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OpenMarket: Nick Brown

  • More Grand Theft Common Sense

    February 20, 2009
    I used to think that the groups and individuals that sat around eagerly anticipating the launch of a new Grand Theft Auto (GTA) game were the fans.  I was wrong.  I am now positive the people salivating over these releases are those that intend to create an uproar over the games content and how it 'endangers our children.'

    Most recently to the forefront is media watchdog Common Sense Media.  The group that stated that HALO 3 was less violent than other first person shooters because, "there's something a bit less impactful about killing creatures that don't really exist."  Just a hint CSM, but the characters in GTA IV don't really exist either.

    CSM's recent...
  • Everything I Know About Construction I Learned In Business School

    February 10, 2009
    Watching the news concerning all the jobs the stimulus bill will create, I began to notice a pattern.  Talking heads tell me that the stimulus will get construction workers back to building light rails, highways, and bridges, and put skilled laborers back in factories to build Caterpillar tractors, cars and trucks.

    I even heard that the controversial health care reform element of the package (which has created an uproar in the last 24 hours) would help stimulate the economy by keeping a patient from being mixed up with different treatments and keep her healthy and at work—this kind of stunning insight isn't exactly the kind of thing you hear in a macroeconomics course.

    More to the point, the pattern in coverage paints a picture of the stimulus as a bill that...
  • Usage Caps and the DLC Model

    February 9, 2009
    I just read an intriguing post by Mike Masnick over at Techdirt.  Masnick points out that ISPs keep changing the definition of appropriate monthly usage.  When an ISP adjusts the amount of usage it deems appropriate, demonstrating network congestion becomes a whole lot easier. It also pushes consumers toward purchasing higher tier services--with higher usage limits.  Users, therefore, often end up paying more for something they once received as standard service.

    As an avid gamer, it seems to me that this model is similar to the overwhelming surge of Downloadable Content (DLC) seen in the gaming sector in recent years.  DLC encompasses everything from new maps or weapons in first-person shooters to new clothing for a playable character to new cars in driving games. It even includes roster updates or new...
  • Broadband Stimulus Cut

    February 7, 2009
    Bloomberg is reporting that an agreement on a stimulus package has been reached in the Senate.  Included in the compromise was the decision to strip $2 billion in broadband funding for rural areas.  The Senate version of the bill originally included $9 billion in funding for broadband expansion in unserved and underserved areas.  The key here is that Bloomberg refers to the removed $2 billion as funding to "promote broadband."  So it is still entirely unclear what remains in the bill regarding broadband. It's entirely possible that $7 billion remains in the bill for broadband infrastructure, and the $2 billion removed was simply for marketing and education regarding broadband expansion.

    More to follow as the details emerge...
  • Senate Broad Stimulus & Avoiding Federal "Strings"

    February 6, 2009
    Aside from the fact that the Senate lacks the necessary votes to pass its version of the stimulus, the bill does actually have a much more in-depth plan for broadband expansion into unserved and underserved areas of the country.  In stark contrast, the House version has no concrete plan.

    The Senate version of the stimulus raises the amount of money spent on broadband up to $9 billion, much more than $2.825 billion in the House version.  But either amount is a dangerous giveaway to broadband providers.  Already we've seen banks that have been similarly "stimulated" subject to strings attached to federal dollars.  CEO pay is being limited, and more micromanagement by the administration and regulators is sure to follow.  The same will be true for broadband providers should...
  • FACT Check the Internet's Future

    January 30, 2009
    The Future of American Communications (FACT) working group funded by the Media Democracy Fund released its official report on the 26th of January. The report, which carries the working group's recommendations to President Obama, offers up some various proposals that purport to hold promise for the future of the Internet.

    As the title, "...and communications for all," suggests though,  there is an underlying current of argument that Internet access is a right, and therefore should be treated as a utility (and here, and here).  Internet is not a right, it is a privilege and should therefore be treated as such.  In the same...
  • Gateway Neutrality: Just A Taste

    January 23, 2009
    Right behind the broadband stimulus goldmine within the Obama administrations stimulus plan sits Sec. 3102 (E). Sec. 3102 (E) is a fairly simple bit of reading that deals with requirements that must be met in order to receive grants for funding broadband deployment in rural areas. If we break this section down, which truthfully is only necessary if you are a rock, it goes over a few items.  For instance, making sure no one gets "unjust[ly] rich", which begs the question what is "justly rich".  The grant holder would have to meet buildout requirements, which have yet to be determined.  And it calls for the vaguely worded, "maximize use of the supported infrastructure by the public," which probably infers that a network would need to capitalize on the...
  • $6 Billion For Broadband, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And LOL At The Recovery Act

    January 16, 2009
    Speeding its way across the Internetz today are copies of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Eager policy analysts, lobbyists, and grassroots organizations all over the country are scouring its 258 pages as we speak. As a tech policy analyst who is very interested to see what was going to happen with the Promised One's Broadband Stimulus plan, I too dove into the fine reading that my giant PDF copy of the proposed act would provide.

    Prior to my study of the bill, as I sent the document to my printer, visions of the sorcelations such a mighty plan might bring wrought both excitement and fears for the future of the Internet. I grabbed the freshly printed document from the copier, my fingertips brushing the pages and sending chills that delivered the grandeur of the most daring broadband project ever conceived on the face of our planet to my mind's eye. The thought was...
  • PEOTUS Behavioral Targeted Advertising Adventure

    January 16, 2009
    The prevention of regulation and the Rule of Law pounding its mighty fist within a medium or sector of business is generally something that is lauded around these parts.  On occasion, though, an industry will find that it is possibly pushing the envelope ever so much over the line and chooses to act on its own behalf.  This self-supervision, for the most part, tends to deter government involvement and the creation of legal regulation, which can in many cases be far more costly than self-imposed rules.

    In December of 2007 the FTC notified the online advertising industry that Behavioral Targeting-style advertising was pushing the boundaries of privacy.  Their letter--entitled "Behavioral Advertising: Moving the Discussion Forward to Possible Self-Regulatory Principles"--should have made it abundantly clear that this was a warning shot and the hammer was about to drop.  The industry,...


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