Monday, February 27, 2006


End of Discount Prices for F2C!

Only 36 hours left for the special low $295 admission price for F2C: Freedom to Connect. Register here, use Priority Code FOBDL. Prices go up at 12:01 AM on March 1.

New news: James Q. Crowe, one of the great speakers of our industry, one of the great supporters of Internet Freedom, builder of two great Internet infrastructure companies (Level3 and MFS), will speak at F2C: Freedom to Connect!

Another speaker, Ray Gifford, president of the right-wing Progress and Freedom Foundation, has consented to speak with us. He knows he'll be the "away team" so kudos to him for coming! The PFF Blog has long had on its blogroll, and occasionally it sends brickbats like, "delightfully dyspeptic," my way. We're still looking for the right format, and perhaps the pepto-bismol, for that session . . .

A third speaker, Rebecca MacKinnon has been recently added. Rebecca is former CNN Bureau Chief for Bejing and Tokyo, and she's recently written an excellent, provocative article in The Nation on the role of Cisco, Yahoo, Microsoft and Google in Chinese government censorship. I wrote more on that here.

F2C will be held in Downtown Silver Spring under an open Wi-Fi Cloud. Within the venue, the beautifully restored AFI Silver Theater, we will have 20 megabit per second symmetrical connectivity provided by a Motorola Canopy link hooked to the Internet by Atlantech Online. thanks to help from Dewayne Hendricks, AFI Operations Manager John Summers and others.

As Cynthia Brumfield at IP & Democracy says, F2C: Freedom to Connect, ". . . shouldn't be missed . . . no other event in Washington will come as close to setting the agenda on critical broadband policy developments as F2C."

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Sunday, February 26, 2006


Quote of Note: Martin Varsavsky

I think it´s particularily tragic that in the island of Cuba both Fidel Castro and George W Bush two heads of state normally at odds would agree on one thing: that torture and abuse is a fair way to deal with those who seek to destroy their regimes.

Martin Varsavsky

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American Companies and Censorship

Fellow Berkman Fellow Rebecca MacKinnon, former CNN Bureau Chief in Bejing and Tokyo, has an article in The Nation where she looks at specific American companies and how they've done when confronted by the conflict of a 110,000,000 Chinese Internet customer addressable market versus Chinese Government censorship and even jailing of people who blog the wrong stories. She examines Cisco, Microsoft, Yahoo and Google, concluding that even Google, the least-bad of the four, by doing business in China, "has helped to legitimize political censorship."

I'm not sure I agree.

Rebecca asks, "Aren't we better off setting global standards to protect all users from all governments everywhere?" and she suggests that "corporate social responsibility" is a good direction to take. I agree. Governments are more the same than they are different, I fear, so it is not likely that the US government will be a strong advocate for open Internet communication abroad when it is trying to shut it down at home. Thank goodness the US government is not yet jailing many people for political speech.

Corporate Social Responsibility has a long honorable history. Much of it is recounted vividly in Age of Heretics, an undeservedly under-recognized history of corporations and people who tried to change them, by Art Kleiner.

By the way, Rebecca MacKinnon is a speaker at F2C: Freedom to Connect, April 3 and 4 in Washington DC, the Internet Freedom conference by and [Register now, ONLY 2 DAYS LEFT for deep discount pricing. Use code FOBDL for $295 rate until 11:59 PM EST on February 28. (Compare $1195 on or after April 1. Want Ginsu Knives too?)]

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Amazing record!

Joe Craven has just re-released Camptown, his best self-titled album, recorded a decade ago. Joe was a member of David Grisman Quintet until a few months ago (and before that, the Garcia Grisman acoustic band). Alone he's the most natural musician I've seen since Hendrix; there's no boundary between himself and his instruments (and his sound system, which he plays like an extension of himself). You can buy Camptown here.

By the way, Joe Craven will be Musician in Residence at F2C: Freedom to Connect, April 3 and 4 in Washington DC, the Internet Freedom conference by and [Register now, ONLY 2 DAYS LEFT for deep discount pricing. Use code FOBDL for $295 rate until 11:59 PM EST on February 28. (Compare $1195 on or after April 1. Want Ginsu Knives too?)]

Some of Joe Craven's notices:

audacious as a reggae version of an Irish reel or a samba-style 'Camptown Races'
the concept so bent and the playing so crisp . . . a great one-world ball of sparkling musicianship and tangled rhythms
Craven plays everything from violin . . . to mandolin, mandola, cavaquiño, ukelele and a full range of percussion instruments

the reverent humor of Craven [subjects his] music to strange and playful mutations but never resort[s] to mocking the original

Joe re-invents himself on almost a daily basis. You never know which direction Joe is going to go. He's always innovative and truly wonderful. He connects with the crowd like no one else.

Joe Craven's new look at old songs will open ears and expand the boundaries . . .

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Saturday, February 25, 2006



So that's where Ethan Zuckerman has been this week!

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Buckley: It Didn't Work

Is this the "Walter Cronkite moment" for the Iraq war? William F. Buckley, in a National Review article called It Didn't Work, dated 24 February, says, "One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed . . . the kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat." How much longer can the occupation last without the old right's support?

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Quote of Note: Charlie Parker

"I look at melody as rhythm."

Charlie Parker, quoted here.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006


Quote of Note: Anonymous Chinese Blogger

Please note that I have either entered the blacklist kept by Microsoft employees, or I have been shut down because I triggered their keyword filters.

During the
Republican period when one newspaper got shut down, the editor said: "Newspapers that don't get shut down aren't good newspapers, and the editors who don't get beaten aren't good editors." If my blog can attract the attention of the central Communist Party, it must be a good blog.

Reported by fellow Berkman Fellow Rebecca MacKinnon, with more detail and background, here.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Quote of Note: Mike Masnick

Mike Masnick writes in Techdirt:

The only real value I've found myself gaining from any conference was not at the conference itself, but at lunch. Lunch is when people actually get to meet and talk to each other . . . An ideal conference, then, would be more like a day full of these lunches - that forced people to think in different ways. Thus, I'd love to see a conference where people are either randomly (or carefully planned by the organizers) split into small groups, and given a task or a challenge. Let them do some scenario planning that forces them to think creatively. Get people thinking, get them involved with the ideas, get them interacting with others and force them to think outside of their own viewpoint. Maybe challenge them. Have different groups "competing" in some way to get people to really pay attention, and really try to get their minds around very difficult issues.

Put me in a small room with Jeff Bezos from Amazon, Hilary Rosen from the RIAA, Linus Torvalds, and Michael Powell from the FCC, and tell us that we've just invented TiVo, and the broadcast industry is trying to shut us down, and ask us to create a strategic plan for what to do. In another room, I want a similar group of folks (possibly someone from TiVo/Replay or some other such company, an advertising executive, and others) and tell them that they're a broadcaster trying to deal with this new technology, and ask them to come up with a scenario. Give us an hour or two, and then have the groups come together and present their findings. Then, let the rest of the attendees vote on who has the best solution.

I want to go to such a conference, and come out at the end of the day having met 20 to 30 new people, who I have a newfound respect (or distaste) for, while having generated new ideas in my head, and reshaped old, stale beliefs and ideas.

That's a conference I would attend. It would take a lot more effort to organize, but the end result would be a lot more valuable to all participants, if the goal is really to generate and discuss new ideas. It wouldn't be about patting each other on the back or rehashing old arguments. It would be about changing your perspective, making you uncomfortable, getting you involved, and making sure you came out of your shell a little bit.

Good idea, Mike!

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Tauke but no action on Network Neutrality

According to this in Business Week,
At a Jan. 27 press conference, Verizon's [Tom] Tauke said it was time for lawmakers to switch gears and . . . allow phone companies to offer TV service across the country more quickly. Top on the list is a [federal] bill on local franchise approvals that would allow phone companies to offer TV service across the country more quickly.
Tauke says, essentially, "Forget that messy network neutrality stuff, just give us franchise reform and let us kill some cablecos."
Now there's Tauke but no action on Network Neutrality!
. . . sources told Technology Daily Friday [Feb 17] that the committee is likely to drop net neutrality altogether because lawmakers cannot reach a consensus. Also expected to be dropped are portions governing municipal broadband networks and the interconnection of telecom carriers.
Municipal networks, they're so unfair to telephone companies. Tauke but no action protecting a city's right to build its own network. Tauke but no action on Interconnection. Who needs it? We'd rather have a dozen different telephones services; let the free market reign.
Instead of a comprehensive bill, the committee now is expected to adopt Verizon's idea for a streamlined telecom measure primarily addressing video franchising.
Tauke leads to action only on franchise relief. Sounds like a kushnick to me.
The bill would place new video competitors under FCC authority when they enter markets. New entrants would pay franchise fees and fulfill other obligations but would not negotiate with localities . . . The streamlined bill also would include language requiring providers of Internet telephone service to offer "enhanced 911" emergency service, sources said.
The principle seems to be, "If it helps the Bells, leave it in. If it hurts them, take it out."

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Father Knows Best

Scott Bradner writes of the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on network neutrality on the morning of February 7:
This hearing came down to one group, including [Vint Cerf] the Father of the Internet, saying that it is not time to break the model that created today's incredibly important and dynamic Internet, and another group [the telcos] saying that the Internet will stop expanding unless its members can somehow get someone other than their customers to give them money to do what their customers already pay them to do. This is a case of Father Knows Best.
Indeed, Vint was eloquent (.pdf).

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Webcast of Berkman Event Tonight

Internet Governance 101, featuring Scott Bradner and Desiree Miloshevic, will be webcast, beginning sometime between 6:15 and 6:30. Details are on the Berkman Center home page.

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Dale Hatfield at Silicon Flatirons

Dale Hatfield, the man who in 1997 called me out of the blue and said, "I'm from the FCC and I'd like to meet you," and then, over breakfast weeks later, invited me in his low-key way to the metaphorical table where telecom policy is discussed, made a comment from the audience on Sunday. Hatfield said he was even more pessimistic about competition than "duopoly" implied. He said that he saw good reason why the infrastructure could collapse back towards monopoly.

Indeed, version 2 of the BITS Bill removed language prohibiting ILECs from buying cablecos. Will Congress re-insert it?

I pointed out in SMART Letter #85 that once the telco owns the DC-to-daylight capacity of a fiber into somebody's home, it can undercut the cableco, saying, "Why spend all that money on a coax drop, when, for a fraction of that price, I can let you deliver your service on my fiber." The only rational cableco decision is to ride the telco's fiber drop. That scenario plays out until all the cableco's customers are served by the telco's fiber plant, and the telco starts jacking its rates, playing the game carefully, knowing the costs for the cableco to rebuild its plant, keeping its rates just low enough to keep the cableco from doing it.

Of course, the telcos may not be that smart. If the new law allows, the telco might just buy the coaxial plant and operate it. This is the Bruce Kushnick scenario -- the telco promises advanced digital services, but then breaks its promise and takes the easy way out, extracting rents and converting them to dividends. This has happened so many times, we should have a word for it. We should just say, "The telcos did a kushnick."

In any case, we would do well to heed Dale Hatfield's words. Look what the telcos have done in the last ten years while mouthing, "Competition." Duopoly may be an optimistic assumption.

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Even more on Mike Powell at Silicon Flatirons

Paul Kapustka has a interview with Powell and more blogging about his Silicon Flatirons talk here and here. Susan Crawford, learning from the Bellheads and other old-school regulators at the Silicon Flatirons conference, lists seven arguments in favor of a content-discriminatory Internet.

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Monday, February 20, 2006


More on Powell at Silicon Flatirons

I'm slow on the uptake. Sometimes it takes me a month to understand what I've learned and why it is important. Susan Crawford is a quicker study. She homed right in on the big story of Mike Powell's talk at Silicon Flatirons: his complete buy in to the "Daily Me" concept. She writes,
[Powell] said (paraphrasing here): "My argument is that the problem with media is not concentration, it's hypercompetition. We're fragmenting media, so we're getting 'me tv.' Do we really want this much diversity? This is a social problem. We are losing community. In the Walter Cronkite area, because the media market was so concentrated we had a communal media experience -- we had no choice but to talk about the previous night's broadcast. Our minds were opened because we had to listen to stories we might not have chosen to hear."
That Daily Me meme has been widely studied and not exactly confirmed. Yochai Benkler cites research whereby the Long Tail has structure, mini communities, cyber-small-towns where people know each other and participate in the conversation. I'm heartened that Powell would cite Walter Cronkite, somebody bipartisan, or nonpartisan, somebody we all trusted, but who elected Walter? Who's to say that Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity wouldn't be the next anointed one? I wonder if Powell isn't pining for a good old days that only improbably existed. David Weinberger's essay on echo chambers seems newly relevant.


Paraphrase of note: Michael K. Powell

Mike Powell is, above all else, charming. He's a politician, and a good one. At the Silicon Flatirons Telecom Summit, he held forth on the rough and tumble chaos of the innovative marketplace, but avoided just about any mention of infrastructure, even his baby spectrum re-regulation.

But by far, to me, the most important remark Powell made was (and I paraphrase, I couldn't type fast enough):
The Washington DC political process is more broken now than at any other time I've seen in my life. It has collapsed in on itself. I went home and asked my father [Colin Powell] if I was missing something, and he agreed with me that the process has collapsed into pure partisanship. The power of the incumbency has grown. People are not concerned with what's right or what's in the nations interest, they are purely interested in killing their opponents.
He went on in this vein for several minutes. He did not qualify or weaken his remarks. He's pissed.

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Silicon Flatirons Telecom Summit

I'm just about to begin my second day at the Silicon Flatirons Telecom Summit, one of the great annual physical-world concentrations of network brainpower. The brainpower is heavy on lawyers and regulators, and (with the exception of Bob Kahn) light on technologists, investors, visionaries, entrepreneurs and application providers (with the exception of incumbent apps like TV and telephony)! Paul Kapustka is doing a fine job of live-blogging it here, here, and undoubtedly Paul will post more today. Thanks to Phil Weiser and his crew, who did a fine job organizing and executing the conference!

Yesterday I was amused with Paul Glist's recitation of all the ways, since 1949 that the government regulationist approach has failed. He did the whole thing tongue in cheek, saying, e.g., I just knew that unbundled network elements was the right way to go so I mandated it. It was brilliant. There's another opposite story to be told, of course, one where the government kept its hands off while kleptocratic monopolies abused their power. Glist didn't tell that one.

I was also impressed with Susan Crawford's talk. She is the most articulate defender of Internet Freedom here, maybe anywhere. She speaks with conviction, dignity and grace. She points out that the Internet is like no other good, indeed, unlike no other technology -- ever -- in its capacity to bring benefits to many. She says that even though the infrastructure of the Internet is owned, the important benefits that the Internet distributes are mostly gifts. She firmly believes that the builders of the infrastructure of the Internet should be paid for their assets, so, she says, we (the people) should simply buy it from them.

Back to the meeting now. There's a panel with Former FCC Chairman Powell and a closing keynote from Jim Crowe.

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A surprising Internet experience

I did something on the Internet I have not done in years. I dialed up! I hadn't done it in so long I thought I wouldn't remember how. It must've been three years since I've dialed up the Internet on a computer.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Update on: Update on Special Berkman Event

A webcast (and probably a chat) will be available. Check this blog or this Web site around 6:00 PM EST for the link.

Original post with how-to-find-it, and more on what it is

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Update on Special Berkman Event

Next Tuesday, Internet Governance Gurus Scott Bradner and Desiree Miloshevic will be explaining how Internet governance works (aka Internet Governance 101) at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, 1587 Mass Ave.

SLIGHT SCHEDULE CHANGE: we'll start at 6:15 PM, and end at 7:45.

Pizza and soda will be served -- but only if you RSVP to, Subject: Gov101

Here's the original writeup, with directions and other details.

Request for webcast has been noted. Answer: we still don't know, check this blog (and/or Berkman website) on Tuesday late afternoon.

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Shades of gray

Here's a mashup of (a) the Homeland Security Advisory System color scale (remember that?) and Google's mantram, "Don't be evil." Appropriately, it is cast in shades of gray.

Thanks, Steve.

Meanwhile, here's Patriot Search, which sends your search strings to the government [ :-) I think ] even before it returns search results. It's mission notes that only four out of five search engines give your results to the government -- why leave the safety of your country to chance?

Thanks, Robin.

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Monday, February 13, 2006


Picture > 1k words



Energy crisis meets climate change

I used to think that the energy crisis and the climate change crisis were mutually exclusive, because either would tend to curtail the other. But here's a scenario where the two occur together because it is politically unpalatable to deal with either head-on. Professor Michael Klare writes that this scenario would
do more than just cripple the global economy - its political, military, and environmental effects will be equally severe.
And Klare observes
To make the energy picture grimmer, "spare" or "surge" capacity seems to be disappearing in the major oil-producing regions. At one time, key producers like Saudi Arabia retained an excess production capacity, allowing them to rapidly boost their output in times of potential energy crisis like the 1990-91 Gulf War. But Saudi Arabia, like the the other big suppliers, is now producing at full tilt and so possesses zero capacity to increase output.
In addition to this danger, . . . [the U.S.] DoE predicted in July 2005 that worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide (the principal source of the "greenhouse gases" responsible for global warming) will rise by nearly 60% between 2002 and 2025 . . . the world will probably pass the threshold at which it will be possible to avert significant global heating, a substantial rise in sea-levels, and all the resulting environmental damage.
Worth reading in entirety.

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Sunday, February 12, 2006


Cynthia Brumfield says "Can't Miss" F2C: Freedom to Connect

By way of disclosure, there is NO business relationship between Cynthia Brumfield and Mitch Shapiro's blog IP & Democracy and When Cynthia says, Can't Miss, I know she means it. She writes,

I don’t usually make recommendations for conferences here, but there’s one coming up in DC that shouldn’t be missed. David Eisenberg and have teamed to produce the second annual Freedom-to-Connect (F2C) conference and based on the speaker line-up and word-of-mouth from last year’s conference (I couldn’t attend but will definitely be there this year), no other event in Washington will as close to setting the agenda on critical broadband policy developments as F2C . . . [T]his event is admittedly tilted toward those who favor net neutrality, but if history is any indication, everyone will be talking about F2C for months afterwards.

Wow! Awesome. I couldn't have said it better myself! I don't even care if she misspelled my name! XXXOOO to Cynthia! Maybe IP & Democracy wants to be a media sponsor of F2C?

F2C: Freedom to Connect, April 3 & 4, 2006 in Washington DC. Register here. Priority Code FOBDL gets friends of 50% off the Early Bird rate (regularly $595) through February 28.

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Saturday, February 11, 2006


Slovenia vs. World's #1 Superpower

A recent story in Telecompaper, detailed here, shows that the U.S. is #19 in broadband connections per capita and Slovenia is #20. Slovenia, with 32 broadband connections per 100 households is poised to overtake the U.S. at 33 broadband connections per 100 households, any day now. Slovenia's growth rate is better than double the U.S. rate (4.28 vs. 2.07, quarterly growth 2Q05 to 3Q05).

Presidential leadership? Dunno. But Bush said, "Affordable broadband for all US citizens by 2007," in the heat of his 2004 re-election campaign. Since then, not a word.

Now, in tomorrow's New York Times, Nicholas Kristof (in Times Select, paid subscription required) says,
" . . . presidential leadership on Darfur is coming from ... Slovenia. The Slovenian president, Janez Drnovsek, has emerged as one of the few leaders who are actually organizing an international effort to stop the genocide . . . Mr. Drnovsek came to the United States recently to talk about Darfur . . . [b]ut he says that President Bush declined to see him; if Mr. Bush were more serious about Darfur, he would be hailing Slovenia's leadership — indeed, emulating it."
What's Slovenia got that we ain't got?

Thursday, February 09, 2006


UPDATE: Google Image Search in China and /China

In my previous blog post, Google Image Search in China and /China, users of could merely capitalize the T in Tiananmen to see the same images the rest of the world sees when they search for Tiananmen images. Now this loophole has been blocked.

Fortunately, human language is generative. There are lots of synonyms, homophones, neologisms, code words and other potential work arounds. Can block all of them without developing mind-reading technology?

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Internet Freedom teleconf with Lessig, Cooper, Chester, Scott tomorrow

Ben Scott from Free Press just sent me this heads-up!

I'm writing to invite you to join bloggers from across the country for a phone conference on the future of the Internet. Featured speakers will include Stanford Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, Mark Cooper of Consumer Federation of America, Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy and Ben Scott of Free Press.

WHEN: Friday, Feb. 10 -- 12:30 p.m. EST / 9:30 a.m. PST
CALL: 1-800-370-0906
CODE: 7028789

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Announcing F2C:Freedom to Connect

If you're reading, you should also be coming to F2C: Freedom to Connect, April 3 & 4, Washington DC!!

A production of and pulvermedia, in partnership with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, O'Reilly Media, Free Press, Public Knowledge, Tropos Networks, the VON Coalition,, and other organizations, associations and companies that care about Internet Freedom. (More partners to be announced in the near future.)

Pulvermedia Press Release
The Official F2C Website

Until February 28 there's a special rate, $295 (vs. regular Early Bird at $595) for Friends of Register here! Use Priority Code FOBDL

The rapidly expanding speakers list includes:
Reed Hundt -- Mckinsey & Co., former Chair of FCC
Senator Ron Wyden, D, OR
Rep. Rick Boucher, US House of Representatives, D, VA
[We want netty Republicans too, like former FCC Chairman Michael Powell, Representative Charles Pickering and Senator John Sununu. We're working on it! We strongly believe that Internet Freedom has no party but us. Which is why we're doing this in the first place . . . David I]
Gigi Sohn -- President & Co-Founder, Public Knowledge
Tim Wu, Professor, Columbia University Law School
David Weinberger -- Co-Author Cluetrain Manifesto, and Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
Doc Searls -- Co-Author Cluetrain Manifesto, editor Linux Journal
Om Malik, senior writer, Business 2.0
Cynthia de Lorenzi -- CEO,, Organizer, Gigabyte March on Washington
Dave Hughes, CEO, Old Colorado Communications, Distinguished West Point Graduate
Jim Kohlenberger, Executive Director, VON Coalition
Jim Baller, founder, Baller Herbst Law Group
Jeff Jarvis, Creative Director,
Bruce Kushnick, Chairman and Founder, Teletruth
Mark Cooper, Research Director, Consumer Federation of America
Ron Sege, CEO Tropos Networks
Rick Ringel, Distinguished Engineer, Inter-Tel
Esme Vos, founder and CEO,
Drew Clark, Senior Writer, National Journal
Frannie Wellings, Program Manager, FreePress

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Blogging, Conflict of Interest and Disclosure

UPDATE: David Weinberger's excellent blog posting about the WSJ story. He concludes,

Yes, there are stories to be written about the "murkiness" and "nuance" of the relationships of bloggers to their readers and to companies who pay those bloggers. But, Rebecca could not have picked a worse example than the Fon advisory board: We all were transparent about our relationship and not only is there no current compensation package for the advisors, we still haven't even discussed it with Martin.

This might have been an interesting article. Instead, it imputes misconduct where there has been none and hypothesizes a trend using examples to the contrary.
UPDATE: Free url for the WSJ story here.

I was one of the subjects of a story today in the WSJ (paid subscription required) on FON, blogging and compensation of FON advisory board members who also blog about FON. The story noted the blog buzz around FON's US announcement, and said that except for Dan Gillmor and David Weinberger, who explicitly mentioned the possibility of compensation for their role as FON advisors,
advisory-board members who talked up FON's prospects online didn't mention they might be paid by the company, though they did note they were FON advisers.
Well excuse me. If I said, "I work for blablaco," wouldn't it be obvious that I was getting paid by blablaco? In my blog posting about FON, I said, "I am proud to be a member of FON's US Advisory Board." To me, this makes it obvious that I'm getting some kind of financial compensation. Do I need to disclose further? (If you think I should, please email me or leave a comment below!)

By the way, here is my full sentence in which I disclose:
I am proud to be a member of FON's US Advisory Board, but more than a bit nervous about how ready the FON implementation is for the general public.
Does this sound like paid publicity to you? If it does, gentle reader, write to me and I will be happy to tell you everything. I have nothing to hide.

I think this WSJ story is made up news. Nobody ever discloses everything. When I say, "I took my dog for a walk," you don't need me to disclose what the dog did on that walk, do you? When I say, "My date and I went to bed," do you really need me to disclose what we did in bed? And when I say, "I'm on the advisory board of blablaco," do you really need to know the fine print of the advisory board agreement?

In the case of FON, the advisory board agreement doesn't even exist. There's been expressions of interest, a handshake, a lot of discussion and some vague (but trustworthy, in my opinion) statements by Martin Varsavsky, FON's founder, that the advisory board relationship will be formalized. I note further, that sometimes stock options or warrants can result in big US tax losses. That's compensation?

I pledge to you, gentle reader, to be transparent and open, to disclose when I have a business interest that might be a conflict, or even have the appearance of a conflict of interest. I'm likely to disclose my other interests too if I think they're part of the story. For example, I might say, "My friend David Weinberger is a great person." The disclosure, (we're friends) implies that this fact might influence my opinion that he's great. On the other hand, if I say that my friend Weinberger is an idiot, a smart reader might suspect that I'm not making that statement to curry Weinberger's friendship.

The statements I made about FON in my blog were my frank opinion, not paid publicity. I disclosed what was relevant. There's more above, made relevant by the current stupid Journal story. You want more? Email me we'll talk. No problem. Back off, WSJ.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Martin Geddes on FON

Always thoughtful Martin Geddes on FON:
Now the bad news. I think they’ve started with the hardest case first, which is consumers. The highest possible cost per added node, the lowest revenue per user.
The rest . . .

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Special Berkman event February 21

If you are in the Boston area and you're mystified by Internet governance, put Tuesday, February 21 on your calendar. At about 6 until about 7:30PM, I'll be hosting a Berkman Center for Internet & Society event called, "Internet Governance 101," a discussion with visiting, globetrotting Internet Governance Guru Desiree Miloshevic and Harvard's own Internet Gov Guru Scott Bradner. Desiree and Scott will begin the beguine, explaining how Internet governance began, how and why organizations like ICANN, IANA, IETF, ISOC, and others began, what they do, how they're doing, what's behind some recent attempts to change Internet governance structures and what the prognosis is.

If you don't know your ISOC from your ISHOE, if you wonder why ICANN CANNT (or WONNT), if you WSIS it would all go away, if you can't remember why they took IANA toothpaste off the shelves, if you wonder what the FCC is going on, this evening is for you.

Pizza and soda served, but we'd like an RSVP if only to know how much pizza to order.
The Berkman Center is located at 1587 Mass Ave, Cambridge MA 02138 USA. More how to find it here.

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Bush broadband plan: Tax Wi-Fi

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Harold Feld says, STOP THE WI-FI TAX RUMOR! He says, "Freaking trade press should know better, or at least learn to read more carefully . . . [the story is] "bluntly, a misreading of the plain language of the President's budget proposal." More here.

RCR Wireless News reports
WASHINGTON-President Bush, facing a huge budget deficit, today proposed squeezing more money from the nation's airwaves by supporting legislative changes that would allow the Federal Communications Commission to set "user fees" on "un-auctioned" radio spectrum.

The proposal, contained in the president's 2007 budget plan and projected to raise $3.6 billion during the decade, is believed to be aimed at unlicensed frequencies used for Wi-Fi and other applications.

Hallelujah! This must be the Bush "affordable broadband for all Americans by 2007" policy we've all been waiting for!

[Thanks to Bill Lane on Dewayne-Net Technology List for pointing this out.]

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Sunday, February 05, 2006


Everybody have FON tonight!

Martin Varsavsky announces FON in the US tomorrow! Varsavsky's FON is not the stock symbol for Sprint. It is a way to share a Wi-Fi hotspot safely and sustainably, a way to spread Wi-Fi where it has not gone before, a (potential) way to have Wi-Fi service for free anywhere in the world (if you're a Linus), to make money (if you're a Bill) and, in any case, to get Wi-Fi service wherever there's a FON hotspot for about the price of a subway fare.

Big news. Varsavsky writes
. . . today I have a great announcement to make: FON can now count Google , Skype, Sequoia Capital, and Index Ventures as investors and backers. They’ve joined us to help advance the FON movement, leading a group that has put 18 million Euros into FON and also committed to give us a strategic boost that should help us make this great idea into a great platform for everyone who wants a faster, cheaper and more secure wireless Internet.
I had never been to Silicon Valley until FON came about. Showing up from Spain with a business plan in my pocket and getting the support of two of the largest internet companies in the world in less than one month made me realize how it is that American dominates the internet. It´s all about willing to take risks.

I met Martin when I was invited to Madrid on the first anniversary of the train bombing, last March 11. He organized the International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security that I participated in. We produced a good statement there on the role of the Internet in democracy. I wrote a little bio of Martin here. I am proud to be a member of FON's US Advisory Board, but more than a bit nervous about how ready the FON implementation is for the general public. The idea, though, is wonderful. And the implementation will benefit from a culture of openness, transparency and receptiveness to suggestions from all quarters.

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Saturday, February 04, 2006


Daddy, what was the Internet?


Son: Dad, today in the history class they taught us about Internet and all the amazing stuff you could do on it.

Dad: Those were good old days before the Verizon-net, Comcast-net, BellSouth-net…

Son: If internet was such a good thing, why don’t we have it today?

Dad: Because they decided to end it sometime around 2006.

Son: But why did they do that?

Dad: Apparently the telcos were not were not making enough money.

Son: That’s bad. Why didn’t you guys pay the poor telcos?

Dad: Oh! We did. Every month.

Son: Then how come they didn’t make any money?

Read the rest here. Thanks to Dave Hughes for the pointer!

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Will Congress Keep the Pipes Open?

In a USA Today article called Here's Hoping Congress Keeps the Pipes Open, Andrew Kantor writes
Imagine you make a phone call to a friend, but instead of hearing it ring, you get a recording: “We’re sorry, but the person you are calling has not paid Verizon to carry his or her conversations. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

Couldn’t happen, of course. Your phone company will connect you to whomever you call, period . . . A carrier can’t discriminate based on who you’re calling
[thanks to 70 years of good law that's now circling the drain -- David I]

Now imagine this: You have a DSL connection from your local phone company. You try to go to, say, but instead see a message, “ does not currently have a transport agreement with AT&T to have its content carried to AT&T subscribers. We apologize for any inconvenience.” . . . The scary thing is, it’s something they’re not only discussing, but some are pushing for it.
Our problem at next Tuesday's Network Neutrality hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee is that the Bellheads will say they're merely improving service for their best customers, and no, no, no they have no intention of blocking certain Web sites, and of course they'll provide ample provisioning for the "discretionary" Internet, as if they know how much that is.

Go ahead, look it up. Do the telcos mean
1. Left to or regulated by one's own discretion or judgment
and if so, whose discretion or judgement? Or do they mean
2. Available for use as needed or desired: a discretionary fund
and if so, what laws, regulations, norms or economic incentives will ensure that it'll be available as needed or desired?

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Friday, February 03, 2006 breaks 1000!

970!! Woo hoo. Blogpulse is my favorite new form of ego surfing. Now if I can figger out how to do make my stock portfolio look like this . . .


Addicted to Oil Redux

Robin Chase, in a Boston Globe Op-Ed called Going cold turkey on oil, writes

The National Institute on Drug Abuse lists 13 ''Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment." Subsidizing the drug . . . giving $400 million to oil companies to encourage the building of new oil refineries, and paying for roads and highways with federal dollars -- isn't on the list.

It seems clear to me that, "Addicted to Oil," is destined to join "Affordable broadband for all by 2007," "Mission Accomplished," "Get Osama dead or alive," "Whatever it takes to rebuild New Orleans," "Clear Skies," "Healthy Forests," "No Child Left Behind," and "Heck of a job, Brownie," as presidential milestones.

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Quote of Note: Tom Tauke

"We are trying to work with other players [in the technology and communications industries] to see how we can create the right climate to put market pressure on everyone to abide by the Internet principles.

"We think it is important to keep hammering on these principles for the orderly development of the market . . . Can we get other companies to publicly embrace this set of principles and have some mechanism whereby customers would know which companies are with the program? . . . "

Verizon Executive Vice President Tom Tauke quoted in National Journal story by Drew Clark, who observes that Tauke, "said Verizon would continue to resist efforts to codify these Internet neutrality principles through legislation."

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Quote of Note: Ed Whitacre

“We have to figure out who pays for this bigger and bigger IP network . . . we have to show a return on our investments.

“I think the content providers should be paying for the use of the network – obviously not the piece from the customer to the network, which has already been paid for by the customer in Internet access fees – but for accessing the so-called Internet cloud.

“If someone wants to transmit a high quality service with no interruptions and ‘guaranteed this, guaranteed that’, they should be willing to pay for that . . . Now they might pass it on to their customers who are looking at a movie, for example. But that ought to be a cost of doing business for them. They shouldn’t get on [the network] and expect a free ride.”

Ed Whitacre, CEO of AT&T, quoted in FT, Jan 30, 2006

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Thursday, February 02, 2006


Celebrate OneWebDay -- September 22!

The OneWebDay site is up! Next September celebrate OneWebDay. How? Any way you want to, but do celebrate. It's a bottom up process -- if it celebrates, remembers, or honors the Internet on September 22, however you'd like to do it, it is part of a Long Tradition (that we're about to invent).

Proud disclosure: I am on the OneWebDay Board of Directors.

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Quote of Note: Steven F. Roberts

"I contend we are both atheists, I just believe
in one fewer god than you do. When you
understand why you dismiss all the other
possible gods, you will understand why I
dismiss yours."

Stephen F. Roberts, who comments,
...Yep, that was me. You may have seen my quote floating around the net in various places. I'm real happy others have embraced it. To the best of my knowledge, it is an original quote. If you like it, please use it.
I am not advocating any form of theism or atheism. I'm intrigued by this because is a good heuristic. It reminds me of the teaching story where the student says, "Where does the flame go when you blogblow the candle out?" And the teacher says, "If you understand where the flame came from, you will know where it went."

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Scenario for content-aware Internet

You think "they're not going to use my pipes for free" is just about Yahoo, Google and Ebay? Think "private commercial arrangements" are just so movies get preferred transport? Jeff Chester writes:
Imagine how the next presidential election would unfold if major political advertisers could make strategic payments to Comcast so that ads from Democratic and Republican candidates were more visible and user-friendly than ads of third-party candidates with less funds. Consider what would happen if an online advertisement promoting nuclear power prominently popped up on a cable broadband page, while a competing message from an environmental group was relegated to the margins. It is possible that all forms of civic and noncommercial online programming would be pushed to the end of a commercial digital queue.
If you don't think it can happen to the Internet, look at TV. Are we heading for a world of 500 billion URLs and nothing on? Chester's article, "The End of the Internet," is worth reading entirely.

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Teleconomics 101

If networks are to be private, with no greater duty to society than "make a profit," here are five rules of the marketplace.

1. 80% of the profits come from 20% of the customers (and, by extension, 20% of the capex). So you want those elite customers.
2. Everything is getting twice as cheap every 12-24 months except labor, power and real estate (including right-of-way).
3. Supply and demand are inoperative once there's supply, because supply is expandable and shareable.
4. Raw transport is a super-commodity, and competition will drive prices below sustainable profitability. The only way to succeed at this game is M-N-P-LY. (Anybody want to buy a vowel?)
5. The real money is made when network owners use their network to lock customers to proprietary apps and content, and vice versa. (The vowel is "O".)

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Addicted to Oil . . . and violence, by Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut, now 81, reviews the State of the Union speech. Here are the last few paragraphs:

That chief and his cohorts have as little to do with Democracy as the Europeans had to do with Christianity. We the people have absolutely no say in whatever they choose to do next. In case you haven’t noticed, they’ve already cleaned out the treasury, passing it out to pals in the war and national security rackets, leaving your generation and the next one with a perfectly enormous debt that you’ll be asked to repay.

Nobody let out a peep when they did that to you, because they have disconnected every burglar alarm in the Constitution: The House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, the FBI, the free press (which, having been embedded, has forsaken the First Amendment) and We the People.

About my own history of foreign substance abuse. I’ve been a coward about heroin and cocaine and LSD and so on, afraid they might put me over the edge. I did smoke a joint of marijuana one time with Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, just to be sociable. It didn’t seem to do anything to me, one way or the other, so I never did it again. And by the grace of God, or whatever, I am not an alcoholic, largely a matter of genes. I take a couple of drinks now and then, and will do it again tonight. But two is my limit. No problem.

I am of course notoriously hooked on cigarettes. I keep hoping the things will kill me. A fire at one end and a fool at the other.

But I’ll tell you one thing: I once had a high that not even crack cocaine could match. That was when I got my first driver’s license! Look out, world, here comes Kurt Vonnegut.

And my car back then, a Studebaker, as I recall, was powered, as are almost all means of transportation and other machinery today, and electric power plants and furnaces, by the most abused and addictive and destructive drugs of all: fossil fuels.

When you got here, even when I got here, the industrialized world was already hopelessly hooked on fossil fuels, and very soon now there won’t be any more of those. Cold turkey.

Can I tell you the truth? I mean this isn’t like TV news, is it?

Here’s what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey.

And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we’re hooked on.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006



AT&T needs to put a sign on its door that reads, "Come Back With a Warrant," says EFF attorney Kurt Opsahl.

But Nooooo. The new AT&T thinks itself a proxy for a federal administration run amok. The Battle of the Acronyms is joined.
In the suit filed Tuesday, EFF is representing the class of all AT&T customers nationwide. EFF is seeking an injunction to stop AT&T participation in the illegal NSA program, as well as billions of dollars in damages for violation of federal privacy laws.
snip (and tuck)
"The NSA program is apparently the biggest fishing expedition ever devised, scanning millions of ordinary Americans' phone calls and emails for 'suspicious' patterns, and it's the collaboration of US telecom companies like AT&T that makes it possible," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "When the government defends spying on Americans by saying, 'If you're talking to terrorists we want to know about it,' that's not even close to the whole story."
In the lawsuit, EFF alleges that AT&T, in addition to allowing the NSA direct access to the phone and Internet communications passing over its network, has given the government unfettered access to its over 300 terabyte "Daytona" database of caller information—one of the largest databases in the world.
Whole complaint.pdf
Note: I never worked for THAT company. (whew!) It bought its name from a dying IXC (which I did once work for).

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Network Seusstrality

My hat is off to Glenn Fleishman for thinking up "Dr. Seusstrality" as a title for my bad-dog-gerrel.

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