purchase price, because they expect prices to go up faster than interest rates, indefinitely. True the length of a bubble economy is indefinite, but it definitely bursts in time.
Here's another bubble. Google. Sorry, it's not worth $80 billion. It's worth some multiple of its earnings, and with earnings growing quickly it's worth a premium on that. But it's not worth 25 times its sales of $3.2 billion. No company is. Some part of that valuation, maybe a large part of it, is pure speculation.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Economics | Internet | Investment | personal
June 07, 2005
For my ZDNet blog this morning I interviewed Milton Mueller of the Internet Governance Project asking how the Internet should be governed.
The real problem is that most users, especially most Americans, don't believe it should be governed at all.
But it is governed.
The Internet is governed by the U.S. government, through ICANN, so anything the U.S. wants goes, and everyone else can go scratch. If the U.S. wants to violate the privacy of foreigners it does so. If it wants servers shut down -- even in other countries -- they're shut down. And all the "taxes" earned from site registration goes to those favored by the U.S. security apparatus.
In the 1990s there was a bit of whispering about this. But now those whispers have become a roar, because this government's obsessions with its own security (at the expense of everyone else's) and "intellectual property" (a phrase that does not appear in its Constitution) are becoming too much to bear.
That's why the ITU and the UN are sniffing around the issues involved in taking control of the root DNS away from ICANN. The coup would occur by these groups simply rolling their own, turning them on, and having member states point to them, instead of those offered by ICANN.
At first you wouldn't notice. But very shortly, as ITU and U.S. policies began to diverge there would be two Internets. Americans wouldn't be able to reach ITU pointers not recognized by ICANN roots, and vice versa for everyone else.
In a way it's already happening.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Digital Divide | Futurism | Internet | Telecommunications | law
June 03, 2005
My free weekly e-mail newsletter, A-Clue.com was launched in 1997 as a discussion of e-commerce.
This week I returned to the topic.
The reason why publishers have no editorial budgets with the move to the Web is simple. (Image from Websitecenter.)
None engage in Deep Commerce. Instead, they still just sell ads.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Consulting | Economics | Internet | Investment | Journalism | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
June 02, 2005
We do have a values problem in this country. (The illustration is from a Mormon-oriented marketing outfit.)
Too many of us have short-term values.
I could go off on our leaders over this, but leaders need followers, so I'm going after you instead.
- Why can't businesses see past the current quarter?
- Why is the environment so easily dismissed?
- Why does the news care more about the idiot on the Buckhead crane than what is happening in Iraq?
- Why are religious leaders so anxious to take the state's money?
We see this on the Internet all the time. I think this new XXX TLD is a perfect example. It doesn't answer the question -- what's sexual and what should we do about it? Just build a ghetto and toss Jenna Jameson in there -- oh and Planned Parenthood too. Then what, Adolf?
Americans won't move toward IPv6 because we got a ton of addresses back in the day. Besides, NATs work fine, right?
It is so easy to outsource our software production, to let Taiwan and China make our chips, to do everything we can to discourage kids from getting into tech. Our kids want to win American Idol. India, meanwhile, has a reality show called "the search for India's smartest kid."
Which country do you think is going to win the future, hmmm?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Economics | Futurism | Internet | Journalism | Politics | ethics | personal
Mark Glaser's best column yet for USC's Online Journalism Review is on the subject of Googlebombing. (The picture is from Kristenlandreville.)
He works off a case study on Quixtar, which has apparently hired a number of people to make sure its reputation looks stellar and critics aren't found. Yet one of those critics, Quixtarblog, is the third result I found just now, on Google, with Quixtar as my sole keyword.
So it works both ways.
Glaser identifies one of the pro-Quixtar Googlebombers as Margaret S. Ross, identifying her as a Quixtar IBO. But a few more minutes on Google would have picked up this, a Peachtree City, GA outfit called the Kamaron Institute, which she runs, that has been accused of manipulating search results for, among others, CNN. Glaser also identifies Ross as a "writer" for something called esourcenews.com, while in fact she's the registered owner of that domain.
My point here isn't to dump on Mark's work here. It's very good. I just want to make two important points:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Journalism | e-commerce | online advertising
June 01, 2005
When we count the costs of spam we usually think in terms of bandwidth, the hours spent clearing it out of our systems, and (sometimes) the cost of our anti-spam solution sets.
But there are other, uncounted costs to spam which dwarf those.
One is the loss in productivity we get from being unable to get in touch with people when we need to. On my ZDNet blog for instance I did a piece today on EFF chairman Brad Templeton (right), based on something he'd written on Dave Farber's list.
I e-mailed him as a courtesy. I had no questions. I just wanted to thank him for his wisdom and let him know I would use it.
What I wound up facing was Brad's spam filter, a double opt-in system dubbed Viking. Apparently I didn't respond quickly enough to Viking's commands, because its response to my opting-in again was to send me a second message demanding an opt-in. (All this was done with the laudable goal of proving I'm a man and not a machine.)
The bottom line. We never connected. I had a deadline, and used Brad's words. Perhaps there was no harm done.
But frequently there is harm done in these situations. I've had occasion to accidentally delete someone's note in my Mailwasher system, and then call the person in question asking for a re-send.
What if they're not in on that call? What if they sent something I needed? What if I were disagreeing with Brad in my Open Source post, or he decided after publication I was twisting his words?
The point is this sort of thing happens every day. People can't be reached in the way e-mail promised they would be, due to spam. This raises the cost of doing business for everyone, and the mistakes that result can be catastrophic -- to people, to companies, to relationships.
Now, in honor of the man formerly known as Deep Throat, I'm going to offer yet-another anti-spam solution.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Journalism | ethics | law | marketing | online advertising | spam
May 31, 2005
A corporate blog may reveal more than you want to without revealing anything at all. (That's PR Blogger Klaus Eck.)
In order to succeed a blog must be spontaneous, fun, news-oriented and irreverent. If it sounds like a corporate communication it will be treated as such, and either be ignored or laughed-at.
There is a risk the blogger may reveal more than you want known, about corporate strategy or what you're really up to. And, let's face it, most corporations are sausage factories, on the order of Ricky Gervais' The Office or Scott Adams' Dilbert.
How can you avoid this? Some good advice follows:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consulting | Internet | Telecommunications | blogging | e-commerce
Chris Anderson's blog, The Long Tail , is a "public diary on the way to a book" about the economic impact of mass customization.
As the graph shows, the phenomenon is familiar to anyone who blogs, and the challenge is to find a way to profit from it.
Stuff on the left side of the curve has business models. Stuff in the middle is struggling for a business model. Stuff on the right has no business model.
As you can see by looking at the endorsements on the left side of Anderson's blog, the Digirati are reacting like Anderson just discovered fire. And the Long Tail is no less obvious.
What's non-trivial is finding a way to profit from these atomized markets.
Google does it. TiVo does it (sometimes). But must those who profit from the "market of one" all be scaled? What about the creators? And what are the consequences of that?
What we've seen in the market, since the rise of the Internet, is an increasingly-shorter tail. Middle market books don't sell. Independent movies are having more trouble getting produced, not less. Musicians who used to live decent lives on record company contracts find today they can't get a sniff.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Journalism | blogging | e-commerce | online advertising
May 29, 2005
I've been a professional writer for over 25 years now. And what is most striking about the last few years, besides the rise of open source and blogging, is the rise of forced amateurism.
I've written about this before regarding Fuat Kircaali. He has built a fortune on the backs of unpaid labor. (No, that's not Fuat to the right, it's St. Martin and the Beggar, by El Greco, from iBiblio.com.)
He's not alone. Far from it, in fact. Three years into a supposed tech recovery and most of the offers I'm getting, still, are for "exposure" or "contacts," not dollars. Even those publishers who do profess to pay something, such as Newsfactor, in fact pay very little. Professional tech journalism, the field I've been part of for 20 years, is circling the drain.
The same is increasingly true of professional software development. The rise of open source disguises a disquieting fact. Many programmers today can't get work, and salaries are down. Most commentary is to the effect that programmers should "get over it." No wonder fewer want to be in the profession. I notice that CEO and sales pay rates in that industry aren't falling.
The fact is that trends designed to liberate this business, so far, are succeeding only in impoverishing the people in it. I've said this before, but the problem here is one of business models.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Copyright | Internet | Journalism | blogging
May 28, 2005
The European Constitution's impending failure in France is being credited to the Web. (Picture from Wikitravel.)
As the BBC reports:
This is the first major campaign in France in which the internet has become a key weapon, with bloggers and internet-users becoming the "No" campaign's front-line troops - not just in terms of influencing public opinion but also in rallying the French public to attend its campaign events.
If it happens, and the Web is credited after-the-fact, it would be a first, and it would be important.
As for Europe? I have a cunning plan...
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Politics | blogging
May 27, 2005
My free free weekly e-mail newsletter, A-Clue.com, has become very wide-ranging since its launch in 1997 as a discussion of e-commerce.
One of my continuing themes is the World of Always On, with wireless networking as a platform, running applications that use data from your daily life.
But before we get there we all have to become network managers. In today's issue I consider that question.
I'm a network manager. (MG-Soft of Slovenia makes products for network managers. That's their mascot, Mr. Monet, at left.)
It's not that I want to be. I'm a homeowner. My kids have PCs. My wife and I have PCs. Some years ago a friend ran wires among the rooms so everyone could share my DSL line.
There are now millions of us network managers. Recently I sat on my porch, opened my laptop, and learned that three of my five immediate neighbors now have WiFi networking in their homes. The signals were faint, but my copy of Windows found them all as soon as I booted-up. And the nearest of the three was totally unsecured. If I had larceny in my heart I could have entered my neighbor's network, used their bandwidth, even prowled around in their PCs looking for porn, passwords or blackmail material. (Fortunately for them, I'm a very nice person.)
The other two neighbors had nets which, like mine, are protected by long identifiers, input once, which validate valid PCs. One even had encryption on their system (very nice). The neighbors on the unprotected net insisted later they had the same system I do, but I suspect they haven't taken time to activate the security features.
The point is that wireless networks make many of us network managers, and Always On applications will make most of us network managers. We're not qualified for the work. We may never be qualified. Those who do become qualified become that way as I did recently, in extremis.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Consumer Electronics | Internet | Software | personal
May 25, 2005
Are you an American in e-mail contact with your doctor?
I didn't think so. (This fine bronze of a cadeusus, the medical profession's symbol, is by James Nathan Muir, who wants patrons for putting copies on all the world's continents.)
There are two reasons why you're probably not in e-mail touch with any of your physicians:
- Many doctors are afraid to put anything down, in writing, which might come back to bite them. This is often recommended to them by their peers and professions.
- Many doctors use a loophole in the HIPAA statute which makes them exempt from its requirements so long as they don't computerize.
As a result most doctors remain in the Land of Lud. And the cost to their patients is immense. I just spitballed a few:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consulting | Economics | Internet | law | medicine
Often the very thing you criticize others for is your own blind spot.
This was never more true than in Nick Kristof's piece (that's him at the left) yesterday called Death by a Thousand Blogs. China's authorities can't keep up with the content produced by broadband, he says. Their legitimacy is drowning in the resulting revelations.
He could have added the impact of cellphones to that. The ideographic Chinese language lends itself to delivering great meaning, even in small files, as the country's cell phone novella make clear. With 90 million new phone users just last year, with every year's phones becoming more data-ready, there's no way the Great Firewall of China can stand.
But what's good for the goose is also sauce for the gander. Kristof's very point speaks to the bankruptcy of pulling his column, and those of others, behind a paid firewall. They are too easy to replace. Their financial value is minimal compared to their value to the discussion. Losing the latter to gain some of the former is truly cutting off your nose to spite your face.
This is not the only lesson.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Copyright | Economics | Futurism | History | Internet | Journalism | blogging | war
One of the most interesting ideas I heard at the recent Blognashville event was Glenn Reynolds' suggestion of "local blogs." (The image is from Notbored.)
I looked into it. Won't work.
Local blogs don't scale, except in a small number of instances, in localities that are in fact quite large. You can, in theory, have New York blogs, covering the whole city, but how local are we talking about?
There's not enough of an audience for a single local blogger to cover, say, school board meetings, or crime, or even business, and bring in any money at all.
The answer to scale is comprehension. But that brings its own problems.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Internet | Journalism | blogging | e-commerce | online advertising
May 24, 2005
I'm generally all in favor of anything to fight spam. And regular readers of this space will recall how much I like my own anti-spam tool, Mailwasher from FireTrust.
But this pissed me off.
UPDATE: After posting this I learned the spam database I'm about to describe is not necessary for Mailwasher to work. My complaint here is solely regarding issues of marketing and notice. Mailwasher remains my anti-spam solution of choice.
The latest version of the product, Version 5.0 to be precise, supports a company spam datebase, called FirstAlert! This is a commendable thing, on balance.
But in order to pay for maintaining this database, FireTrust has changed its business model. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Essentially they're going to a subscription model built around FirstAlert!
I was asked to download the "upgrade" to Mailwasher, by FireTrust, roughly a week ago. I did so. It's now a $37 product but, if you want to maintain your own POP3 mailbox and a public e-mail address, it's a necessity. Upgrading was transparent, easy-peasy.
Suddenly this morning I get a pop-up, inside Mailwasher, reading "your subscription to FirstAlert has expired," with a link to renew. The link goes to a page inside the FireTrust site, and they want $9.95 for the subscription. The page doesn't indicate how long this "subscription" lasts.
Because of the way in which this was done, it can look to a consumer like a classic bait-and-switch. I bought this thing just last week and now you want MORE money?
Fortunately it's very easy for FireTrust to fix this:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Software | e-commerce | marketing | spam
May 23, 2005
I have been criticized soundly here by the early leaders of the blogging business community,(Pictured is one of these leaders, Jason Calacanis. From Vertikal.Dk.)
And why should these people listen? They have what they consider success. I'm a "low traffic blog." If I'm so clever I should be doing it, not talking about it, right? (Right.)
But the plain fact is, most of today's top blogs are using the wrong business model.
Their model is a media model. I tell you, you listen, and maybe I advertise to you on the side. This is what newspapers do, what magazines do, what radio does, what TV does.
But is the Internet a newspaper? Is it radio or a magazine or TV? No, it is not. The IN in the word Internet is short for Intimate. So why then should a business model imported from one of these other industries be appropriate? Only because, like TV entrepreneurs in the late 1940s, you can't think of a more appropriate one. You don't have the right vocabulary. You weren't born to this medium.
What would work better?
The community business model would work better. This is driven, not so much by what bloggers want to say as what their readers want to say. There are many high-traffic sites now using the community model -- Slashdot, Plastic, Groklaw, DailyKos. What they have in common is true community software -- Scoop, Slash, even Drupal.
The problem (and this is the nut of the issue) is that most of these community sites have deliberately shied away from having a business model. The only site I mentioned above that has a true business model is Slashdot, and Slashdot is so unusual people with an editorial background can't get their arms around what that business model is.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Internet | Investment | Journalism | blogging | computer interfaces | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
BitTorrent -- now trackerless!
Good news (at least in the short term) for file hoarders.
Given that both sides in the Copyright Wars know about language and framing, I'm urging use of this new term for the heavy hobbyist users on peer to peer networks.
- Pirates (the copyright industries' term) is false. There is no economic motive behind most file trades. There is no assurance that, if trading ended tomorrow, sales would rise appreciably.
- Traders (the term favored by users) isn't correct either. Most traders are asymmetric. Most are downloaders, not uploaders.
I think the word hoarding says more about the motives of the users, and the way toward ending the practice, than anything else. Thanks in part to the industry's rhetoric, and in part to its actions, many lovers of music and other files are afraid they will lose access to the culture they crave. Thus they demand to have physical copies of its artifacts, and grab all they can. It's classic hoarding behavior.
But time is the limit here, not space. You can only listen to one song at a time, watch one movie at a time. It doesn't matter how big your collection is, the only way to get enjoyment out of it is to play the files.
Many hoarders today already "own" more files than they can play in their remaining lifetimes. When you get your arms around this concept, you begin to see how self-defeating hoarding is.
So how can hoarding be stopped?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Internet | personal
May 21, 2005
In last week's issue of my free weekly e-mail newsletter, A-Clue.com, I took a look at business models , following a weekend at beautiful Belmont University in Nashville (left).
This week I continued the discussion, asking why so many responded to that piece denying they had any such thing as A Clue, let alone A-Clue.Com.
There was an interesting reaction to my piece last week, denial.
Many of the leaders in the blogging business read it, and all of them denied its inherent truth, namely that they had A Clue.
I'm not a business, insisted Jason Calacanis. Never mind that he has 65 blogs, a uniform look-and-feel, that his writers don't even get their pictures on their blogs and, when they leave, they leave with nothing. No, it's all about passion, he insists. We do this for love, he says. Business? We're not building one of those.
So it went.
I'm not a success, insisted Rafat Ali of Paidcontent. I'm not powerful, insisted Markos Moulitsas of DailyKos. I'm a dilletante, said Glenn Reynolds. I'm only here for the beer, said Dave Winer. I'm no one at all, said Pamela Jones of Groklaw.
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May 20, 2005
"One of our regular posters here (OK, it was Brad) suggested that our piece yesterday on changes at Google were just a way to track clickthroughs.
We both underestimated it. In the biggest change since the service launched Google will scrap its small clean interface and, just for you (because they like your smile) let you produce a personalized My Google page all your own.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | marketing
May 19, 2005
I was planning on writing this afternoon about Broadcom's new patent suit against Qualcomm. Regardless of the merits, it looks like a good corporate strategy, creating uncertainty about a market opponent just as you're entering their space.
But in researching the story I learned something new about Google that may distress you. And that's a better blog item than the one I started with.
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"Dad, the Internet's broken again."
update I finally surrendered in this case and renewed my daughter's antiviral, for $55. I would rather have her choose when to make the Linux switch. The anti-viral did, finally, get rid of all the malware, although we lost a second evening to it and she wound up writing her last paper on my own machine.
Actually it had been breaking for some time, I learned. My lovely daughter is a big fan of Fanfiction.Net, a site where kids are allowed to post their own stories based on popular characters. (Think Harry Potter meets the Three Stooges.)
It's a harmless avocation but it comes with a price. Fanfiction is filled, absolutely filled, with spyware and malware. Ad pop-ups were filling her screen, and no matter how many I clicked away (even if the browser was turned off) more appeared. She had been running an anti-spyware program, but it had not been updated. And her anti-viral had just expired.
The solution seemed simple enough. Her anti-spyware program was updated and deployed. But here's a dirty secret of our time. Most adware today is no different from a virus.
All the tricks of the virus creep were deployed to keep crap like eZula infesting my girl's PC. Copies were hidden in memory, in the restore directory, in directories under program files. (None had ever asked permission, nor told her what it would do.)
When I deployed Spybot in normal boot, the spyware was so thick (download this, click here) the program actually stopped -- the pop-ups and demands to download more garbage were a primeval forest. When deployed in "safe mode," there were several "problems" that couldn't be eliminated. Re-boot and start Spybot again? Well, dozens more spy-virii popped up during the re-boot.
But wait, there's more.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Internet | Security | Software | personal
May 18, 2005
Some time in the next month the copyright world may (or may not) reel from the Supreme Court's decision in the Grokster case.
The facts on their face are as favorable as the plaintiffs can make them. Grokster is all about making money for itself off the property of others. Its business model is to sell ads, including adware (sometimes a polite word for spyware and malware). It hoses both sides of every transaction. And the software really does little more than a good FTP server (with an automated database) would.
The vast majority of Grokster's use is driven by hoarding. People fear losing access to the music they love (or might love). So they load up, until they have gigs-and-gigs of it they have to haul around. (Thanks to Moore's Law of storage this gets lighter and less expensive over time, but it still has to be kept.)
The hoarding in turn is driven by the industry's threats. Threats of rising prices. Threats of lawsuits. Threats of copy-protected CDs.
The market solution to the facts is already in the pipeline. Many have proposed the idea of taxing people for unlimited access to the industry's wares and in fact schemes like Yahoo's Music Unlimited work just that way. Pay the "tax" (which starts at $5/month but could go up subject to negotiations with the industry) and download all you want. No need to hoard. Stop paying and all your files magically disappear. (The genie is found in Microsoft's DRM.)
More on the jump.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Internet | Software | e-commerce | law | online advertising
I didn't blog much yesterday because I was researching the state of play in Always On. (The illustration is from Georgia Tech.)
I had a book proposal before Wiley rejected out of hand. But when I then suggested to step back and do a book on RFID for the home, I got real interest. Just make it a hands-on book, I was told.
Thus, the research.
As regular readers here know well there are many Always On application spaces, that is, functions fit for wireless networking applications.
- Medical monitoring
- Home Automation
Absent this understanding that a unified platform already exists so that all these applications can be created together, what is the state of play specifically regarding Radio Frequency Identification? (Or, if you prefer, spychips, although since I'm talking about home applications you're spying on yourself.)
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Strategy | Consulting | Futurism | Internet | Science | cellular | computer interfaces
May 16, 2005
...no giant leap for wino-kind.
The Supreme Court decision legalizing cross-state wine shipments is limited.
First it applies only to states where delivery of wines to homes is legal in the first place. Georgia is not one of those states. (Although that law is not always enforced -- once I got some Michelob in a press packet.)
"If a state chooses to allow direct shipments of wine, it must do so on even-handed terms," Justice Anthony Kennedy said. If it doesn't you still got tough luck.
Second the case applies only to direct from-the-vineyard sales of U.S. wine. Imported wines aren't included. Importers can't ship to consumers, only vintners can.
But let's make this sporting, shall we?
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There's a reason why journalists should be paid, one that people like Fuad Kircaali ignore at their peril.
Corruption. Another word for it is payola. (The illustration is actually the cover of an album by the eponymous German band. Rock on, jungen und madchen.)
If you're a "volunteer" (unpaid) editor at a Sys-Con publication, and a vendor offers you money to spin a story their way, what's the risk in your taking it? Sure, if the boss finds out you might lose your job. But you're not being paid. And this assumes that you're being closely monitored -- the quid pro quo of being a volunteer editor is generally that you're not.
On the other hand, if you're a working journalist and your income (thus your family) is dependent on pleasing the publisher, we have a different calculus. Now a vendor approaches you with an offer and you see a risk in taking it. Not only will you surely lose this job, but you're likely to lose all hope of future employment. (If you're a volunteer editor your employment is not in journalism, remember.)
You can only hold professional journalists to journalistic ethics. Publishers who don't pay editors hand their good name to people beyond their control.
Where does blogging fit into this?
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You probably don't know this but Canada is in a world of hurt right now. And it's about to get worse.
The hurt is of self-inflicted. The governing Liberal Party is caught up in scandal , and the opposition is very regional - a Bush-like party based in the middle provinces, seperatists in Quebec and socialists in British Columbia.
But the big problem isn't political. It's regulatory.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Journalism | Politics | Telecommunications
May 15, 2005
Two decades ago I was part of new social movement called online conferencing.
People from all around the world used a Unix package called PARTIcipate to discuss issues and their lives with one another. I made some good friends then, among them Joi Ito. (That's him to the left.)
But we quickly learned the dark side of this text-based technology. Misunderstandings could happen. They could escalate. Without the visual cues we get in face-to-face conversation, flame wars could erupt. Moderation became essential.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consulting | History | Internet | blogging | ethics | personal
May 14, 2005
By and large publishers do not share journalism's ethical sense.
Instead they apply business ethics.
While a journalist's ethics, like that of any other claimed profession, may hold them well short of what's illegal, businessmen must go right up to the legal line, even risk crossing it, to stay ahead of the competition. Businessmen who don't think that way are easily crushed by those who do.
In journalism, business ethics often push journalists over lines they should not cross. Robert Novak practices business ethics. The National Enquirer practices business ethics. Those who choose to believe Novak or the Enquirer accept it.
And Fuat Kircaali (right), CEO of Sys-Con Media, has apparently chosen to apply business ethics in the Maureen O'Gara scandal. (He has hinted at this before.)
This weekend this blog was told that Kircaali accepted the resignations of three senior LinuxWorld editors -- James Turner, Dee-Ann LeBlanc, and Steve Suehring, rather than personally release and renounce O'Gara.
UPDATE: "We were unpaid editors but we devoted a lot of time and energy to it," according to Suehring's blog. This makes sense given Kircaali's business model, as we will discuss later on.
Apparently, Kircaali even approved O'Gara's assault on Pamela Jones of Groklaw in advance. Here's what he told Free Software Magazine.
"The language of the story is in the typical style of Ms. OGara, generally entertaining and easy to read, and sometimes it could be regarded as offensive, depending on how you look at it. I decided to publish the article. It was published because it was an accurate news story."
More after the break.
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May 13, 2005
B.L. Ochman (the picture is from her Whatsnextblog) has already broken this, but this week's a-clue.com newsletter features a piece on blogging business models, written following the Blognashville conference.
I spent the weekend at Blognashville, a gab-and-egofest for about 100 (mostly male, mostly middle-aged) bloggers at Belmont University in Nashville (a pricey pimple on the bottom of Vanderbilt) to fuss over Glenn Reynolds (much nicer in person than online) and to search for meaning.
The big question: how will we make money off this?
People are investing a ton of time and effort in blogging. Volunteers get burned out if they can't find money. All institutions are built on money. At Nashville we all felt we were in the gold fields and no one seemed to have made a strike.
There's a Clue there. Nearly all those 49'ers (and Alaska 98'ers) who went in with pick and shovel failed. It was those who went in with a business model, professional mining companies or merchants such as Levi Strauss, who succeeded.
Some 99% of blogs (including mine) go about the publishing question backwards. That is, we look at the process from the writer's point of view, not the reader's. This is forgivable in that bloggers are writers, but this is one of the key differences between writers and publishers. Publishers create for the market.
That is, publishers define the readers they want, the content those readers need, and the advertisers they will hit-up to pay the bills. They then order the production of the product, and keep an eye out to make sure it meets the readers' requirements.
In other words, the difference between blogging and journalism lies entirely on the business side of the shop. Publishers are just as likely to pay for lies as bloggers are to make stuff up. The difference is the publishers create lies that appeal to their audiences, while bloggers write lies that appeal to themselves.
This is easy to understand when you look at the professional blogs that are run by publishers - Weblogsinc, Gawker Media, and Paid Content. Jason Calacanis, Nick Denton and Rafat Ali defined the readers they wanted, created a business model, then hired writers to fulfill the mission.
In contrast I found, at blognashville, that even the most-popular bloggers are mere dilletantes. This is a term Glenn Reynolds applied to himself. Dave Winer, with whom I spent pleasant hours, is also doing his blog on-the-side - his business is RSS. I was surprised to find myself the most knowledgeable businessperson in the room, and I'm a complete failure.
When you're led by amateurs you can't expect professional standards to be upheld. Yet, on the editorial side, blogs often do just that. It's on the business side where they all fall down.
Still, I saw several potential business models at the conference:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Journalism | blogging | e-commerce | online advertising
Times vs. Sullivan , as anyone who has taken law or journalism knows, holds that public figures have a much higher burden in libel actions than other people. (That's L.B. Sullivan, then police chief of Montgomery, Alabama to the right. From the University of Missouri in Kansas City.)
To win at trial, public figures must show that a story about them showed "a reckless disregard for the truth" or that a lie was deliberate. This makes it very hard for public figures to win libel awards, although to this day some do.
The question comes up because I was chatting via e-mail with Steve Ross, a journalism professor at Columbia, who said Markos Moulitsas had over-reacted to a question on his annual journalism survey. The survey asked how people felt about campaigns "buying" journalists, citing a deal between the Dean campaign and "bloggers" in 2003.
Readers here know I covered that story, that the bloggers weren't bought but hired as consultants, that they didn't act bought, and that their righteous recommendations were then ignored, so Moulitsas to this day fills a role now DNC chair Howard Dean should by rights be filling. But what brought me up short was Steve's statement that Moulitsas, alias Daily Kos, should know better, since he is "a public figure."
A public figure, eh? A blogger a public figure?
Well that's interesting. I assume, then, that Glenn Reynolds is a public figure, and any suit he might file for libel is going to have a very difficult time. (Lucky me.) We can't very well have anonymous public figures and thus the "outing" of Atrios as Duncan Black, a Philadelphia economics teacher (left), last year becomes just a public service.
And if that's true, then, is Pamela Jones, a public figure? Would that mitigate any possibility of a successful legal action against Maureen O'Gara? (I don't know if anything has been filed or might be -- I'm just spitballing here.)
Wait, there's more.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Futurism | Internet | Journalism | blogging | ethics | law | personal
The U.S. is in the process of losing its last friends, the Brits.
I'm not just talking here of recent elections, where Labour lost much of its majority specifically due to its support of the Iraq war.
No, I'm talking about Malcolm Glazer.
Malcolm who, you ask? Glazer owns the Tampa Bay Bucs. You may remember his eldest son Avram from the dot-boom, as the head of some nonsense called Zap.com, which tried to roll-up a bunch of disparate Internet assets into some super-duper-something. They got less than nowhere. (The parent outfit, Zapata Corp., had as its co-founder one George H.W. Bush. We'll just let that one sink into the heads of Manchester's tinfoil hat crowd.) Zap.Com also gives us an excuse for discussing this sports story in this here tech blog.
Anyway, yesterday daddykins bought England's true crown jewel, the Manchester United football club. And he seems to have bought it the way LBO artists did it in the 80s, aiming to "unlock value" by dumping his debt onto the books. Needless to say you don't want to be wearing a Bucs' hat in Greater Manchester this afternoon.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | fun stuff
May 12, 2005
Many think the secret of Fox' dominance of news is political. A generation brought up on the myth that an objective press is biased to the left, then given a right-wing Pravda, sees the latter as "fair and balanced."
That's a small part of the story. Identifying a niche and serving it is as old as the magazine business. Older. It's as old as Poor Richard's Almanack.
The real secret is much simpler. The "network" is actually a studio. Few bureaus, no big investigation team, no bench, little support. Who needs writers when most hosts can wing it. It's talking heads. It's radio economics.
No, it's blog economics, or Blogonomics.
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May 11, 2005
With CNN's decision, now reflected on its air, to become a national version of local TV news, with "it bleeds, it leads" sensibilities and a complete emphasis on simple stories told in front of courthouses rather than anything researched, the word needs to go out.
They have surrendered to the blogosphere.
With local TV news no longer covering politics or policy, and with cable news now virtually ignoring it, what other conclusion can be drawn?
It's not as if politics has no audience. Political blogs have the highest audiences, and highest degree of audience participation, in the blogosphere. Many are profitable, some wildly so. Many also break real news stories, either through the efforts of the people running them or just from common posters who do their own investigations and report the results.
In the history of journalism this is big news.
But it's not being reported as such.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | Politics | blogging
May 09, 2005
One thing I got my first crack at over the weekend was the actual practice of Wi-Fi-in'. (The picture comes from a Free WiFi hotspot list site.)
While I have had WiFi in my home for years now I only recently got a laptop that can truly take advantage of it on the road. I brought it to Nashville with me.
Wi-Fi'-in means opening up the box, booting up, and hoping for an unsecured 802.11 connection you can log into. It's best done in a city, preferably close to a University campus. But don't expect to do this on the campus itself -- most college systems these days are secured, at least by passwords.
It was amazing to me how lost and alone I felt when I couldn't find a free spot around me. My hotel advertised the service, but during the day the radio waves couldn't reach my room. (This is a fact of life with radio -- the bands are all more crowded during the day.) As I noted the campus where I was hanging on Friday had their access password-protected, and I'm not into breaking-and-surfing (yet).
But all was not lost. I was about to learn a powerful lesson.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Business Strategy | Internet | Telecommunications | personal
Googlejuice is that precious elixir which makes the difference between a site or blog that has tons of regular traffic, and those that don't.
Getting Googlejuice, legitimately or not, is a real industry. It iranges from Search Engine Optimization to spamdexing.
Google is constantly adjusting and re-adjusting its algorithms in this area to be fairer, and keep people from playing games with it. Just last week it sought a patent on new Google News technology it claims will enhance that site's credibility. This may backfire, because the major media certain to get more Google Newsjuice out of this are the same companies looking to charge for links.
But that's another show.
One of the great ironies of my recent mistake here was that it actually increased this blog's Googlejuice. Between those who linked to complain, my responses in apology, and those who followed up on my explanation saying they hadn't seen my apology, the incoming link traffic here actually rose 50%. If some of those people stick around (maybe wondering when I'll fall on my face next) it's actually a good thing.
Jonathan Peterson, who did the Amateur Hour blog here for a while, made this observation to me over the weekend.
I think there are a few good lessons - the most important of which you
already knew - the firestorm around an error is good for your link
popularity. Andrew Orlowski has been playing this game at the Register for years (and it's the reason I stopped
reading The Register, but his anti-blog idiocy brings in the googlejuice.
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The real difference between blogging and journalism is on the business side, not the creative. (That's Henry Copeland of Blogads on the left of the picture, taken last year from Dan Bricklin's blog.)
On the creative side, blogs are just as likely to care about journalism, public service, and lies as any other media.
On the business side, however, nearly all bloggers do things backwards.
That is, we look at the content from the writer's point of view. Journalism looks at all content from the reader's point of view.
This is no small point. You can see it clearly in examining the "blog journalism" companies which have found success -- Weblogsinc, Gawker Media, and Paid Content. Jason Calacanis, Nick Denton and Rafat Ali all defined the readers they wanted, created a business model, then hired writers to fulfill the mission.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Digital Divide | Economics | Internet | Journalism | blogging | online advertising
The dirty little secret I uncovered at Blognashville is that Glenn Reynolds is actually a very nice guy. Smart, too. (Not truly handsome like I am but OK for a hair-head.)
Reynolds, who teaches law at UT Knoxville and apparently enjoys it, also plays a right-wing crank on his Instapundit site. He does this part-time and, in part thanks to first-mover advantage, he dominates the right half of the political blogosphere, with over 15,000 incomng links at last count. (This blog, by contrast, has 262.)
Reading Reynolds, and those who admire him, one gets a completely false impression of the man.
In Nashville I found an erudite, intelligent, and amused gentleman of the old school, always in a suit and tie, never seeming to sweat, with a genuine smile that looked nothing like the MegaChurch preacher readers might expect. The haircut looks like something out of a 1968 Young Republican Club, and the blog reads like that as well, but the mind and the man behind them are quite different.
There was some real wisdom in the man as well. Don't believe me? Following are some quotes lifted directly from my notebook during the event:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Journalism | Politics | blogging | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
May 04, 2005
I will be in Nashville this weekend, attending the meeting of the Media Bloggers Association. (The image is from a cool Brazilian blog I found, apparently written by a 16-year old.)
Before I could pack, leader Robert Cox sent me a list of new applicants for membership. Given the fact I felt my own journalistic credentials were under a microscope for months, waiting for his yea-or-nay (turned out I was lost in the shuffle) and given my own recent mistakes here, I was loathe to pass on the qualifications of others.
Generally, my opinion in the past was that the market decided who should be a journalist, and who was "just" a blogger. But that may not be right. After all, bloggers can go on-and-on until they exhaust themselves, and much journalism is subsidized by politicians, so that the requirement to lie becomes a lifestyle, and the liars become institutions whose credentials no one can question. Robert Novak is a journalist only because he's paid to play one on TV.
But then came news from Reporters Without Borders that 53 journalists died last year trying to report the news. That's paid journalists, real journalists, reporters, editors and publishers.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Copyright | Internet | Journalism | Politics | blogging | ethics | law
The strength of an economy, like that of a society, depends on social mobility. That means the poor can rise to wealth. It also means the wealthy can end up poor. (This old cartoon, from what folks like to call THE Ohio State University, pre-dates Wal-Mart by generations.)
A recent online conversation with Vijay Gill brought this home to me. The topic was actually our recent piece on The Myth of Scarcity. I liked it, posted it to Dave Farber's list, and Vijay responded quite thoughtfully, his point being that telecommunications is hard, some parts are scarce, and real technical knowledge is even scarcer. Maintaining total connectivity in the last mile without protecting the monopoly is harder than I make it sound.
This set me thinking in two directions at once.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | Telecommunications
May 03, 2005
Why is it that politicians have done a better job on the Internet than publishers?
It has to do with a concept I call Pitch Credibility.
Journalists understand the concept of credibility. It's the trust readers place in us. If there is a journalism profession, it's based on this idea of credibility. I took a huge hit to my own credibility when I screwed-up an item on Ev Williams. I went through hell on that not to regain my credibility, but to minimize the losses, and in hope the damage would not spread to innocent Corante authors.
But just as editorial work must have credibility, so must advertising. That is the innovation the Internet makes necessary.
Moveon.org understood this right away. It knew that if it suggested you give to Candidate X, then Candidate X better fit the desires of the Moveon audience, or the endorsement would damage Moveon. Because it had pitch credibility with its audience, Moveon was able to gain honest information (a mailing list) from its members, and even financial support, based solely on its promise to deliver.
While Moveon failed in these last two cycles as a political force (ask Presidents Gore, Dean and Kerry) it has succeeded in creating a business model that everyone else on the Internet needs to pay attention to.
So if Roger Simon, for instance, is to succeed in his efforts to unite the right-wing blogosphere and extract money from its members, he must retain pitch credibility. He better not let anyone like me in because I'd damage it. And he better use that credibility only to solicit for products, services and people the audience will surely endorse.
Perhaps you can see now why this idea is easier for a politician to understand than a businessman. Politicians are attached to what they're selling in ways businessmen aren't.
Belief is at the heart of pitch credibility.
How can we take advantage of this in the business realm?
Click to find out.
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The Associated Press was created by publishers to let papers share stories and reduce editorial costs, in an age where everyone knew their business model and barriers to entry were rising.
Today barriers to entry are at rock-bottom and valid business models are hard to come by.
So naturally, everyone's trying to create an AP.
This is going about things backward. Business models aren't for sharing. They must first be created by entrepreneurs, then expanded upon. Only once they're established can you expect the kind of consolidation an AP represents.
What we have, then, is a business opportunity. What is that opportunity?
A shared registration database would be a good place to start. One sign-in, and one cookie, might get a reader posting privileges at hundreds of sites. The database would provide advertisers with a working profile of the readers (demographics and psychographics) justifying a higher cost per thousand on ads. Blogs on the network could be bundled based on politics, subject matter, or geography, just as is done in the magazine business.
The result would be a brand offering the services of an ad network. It should also be able to aggregate other business opportunities for the members of the network, so it would have aspects of a talent agency as well.
How close are we to something like that? Not very close at all:
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May 02, 2005
The bidding war between Verizon and Qwest for MCI is based on a myth of scarcity. That is, both think they can make the deal pay by squeezing customers for the scarce resources represented by the MCI network.
Moores Law of Fiber rendered that inoperative many years ago. There is no shortage of fiber backbone capacity. And there are ample replacements for Plain Old Telephone Service -- not just cable but wireless.
The myth on which this deal is based is, simply, untrue.
Yet the myth persists, and not just in the telecommunications business.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | Investment | Journalism | Politics | Telecommunications | personal
I have not written much about Voice Over IP in this space because I'm not an expert in it. (Yes, I hear you say, this never stopped you before.)
Actually I didn't think I had anything original to add to the conversation. I still don't. But I want to point you to someone who does.
That someone is Tom Evslin (left). Evslin recently completed a wonderful series on the economics, politics, past and future of VOIP, on his blog, which I heartily recommend to anyone interested in this area.
Evslin calls this year a "flipping point" driven bythe mass distribution of VOIP software. It's not really free although, once you have your set-up, each call carries no incremental cost. The market battle between Skype and Vonage are driven by Metcalfe's Law, control of end points. Evslin offers the best explanation I've yet seen of Skype and its business model, which is rapidly evolving into an alternative phone network.
I have one suggestion.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Internet | Software | Telecommunications
The political battle over WiFi shapes up as a classic match between private interests and the commons.
But it is in fact a battle over real estate. (Thus, the balloon, which is the logo of a very innovative real estate brokerage.)
Verizon pulled a bait-and-switch on New York phone booths. It installed 802.11 equipment based on the promise of free WiFi service on adjoining streets, then pulled them all back into its paid network.
Politically this makes no sense. In real estate terms it makes perfect sense.
The challenge to this looks technological, but it's really political. You can see this challenge by simply turning on your WiFi equipped laptop.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Strategy | Internet | Telecommunications | law
April 29, 2005
Next weekend I'll be at Blognashville, helping out the Media Bloggers Association, where the question will be asked again, "Is blogging journalism?"
Short answer. No.
It can be, of course.
When journalists blog, when we ask hard questions, dig for facts, and take mistakes seriously, well then yes journalism can happen on a blog. (Cartoon from Cox and Forkum.com,)
But a blog can be a diary. If you invite just a few people to post, and those same people are all who can read it, a blog is groupware.
A blog can be a community. Let a lot of people offer posts, organize the comments, add polls and ratings.
A blog can be your picture collection. It can be a record of what you saw today.
And that is not all, oh no, that is not all...
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Journalism | Software | blogging | computer interfaces | e-commerce | ethics | personal
April 28, 2005
Yesterday we reported on a speech by Rupert Murdoch (left, from Wikipedia) to newspaper editors in which he so much as said their industry will be killed by the Internet.
Personally I dont think this is necessarily the case. Newspaper companies will be able to use computers and on-demand pagination to mass produce paper products that are relevant to future audiences. Just as radio and TV only forced the industry to change, not disappear, so it will be in this case.
But lets assume Murdoch is right. How can incumbent newspaper companies achieve anything on the new medium? His speech read like someone anxious to learn. I'll take him at his word.
Following are some ideas.
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April 27, 2005
There was some misunderstanding about a recent item that caused me to re-think a lot of what I'd considered standards in publishing items on a blog. (A reader writes that this picture was originally published in The New York Times, and I apologize for not acknowledging it earlier (but I didn't know)).
The standard used here is to write an item, bring it to its own inside page, and then write another item. I was convinced this was right by Nick Denton (left), who found that Google Ad revenue jumped on inside pages, because high CPM ads were brought to more specific content.
Not everyone works that way.
- Many publications use multiple pages, so they can put many sets of ads before the readers of a story.
- Some blogs place multiple news stories under the same item, so readers get a full day's worth of news at once.
What brought these thoughts to a head?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Journalism | blogging | personal
Back in the 1990s a lot of Americans wasted a lot of bandwidth worrying about the Digital Divide.
Americans were wealthy. We could afford PCs and fast networks. Those poor black and brown people were being left behind by the future. There were even proposals that Americans tax themselves so that poor people could get broadband faster.
Now, a decade later, the digital divide is back.
And this time Americans are on the other side of it.
Our broadband networks now stand 13th in the world, behind those of our trade rivals. Chinese, Japanese and Koreans are being offered speeds and prices we can only dream of. Asian cellular networks are years ahead of those here, and mobile broadband is common. In the most remote parts of Africa, cellphones are being turned into makeshift phone kiosks, or simply rented on a per-call basis, so folks can stay in touch with markets and the growing world economy.
Meanwhile, a decade of growing monopolism in this country means broadband take-up is now below the rates elsewhere. Cellular networks are two years behind those in Asia. You pay more to get less bandwidth than people in most of the world, and the situation is getting worse.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Digital Divide | Economics | Internet | Telecommunications
April 26, 2005
In The Lost Point, I wrote that Google risked being outmanuevered because it didn't pay proper attention to Blogger.
Today Duncan Riley of The Blog Herald goes further. He says the game is already over, that Microsoft won, that the field is consolidating into the three big portal players so Movable Type needs to sell out to Yahoo, quick.
Riley is right as far as he goes.
But if you click below, we'll go a bit further.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Software | Telecommunications | blogging | computer interfaces | online advertising
April 25, 2005
In politics a committed minority usually wins. (The lobbyist image originally appeared in New York's Gotham Gazzette, but I found it at Italy's e-laser.)
That's because, on most issues, there is no majority view. Most people don't care.
Learning an issue, and becoming committed to it, teaches you the source code of politics.
If your organization is tightly-knit, if your issues are driven by corporate interests, then your politics is closed source. On issues that mainly interest businesses this is determinative. Lobbyists and financial contributions fight and often come to settlements that aren't half bad. Traditionally most issues before regulators, from the EPA and FTC to the FDA and FCC, have been closed-source arguments.
If your organization is loosely knit, and if your issues are driven by personal feeling, then your politics is open source. Open source politics defines social issues, and the numbers involved in turn drive American politics as a whole. Politicians can win with only committed minorities on their side, if those minorities stand united.
What happens when closed source and open source politics collide? It depends on how much real interest those on the open source end can manage.
This collision is now apparent in telecommunications.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Digital Divide | Internet | Politics | Telecommunications | law
Today I want to introduce you to another new member of our blogroll.
It's Tom Abate, whose blog is called MiniMediaGuy. He doesn't post nearly as often as I do, but his posts are always thoughtful.
Tom's blog is in the media space. He's constantly brainstorming about how the "minimedia" of blogs and mobiles and podcasts can succeed against Big Media types who are constantly looking for new ideas.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Journalism | blogging | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | Investment | blogging | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
April 22, 2005
Norman Ornstein has made a career out of giving good quotes. (The picture is from his agent.)
But the danger is like that identified every week by Mythbusters. Don't try this at home. We're what you call experts.
The problem is that the press defines any provocative statement as a "good quote," but those made by experts like Ornstein merely place context in the obvious. In reaching for a good quote, you can easily reopen old wounds, start new controversies, and make yourself foolish at the same time.
Exhibit A. James Governor of Red Monk decided to re-open the (rapidly closing) question of the GPL's legality in order to get into a local magazine, and to suck-up to a potential client, Fortinet.
There's nothing about this "point" on Governor's blog, and Red Monk has issued no press release, although the point is highly provocative. In fact, Governor advertises his willingness to mouth off. "Need a quick reaction to a breaking story? A detailed explanation of the signficance of a recent merger? Whatever your needs, feel free to contact us."
Fine, if you're not just going to throw bombs. And here's where I get in trouble...
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Copyright | Internet | Journalism | blogging | ethics | personal
April 20, 2005
The success of Google has been based on the fact that technology drives its train. Technical success is the most-sought value.
This is becoming a problem.
In many of the new businesses Google has launched, technical values (while important) are not going to be the sole drivers of success. In blogging, in RSS, in Google News, in Google Desktop, in Google Local, and in other areas, other skills are required.
Business skills. Marketing schools. Journalism skills. Political skills. Artistic skills.
Leonardo DaVinci (celebrated above) could not get a job at Google today. In a well-rounded company, his genius would find a place.
The need for these various skills will only increase with time. Google must find a way to recruit these skills, and to reward these skills, without giving the people with these skills control of the company.
This will not be easy.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Economics | Internet | Investment | Telecommunications | blogging | e-commerce | marketing
Want a career in the exciting, fast-paced world of 21st century journalism?
Get an MBA.
Don't go to journalism school. You can learn to write anywhere. The way to write better is to practice. If you love writing you can pick up the rest on-the-fly.
Instead, go to business school. Why? Because the only way you're going to have a good career in this business is to have the skills of a publisher. And those are the skills taught in business school.
In my first lecture at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, in 1977, we were told firmly that if you wanted to make a good living there was a fine businesss school on campus, the Kellogg School, and we should go there. So I've got their logo at the top of this item. I should have taken the advice.
More on why you should go to business school to learn journalism after the break.
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I have written before about advertising being inserted into RSS feeds, and that is increasing. (Image from Case Western Reserve.)
I'm not just talking about RSS items that are in fact links to ad pages, but RSS items that, while containing links to stories, have additional ads inserted into them.
Now there's another, far more dangerous abuse of the RSS system, phony links.
Phony Links are RSS items from registration-only sites. Most U.S. newspapers are now requiring registration. RSS feeds from these sites now go to sign-in pages, not to the stories themselves. In other words the link is a bait-and-switch. It doesn't go to content, but to a sales pitch.
The AP is abetting that requirement by demanding royalties for online content.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Investment | Journalism | blogging | computer interfaces | e-commerce | online advertising
April 19, 2005
The hole is the whole U.S.
Intel plans on mass producing WiMax chips and going into rapid deployment, offering end-user speeds far in excess of what U.S. phone outfits provide with DSL.
The problem is that's the speed limit for most backhauls. Go to most WiFi hotspots, or most home networks, and DSL is the backhaul platform. We're talking 1.5 Mbps, max.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Strategy | Digital Divide | Futurism | Internet | Investment | Moore's Lore | Semiconductors | Telecommunications
April 18, 2005
Having done this work for a few years now, I do sometimes ask myself what the best bloggers have that I might lack.
The answer comes down to one thing. The best stay on one thing. They know their beats, know their limits, they do the research, and they don't flit around outside those subjects (the way I often do).
The most important blogger of our time is probably Pamela Jones of Groklaw. Groklaw is more a community than a blog (but so is DailyKos). Despite the extensive help her audience gives her, Jones still gives her beat rigid attention, tons of supporting materials, and she gives her enemies plenty of rope for hanging themselves so that, when she does speak her mind, she has both authority and supporters.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Journalism | Politics | blogging | ethics | law
A Cachelogic study claims two-thirds of Internet traffic is now P2P, by implication the trading of copyrighted files. (That's a Cachelogic product there to the left.)
But is this just another Marty Rimm study?
Rimm, you may or may not remember, wrote a paper at Georgetown Law in 1995 claiming 85% of Web traffic was dirty pictures. This was later disproved, but the damage was done and Congress passed the ill-fated Communications Decency Act.
Mike Godwin, the former EFF counsel who fought the Rimm study and is now senior counsel at Public Knowledge, remains skeptical, noting that the Cachelogic study hasn't gone through peer review. He also notes that, since Cachelogic sells systems to control P2P traffic, it has a natural bias.
The Cachelogic claims may have logic behind them, however. Many ISPs do report that over half their traffic is on ports commonly used by P2P applications. Brett Glass of Lariat.Net, near the University of Wyoming, says the claim seems accurate, noting that unless ISPs cut-back capacity to those ports (a process called P2P Mitigation), the applications quickly discover the fat pipe and divert everyone's traffic to it, filling it at the cost of thousands per month.
And that is at the heart of the problem.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Copyright | Digital Divide | Economics | Internet | Investment | Moore's Lore | Telecommunications | law
April 15, 2005
A friend introduced me to a blog I'm adding to the blog roll, one that is only marginally about technology.
Seth Goldstein runs Majestic Research, a New York outfit that produces very high-end (and I hope very expensive) reports on trends for hedge fund managers. Before that he ran Site Specific. He advises Del.Icio.Us. He's smart.
His blog consists of long essays, published at long (for me) intervals, on a wide range of subjects. Recent pieces include one relating client Del.icio.us to German essayist Walter Benjamin, whose Frankfurt School was overwhelmed by the horrors of the Hitler era, another calling APIs "the new HTML," and a third seeking a system of PeopleRanking, very similar to my own piece Finding the Good Stuff.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Economics | History | Internet | Investment | blogging | fun stuff | marketing
There are two types of chips key to the Always On world.
These are sensor chips and RFID chips.
Both contain tiny radios. The two can also be combined.
A sensor chip, as its name implies, tests specific conditions, and is reporting back with data on those conditions. A motion sensor is an example. A heart monitor is an example.
An RFID chip merely identifies the item its on. The chips that will go onto passports will be RFID chips, and RFID identification is at the heart of efforts by retailers by Wal-Mart, as well as service providers like Grantex.
Ive also written, recently, about applications that combine RFID and sensor ships. Bulldog Technologies is rolling out a line of these chips that not only identify containers in transit, but monitor their condition and shippers know the contents are safe.
Always On applications will use all these types of chips as clients on WiFi or cellular networks, with applications located on gateways that run at low power, with battery back-up, and have constant connections to the Internet.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Strategy | Futurism | Internet | Semiconductors
The coming issue of Business Week features a short story on the Internet of Things, or Machine to Machine (M2) applications, which this blog calls Always On.
The story focuses on cheap cellular radios and industrial applications.
The story misses the opportunity and the market.
It's a good example of the Intel failure noted below because if no one is going to tell the story a reporter can't write it.
Cellular can enhance an Always On application, making it mobile and ubiquitous. If you have a heart monitor in your shirt you don't want to die just because you walked outside the reach of your Local Area Network.
But these are enhancements. And the industrial market is just the tip of the Always On iceberg.
The big money, as I've said, is based on the wireless broadband platform.
It's true that wireless broadband isn't seen as a platform now. It's seen as an end-point. It's seen as a way for you to link your PC to broadband resources. It is seen as an extension of an existing IP protocol. And a lot of people are waiting for IPv6 to tag every device with a unique number before getting excited over linking such devices.
This is very misguided. You can build true PC functionality into something that runs on rechargeable batteries for just a few hundred dollars. Instead of placing the processing of applications on a desktop PC that's turned off, or a laptop that might be taken away, this puts processing for these new applications on the network itself.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Futurism | Internet | Journalism | computer interfaces
Last month Intel's mobility chief Sean Maloney was in the hunt to head H-P, a job that eventually went to Mark Hurd of NCR. (Watch out. Dana is about to criticize a fellow Truly Handsome Man.)
But how well is Maloney doing his current job?
Intel's role in the development of Always On is crucial, and its strategy today seems muddled. It's not just its support for two different WiMax standards, and its delay in delivering fixed backhaul silicon while it prepares truly mobile solutions.
I'm more concerned with Maloney's failure to articulate a near-and-medium-term wireless platform story, one that tells vendors what they should sell today that will be useful tomorrow.
Intel seems more interested in desktops and today's applications than it is in the wireless networking platform and tomorrow's applications.
Incoming CEO Paul Otellini says Intel is going to sell a platforms story, not a pure technology story. Platforms are things you build on.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Moore's Lore | Semiconductors
April 14, 2005
Criminals have discovered blogging.
The BBC reports this quite breathlessly, but there's no need to be either surprised or unduly alarmed.
There are two types of scams going on, according to Websense, which was the BBC's source for the story:
- Blog addresses loaded with malware, advertised via e-mail or IM spam.
- Blog addresses loaded with malware waiting to be tripped by zombie machines.
In both these cases you can substitute the words "Web site" for "blog" and pre-date the release to 1997. Free Web page companies found this problem fairly early-on in their evolution, and now those offering space to bloggers need to be aware as well.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | blogging | ethics | law | spam
April 13, 2005
One problem journalists have with blogging is it does away with gatekeepers.
Printers are gatekeepers. They cost money and make you think before you publish.
Editors are gatekeepers. That's their job. They assign stories and edit them carefully so you don't mispel words.
Publishers are also gatekeepers. Traditionally their role has been to shield the poor, innocent journalist from the nasty world of business.
Mark Glaser of OJR examined this today without reaching any conclusions (as good journalists are taught to do). (The recent picture of Nick Denton is from the OJR story.)
Glaser interviewed three people whose blogging companies seem to be bringing in bucks -- Denton (of Gawker, Wonkette, etc.), Jason Calacanis (of Weblogsinc) , and Rafat Ali (of Paid Content) -- about how they pay people who work for them.
By the month, said Calacanis. By the story, said Ali. By the reader, said Denton.
Shock! Shock and dismay, responded the folks at Slate and Salon, representing the traditional industry.
To which I respond, huh?
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I depend on the BBC.
I'm not alone in this. Hundreds of millions of non-Brits do. The BBC's high quality and impeccable impartiality are what give the UK its continued relevance in the world.
But the BBC is in the midst of a brown-out.
The government-funded corporation is in the midst of a forced turnover plan. It's cutting staff now, but planning on hiring new staff later. It wants to get younger people with new ideas in the door, and get those who've grown stale out the door.
Sounds like a good idea. But meanwhile quality suffers. Especially in their reporting on tech issues.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Journalism
Lenin named his small movement the Bolsheviks, a word meaning majority. He called his majority opponents Mensheviks, a word meaning minority.
The point is that if one side is large and undisciplined while the other side is smaller but tightly disciplined, the smaller group can win a political struggle.
That seems to be the case with municipal wifi. It's an undeniable good everyone wants. It's relatively cheap to install and maintain. It should be a no-brainer.
But it's losing to telephone monopolies because of lax discipline.
I've gotten a taste of that this week in criticisms of my recent pieces on Philly's WiFi plan.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Consulting | Digital Divide | Internet | Journalism | Politics | Telecommunications
April 11, 2005
Today's big lie is a misinterpretation of the latest Pew Internet Survey. We think spam is no big deal.
(The great-tasting pork-shoulder-and-ham concoction from Hormel pictured to the left is still a very big deal in Alaska and Hawaii. They love the stuff.)
"Email users are starting to get comfy with the spamvertisers" claims Silicon.com. Internet Users Unruffled by Spam, says TopTechNews. Internet users more accepting of spam, says Forbes.
Well, nonsense. (I would use stronger language, but I want everyone to get the point.)
Here are some facts from the same study. Barely half of us now trust e-mail, down 11% from a year ago. Over one-fifth of us have cut down our e-mail use because of spam, just in the last year.
As for the rest...users have learned to deal. We have spam filters. I use Mailwasher. We don't get as much as before because more of it is being stopped at the server level.
That doesn't mean we like it. And it's deliberately misleading to say it is. It's like the battered wife syndrome. Why doesn't she leave the jerk? Why don't you just go offline?
It's the same question with the same answer. You find ways.
But if someone would finally arrest the batterer and throw his butt in the slammer for a good long time she'd learn to be grateful.
Which reminds me...
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Politics | ethics | law | personal | spam
There is a tyranny to having a narrow beat. (The image, by the way, is from the Oak Ridge National Lab.)
Yes, you can develop sources. Yes, you can develop expertise. But with a narrow beat you're limiting yourself, and you're becoming increasingly dependent on your employer, since beat knowledge is often non-transferrable. You're also more likely to "go native" with a beat, internalizing sources' views as your own without analyzing them.
Blogging and RSS are, at their heart, designed to let us do away with this Tyranny of the Beat. Your subject can be read based on its subject matter, or you can develop your own personal fan club.
I have always resisted having a narrow beat in my work. You'll see stories here ranging from Internet Commerce to Always On to law, science, even politics, along with what Hylton thought was my beat when he took me on -- semiconductors.
I think this keeps me fresh. It keeps me interested. That keeps the quality high.
But that's not the way publishers look at things, even blogging publishers. There are now several companies that run a stable of blogs, besides Corante, and each one places writers in narrowly-defined beats. Weblogsinc may be the most aggressive in de-personalizing their blogs. They now have 75. Most can change out the staff in a nano-second and keep going. Good for them, bad for writers.
And weren't blogs created so we'd have something that was good for writers?
A look at the Technorati Top 100 offers a good illustration on the rise of these corporate blogs.
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