Tuesday, May 31, 2005


FCC's Martin: Broadband No. 1 Priority

The new FCC Chairman has finally broken his silence on broadband . . . Surprise! It is his Number One Priority. This means that it is more important than 911 on VOIP calls, to which he's already devoted one full FCC meeting. And more important than "indecency." Meaning he'll push harder on broadband than on these other two issues. Right, Mr. Chairman?

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin revealed his Number One Priority in an interview with Drew Clark of the National Journal. Martin said,
"I think that the opportunity for the growth of individuals and for our society by increasing that connectiveness through broadband is critical, so I think that is our No. 1 priority."
But there was no further detail in Drew Clark's article about how Martin intends to act on his Number One Priority. Nor did it mention recent ITU and OECD data showing U.S. broadband penetration falling behind. Nor did he give insight into why he believes that the U.S. has "the best communications system in the world." [My calls two weeks ago to FCC press officials seeking more information on this topic remain unreturned. I'm still sitting by the phone, Mr. Chairman.]

The interview continues
Getting broadband rules right [Martin said] "will involve not only making sure we have the right regulatory framework for that infrastructure, but addressing issues like what are the services that ride over that infrastructure and what are the social obligations that go along with that like the expectation that people have to connect to local public safety officials."
[Notice how our Chairman hastens to rejoin content to conduit in the language above.]

Martin believes that,
"The free market is a better way for delivering innovation to consumers . . . The most important role of government in that sense is setting an environment in which the benefits of that free market can flow to consumers."
This must be why he's left "indecency" and 911 to the free market, letting application providers succeed or fail based on whether customers want "decent" programming and/or 911 service. (NOT! -- for these (but not for broadband?) Martin believes in FCC mandates.)

OK, Mr. Chairman. If broadband really is your Number One Priority, it is time to get busy. My own career is on the line, so I'm watching like a broadband hawk.

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Monday, May 30, 2005


BBC using Skype for "telephone" interviews

" . . . on a good connection, it's a full 44Khz signal, it's just below the quality of the very expensive ISDN broadcast equipment we have," says a Beebster prepping Jeff Jarvis for his next media appearance.


Mutual Admiration Society

~j's haiku blog
got me thinking of this form
now j gets noticed

(pronounce that symbol
"tilde" or maybe "squiggle"
it works both ways)

Friday, May 27, 2005


Creationist Internet policy haiku

Always-on program
Created in seven days
For neo-con base

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Armchair voyage

It's been years, a decade or more, since I've been swept out to sea, completely out of sight of familiar landmarks, by a great adventure book.

I found Blue Water Vagabond by Dennis Puleston in the Greenwich dump -- what a find! It was bound simply, in paperback. It was marked, "Copyright 1939 by Doubleday, Doran & Company. This special edition published by Dennis Puleston." It was signed in an unsteady hand by the author.

It is the story of Puleston, a young lad in the 1930s who got a 31 foot yawl together and sailed with a friend from England to the Caribbean islands. They sailed among islands without jetports, when New York and Frankfurt were properly many weeks away. They lived on wild goat, grouper and turtle, often penniless but never destitute. Then a sail to New York on a larger vessel (which runs aground off the Carolina Banks) leads to another vessel and a heart-thumping winter-gale-swept passage from Nova Scotia to New York. Then Puleston seizes the chance of a lifetime to join a South Pacific bound schooner. A dreamy dalliance among Marquesas and Tahitian islands becomes a malarial nightmare as the cruise moves west and finally disbands in Manila.

As I turned the last page of Blue Water Vagabond I didn't want it to end, so I Googled author Dennis Puleston. Whoever said "six degrees of separation" was four or five high! He died in 2001 just a few miles south of here. I love watching the ospreys he helped save from extinction's brink. And there was an even closer connection -- in later life he was a naturalist with Lindblad Expeditions. Lindblad is more of a membership organization than a company; my own Lindblad cruise to the Arctic remains one of my own most treasured memories (and provides one of the most enduringly popular pages on my Web site).

I only missed Puleston by a few years, and I am sorry I did. I don't know where you can find Blue Water Vagabond, but if a copy washes up on your shore, you'd do well to take it home and crack it open.

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Haiku site

It's astonishing
what is modestly declared
in three simple lines


Free Weekend WiFi Nix

Glenn Fleishman reports that one Seattle coffee shop has shut down its free WiFi on the weekends. He writes:
[The coffee shop's co-owner says,] “over the past year it seems that nobody talks to each other any more,” she said. On the weekends, 80 to 90 percent of tables and chairs are taken up by people using computers.
The cafe has an "unspoken policy" that WiFi users must buy something, but the staff feels awkward about enforcing it. [Wouldn't posting a little sign be less draconian than shutting off service?]

One commenter points out two other coffee shops that also have "no weekend WiFi" policies. Another observes that as hotspots become more popular, the all-day loitering will become less common. Another speaks of a system whereby (free) access codes are issued by the cashier -- you have to be shameless to not buy something. Smart discussion.

Me, if I must use a coffee shop's WiFi for more than half an hour, at least I engage the waitperson once, buy something, leave a non-trivial tip.

It's an interesting minor speedbump on the infobahn. Predictable. Will some mainstream newspaper sensationalize it? How about "Internet Moochers Destroy Saturday Coffee Outings."

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Thursday, May 26, 2005


Disservice, disingenuous and just not true

Figures just released from the OECD show the U.S. falling from #10 to #12 in broadband per capita over the last year, while the ITU says that the U.S. fell from #13 to #16. (The discrepancy occurs because the OECD does not count Hong Kong, Taiwan, Israel or Singapore in its numbers, the ITU does; all four have more broadband per capita than the U.S.)

Ooooeee! Mike Gallagher is hopping mad! He's Bushco's Assistant Secretary of Commerce in charge of the NTIA, the Executive Branch office responsible for the famous Bush Broadband Program, which would make, "universal affordable access to broadband technology by 2007." He said,
"[T]hat is a completely inaccurate measure of the way the U.S. stands," Gallagher said. Those who promote this statistic, he said, "are doing a disservice to the innovative atmosphere at home." He said the United States had the greatest gross number of Internet users and broadband users -- by substantial margins -- and also leads the world in wireless "hot spots" and in the number of computers devoted to e-commerce. "This notion that the U.S. is 16th in the world is a disservice, disingenuous and just not true."
So. The Bush measure of "universal affordable access to broadband" is the gross number of Internet users -- dial-up users included? Or the number of computers devoted to e-commerce? Huh?

(BTW, the U.S. does lead the world in gross number of computers connected via broadband, but that's because the U.S. is a big country. But China will lead in this statistic by 2008, and Bushco's doing nothing to deflect this trajectory.)

Maybe next year Bushco's broadband measure will include number of SUVs with TVs -- after all SUVs are broad and TVs are usually on in an analog kind of way. Maybe it'll be GPC -- gallons per commercial -- or TVPT -- TVs per ton.

Invent a non-disservile measure, any measure. After all, the most obvious measure is a "disservice, disingenuous and just not true."

[BTW, Mike "wired" Gallagher doesn't even have a cell phone, cause his excuse for not calling me back when I was researching this story for VON Magazine was, "out of town."]

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005


The 29th bubble?

I get investment newsletters from Porter Stansberry and Steve Sjuggerud, and if I were smart I'd act on them more often. Recently a newsletter from the Stansberry-Sjuggerud sector recounted Jeremy Grantham's research into bubbles:
Grantham and his research team have identified '28 good examples of previous bubbles' from within the world of global stock markets, currencies and commodities. 'I am patiently waiting for the current 28th bubble, the S&P 500, to go all the way back to trend - about 750 versus today's 1150,' he says. 'It fell to within 10% of trend in 2002, but still no cigar. But... ALL the other 27 identified bubbles did indeed move all the way back to [trend].'
Then this:
Crude oil prices have, indeed, jumped two standard deviations above their historic trend, Grantham admits, which technically means that the price jump has reached bubble proportions. But he wonders whether crude oil might be that 'very rare bird - a paradigm shift.' In other words, he wonders if crude oil might be the first-ever bubble not to revert to its previous trend . . . He believes crude oil is capable of resisting the powerful forces of mean-reversion. 'It's the best possibility I've seen in my career.
The article ends with this caution:
'[t]he investment desert is littered with the bones of those who bet on new paradigms.'
Porter often says stuff that sounds stupid. His last newsletter, for example, identified newspapers -- yup, the dead-tree, ink-on-your-fingers kind -- as a buy. The last time he said something stupid like this, it was in fall 2002 and he said telecom stocks were going higher when all my colleagues figured it was Nuclear Winter, the end of telephony as we knew it. He was right, at least locally; by 2003 telecoms were up some 30%.

Porter and I have sparred over whether we're at the singular all time global peak of oil production, that is, whether we're entering a time when oil demand diverges permanently from supply, that is, a "paradigm shift" per above. I'm still betting on oil, but more fearfully than I was before.

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Is Low Cost WiFi Un-American?

Great article here. Quoting:
Forcing public broadband networks to ask permission from Verizon before offering service is akin to forcing public libraries to ask permission from Borders before checking out books.
A nation [the U.S.] that once prided itself as the global pacesetter in technological innovation and affordable communications is now the thrall of corporations eager to keep a basic 21st Century right—their right to connectivity—from citizens who can’t afford exorbitant access fees. How has America fallen so far back?

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Monday, May 23, 2005


Whatever happened to the Bush broadband policy?

Public CIO Magazine asks
What happened to the urgent call for" broadband" -- the new information infrastructure that is vital to success and survival in the global knowledge economy -- President Bush promised he would push in his second term?
Answer: It went to the same place that, "Mission Accomplished," went, to a magic land where thankful people throw rose pedals to celebrate imagined events. It went to the same place Kevin Martin imagined when he said that the U.S. had "the best communications system in the world."

The article continues
Not surprisingly cities the world over are struggling to reinvent themselves for the new, global, knowledge economy and thereby attract the most sought-after creative and innovative work force.

Those most successful at positioning themselves as "cities of the future" will decidedly have 24/7, broadband telecommunications in place; wired and wireless infrastructures connecting every home. school and office -- and through the world wide Web -- to every organization or institution worldwide.
And it concludes
Clearly our national communications policies are bankrupt. Since 1996 when the last major Act was written, we have seen cable television, telephone and Internet prices rise; media firms consolidate, and journalism and news outlets convert to the worst form of tabloidism. All at a time in our history when our very freedoms and culture are being threatened in the wake of globalism. Our cities -- center of commerce, crucibles of civilization and in the new economy the most likely incubators of creativity -- hamstrung by a backward-looking federal communications policy.

If ever there was a time for federal action, it is now. The Bush Administration must act swiftly and decisively. The Congress and the new chairman of the FCC must likewise follow suit to ensure that America has the infrastructure of the 21st Century, and that our cities once again are allowed to retool so that all our citizens get connected.
Incoming FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is starting with the wrong priorities! Indecency and 911 are deck chairs. Broadband is the ocean going vessel. Icebergs ahead; straight is the wrong course. Even if the Titanic is the best vessel in the world.

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Friday, May 20, 2005


No clue where to find a clue

I met a senior strategist for a major office furniture maker the other day who had no idea that (let alone how) WiFi was changing the way we use office furniture.

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Desecration Row

I wonder what Bushco will find wrong with today's stomach-churningly vivid NYT piece about sadistic, inhumanly brutal U.S. torture of Afghan prisoners. For example:
In sworn statements to Army investigators, soldiers describe one female interrogator with a taste for humiliation stepping on the neck of one prostrate detainee and kicking another in the genitals. They tell of a shackled prisoner being forced to roll back and forth on the floor of a cell, kissing the boots of his two interrogators as he went. Yet another prisoner is made to pick plastic bottle caps out of a drum mixed with excrement and water as part of a strategy to soften him up for questioning.
Will Condi claim that the prisoner was really picking tiddlywinks out of the shit. not bottle caps, so the report is wrong wrong wrong? Will Scott McClellan insist the source is unreliable so the story must be retracted and the NYT must help Bushco repair the grievous damage to World Opinion caused by running the story?

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Thursday, May 19, 2005


Quote of Note: Bruce Springsteen

"In New Jersey, we believe in evolution — it's our only hope."

Bruce Springsteen, in concert in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania on May 17, 2005, quoted here.

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More on Newsweek, Korans and Toilets

Greg Palast says it better than I could:
"It's appalling that this story got out there," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on her way back from Iraq.

What's not appalling to Condi is that the US is holding prisoners at Guantanamo under conditions termed "torture" by the Red Cross. What's not appalling to Condi is that prisoners of the Afghan war are held in violation of international law after that conflict has supposedly ended. What is not appalling to Condi is that prisoner witnesses have reported several instances of the Koran's desecration.

Was there a problem with the story? Certainly. If you want to split hairs, the inside-government source of the Koran desecration story now says he can't confirm which military report it appeared in. But he saw it in one report and a witness has confirmed that the Koran was defiled.

Of course, there's an easy way to get at the truth. RELEASE THE REPORTS NOW. Hand them over, Mr. Rumsfeld, and let's see for ourselves what's in them.

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Personal Democracy Forum followup

Rhonda Hauben has posted some pithy perspectives on last Monday's Personal Democracy Forum, an all-day event held in New York City. She gives an especially deep review to SEIU head Andy Stern's presentation (which I found useful because I missed it while preparing my own remarks).

She summarizes PDFs strengths and weaknesses:
[PDF gave] a chance for staff people in the in the Democratic and Republican Parties and others to come and network and hear a bit about each other's practices. But the broader question of politics from the citizen's and netizen's point of view got lost in the process. How the Internet will affect politics in the U.S. is a question that is grander than understanding how it will affect the practices of the Democratic or Republican Parties. The conference also focused on blogging and bloggers as the main aspect of using the Internet to impact politics and journalism.

This is also a narrow perspective. In conversations with people outside of the panels and even occasionally in comments from those on the panels themselves, there was the observation that online conversation has an important impact on politics. Yet there was no time during the conference to explore how newsgroups, mailing lists and other forms of discussion forums can play a useful role in political activity.

Also the example of how the Netizens movement in South Korea has been impacting politics and journalism was not a formal part of any panel discussions. The one mention of it from a panel denied that the Internet was having an important impact in South Korean politics . . . [snip] . . . the campaign by Roh Moo Hyun for the Presidency of South Korea in 2002. Korean Netizens had created online fan clubs for Roh to discuss what to do about the political problems in South Korea. They created online forms like OhmyNews and utilized technologies like text messaging. The Korean netizen movement had succeeded in making it possible for Roh to win the Presidency . . . [snip] . . . Is it possible to learn from the experience of the Dean campaign in the U.S. and the Roh campaign in South Korea to understand what online forms can be helpful in a political campaign challenging corporate and other forms of entrenched power?

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005



A couple years ago, a born again CLEC wanted to make me chief strategist. I was OK with that as long as they were planning hybrid fiber-wireless. But when the senior leadership team asked me what I thought about Broadband over Powerline (BPL) I told them.

(A Consultant would have said, "Yes boss, good idea boss." But not me.)

I told them that powerline was inherently unfriendly, that it'd cost a lot more than fiber even in the short run, and that the wire into the house was an illusion best not chased. I never heard from them again. (To their credit, they paid the last of my expenses before they disappeared from my life.)

Now this study (via this article via Om Malik, via Casey Lide on the Baller-Herbst list) awards BPL a "midterm grade" of
* A in Politics
* B in Self-Promotion
* D in Technical Performance
* D in Business Model Demonstration
* D in Market Identification
* F in Pilot to Implementation Transition
It looks like the final to me.

Om wonders why telecom lobbyists keep pushing BPL. It's a no-brainer, Om; BPL is so crippled there's no "disruptive" in it.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005


The latest on Japan's broadband miracle

The latest figures on Japan's Internet connectivity, reporting through year-end 2004, are out.

OK, OK, so Japan has 75,000,000 mobile phone based Internet users.

I am more intrigued that there are now over 2,400,000 FTTH homes. A footnote explains that only about 1 million are in apartment buildings (collective housing) while the other 1.4 million FTTH users are mostly from single-family homes.

There are 13 million DSL subscribers and just under 3 million CATV customers.

The population of Japan is 125,000,000. The U.S. population is 290,000,000. So multiply by 2.3 to compare U.S. Internet numbers.


Newsweek screws up bad!

It doesn't have anything to do with causing anti-U.S. riots around the world by reporting on systematic U.S. policy to denigrate Islam and humiliate U.S. prisoners who practice it. There are already at least four other media citations of such disgusting behavior, so it doesn't matter if News-weak retracts, contracts, withdraws, disavows, shrinks, grovels, or licks Scott McClellan's loafers while reciting the First Amendment.

Nope. Newsweek's screw-up this week is its total failure to source its "Conventional Wisdom." To wit: it gives a big down-arrow to (all?) Piper Pilots, referring to the dim-witted flight instructor who taught his student to fly into Washington's Class B airspace without clearance.

The screw up: they were flying a Cessna, not a Piper! One page further into the same Newsweek issue, the plane shown is a Cessna 150, N5826G.

The down-arrow should go to that particular flight instructor, not to all Piper or Cessna pilots. But before it puts its broad brush away, "Conventional Wisdom" should give itself a down-arrow too!

A word to Newsweek's Wisdom team: Cessna 150s are not retractible.

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Monday, May 16, 2005


Texas drops anti-municipal-networks clause

Adina Levin reports that anti-muni-networking language has been dropped from the Texas Telecommunication Bill (HB789). She writes:
Four people testified with thanks for removing that section of the bill:
* Snapper Carr of the Texas Municipal League
* Robert Wood, City Manager of Flatonia
* Wayne Caswell
* Adina Levin, SaveMuniWireless.org
Nobody testified in favor of adding the provision back.
It ain't law yet, and you know Texas politics . . . but this *is* a *big* win.

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Saturday, May 14, 2005


Uzbek Government, Bush allies, torturers

This week, the Uzbekistan government, enthusiastically and repeatedly backed by Bushco, did a Tien an Min Square, shooting perhaps hundreds of its own protesting citizens.

According to this official 2004 US State Department document,
Uzbekistan is an authoritarian state with limited civil rights . . . The Government's human rights remained very poor, and it continued to commit numerous serious abuses . . . Police and NSS [National Security Service] forces tortured, beat, and harassed persons. Prison conditions remained poor. Serious abuses occurred in pretrial detention. Those responsible for documented abuses rarely were punished . . . Although the law prohibits such practices, both police and the NSS routinely tortured, beat, and otherwise mistreated detainees to obtain confessions or incriminating information. Police and the NSS allegedly used suffocation, electric shock, rape, and other sexual abuse; however, beating was the most commonly reported method of torture. Torture was common in prisons, pretrial facilities, and local police and security service precincts . . .
The document recounts specific cases of beatings, burnings, "involuntary psychiatric treatment," "sharp objects inserted under the fingernails," "immersion in boiling water," et cetera.

No wonder Uzbek people are "protesting." Bush and company should renounce its support of the current regime. Yesterday.

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Thursday, May 12, 2005


U.S. Falls to #16 in Broadband per Capita

Just in case you have not heard the news yet . . .

. . . or maybe you'd just rather see the picture.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Push Pollster Fired!

The Independent, a Lafayette Louisiana weekly, has fired perpetrator of push polling lie planter Verne Kennedy of Market Research Insight (MRI) of Pensacola, Florida. According to this MRI blurb,
MRI's people are different. They have a certain energy, a noticeable enthusiasm for what they do.
Indeed. Not a word about push polling on the MRI web site.

According to this Independent editorial, the sleezebags at MRI
had been doing research for us, polling consumer attitudes and behavior in the market area for our Acadiana Consumer Confidence Index editorial section . . . But once we learned that Kennedy and MRI were responsible for conducting last week’s anti-LUS fiber “push” poll to area residents, we immediately severed our relationship with him. Engaging in the sleazy business of push polling is a bridge too far for us."
The editorial continued
When negative political advertising runs on TV, as disgusting as it often is, campaign finance laws require disclosure of the source of the ad, and we can measure the disinformation with the credibility of the opposing candidate or camp. Push polling tries to deny us, as voters, the ability to connect the dots between the lie and those who benefit from its telling. It should have no place in Lafayette.
Good for the Independent. Good for Lafayette.

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Sure am glad I didn't rush to Mac Tiger

Glad I don't have Dan Gillmor's problems. I'm waiting until late June to install Mac OS X.4 . . . maybe July or August.

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Flippin' idiots fan General Aviation hysteria flames

Flight instructor and student spur White House Evacuation.

The last thing this country needs is another reason to be hysterical. But now two shoulda-known-betters have made sensational headlines and given the Department of Homeland Illusions a renewed raison d'etre.

Jeez, what planet did that flight instructor learn to fly on?

Watch for an even tighter clampdown on what was once our freedom to fly.

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LUS should take the "Don't be Evil" pledge

Mahlon (whoever that is) writes:

I think you nailed the definition of "
Don't Be Evil." It's about earning the trust of the public by avoiding conflicts of interest.

It would be easy for Google to dramatically boost this year's earnings by taking ad money to influence search results. Ranking in the first ten results for a search on "
digital camera" is worth a lot dough.

Some in the traditional media are losing sight of their fiduciary duty to the public, and are selling out for a quick buck. But I think the price they pay in the long term is the erosion of the public's trust, just as you're not getting your news from the US press anymore.

Some people say that corporate social responsibility, or a "Don't Be Evil" ethic, are actually unethical because to forgo revenue in pursuit of ethics
shortchanges the shareholder. I think Google has shown that maybe a "Don't Be Evil" approach is the one reliable way to build value that endures.
Yes, Google has huge potential to be evil, but so far it has resisted the temptation because it would lose the trust of its customers. Wise management will keep their focus on customer trust, even as they handle more and more customer data. If Google ever loses the trust of its customers, that is, if it is ever caught in an evil act, that'd be very, very bad for shareholders.

The key, it seems to me, is to build, and then enforce, a largely impermeable membrane between the business side of the business and the service (or "editorial") side, the way newspapers used to do. Or the way ethical accountants do when they're handling client money.

It's been pointed out -- by at least two people who I respect greatly -- that the Lafayette Utilities System FTTH project is a vertically integrated enterprise. That is, it offers a network AND services that ride on that network. Making that choice, it gives rise to the perception that, "Government is choosing what you watch on TV." Again, a definite membrane, carefully constructed and meticulously enforced, would ensure that services are not tied to the network and that the offering of TV channels is not, "dictated by government." Lafayette Utilities System should explicitly take the "Don't be Evil," pledge. Before the July 16 referendum!

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Monday, May 09, 2005


Dirty tactics in the Battle of Lafayette, Louisiana

Maybe there's a better name for the practice of push polling. Maybe it should be called, "Fraudulently, deceptively and systematically planting damaging misinformation." On the other hand, considering one slang meaning of "push," maybe not.

The opponents of Lafayette, Louisiana's municipal FTTH project (BellSouth and Cox -- the incumbent telco and cableco) have sunk to push polling. It is not the first time that incumbent-backed anti-muni efforts have slithered in such slimy disinfo; a 2004 push poll in the Illinois tri-cities region asked,
"Would a government broadband invade privacy and allow the government to listen to your telephone conversations, monitor the Internet sites you visit and know what cable shows you watch?"
"Should tax money be allowed to provide pornographic movies for residents?"
The dirty tricks worked in Illinois. The tri-cities muni broadband effort was defeated.

In Lafayette, the incumbents have forced an unfair election, an election based on technicalities of Louisiana's municipal bond laws, an election in which the pro-muni fiber forces are severely restricted from spending money while the opponents of muni fiber can spend millions.

But that's not enough -- now they're push polling too. According to this article in the local paper
The pollster asked [one Lafayette citizen] if he thought LUS should be competing with private businesses, if he thought homeowners should pay for businesses to have fiber access and if he knew that LUS cannot guarantee rates while Cox and BellSouth can. "Everything was negative about LUS and positive about Cox and BellSouth," [the citizen] said. "It was just a paid political announcement pushing you to think LUS is bad and everybody else is good. It's not fair marketing, and I told the lady she should be ashamed."
The article continued
[Another Lafayette citizen reported that t]he pollster said because of the constitutional separation of church and state, a judge may rule that LUS cannot provide religious programming over its fiber . . . [he reported that] the pollster also said "that since LUS rations water, how would you feel about receiving cable only a few days a week . . . I couldn't finish. I was laughing too hard toward the end," he said. "It was interesting all the different angles they played, like if they asked enough questions and played enough angles they were bound to get something you're angry with the city about."
One citizen found the poll ludicrous; how many others were taken in?

The Lafayette muni fiber project has been endorsed by the Louisiana Conference of Mayors, the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, Lafayette Coming Together and the Citizen's Action Council. The last two are non-partisan neighborhood organizations.

A summary of articles on Lafayette's FTTH battle from The Daily Advertiser here.
There's more info at the Lafayette Pro-Fiber blog.
Lafayette's muni FTTH referendum will be held on July 16.

Thanks to Jim Baller and Esme Vos for staying on top of this story!

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Friday, May 06, 2005


May 17 is World Telecommunications Day

Announcement here. Who knew?


U.S. losing its lead, "Very Dangerous" -- Bill Gates

In a recent appearance, Bill Gates said,
Well, there's no doubt that the United States' relative position, even if we do all the right things, will decline, and as was said, that's not necessarily such a bad thing, the fact that the world is getting richer and the people who have been quite a bit behind are catching up faster than we're leading from the top. That's OK.

The problem that the U.S. has is this decline in interest in the sciences . . . means that our relative portion will shrink dramatically more than it should. And it's very dangerous, because you get this reaction, you can get this cycle that, "OK, the world is very competitive, let's cut back on trade; the world is very scary, let's cut back on visas."

And the whole idea of the H1B visa thing is, don't let too many smart people come into the country.
[I]f you looked at the rate of improvement of Beijing, Shingwa, Indian Institute of Technology, you'd also be very impressed that they had moved from really just educating people to now starting to play in the research area, starting to make contributions there. So we've got to maintain our relative position. That's the only reason why salaries can be so much higher in the United States than they are elsewhere.
We're talking research, which is more Richard Florida than H1B. In the same program, Shirly Tilghman, president of Princeton University said,

We have a really failing K-12 education system . . . too often, by the time [teenagers] get to us, they are math-phobic, they're science-phobic, despite the fact that I'm fully convinced many of them have the talents to become great scientists. And the consequence of this is we have been increasingly dependent upon attracting students from outside the United States to American universities, where they come, and they excel.
I've got it! Let's call it, "No child propelled ahead."

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Broadcast Flag taken down

Taps as the flag comes down the flagpole.

From today's
decision (pdf) by the Court of Appeals:

The result that we reach in this case finds support in the All Channel Receiver Act of 1962 and the Communications Amendments Act of 1982. These two statutory enactments confirm that Congress never conferred authority on the FCC to regulate consumers’ use of television receiver apparatus after the completion of broadcast transmissions.


In this case, all relevant materials concerning the FCC’s jurisdiction – including the words of the Communications Act of 1934, its legislative history, subsequent legislation, relevant case law, and Commission practice – confirm that the FCC has no authority to regulate consumer electronic devices that can be used for receipt of wire or radio communication when those devices are not engaged in the process of radio or wire transmission.

Cory Doctorow
. . . over the next year, we're all going to roast any lawmaker who so much as breathes the words "Broadcast Flag" in a favorable tone.
My question: Why only a year?


Quote of Note: The Downing Street Memo

"The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

From documentation that Bush & Co acted to attack Iraq first, establish reasons afterwards, in The secret Downing Street memo -- SECRET AND STRICTLY PERSONAL - UK EYES ONLY -- Date: 23 July 2002


Live in NYC? Elect Rasiej!

Andrew Rasiej is running for NYC Public Advocate. Public Advocate is kinda like vice-mayor, except that the Public Advocate is elected independently of (and is free to oppose) the mayor.

Andrew gets the connectedness of life on line, he knows the potential of technology to make city government more transparent and open, and he intends to harness the power of open technology even before he's elected. The Rasiej campaign talks about, "lighting up buildings or blocks in poor neighborhoods with free wifi, using cellphone text-messaging and a bunch of volunteers to show how easy it would be to inform people when the next train or bus is actually coming, [and] showing the city a photographic map of its worst potholes, using Flickr." Rasiej's campaign staff says, "Our supporters are smarter than us."

Andrew is accepting ONLY campaign contributions of $100 or less. (If you live in NYC, and you contribute THIS WEEK, before May 11, the city matches your contribution 4:1 -- your contribution of $100 is worth $500 to the campaign.)

Here's where to learn more, to volunteer, to contribute.

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Saved by Carrots

In the days following September 11, 2001, almost everybody had a story about how somebody was saved by an off-site meeting, a late NJ Transit train (my wife!), a doctor's appointment . . .

Every day is September 11 in Baghdad; check out the latest from Riverbend. You can't make this stuff up!

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A "Don't Be Evil" lesson

I remarked in an earlier post that the US press was missing the cause of GM's troubles. GM's problem is crummy cars (and has been for the last 50 years), not pension and health care costs, but you wouldn't know it from scanning the headlines.

Katie Hafner, writing in the NY Times, suggests why the press is pulling its punches. She writes:
This month, General Motors withdrew its advertising from The Los Angeles Times because it was irritated at the newspaper's coverage of G.M.
Searching back through Google News, it is easy to find lots of write-ups of this story.

The business side of a newspaper is supposed to keep its mitts off the editorial side of the house. If the editorial side gets the story wrong (e.g., the GM story) it makes people distrust the press leading to less sales and fewer ad revenues. Wonder why the U.S. press is circling the drain? I'll get my news elsewhere, thank you!

At Telecosm 2001 I threw Google CEO Eric Schmidt a softball; I asked what Google was doing to make itself so good. His answer surprised me. He said that like a newspaper, Google kept a clean separation between its search engine and its ad revenue machine.

Watching Google over the years, I've not seen a violation of this principle. Surely Google has huge power (see, for example, Jeff Jarvis' recent rant), but as long as it earns my trust in its use of that power, I'll remain a customer.

Restraint in the use of power. Voluntary acknowledgment of certain tacit boundaries to preserve valuable reputation. Even some politicians know that these are key ingredients of, "Don't be evil."

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005


One click over the line!

Yikes! Susan Crawford had her hands full at the NYC Bar Association panel here. She writes:
RIAA: Copyright law is about control. Other Guys: Copyright law is about encouraging innovation.

RIAA: Copyright infringement is immoral and is destroying small songwriters. Other Guys: The content industries should embrace online business models.

I had to be a very active moderator, so I couldn't take notes. All I could do was write words in the margin of my pages -- words like "democracy," and "respect," and "infringement machine." I didn't have to actually yell at any point, but it was close.


The audience had a lot of questions too. The questions seemed to be coming from people who weren't very sympathetic to the record labels. But, again, I couldn't take notes -- I was too busy keeping the panelists from jumping down the questioners' throats.
Read her account here.

Monday, May 02, 2005


Employers beware! Evil bloggers masquerade as employees

My local business weekly, the Fairfield County (CT) Business Journal was good for a few yuks this week. An article on blogging employees said:
Employees spend time both during and after work disparaging their employer on Internet "blogs," or online Web journals. Comments have taken various forms, including the disclosure of confidential information, professional and personal attacks against top management and allegations that can undermine corporate stock prices. The problem is especially complex becasue this "cybersmearing" is often done anonymously . . . employers could respond on the Web site where the defaming comments are made . . . [but] such a response is likely to result in a backlash by encouraging more negative responses.
The article goes on to suggest the employer can subpoena bloggers identities from ISPs, and skis down the slippery slope of suggesting that an employee's First Amendment Rights might be outweighed by employers' interests.

No mention of positive values -- blogging is a Threat To Employers. It should be Dealt. With. Accordingly.

The authors, Robert G. Brody and Brian J. Wheelin, can be contacted at 203-965-0560 or info@brodyassociates.com -- if anybody has a timetable for the Cluetrain, please make sure these guys get a copy.

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