Monthly Archives: March 2006

Lucas Speaks

It’s an odd experience to have Steven Spielberg [er, I meant George Lucas] validate a speculation I made only a few weeks ago:

"Those movies can’t make their money back anymore," he explained. "In the future, almost everything that gets shown in theatres will be indie movies. I predict that by 2025 the average movie will cost only $15m."

Lucas: "Blockbuster days are numbered" by Miriam Zendle, Digital Spy, Monday, March 6 2006, 16:43 UTC

A few weeks ago I compared Hollywood comedies to Restoration spectacular plays and wrote:

Hollywood will either adapt eventually to some form of production that doesn’t involve ever-higher costs for ever-larger blockbusters, or people will stop buying them and Hollywood will have to adapt.

Restoration Blockbusters, Perilocity, February 04, 2006

Continue reading

The Chinese Net Routes Around Political Stonewalling

According to this BBC story, the Chinse government got tired of waiting for ICANN to approve top level domains in non-Roman characters and rolled their own for use in China, using a combination of client-side software, domain name translation by ISPs, and other hacks to make it work.
With 110 million people online, China is already the second largest net-using nation on Earth.

Big push for Chinese net domains, By Mark Ward, Technology Correspondent, BBC News website

And most of the other 900 million people in China don’t use English, so Chinese language domain names make a lot of sense in China, and China has proceeded to implement them. This is not news to people who follow domain name implementations, and the new Chinese domains were mentioned in the Wall Street Journal in January 2006.

So the legendary recalcitrance of ICANN to move ahead with top level domains has led to the world’s largest country going ahead anyway, in order to promote their domestic economy. Continue reading

Online Education: Risk or Opportunity?

Online education has been booming, and now probably will boom more, since the U.S. Congress is proposing to lift its requirement for 50 percent of courses to be held in physical space to qualify for federal student aid. Extensive lobbying by the for-profit online educational lobby helped produce this change, and high level connections didn’t hurt:

Sally L. Stroup, the assistant secretary of education who is the top regulator overseeing higher education, is a former lobbyist for the University of Phoenix, the nation’s largest for-profit college, with some 300,000 students.

Online Colleges Receive a Boost From Congress By SAM DILLON, New York Times, Published: March 1, 2006

The risk comes here:

Yet commercial higher education continues to have a checkered record, particularly for aggressive recruitment and marketing. The Department of Education’s inspector general, John P. Higgins Jr., testified in May that 74 percent of his fraud cases involved for-profit schools.

The article didn’t say what percentage of online degrees involved fraud; one would guess it’s a small percent.

A related risk that I’ve heard some executives complain about is that online education doesn’t provide the socialization for which college is famous. But of course we’ve heard that about everything online from electronic mail to IM to World of Warcraft, and we’ve seen that online communications, while indeed lacking in the face to face aspects, provide certain socialization advantages, such as time-shifting, global reach, and the ability to communicate with more people of more different types.

So I’d say the jury is still out as to whether online education is a risk or an opportunity. Like many things, it is probably both.


PS: Seen in a posting by Dave Hughes on dewayne-net.