SMART Letter #58
July 17, 2001

!@#$%^&*()!@#$%^&*()!@#$%^&*()!@#$%^&*()!@#$%^&*()!@#$%^&*()   SMART Letter #58 -- July 17, 2001 Copyright 2001 by David S. Isenberg -- "shows that perception is reality" -- -- 1-888-isen-com ------------------------------------------------------------ !@#$%^&*()!@#$%^&*()!@#$%^&*()!@#$%^&*()!@#$%^&*()!@#$%^&*() CONTENTS > The Real Anti-Globalization Activists > Gluttony > 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 customers. 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. 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 in it.) 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 multiple nations. 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 sure. ------- 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 [] 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 []. ------- COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Redistribution of this document, or any part of it, is permitted for non-commercial purposes, provided that the two lines below are reproduced with it: Copyright 2001 by David S. Isenberg -- -- 1-888-isen-com ------- [There are two ways to join the SMART List, which gets you the SMART Letter by email, weeks before it goes up on the web site. The PREFERRED METHOD is to click on and supply the info as indicated. The alternative method is to send a brief, PERSONAL statement to (put "SMART" in the Subject field) saying who you are, what you do, maybe who you work for, maybe how you see your work connecting to mine, and why you are interested in joining the SMART List.] [to quit the SMART List, send a brief "unsubscribe" message to] [for past SMART Letters, see] [Policy on reader contributions: Write to me. I won't quote you without your explicitly stated permission. If you're writing to me for inclusion in the SMART Letter, *please* say so. I'll probably edit your writing for brevity and clarity. If you ask for anonymity, you'll get it. ] ** David S. Isenberg, inc. 888-isen-com 908-654-0772 ** -- The brains behind the Stupid Network -- **