Monday, 30 December 2002
A key difference between TCP streams and VoIP or other 'real time' streams is that TCP packets always tend toward the size of the maximum permissible packet size for the route (often around 1500 bytes due to Ethernet packet sizes). Real-time packets sacrifice efficiency to achieve lower latency, and typically send smaller packets (the efficiency loss is that the per-packet addressing overhead is a larger proportion of the overall stream).
Stuart has argued that the best QoS algorithm is the simplest - move RT packets to the front of the queue, minimizing their latency. This only needs a single QoS bit.
So here's my proposal: use packet length as a heuristic for latency needs. When queuing, move shorter packets to the front of the queue.
You're only queueing when congestion is involved, so this should have little or no effect on the uncongested case. It will increase the Round Trip Time marginally for TCP, which should make it back off accordingly, and will make TCP-type packets more prone to dropping due to queue overflow (which is the desired effect as TCP adapts to this).
Cash is the original example of a network effect - Metcalf's Law applies to currencies (If you disagree I have some zlotys here for you).
Starting a new currency is hard. Paypal basically did it by good usability implementation and a lot of bribery with VC money (the $5 spiffs to new entrants and their introducers, the total absence of fees for individuals until they were hooked and dependent as businesses).
Cybercash, eCash et al failed in some ways by doing too good a job of security at the expense of usability, in the same way PGP has, as well as by being too early to work the bribe trick and ride eBay's market.
Trusting Paypal is like trusting the US or UK not to inflate the currency too much. One kind of private currency a lot of people got burned by accepting payment in over the last few years was company stock.
AKMA comments on the distinction between different kinds of reputation - moral versus financial, and then says part of what David�s saying is that credit ratings and credit cards generally work pretty well, and I suspect it�s worth building out from there.
This is where I disagree. Credit Cards work OK mostly; credit ratings work really clumsily. People spend inordinate amounts of time and effort doing illogical things to improve their credit profiles. I notice this more than most; as a US resident alien I discovered that my lack of US credit history meant that I could not obtain credit cards at all except on remarkably onorous terms, (eg I deposit $1000, get a $1000 credit line, am charged $20 a month and get an APR of 30%).
I got credit card solicitations commensurate with my salary like everyone else (along with the frankly insulting ones), but if I took them up I'd be rejected by the credit bot, and my rating would then have 'rejected' on it too. If I took up 0% credit lines and behaved rationally, paying them off before they expired without penalty, that was a further black mark. The thing to do is take out a loan on whatver terms are offered, make regular payments and wait 5 years.
Jaron Lanier said:
Real, though miniature, Turing Tests are happening all the time, every day, whenever a person puts up with stupid computer software.
For instance, in the United States, we organize our financial lives in order to look good to the pathetically simplistic computer programs that determine our credit ratings. We borrow money when we don't need to, for example, to feed the type of data to the programs that we know they are programmed to respond to favorably.
In doing this, we make ourselves stupid in order to make the computer software seem smart. In fact we continue to trust the credit rating software even though there has been an epidemic of personal bankruptcies during a time of very low unemployment and great prosperity.
We have caused the Turing test to be passed. There is no epistemological difference between artificial intelligence and the acceptance of badly designed computer software.
How about a distributed reputation system that is the inverse of a credit rating agency -one that collates individuals' experiences with financial institutions and gives them a corresponding rating? That sounds interesting.
Finally, you should all go and read Cory Doctorow's book 'Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom' (to be published Jan 9th)- Whuffie is reputation based finance, and the novel examines the implications:
Whuffie recaptured the true essence of money: in the old days, if you were broke but respected, you wouldn't starve; contrariwise, if you were rich and hated, no sum could buy you security and peace. By measuring the thing that money really represented -- your personal capital with your friends and neighbors -- you more accurately gauged your success.
Saturday, 28 December 2002
Try this out at your local farmers market. Walk up to the chap selling fruit & veg, and offer him cash for them. He doesn't know you from (AKM) Adam, yet he'll readily take your cash, and you'll buy his fruit (assuming it isn't mouldy or over-priced in your opinion).
The great trick here is cash. A medium of exchange. This is the original economic technology hack, and it is a remarkably good one, as it avoids the whole trust conundrum, or rather, offloads it onto a certifying authority. All the authority certifies is the money, not the parties to the exchange at all. Try paying at the farmers market with a credit card, and see how far that gets you (do take another form of ID with you too).
The succesful online payment company, PayPal, takes this approach, certifying the existence of the money, not the worthiness of the individuals.
David Chaum's work on anonymous digital cash should not be forgotten here. His key patents expire in 2005...
Tuesday, 24 December 2002
When men have nothing else to occupy their minds, they take to thinking. Having nothing better to do until B. arrived, I fell to musing.
What a wonderful piece of Socialism modern civilisation has become - not the Socialism of the so-called Socialists-a system modelled apparently upon the methods of the convict prison-a system under which each miserable sinner is to be compelled to labour, like a beast of burden, for no personal benefit to himself, but only for the good of the community-a world where there are to be no men, but only numbers-where there is to be no ambition and no hope and no fear,-but the Socialism of free men, working side by side in the common workshop, each one for the wage to which his skill and energy entitle him; the Socialism of responsible, thinking individuals, not of State-directed automata.
Here was I, in exchange for the result of some of my labour, going to be taken by Society for a treat, to the middle of Europe and back. Railway lines had been laid over the whole 700 or 800 miles to facilitate my progress; bridges had been built, and tunnels made; an army of engineers, and guards, and signal-men, and porters, and clerks were waiting to take charge of me, and to see to my comfort and safety. All I had to do was to tell Society (here represented by a railway booking-clerk) where I wanted to go, and to step into a carriage; all the rest would be done for me. Books and papers had been written and printed; so that if I wished to beguile the journey by reading, I could do so. At various places on the route, thoughtful Society had taken care to be ready for me with all kinds of refreshment (her sandwiches might be a little fresher, but maybe she thinks new bread injurious for me). When I am tired of travelling and want to rest, I find Society waiting for me with dinner and a comfortable bed, with hot and cold water to wash in and towels to wipe upon. Wherever I go, whatever I need, Society, like the enslaved genii of some Eastern tale, is ready and anxious to help me, to serve me, to do my bidding, to give me enjoyment and pleasure. Society will take me to Ober-Ammergau, will provide for all my wants on the way, and, when I am there, will show me the Passion Play, which she has arranged and rehearsed and will play for my instruction; will bring me back any way I like to come, explaining, by means of her guide-books and histories, everything upon the way that she thinks can interest me; will, while I am absent, carry my messages to those I have left behind me in England, and will bring me theirs in return; will look after me and take care of me and protect me like a mother-as no mother ever could.
All that she asks in return is, that I shall do the work she has given me to do. As a man works, so Society deals by him.
To me Society says: "You sit at your desk and write, that is all I want you to do. You are not good for much, but you can spin out yards of what you and your friends, I suppose, call literature; and some people seem to enjoy reading it. Very well: you sit there and write this literature, or whatever it is, and keep your mind fixed on that. I will see to everything else for you. I will provide you with writing materials, and books of wit and humour, and paste and scissors, and everything else that may be necessary to you in your trade; and I will feed you and clothe you and lodge you, and I will take you about to places that you wish to go to; and I will see that you have plenty of tobacco and all other things practicable that you may desire-provided that you work well. The more work you do, and the better work you do, the better I shall look after you. You write-that is all I want you to do."
"But," I say to Society, "I don't like work; I don't want to work. Why should I be a slave and work?"
"All right," answers Society, "don't work. I'm not forcing you. All I say is, that if you don't work for me, I shall not work for you. No work from you, no dinner from me-no holidays, no tobacco."
And I decide to be a slave, and work.
Society has no notion of paying all men equally. Her great object is to encourage brain. The man who merely works by his muscles she regards as very little superior to the horse or the ox, and provides for him just a little better. But the moment he begins to use his head, and from the labourer rises to the artisan, she begins to raise his wages.
Of course hers is a very imperfect method of encouraging thought. She is of the world, and takes a worldly standard of cleverness. To the shallow, showy writer, I fear, she generally pays far more than to the deep and brilliant thinker; and clever roguery seems often more to her liking than honest worth. But her scheme is a right and sound one; her aims and intentions are clear; her methods, on the whole, work fairly well; and every year she grows in judgment.
One day she will arrive at perfect wisdom, and will pay each man according to his deserts.
But do not be alarmed. This will not happen in our time.
Monday, 23 December 2002
Lo, He abhors not the Virgins womb
is dreadful. It is hard to parse, uses obscure words badly, brings up a rather nasty mental image, and doesn't even scan.
Saturday, 21 December 2002
Anyway, while checking that my new BigZoo calling card access numbers really were local toll-free with SBC, I came up with a solution. When the local carrier is switching you to a toll number, it should play a recorded voice saying 'local toll' (or even better 'local toll 10 cents a minute').
You should be able to turn this off by explict request, but if the local telco did this BY DEFAULT, the chance of people accidentally running up huge dialup modem bills by mistake would be greatly reduced.
Of course, they make money from these mistakes, so it may require regulation to enforce this, but as local toll calls are now competitive, (which is why I was billed the $600 by AT&T, not SBC) SBC could do it to warn you that AT&T was about to bill you.
The real scandal of course is why InterLATA calls (over 17 notional miles within the area code) cost more than my calling card charges me to call the UK per minute.
Friday, 20 December 2002
Firstly, I don't understand why commoditizing something is deemed to a be a bad thing. If something is a commodity, it basically means that a market is operating well, and that its price has stabilised at an equilibrium; it is the things that aren't commoditized that are problematic- their values fluctuate wildly through fashion. A commodity business is predictable enough that you can employ MBAs to run it.
If we could commoditize connectivity, that would be great. Joel's essay on 'Commoditizing your complements' is interesting here, and explains some of the forces that move things towards Open Source or Infrastructure.
Eric says the internet is *truly* economically destructive in the sense that it bends the assumptions of supply and demand to the point that making money gets progressively harder over time (since the public domain chews everything up).
This shows a profound misunderstanding of economic value. Value is created by exchange. If I buy a sushi lunch, I value it more than the $12 it costs me. Conversely the sushi chef values the $12 more than the sushi. If this wasn't true, one of us would not make the trade. Thus, by trading, we have increased the total amount of value in the world.
The net enables these kinds of exchanges to happen more easily, reducing friction and delays, as well as enabling other value-creating ones like this conversation.
Arbitrage is when you move things from one place where they are less valued to another where they are more valued, and keep the differnce (less transport costs). This 'taking between' is the literal meaning of 'entrepreneur'. The net, by easing communication, reduces the opportunities for these kinds of gains.
This article explains how things play out by using economic data derived from web sales. You get commoditized, low-cost operations, and premium, high-service operations coexisting, just as you do in the real world.
This is what David was getting at with his recording industry example. It is the distribution side that gets squished, as that is all about moving things around. The creating music and discovering artists part is still valuable, but it no longer needs to be tied up with the distribution based companies. Which leads me neatly to mediAgora.
Tuesday, 17 December 2002
Hence the Ident-i-Eeze. This encoded every single piece of information about you, your body and your life into one all- purpose machine-readable card that you could then carry around in your wallet, and therefore represented technology's greatest triumph to date over both itself and plain common sense.
mostly harmless, 1992
The legend is this:
`The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair.'
mostly harmless, 1992
Tuesday, 10 December 2002
This links in a weird way with what was said at the Harvard 'Managing Innovation' conference I attended - that Business School management can't do disruptive innovation.
So, what we need is business school managment doing the commodity connectivity business, with their 6 sigma quality and 5 9's uptimes and leave services to crazy individuals who like the risk of being in the fashion business.
Thursday, 5 December 2002
He missed the obvious solution though - the TPC fax gateway (which Demon sponsor to any fax machine in the UK):
email Tony Blair by fax
Tuesday, 3 December 2002
Sony Music Entertainment [announced] the advent of its new "Label Gate" digital rights management (DRM) package. Beginning in 2003, all CDs released from Sony Japan will carry this protection.
Label Gate is a one-two punch: Every track on a protected CD will be encoded, and the customer must use Sony's proprietary software to play back the tracks on a computer. This prevents people from converting the music tracks ("ripping") into other formats, such as MP3 or WAV, and sharing them over the Internet. Sounds pretty good, right? Wrong. Not for consumers, and, ultimately, not for Sony.
Unfortunately, this sort of action on Sony's part only hurts consumers --those that legitimately buy their products -- by making listening to music a hassle. Further, it violates the doctrine of Fair Use -- the ability to use a product you have legally purchased in any legal way you see fit. Sony has effectively made it impossible for a user with a couple of computers and an MP3 player to make copies of songs he has legitimately purchased. Further, DRM software actually encourages people to search for "unrestricted" copies of tracks online, through peer-to-peer networks. Unrestricted tracks would allow you to listen to the songs wherever and whenever you please.
If the record companies want to compete with peer-to-peer networks, they're going to have to find a way to give customers fast, inexpensive access to music. Restricting access and hassling customers is bad business, no matter how you look at it.
Let me state here a personal conviction that appears, right now, to be profoundly unfashionable; which is that a planned economy can be more productive - and more morally desirable - than one left to market forces. The market is a good example of evolution in action; the try-everything-and-see-what-works approach. This might provide a perfectly morally satisfactory resource-management system so long as there was absolutely no question of any sentient creature ever being treated purely as one of those resources. The market, for all its (profoundly inelegant) complexities, remains a crude and essentially blind system, and is - without the sort of drastic amendments liable to cripple the economic efficacy which is its greatest claimed asset - intrinsically incapable of distinguishing between simple non-use of matter resulting from processal superfluity and the acute, prolonged and wide-spread suffering of conscious beings.
It is, arguably, in the elevation of this profoundly mechanistic (and in that sense perversely innocent) system to a position above all other moral, philosophical and political values and considerations that humankind displays most convincingly both its present intellectual [immaturity and] - through grossly pursued selfishness rather than the applied hatred of others - a kind of synthetic evil.
Intelligence, which is capable of looking farther ahead than the next aggressive mutation, can set up long-term aims and work towards them; the same amount of raw invention that bursts in all directions from the market can be - to some degree - channelled and directed, so that while the market merely shines (and the feudal gutters), the planned lases, reaching out coherently and efficiently towards agreed-on goals. What is vital for such a scheme, however, and what was always missing in the planned economies of our world's experience, is the continual, intimate and decisive participation of the mass of the citizenry in determining these goals, and designing as well as implementing the plans which should lead towards them.
Used to planning plotlines across many galaxies in his novels, Iain completely misses the point that in a market economy, the intelligent planning is done by all the individuals in parallel. Some plans work out better than others, which is fine, and clearly better than us all having to agree the same plan, and stick to that. You can't plan innovation collectively, becasue you don't know what form it will take.
As for 'treating people as resources' - that is exactly what centrally planned economies do. Banks should read the Gulag Archipelago or any of Robert Conquest's histories.
Monday, 2 December 2002
I worked at the Interactive Television Unit (the BBC department that was founded for the Domesday Project) for the last 3 months of its existence in 1989 before it was spun out into the MultiMedia Corporation in Jan 1990 (I then worked at MMC until 1997, when it became a shell company owned by the stockbrokers, but that's another story).
When we left the BBC, they had all the original video data on Broadcast quality masters, and all the digital data preserved on VAX tapes. They must have thrown those out in the intervening 12 years (which wouldn't surprise me).
I know of two former MMC directors who have CD-ROM backups of the digital data and working Domesday systems.
Which is not to decry the work in emulating it - that is the real long-term answer. This is the technical (as oppossed to the economic) reason why DRM is futile. The Church-Turing thesis (that any universal computer can emulate any other one), when combined with Moore's law (that Computer power doubles every 18 months) means that we will always be able to run old software in emulation. The corollary is that emulation is often the best solution, even compared to recompilation of the original source. As I've said before, MAME is the most impressive example of this truth, though the 68000 emulator running inside the 'Classic' emulator on OS X is another worthy example.
Saturday, 30 November 2002
This is a shame - still, other people are picking up on the idea.
Welcome Microsoft, seriously. The sooner you stop pretending to the publishing industry that DRM is a good idea, and they should buy yours, the sooner we can move on to making a real marketplace for media
It's well written, and worth reading. I'll wait while you do....
...OK then The problem with it is the author's barely-masked contempt for any real writing online, in his pursuit of the chimerae of dead literature mediated through AI. Had he connected with other living writers online, he would have realised that their conversations were what he was missing, rather than the simulcra he found. The implication at the end that we cannot tell stories except in person, and that new media cannot help at all is so wrong that it jars the rest of the piece.
Friday, 29 November 2002
Thursday, 28 November 2002
Here is a performance of it by Clive Gregson and Christine Collister (Love is a Strange Hotel, the CD I got it from, has been deleted; you might find a copy on eBay or Amazon auctions).
Today is Thanksgiving in the US. Give thanks for those we have known, and those still dancing with us.
Wednesday, 27 November 2002
we asked users to find the supplies they'd need to install a new kitchen floor. One user was a particularly sad case: On a page that asked for the square footage of the area to be covered, he was swearing as he tried to calculate his floor area by hand. Next to the form he was struggling with was a large animated graphic with flying words, including "room planner," "set up room size," "length," "width," and several other terms indicating that the box linked to an application for computing floor sizes. Too bad this user didn't see it. Nor did our other test users. To get usability data about the actual Flash design, we had to force people to launch the application.
The problem is clear: users try to avoid anything that's overly hyped or promoted, especially if it looks like an advertisement.
I find this very encouraging, though if Advertisers take it to heart, we'll have a lot more stealth advertising.
Sunday, 24 November 2002
However, he doesn't mention Joseph Schmidt of San Francisco,who make the yummieat chocolate in the world. (note that they don't ship on Thursdays or Fridays so it doesn't melt in the post - no wax there).
The entertainment business is driven by two great devils: greed and terror.
And nowhere do these twin monsters reveal themselves more clearly than in the current demand by the entertainment industry for perpetual copyright and universal copy protection.
I make my living from copyright, so you'd think I'd have more sympathy for the music and film industries. After all, I wouldn't appreciate it if somebody started taking my books and letting people read them ... for free! Without paying me each time!
Oh, wait. They already do. In fact, the government does it -- with libraries.
But ordinary citizens do, too. They buy my books and then lend them to friends. They proudly tell me, "Fifteen people have read this copy of your book."
The entertainment industry is convinced that digital copying is completely different. If you can get a perfect copy of a cd for free, why would you pay for one? Therefore, they have to eliminate the possibility.
They are so wrong.
The only piracy that hurts the publishers is when somebody copies their music and sells it. Otherwise, it's the modern equivalent of singing around the piano.
And I will never, never buy a copy-protected cd. I have too much good music already to need to give in to this paranoid, greedy, self-defeating attempt to keep me from using the cds I buy in the way I choose to use them.
And for those who say, Ah, but would you put your books online where people could download them for free? -- well, my answer is, I not only would, I did. Until the bookstore chains made me stop.
It didn't cost me royalties. It widened my audience. But try persuading a greedy paranoid of that!
Thursday, 21 November 2002
You can't just start up your own radio station because you might be interfering with, say, the batch of spectrum used to dispatch emergency vehicles. Besides, if everyone started up a radio station, the signals would be overlapping right, left, up and down. So, we need a centralized chokepoint to divide up the spectrum rationally.
Except put that in the past tense. New technology can do real-time negotiation of spectrum, seeking the optimal wavelength the way Internet routers seek the best next hop. Assigning fixed bandwidth necessarily means wasting bandwidth, like keeping cars locked into assigned lanes even if the result is bumper-to-bumper traffic in one lane and empty lanes on either side of it.
In effect, we can do to spectrum what the Internet has done to networks. By putting all the intelligence on the edges, the network can support maximum innovation.
Wednesday, 20 November 2002
John Udell repeats my point about signed email being the long-term answer to spam.
Michael Wolff namedrops about hanging with the moguls, but thinks that:
the next big thing was that we would all soon find out how unhappy everybody is in the media business. That nobody can enjoy or get satisfaction from working in an uncertain colossus. That there is a dark and growing rage in the ranks. That while we partied, the media business was rebelling from within. It would be pulled apart by a bigness-induced psychosis, as well as by the ever-growing pressure and sure futility of the search for the next big thing.
Kevin Myers is becoming a censor:
...censors these days have become relics of ancient rituals: the guardsmen inspecting the vaults of Westminster searching for more associates of Mr Fawkes, or the tipstaff offering non-existent protection to a judge from a non-existent mob.
[...]Although the internet means that off-screen protection is almost impossible to achieve these days, we noble censors can't shirk our duty because of this. So at the one time, being a censor contains the impossible contradictions of being utterly ridiculous yet also being morally vital.
Peter Chernin is spouting again:
Using terms like "looting," "piracy" and "digital hijacking," Chernin said that the rampant free downloading of copyrighted material is akin to shoplifting. The big difference, however, is that downloading music and movies for free is tolerated.
Perhaps if companies like News International hadn't devalued music and movies by making them available 'free' as long as you suffer through advertisements, people's perceptions of their value would be higher. Jim Griffin says something like this, in his argument for nationalizing P2P systems:
Making art feel free, without being free, is the history of media. Radio, television, newspapers, magazines � almost all take a loss on distribution.
Doc Searls explains the real problem:
In commercial broadcasting, for example, customers and consumers are totally different populations. You and I pay nothing for what we hear on our car radios. We're just consumers. The customers of the stations we hear are the advertisers who buy time.
The same goes for commercial television. Consumers of commercial TV have no economic relationship whatsoever with their local NBC station, with the network, or with the producers of shows. All the "content" is just bait. Chum on the waters. The commercial broadcasting marketplace is a conversation that exists entirely between the media, advertisers and intermediaries such as advertising agencies.
The consumers have zero influence, basically, on commercial television because they pay nothing, and don't have any kind of direct feedback mechanism. And if we put that mechanism in place (as the Net and TiVo threaten to do), guess what happens? The colossal inefficiencies of advertising get exposed. A $100 billion business worldwide is suddenly at risk.
There is negative demand for most TV and radio advertising. It subtracts value for listeners and viewers. That's why TiVo viewers skip over the ads. TiVo isn't exactly Net-native, but it could easily be. And eventually, it will be, if its backers let it survive.
Andrew Marr met David Hockney:
Hockney is a great critic of government interference, from pornography to banning fox hunting, and told me he went on the recent Countryside Alliance demonstration in London. He had marched under a placard with the excellent general sentiment, "End Bossiness Now". But on reflection he thought that perhaps this was a little aggressive, a little peremptory. So he has carefully altered it for the lapel badges he now gives out, which read, rather more wryly and Britishly, "End Bossiness Soon". It made me feel quite patriotic.
Perhaps. On the other hand, this report combined with these posters do make my joke about being a political exile from England seem less funny.
Kevin Kelly explains the Universe-as-computer idea, but misses out the subtlety of the 'free will as the halting problem' idea.
Sony comes up with the most clueless locked-up CD scheme yet. AKMA is aghast.
Wednesday, 13 November 2002
Thursday, 7 November 2002
Wednesday, 6 November 2002
A semi-submersible options holder of Mountain View writes:
I don�t think you get what is being described here. �Gates is talking about annotating a web page with a pen, (which means you can draw arrows, underline things, circle one person in a group picture or whatever) then sending that page to someone.
Weblogging or normal email would allow you to send a link and a comment but that is not the same thing.
Gates' example is something that's better to give than receive, like voicemail.
Getting a monster bitmap of the article with scribbles on, instead of a link to page is not enticing if it isn't coming from the richest man in the world. If it can annotate the page and make a valid HTML page of the result, that's interesting. It's doable as well - have a look at this QuickTopic version of the Windows Media DRM page
Another correspondent comments:
I couldn't pass up the opportunity to point out that in your article on BBBG (Big Bad Bill Gates) using his tablet PC to annotate magazine articles. He probably can't if his tablet incorporates DRM. He'll have an expensive hunk o' plastic and glass, and he'll still be tearing out magazine articles and sending them to his buds.
John Halderman, a computer scientist from Princeton University in New Jersey, plans to show delegates at a digital copyright conference in Washington DC next week that the idea of CD copy-prevention is "fundamentally misguided".[...]
The record industry could lose a fortune if people stop buying CDs and make their own copies. Halderman reckons he has a solution for them. "Reduce the cost of new CDs; if discs cost only a few dollars each, buying them might be preferable to spending the time and effort to make copies or find them online."
CNET.com By melding the two companies' products, they hope to be able to improve compatibility with computers. The companies also promise that by next year CDs using their joint copy-protection technology will include two versions of songs--one for ordinary CD players, and one that can be loaded onto computer hard drives in much the same way that MP3s can be "ripped" or copied onto computers today. Listeners will not be able to make unrestricted copies of these alternate digital files, but the songs will be able to be transferred to mobile devices such as MP3 players and even burned onto CDs in a limited way, company executives said.
"We've kind of learned over the past year that consumers are really fighting this," said Brian Dunn, Macrovision's senior vice president of business development. "They want more flexibility."
I do hope the labels don't fall for this. If it can be heard, it can be copied. These things are just customer-deterrents.
Tuesday, 5 November 2002
For the geek who thinks he has everything, you could give him the raw materials to make anything - samples of the complete periodic table of the elements.
Also, they are among those lobbying the FCC for the removal of all documentation and accounting requirements, so records of disputed bills vanish (their online billing only holds a 3-month history).
Lots of interesting info at TeleTruth
Friday, 1 November 2002
For years, William H. Gates III and Warren E. Buffett have routinely mailed each other magazine articles that have caught their eye. They rip pieces out of the magazines, jot notes in the margins, and pop them in the mail. Gates anticipates the day when he won't have to mess with all that. With his new Tablet PC, he plans to call up articles from the Web, scrawl thoughts on the screen with a digital pen, and shoot it off to Buffett via e-mail. He's already using an early version of tablet software to send electronically annotated articles to Microsoft colleagues. "I have anticipated this for many, many years. And here it is," says Gates.
Am I the only one who found this laughable? You don't need to spend millions on research and thousands on a tablet computer to do this; you just need to get free weblogging software. Can't Gates type?
Thursday, 31 October 2002
Or do they still? The American Halloween, or autumn confectionery begging festival, was making inroads when we left the UK 5 years ago.
Here, we carve pumpkins, we dress up for Jerry's annual Halloween party, and tonight we'll dress up again and walk the leafy lanes of Willow Glen with the boys collecting sweets and chocolate from strangers dressed as monsters, then hide it from them the next day so they don't spend the day riding blood sugar rushes and crashes.
It was a lot of fun walking the neighbourhood - top tips:
Go out between 6 and 8pm;
The rule is, if the porch light is on, they have sweets ready and welcome visitors, otherwise, move on;
Kerb crawling in an SUV alongside your children running up and down the driveways is gauche.
Wednesday, 30 October 2002
Historically, areas with lots of numbers got a shorter area code. London was 01,
In the US, things are different. You have a seven-digit phone number, and a 3-digit area code. The pecking order here is the number of clicks for a rotary phone (and hence dialling time) - add up the digits of the area code, counting 0 as 10 to see how important your area was when they handed them out. Guess where has 212.
This scheme has its own logic, but it is not well-coupled with billing. Cellphones have numbers in the area code of the billing address, and calling them costs you more. Local calls are included in your monthly fee.
Long distance is by default charged at ridiculously inflated prices. Unless you buy a long distance service plan, you'll be billed a dollar a minute or more. There is no good way of telling what a call will cost you from the number you dial, and you won't find out for a month until you get the bill.
There is one particular trap for the unwary that I fell into recently. Because of the historic size of area codes, some calls to the same area code are not counted as local, but are 'local toll' calls. Unwittingly, I had entered just such a number from the list supplied by my ISP into my computer to dial them when I updated the OS. As any kind of broadband is unobtainable in our area of the 'Capital of Silicon Valley', and as the only people who call after 8 pm are tele-marketers (our family being in a different time zone), I tend to dial into the net and leave the computer connected until I go to bed hours later.
I got the next Phone bill and saw a charge for $77 for local toll calls, to a number in Gilroy. I realised what had happened, changed the number and used the online billing service to complain to AT&T about this bill. No response.
I got the next bill. This time there was a charge of $493 for local toll. I called AT&T, escalated my way through customer service for 3 hours, faxed the details to the Disputes department, and now, a few weeks later, they still want nearly $600.
Tuesday, 29 October 2002
I then tried searching for other people's sites, and found Google has nothing cached newer then midnight on Saturday (search for CNN).
Normally it is only a few hours behind on frequently-updated sites like boingboing, Doc, slashdot, Scripting news or Instapundit, but today they're all frozen in the cache as of Friday.
Google News is still updating, but it is only a subset of mass media sites - the fresh blog news is just not there.
In the US, they butcher the pigs differently, and you never get Back bacon, just very fatty streaky bacon that is halfway to being crackling. However, if you go to Cosentinos, you can sometimes find Irish Bacon (imported from Ireland, no less). Or you can buy it online by mail order, so you can make proper Bacon Butties (HP sauce is available in many supermarkets).
There is also something called 'Canadian Bacon' which seems to be a kind of circular ham, but is not a bad subsitute for back bacon.
But what happens to the missing meaty bits in the US?
They get sold as Pork Loin, which is a splendid thing to marinate and barbeque or roast, and usually good value.
Monday, 28 October 2002
'Would sir care for something to drink?'
'I'll 'ave a cuppa tea'
'Earl Grey or Lapsang Souchong?'
'Nah mate, TEA!'
George Orwell explains the 'nice cuppa' better than anyone, while Douglas Adams explains the allure of Earl Grey (note that they differ on the crucial question of milk first or second - I'm with George on this one).
In America, if you are offered tea, what you will get is a cold, sweet drink made from teabags, cooled with ice and with sugar and lemon added. Getting an English-style cup of tea is quite difficult. Most restaurants will provide a teabag and lukewarm water on demand, which doesn't really work. In this part of California green tea is widely available, and this is generally supposed to be made with water that is off the boil. The ubiquity of coffee shops extends some hope, but Starbucks make poor tea, selling a range of teabags called 'Tazo' that trigger the 'Nah mate, TEA!' response in me, which is odd as I generally incline to the teasthete end of the spectrum. However, most supermarkets will sell you Twinings teabags, or even Tetley ones, for you to brew in the privacy of your own home. Trader Joes have a reasonably priced own-brand range.
The real answer for the teasthete is Peets Coffee and Tea who sell wonderful leaf tea at reasonable prices. There are several branches in the Bay area, and if you can't find one they'll deliver it.
Making your own is made more difficult by the problem of obtaining a decent electric kettle, as the US's 110 volt system means boiling water takes about twice as long as with the Uk's robust 240 volts, so boiling the kettle on the stove top may be quicker.
When you move to another country, timezone or even a different area within a country, a lot of your cultural referents are misplaced or disconnected. The obvious ones - your sudden lack of any sense of the geography of the place, or where to go to shop for anything, or what the currency is worth - are usually overcome quickly, but the more subtle ones can lurk for months or years before they bite and give that sudden moment of anomie, alienation or perhaps external prespective.
I am great believer in learning from others' experiences, and conversely sharing mine.
Here's the germ of the idea. I'm going to write about some of these cultural disconnects, and put the tag word 'alienaid' along with the topic, and the places I'm translating between in. See above for an example. As 'alienaid' is currently a null search on Google, if I do this and other people join in, searching for alienaid in additon to the terms or locations will give the cultural translation needed. If I get enough repsonses, I'll register alienaided.org and collect them there.
Sunday, 27 October 2002
Sunday, 20 October 2002
As others have said, adopting HTTP's "If-modified-since" timestamp fetch can help here, by only doing a full-page fetch when the RSS has changed. In addition, adopting RFC 3299's way of only sending changes will help reduce the bandwidth of the RSS fetches (I mentioned this back in January when it first came out).
However, this doesn't reduce the number of HTTP setup/teardowns. To do this, the aggregators need to get smarter. They can do this by estimating an update frequency for each feed - something modelled on TCP's congestion control (exponential back-off, with 'no change' treated as congestion) would probably suit well.
If the aggregator polls the feed, and finds no changes, it doubles the polling interval. If it polls and finds changes, it decrements the polling interval by the number of changes found multiplied by the overall polling frequency. The lower bound is the maximum polling frequency set by the user (once an hour is common). You could set an upper bound, or let it establish itself which blogs are moribund.
Wednesday, 16 October 2002
I was at a conference in Washington, DC on Friday and Saturday. Participants included some people who are reasonably plugged in to the Washington political process. I was stunned to hear one of these folks sum up the Washington conventional wisdom like this:
"The political dialog today is that the general purpose computer is a threat, not only to copyright but to our entire future."
(It's worth noting that he was repeating the views of others rather than offering his own opinion -- and that he had a general-purpose computer open on the table in front of him as he said this!)
If I could take just one concept from computer science and magically implant it into the heads of everybody in Washington -- I mean really implant it, so that they understood the idea and its importance in the same way that computer scientists do -- it would be the role of the general-purpose computer. I would want them to understand, most of all, why there is no such thing as an almost-general-purpose computer.
This is downright scary. I know I talked about Hollings outlawing Turing machines, but to hear that this is received wisdom is chilling.
Saturday, 12 October 2002
Wednesday, 9 October 2002
Surprisingly, this isn't that hard - I can certainly tell Denise from Akma and Doc from. Can you?
Tuesday, 8 October 2002
If you like surfing the web, it is probably because you believe people are basically good
WHEN economists try to explain why the Internet is more popular in one country than another, they usually point to factors such as the number of PCs, telephone lines or average years of schooling. But something less quantifiable may be more important: trust. This, at least, is the result of a recent study by Jonathan Leland and his colleagues at IBM, which compared 17 countries.
The Internet's anonymity and vastness encourage misrepresentation and fraud. Thus, people who are normally suspicious tend to shun the medium, while more trusting souls embrace it. To test this proposition, the team correlated OECD data on Internet adoption with results from the World Values Survey. One question the latter asks is: �Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted, or that you can't be too careful in dealing with people?�
The statistical link between trust and Internet adoption turns out to be surprisingly strong. The degree of trust in a society, as measured by the percentage of respondents who answered �yes� to the first part of the question above, explains almost two-thirds of national differences in the percentage of households that have Internet access. Even when controlled for other variables, such as the number of computers, trust remains an important factor.
Thursday, 3 October 2002
Simplicity is the answer to turbulence.
In 1998 Harrahs had built casinos in newly legal states. No new states, so no growth; competitors moving in with newer stuff.
Harrahs had built a great transactional database of customers. Loyalty card rewards customers for spying on their bets, correlating with restaurants.
It had been collected, but not used.
They had casinos over the whole country, so they wanted to build a national retail brand.
Competitors strategy was 'build it and they'll come' - Bellagio $1.8bn - the casino God would build if he had the money.
They pursued a switching strategy instead of a buidl new one - grow what they had, as they couldn't afford to compete on flashness.
1. Create a national brand.
2. Envelop customers with reasons to be loyal - provide excellent service
3. Use decision science to optimise customer profitability
Turning customer promiscuity into customer monogamy.
They build Pavlovian systems - driving reactions they want from customers.
Made a Marketing manager COO to focus on marketing. Company, not business units, owned the customer.
The Casino Owns the customer. (Sound like hacker-speak to me).
They have rooms so gamblers can sleep, restaurants so gamblers can eat.
They had 36% of market, but if they could increase by 1% the share price would go up $1.10. By 2001 they moved yp to 42%
People go to casinos to take risks. Their ads show the insides of casinos, not resorts. Found very strong correlation between service quality and return visits, so made sure managers knew this and invested in service.
They really take good care of the chips - count them, track them watch them - tell staff thta the chips are the means, the customers are the ends. Incentive program pays bonus if measured service goes up by 3%, irrespective of financial performance. Staff watch each other, and businesses compete as scores are published.
Need to distinguish between potentially good customers and observed behaviour. They would do epxerimental demographic filtering, send offers to see if they can bring people in. Targetting offers - carefully matching the offers they send to the people based on interest.
Treat all customers differently - good customers get treated better. 3 lines at the buffet - short platinum line, long normal line.
26 million American adults in database.
They have patent protection on doing this because they have mixed up the marketing with technology, and don't expect the patent to stand, but are using it to disrupt competitors.
Seen no impact from internet gambling - doesn't match the experience.
80% of business is slot machines. Slot advantage is 6%; Blackjack is about 1% if you are good, and it is service intensive. Table bets of $25 or less lose money. Harder to collect table game information as not automated.
Moore's law was faster than companies could adopt - he wanted them to speed up; he found they had overshot technology and tried to keep up with market.
Business cycle does not match the technology cyle - never. Value shows up eventulaly, but not where expected. Moores law is still running. Information revolution is still going, and other ones are too. Next generation growth is happening now, and what you do now will be part of it.
Currently fuzzy subjects like marketing and CRM will become scientific as more data is available.
When the going gets tough, short the future - all speculative stuff gets cut first, whereas the opposite needs to happen.
3 crazy ideas:
1. Zero out your IT budget
Or rather, merge it with the R&D budget - no difference between them. As information flow gets richer will be enveloped in information. develop IT wiht the products and services.
2. Manage your business like a portfolio manager
Tie yourself to the mast like Ulysses so you can't cheat yourself out of the future in bad times. Weight your investments in short term, mid term and long term. Cut carefully. Buy low and sell high - at least buy low.
3. Invest in next generation of technology infrastructure especially if you are broke.
BP invested in a new IT platform, then bought their competitors and put them on the same more efficient system.
Make sure you have:
Open Standards - don't choose too soon, but make sure all choices are open.
Component based architecture - OO techniques are a key part.
Separation of process, interface and data. Dont slap everything into HTML.
Getting big ideas is the easy part. The hard part is execution.
The new ideas never get through.
He describes it as bringing the edge of the network to where you are. Connecting everything - no doors, barriers walls. The revoltion is integration. Not wildly compelling for consumers - weaving together necessary information. The important question is who controls and owns data and authorises its use. (I thought that might be coming).
He said P&G within 12 months will be putting RFID's on every product so they can track inventory. Less than a penny per chip.
His user examples were the usal weirdness about intelligent agents knowing who was allowed to interrupt you in a meeting depending on who was with you in the meeting becasu they knwo your calendar.
These strange corporate control models are imbued through .NET - maybe thats why I don't get it; I'm already on the edge of the network blogging in the back, with interruptions under my control via iChat, and calenders shared with others here via the net. I don't want to spend time setting policies for it or having them derived from an org chart.
Another take from Denise
CC is very tall, AG is small - for a magazine they had a photo of CC leaning on his shoulder - he took a photo the other way round.
Valley of Death
Grove: Business growth was fuelled by structural transformation - mainframes to PCs - defined it for the whole industry.
that framework lasted 15 years, but it is changing with the Internet redefining software and hardware.
The horrible misjudgments about growth rates, this is due to a lack of understanding of the new framework - we still don't understand it.
It is going to be dominated by intellectual property created in digital form and transmitted in digital form.
We move from a computing world to a connected world where computing is subservient to this connected world, business changes.
Digital pipelines. Copying used to lose quality - attempts to ward of digital copying will fail this is a disruptive technology for everything - publishing, music.
This is immature, and we all have desires fro the other side of the valley.
Moderator: Strategic dissonance and accountability - how do you lead through this kind of transitions?
AG: He was watching the Sopranos while exercising - expecting a book on the management secrets of Tony Soprano. Beset by management challenges all the time, asks his uncle fro help 'you take your bumps, make your mistakes - half the time you are right, half the time you are wrong - enjoy the journey' None of us have an understanding of where we are heading. I don't. Take a shot and clean up the bad ones later and bump off the mangers you should. Try not to get too depressed. Keep your own spirits up even though you don't understand what you are doing.
Mod: How do you keep up?
AG: Partly self discipline, partly deception. The deception becomes reality - if you act confident you become more confident. Do two things. Act on your temporary conviction as if it was real. When you realise you were wrong correct course quickly.
AG: Notes that CC dodges question like politician.
CC: Watching execs launch new businesses. If you look back at companies that have launched successful new disruptive business, it has been by the founder. MBAs from Harvard never do this. Is there something about being the founder that gives you the self-confidence to make an irrational decision that changes direction. A pro manager has to make an evidence-based case, and if you wait for that evidence the game is over.
AG: Agrees 100%. Build your confidence. If you believe you have support of organisation above and below, you can make it happen. It is more likely to happen if you' re a founder and your life is interwoven with the company.
Secondarily, if you funded it you understand implicitly - it is in your skin. If you are an outside manager you are less likely to have confidence in your intuition. It ahs to be intuition as the numbers aren't there. Name examples otherwise?
CC: Multi-divisional companies eg HP LaserJet then InkJet. Dick Hapborn(?) of printer business - he J & J have 183 companies and have launched 4. Only two exceptions.
AG: Hapborn had been
CC: Uncomfortable with the teaching model in the HBS - 2 years from now a 2 year MBA will be regarded as a expensive mainframe, displaced by crummy on the job learning. On the job learning is getting better and more convenient. He did a case study - how could Harvard MBA program be disrupted? The patterns match the already case studies 99 said no 3 said yes. What data would convince you? Harvard's market share amongst CEOs of global 1000 - game over by then. All convincing data are trailing indicators. They crucify students who don't use data, but the teaching model makes managers act after the game is over. Can you teach intuition?
AG: Promote a sense of organisational commotion. Recognise people's aptitude to grasp what cannot be spelled out by data. You have to assume the persona making promotions can grasp this too - hard. What about Brand?
CC: Brand is exclusive - can't go down market.
AG: a degree from Harvard whether you learn anything or not the NPV of earnings is higher.
Mod: networked learning is next gen education.
CC: Spate of horrible accounting practices - Principal Agent theory from conferences. The agents (managers) can't be trusted to carry out the wishes fo the Principals who own the stock. Weight compensation to stock options to align incentives. The shenanigans to inflate stock prices have their root in this theory. Their behaviour is more complex. No hint of scandal at Intel
AG: Stock options are means to salve agency problem for top level managers. When people who own 20% of it give themselves 20 million options to get him over his motivational hurdle? Horrendous distortions of motivation of handful of people. It works with a broad distribution of stock to manangement and employees. Stock owners keep it closer to the company. Look at distribution fo stock options between top 5 officers and general staff. Stock options are not guilty- who you give them to is important.
Boards are moving in the right direction, under duress, but they started from being an advisory body to the CEO, selected by the CEO, rubber stamping his actions, like government scientific advisors. The CEO is supposed to be selected by the board - the other way round. Real world and theory are other way round.
Look at percentage where the Chairman and CEO are separate people. 85% it is the same person.
Mod: disruptive tech for governance?
CC: Not seen anything - feel the problem. resource allocation - senior managers only know what layer below divulges - managers have to struggle to get the info. A professional board is even more filtered; only know what they choose to divulge. More outsiders put even more uninformed people.
AG: Could ask for more subjects to be presented - exposure to more individuals. You can do a lot if you speak up. Board participation should be encouraged by chairman. I smell a disruptive technology coming that will make corporate life a nightmare - governance by shareholder propositions. Business-related propositions on the ballot for votes - eg get Intel out of Flash memory business - now board can make it invalid - proposal will eliminate these obstacles. I can see detailed propositions like this happening - governance is based on shareholders as individuals - institutions hold a large proportion and they will put propositions on strategic direction businesses will be run by shareholders.
Mod: Plebiscitary democracy.
Audience:Intel as brand? Ingredient brand - how was it created, and where is it going Intel Inside?
AG: 12 years ago prod mktg director didn't sell processors directly, so had to brand it indirectly. No matter what, there will always be an intel inside - it may mean things in addition to the microprocessor - communication too. He had to insist on keeping money for it, and argue with customers to put it in - diluting their brand. Now taken for granted. Needs refreshing.
Is the science of management getting in the way of the art of leadership?
CC: People reacting to data from bubble rather than intuition on what is right in the future. A lot of bad intuition from the past few years - how do we foster this.
AG: Business strategy has a problem between the science and the intuition. There is more to running a business than strategy The revolutions in QC and manufacturing techniques were all data driven and statistically driven. the economies have benefited incredibly from embracing the science of manufacturing & QC. Figuring out what to do is important, doing it well is equally important.
Managers are big users of Theory, but not always consciously. Predicting success for new ventures needs a new theory.
Epistemology now - how theory is built - read Kuhn and others to see how theory is made. Initially observation and description. Second phase is categorization - simplifying by clustering. Then you have a Theory of causation. Use the theory to predict, and feed forward - Popperian.
Observe, then eliminat anomalies. The big challenge is getting the categories right.
IBM used to be a hailed as a success for vertical integration; then when it stumbled the non-integrated companies were hailed - too broad categorizatiion.
A lot of management books are inductive - observe a few cases, state a theory, then look for supporting cases and summarize as a fad. Management reserach is impatient for a one size fits all theory and ignore categorization.
Case study - the big Idea group toy company - hold a big idea hunt in a hired high school in the midwest, and gather any ideas they hear from 30 minute pitch from anyone who comes. If they like the idea by intuition, they'll license it, make a plan and sell it - very successful. A quote from toy CEO 'Toys is a dead category - no new ideas in 15 years'. How can this be? Is the CEO not creative, or does he employ fools? No - it is a process problem. The lack of great ideas is not the constraint.
Ideas bubble up, but get shaped to fit the rules that middle mangers know about - they only want to propose successful ideas - they don't want rejection form senior management - they don't want their judgment questioned.
Sustaining innovations get through, but disruptive ones don't. Pattern recognition is needed for disruptive ideas - you need a theory for recognising this. You need 2 processes - one for sustaining ideas; one for disruptive ones. This way you can be a serial disruptive.
You need to recognise disruptive situations - there is an asymmetry of motivation, which is easier in a new business. Steel example from ID. Minimills started out making bad quality steel, which could only be used for rebar., and the big mills moved up to the more profitable high quality stuff. Minimills had a 20% cost advantage, so they drove the big mills out, then their prices collapsed. This repeated through angle iron, structural steel, and sheet steel. In each case, driving the integrated mills out led to a price collapse - they had to keep moving upmarket to chase the profits, and the big mills moved ahead of them.
When you enter a market, the established competitors are motivated to leave if there is an asymmetry of motivation - if they have a place to move to that is higher margin they will. With a sustaining tech the incumbent will win about 100%. You need to harness the asymmetry.
Current customers are no good for a new opportunity. A type 1 disruption is finding the new, low cost market that the established busines doesn't want. eg personal computer vs minis/mainframe.
Type 2 disruption is compete against non-consumption - find a new plane of competition. Cisco packet switch not good enough from telephony to start with, so market was open.
non consumers are the ideal initial target. Established companies try to improve the disruptive tech to fit their existing markets - vacuum tube manufacturers trying to raise power switching, while Sony found that low power could be used in battery powered radio. A low technical hurdle - it just has to be better than nothing. The existing companies didn't see this happening.
Voice recognition is similar - IBM invested in ViaVoice - someone speaking instead of word processing - target person is someone who already at 80 WPM - needs patience; competing against consumption, and this is a high hurdle.
Simple command-based speech works - phone calls, speech recog for IM chat. Maybe blackberries are next - typing with thumbs is about as good as speech recog. Why did IBM aim at the wrong place? To get funded in IBM they needed big financial projections they needed to justify millions of AAs typing for hours a day to invent a value proposition for the business plan.
Never compete against customers manifest priorities - facilitate them.If it says 'if we can just get the customers to...' that is a red flag.
Digital cameras - people used to order double prints, keep a few 98% of photos only get looked at once -we're not virtuous enough to put them in albums. If you just learnt he etch you can get red-eye out of all those image you look at once.
Sending images over the net is what people want to do - photos to grandma, but quicker.
College textbooks have overshot the market - 100s of millions spent on online augmentation. What are students trying to get done? They're trying to not have to read the book, so making it easier to take shortcuts - cram.com. Summarize the problems with the textbook they know about. Cram later with less effort.
Market segmentation obscures the targets for innovation - segment by goal, not by demographic.
Categorising of capital is wrong - you want impatience for profit but patience for growth in a disruptive business. Not much in venture funds - they like growth. Some in corporations.
Choosing a team - standard way is to use adjectives like visionary etc. Skills are developed by the problems they have previously wrestled with. In a successful business, the problems they have wrestled with aren't the right kind for new growth companies. Look for experiences needed to be successful in a new business. Need to provide these experiences.
Big co's successfully disrupting - Sony did it 12 times up to 1979 with Walkman - haven't done it since - now all innovations are sustaining. When Morita left in 1980, they stopped. He had a policy of not doing market research. In1982 they hired their first MBA, and then never found new markets afterwards.
Johnson & Johnson acquire early stage device companies that enable new facilities.
How do you compensate a disruptive team in a large organisation? Hasn't seen correlation with stock options - offer excitement of building something big and new.
[later] I asked him, and it is not an industry he has analysed. I've emailed him some studies on the market, so maybe in future.
It is now necessary to restore the traditional balance between copyright holders and society, as intended by the 105th Congress. Copyright laws in the digital age must prevent and punish digital pirates without treating every consumer as one.
They don't define the term 'digital pirate', though as this is in the rhetorical preamble that is I suppose understandable. I'd be a lot happier if the loaded terms 'pirate' and 'consumer' weren't in this bit. How about 'It is now necessary to restore the traditional balance between copyright holders and society, as intended by the 105th Congress. Copyright laws in the digital age must prevent and punish unfair republication without treating every customer as a thief.
A "digital work" is any literary work (except a computer program), sound recording or musical work, or a dramatic work, motion picture, or other audiovisual work, in whole or in part in a digital or other nonanalog format.
Why does this definition explicitly exclude computer programs from it's ambit, and what is another nonanalog format?
(a) USE OF LAWFULLY OBTAINED DIGITAL WORKS. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement of copyright for a person who lawfully obtains a copy or phonorecord of a digital work, or who lawfully receives a transmission of a digital work, to reproduce, store, adapt, or access the digital work
(1) for archival purposes, if all such archival copies are destroyed or rendered permanently inaccessible in the event that continued possession of the work should cease to be rightful; and
(2) in order to perform or display the work, or an adaptation of the work, on a digital media device, if such performance or display is not public.
This is good, but it is not clear that 'adapting' includes editing or incorporating it in another work. What I'd really like to see is an explicit statement that would allow derivative works that require a full lawfully obtained copy of the original work to be purchased to be distributed. This would legitimise a great deal of creative work already being produced, such as additional commentary tracks for DVDs to 'mash-up' mixes and other kinds of media collage that currently are in a grey area
Variously attributed to Indira Gandhi, Ronald Reagan, Harry Truman, Sandra Swinney, Barry Switzer.
I wonder who deserves the credit for it...
Friday, 27 September 2002
Monday, 23 September 2002
We went around and around and around on a key question, namely how Hollywood thinks it can protect its films and TV shows from being copied on the Internet while not disrupting people's current ability to time-shift programming and otherwise enjoy what are known as ``fair use'' rights. In the end, he said without fully answering the question, people will have the same rights tomorrow as they have today -- and that preserving those rights is precisely what the entertainment industry has to work out with the technology industry.
He was adamant, however, that technology gear in the future -- including personal computers -- will have to be modified to prevent people from making unauthorized copies. This stance has angered many users of technology and worried some in the industry as well.
That's putting it mildly, Dan. Copying is what computers do. They don't have good concept of 'authority', especially as JV & co can't define it clearly in any case.
Another problem for the entertainment companies is what they're calling the ``analog hole.'' This recognizes the fact that human beings are not digital, so digital programming has to be converted to a format, known as analog, that we can see and hear. If digital programs have copy protection and then are turned into analog formats, the copy protection will be moot, he noted.
Shades of Oedipus and Lear - wilt thou rend thine eyes from their sockets, Mr Valenti?
Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court will take up an important copyright issue of a different kind in a case called Eldred vs. Ashcroft (www.eldred.cc) -- asking whether a recent law extending copyright terms is constitutional. Hollywood, especially the Walt Disney Co., has been among the biggest boosters of these extensions, for obvious reasons.
Well, said Valenti, just read Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, which gives Congress the power to ``promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.'' There's no ambiguity, he said; ``limited'' is whatever Congress says it is.
Been there, done that, made the T-shirt.
Lets look at it another way. Can you defend Hollywood movies as 'Science' or 'useful Arts'? Please enumerate their uses.
Can you explain how coloured celluloid is 'writing or discoveries'?
Constitutional literalism cuts both ways, Jack.
Wednesday, 18 September 2002
In the last year alone the number of radio webcasters has declined by thirty one per cent, with US stations accounting for the majority of this steep decline. Based on the high copyright fees supported by the RIAA, well over one thousand US stations and internet-only webcasters quit streaming online.
The current number of webcasting channels on the net is 3940, significantly lower than the all time high of 5710 stations from last year. Prior to this year US based stations represented nearly 60 per cent of all stations webcasting. Now international stations account for well over 50 per cent of all stations webcasting online.
Tuesday, 17 September 2002
Saturday, 14 September 2002
Small Pieces Loosely Joined took David Weinberger the best part of a year to write, and I read it through in 3 hours or so, very efficiently absorbing his thoughts and insights.
Conversely, voicemail is appalling - it is easy to leave, but it can take 2 listenings to extract a phone number from a two minute rambling message.
Text is great at describing ideas; sound at emotions; pictures at providing overviews of complex data. In each case to do it well takes much effort, but it can be satisficed if there is a conversation—a one to one dialog going on. An IM chat can cope with mis-spellings and bad grammar; a phone call with long pauses and poor word choice, a whiteboard and pen handed back and forth saves hours of drawing, but if you want more than a few people to get it at once, and if you want it to stand for a while, you need to put the work in.
Weblogs fit neatly between magazine articles and email on the continuum that runs from books to instant messaging. I'm not sure where the multimedia messages Ted Shelton likes fit into the image continuum from Fine art to whiteboard doodles or where the audio weblogs that Adam Curry wants fit between recorded performances and voicemail.
Last night I went to see Jewel at The Mountain Winery. Sitting there alone with her guitar, she carried the 500 or so of us there with her through the performance, telling self-deprecating stories, inviting requests, even having a 'stalker' fan pick a song, and then got him to stand next to her and hold the lyrics up as she couldn't remember them as it was so obscure. Catch the show if you can. And her Soul City Cafe project sounds interesting too.
Monday, 9 September 2002
I think that there is a quasi-religious theory of human nature that is prevalent among pundits and intellectuals, which includes both empirical assumptions about how the mind works and a set of values that people hang on those assumptions. The theory is has three parts.
One is the doctrine of "the blank slate": that we have no inherent talents or temperaments, because the mind is shaped completely by the environment?parenting, culture, and society.
The second is "the noble savage": that evil motives are not inherent to people but come from corrupting social institutions.
The third is "the ghost in the machine", that the most important part of us is somehow independent of our biology, so that our ability to have experiences and make choices can't be explained by our physiological makeup and evolutionary history.
These three idea ideas are increasingly being challenged by the sciences of the mind, brain, genes, and evolution, but they are held as much for their moral and political uplift as for any empirical rationale. People think that these doctrines are preferable on moral grounds and that the alternative is a forbidden territory that we should avoid at all costs.
Sunday, 8 September 2002
I'd like one of the cry babies who responded here to answer a
couple of questions for me:
1. Do they think that "sharing" copyrighted materials without compensating
the authors -- as defined under all laws including fair use ones -- should
be illegal? Don't play word games, you know what I mean: if under present
law, a copyright holder wishes to be compensated for each copy of his work,
should the "sharing" of such a work with someone who does not compensate
the author constitute an illegal act by BOTH the sharer and the sharee? Put
even another way, if a rock group releases a new CD, you alone buy it, and
you "share" it with the world (without compensating the rock group), should
any of those actions be considered illegal? If the answer is no, ignore
question #2 and feel free to continue to believe in an anarchical world
that will never exist.
Yes, this not only should be illegal, it is. However, rather than try to prosecute those doing this under extant law, (no cases have been brought that I am aware of - correct me if I'm wrong) the publishers' lobby is trying to pass a new law to give them a way round due process and the presumption of innocence. The RIAA/Verizon case is another example of trying to avoid the trouble of preparing a case and convincing a judge by going after the ISP.
That a Bill should need an FAQ many times longer than the original describing its intentions is a pretty good indication that the original is poorly drafted.
2. Technologically-speaking, how would you suggest that those copyright
holders stop the illegal "sharing" of their work? As the saying goes, "It's
always easier to be an editor than a writer." If you don't like the
side-effects of Berman's bill, propose something yourself.
I would suggest they prosecute individuals whom they can prove to a court are causing significant losses - settling these kinds of things is what courts are for.
I would also suggest that instead of trying to disinvent the open internet, they adopt a model that gives a financial incentive for people who promote sales of their works via internet sharing - it would be significantly cheaper to do this than the sums they sink into semi-legal payola for radio airplay.
Details at mediAgora
Thursday, 5 September 2002
3. Easily access your entertainment experiences from one place
Microsoft is not kidding. If you use this heavily restricted version of Windows XP, you will be able to access your entertaiment from only one place. If, for example, you record a TV show on this system, you won't be able to burn it to DVD to watch on your laptop on a plane. Rip a CD onto the harddrive, and the music stays there. What most people consider a bug, Microsoft considers a feature.
Monday, 2 September 2002
Then Galatians 5:16-24, which I'll quote in full
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
Now the gist of this is pretty obvious, but what did he mean by excoriating 'variance' and 'emulations'? Am I supposed to stop running Mac Classic? Paging Akma...
Quickly, Greek "eris" (variance) = conflict, contentiousness"
Greek "zhlos" = "jealously, zeal" not quite "envy" (which would be a different word); I suppose the KJV translators sort of took a shot in the twilight.
RSV and ASV give "strife" and "jealousy"