As you may have noticed, the only people who have kept up with this site aren't people. They're robo-spambots who turn unproteccted blog comment spaces into dungeons of hell. As you may also have noticed, the idea behind IT Garage -- creating a space where IT folks could talk about their DIY work -- never quite caught on. DIY-IT certainly did fine. It just didn't get much coverage. This may have been a Good Thing. Not all Works of Man require journalistic scrutiny. Anyway, we have The Onion for that.
Where are you going to go for live information when a life-threatening wildfire bears down on your town?
That was the question on the table over dinner the other night. The person asking it was my friend Michael, a botanist, a founding figure in Santa Barbara County's wine industry, and an observer of wildfires since 1964, when he helped fight the Coyote Fire and evacuate residents from its path. His last experience was in 1990, his own home was spared destruction by the Painted Cave fire by a fortunate shift in the sea breeze. Between those experiential bookends he also witnessed the Romero Fire of 1971, the Sycamore Fire of 1977, and the Wheeler Fire of 1985.
So he knew what it meant two Saturdays ago, when he saw dense brown smoke coming from what appeared to be Mission Canyon. Within five minutes he saw ash raining on the beach. Naturally, he turned on the radio. There was nothing. Not on the local news station. Not the local talk stations. Not any of the music, sports, Spanish and religious stations that pack the rest of the dial. He checked on local TV, and found nothing there. He got on the Web, checked with the Santa Barbara City and County fire departments, and InciWeb, which is the Official Source for wildfire information. There was nothing on any of them.
Terry Heaton, the most Net-savvy of TV news gurus, has asked me to put together a few paragraphs of future-proofing-type thinking for TV news executives on the eve of the NAB convention. Here's what I wrote back in an email, backed up here on the Web.
OK, here goes...
The TV news system isn't broken. It's just one system struggling to thrive in the midst of many new systems that will only get more and more useful both to TV news operations and to viewers. Those systems include blogging, videoblogging, podcasting, tagging, videoblogging, rivers of news, and many other emerging practices. It's too easy, however, to get snowed by all the technical possibilities here. Better to look a four larger factors that will put them in context.
Airliners fly so often these days, spaced often just 40 miles apart along the oceanic routes. It should be possible with modern technology to produce a mesh network that transmits data from plane to plane using line of sight. Two planes should in theory be able to get line of sight at 30,000 feet if they are up to 400 nautical miles apart. The planes could provide data and voice service for passengers at a reasonable price, and also could relay for ships at sea and even remote locations.
Let's connect these two dots: (1) Cisco buys WebEx for $3.2 billion; and (2) Scoble says "Watch what happens after Ray Ozzie jumps into the market" where "Amazon S3 charges right now about $.15 per gigabyte of stuff delivered".
The first item tells us there is big value in services that run on the Net. The second item tells us there is leverage in abundant storage on which back-end busienss services can be hosted.
So here's an idea for telcos and cablecos: leapfrog Amazon, Google and Microsoft by putting Big Storage as close to customers as possible, and then work partnering deals with local outsourced IT companies to provide back-end services to local individual and business customers.
So I was just talking with Bob Belle-Isle of VPT Vermont Public Television about a hunk of spectrum that is ripe with opportunity. It's called ITFS, for Instructional Television Fixed Service. It was created 43 years ago by the FCC for educational purposes. Nonprofits with educational credentials, such as school systems and public television organizations, are in good position to be first movers in utilizing the twenty ITFS frequencies (which begin just above wi-fi, at 2.5GHz) for modern wireless purposes, and not just the one-way transmission that was imagined back in 1963.
I figure I've got about 500 cassette tapes, 100 open reel tapes and 75 microcassette tapes, some of which I would love to digitize. Among them are recordings of old radio (going back to the earliest 1960s), recordings of interviews or gab sessions, and other stuff I haven't bothered to label, much less catalog. For years I've avoided doing anything with most of them, because I don't want to subject the delicate media to any more loss or degradation than nature has already imposed. In the case of some cassettes, the mechanisms or containers are warped, missing pieces (the springy pads that press the tape against the playback head have fallen out of several cassettes) or otherwise in need of replacement or repair.
Anyway, I heard from a friend yesterday who wants to save her old recordings as well, and was wondering what approach I might recommend. Since I don't have an approach yet, I thought I'd pass the question along to the rest of ya'll.
Right now I'm looking for statistics about mobile phones. Also about mobile devices in general. My purpose is not to just to write stuff, but to provide thought-provoking fodder for the Mobile Identity Workshop, which Harvard's Berkman Center is putting on in San Francisco today. The workshop will be led by yours truly, in my first public performance as a Berkman fellow.
Questions crowd the front of my mind. "How many mobile phone are we using in the world today? Is any other digital technology more widely used -- or more personal? And how can we use them to assert more capable and powerful roles for ourselves, as customers and as citizens? Can our cell phones carry and present the credentials we need to engage organizations in helpful ways? How can mobile technology help us improve the both the efficiency and humanity of the social spaces we call markets?
I'm beginning to edit all my metadata now directly in my photo file EXIF info. I hate the fact that the tags that I've spent hours and hours inputting into Flickr are locked into their closed system. And to be fair at present your tags are just as locked into Zooomr's closed system as well, but at least with Zooomr I uniquely know that we are committed to figuring out a way to eventually get these tags back to our users and feel like I have more control to ensure that this happens working for the company. I'm sure that Flickr is just as committed in assisting their users in getting their tags out of Flickr but I don't have access to the internal workings of Flickr so all I can say is that I hate that I can't get them out today.
DRM is a solution to a problem that only appears on the supply side of the market for easily copied entertainment goods. In the absence of a real relationship with customers, the entertainment industry characterize the problem of file copying as "piracy", treats every customer as a pirate, and solves the problem by crippling the goods they sell and limiting each customer's freedom of use.
Thus DRM excludes even the possibility of a relationship with the customer, beyond that of jailer to prisoner -- because DRM's "solution" is to sell damaged goods to chained customers inside jails the supplier maintains.
The jailer-to-prisoner relationship isn't a stretch for CRM, which too often has a customer containment objective in any case -- though usually with softer walls and longer chains: memberships, discounts, incompatibilities with competitors and so on. So the CRM mentality doesn't have a hard time rationalizing DRM, because it's just a harsher form of the same old thing.
VRM can obviate DRM by offering means to genuine relationships between suppliers and customers.
For example, let's take an Apple iTumnes customer named Joe.