The answer, as Cornell economist Alan McAdams argues, has nothing to do with Karl Marx and everything to do with basic economics. AFNs are natural monopolies. That doesn't mean that there can be only one, but rather that if there is one, then it is far cheaper to simply add customers to the one than to build another. The electricity grid in a local neighborhood is a good example of a natural monopoly. Sure, we could run four wires to every home, but do we really need four electricity companies serving every home?Link
Most economists would leap from the premise of a natural monopoly to the conclusion that such a monopoly must be regulated. But regulation is not the end that McAdams seeks. Ownership is. If a traditional network provider owned an AFN in a particular area, that network provider, acting rationally, would charge customers a monopoly price, or restrict service to get its monopoly benefit. But if the customer owned the network, then the customer could get the same access at a much lower price and be free of use restrictions. McAdams is pushing - and Burlington and other cities are actually deploying - customer-owned AFNs.
The conventional wisdom, during the Tech Boom, was that what drove innovation was the lure of giant piles of cash. That idea now rubs shoulders with the Berlin Wall. What makes creative people tingle are interesting problems, the chance to impress their friends and caffeine. Freed from the pursuit of paper millions, geeks are doing what geeks, by nature, really want to be doing: making cool stuff.Link (Thanks, Alex!)
Not just making it, but giving it away. Saying the Tech Bloom is not commercially driven is like saying Mother Teresa had an interest in the poor.
Which may be why the media haven't quite gotten the magnitude of what's happening here: It's not about investments. If the Tech Boom had a graven image, it was the bull on Wall Street. The Tech Bloom is more likely to be found dancing around the desert at Burning Man, the annual festival where money is taboo, everything's a gift and creative participation is synonymous with cool.
Even working with Disney— it’s been really great, but I had to basically give away an organ. Coming from illustration, I usually get to maintain the rights to my art. With Teacher’s Pet, I had to sell them the rights to the characters. My art is still my art, but those characters are their property now. If I ever use them, I ask their permission to do so.Link(thanks, Scott!)
As we sit in Koch’s office, he offers to reveal to me a small portion of my own zombie self. For a moment I am seized by visions of a nasty chemical cocktail, my mind turned to mush, my body rendered into a helpless puppet, but instead of reaching for a syringe, Koch turns on his computer. He brings up an image of an airplane on a runway and tells me that when he presses a key some major feature will disappear. I am to tell him what it is. Koch jabs at the keyboard and the image flashes momentarily, but as far as I can tell everything remains the same. He does it again, several times, but still I see nothing different. Finally Koch tells me it is the aircraft’s fuselage that disappears. Once it’s pointed out, the omission becomes glaringly evident.Link
We decided to 'ferberize' [Jane]. Dr. Richard Ferber is a child sleep specialist who has a come up with a method to train babies to go to sleep on their own, and help them sleep through the night. Basically, it works like this: at bedtime, you kiss your baby and set her in the crib and walk out. She'll holler bloody murder, but you have to stay out of the room for five minutes. Then you can come back in and pat the baby on the back and reassure her that you haven't packed up and moved to Estonia without her. Then you leave the room again and wait 10 minutes, then 15, then 20. She'll eventually fall asleep, according to the good doctor.UPDATE: Here's the correct link: Link
It's too early to make the claim that most people don't want handhelds that play live audio and video and offer interactive multimedia services and entertainment. The lack of interest might be a classic example of the chicken-or-egg syndrome. Are customers staying away from premium services because they don't like the services being offered? Or have carriers and manufacturers been afraid to invest the money it takes to create compelling media phones and media services when the customers don't seem to want them?Link
Last month, I bought a Treo 600, the new PalmOS smartphone. I'm still marveling over one aspect: its size. When I took the Treo out of the box, it looked half as big as its predecessor, the Treo 300. The first comment of most people who see it is, "Wow, that's tiny for a smartphone!" When I actually put the current and prior Treo models side-by-side, however, I was in for a shock. The Treo 600 is slightly narrower, but it's also taller, thicker, and heavier. In other words, essentially the same size. The many small industrial design changes make a world of subjective difference.Link
I use this example not because I'm enthralled with my new toy (though I admit I am), but because of what it suggests for the mobile world. Subtle improvements can have huge consequences. The same is true when it comes to functionality. A torrent of incremental advances are now producing converged devices that are "good enough" at each of their primary functions. This will have significant consequences for both device manufacturers and operators.
Boing Boing pal Ken Goldberg of UC Berkeley invites us back to play another round of Tele-Twister, the telepresence-based version of the classic party game. The mad professor says:
"Left foot red? Right hand green? In the newly redesigned Java-based variation of the classic '60s party game, users join forces with others online to direct the movements of live humans on the playing board. The game tests leadership ability as users try to influence group dynamics and out-strategize the opposing team. Players are ranked continuously using a new scoring metric (link to PDF paper) based on clustering and user response times. Live games run from 12-1pm Pacific Time on Fridays." Link
Altnet, the company most responsible for the proliferation of spyware, recently acquired a patent which allows easy identification of files on a P2P network. In the words of Derek Broes, Altnet's executive vice president of worldwide operations, Altnet will "...focus on protecting and commercializing our patented technology and realizing the potential it offers content owners by commercializing peer-to-peer networks". Just another day in the world of little-league software companies you think. Not so.Link
Unfortunately, there are a few problems with this picture. The so-called "Truenames" patent, filed in 1997, is little-more than a marketspeak-friendly name slapped on a decades old and widely known technique in computer science called "hashing". A hashing algorithm takes a file, and produces a "signature" for that file, a short set of letters and numbers that, for any two identical files, will always be the same. This technique has often been used to detect identical files, or to verify the integrity of software downloaded over the Internet. Clearly, it requires very little imagination to suppose that hashing might also prove useful when verifying the integrity of files on a P2P network.
This, of course, puts Mr Broes' quote in a somewhat sinister new light. In a classic example of P.R "doublespeak", what he refers to as protection, most would see as an anti-competitive offensive, and what he refers to as commercialization, most would refer to as extortion. Yes, the implication of recent public statements from Altnet is that they plan to use their government granted monopoly on an obvious idea to force other P2P companies, through threat of litigation, into cooperating with whatever scheme they are cooking up.
Owning a copy is not the same as owning a copyright. Yet publishers routinely require their own authors who want to use reproductions of old diaries, maps, photographs, or other images long out of copyright to obtain a license from a library, museum, or other owner of a physical copy. While a picture may be worth a thousand words, many authors find this requirement too much trouble and just omit the image.32K PDF Link (via Interesting People)
...many academic authors have faced the uphill battle of persuading their own publisher to let them include excerpts from the copyrighted works of others. Fair use is meant to allow and encourage such conversations among authors. However, publishers routinely edit out fairly used materials and require their authors to indemnify them against any claims for infringement.
So what are they doing instead? Twenty-nine percent of British workers say they doodle, while 22 percent of Germans surf the web. Twenty percent of Americans say they have side conversations with someone else during conference calls.Link (via FARK)
It gets weirder: 22 percent of Hong Kong workers admit they weren't fully dressed during their last teleconference, while 14 percent of them were doing their makeup or hair.
Funnily enough, I just (finally!) read Tom Standage's wonderful book, The Victorian Internet on an airplane yesterday. Standage's account of the rise of the telegraph worldwide vividly brings to life the personalities and the mania that brought the first global communications system into being, and draws fascinating parallels to the Internet boom, and the promises raised, fulfilled and betrayed therein.
(via The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century)
Braun's team began their manufacturing process by coating a central part of a long DNA molecule with proteins from an E. coli bacterium. Next, graphite nanotubes coated with antibodies were added, which bound onto the protein.Link
After this, a solution of silver ions was added. The ions chemically attach to the phosphate backbone of the DNA, but only where no protein has attached. Aldehyde then reduces the ions to silver metal, forming the foundation of a conducting wire.
There's something strange happening in Kenya. At the Broadcast Treaty meeting at WIPO this month, the Kenyan delegate revealed that his country has recently outlawed taking photos of the pictures on your television set; when we cornered him on this, he said that he couldn't answer out questions without first consulting with the representative of the US National Association of Broadcasters, who appears to be in charge of shaping Kenyan IP policy. Link
But Tashtanbekov, who spearheaded the hearing, said on Wednesday that he intended to keep up his campaign to uncover what he claims is a "mafia operation" that he says has exported 35 tons of bodies and body parts in the last six years.Link (via Fark)
Kobayashi's regimen includes shrinking his gut by jogging for hours, then distending it by chugging gallons of water. He regularly feasts on giant meals of low-fat, high-fiber foods like cabbage, which stay in the stomach longer before breaking down. (By the way, the world record for cabbage consumption is 6 pounds, 9 ounces, in 9 minutes, held by American Thomas Hardy.) And he keeps trim: A skinny man's stomach has little fat to push against it and fight the food for space.Link
Zima said the new language will help software developers exploit both parallel programming techniques and the locality of data in a large clustered system. The language will hide details of the underlying CPU but expose specifics about the communications technology used in the high-end cluster. It will also support today's message-passing interface (MPI) and global-address-space programming models, he added.Link (via Hack the Planet
To quote Ken Campbell's astonishing Wol Wontok (an annotated translation of pieces of Macbeth into South Seas Island pidgin, and my kingdom for a decent link for this), "You know that [linguistic] organization where things are masculine, feminine or neuter, and ridiculously so in German, so you might say, 'Where is the turnip?' and the reply might be, 'She is in the kitchen.' And then you say, 'Where is the young English maiden?' and the reply would be, 'It has gone to the opera.' Nutty!"
(via Geisha Asobi)
The night before the funeral, the family gathered at the undertakers for a final private farewell, when they heard the sound of his cellphone ringing from within the sealed coffin. Several distressed members of the family had to leave the funeral home whilst staff rushed to remove the cell phone.Link (via Gizmodo)
Consumption of bread plummeted in America in the past year with an estimated 40 per cent of Americans eating less than in 2002. The US bread industry is to hold a crisis "bread summit" tomorrow to discuss measures to curb falling sales. In Britain, the Federation of Bakers launched a promotional campaign last month to counter the Atkins effect. British Bread month was advertised with the slogan "Use your loaf, have another slice."Link (Thanks, Brian!)