Imagination Sinkhole

Pepsi & Me

Sometimes Pepsi lurks where you least suspect it.

Certainly, one can expect a modicum of Pepsi to find its way into convenience store coolers and the bellies of vending robots. To be sure, it is no surprise to have it offered as an apologetic substitution after having ordered Coca-Cola in a restaurant. Pepsi’s blue banners can be seen ballyhooing their sponsorship of everything from cricket matches to university dining halls.

But in my life I have also seen Pepsi positioned as pay, as payola, and even as a possible font of propaganda and dubious dietary science in its latest attempt to reach the new generation — this time by hijacking a trusted corner of the blogging world.

Read More »

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My Thoughts Exactly

Awesom Newsom

Neutrino-class Wetmachiner David Newsom has his own blog. He’s a fine actor & photographer but a no-good bum, of course, because he now does most of his blogging on the above-linked site, instead of here at Wetmachine among us regular folks who might wear a tennis shoe or an occasional python boot, where he belongs. So why do I link to him at all, you ask?

Because of the photos, man. And the stories. The photos and the stories. Check ’em out. That is all.

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Inventing the Future

Long Strange Trip

The UK’s Tech Radar has a preview of a nice piece that will appear in PC Plus. It overviews Intel’s Miramar work on 3D and collaboration.

Meanwhile, there’s a nice discussion of much more of the history of Miramar on this blog.

I think the two make a nice example of the difference between blogging and first sources on the one hand, and journalism on the other.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Rarely Do I Catch The Daily Show In A Factual Error . . .

So I will crow over this silly little mistake. The normally excellent Indecision2008 Blog has misidentified Senator Ben Cardin as the Senator from Maine in this blog post. He is, in fact, the Senator from Maryland.

This is important since Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, the Senators from Maine, (a) are women, (b) are Republicans, and (c) voted in favor of the FISA “compromise,” whereas Cardin voted against it. I shall leave it as an exercise to the reader which they think is the most important difference and whether either Cardin, Collins, or Snowe should feel offended that Indecision08 got them confused. Although I do agree with the main thrust of the blog entry that Ben Cardin is not nearly as sexy as Charlize Theron no matter what state he is from or his political party.

But in any event, I do think Indecision08 should run a correction.

(I promise to do real blogging again soon, just a bit busy at the moment.)

stay tuned . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Senator Durbin Consults With the People

Tonight, and for the next several days, Senator Richard Durbin (D-Il), the #2 man in the Senate, is conducting an experiment in direct democracy and taking a bit of a risk. He will spend the next week in real time blogging over potential legislation. No carefully crafted “town meeting” or managed event, and no showing up as a walrus a la Second Life. Just a chance for people to actually hash out issues with someone who will vote on these things in the Senate.

Here is a reprint of the announcement. I will add that I will be participating as a featured blogger as part of the debate on wireless policy and munibroadband on Thursday night.

Stay tuned . . . .

Starting this Tuesday evening, July 24 and each evening this week at 7pm EST on OpenLeft.com, Senator Durbin and his staff will blog nightly on a broad swath of broadband policy issues. Based on this discussion, the Senator wants to attempt to write legislation this session. Each evening kicks off with discussion from individuals who have worked a long time on the topic of the evening, but the intent is to spur broader comment from as many as is possible. This is no meaningless exercise: it is a genuine attempt to try to open up the legislative process. All input matters in a very real way.

I’ve attached below links to the letter announcing the initiative as well as the schedule for the week. Please feel free to share it with those you think might be interested in taking part. It is my hope that those who care deeply about these issues will blog about it, point folks to our discussion, and comment themselves. We’ll also be scouring the web for other places that related discussion happens this week, so if you blog about it, please let me know so we can follow where discussion goes on your site too.

I hope you’ll join us and help to get the word out. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Press release: http://durbin.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=279504
Open Letter: http://www.openleft.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=318

Posted in General, Life In The Sausage Factory, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , | Comments closed

Tales of the Sausage Factory

My Academic Article on Unlicensed Spectrum Gets Published

Every now and then, I take a break from the delightful and snarky world of blogging to dash off the odd researched piece for an academic journal. This is always an annoying and painstaking process, because academic journals want footnotes not just the occassional link. They also dislike articles that use terms like “incumbent whankers.”

Still, the effort (when I can find the time for it) is usually worth it — at least from my perspective. You can judge for yourself by following the link to the Commlaw Conspectus website and downloading From Third Class Citizen to First Among Equals: Rethinking the Place of Unlicensed Spectrum in the FCC Hierarchy.

For those unsure if its worth slogging through 39 pages of lawyer writing, here’s a summary. The FCC has a basic hierarchy of licensed spectrum, licensed by rule (family radio service and a few other things), and unlicensed spectrum. From a wireless perspective, the FCC exists for licensed spectrum, has a few oddball things licensed by rule, and has a few slivers of space open for unlicensed spectrum. Unlicensed spectrum is the “third class citizen,” required to shut off if it causes the least interference to licensed services while accepting any interference that comes its way. When the FCC allocates spectrum rights, it does everything possible for licensed services while looking with askance at the free-wheeling unlicensed poor relation. As a result, licensed services get choice spectrum and unlicensed services get the leavings — and that on sufferance.

In my article, I argue that the First Amendment calls for standing this on its head. Licensing of spectrum came about because old technology couldn’t handle everyone using this all at once we call this the “scarcity rationale,” because the need to license spectrum to avoid interference made licenses ‘scarce’). But because the FCC must give the approval for any new technologies, the technology to eliminate scarcity (and thus eliminate the need for exclusive licensing) will never come about. This circular reasoning offends the First Amendment. Accordingly, when the FCC considers whether to permit unlicensed uses, it should need to justify its decisions under a higher Constitutional standard than it does in other licensing cases (“intermediate scrutiny” rather than “rational basis” for all you legal types out there).

Besides, I argue, it’s also better policy.

While I hardly expect the FCC and the federal courts to read my piece and exclaim: “At last! What perfect wisdom! What fools we have been!” I do hope this helps advance the debate some. As with everyone else who publishes in a field where the debate has simmered for a few years, I argue for a “third way” between licensing and commons. Rather than eliminating exclusive licensing altogether, or proposing we split the spectrum down the middle, I propose allowing a gradual evolution in technology and until exclusive licensing will gradually wither away, with perhaps a handful of truly sensitive services still licensed exclusively.

Of course, if that happened, your cell phone bill would drop like a rock, ubiquitous wireless broadband would become too cheap to meter, and television and radio conglomerates would lose their precious monopolies on the airwaves. So don’t hold your breath.

Stay tuned . . .

Posted in Spectrum, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)
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