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OpenMarket: Tech and Telecom

  • AdSense Nonsense

    May 3, 2007
    Charges that Google is constructing a vast network of partners in order to monopolize the net betray that fact that most regulators and 'tech journalists' know nothing of how markets, or webpages function. I added AdSense ads to my webpage through a simple cut and paste into the code of my page. Websites that actually receive traffic, unlike my site, are run by CMS, or Content Management Systems. By seperating format and content, new websites can easily change their entire ad system from Google, to Yahoo! or any other online ad serving company. Right now Google does lead in text ads (though it's behind Yahoo! in graphical ads), but small adjustments in the margins of Google's competitors could give advertisers lower prices and affiliates a bigger pay-off. This would immediately nab revenue from Menlo Park and see it travling down the road...
  • Editing Isn't Censorship, Even for Digg

    May 2, 2007
    Digg.com, the popular crowd-edited news aggregating site, has been the subject of online controversy as of late. Recently, a Digg user posted a story with a link to a site that contained a series of numbers. After receiving a record of more than 15,000 diggs, it was taken down. Why? Because the numbers were the proprietary key for HD-DVD encryption. With the key a knowledgeable nerd could do what so many knowledgeable nerds have already done with DVDs: copy it. But what Digg did in taking down the story wasn't censorship; it was an editorial decision by a private website. While Digg bases its success on crowd-sourcing the function of news editing, it does have the right to step in and take down other content. Digg's managers can't force anything off of another website, but their can surely take things down from their own. Yet Digg has plenty of reasons not to censor...
  • Supporting Online Gaming Is No Gamble

    April 27, 2007
    House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank has proposed repealing last Fall's ban on Internet gambling, though according to the punsters at the Associated Press, the bill could be facing "long odds":
    Supporters of the U.S. ban maintain that Internet betting can be addictive and potentially drain people's savings, a risk they say is especially acute for young people who are frequently online. Frank acknowledged that the Democratic leadership of the House likely would not support it. The Bush administration also could be expected to oppose the legislation. The vote for the ban in the House, for example, was 317-93 last year. Lobbying for it were the horse racing industry and professional sports leagues, which argued that Web wagering could hurt the...
  • Back to the Paleo Future

    April 26, 2007
    The delightful and fascinating blog Paleo-Future has some entertaining video clips up from a short film produced by AT&T in 1993, showing what the company thought the future of telecommunications would look like. The dramatization, titled "Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future," features the story of a young woman about to get married, highlighting along the way all of the fantastic new technologies that people of the future (us, basically) would be using. Like most past visions of the future it was a bit off, in some rather amusing ways. First, everyone uses two-way video phones. Exclusively. Futurists have been predicting this for decades, never quite realizing that very few people want either to have to look at or be viewed by...
  • 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...

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