Monthly Archives: January 2007

Science Publishers Get Confused

Interesting discussion in Salon, provoked by a brief blog review of an article in Nature:

The free information movement is really coming of age, if one is to judge by the enemies it’s making. Nature has a doozy of an article out this week reporting that a group of scientific publishers, including Elsevier, Wiley and the American Chemical Society, have hired a notorious public relations gunslinger to fight back against those kooks who think scientific information should be freely accessible to all.

Science publishers get stupid, Andrew Leonard, How the World Works, Salon, 25 Jan 2007

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Internet Radio DRM?

Apparently the U.S. Senate wants Internet radio providers to use Digital Rights Management (DRM), in S.256, also known as the “Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music Act” (PERFORM):
Then there are the issues related to the use of DRM. Since there’s no such thing as an open DRM standard broadcasters will likely pick and choose from the motley assortment of available options. Not only will this create confusion among consumers, but it will likely leave many users out in the cold. Very few DRM schemes are cross-platform, and the ones that are (FairPlay) would likely not be available to Internet broadcasters.

Chances are that many broadcasters would select Microsoft’s DRM system, effectively turning Internet radio into a Windows-only medium (and ironically leaving Zune users out of the loop).

Washington Tries Its Best To Kill Internet Radio Powered by BlogBurst, by Kirk Biglione, Medialoper – An entertainment publication for people who think, Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Biglione points out that Internet radio already pays the same music licensing fees as traditional radio, plus extra fees. To also require this extra technology could put many Internet radio stations out of business. Continue reading

Look Up!

Mike Neuenschwander proposes a Law of Relational Risk:

Contribution to the relationship that is not met proportionally by the other participants is a loss to the contributor.

Law of Relational Risk, Mike Neuenschwander, Burton Group Identity Blog, January 24, 2007

His point is that everybody hates to lose time, money, emotions, whatever that have been contributed to communication, but people often don’t think of the key feature is that such contributions being unreciprocated is what makes them lost. In other words, if the other parties put in just as much, then there is reciprocation and a relationship of some sort, including at least the possiblity of mutual benefit. Skin in the game, if you will. If they don’t, then you’ve only been suckered. This is a good point, although it has a number of exceptions and maybe even more ramifications.

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Anti-Trust to Provide Net Neutrality?

Dave Farber wrote an op-ed last week:

The Internet needs a makeover. Unfortunately, congressional initiatives aimed at preserving the best of the old Internet threaten to stifle the emergence of the new one.

Hold Off On Net Neutrality By David Farber and Michael Katz, Washington Post, Friday, January 19, 2007; Page A19

He rightly points out that government invervention could be a cure worse than the disease. (Have I mentioned ISO-OSI lately?) However, I have some problems with his proposed solution.

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ITU Stops Trying to Take over Internet

For some time there’s been a possibility of the functions of ICANN being subsumed by the ITU, but it appears that’s not going to happen:
The Internet should continue to be overseen by major agencies including ICANN and the ITU, rather than any new “superstructure,” the new head of the International Telecommunications Union said on Friday.

Hamadoun Toure, who took up the reins of the United Nations agency this month, said the ITU would focus on tackling cyber-security and in narrowing the “digital divide” between rich and poor countries.

Internet should be run by key players: new ITU boss Reuters, Fri Jan 12, 1:04 PM ET

I’m not a big fan of ICANN, but its best feature is exactly its worst feature: it doesn’t get much done, so it doesn’t do much harm. Continue reading


USAToday announces that AT&T is selling unbundled DSL:
Within a few months, AT&T is expected to start charging $19.95 a month for “naked” DSL, meaning you don’t have to buy any other AT&T (T) service, including phone, to get that rate. It currently charges $45 for a stand-alone broadband subscription.

AT&T also is developing $10 DSL for new subscribers who also buy AT&T-branded phone service.

AT&T plans to offer both services for at least 30 months. The clock starts as soon as the media giant starts selling them in any of the 22 states where it is the incumbent local phone company, including California, Florida, Illinois and Texas.

AT&T to offer $20 ‘naked’ DSL service By Leslie Cauley, USA TODAY, Updated 1/15/2007 3:49 AM ET

Sounds good, eh? Continue reading

Black Swans, the Internet, and Renewable Energy

A recent post about Bob Metcalfe’s FOCACA proposal led to some comment discussion. What does it take to produce innovation, in renewable energy, or the Internet (or more likely in both interacting)?

Let’s ask John Robb, the military stategist:

Here’s how. Warfare in our current complex environment (as opposed to the last century and earlier) is very similar to the areas of science/finance where stochastic processes dominate. Since stochastic dominance implies a high level of randomness in outcomes, tinkering networks (ie. open source insurgencies) tend to generate substantially higher returns on effort than highly planned activities (ie. nation-building).

Stochastic tinkerers and warfare, John Robb, Global Guerillas, Monday, 01 January 2007

Hm, that’s almost like the bazaar instead of the cathedral.

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For a while I’ve been saying that once we actually get going on doing something about global warming, we’ll come up with new ideas that will cascade in the same way as computing did. Trust Bob Metcalfe to be on about the same idea:

The trick, if you want actually to solve Global Warming, is to keep clear the paths of people I’ll call “techies” – scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists (including me). Techies are the people who just took 30 years to build the Internet and who will take about the same time to solve Global Warming. They will solve Global Warming mostly by developing technologies that deliver cheap and clean energy. And they will do it SOONER if we can keep alarmists and deniers out of their way, and let FOCACA ring.

Viridian Note 00485: Metcalfe on Enertech, by Bruce Sterling, 8 Jan 2007

What’s FOCACA? "Freedom of choice among competing alternatives." Metcalfe reminds us that that’s what brought us cellphones, Ethernet, and the Internet.

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Net Neutrality and Windows Vista

Two senators, one from each party, introduce a net neutrality act:
Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) today introduced the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2007.

Dem. and Rep. Senators Introduce Bipartisan Neutrality Bill

Why is this important, beyond all the reasons previously discussed? Continue reading

Beijing News v.

Jon Harmon demonstrates that it’s hard to write science fiction these days, when events often happen sooner than expected. In 2004 a flash film, Epic 2014 proposed that in 2011 the New York Times would sue the conglomerate aggregator Googlezon for copyright infringement. Well, it’s already happening: the Beijing News is suing Chinese aggregator in Shanghai. For copyright infringement. In China. The irony!

The suit is only for damages of $400,000, but it’s an interesting test case. Is suing your competitors good risk management? I guess we’ll see.