Posts from October 7, 2004

Michael Powell can kiss my Constitutional ass

Michael Powell can kiss my Constitutional ass

: In today’s LA Times story on Howard Stern’s move to satellite (via IWantMedia), there’s this maddening bit:

FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell, who has spent quite a bit of time policing Stern, suggested that his departure from the public airwaves might be a good thing.

“Satellite radio is one of the many technologies that the commission is strongly promoting to expand the diversity of choices for the American public,” Powell said in a statement. “It is not surprising that notable performers and journalists are turning to a medium that allows them to paint with a broader palette.”

Cut to the essence: This is government meddling in content and free speech.

The reason Stern is leaving broadcast is because of the harassment and fines from the FCC. The FCC forced Stern off broadcast to satellite.

Forget Powell’s efforts to act as if this is about a natural evolution of media. It is the direct result of Powell’s own actions.

And that’s not the way things could be. It is none of Michael Powell’s — or the FCC’s or Congress’ or the White House’s — damned business to manage and manipulate what the content should be. That is speech and it is meant to be free and is protected by the Constitution.

Web 2.0: Media

Web 2.0: Media

: Martin Nisenholtz, head of NYTimes Digital, recalls coming to the company and facing business plans that would have charged fees for use of the Times and he suggested opening it up for free and they accomplished that.

Battelle to Mike Ramsey of TiVo on its impact: “Television’s just a data base that can be searched.”

Ramsey says TiVo has a big interest in broadband as a means of distribution. That is the wedge against cable. Cable companies will probably hate it, he understates; but then cable has broadband and cable is distributing its versions of TiVo. Battelle talks about a world of getting whatever you want via broadband. “The good news is, nobody can stop us.” Are you sure, Battelle asks. Yes, Ramsey says.

He says that in five years we’ll get 30 percent of our TV over broadband and the rest over broadcast (including cable) and we’ll “neither know nor care” which is which.

Battelle quotes Nisenholtz saying that he has “portal envy,” because it’s hard for a paper to give users things they don’t expect, like email. Martin says users come to The Times for hard news. He tells their story of working very hard to build the best damned movie site on the Internet — and it is great — and the response is “why would The New York Times sell movie tickets?” He says dealing with these expectations “is the toughest problem we have.” Shelby Bonnie says CNET’s answer to that is to offer multiple brands.

Ramsey recalls showing TiVo to media companies “and literally getting thrown out of their offices…. We were presenting a proposition that was so radically different from their existing business models that you couldn’t have a rational discussion about it.”

Battelle asks them all whether they buy the premise that having the ability to copy content is the ruination of media. (Marc Canter shouts out, “NO!”)

Bonnie says that in 2001-2, a lot of good companies went out of business. Battelle grows, “Yeah, I have experience with that.”

Bonnie asks whether the blogosphere will pick up slack in local newspaper markets.

Nisenholtz talks about some amazing content — e.g., a Nick Kristof Flash presentation on sex slaves — that doesn’t get seen. He says he has a UI problem. But it’s not a home page UI problem. It’s a web UI problem. And the solution, he believes: “How do we expose this content? Part of the way we expose it is by opening up.” Applause from the audience.

Battelle asks about the “false wall” between bloggers and journalists. Bonnie says CNET is open to tearing down that wall: “What the blogosphere is delivering is incredibly rich viewpoints and it can be incredibly complementary to a publisher.”

Battelle asks Nisenholtz whether he could ever see a time when a blogger in New Jersey covers a school board meeting and gets a cut of the AdSense revenue via The Times. Martin says he reads blogs for opinion and perspective and he doesn’t expect them to be fully vetted for facts. He says a publisher’s means of leveraging all this is to open up and allow people to use content. He also separates news from opinion. He says someone needs to check bias. Martin says that is the role of editors. Battelle says that is now the role of the readers.

Web 2.0: From the labs

Web 2.0: From the labs

: Peter Norvik, director of search quality at Google and the most casually dressed presenter, says they don’t have beautiful labs like fellow speakers IBM and Microsoft. “For us at Google, labs are a state of mind more than a state of real estate.”

Google shows some stuff about machine translation of languages and word clusters. He has someone shout out a suggestion for a cluster search: George Bush. High on the list of words associated with that is “chimp.” The laughter rolls across the audience as it’s discovered.

: Jim Spohrer of IBM talks about the company’s plan to start a discipline in “service science.” I get it that the world economy is now based on service over goods. I’m not sure I get what service science is.

: Rick Rashid from Microsoft shows advances in mapping, including a data base that allows people to share geocoded images.

He also shows Wallop, which allows neat interaction in communities. Unfortunately, it’s still closed. Can’t wait to play with it.

Web 2.0: Telephone as a platform

Web 2.0: Telephone as a platform

: Om Malik — who knows his stuff in this arena — runs the panel and asks Vonage and AT&T whether there is a price war and the real mark of the commoditization of voice.

Jeffrey Citron, founder of Vonage, said the concepts of distance or locality are, of course, meaningless in VOIP. “Pure talking is probably going to become commoditized,” he says but argues that there are advanced features on VOIP. “We’ve freed voice from the confines of the transmission system.”

Hossein Eslambolchi of AT&T says its nothing new to have competitors who push prices down. But he makes a subtle jab at Citron about companies that really make money. Citron infamously said recently that Vonage is profitable if you don’t count marketing. Well, uh, marketing is the cost structure of the company. EBITDAM will not take off as a new accounting standard.

Eslambolchi also talks about features — they call it SOIP for services over IP.

Man, they sound like airlines trying to argue over who has the better bagel.

Mike McCue of Tellme says there has to be an opening of the telephone as a platform so anyone can write any application for any telephone. Yup. “What’s missing right now is the equivalent of HTML for the telephone… I think that HTML for the telephone is VoiceXML…. The killer aps are very clear: voicemail… 411…” He’s doing at elections application, calling a number and hearing what the candidates say and then chatting with other people on the network.

Om says that the pipe has been decoupled from the content, in that vision. That’s what Vonage has done, for example. That, too, is what made the web grow, of course: content was separated from presentation and wire.

There’s considerable back-and-forth between Vonage and AT&T as a war of teh centuries.

Marc Canter tells them what the consumer wants: “We want to interoperate between VOIP systems.” Mr. Tellme says the VOIP companies are operating like old telecom.

This is just like yesterday’s discussion about lock-in: efforts to lock-in customers will piss off customers.

To repeat:

Jarvis’ First Law: Give the people control of media, they will use it.

The corollary: Don’t give the people control of media, and you will lose.

McCue tells the phone companies, AT&T and Vonage, to open up their billing system so somebody who invents a great voicemail system can sell it to consumers, who can use it anywhere. “That’s the kind of business-model innovation that has to happen to unlock the telephone as a platform.”

Web 2.0: O’Reilly announcements

Web 2.0: O’Reilly announcements

: Dale Dougherty of O’Reilly, who edited the hack books, shows Safari U’s service to allow professors to “hack textbooks.”

And he shows O’Reilly’s first magazine, Make, for “do it yourself technology projects” — “Martha Stewart for geeks.” He looked at Popular Mechanics back in the ’50s and “it felt a lot like hacking.” Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing is the editor in chief. One example story: kite aerial photography.

They’re including a web element, of course, to have people record their own projects and comment on the magazine’s in a blog/wiki format.

Make looks most cool.