Posts

Set Cell Phones Free

The FCC’s upcoming ruling on wireless bandwidth has raised the issues about cell phones and why that bandwidth is so tightly controlled by the giant cell phone companies (like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc.) The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg explains very clearly why this is VERY WRONG in his column, “Free My Phone” and I believe it is worthy of your consideration. At the very least, it’s fascinating that no less than a senior writer for the Wall Street Journal compares these telco giants to “Soviet ministries.”

Mossberg says that the approach to controlling hardware and software that these companies have taken (or have been allowed to take) “severely limits consumer choice, stifles innovation, crushes entrepreneurship, and has made the U.S. the laughingstock of the mobile-technology world…”

Bottom line, our cellular bandwidth subscription should not tie us to specific hardware and software any more than our internet provider subscription should tie us to a particular kind of computer, operating system or sub-set of applications. Of course, we should pay for bandwidth. It costs money to build networks. But there’s no reason that that should give the providers the right to tie our hands (within reason) regarding how we choose to use that bandwidth (with any kind of device we choose and any kind of software we choose) just like with the web.

Why does the American government keep letting the big companies get away with this stuff?? (rhetorical question)

What We Call the News: “Only the Truth is Funny”

Happy Monday. I’m on the run, but (as some of you know) what I think matters most about all this new media revolutionary… internet, digital video, and other technologies that are associated with the potential democratization of media (and so forth) is that all of this new media offers an alternative to the media circus that has largely replaced honest and informative journalism in our mainstream media. Thus, my enthusiasm and salute to the Jib-Jabbers who created the following bit of parody and spot-on comedic commentary. Enjoy.



Or, you may view “What We Call the News” at JibJab.com

Cool Convergence & Browsing Bonus: Great TechCrunch-NetVibes Mashup

For your browsing pleasure…

In announcing the new NetVibes roll-out of the ability to create public personalized pages, the marvelous Michael Arrington also offered his own personalized, customized TechCrunch NetVibes page “featuring many of my favorite news feeds and a few widgets.”

I offer this to you because it is a cool convergence. From my limited experience, NetVibes is my favorite customizable “home page;” but more importantly TechCrunch is my favorite source of information about the bleeding edge of Web 2.0. Scroll down on this TechCruch/NetVibes page to see, for example, the Alexa Widget showing TechCrunch ahead of Business Week and CNet in online viewership; or enjoy the build-in video references; and on and on.

If you’re reading this, you’ll probably find things of interest on the Netvibes.com/TechCrunch page. If nothing else, it’s a great demo of the plug-and-play nature of the ever-expanding Web 2.0 socially-networked Internet.

Enjoy!

Apple’s Steve Jobs Reopens Free Digital Rights Conversation

Ever since the early days of the Internet and the original Napster MP3 download craze, the issue of digital rights management (DRM) and the security of the intellectual property rights of artists vs the new environment of sharing and collaboration offered by the Internet has been a controversial subject.

For example, I wrote a kind of inflamatory piece in Videography in the year 2000 called “Napster Gets It, Universal Doesn’t” where I called the Universal CEO “Bozo Bronfman” and referenced a classic Flash movie “Napster Bad” which made fun of the band Metallica for being money grubbers.

Bottom line, the bad guys were the record companies, and now (fast forward to 2007), they are among Steve Jobs and Apple’s best friends.

So the latest is that Mr. Jobs, always on the move, and in the face of the huge financial benefits that Apple gains by owning the platform that delivers by far the most “legal” (read digital rights protected) downloads… and in the face of mostly European gripes about Apple’s DRM and its proprietary system (which is not unlike Microsoft’s, Sony’s etc.), Mr. Jobs has now written a lucid web post encouraging record companies to open up their digital rights.

In other words, he’s once again pointing the finger (accurately) at the record companies as the reason that there is a digital rights lock down in the first place; and he’s recommending that the best way forward is for these same record companies to get out of the way, for the benefit of everyone, especially consumers but including the record companies and the tech companies as well.

DailyTech explains in more detail why “Apple’s leader believes that a DRM-free world would be the best one for consumers.”

If you’re interested in this subject (and, frankly, I think that everyone should be), I highly recommend Stanford Law professor and digital rights activist Lawrence Lessig‘s exceptionally well-written, researched and insightful book, Free Culture.

(Addendum: Bronfman responded to Jobs and it still looks like he’s a bozo.)

Moyers Fired Up Over Democracy Via the Web