Sunday, February 29, 2004


Neches to Noam: Pitfalls are easy to see, opportunities harder

Phil Neches and Tom Evslin were the only entrepreneurs in the upper echelons of AT&T management when I was there. I don't think it's a coincidence that today they're my only former-AT&T-senior-management friends.

Phil Neches (who'll be at WTF!?! A Gathering of SMART People, by the way) emailed me this commentary on Eli Noam's heavily blogged recent FT column and, later, consented when I asked if I could blog it:
"Pessimism without Paradox" reminds me of the turn of the century. Not 2000, but 1900. The typical American worker felt under pressure. Wages were dropping faster than prices. Foreigners were arriving to take jobs from "real Americans". The price of new technology components fell relentlessly, prompting waves of mergers. Cheap goods flooded the market.

Serious people feared the collapse of capitalism, either through implosion by merger or violent revolution.

Of course, we now look back on the period from roughly 1880 to 1920 as a time of extraordinary productive change. In that time, we saw the rise women's rights, public education, the middle class, national brands, and America's emergence as the world leader in just about everything. We saw a slew of seminal inventions: the automobile, the airplane, the telephone, radio, and anesthesia, just to name a few. Energy consumption turned from wood and coal to oil and gas.

Today, the sense of dislocation many of us feel is that we are living in another era of fundamental change. By 2050, the following things are highly likely:
  • Oil and gas production will be declining. Either other energy sources will be increasing in importance, or civilization as we know it will have collapsed. (I vote for the former). [I think we're likely to see dramatic movements in both directions, and *way* before 2050. -- DI]
  • The "First World" economy will encompass ~3 billion people, up from ~1 billion in 2000. This means that the United States will be ~10-15% of interesting economic activity, as opposed to today's ~40-50%. In other words, the US can still lead, but cannot dominate.
  • Employment of application programmers will continue its 50-year decline, just as manufacturing employment will continue its 100 year decline and farm employment will continue its 150 year decline, viewed as a percent of the workforce. (Farm employment peaked between 1840 and 1870; manufacturing employment peaked in the 1950s in the US).

In the middle of the 1880-1920 changeover, it was easier to see what was being lost than what would be gained. In 1900, one could readily predict the loss of jobs through consolidation in the steel industry, but it was much harder to foresee the number of jobs that would be created in the auto industry. The automobile was a curiosity for the idle rich, and there were practically no roads to drive on. But by 1920, Henry Ford was selling automobiles for about the same price that the Wright brothers were selling bicycles in 1900. [Wow! -- DI]

Now we face a similar failure to imagine how big the new industries created by today's infant technologies can become. This is because we can easily imagine how a new technology can fit into our established world, but it's hard to envision how the world could be reordered to take advantage of the technology.

Just one example: Caltech researchers created a directional microwave system that is physically smaller than a postage stamp and which will cost only a buck or two. In a recent New York Times article (02/26/04, page E5), the "so what" of this breakthrough was radar "night vision" for our cars and tight-beam microwave links for real cheap. In other words, the impact of the new technology was envisioned in terms of familiar things like cars, phones, and computers. But the article did not ask what new things we might do because these new microwave devices that might re-order our world.

To return to 1900, what we today call the automobile was then called a "horseless carriage". People understood the new technology by analogy. And, of course, the early horseless carriages resembled horse-drawn ones, with narrow wheels and high ground clearance, because they worked with the roads of that day. Few could imagine a continent covered with paved roads, but it happened within only 20 years.

Eli Noam's litany of discontinuities is easy to see. But what we should be looking for are opportunities to reorder the world to take full advantage of our new technology. These are hard to see and even harder to believe in. Yet, these opportunities, not today's apparent problems, are likely to sculpt the shape of the future.


Freeware does not contribute to GDP

Jorge Ortiz writes:
I am not economist, but . . . since freeware can be downloaded for free, the "product" (for GDP purposes) is counted as zero. [So] if we were to replace all commercial software products with freeware, we would actually decrease the GDP, even if the actual functionality of freeware were equal or better than the commercial products it replaces. Perhaps another kind of tragedy of the commons. (Don't trust me too much on this one -- do check with your economist . . . )
I think Jorge is right, but this is not to say that freeware does not create value, only that our value-measuring tools are dull.

Greg Kochanski brought this up years ago on the SMART List. His argument went something like this:
If I do my laundry and you do your laundry, neither of us contribute to the GDP. But if I do *your* laundry and you pay me, and you do *my* laundry for a similar fee, then we've both contributed to GDP. Yet the exact same clothes got cleaned. That is, the same value was created in both cases, but it was only *measured* in the latter.

In fact, it is worse than that. When we do each other's laundry on a fee-for-service basis, we both need to engage the services of banks and accountants, and (of course) the IRS gets involved. I think the term for this is "value subtracted."

Thursday, February 26, 2004


More on Noam: Ain't no Oversupply of Connectivity at My House!

Eli Noam's recent FT column applies a "high fixed costs, low marginal costs, incentives to oversupply" formula equally to infrastructure and application. But wait a minute! Nobody got incented to oversupply my house with connectivity.

High fixed costs -- check! Low marginal costs -- check! So where's my oversupply?

There's no oversupply because the market for applications is driven differently from the market for connections.

The apps market, despite Noam's litany of troubles, is robust, competitive and dynamically stable. Microsoft has successfully cartelized a big piece of it, but its monopoly is far from secure. Other players hold chunky positions in app space (Google, Oracle, Yahoo, Symbian, etc.). There's a wide diversity of smart platforms -- from cell phones to servers -- for all kinds of apps, new and old. As technology advances, its newest benefits flow unimpeded to end-users. Sure there's oversupply. I've got four computers sitting there wasting megaflops, a 160 gig disk that's 1% used, six browsers, nine email clients, dozens of programs I've never touched and a stack of writable CDs in the closet. I love it.

The connectivity market marches to a slower, more lugubrious cadence. What's wrong? The technology isn't lagging. There are optical interfaces on US$49.00 DVD players. Gigabit Ethernet comes standard on today's laptops.

Then why does mass-market-priced connectivity run at a mere 0.3% of a gigabit in the U.S.? In advanced nations, e.g., Korea, why does mass-market connectivity run at 2% of a gigabit? In three or four years, 10-gigabit hardware will be "popularly priced." But will carriers deliver this progress affordably to their customers? No way.

Why not? It's not market demand. The adoption curve for today's lame "high" speed connectivity is one of the steepest in history. Customers want it.

So if it isn't affordable technology, and it isn't customer demand, what is it? Let's return to Eli Noam's, "high fixed costs, low marginal costs" formulation and ask what makes Internet connectivity different.

I think it's the low marginal costs. They're not just low; they're extremely low, and infinitely lowerable for all practical purposes. Carriers can modulate faster, modulate better, add another channel, or add another wavelength. Because of this, if a carrier sells one fiber, or even one "dry" (or sharable) copper pair, they might never sell another. Connectivity providers have to restrict connection speeds if they're to make a profit. But they can't stop there. They must also keep competition at bay, because if there's real competition some competitor surely will offer better technology.

This infinite lowerability works with a second property -- graceful degradation. Like the village green of old, where all the townspeople turned their milk cows to graze, it is always possible to add another user. And like the village green, it is difficult to tell when adding one more user causes the total utility of the connection to decrease. I attended a conference recently where hundreds of packet-grabbing geeks crowded onto a single T-1, which occasionally became so congested that it was useless to everybody. The good news was that unlike a village green (where the grass, once overgrazed, might take years to recover) the T-1 service degraded so gracefully and came back so seamlessly that it was hard to know which state was operative at any given moment.

Graceful degradation theoretically lets me "share" my cable connection with my neighbors. To the cableco, I'm "stealing" customers. A cableco that added more capacity would make it even easier for me to "share". It wouldn't want to do that, because its goal is to maximize profits.

What kinds of network owner would be driven by a different kind of goal: to maximize overall utility to users of its network?

It's no accident that fiber to the home (FTTH) is so slow to catch on. Fiber is the most infinitely and cheaply expandable of all connectivity media. It is not surprising that municipalities operate 32% of the FTTH in the United States. Munis are interested in overall utility, not in profit. Munis want their city to be a better place to live.

In summary, the telco (and the cableco) are victims, not beneficiaries, of the Communications Revolution. Nor are they giving end-user customers what we want. This, then is the market failure!

Fortunately there are alternatives. There are munis. There are (still) CLECs. (Maybe some day some CLEC will get that, "It's operational efficiency, stupid.") There are other utilities. There's condominium network ownership. There are networks owned by single customers. And there are "volunteerist" networks without tragic instabilities.

I'm with you, Professor Noam; national economies are at stake, global volatility is upon us. But let's not paint with too broad a brush, and let's not declare "incentive to oversupply" until I have price competition (or a public spirited provider) for 10 gigabit-per-second connectivity at my house.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004


Eli Noam -- Pessimism without Paradox

Eli Noam is a wise observer of the Communications Revolution, but he seems to see the world through incumbent-colored glasses -- glasses with dark lenses that are uncorrected for myopia. Through them, the information economy is "a volatile, cyclical, unstable mess." Nevertheless, his most recent Financial Times column usefully elucidates and extends the central theme of The Paradox of the Best Network -- that marketplace nirvana does not necessarily follow from rapid technology advances, that disruptive technology is not a tea party -- it really disrupts things! Noam's litany begins: Noam sees market failure, which "exists when market prices cannot reach a self-sustaining equilibrium." He doesn't see a paradox, because he fails to acknowledge the beauty of a world where barriers to communication -- not to mention music, news, video entertainment and product information -- fall away.

Noam sees that:
The basic structural reason for this problem [sic] is that information products . . . are expensive to produce but cheap to reproduce and distribute, and therefore exhibit strong economies of scale with incentives to an over-supply . . . prices for content, network distribution and equipment are collapsing across a broad front. It seems to have become difficult to charge anything for information products and services.
He vividly describes how these disruptive technology will disrupt things:
[IT companies will] cut costs, outsource, hedge, diversify and use new processes such as micropayments. They will try to innovate to differentiate their products. . . . the main strategy will be to consolidate and cartelise in order to maintain pricing power. As a result, prices and profits rise (as well as media concentration), which will lead again to expansion, entry, and by the same economic logic, to a new price collapse, with a general downward trend in prices . . . [and] price deflation oscillating through the information sector will drag down the rest of the economy . . .
Noam's plausible but disturbing conclusion is that "as countries rely more on information-based activities, their economies become more volatile." [Note that an empirical test of this statement is whether the economies of Korea, Finland, Switzerland and Japan are more volatile than the U.S. economy.]

Noam continues,
. . . governments will inevitably be drawn into the business of stabilization. But this is easier said than done. Classic approaches such as Keynesian demand stimulation, or monetary policy or industrial strategy do not address the core problem of the information sector. That problem is not inadequate demand or investment, but over-supply, competition and structural price deflation.
I really like Noam's suggestion that:
Perhaps the most effective thing that government can do . . . is to help diversify the economy to a more balanced portfolio. This means encouraging manufacturing industries that are not closely correlated with the health of the information sector, often low-tech industries.
Good thinking.

Noam's incumbent slant shows most clearly when he says that
[v]olunteerist activities such as open-source software, shared information or public hotspots will not solve the problem, because they, too, are subject to the instability known as the "tragedy of the commons" . . .
He fails to admit the possibility that such activities might actually seed a new stability. Ethernet was licensed openly, but was not trampled by free riders. The Internet itself, as commonly owned a property as can be, shows rock-solid stability despite 20 years of triple-digit growth and relentless trampling by herds of bad actors.

Sure, the Internet will destroy the telephone business -- but let's cheer, not wring our hands, as we email, blog, and call halfway around the world for free. And that's not the only plausible positive outcome -- there are more moderate ones. For example, the open-source software movement is maturing into an institution that could live co-dependently alongside commercial software much as the Red Cross coexists with commercial hospitals, big pharma and the HMO business.

UPDATE: Russ Nelson sent me email to say:
The opposite of open-source software is proprietary software, not commercial software. Red Hat only sells open source software. If you sell open-source software, it's commercial open-source, right?

There is a nice historical parallel in the oil business. It too had high fixed costs and low marginal costs. It struggled with oversupply in its first decades. It destroyed the whaling industry. Once pipeline and refinery were built, energy was practically free. As a direct result, over the next decades sailing and horseback riding morphed from essential businesses to hobbies, much as news gathering and movie making appear to be doing today. New business models take time. [Today you don't hear anybody accusing the oil industry of fostering economic volatility, do you? Well, do you?]

Noam's current article has provoked great dialog in Blogistan. Jeff Jarvis pointed it out to me, and Om Malik has some thoughtful comments and pointers to many others. Eli Noam is one of the great policy minds of the communications revolution. I'm becoming a Noam fan. But I have another set of glasses that I wish he'd wear occasionally -- they have rose-colored lenses, and they can help you see over the immediate horizon.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004


More on Atom vs RSS

Jorge Ortiz writes:
My RSS Reader does not (yet) support atom.xml
Luckily, I found the following handy site that converts Atom to RSS.
Instead of using your regular link to the atom.xml feed, I use the following URL:
It works great!

Your faithful reader does not give up easily :^)
David Beckemeyer had trouble with Jorge Ortiz's solution, but he writes:
This converter worked for me:


More on Oil Production

Bob Morris, in his blog "Politics in the Zeros" writes:
If the oil is much harder to get, won't it then be much more expensive? I'm a little leery of someone, who faced with a shortage, simply redefines the terms so there's magically more of it.
Energy Analyst called and pointed out that maybe one reason for Bob Morris' reaction is that my editing shortened his second bullet point. It is a valid comment, so here's his whole second bullet as originally written: Maybe if I had left it whole then Bob Morris would have understood that the "redefinition" was due (at least in part) to new technology and macroeconomics, and not entirely to cognitive convenience.

Myself, I'd still like a better understanding of Energy Analyst's reasoning about the interaction of technology and macroeconomics.

Monday, February 23, 2004


Phase Changes in Oil & Telecom

An energy analyst who doesn't want his name used writes:
We're [a large] independent research firm in the energy business. We get paid to pay attention to supply/demand, geo-political and technical issues. We are paid to get things right and not candy coat them for any particular interest.
  • Yes, 'the oil' as conventionally defined is running out.
  • However, the history of the oil business has been to change the definition of 'conventionally defined' . . .
  • We are in the process of changing the definition once again. The new definition will include tar sands, LNG, Deep/ultra-deep water, etc.
  • Once changed, there looks like plentiful supply until past 2020.
[The energy situation is] similar to the transition we are seeing in telecommunications . . . one could 'Hubbert' the peak in copper-pair lines per capita, but no one would really care. The phase transition is on. Some of it consumers can participate in directly like VOIP, dropping a land line for a cell, etc. but some of this is invisible such as the switch out of the back-bones of the Telcos to IP.

Fuel switching is a big issue . . . the question is not if, but when. Can we make the switch successfully and profitably? Jump too soon and we may be over invested in capacity before demand exists (the question currently facing LNG, and by extension hydrogen), jump too late and all the good opportunities may be gone.
The comments of "Energy Analyst" provoked me.

We did, in fact, "Hubbert" the peak of conventional land-line telephony. In 2000, at the International Switching Symposium, Lucent CTO Bob Martin told me that in 1999 more conventional circuit switch ports were sold than ever. Maybe 2000 was as good plus or minus. After that, downhill. Do we care? I certainly do. But I think energy will be a much more radical transition than the Communications Revolution.

Caution. The two situations are not parallel.

First, the shift in telecom is driven by the pull of new technologies. In contrast, the shift in oil will be driven by the push of a resource running out. In other words, we're not using the Internet more because the supply of circuit switching is becoming scarcer while demand for circuits grows! And conversely, we are not about to reduce our use of oil because some wonderful new energy source (promising gigagallons where there used to be kilogallons) has broken upon the scene. In one case push could become shove. In another, pull could become twang. Expectation (and market demand) in these two cases are likely to have radically different trajectories.

Second, oil and telecom have different supply-demand histories. The history of telecom is a history of scarcity and high prices. We are only now getting to where we have more than enough bandwidth (only in local area networks so far). In contrast, until recent years oil has been in a state of chronic oversupply; only now is it becoming scarce.

Third, there has not yet been a war over telecom, to my best knowledge.

This is not to say that oil folks can't learn from network folks, and vice versa. Will the transition from abundant conventional oil to scarcity be smooth and uneventful? Ahem. That's one scenario. Will the transition from scarce telecom to abundant bandwidth share any characteristics with telecom other than state change? That's another question.


For RSS/XML Users: Announcing A New Feed

I am changing my feed. Blogger now supports Atom, and's been using it.
Unfortunately, I neglected to tell all my loyal, faithful readers about it. (Thanks Jorge.)

So here's the news:



I've been posting inadvertantly (literally inadvertantly) to atom.xml since February 1. But now I am advertising. So check out the atom feed. Like RSS, Atom feeds are machine readable by all the major feedreaders. Unlike RSS, Atom files seem to be human-readable in a standard browser! Cool.

There's lots of good stuff in February's Atom feed, including all the
LATEST NEWS about WTF -- A Gathering of Smart People.

I am so naive. WTF? What does WTF mean?

Friday, February 20, 2004


David Weinberger on "The Echo Chamber Meme" (the echo chamber meme, the echo chamber meme . . . )

I went to a talk on blogging today, and "echo chamber" was one of the most-used phrases. Everybody seemed to know what "echo chamber" meant -- boy, talk about an echo chamber! David W writes "out of the cluster":
. . . I went to a baseball game . . . [and m]y bleacher mates were surprisingly unwilling to talk with me about whether the Sox were deserving of our collective support . . . we humans -- echo chamber participants or echo chamber castigators -- rarely engage in deep, meaningful and truly open conversation with people who fundamentally disagree with us. I have never debated a neo-Nazi, and if I did, I wouldn't do so with an open mind: No way is that son of a bitch going to convince me that he's right. No apologies.
Before you say "echo chamber" again, you might want to peek at a few more of Dr. W's wise words.


Five 9s at the FCC

The Extended Pheotype points out that
Some 89 million people watched the Superbowl, and 200,000 complaints [about the Janet Jackson show] were received [by the FCC]. Hmm. (sounds of calculator buttons in the background) . . . 99.9978% of Superbowl viewers didn’t feel motivated to complain . . .
Hallelujah! The FCC finally got better than five 9s on *one* network-related measure.

Thursday, February 19, 2004


WTF: Which Themes Flower

WTF is coming together nicely. Here's the latest:

On-site lodging: Twenty-five of the Edith Macy's 47 rooms are bought and paid-for. If you're hoping to have an on-site room, act fast. There are only 47 rooms in the place.

No hurry to register if you're local, or if you're finding nearby lodging on your own. But please remember that all WTF rates go up by $150 on March 12.

Please publicize WTF! There are 196 seats in the Peter F. Drucker Auditorium. It would be great to fill them all with Communications Revolutionaries! So if you know others who might Want To Follow the meeting, tell them they're Welcome To Frequent WTF. And if you have a mailing list or a blog, and the spirit moves you to Want To Focus on WTF, please do so! I'm hoping that Web Transactions Follow. Bottoms up!

I've just updated, the official Web site of WTF. I've added the most current list of registered participants. I've added the most recent polysemous entries to the WTF's Theme and Force contest. And I've sketched out a bare bones agenda.

Volunteers needed: There have been several calls from around the world requesting an audio webcast of WTF. I won't have the brainwidth during the conference. If you'd like to take this task on, I'll make sure that the World Tacitly Follows your Willingness To Fructify challenging tasks.

Wishing Transcendent Fulfillment,
David I

Wednesday, February 18, 2004


The Wireless Future is Almost Here

Jonn Lebkowsky writes:
Time is running out to register for the Wireless Future conference, which will be held March 12-16 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas. Explore the future of licensed and unlicensed wireless technology with such luminaries as Howard Rheingold (author of Smart Mobs), Kevin Werbach (organizer of Supernova and author of New America Foundation's Radio Revolution), Cory Doctorow of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the legendary Dave Hughes, David Weinberger (author of Small Pieces Loosely Joined, Dewayne Hendricks of Dandin Group, Joichi Ito of Neoteny, Ltd., Dan Gillmor of the San Jose Mercury, John Quarterman and many more!
I'll be there. So will Yuri "magic-bike" Gitman, and Steve Stroh, two of my personal heros.

The price, now $225 cheap, includes admission to SxSW Interactive. But it goes up on March 1, so register now.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004


Sorry officer, I converged . . .

Martin Geddes gets it right again:
Saw the word “convergence” pop up again on the ITU web site. I love that word. So soothing . . . next time you see a car wreck on the freeway with blood and oil oozing under the twisted metal, don’t panic. Have no worries. Let your fear subside. The car has simply converged with the concrete barrier. Converged with fate. Converged into history.
One offender -- who should know better -- Bob Metcalfe. Every time he says it, it grates on me. I wish he'd stop using that word.


The "echo chamber" on our front porch

David Weinberger got my personal "Best Meme of Show" award at last week's ETCon. In a discussion of whether Deniac bloggers were listening to their own echo chamber, David W said something like, "Echo chamber? The newsboy throws the biggest echo chamber onto your front porch every morning."

(And all this time I thought Lacy Peterson actually was more important than stuff like global oil shortages . . . )


News from the Oil Patch

Princeton Geologist Kenneth Deffeyes, author of Hubbert's Peak, The Impending World Oil Shortage, which I reviewed in 2002, has an update on world oil production dated January 16, 2004. To review, Hubbert's Peak says, in essence, that world oil production will peak sometime in this decade, "never to rise again." Deffeyes, looking to tune up his prediction, writes:
At the end of December, Oil & Gas Journal published their oil production figures for calendar year 2003. From 2000 to 2003, world crude oil production has been essentially flat, which is to be expected as we roll over the top of the bell-shaped Hubbert curve. . . . There was some speculation that the year 2000 might stand as the single largest year of oil production. (Production in 2001 and 2002 was not as large as the year 2000.) However, 2003 squeaked ahead of 2000 by one-half of one percent. The important news is that growth has essentially stopped.
Professor Deffeyes points out that all of the 2003 production increases come from Russian production, where deferred Soviet-era maintenance is finally being remedied. He continues:
Although it is a bit silly, we can now pick a day to celebrate passing the top of the mathematically smooth Hubbert curve: November 24, 2005 . . . To his credit, Alan Greenspan has been warning about a natural gas supply shortage in North America. None of the presidential candidates want to warn us about blood, sweat, and tears. Each is trying to promise us a better future than the next. It is probably going to require some sort of major crisis before the world oil supply gets on the national agenda.

With the Japanese and US rejections, the Kyoto Accord on carbon dioxide reduction is now dead. I'm claiming to be The New Kyoto. We won't burn as much oil each year because it simply won't come out of the ground.
This is Big News, but you won't read it in the 'papers.


The other David Isenberg does good work!

This morning a package arrived in my mailbox addressed to "David Isenberg, Senior Analyst, British American Security Information Council," at my home address. Others wiser than I have observed that the Internet collapses name-space. I've known this other David "defense-analyst" Isenberg was out there for a couple of years. That's why I started using my middle initial.

Anyhow, this other guy does good work. I Googled him and found a report entitled, Unravelling the Known Unknowns: Why no Weapons of Mass Destruction have been found in Iraq The summary states:
"The conclusion is inescapable: there is nothing to be found. This means that President Bush and Prime Minister Blair made a WMD mountain out of what, at best, was a molehill. As a recent detailed report from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace concludes, 'Administration officials systematically misrepresented the threat from Iraq's WMD and ballistic missile programs.'

Why did the US and UK governments exaggerate the threat? Or were they themselves misled by available pre-war intelligence on Iraq's WMD capability? *snip* The main conclusion is that the failure to find banned weapons in Iraq suggests very strongly that the UN weapons inspectors succeeded in their mandate, and that the Iraqi government complied with its obligations."
I don't mind sharing a name with this guy at all!

The package has been forwarded to its correct destination.

Friday, February 13, 2004


WTF -- Who's Transacted First

The following people have actually registered and paid
for WTF2004. (Note: 27 on-site rooms still available.)

Patrick Leary, patrick dot leary at alvarion dot com
Gordon Jacobson, gaj at portman dot com
Steve Steinberg, steve at steinberg dot org
Martin Geddes, isen at martingeddes dot com
Dave Hughes, dave at oldcolo dot com
Russ Nelson, stupidnet dot com at russnelson dot com
Francis McInerney, francis at northriver dot com
Lane Smith, lasmith at usaid dot gov
Michael Olson, mao at sleepycat dot com
Raj Singh, rsingh at investcorp dot com
Tom Mandel, tom at tommandel dot com
Michael Katz, makatz at collaborationgroup dot com
Saul Aguiar, saul_aguiar at ieee dot org
Malcolm Matson, cityman at city dot co dot uk
Terri Adkisson, terri at mindjazz dot com
Stan Hanks, stanx at networkmercenaries dot com
Jean Pierre De Vries, pierredv at microsoft dot com
Steven Cherry, s dot cherry at ieee dot org
Brian Condon, brian dot condon at complexitygroup dot com
Alan Freedman, alan at computerlanguage dot com
Robert Williamson, windwardresearch at attglobal dot net
Gordon Cook, cook at cookreport dot com
Roger Williams, rogerw at nordlink dot com
Pito Salas, junk at salas dot com
Lindsey Annison, l dot annison at webpr dot co dot uk
Kenneth Tyler, ken at seedwiki dot com
Pontus Ekman, pontus at ekman dot se

Wednesday, February 11, 2004


Speaking with our EFF Hats on . . .

Howard Rheingold, David I, James Roberts at O'Reilly ETCon.

Monday, February 09, 2004


Trippi says he only made $165,000 on Dean Campaign

$165k is a lot of money, Trippi says. The firm he's a partner of reportedly made over 7 million. But Trippi says that all the noise about this issue is about stopping the flow of $25 contributions. "This is not about getting me, it is about how to get all these budding activists to say, 'Hey, I can't make a difference.'"


Rheingold blogs Trippi

I am sitting at O'Reilly's Digital Democracy Teach-in. Joe Trippi just talked, Howard Rheingold was blogging the speech in real time. I just took a look -- what Howard wrote is what I heard. Awesome, my hat is off.

David Weinberger did a pretty good job too!


Failure of Intelligence: Not Just for Networks Anymore

"When you are dealing with secretive regimes that want to deceive,
you're never going to be able to be positive."

Condoleeza Rice, Quoted by Reuters, January 29, 2004

Saturday, February 07, 2004


Werblog on "Dean Hires Bellhead"

Kevin Werbach writes
Dean doesn't get it.

Here's how Howard Dean justified his decision to replace campaign manager Joe Trippi with Washington insider Roy Neel: "What we need is decision making that's centralized." One would think that, after Dean's extraordinary rise from obscurity to front-runner status on the back of a radically distributed, networked movement, he would appreciate the value of decentralization.
Right on, Kevin. On the other hand, he was running for *president*.

Friday, February 06, 2004


VOIP meets Open Source (talk about weapons of mass (creative) destruction)

I just got this from Benjamin Kowarsch (benjamin at sunrise-tel dot com):
I have started [a new] company here in Tokyo, integrating open source based VoIP-PBXes for SMEs. Every time we deploy another system, I think of your "stupid network" philosophy since I used to do this kind of thing with "intelligent network" technology at about a hundred times the effort and a thousand times the cost ;-)
Benjamin explains he's using Asterisk software, which runs on operating systems whose names end in "x" -- including Mac OS-X. He continues,
All you need is an old PC (ie a 500 MHz Celeron with about 192MB of RAM), install Linux or BSD, download, install and configure Asterisk, then get one or more VoIP phones, either softphones such as X-Lite (free download at or real VoIP phones such as the Grandstream Budgetones for ca. $65 a piece ( and you have got a SOHO VoIP network. The quality is quite often significantly better than what you get from many international carriers who charge you an arm and a leg.

[Making this work in] a business environment is a bit of work and most SMEs don't have the expertise nor the resources to do it themselves, so that is where we come in . . .
In my mind, Mike Powell's, "I realized it was all over when I downloaded Skype," keeps playing, over and over. VOIP meets Open Source -- surely the ILECs and Microsoft will find a way to make this illegal, immoral and unpatriotic.


Rooms at WTF2004 are going fast!

Of the 12 people who have registered so far, seven have requested single rooms. There are only 46 rooms at the Edith Macy, so at this rate, we will sell out of rooms long before we fill the Peter F. Drucker Auditorium. There are other hotels and motels in the area, so we'll cope. But who wants to commute? Don't say I didn't warn you -- register now if you want to be sure of an on-site room.
David I


Registration for WTF2004 is open!

The Official Website WTF2004 -- -- is Open for Business.

So far, people who have actually registered, and who are household names in my house, include:
There are a lot of other great people who I know are planning on coming, and I look forward to more pleasant surprises. I am delighted with how it is coming together!

Sunday, February 01, 2004



Lessig asks what's a good term for a binary thinker. Tony C comments, "Bitwit," as in nitwit.


Valdis Krebs updates his political book map

Last year, Valdis showed graphically that people who bought books with a left-leaning view tended not to buy books with a rightward tilt. Now he's updated the picture. The shape is the same, only the individual books have changed. Valdis writes:
So, if you are working a 2004 political campaign what do you do with this information? Obviously you will not be successful in removing a reader from deep in one cluster and transplanting them into the other cluster. All you can do is focus on the edge nodes and the bridges. See someone reading Sleeping with the Devil? That is someone you can talk to about your candidate.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?