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OpenMarket: Tech and Telecom

  • More on the Neutrality Battle

    April 26, 2007
    If this whole net neutrality thing sounds a bit complex, let The Simpleton's Guide explain it all. Because after all, simple is better:

    Binary Data
  • What's the Gift for a One-Year Lobbying Anniversary?

    April 26, 2007
    The inaptly named Save the Internet coalition is celebrating its first anniversary today, and Wayne is on the case:
    “We all can probably agree that we want tomorrow's Internet at the speed of light, not at the speed of government,” said CEI Director of Technology Policy Wayne Crews. “But a better starting point is to appreciate that we have no broadband today: cable and DSL are a trickle compared to the Niagara needed tomorrow. Freezing today's Internet into a regulated public utility via net neutrality's inevitable price-and-entry regulation would be the worst possible move, slowing investment and innovation, meaning fewer new companies, networking deals, products and technologies.” “Activists fear that not regulating network owners will leave the Internet at the mercy of a few large companies when, in fact, the...
  • In Defense of the Bundle

    April 24, 2007
    Has everyone been taking French lessons without me? That's the feeling I get when I see the increasing chatter about "a la carte" for everything. Of course, these demands don't come from consumers. Rather, consumer advocates, who hate bundling -- the art of packaging several goods or services. Why? Because they claim bundles give us less choice. Surely some bundling does result in lost choice, but the choices left to us are usually more affordable, better quality, or both. McDonalds is a perfect example. By standardizing, you're faced with a big menu with numbers. "I'll have a number six, please." Turns out that number six meal is a whole heck of a lot cheaper, since the menu encourages similar orders and marginal costs decline. The numbers have also stopped the guy ahead of me from stammering through the menu trying to what size drink he wants. Pick a number buddy, this is...
  • Commercial Broadcast Radio with...No Commercials?

    April 23, 2007
    The New York Times Business section has an interesting story this morning on how one of Clear Channel's stations in Dallas is eliminating all of its 30 and 60 second commercial spots, because they've finally come to the conclusion that people hate listening to them. To replace that revenue, they're signing up sponsors for hour-long blocks of programming and tasking their DJs with working their products into conversation. Think something like this: "And that was 'Leaving on a Jetplane' by John Denver. You know, when I need to leave on a jet plane, I choose Southwest Airlines, and here's why..." This is obviously a response to the...
  • Cranky Geek Against SarbOx

    April 20, 2007
    John C. Dvorak, long time columnist for PC Magazine and head Crank on Cranky Geeks, a popular podcast, has come out against Sarbanes-Oxley. Dvorak was quick to point out on another popular podcast, Leo Laporte's This Week in Tech, that SarbOx places huge limitations on the silicon valley start-up phenomenon. I later found that Dvorak pointed out the flaws of SarbOx in at least three columns in PC Magazine. Rather than growing their companies into successful, independent firms, entrepreneurs are now forced to look to large corporations to buy them out. Growing organically just isn't possible for many start-ups because of the...
  • I Do

    April 19, 2007
    Surfing around, I just came upon AT&T's "You Will" advertising campaign from the early 1990s. The ads are well-produced and, almost fifteen years after they aired, I still remember seeing them for the first time. I'm amazed by how accurate a vision of today's life they present. Except for using a public video phone--something I suspect will never exist in more than a few niche markets--I've done everything described in the ads and I'd suspect that the overwhelming majority of Americans have too. AT&T got the near future almost perfect. In fact, I think the company didn't go far enough in predicting how many new technologies we would get: there's no mention of pervasive, cheap mobile phone or Internet shopping. In what they do predict, however, the ads really missed only one thing: AT&T's company's own survival. AT...
  • In Antitrust They Trust

    April 19, 2007
    Satellite radio pioneers XM and Sirius are finally going down the long-expected merger path, but not without a fight from the usual suspects. Mel Karmazin and others testified this week before the Senate Commerce Committee, where some members expressed skepticism about the supposedly Goliath-like corporate giant that would result.
    XM Sirius logo mashup
    Our take is here, summarized below:
  • Attack of the Killer Bee Killers

    April 16, 2007
    We know cell phones don't give you cancer, but according to some people quoted by The Independent in the UK, they are messing with bees:
    The theory is that radiation from mobile phones interferes with bees' navigation systems, preventing the famously homeloving species from finding their way back to their hives. Improbable as it may seem, there is now evidence to back this up. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) occurs when a hive's inhabitants suddenly disappear, leaving only queens, eggs and a few immature workers, like so many apian Mary Celestes. The vanished bees are never found, but thought to die singly far from home. The parasites, wildlife and other bees that normally raid the honey and pollen left behind when a...
  • Apple, EMI Test DRM-Free

    April 4, 2007
    In the wake of the announcement by EMI (along with Apple) that its catalog will now be available on iTunes DRM-free and at twice the bit-rate, many techies and tech market watchers are predicting the end is near from DRM. It's probably true that EMI will reap the benefits of being the only company to drop DRM, for a while. Others will likely follow suit and drop DRM as well. I doubt this will hurt bottom lines as the majority of songs are still distributed via physical media, which has always been DRM-free, with rare root-kit powered exceptions (thanks, Sony)....
  • Craig Newmark on Trust

    March 30, 2007
    Cragislist founder Craig Newmark has an interesting op ed in today's Washington Examiner on ways in which voluntary collaboration will help resolve new issues of trust in the always-developing online world (and in some cases in the real world). He sees great promise in "neutral, independent reputation systems, like the ones in eBay or Amazon, but independent of any particular business," and in "forms of collaborative filtering acting as BS screens, which will make it easy for people to figure when they're getting scammed." He notes:
    Success in using digital technology to advance the science of establishing trust and reputation will have implications in countless fields, including, but not limited to,...


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