Inventing the Future

When worlds collide

Interesting juxtaposition between these two from overnight:

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

An Appreciation For Commissioner Adelstein

Like everyone else in the telecom world, I’m pleased and relieved the Senate finally confirmed Julius Genachowski and reconfirmed Robert McDowell. But I need to echo Commissioner Copps’ sentiments that seeing Commissioner Adelstein go makes this particular bit of good news hard to take.

Long time readers know I’ve been a huge fan of Adelstein. I should add that I have equally been a huge fan of his staff, particularly Rudy Brioche and Renee Crittendon, with whom I’ve done a lot of work over the years.

What I have always admired about Adelstein is that he has been a Populist in the best sense of the word, and in the finest tradition of rural America. i.e., someone who actually cares about people and takes the time to listen to them and fight for their issues. Over the years, Adelstein has always tried to make the time to come to events where he can hear directly from people — whether at industry trade shows or a modest gathering of community wireless activists. He has always tried to make sure that everyone has the opportunity for meaningful access to both new media and old. He has spoken passionately about the need to make sure that the benefits of broadband are accessible to everyone. He has been a friend to PEG and leased access as means for independent programmers to bring independent viewpoints to cable and because of his appreciation for the importance of local programming. Side by side with Commissioner Copps, he toured the country and rallied opposition against any relaxation of media ownership rules. He pushed harder than anyone for the Commission to take on the problem of Payolla, and repeatedly called for more ways to get independent musicians and local talent on the air.

I will miss Adelstein’s energy and friendly spirit at the Commission. On the positive side, he is certainly the right man to run the broadband program at RUS. Adelstein has always been at his most enthusiastic when looking to see how new technologies can improve people’s lives, particularly in rural America. I look forward to seeing what he can do with $2.5 Bn to revolutionize broadband access in rural communities. Hopefully, the Senate Agriculture Committee will move quickly to hold a hearing and speed him through the confirmation process.

Stay tuned . . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Fragmentation Games: Playstation Gets “Boxeed,” TV Anywhere Gets More Content.

In the latest twist in the broadband fragmentation games driven the overlap of MVPDs and broadband access providers, users of PlayStation 3 can no longer access Hulu. As some may recall, Hulu tried a similar trick with Boxee.tv, resulting in a good old fashioned tech arms race wherein Boxee camouflaged itself as browser and Hulu responded by encrypting html.

Now Hulu has shut off the spigot to Playstation 3. Why? As I noted when Hulu pulled this on Boxee in the spring, the people who make money off the existing video subscription model (both the cable operators like Comcast and the content holders like NBC Universal) really dislike the thought of streaming media actually competing with them. As long as video stayed on the laptop and occasionally stopped to buffer, it didn’t really threaten the established business models. But make it possible to watch streaming media on your regular TV, with a quality practically equal to what you get on cable, and it becomes a very disruptive technology.

Playstation 3 and other game consoles are obvious candidates to disrupt the existing business model. They already plug into your television set, you are very familiar with the controls, and the manufacturers are always expanding the capabilities of the units to make them more “media centers” and less “game centers.” Like Boxee, they represent a real threat by making it possible for me to stream online content effortlessly on my TV and watch in exactly the same way I watch anything else.

Meanwhile, Time Warner and Comcast have found lots of other content networks eager to join the “Entitlement Program.” This initiative appears to be gathering critical mass very rapidly, which is not too surprising. While some of the bigger folks like Disney may hold out to see how they can maximize their return, the midsized players anxious about possible changes to the business model are likely to want to get in while the getting is good.

To conclude, what we have here is not anything obvious or dramatic. It is a few more ripples in the pond, indicating where the big fish swim. Any one of the “fragmentation games” incidents I’ve discussed, for example the ESPN360.com business which has been slowly ratcheting up to include more ISPs, is not necessarily significant on its own. Taken together, however, I see a pattern emerging that tells me where the fun and games will happen over the next few years. Heck, at this point, I’m not even sure what policy prescription I would offer. I just know that I’m seeing a bunch of ripples that might be nothing. Or it might be bunch of salmon and a great place to cast a line. Or it might be a school of piranha and I need to be very careful before wading in.

Stay tuned . . . .

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Inventing the Future

What's New?

People are often pretty good at walking into a room they are familiar with, and instantly knowing what has changed. That’s pretty useful for 3D operations team rooms. But what if things have been “redecorated” — moved around for better functionality without changes to the important content? What if the user has been away for a long time? If the user isn’t visually oriented? What if the “user” is an external computer system? < %image(20090629-rss-forums.jpg|363|472|Firefox RSS feed of some of my forums.)%>

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Inventing the Future

NOW they get it. NOW they don't.

I find two of Microsoft’s current ad campaigns interesting. One asserts that computer technology is all about connecting people, particularly synchronously (as opposed to asynchronous stuff like email, file sharing, and wikis). If you replaced the Microsoft logo at the end with Qwaq’s, I think it would fit my company perfectly. They get it.

But now they’re running another series of adds that dismisses search engines in favor of what they call a decision engine. I don’t want Microsoft to make decisions for me, but I sure do want information much closer to real time. On Friday we saw first one green Chinook helicopter go by our office windows, and then another, and then I think a Huey. What’s going on, I asked of the office in general, as they shouldn’t be training on such a windy day over a populated area. So Keith searched. He figured Google was too old-news, so he immediately went to Twitter. Someone had posted that there were helicopters going past their office windows to the nearby San Carlos field for tomorrow’s helicopter air show. This week a fellow on Colbert interviewed the editor of the New York Times. “Here’s today’s paper,” he said to the editor. “Show me one thing that happened today.”

I figure Wide-Area-Networked computer systems have only been around for a little more than ten years. Most of the realtime applications have been dedicated, structured, proprietary systems. But for people to truly connect, to truly work together, they need to be able to pull arbitrary things together in real time — things that the designer of the system did not specifically envision and provide for. Real time arbitrary search(*) is one example, but the general theme is realtime, unstructured, multi-person, multi-media, multi-application collaboration. It’s going to be huge.


(*) When Web search started, realtime search referred to getting answers to a query in realtime. It wasn’t about the age of the underlying information. Now realtime results are the expected norm, and we can safely use the phrase “realtime search” to mean that the information is live.

I don’t know what to call this general application collaboration: multidimensional, multi-facetted, unlimited, live, organic, unconstrained, …

Posted in Inventing the Future, metaphysics | Tagged , | 4 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

My Five Minutes of Fame: “Why My 21st Century Cellular Network Has A Princess Phone.”

This week, on “Five Minutes With Harold Feld,” I cover handset exclusivity, my iPhone envy, and the inevitable “I’m a Mac/I’m a PC” joke. Also, I want to point out the “schlumpy” is a fine look, thank you!

Stay tuned . . . .

Posted in General, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Tagged , , | 2 Comments (Comments closed)

My Thoughts Exactly

Trying out the “Good Reads” site. Here's a review I wrote t'other day.

Gerald's Party (Coover, Robert) Gerald’s Party by Robert Coover



My review


rating: 2 of 5 stars
Coover takes a minimally interesting premise–a cocktail party right out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting as the setting for a send up of the classic Agatha Christie “closed room” mystery–and beats it to death. I guess the meta-joke is that just as the hellish party is inescapable and goes on forever, the book is inescapable and goes on forever. Fortunately, however, the book is escapable– you have only to stop reading.

Certainly Coover deserves some style points for verbal skill and unrestrained imagination. The book is finely crafted, in the sense of the interlocking stories & themes, the literary allusions & wordplay, etc, etc.

But it’s pointless and ugly. Why would I want to read a thirty page “joke” about a stopped toilet and skating over a vomit-covered floor? How much necrophilia is “enough” for one avante-guard novel?
It might have been an interesting and perhaps disturbing story at 50 pages. But at more than 300 pages, it’s just a bore.
View all my reviews.

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My Thoughts Exactly

Firefighter Porn

The work of the fire teams on the scene is very damn impressive. Especially gratifying to see how fast Tower 1 gets deployed (my truck is also called Tower 1). But it’s the work of the dispatchers that makes this video so extraordinary. Holy cow, that is some phenomenal work under pressure. Scary video, happy ending. About 7 minutes long.

Posted in General, My Thoughts Exactly | Tagged | Comments closed

Inventing the Future

QRLs are not SLurls … but they play that role on the 'Net.

We’ve created ordinary http URLs that teleport you to places in-world in Qwaq Forums, Being programmers, we could not resist the pun of calling them QRLs. The most common uses today are:

  • meet me here – telling someone where to meet, in IM, email, or calendar invite
  • I was here – recording a history of where you were in a bookmark or some sort of audit trail
  • go there – even if working asynchronously, you can tell people where to go to explore more from a Web page, blog, or wiki

Most programs will recognize http://… and turn it into something clickable that starts your Web browser if it is not already started. Our QRLs produce a page that displays instructions, which is nice if you don’t yet have the Forums client installed. But if it is installed, the page can automatically launch the client and place you directly at the designated location.

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My Thoughts Exactly

When I talk about the WASP threat, I'm not talking about White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. I'm talking about wasps!

First we find out the government is training wasps for ‘the war on terror’. Now we find out about radioactive wasps at “defunct” plutonium-enrichment facilities. (‘Defunct’. As if.)

How long before TERRORISTS hijack and marry these two technologies and we find ourselves ATTACKED by swarms of GIANT RADIOACTIVE WASPS possibly with toxin that predisposes us to CONVERT TO ISLAM???

I can see only one solution: put all wasps under administrative control of the Department of Homeland Security, and instruct the NSA to monitor all of their communications.

(P.S. Attentive long-time readers of Wetmachine may wonder why I, and not Gary Gray, posted this story. I can only respond that I don’t know. However, I did suggest it to him, and he did not pick it up. Does that strike anybody else as suspicious?)

Posted in I Fear These Things, My Thoughts Exactly | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)
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