My last post referenced a movie of a “talk show” in Second Life, prompting John to ask about the relationship of avatar richness to the experience. I think there’s a simple trick that’s worth making explicit.
Here is some new-media content about Information Week’s Mitch Wagner and Gartner’s Steve Prentice vs SL’s CFO and even Prokofy Neva. It is mostly about Second Life’s power and problems and how that relates to others. Croquet’s Qwaq Forums comes up a lot.
You can probably get out of this whatever you’re predisposed to. (I took away that Geoffrey Moore is right.)
Do follow the link from there to the video. It’s long and not densely packed, but it is a good tour of the non-technical state of virtual worlds — i.e., the things that matter to most of the world. Ten years from now, this is going to be how archaeologists remember today.
“Mission Accomplished” has become a useful catch phrase denoting a declaration of victory so premature as to be ironic, comical, and/or tragic. Sadly, Kevin Martin’s decision to circulate an Order denying the Skype Petition is the latest YAMA (for “yet another ‘Mission Accomplished’”). To refresh folk’s memories, in the Skype Petition, Skype asked the FCC to enforce the Broadband Policy Statement against wireless broadband networks: specifically, the part that says that consumers have the right to attach any device to the network that will not harm the network, and run any application of their choosing.
While not official, Martin has stated that he has circulated a draft Order dismissing the Petition, although Martin indicated at last week’s House 700 MHz hearing that he would dismiss the Petition “without prejudice” (meaning “not now, but try again later if things don’t improve”). Indeed, although none of the coverage of the 700 MHz hearing focused much on this, Martin’s statements and answers to questions indicate that he thinks (a) the C Block open device condition was the right thing to do, and (b) the FCC shouldn’t do anything else on “wireless Carterfone” until we see how the C Block open device condition works out.
While disappointing, this decision is hardly surprising. And, as usual, it is weirdly consistent with Kevin Martin’s First Church of the Market, Reformed ideology and a dash of realpolitik (waste not, want not after all, and if you can make what you think is the right decision serve your political ends, so much the better). Lamentably, Martin clearly has the votes from his fellow Republican Commissioners — although Tate appeared to hedge a bit. Nor do I expect there is much for Copps and Adelstein to do here, other then issue a strong dissent and make sure the damage (in the form of bad precedent) is limited. Indeed, there is a certain appeal to taking a dismissal without prejudice and living to fight another day rather than getting into a fight that may end up with stronger language a future Commission would need to overcome.
Some more analysis below . . . .
Now, THIS is what I call an avatar!
[Note to readers unfamiliar with Stearns: he's the Wetmachanic who blogs under the “Inventing the Future” rubric, usually about avatars of some damn kind or other.][That's a joke, son.]
Steven Poole wrote a blog entry about how the hell us poor writers are supposed to earn a living in this newfangled “information wants to be free” age, characterized by what Poole calls the “Slashdot argument”:
[the Slashdot argument] says that books, music, films, software and so on ought to be freely distributed to anyone who wants them, simply because they can be freely distributed. What is the writer or musician to do, though, if she can’t earn money from her art? Simple, says the Slashdotter: earn your money playing live (if you’re one of those musicians who plays live),4 or selling T-shirts or merchandise, or providing some other kind of “value-added” service.
You may recognize this logic as a variant, or corollary, if you will of the first line of the Toddler’s Manifesto: “if I want it, it’s mine.”
After the jump, a link to a funny cartoon!
No, I’m not talking about the cadre of Pentagon Shills currently degrading the cover of the NY Times. I’m referring to the brave men and women who got up at 5 am here in Los Angeles, dropped all party affiliations and paddled out into the unseasonably cold waters to surf mediocre waves. It takes a certain kind of person to forgo the warm backsides of their beloved bedfellows, load up cars, stand naked on a pre-dawn beach, pull on stinking neoprene and paddle out into frigid waters which offer only the smallest of waves.
What kind of person, you might ask?
Well, I’ll start with my carload and make it quick- It was me, Slatty, and Sam. Sam lives here and is an avid surfer. Avid in a stealth way. I get emails from Sam at all hours, reporting from breaks north and south. Most missives are brief, “Standing on a pier in Cambria staring at huge waves”. An actor and musician from way back, Sam took to the water in earnest about 4 years ago and has attacked surfing with a kind of masochistic fervor. Sam charges waves (that’s a surfing term for one who surfs fearlessly). He’s got more broken eardrums than a team of deepwater divers and last year he broke his nose…falling on water. This is charging. He shortly thereafter booked a coveted role on a new HBO series, so he may be onto something. As for Slatty, he’s that same character from the last entry, one of my oldest, separated-at-birth friends, who has a Boston Irishman’s gift for comedic flaying and a freshly born addiction to surfing that has yielded terrifying results. He rarely leaves the water when he has the chance. Couple this with the fact that he lives with his family in New York City and only gets out to LA for work (again, an actor. Brilliant, ubiquitous, always gets, “Where do I know you from?” as he walks down the sidewalk), and you see how we came to be up at 6 am, driving 40 miles north when we should have been sleeping. To Slatty’s credit, he pulled up with a full tray of coffees and muffins.
Cut to cold water and a black, neoprene-skinned crowd of surfers bobbing across a 300 yard stretch of 54 degree water: You could be a doctor, you could be homeless window cleaner, you could be a chicken-hawk senator, smirking studio-head or a righteous lefty-campaign volunteer, but if you’re out there when you could be in bed, sipping your coffee, you’re a little bit closer to hearing the big bad rhythm of a much larger beast. And even if those waves are so small you have to paddle like a fool to slide along on a 6 inch face, that wave got it’s start somewhere far, far away and breaks upon your shore like a foreign messenger singing a universal song. And some will surf upon these messages like pros and some will chatter as the cold ebbs through their feet and some will sit like Buddha, big and patient looking out to sea, but all will paddle in eventually. And I feel sagely certain that that news of middle-aged Generals doing Halliburton’s duty, or Democratic candidate’s miserable dividing of allies will all be put in it’s place by the unifying message- that is neither simple nor small- delivered by a cold sea on a Sunday morning.
Well, that was fun. I reprint my testimony as prepared, not as delivered. I also cut a very insider joke. I’d planned to start:
“Mr. Chairman, I understand that this is the open Commission meeting, so it is perhaps no surprise that we are running an hour late. Also, as I have not had time to complete this testimony, I ask for editorial privileges.”
But no one off the podium was likely to get it.
[Editorial note from John (to help search engines and any random Wetmachine readers who stumble upon this): This post concerns Harold Feld's testimony at today's FCC hearing at Stanford University.]
Stay tuned . . . .
Google pays me about four cents a month to run adverts on this-a-here policy-wonk & general bullshit blog, and lately they’ve been running an awful lot of the John McBush “one man” animated gif, which may be running to the right of this image even now. On account of which, my friends and family give me a fair amount of grief. I tell them that I’m not crazy about Google’s running McBush ads here, but I need the money.
In any event it reminds me to run the above picture, which I plan to do at least once a week, until I no longer need to.
As an inveterate procrastinator, I cannot complain too loudly that the Commission only just published the witness list for tomorrow’s (today’s) FCC hearing at Standford. Happily, it looks like I am the only lawyer on the panel. I am also amused to share the panel with George Ford, who took me to task after the last time we both testified in front of a federal agency about broadband — the Federal Trade Commission in February 2007 — for making my First Amendment arguments at the FTC under the guise of economics. My turn to remind him that we are in public interest land now, baby, where the Red Lion still rules the Jungle and maintaining the diversity of information sources is, according to Turner a government purpose of “the highest order.” Come to think of it, I’ll remind some of the Commissioners of that as well.
Meanwhile, on the flight in, I received an amazing omen from Comedy Central (which is why you should always fly Jet Blue if you can, so you can get 36 channels of omen potential). Tonight’s episode of South Park (spoiler alert!) had the internet getting “used up,” with the government rationing the internet for the internet refugees who came to Silicon Valley. But then Kyle, the little Jewish kid, shows them a better way. Rather than rationing users, you can just reboot the internet (which is kept by the federal government in an underground bunker) and try again. In the end, Stan’s father explains to everyone that it is the responsibility of users to manage their internet use respopnsibly rather than rely on others to ration it for them.
I choose to take this as an omen that I, the Jewish kid on the panel, will be sucessful in rebooting the Commission to get them to understand that it’s about the users, not about letting people in the middle ration the internet. Granted that Ben Scott actually looks more like Kyle, and I look more like Cartman. So perhaps I will just limit myself to making wise ass remarks and let Ben reboot the Commission. Either way is good.
Off to write some testimony.
Stay tuned . . . .
The idea of auctioning the broadcast white spaces, rather than opening them for unlicensed use, is not new. It started out as an NAB “poison pill” back in 2005, when we looked like we might be making progress on getting a pro-white spaces amendment in the DTV transition bill that ultimately became the Digital Tranisition Act of 2005. When the FCC reinvigorated the proceeding in 2006, the NAB managed to get the FCC to put the question of licensed v. unlicensed in the Further Notice. But the NAB doesn’t want any neighbors, either licensed or unlicensed, and has focused its efforts until now on trying to kill the whole idea rather than on trying to promote licensing and auctions rather than unlicensed.
But the idea of licensing the white spaces for cellular or backhaul has gained new life recently, particularly after the 700 MHz auction. Both Verizon’s Steven Zipperstein and analyst Coleman Bazelon recommended this in their testimony at the House Telecom Subcommitte hearing on the 700 MHz auction. That comes on top of a serious filing by CTIA on the benefits of auctioning some of the white space and leaving a smidge so that unlicensed technologies can continue to develop.
We’ve now gone from NAB poison pill to serious issue. The proposal has not yet gained traction, but it does not do to underestimate CTIA and its members because, particularly after the 700 MHz auction, a number of its members really need that spectrum. This has the potential to change the game radically, including shifting alliances as the threat becomes more credible.