Monthly Archives: August 2008

Quesitons to Lessig’s comments on McCains tech platform

On August 14, John McCain announced his technological platform.  On August 19, Lawrence Lessig published a very detailed and well crafted response to McCain’s platform.  After listening to Lessig’s analysis I remain puzzled with two main questions:

  • First, Lessig refers to the relative drop of broadband penetration in the US as an indicator of failure of US tech policy.  I keep on hearing this argument elsewhere, but I have not seen a thorough analysis of why broadband is so beneficial from the social point of view.  I mean, intuitively, I can see why that might be the case as I am using it myself.  However, because I part of the system, I am not sure how this intuition was actually formed.  May it a result of hearing this argument over and over again?  Nevertheless, I would expect from Lessig a more thorough argument in this regard beyond just treating broadband penetration data as an obvious indicator.  I wonder what other possible indicators are out there and where does US stand in that regard.  For example, I know that many Israeli start-ups end up being registered as US companies, which suggests that there is a friendlier environment for maturing innovation into finished projects.  Can that be another indicator?  Or am I wrong? And if I am not wrong, what does it say about the US tech policy?  I would love to hear Lessig laying out a more thorough analysis.  He is making interesting points in terms of competition, but primary focus on broadband penetration is taking away from his argument in my view.
  • The second point I remain puzzled with is the link Lessig makes between corporate interest and slowing down of broadband penetration.  Why would not be telecom giants interested in getting people on a broader line?  How is his main idea that it is in corporate interest to control the “pipes” leading to the corporate world slowing down the broadband penetration?  Is it the cost of connecting people vs. prospective revenue?  I am not sure i am following.

What do you think?

MillionS thanks!

Well, this is kind of totally off the topic. Have you ever seen Hoops and Yoyo e-cards? If not, you may want to do that, because they are in most part hilarious. I have a few favorites such as “We want coffee” and “You are so cute“, but i got really curios about this one.

It is titled “A million thanks” and i got curious if there are really a million of thanks. A couple of my own experiments yielded limited results. The counter reached about 400K before something happened to cause me to restart. However, thanks to Veronica who poses unlimited computing resources, the question could be finally answered! It appears that there are even more than just a million thanks! Before she had to restart her browser/computer, Hoops and Yoyo said over 4.5 million thanks!!!!


Now i am curios what happens afte let say 100 million?

Eyes on Africa

Some time ago I shared my thoughts about Africa’s potential as the next Asia in terms of socioeconomic development, particularly when it comes to the MICT related issues.  Recently I have encountered a couple of observations that support this intuition.

First, it seems that mobile equipment manufacturers and service providers discover more interest in the African market.  Here are a number of examples: MTN, the South Africa based telecom was recently voted as the most preferred place to work for in Uganda; originally Kuwaiti Zain group has announced that is going to invest “$1bn per annum in Nigeria till 2011”; Nokia is about to ship 3G enabled phone with Amharic interface to Ethiopia; and Telecom Kenya is about to start selling iPhones in the country under the Orange brand.  Some of these moves can be of course viewed as political, but nevertheless, i think they indicate a development in the African telecom market.

Second, I am noticing that a number of countries in the region are taking off in terms of their activity in the field of telecom.  For example, Egypt is becoming a major telecom hub in the region.  Here is an article suggesting that it is becoming Africa’s leading market.  But not only that.  It is also becoming a major venue for international telecom policy debates.  Just a few months ago it hosted ITU Telecom Africa, later this year it is going to host a major ICANN meeting, and it has a record of hosting other internainal telecom related events in recent past.  Also, South Africa, a more veteran leader on this scene, has been hosting telecom related venues with global impact such as the upcoming World Telecommunication Standartization Assembly (WTSA).  Again, I realize that the processes in Egypt are probably due to the efforts of the Mubarak family, which seems to be in a not very stable political situation.  Nevertheless, it is bringing more of the global policy debates to the continent, which contributes to my argument of Africa starting to play a more prominent role.

Have you had any observations like that?  Do they make sense?  Or have you encountered information that supports/chllanges my observations?  Please share.

How “old” technology stopped the “new”

This is probably my way of explaining to my few readers why I haven’t blogged for a while – I was moving.  Part of moving is getting various services to the new place, internet being one of the vital ones.  Following is a short sketch about how a piece of rather “old” technology delayed me in receiving this rather “new” one.

I made an arrangement with the local cable company and patiently waited for the “cable guy” to show up within the 5 hour window set for me by the service center.  When he finally arrived, he turned to be a very nice, rather senior, man who worked as a subcontractor for the cable company and happened to be new to the are.  He started setting up a cable modem – a procedure that is supposed to take about 15 minutes – when he realized that he does not have the keys to utility room of the apartment complex where cable box is located.  It took us between 20-30 minutes to bring the manager of the complex to open the utility room, just to figure out that the padlock key for the box itself was not matching as well.  It took us another 20-30 minutes until the cable company representative showed up and unlocked the box.  Five minutes later i had internet in the new house.

That may be a slightly boring story, but it made me thinking how a 4000 years old technology keeps on playing such a central role in our lives and even has the ability of interfering in our interaction with the “newer” technologies.  A simple few dollars lock and (lack of) and even cheaper key prevented my access for over an hour to one of the more sophisticated contemporary pieces of technology in domestic use.  It was both ironic and fascinating to think about about it.

More so, it was really interesting to think about the human factor involved in any technology application.  At the end of the day the fact that the “cable guy” did not have the right keys was a results of a human error or organizational failure.  It is fascinating how little things actually change at the base even as technical sophistication grows.

Making the “new” media “old”

I have blogged before about the internet censorship law in Israel and it seems to become a rather worrisome trend.  Here is a story about prospective Russian limitations on Internet in their country (thanks to “Information Policy” for the initial link).  Every society seems to do it of their own interests, but the result is pretty much the same – suppressing the factors that made the “new media” “new”, such as interactivity, ubiquity, and openness.