SMART Letter #58
THE REAL ANTI-GLOBALIZATION ACTIVISTS
July 17, 2001
SMART Letter #58 -- July 17, 2001
Copyright 2001 by David S. Isenberg
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> The Real Anti-Globalization Activists
> Smart Remarks from SMART People
Richard Dalton on "Amara's Law"
> Conference on my Calendar
> Copyright Notice, Administrivia
THE REAL ANTI-GLOBALIZATION ACTIVISTS
by David S. Isenberg
I struck a blow for Globalization last week. I signed up for
GSM service. I now have mobile phone service that works in
171 countries -- with one phone -- around the world.
Only a U.S. native could get excited about this -- most of the
rest of the world has had GSM service for a decade. Until a
few years ago, the U.S. didn't have GSM service. I found out
why at Telecom95 in Geneva. The people at McCaw Cellular
(just acquired by AT&T) explained it to me. They said an open
standard like GSM would turn mobile service into a commodity.
They said the McCaw proprietary network, analog AMPS at the
time, would keep McCaw customers locked in. They said that
GSM would help foreign (more on 'foreign' below) mobile
service providers enter the U.S. market and steal their
Please call me anywhere (908-456-4006)! However, if I'm
traveling internationally, puh-leeze keep the conversation
short -- outside the U.S., international roaming costs a
couple bucks a minute. (Get that? Inside the U.S., Rule A.
Outside the U.S., Rule B. Not quite Globalized. Inside the
U.S. I'm home, but outside the U.S. I'm so-called 'roaming'.)
I'm hoping that some courageous telephone company makes
international roaming inconsequentially cheap, along the lines
of within-U.S calling. For all AT&T's other incompetence, the
AT&T One-Rate Plan was a geographical coup, a U.S. national
treasure. Now HAwaii is right next to New York (on one
dimension, anyhow), and Alaska and Florida are neighbors.
The AT&T One Rate Plan was good for the industry too. (The
opening of the PCS band and the emergence of post-duopoly
competition also helped.) Suddenly people in the United
States couldn't live without a mobile phone.
There is no technological reason for not having Global
pricing. Nationally based telephone companies, by keeping
international 'roaming' rates high, by extracting 'rents'
dictated more by history and politics than by technology and
customer need, will thwart any such effort.
Why, such nationally based rate distinctions are downright
Anti-Global. I smolder when CNN newsreaders use the epithet
"anti-Globalization activist" to describe demonstrators
outside World Trade Organization and World Bank meetings.
These people, these demonstrators, care enough about our Globe
to want to be part of its emerging governance. They are in
the streets because they are not invited to the table where
the big corporations and big national governments plan how
they're going to run the world. How else are they going to
become part of the process -- vote???
Anti-Global. I smolder at CNN's use of "anti-Globalization
activist" for other reasons too. Here's a so-called "news"
network that leads with a shark-bites-boy story for a week but
has a "Global Minute" in which eight non-bleeding, non-U.S.
stories get a sentence each. It's CNN that's anti-Global.
Do people in the U.S. care if nuclear powers India and
Pakistan are on the brink of war again? CNN doesn't think so,
and when they think so it is so. Does your cable TV carry
another all-day news network? Neither does mine.
Anti-Global. TV programs -- and many Internet weather sites,
too -- show the weather as if it only happens over one
country, the U.S, as if what happens in other countries
doesn't presage or interact with U.S. weather systems, as if
the Globe were flat.
Anti-Global. Why should we in the U.S. care about the by-
products of our cheap-oil lifestyle? They'll blow off the
flat-earth map that we see on TV.
Anti-Global. We have an entertainment industry that for no
apparent technological reason maintains the distinction
between PAL and NTSC TV formats to separate different regions
of the world.
Anti-Global. Why is it a surprise that the President of the
U.S. thinks Africa is a country? (It's got about 58 countries
When the news of the world comes in ideologically-engineered
sound bites, let's be careful about how we understand the
words. Ted Turner, when he owned CNN, banned the use of
'foreign' to refer to somebody or something from a non-U.S.
country. He substituted 'international'. Good move, in my
humble opinion. Foreign means alien, out of place, extraneous
(as in 'foreign body'), strange, not belonging, not connected,
irrelevant. International means just that -- belonging to
CNN's ideological engineering under (AOL) Time Warner has
taken a giant step backwards, away from Global thinking. CNN
must want us to think locally and buy from multi-nationals.
What does anti-Globalization activist really mean? Let's take
it at face value. Let us apply this epithet to those who
would keep the world divided into 'us' and 'them'. Let us
apply it to those of any political stripe who act as if the
world is not one inter-connected, inter-dependent system. Let
us apply it to those who maintain artificial scarcities to
local benefit but at Global cost.
I read an interview with Esther Dyson in which she described
the feeling of pride we get when we hear a story about a
city we used to live in. Because we know the city, we care
more about what goes on there. We say, "All right New York!"
We're rooting for the home team. The gist of Dyson's story
was that as we begin to think of ourselves as citizens of the
world, we'll root for the world as a whole.
Wuh, wuh, wuh! Go world!
GLUTTONY, by David S. Isenberg
Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins. So when people talk
about a so-called "Bandwidth Glut" let us think about who is
doing the ideological engineering of the vocabulary. Notice
that we're not talking about "Unlimited Bandwidth" or an "Age
of Abundance". Nope, the stuff is *supposed* to be scarce,
right? Because we use a bad word to describe this abundance,
right? Scarcity good, abundance bad. Now who do you think is
shaping this vocabulary? Not the Cornucopians, that's for
Smart Remarks from SMART People: Richard Dalton
"The paraphrase you attribute to Paul Saffo in SMART Letter
#56 [that we tend to overestimate the short-term impact of
technological change and underestimate its long-term impact
-- David I] is actually "Amara's Law," named after the
long-term IFTF president who originally proposed this
elegantly simple view of emerging technology. There is some
disagreement among IFTers about the exact wording, but your
version captures its essence."
Richard Dalton [firstname.lastname@example.org] of the Institute for the
Future, by email on 6/12/01.
CONFERENCE ON MY CALENDAR
October 18-20, 2001, Sarasota FL. Gilder Fellers technology
investor's conference. Gilder and other notables will be
there. I'll be Moderator. In other words, I'll be trying to
get the participants to hold down the hype, jargon,
positioning and techno-babble so the individual investors in
the audience will understand. Some might argue that this'd be
like the pot calling the kettle . . .
For information, contact Joel Srodes [email@example.com].
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Copyright 2001 by David S. Isenberg
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