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July 7, 2009

Eszter cries “Grinch!” on MJ lottery

Eszter Hargittai uses the lottery for tickets to view Michael Jackson’s corpse to illustrate her point about the existence, persistence, and importance of the digital divide.

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June 26, 2009

[reboot] Government officials take it on the chin

I went to a fascinating breakout at Reboot at which two government guys came to talk about national policy. The government guys were culturally of the Reboot crowd (or so it seemed to me), and one of them came to his position straight out of a tech start-up. But the group of thirty people in the small, converted men’s room (!) met their openness with pent-up hostility. I was surprised at the anger. The gov’t guys ought to listen (which is what they were doing at this meeting), should not expect ideas for free, need to maybe do nothing, need to get the country over the digital divide, should give grants to small businesses, should stay clear of small businesses, don’t be afraid to lose control, build communities, participate in communities, stay out of communities… My untutored sense was that the Web community felt frustrated that this initiative was so late at getting started. As an American, I was actually impressed with the government folks’ openness and webbiness.

Afterwards, I talked with my friend Morten Kamper. He wasn’t at the session, but he said that there was concern that the government’s broadband committee is comprised of the telcos without sufficient citizen or webizen participation, and that Net neutrality is indeed an issue, as the telcos assume they can prefer some of their bits to others.

BTW, I asked the room if there was reluctance on the part of the government to be transparent, and, if so, where’s the Danish version of the Sunlight Foundation. The general answer I got was: There’s no official reluctance, but it’s going too slowly. And Ton Zijlstra said that in the Netherlands, the official policy is to be transparent but there are cultural resistances.

I also asked, at the beginning, if it was clear that the “broadband policy” they were talking about was actually committed to delivering an open, unfiltered, non-discriminatory Internet. The answer was “Yes,” with an implied, “Why would you even have to ask?” (And the answer to that implied question is: Because it’s not clear in America.)

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June 23, 2009

Isenberg on the WSJ on Iran on Nokia

David Isenberg questions the veracity of the Wall Street Journal’s report about Iran using Nokia equipment to do deep packet inspection. Interesting on its own and also as yet another example of smart bloggers raising journalism’s bar.

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June 7, 2009

Broadband isn’t the Internet

Here’s a comment aimed at the FCC that reminds the FCC that (a) broadband and the Internet are not really synonymous, (b) the value of broadband is that it gives access to the Internet, so, (c) when designing a national broadband package, we should make sure that it supports the value of the Internet.

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June 3, 2009

The best 25 questions for the FCC

There are 25 Senators on the committee that confirms FCC commissioners. So, Britt Blaser had the idea that we all together could come up with the 25 questions we want asked, and then provide one question per Senator, with backing material, etc.

There’s a “starter kit” of 13 questions up on a survey, with space for you to add your own. There’s also a “Fast Internet for All” Facebook app that can connect Senators to questions.

I very much like the idea of shaping the hearings this way. Personally, I find many of the 13 starter questions currently in the survey to be “gotcha questions,” and I hope the project ends up with questions that are more useful for discussion. But that’s up to you and me.

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May 31, 2009

Andrew McLaughlin joins the Obama administration

According to CNet:

Andrew McLaughlin, currently listed as Google’s director of global public policy, will leave Google to accept a position within the Obama administration reporting to the nation’s new chief technology officer, Aneesh Chopra, according to a report in The New York Times. McLaughlin’s new title will be deputy chief technology officer, and he would become the third high-profile Google executive to join the government since Obama was inaugurated in January.

I know Andrew. He was a Berkman fellow and I’m happy to be one of the many people who call him a friend (not to overstate our relationship). Andrew is incredibly smart and very thoughtful. (He’s also kind and funny.) You may disagree with his policy recommendations on, say, Google’s presence in China or how to handle Turkey’s desire to block YouTube videos that mock Mustafa Kemal Ataturk but if you have a chance to hear Andrew talk about such issues, you will come away impressed by his knowledge, his seriousness, his vision, and his empathy. He is committed to open access and understands the power of the Net. I’m very happy to have him in our government.

[Later: Here’s Ethanz on Andrew.]

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May 8, 2009

Robin Chase on the smart grid, smart cars, and the power of mesh networks

Pardon the self-bloggery-floggery, but Wired.com has just posted an article of mine that presents Robin “ZipCar” Chase’s argument that the smart grid and smart cars need to be thought about together. Actually, she wants all the infrastructures we’re now building out to adopt open, Net standards, and would prefer that the Internet of Everything be meshed up together. (Time Mag just named Robin as one of the world’s 100 most influential people. We can only hope that’s true.)

The article is currently on Wired’s automotive page, but it may be moved to the main page today or tomorrow.

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April 28, 2009

Australia: Broadband as electricity

Stephen Conroy, Australia’s Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, today gives a talk ([Tags: ]‘>transcript here) to the National Press Club in which he outlines the case for treating broadband access as a service as fundamental as electricity. Australia is implementing a national rollout, providing wholesale access to competitive access retailers. They want 90% of the country connected. “Our rollout will start at 100Mbps, but once fibre is distributed, future hardware upgrades can boost speeds even further to 1000Mbps and beyond.” (No mention of Net neutrality or the openness of access; a truly competitive market would help ameliorate some of the need for that.)

Conroy ends his talk with a summary:

Broadband, like electricity in the century past, has the potential to drive innovation, productivity, efficiency and employment across the economy.

It will, over time, influence every activity and process throughout our daily lives.

Broadband will transform health care.

Broadband will revolutionise education.

Broadband will underpin our future carbon constrained economy.

vBroadband will secure our infrastructure investments.

The National Broadband Network will support applications and services in these and other sectors that today we cannot begin to imagine.

And for the first time they will be delivered over a genuinely competitive platform.

It is our responsibility and obligation to ensure that these opportunities are available to future generations of Australians.

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April 24, 2009

Craigslist Killer – PR in the news

Doc blogs about the unfairness of Craigslist becoming an adjective attached to “killer.” Yes, it’s unfair. It’s what the tabloid press does. And increasingly, that just means “the press.”

That’s the sort of catchy name that sells papers. But, as Craig points out in his blog, Craigslist does not promise anonymity. In fact, it promises that it will rat out rats. Wikipedia makes the same promise. Good. Of course, this assumes the police are not persecuting innocents as part of a totalitarian state, but I’m happy Craigslist helped the police arrest the sick fuck who otherwise probably wasn’t done murdering women allegedly.

The PR job doesn’t stop with the media, of course. Craigslist’s PR company fumbled the ball here in Boston. This Businessweek story is excellent, but the Boston Globe coverage has been miserable (here, here and here). The PR agency seems intent on keeping Craig from commenting, shunting inquiries to CEO Jim Buckmaster. Nothing against Jim, but Craig’s name is on the site. Craig has earned his reputation for honesty, bluntness, and service. Craig is known, respected, and even beloved. So, master the buck, Craig. It stops with you.

PS: The Globe ought to take a look at the “Erosphere” classified ad section of the Boston Phoenix before coming down on Craigslist.

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April 16, 2009

Pew study on Net and politics

Pew Internet has a new report out about the role of the Internet in the recent presidential campaign. It confirms that more than half of us went online for info, and many of us were quite active. In fact, here’s one nugget from the report:

Due to demographic differences between the two parties, McCain voters were actually more likely than Obama voters to go online in the first place. However, online Obama supporters were generally more engaged in the online political process than online McCain supporters. Among internet users, Obama voters were more likely to share online political content with others, sign up for updates about the election, donate money to a candidate online, set up political news alerts and sign up online for volunteer activities related to the campaign. Online Obama voters were also out in front when it came to posting their own original political content online–26% of wired Obama voters did this, compared with 15% of online McCain supporters.

Lots of fodder for thought in this survey…

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