Doc Searls's blog

Getting beyond Brad's Paradox

The always provocative Brad Templeton, who hung out with a large cadre of geeks at the Internet Identity Workshop (IIW, or ) last week, has some cautions about new identity systems, even if they are all "user-centric". These cautions lie in a paradox: "The easier it is to give somebody ID information, the more often it will be done. And the easier it is to give ID information, the more palatable it is to ask for, or demand it." The italics are his.

Here he hits on the problem of market power asymmetries (vendors strong, customers weak) that have been with us for the whole Industrial Age, and are with us still. I think we have a way to overcome those, and that Brad's Paradox may provide exactly the conceptual hurdle we need to see before we can make progress.

So let's start with Brad's explanation: more>>

Mike and Tux, sitting in a tree...

Michael Dell Runs Ubuntu, Jim Thompson reports. Sure 'nuff:

The key excerpt... more>>

Thinking Past Platforms: the Next Challenge for Linux

In my first SuitWatch Newsletter, on September 5, 2002, I wrote this: "A funny thing happened to Linux on the way to World Domination: it succeeded. That's the good news; the bad news is its success has hit a few hitches, and it's unclear how long those hitches will last."

The biggest hitch — dominating PCs the way Linux has dominated servers and embedded devices — is still around, almost five years later. And it will remain a hitch as long as hardware OEMs continue to follow Microsoft rather than lead the marketplace.

That's the gauntlet I threw down last Wednesday, in my last SuitWatch. And now I'm throwing it down here. I want to challenge the big hardware OEMs — Dell, HP, Lenovo, Sony and the rest of them — to break free of the only form factors Microsoft will let them make, and start leading the marketplace by making make cool, interesting, fun and useful stuff that isn't limited by any one company's catalog of possibilities. Stop making generic stuff. Grow greener grass beyond the Windows fences. Stop thinking of Linux as "generic" and "a commodity". Start looking at how building only Windows PCs forces you to make generic, commodity products. more>>

A Public Market for Public Music

On the one hand, it's a bummer that the new per-song/per-listener royalty rates threaten to put Internet radio out of business. On the other hand, I don't mind paying Radio Paradise $.0019 (that's under 2/10ths of one cent) to hear Joseph Arthur singing "In the Sun" or to pay the same to RadioKAOS for Jo Jo Gunne singing "Run Run Run". (To name two songs I like that are being played right now.) I can afford that. I also like the idea of paying artists and their friends for their work — but not on coercive terms over which I have no control.

Right now there are only two ways of doing that. One is the advertising based commercial radio model. The other is the donation-based public radio model. The first doesn't involve me at all. The second only barely involves me, and then only as a "member" of a station.

So I have a proposal. Let's turn this thing around. Take it from the point of view of a listener who wouldn't mind using the radio station as an intermediary for paying artists on a voluntary basis. Give radio's consumers an easy way to become customers — with tools that let them pay on a voluntary, a la carte basis for stuff that's available for free but is worth more than that. Let's create a new and truly open market for music that's led by listeners rather than followed by them. Let's solve common problems in ways that work for everybody because they're conceived as common opportunities. more>>

Internet Radio on Death Row

Internet Radio has been sentenced to death.

In a move that recalls the Vogons' decision to destroy Earth to clear the way for a highway bypass through space (a thankfully fictional premise of Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy), the judges comprising the Copyright Royalty Board have decided to destroy the Internet radio industry so the Recording Industry won't be inconvenienced by something it doesn't know, like or understand. more>>

Can Apple clear the way for the Linux desktop?

That's the question that occurs to me as I read this piece in Roughly Drafted. It's about how Apple is kicking Microsoft's butt at the high end of the desktop market, and how Microsoft seems to be bumbling its way out of desktop hegemony anyway. Linux is mentioned only twice in this long piece, but the harbingery of the references are significant. Here's the enclosing quote:

Combined with the dominance of the iPod over devices using Microsoft's PlaysForSure, the imminent goring of Windows Mobile by the iPhone, and the shift of support across the industry from Windows to Linux in servers, the days of Microsoft's monopolistic grip on the desktop are winding down.

Apple doesn't have to take a majority share of the desktop market to win, it only needs to take the most valuable segments of the market.

Once that happens, Microsoft will be forced to choose whether it wants to battle Mac OS X for control of the slick consumer desktop, or repurpose Windows as a cheaper, mass market alternative to Linux in corporate sales.

And, at some point, consumer sales as well. more>>

Building an Relationship Economy

Is there something new that open source development methods and values can bring to the economy? How about something old?

I think the answer may come from the developing world, where pre-industrial methods and values persist and offer some helpful models and lessons for a networked world that's less post-industrial than industrial in a new and less impersonal way.

This began to become apparent to me a few years ago I had a Socratic exchange with a Nigerian pastor named Sayo, whom I was lucky to find sitting next to me on a long airplane trip. more>>

Putting the Wholes Together

If incoming mail contains the word "identity" it goes to a mailbox I started in late 2004. It has over 7000 emails in it now. The majority of those are from the Identity Gang list.

The Identity Gang got its name when it first met informally on the December 31, 2004 edition of Gillmor Gang. I've lost track of how many workshops and meetings and other exercizes in convergence we've had, but the progress continues to be amazing.

I just looked at what Eric Norlin of IDG wrote here, then at what Scott Kveton of JanRain wrote here then at what Kim Cameron of Microsoft wrote here — to pick just three out of countless posts, all connected somehow. You can see the progress in just one month.

This observation comes in the midst of thinking about a form of Vendor Relationship Management that has the same initials as CRM, but a different meaning: Creator Relationship Management.

I would like to relate to creators in a better, less intermediated way. more>>

HD as the first step beyond TV

What comes after television? That's a question I've been asking at every Consumer Electronics Show. The answer, of course, is not just "more TV" but bigger and better TV, with better sound and higher resolutions, made possible by digital sources, processing and displays. In other words, computing and networking.

So does TV become just become a suburb of computing, or does the reverse happen? The TV folks imagine the latter. But the former is inevitable. Our job is to make the inevitable happen sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, we get to watch Big TV metasticize — and to enjoy what we can of it. more>>

Watering the Net Roots

On the one hand, you can look at Verizon's dumping of rural New England business as a kind of red-lining. On the other hand, listen to what the company picking up the dumped business says it wants to do. According to the Boston Globe,

...the merger will likely benefit rural customers by putting them in the hands of a company that specializes and focuses on rural markets, according to John Byrne, analyst at Technology Business Research in New Hampshire.

Verizon serves 1.5 million access lines, 180,000 DSL customers, and 600,000 long-distance customers in the three states. The company offers DSL Internet access to about 60 percent of households there. In contrast, FairPoint offers DSL access to about 80 percent of households it serves.

But in southern New Hampshire, where FairPoint will take over the high-speed FiOS fiber-optic network available to 80,000 households, customers who may have expected to see FiOS TV offerings won't likely see "triple-play" bundles of voice, television, and Internet in the near future.

"Clearly, video will be a consideration, but we don't want to get distracted by that," as FairPoint takes over, Leach said. "We are going to increase high-speed data right out of the box."

Kurt Adams, chairman of the Public Utilities Commission in Maine, said he cannot comment on details, but that merger hearings would likely focus on broadband investment, service quality, and rates.

Something big is getting missed in the fight between carriers and local governments, and many side-takers on both the right and the left are equally blind to it. What's missed is serious and widespread market demand for high-speed data connections — specifically connections that are not subordinated to television. more>>

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