Jul 022013
 

Style Tiles are an attempt at breaking the Photoshop design comp logjam that exists at most interactive agencies.  Customers and marketing folks care tremendously and rightly about branding and the the comp is traditionally the only place that branding is seen during interactive development.  But comps are labor intensive, inflexible and, like all other project documentiojn work products unlikely to be maintained through (and certainly after) a project is completed.  The style tile places colors, fonts, logos, design elements (drop shadows, boxes/lines, headers, etc. in an easily understandable form, without forcing page designs to match pixel exact approved comps.  By separating strategic design from implementation details much less time is wasted on minutia that has little impact on usability.Style Tile Example (http://styletil.es/)

Paired with Continuous Design (or NoPSD) – a movement towards doing page-level design in CSS as an iterative process in parallel with application development.  It’s no magic bullet, of course.  But separating the branding and approval side of design, from the implementation side is far more likely to work in a world where design houses are often separate companies or may as well be, even when under the same roof as the web developers who are tasked with implementation.  There’s no question that the FASTEST, most exact way to build sites is with a strong designer, who actually understands CSS implementation is able to use Photoshop comps as live development documents – mixing the re-generation of site sprites will CSS to address issues with the correct tool.  Unfortunately there aren’t a hell of a lot of THOSE around and not many interactive agencies built around that kind of combined skillset.

 Posted by at 12:26 pm
Oct 012012
 

CS books tend to be highly technical, which makes them not hold up well as technology changes. And most technology books are not written by particularly good WRITERS. I’ve pulled this together before to pass along to people, but decided to get it organized and keep it updated for myself. Some classics that I’d put on every undergrads reading list (or as a replacement for a degree to be honest)

Actual coding

Culture of software development

There several things that almost every CS person should read that have to do with end user experience:

 Posted by at 12:15 pm
Jul 202011
 

We use Clients & Profits for client billing and it is unable to backup the database if any users have their client app running.  I was the bad guy last night that forgot to log out and decided that there has to be some easy way to kill an idle app.  I didn’t find any Mac apps that did exactly what I wanted, but I realized that between cron and applescript, I should be able to do what I wanted in a reasonably elegant way.

osascript lets you send Applescript commands to apps from the command line.  A little experimentation shows that:

osascript -e ‘quit app “Clients & Profits X 10.2″‘

cleanly exits the app.  a quick crontab -e from the terminal allowed me to:

#min hour mday month wday command
30     23    *         *          *        osascript -e ‘quit app “Clients & Profits X 10.2″‘

So now at 11:30 pm nightly, if my machine is running, I’ll cleanly shut down C&P.

 Posted by at 10:21 am
Jun 302011
 

I haven’t had much time to play with Google+ today, though I like what I’ve seen.  Need to have some more connections to really wring it out.  My initial thought is that it will be more geek-centric with better privacy and open-sourciness than Facebook.  Exactly the same model as Android to Apple.

 

But I just found the feedback functionality and it’s just awesome.

Clicking a small lower-right feedback button lets you highlight the problem, black-out personal details and submit a screen-capture of a problem or suggestion.  VERY nice.  They need to package this up for use by other web app developers.

Google+ feedback system

 Posted by at 5:38 pm
Jun 212011
 

Beyond having a ridiculously nice URL (https://shh.sh) – SecretSocial is pretty nifty.  Anonymous, encrypted, time-limited chat rooms and polls that are removed from the server after use and never hit by search engines.  Connected to twitter for authentication and invitation. I could see this being useful for audience participation – it goes without saying that had it launched sooner, we wouldn’t have had to suffer through a month of Weiner jokes.  

 

SecretSocial Trailer! from SecretSocial, Inc. on Vimeo.

 Posted by at 12:01 pm
May 252011
 

Tall Chair and OnSwipe – Necessary next steps in epublishing – apps that allow content creators to publish (and receive payments) without having to release their content through the iTunes store.

Active Reader is a revolutionary way for you to get your interactive stories onto the iTunes App Store. Using the Active Reader toolset, you will be able to quickly and easily take your custom art and make it come to life with our animation and events system. The best part of all is that you will be able to create interactive books and magazines for the iPad with absolutely NO CODING needed!


Onswipe enables publishers to provide the best browsing and advertising experience to their readers on tablet and touch devices.

  • Get Started In Under 3 Minutes
  • Infinitely Customizable
  • Anytime. Anywhere. Any device.
  • Breathtaking Ads
May 192011
 

I spent a little time yesterday putting together some resources for a friend dealing with the difficulties of fixed-price contracts, that I hadn’t pulled together before. So I’m posting my comments to him to prevent having to dig all this stuff back up at some later date:

Fixed fee is fine if you have a good working relationship. But unless your client trusts you absolutely, you can’t avoid the pushing paper problem. Without spending project development dollars on documentation, you will have no good way to to respond to a “why did we do it this way?” or a “what happened to feature X that I wanted” question.

With a high level of trust, it you might be able to answer “don’t you remember, we agreed X when we were in the conference room with Bob” and be done with it. But you’ll be in a lot better shape if you have a waterfall model spec and change orders, or a batch of use cases at various levels of completion sitting in your project backlog along with burndown reports showing what moved where through the project instead of having to rely on email, or worse, partially remembered conversations.

The key is avoiding a mismatch between the amount of paper pushing and the potential need for documentation and that is going to vary by client and by project. Which means you can go in assuming a high level of trust – to maximize value for the client dollar, only to get burned if the client isn’t happy. Or you can go in assuming a lot of CYA – which minimizes your risk, while also minimizing what you deliver. A bad set of compromises.

There is a lot of thinking about how to do this stuff in scrum land as the old rule of thumb was that fixed price bids and agile were like oil and water. Turns out that because of the high level of collaboration and continuous client involvement, some fixed-price-like models can actually work pretty well:
http://alistair.cockburn.us/Agile+contracts
http://agilesoftwaredevelopment.com/blog/peterstev/10-agile-contracts#MFN-cff

I’m very fond of the “money for nothing and change for free” model (look at page 28 here) :
http://www.slideshare.net/gerrykirk/money-for-nothing-agile-2008-presentation
and here:
http://coactivate.org/projects/agile-contracts/money-for-nothing-change-for-free

Gantthead had a couple good articles about agile contract types as well: (registration required)
http://www.gantthead.com/content/articles/261798.cfm

Nov 102010
 

I registered the way.nu domain back in 1998.  .com domains ran $70/year, and the little polynesian island of Niue setup a domain name registrar at the low, low price of $25/year.

Eventually, I stuck in some hand-coded html as a placeholder, eventually put together a handful of cobbled together html, perl scripts and server side includes to build a very early blog, later hooked it up to blogger, eventually swapping that for movable type and later still WordPress (and now mostly Facebook to be honest).  Along the way, I had two major server crashes that lost all my content.  I rebuilt after the first, but never bothered doing the work to do it a second time.  I still have a CD-ROM with a backup will require the installation of some crusty old version of MySQL for recovery.  It would be quicker to write a wayback machine to WordPress importer.  And to be honest, it was a bit liberating to turn my back on a lot of self-indulgent and/or dated stuff that I’d written (even if I have hunted through google’s webmaster tools to selectively restore some of the best bits).

The last time way.nu came up for renewal, I signed up – even thought they’d gone complete bastard in keeping their rates at 20 EU a year and requiring a minimum of 2 years to renew while .com domains dropped to a only a few dollars.  I’ve pretty well killed all use the of my old way.nu email addresses since and when the renewal came up this year (now 30 EU with 2 year minimum!) I decided it was time to walk away.  I just put in the 301 permanent redirects for way.nu to jonathan-peterson.com and it will surely be a domain squatters by next week.

Not sure how I feel about all that – mostly too busy working to think about it all that much.  As long as archive.org is hanging onto a copy of everything, its easy to not think about.

Aug 242010
 

I <3 skitchWho knew that there was room for a quantum leap in screen capture usability?  Skitch.com delivers way more than just ease of use for Mac users – it’s downright FUN.  Even though it’s sadly lacking the ability to capture a scrolling window (which I do with the webpage screenshot Chrome extension) the ease of use,  pretty interface, powerful capture features, post capture annotation and editing and direct posting through API to blogs, flickr, your skitch.com scrapbook etc. just blows away every other screen capture tool out there.

An essential app on a Mac, It’s unsurprising that “when will there be a windows version?” is the most common question on their support forums.

 Posted by at 2:00 pm
Aug 192010
 

I’ve played with a batch of location based social apps on my G1 (gowalla, foursquare, where, latitude among others).  I like the idea of knowing if friends/colleagues are in the neighborhood or seeing reviews of restaurants, galleries, parks, etc. from people I know, but the numbers of other users is dismally small.

Support isn’t in the android Facebook app and I don’t expect it for a few months as it’s kind of the red-headed stepchild platform from Facebook’s point of view.  It also hasn’t yet appeared on touch.facebook.com for me.  Assumably, they are rolling it out across servers a bit slowly to make sure that it scales.  There are some privacy oddities (friends can check me into locations without me knowing?) but they’ll work those out.

The thing that particularly strikes me about location based social though, is that it doesn’t require a smart phone.  A bar or park can put a check-in shortcode on their menu/coasters.  Sending an SMS can check me in, allow the place to give send me a 5% discount SMS for checking in as a first time customer, send back an SMS with the names of friends who are nearby, etc.  Dodgeball did all that stuff 5-6 years ago.  Google shut it down after buying it, but it seems a safe bet that those services will be under the hood of Google’s location-based product offering that is coming down the pipe.

Aug 032010
 

Money quote:cell phone user on a cargo bike

The Numbers Are Really Big. Insane, I mean. The billion-plus phones sold per year. The number of active subscriptions, which is greater than half of the human population. The number of new Android devices that check in with Google every day. The line-ups outside Apple stores for every new iOS device. The hundreds of thousands of apps. The ridiculous number of new ones that flow into Android Market every day. Everywhere I look, I see something astounding.

This is the big league; bigger today than the computer industry ever was, and growing fast. This is as fierce a concentration of R&D heat and manufacturing virtuosity and distribution wizardry and marketing mojo as humanity has ever seen.

http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/201x/2010/07/30/Mobile-Market-Share

But the important thing isn’t Android vs. iPhone.  Smartphones, while wildly profitable, are only a fraction of the market.

The smartphone is not the start of the mobile phone industry. The mobile phone business is the most dynamic, most competitive race for the soul of the future of the most widely spread consumer technology ever. Televisions sell 300 million units per year. DVD players sell about 250 million units per year. Personal computers including laptops, netbooks, tablets like the iPad and desktops – sell about 300 million per year. Videogame consoles sell far less than 100 million per year. Mobile phones sell more than all of those – combined! Mobile phones sell 1.3 Billion units this year. To put it another way, more new mobile phones sell this year, than the total worldwide installed base of all personal computers in use worldwide.

There are 5 Billion mobile phone subscriptions in use on a planet of 6.8 Billion people.

http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2010/07/understanding-smartphone-market-share-battle-not-for-phones-is-for-platform.html

Carrier relations are where the platform wars have been won and lost in the past.  Likely where they will be won and lost in the future, though I wonder what would happen if Google decided to build a low-end Android “world phone” that uses google voice and SMS/MMS for always-on connectivity, depending on store and forward data connectivity whenever it finds open wifi for all the social applications.  A “smart” dumbphone that doesn’t need expensive smartphone data plans.

May 272010
 

Cringely bets that Facebook is getting so large that they are bound to fail and notes that as our social networks get larger, the VALUE of those networks becomes less and less.

Facebook is useless to me. We’re all too connected to really connect.

Yes, I hide all the Mafia warriors and the Farmers and those people lately who are so thrilled to be breeding weird little animals. I hide as many of my inane friends as I can. I don’t join any groups and I am a fan of nothing, but it still doesn’t matter. There are people whom I’d actually like to know what they are doing and maybe they care about me, too, but we just no longer meet-up.

He doesn’t offer any proof or rigor, but it’s true for me as well.  Interesting that social networks appear to invert the network effect.

He also notes that for publications there is an optimal circulation size for an advertising base – making it quite possible to become too large to make money.  Cringely’s suggestion is for Facebook to way to weed out the least profitable customers so the value to advertisers (and CPMs) is higher.

But Facebook doesn’t want to be Time magazine, they want  to be Google – number of impressions is all.  BUT if people stop getting value from the networks they’ve built in Facebook those numbers will plummet.

The right solution isn’t booting people from Facebook – the cost per user approaches zero.  The RIGHT solution is fixing Facebook so even an incredibly large network is still compelling to the user.  And the solution is dead simple in concept (if very difficult in implementation and design).

I don’t have 487 friends – I have a dozen networks of people with only a very small number of those people being in more than one network.  Facebook’s networks help FIND people with similar interests, but do nothing to help MAINTAIN connections with those people.

The solution is personas.

If Facebook is going to kill off all the mailing lists, bulletin boards, yahoo groups, blogging networks, etc that allow me to keep my personas locked into different online spaces (which they are currently doing at a rapid pace), they are going to have to stop forcing me to lump family, friends, co-workers, long lost high-school friends, Thrashers’ fans, college alumni and neighbors into a single network.

Facebook’s list functionality sort of allows me to organize my networks and switch between them – but it’s clunky at best.  What’s more it is something that should be automated by Facebook.  They can see all those potential  interconnections when I add a friend and should be able automatically drop them into the correct network.   Furthermore it should be simple enough to figure out which persona I’m currently wearing based on my activities.

They’re not shy about ignoring privacy to sell ads, how about giving ME some of the benefits of the all seeing eye?  If I’m looking at the activities of the other parents on my kid’s soccer team the ad targeting can be scary precise (and much more valuable.

Hmmm – a massive network of people that can be sold against in very specific niche interest areas and current activities…

sort of like Google adwords.

May 112010
 

Playing with a couple email tools today.  Etacts and its gmail plugin is a VERY nice enhancement, essentially putting all the functionality of xobni into web-based email.  You see contact info, linkedin profile and social activities of the sender in an expandable sidebar.  It also allows group activities and minimal boilerplate email blasting (first name, last name substitution).

Gist is more of cross-network aggregator that creates a profile page of all your web activities, but more useful, attempts to do the same for all of your email, linkedin, facebook, twitter contacts – so you can watch their activities in a single place.

Both include light CRM features – contact reminders and history and importance weighting for emails/activities

Apr 022010
 

The Periodic Table of the Elements, ebook for iPad is getting lots of breathless reviews.  It’s a pretty launch title and the iPad itself, like the iPhone before it just seems to have come from the future.

Meh.

I made several award winning consumer CD-ROMs back in the day, before the industry collapsed with he advent of the internet.  But that whole market was largely built on the willingness of people who’d just spent $1500 on a multimedia capable PC being willing to spend another $40 or $60 on a handful of non-game edutainment titles to justify the purchase.  In just a couple years we devolved from Passage to Vietnam, my own A.DAM The Inside Story and Faces of Conflict to selling edutainment titles by the linear foot.

Though I wish I were wrong, digital coffee table books aren’t making a comeback, no matter how pretty the iPad screen is, nor how intuitive the UI other than as a justification by early adopters for buying the device.

It’s nothing more than Apple’s hype machine plus traditional media hoping that the iPad is going to be the savior for paper publishers that iTunes has (almost) been for music.  But people aren’t turning away from newspapers and magazines just because they can get the same stuff for free online. They are doing it because they’re spending less of their free time consuming mass media and more of it collaborating and creating – posting photos to Flickr, messaging on Facebook (or God forbid Farmtowning)  and surfing through youtube videos instead.  All of which you can do all with an iPad while sitting on the couch with Dancing with the Stars on in the background.

I have come around to thinking the iPad is going to be an important device – it’s a great form factor for a lot of horizontal apps (think insurance adjusters, roofing contractors, and census takers) and for casual use where a laptop is just too much (in a book bag or on the couch).

Low subscription price episodic content might work – Apple managed to create the create the first successful microcontent venture in iTunes after all.  But how much of an upcharge can you get for The Daily Show on an iPad when I can get it on my laptop for free?

But maybe I’m wrong.  If anybody thinks ebooks with embedded video and 3d photos is the next big thing, drop me a line – I’ve got the chops and would love to be creating beautiful edutainment titles just as long as you can find enough people willing to hand over $13 a pop to look at them.

 Posted by at 10:23 am  Tagged with:
Mar 302010
 

I thought the space was a little crowded, but whoa.

Aka-Aki, Belysio, Bliin, Blumapia, Blummi, Brightkite, Buddy Beacon, Buddycloud, BuddyMob, BuddyWay, buzzd, Carticipate, Centrl, CitySense, ComeTogethr, Dodgeball, Dopplr, Duzine, EagleTweet, FindbyClick, FindMe, Flaik,Footprint History, FourSquare, Foyaje, Fraced, Friend Mapper, Friends on Fire, GeoMe, GeoSpot, GeoUpdater, Glympse, Google Latitude, Gowalla, gpsME, Grindr, Groovr, GyPSii,ICloseby, iPling, Ipoki, IRL, Jentro, Junaio, LightPole, Limbo, Locaccino, Locatik, Locatrix, Locr, Locle, Loki, Loopt, MapMe, Map My Tracks, Match2Blue,MeetMoi, Meet Now Live, Microsoft Vine, Mizoon, Mobilaris, MobiLuck, Mologogo, Moximiti, My Adventures, MyGeoDiary, MyGeolog, Myrimis, myWingman, NAV2US, Now Here, Nulaz, Plazes, Pocket Life, Pownce, Quiro, Qlique, Rummble, Shizzow, Skobbler, Skout, Sniff, Snikkr, Socialight, Sparrow, Spot Adventures, SpotJots, Stalqer, The Grid, Toai, Tooio, TownKing TownQueen, Trackut, Trapster, Tripit, Troovy, Twibble, Twinkle,Twittelator, Unype, weNear, WHERE™, Whereis Everyone , WhereYouGonnaBe, Whrrl, Zhiing, Zintin

from – bdnooz.com

Mar 242010
 

Ada LovelaceI’ve had more women bosses and co-workers than I can count, so I couldn’t possibly name them all. But atypically, most of my high school science teachers and favorite CS professors were women. So I’d like to thank Shirley Kitchens (HS chemistry/AP chemistry), Jane Lusk (HS biology/AP biology), Dr. Methyl Hodges (HS math/pre-calculus), her daughter, Dr. Julia Hodges (MSU CS department chair), Dr. Susan Bridges (MSU CS) for turning interest into vocation for me and hundreds if not thousands of others.

Mar 232010
 

Had a friend with battery life issues with a new droid ask for tips. So I’m repurposing. Droid mileage may vary, my G1 has a slower processor, but get 1 1/2 to 2 days between charges all the time.

A few things.

1) Make sure the power monitoring is right:
- When I first got my G1 it would claim that it was about to be out of power after only 6 hours or so. I eventually was out and about and let it run down instead of scrambling to recharge. It ran for 12+ hours before finally shutting down. After that it seemed to reset how quickly it would think it was running down. I’ve seen the same thing happen with 2 other G1s, so maybe there is an issue in the power management/recharge warning system for all androids. Let it run all the way down to die and see if things get better after the full recharge.

2) Install the power control widget on your desktop (touch and hold on a blank area of the home screen, pick widget and then power control. This will make it easier to monitor what’s going on and minimize your running power.

3) Turn off what you don’t need:
- turn off the GPS, use the cell system for your continuous location information – home screen, menu, settings, security and location, select use wireless networks, and turn off enable GPS. Now google maps, etc. will have your location within a couple hundred yards, but you’ve turned off a continuously running GPS radio. When you want to use google maps for driving or walking directions turn the gps back on from the power control widget.
- I turn the screen brightness all the way down and never need to brighten it unless I’m using the map in direct sunlight.
- bluetooth is always off, I don’t use it.
- wifi is almost always off – I find the 3G available almost everywhere and fast enough. I will turn it on if I am using the browser at a bar/restaurant and only have edge data.
- you could turn off your data sync from the widget – but haven’t ever needed to.

4) Install task killer
- You’ll find it in the market, it’s free. It also has a desktop widget that will show you everything running and let you kill them all or one at a time.
- Kill power using background apps. Most apps do nothing if you have them in the background, but some keep the processor running at full speed or look for data all the time (a twitter ap that is listening every couple minutes for instance). If you are having bad battery life, kill everything and watch what’s running regularly to help you find power hogging aps.

5) Install apndroid. It is a one click desktop widget that turns your data on and off. You can put it on your home screen below the power control so you can quickly power off all data connections. I never do this unless I’m down to a trickle of battery and am not going to be near a charger for a while, so I can maximize my phone availability.

 Posted by at 4:38 pm
Jan 242010
 

To find a relationship with God, I had to journey alone. I was not seeking, I was floating; no goal, no direction, but no pressure or need for either. I enjoyed life as it came and rejoiced in each day.

As family drew me back into church activities, I found that God had never left me and that I had never left God. I left the noise, confusion and structure of laws created by men and found God everywhere waiting for me. Finding God is easy – God is everywhere and we are uniquely designed and attuned to rejoice in the presence of God. But we cannot be forced into the resonance that we are designed for; and the loudness of everyday life offers many distractions from that Grace.

Rich spiritual life must be discovered for each in his own way. And the essence of that life may differ greatly between believers. Some feel that God requires surrender of self and absolute adherence to laws; that God requires sacrifice, toil and effort. They must wrestle with angels and devils, believing that everything that is worthwhile must be earned through struggle and that powers abound that conspire to keep them from the “Truth”.

For me the path is easy, but like the swimmer who fights the tide can only be found with the realization that one’s direction is wrong. That realization might take time, it might take loss, it might take meditation or guidance, but for me at least, the only path to a deep meaningful relationship to God is to release myself and to allow my inerrant instincts to guide me to Him. The stream that is God runs with a current that is deep and strong. It pushes me away from obstacles that line the shores. The way is clear; but I not fight the current, but must allow my true self to be the rudder that guides me to the center of the stream.

Unfortunately quiet reflection, stillness, seeking without effort is foreign to most Westerners. It seems lazy and inscrutable, especially given the dogmatic religious education that most of us receive as children. We are exposed to a God of love while we are taught exclusion and hatred. We are told to fear God and turn from those who are different. We are told that Satan awaits around every turn by parents and preachers who make it all to easy to believe that God is some trickster figure who may only be approached by those who have earned some special dispensation through pain and suffering.

Why is it that we are so uncomfortable speaking of such a natural part of human life? And why is it that we look for someone to tell us what we should believe when faith is such a natural state for us all?

 Posted by at 11:01 pm
Jan 242010
 

I wrote this essay back in 2001 in late August as the start of a book proposal. Any traction that it was likely to get was obliterated in the events of 9/11. But it is still one of the most heavy linked things I’ve ever written, so I’m reposting it without comments or updates. Eventually I’d like to come back to it and update.

In the long run, we must find mechanisms that will separate the interests of Falun Gong members from those of pedophiles. In the absence of such mechanisms their interests (and our interests) are identical.

- Dana Blankenhorn, A-Clue.Com

Medianet

I use the term Medianet to encompass all media content created by both professional and amateur content creators, the broadband network that transports that content and the devices attached to the network to publish and consume that content.

I will outline a rough feature set of the ideal Medianet from the point of view of the three major entities with vested interests in the evolution of the Medianet, the consumer, the publisher and the government.

While there is much commonality of interests between the three entities (fast, cheap, always available) there are also some fundamental conflicts that must be resolved. Scenarios based on potential resolution of these conflicts are both interesting and enlightening, and I believe, a rich ground for strategic planning.

The ideal consumer Medianet
The ideal consumer Medianet must be able to:

  1. Allow real-time access to any media content instantaneously
  2. Automatically translate between different content formats (i.e. audio is audio, regardless of publisher and/or streaming technology)
  3. Allow user creation and translation of any content type (consumers must be able to translate content they own or create from DVD to VHS, to QuickTime and back)
  4. Have fixed cost (Americans just don’t like variable pricing)
  5. Allow an active used content marketplace

Generally speaking, government concerns and corporate intellectual property concerns have been the only real impediments to the implementation of features that would make the ideal consumer Medianet, the technology hurdles are far from insurmountable.

The ideal publisher Medianet
In addition to instantaneous content availability, the ideal publisher Medianet must be able to:

  1. Protect the rights of the original content publisher
  2. Track consumer usage
  3. Allow great flexibility on the part of the publisher to control pricing and usage of content by consumers. The publisher should be able to give content away, charge per usage, allow a fixed number of viewings, and allow or disallow content resale
  4. Allow the publisher to differentiate offerings based on technology as well as content, thus adding a new area of competition and locking in customers
  5. Allow the publisher to create geographic region-specific content and pricing

Unsurprisingly media companies have had no real success in creating content platforms that cater to their needs instead of the needs of the consumer. I would argue that the failure of Divx vs. DVDs is directly attributable to favoring publishing companies’ interests over consumers’. SDMI will continue to flounder because the various content publishing companies have different agendas for business models and feature sets. Any medium whose distribution system disallows equal access to content from both amateur and professional publishers won’t work in a broadband
world. Defining a platform by aggregation of content type (audio, video, etc.) will work, defining a platform through the aggregation of content by publisher will
not
. Though it seems obvious, content publishers must compete on content,
not platform.

The ideal government Medianet
From a government point of view the ideal Medianet must:

  1. Disallow anonymous content
  2. Track all content exchanges
  3. Allow monitoring at any point in the network
  4. Allow content decryption on demand in real-time
  5. Archive all content exchanges

I believe the government’s needs are the hardest to logically justify, as arguably there is no such thing as criminally illegal content (i.e. there is no pedophilic content without child abuse, conspiracy to commit terrorism has nothing to do with the channel of information exchange, and violation of intellectual property is a civil issue, not a criminal one).That doesn’t mean that government will stop trying, but it does mean that government needs must be couched in terms of enabling either business (copyright violations and the CDMA) or consumer needs (privacy), or to be couched in terms of a threat to the state (terrorism) to succeed in overriding either consumer or corporate needs.

Which Master will be served?

We could try to be crisper about the ideal features, but the point is already obvious: many of these “features” are fundamentally in conflict. In fact, all features differentiating the Medianet from raw broadband ip networks are areas of contention between government, content producers and consumers. However, if the Medianet is ever to reach fruition through the evolution of the Internet these conflicts must be resolved. It is my opinion that the consumer actually
holds the most power for a variety of reasons:

Fragmentation of government interests:

Pressures against the consumer-focused Medianet are different internationally; consumer privacy against corporate intrusion is better protected in the European Union, while consumer privacy against government intrusion is better protected in the United States.

Least common denominator content is not compelling:
Countries that choose to insulate themselves from the Medianet through filtering or tightly tracked usage licensing and monitoring will be forced to create local implementations of Medianet; allowing only local content creators, and licensed content companies to distribute Medianet content, decreasing choice for consumers and increasing cost for content producers.

Any great deviation of features from the ideal consumer Medianet encourages a widespread disregard for the law or even organized internet civil disobedience:

The ease with which laws may be broken and the lack of sophistication on the part law enforcement has made the risk of technology crimes very low as the growth of web site defacement and virus creation clearly shows.

Media content is not considered property:
Civil disobedience and consumer disregard for corporate intellectual property may smack of triviality, but there is a real groundswell against the degree of corporate control of international politics in the first world. Consumers in developing nations cannot afford to pay licensing costs for Medianet content and applications from corporate sources and their governments do not have sufficient funds to protect corporate interests.

Technology influences
Some random thoughts about factors influencing the evolution towards
the Medianet:

  • A general purpose PC with a DSL connection comprises the client side of a fully functional Medianet platform but is terribly lacking in ease of use, ease of integration, stability and breadth of available content.

Closed platform vs. open platform

  • Computers are inherently general-purpose devices, able to be reconfigured without architectural changes (i.e. a Pentium with a network > card can be a radio receiver or a radio station, an e-mail client or an e-mail server, a server, a router, or a packet encrypter and relay).
  • Consumer devices are inherently single purpose devices, slight changes of function require multiple generations of hardware and content updates (stereo AM radio, digital cellular)

General purpose content applications and open source

  • Open-source development is most powerful in the creation of cool,  broad use applications (i.e. where many developers have overlapping interests), and least powerful in the creation of vertical applications (i.e. there will never be an open source hospital billing system).
  • All of the content publisher and consumer features listed as are broad use application features
  • All of the features government features listed are abhorrent to at least a sizable number of open source developers
  • If an immature, innovative company is destroyed while it is still privately held, it is increasingly likely that it’s source code will be released as open-source as part of it’s death.

Governmental reactions to internet “openness”

  • It is not inconceivable that the FTC and FCC could require all routers to be licensed and only pass through packets that have been sent from other licensed routers.
  • As it is currently described and configured, the FBI’s Carnivore software is architecturally capable of “turning off the internet” The ease of use and low cost of 802.11 (WiFi) networks is allowing the rapid evolution of a peer-to-peer encrypted Internet backchannel that is impervious to government intervention without draconian measures.
 Posted by at 6:41 pm