Hollywood, meet Innovation

LA Times: Is Hollywood Failing to See the Big Picture?

Even in this era of sweeping technological change, one immutable law remains: The customer is always right. The record industry has been staggered because it was two steps behind its audience, which is bad enough when you’re promoting a new song, even worse when you’re trying to build a new business. The movie industry realizes that it can’t afford to be slow off the mark.

Parents Sue To Stop School Wi-Fi

Parents in Oak Park, Illinois filed a class-action lawsuit against the local school district in order to prevent the district from using Wi-Fi wireless networking in the schools. The complaint alleges that the district “failed to adequately examine and assess the potential health risks that wireless LANs pose to humans, particularly children who are still growing,” “breached the duty of care they owe to the children” and “exposed the children to unreasonably dangerous health risks caused by constant exposure to high frequency electromagnetic radiation.” The plaintiffs “have collected more than 400 scientiic articles, commentaries and references outlining health risks from low intensity RF exposure.”

Verisign’s Tangled Net

After Verisign broke the internet, ICANN president Paul Twomey sent an open letter to Verisign:

please consider this a formal demand to return the operation of the .com and .net domains to their state before the 15 September changes, pending further technical, operational and legal evaluation. A failure to comply with this demand will require ICANN to take the steps necessary under those agreements to compel compliance with them.

In response, VeriSign Freezes Search Service.
ICANN Watch wonders if Verisign acted in violation of the NASA Act

Still not cheap enough

The Shifted Librarian: ReplayTV Rebate

That means you can get a 40-hour DVR for $390 total. Not bad considering how expensive these machines still are. Another $100 and I think they’ll start cutting into the mainstream some. If you’ve been waiting, perhaps this is a more appealing price point for you?

Getting closer, but still too expensive to filter down into the mainstream (and the apartments of cheap law students.) TiVo and Replay need to either follow the cell phone model, with a low, subsidized initial cost for the equipment and a monthly fee, or sell the box at a premium and include the cost of the monthly service. In some markets, Time Warner is offering a cable box/DVR for $10/month more than digital cable alone– the same monthly fee that ReplayTV is charging. Not only does this avoid the upfront cost of the DVR, but it eliminates the need for a second box. While the Replay DVR may have more features than Time Warner’s, Replay and TiVo need to concentrate the cost of their DVRs into either an upfront cost or a monthly fee, not both, as they do now.
I do agree with Jenny that $100 cheaper (single payment of <$300 or initial payment of <$100 with a monthly fee) is the price at which DVR starts to break into the mainstream.

Once again, the web goes both ways

Earlier this week, I wrote about why Content doesn’t matter. Here are two posts that eloquently elucidate on that theme:

Doc Searls, on AOL/TW and The new record (loss) business:

The masses want broadband, and AOL is what they’re leaving to get it.

Worse, they don’t want broadband so they can watch Warner Brothers pictures or listen to Warner Music recordings. Worse than that, they actually want broadband so they can share their own movies, records and pictures with each other. Freely. For no money.

Pretty soon, they’ll want to serve their own stuff from their own machines, in their own homes. And why not? The Net was built for fat, symmetrical, end-to-end sharing of everything, with no value-adding intermediator in the middle. It wasn’t built so big dumb companies could use it as a one-way sluice for their own “content.” Yeah, the Net’ll support that, but that’s not what users want it for.

Jonathon Peterson (at his new Amateur Hour at Corante): Reclaiming Amateur: Death To Consumers:

Despite the best efforts of multinational media conglomerates (what I call “Big Content”) to turn the Internet into television, the broadband Web is rapidly becoming a personal two-way medium that is revolutionizing human communication. While this sounds like an echo of the breathless dotcom bubble, I don’t say it lightly, or without knowledge of those millions for whom the basics of human survival are a daily struggle. Unlike the marketers of the dotcom bubble, I’m not trying to sell anything…

While Big Content is trying to convince us that larger, higher resolution screens and more channels of audio are what is important, tens of thousands of people are bringing the emotional impact of personal storytelling to digital media. Which matters more? You be the judge.

The one sentence summary: The Internet is much better at communicating than “consuming.” If it is to be no more than a replacement for TV and radio, why bother?

City’s Records Go Online

New York City’s Landmark Online Records Bill

The New York City Council has passed, and sent to Mayor Bloomberg for signature, the first bill of its kind for any city or state, requiring online publication of all city agency reports and publications within ten days of issuance. A prior press release is available here.

All documents are to be sent in electronic format to the Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS). Thereafter, they will be made available to the public via the My NYC.gov Portal.

[via beSpacific]

No Case Law for You

InfoToday: Democracy in the Dark: Public Access Restrictions from Westlaw and LexisNexis

Although many courts now publish case law on the Internet for free, thousands of older cases are not available to those who cannot pay. Hundreds of public libraries across the country provide online access to their patrons in an attempt to bridge the digital divide, covering all areas of information need. Yet often these public libraries are not allowed to offer access — free or fee — to legal subscription databases maintained by the two largest legal vendors in the U.S. And those same vendors also constitute the largest publishers of legal materials in print. Amidst a growing wealth of free, reliable information on the Internet, there is a poverty of access to the decisions and opinions of the courts that protect our liberties.

[via Bag and Baggage]

Broadband does not need Content to succeed

Link Hoewing, assistant vice president for Internet and technology policy at Verizon: Will 2003 usher in broadband era in America?

All players need to recognize that a media platform without new content is about as useful as an unplugged computer, just as jazzy new content without a delivery system is a colorless stream of electrons…

…Step back, and you can see the United States is recasting the Internet as a genuine multimedia platform, one that is high capacity with a flexible data network connecting all homes. For cable, wireless, satellite, and telecom providers, the fruits of competition and choice are investment in such a platform. For consumers, it is lavish content at lower prices.

Broadband does not need Content to succeed. By Content, I mean lavishly produced “shows.” That type of broadband Content will fail just like many of the dotcom “content” fucked companies (eg Pseudo.) Broadband will succeed when there is enough bandwidth, both going out and coming in, for individuals to be able to send things to other individuals and publish for groups. Successful broadband content will be more like Gawker than Sidewalk.com or more like Gizmodo than ZDNet.

The internet is best at connecting people to each other. Cable modems and ADSL try to make the internet a one-way medium, but broadband will have its full impact only when it symmetrical and widely adopted.

This comes via Kevin Werbach, who writes:

[The Bells] have never stopped yearning for the walled gardens of video dialtone or proprietary videotext services. If the broadband Net is turned into multimedia”, it will die the same death as all previous iterations of that vision.

New Apple stuff

Since I was skiing, I’m only now finding out about what Apple introduced at Macworld SF 2003.
Safari is plenty fast, looks slick and has a well thought out bookmark library. Spell check in web forms is long overdue. But the lack of tabbed browsing and a the same level of password manager will keep me using Chimera for the forseeable future.
The 17″ Powerbook is the Cadillac Escalade of laptops.
The 12″ Powerbook, on the other hand, is right up my alley. While it lacks the nice wide display of the 15″ Powerbook (or 17″ behemoth), it addresses the key shortcomings in my iBook: no G4, no dual display support, and too little disk space. Plus, it has better wireless support with Airport Extreme and built in Bluetooth. Unfortunately, this is just an example of the speed at which the computer industry moves. Wait a few months and something better will always be available.