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OpenMarket: Tech and Telecom

  • Creative Destruction, The Musical

    December 5, 2006
    Alex Singleton's LibertarianHome blog (go bookmark it) today highlights a new Economic Research Council report on the British pop music business called Creative Destruction In the Music Industry: The Way Ahead. The report's author is Andrew Ian Dodge. This study is yet more confirmation that the radically changing universe of digital content requires new business models and drastic liberalization of spectrum and airwaves--policies worthy of tomorrow's torrent of broadcasted, narrowcasted and self-casted content. Protection won't even save the recording industry in its current form since the industry is a middleman operation that must adapt given the increasing cheapness of both recording...
  • Fly Me (Privately) to the Moon

    December 5, 2006
    Like an old boyfriend you stopped calling months ago, NASA has decided it wants to re-capture America's heart with a bold new proposal. The aeronautical engineers we love so well are officially taking America back to the moon, this time to a permanent lunar base, likely to be located on our natural satellite's south pole. If you are a U.S. taxpayer, this will, of course, require some of your money. How much? Well, NASA's managers have clearly learned their lesson from past cost estimates - those multi-billion dollar figures that gave an unintended double meaning to the term "astronomical." According to Associated Press science writer Seth Borenstein, "NASA has refused to estimate a price tag for the project." I knew those rocket scientists were smart people.
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  • A Graphic Display of Government Power

    December 1, 2006
    Word from /. has it that the Justice Department's Antitrust division just found a couple more potential tech victims: graphics chipmakers Nvidia and AMD received subpoenas this week.
  • Antitrust at the Speed of Government

    November 27, 2006
    Microsoft met a November deadline imposed by EU officials for sharing "interface' and "compatibility' information about its operating system to workgroup server market competitors who want to build for it. Since markets are incapable of something known as a "contract" or a "deal" or consumer rejection of overly exclusive behavior, regulators insist they have a role in helping competitors hitch their wagon by forcing Microsoft to provide a government-approved technical manual. The original ruling came in 2004, addressing as well as server software issues. Record fines have been handed down on both counts, as well as a directive that Microsoft sell a version of Windows without Media Player software. Now the company seems to have complied with the latest commandment, but we'll just have to wait and see, won't we? The European Commission said (excerpted from the Wall Street Journal...
  • Painted Portraits: The YouTube of the Fifteenth Century

    November 22, 2006
    German media tycoon and art historian Hubert Burda has a fascinating essay titled "How People See Themselves," about the history of portraiture and what it has meant to be able to visually represent oneself to the rest of the world:
    Nowadays anyone who wants to draw attention to themselves can. The Internet enables us to become multi-media media producers. Since it started up a year ago, over 50 million people have already uploaded personal short videos onto the video platform YouTube.com. The portrait which enabled the new middle-classes of the 15th century, following their rise in status, to fulfill their desire for representation...
  • Keeping an Eye on the CBS Legal Department

    November 21, 2006
    CBS is appealing new FCC indecency regulations (and fines) in court, arguing that the new rules run afoul of the First Amendment. Which, of course, they do. Hopefully the executives at CBS and other broadcast stations will remember this when reporting on other FCC intrusions into what we are allowed to see, hear, download, upload, talk about or even buy online. And just in case you were wondering what depraved indecencies have been getting the FCC's knickers in such a twist over the past few years, check out a pile of them here.
  • Internet Medicine: Does that Make Al Gore My Family Physician?

    November 10, 2006
    A new study finds an increasing number of doctors using information from Internet searches to help diagnose illnesses:
    The internet search engine Google has added another impressive string to its bow - by helping doctors diagnose illnesses, according to a new study. Researchers found that almost six-in-10 difficult cases can be solved by using the world wide web as a diagnostic aid. Doctors fight disease by carrying about two million facts in their heads but with medical knowledge expanding rapidly, even this may not be enough.
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  • Lomborg on the Stern Review: "...selective...flawed...sloppy...one-sided..."

    November 2, 2006
    Our friend Bjørn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, has an excellent op-ed in The Wall Street Journal (subscription only) today taking on the Stern review of the economics of global warming:
    Faced with such alarmist suggestions, spending just 1% of GDP or $450 billion each year to cut carbon emissions seems on the surface like a sound investment. In fact, it is one of the least attractive options. Spending just a fraction of this figure -- $75 billion -- the U.N. estimates that we could solve all the world's major basic problems. We could give everyone clean drinking water, sanitation, basic health care and education right now. Is that not better? We know from economic models that dealing just with malaria could...
  • So the Government Dictating Broadcast Content is 'Fair'?

    November 2, 2006
    Fans of free expression should hit up a piece in Human Events, by our very own John Berlau, on those misguided souls who are intent on bringing back the “Fairness Doctrine” to broadcast TV and radio. For anyone who wasn't following FCC regulations before 1987 (when it was eliminated), here are the basics:
    The Fairness Doctrine, initiated by the Federal Communications Commission in 1949, mandated that radio and television stations “provide a reasonable opportunity for the presentation of contrasting viewpoints” on “vitally important controversial issues.” But since there are contrasting views as to what's “fair,” broadcast stations were left with a few unpleasant options. They could a) provide equal time to overtly liberal and overtly conservative...
  • The ADA Meets Cyberspace

    November 1, 2006
    BNA is covering the recent district court ruling that Target can be sued if its website is inaccessible to the blind:
    In this class action suit—brought by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB)—the Court rejected Target's argument that only physical stores were covered by anti-discrimination laws, ruling instead that certain aspects of Target's virtual space—target.com— are subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and California state law. NFB and University of California Berkeley blind student Bruce Sexton brought the lawsuit, contending that Target's website violates the ADA as well as California anti-discrimination laws by failing to include, among other things, “alt-text”—which screen readers use to vocalize a description of an image to a blind computer user. The plaintiffs allege that...

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