November 22, 2010
Volume XXXIII, Issue 1
CONTENT IN THE CLOUD at CES
Plan now to attend the first-ever CONTENT IN THE CLOUD Conference within CES on January 7th in Las Vegas, NV.
The 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), is scheduled for January 6th-9th.
As CEA exclaims, "Explore this cutting-edge technology that promises to revolutionize entertainment delivery! If the cloud touches your business, you won't want to miss these eight keynotes and three panel discussions focused on cloud-managed content and its impact on consumers, the media, telecom industries, and consumer electronics (CE) manufacturers."
Keynotes at this Distributed Computing Industry Association (DCIA) special event include Geng Lin, Chief Technology Officer, IBM - Cisco Systems Alliance; David Rips, President, Verizon Digital Media Services; Rob Shambro, Chairman & CEO, GenosTV; Jim Burger, Member, Dow Lohnes; Barry Tishgart, VP, Internet Services, Comcast; Claude Tolbert, VP, Business Development, BitTorrent; and Mark Teitell, Executive Director, Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE)
"The Impact on Consumers of Implementing Cloud Computing for Media Storage" will feature Todd Weaver, CEO, ivi TV; Mike Lewis, Founder, Kapost; Jason Herskowitz, VP of Product, LimeWire; Christopher Allen, General Manager, Napster; Guillermo Chialvo, Gerente de Tecnologia, Radio Mitre; Ian Donahue, Co-Founder, RedThorne Media; Jim Rondinelli, VP of Strategic Development, Slacker; and Louisa Shipnuck, Director, Marketing & Strategy, Verizon Digital Media Services.
"The Impact of Cloud Computing on the Entertainment and Telecommunications Industries" will feature Stephen Condon, Director of Market Development, AT&T; Alex Limberis, VP Business Development, Next Issue Media; Doug Heise, VP of Marketing & Strategy, Panvidea; Guy de Beer, CEO, Playcast; Mark Friedlander, National Director, New Media, Screen Actors Guild (SAG); Mark Vrieling, CEO, ScreenPlay; Kurt Smith, VP, Sales, Verizon Digital Media Services; and Anne-Carole Nourisson, VP Licensing, Vivendi Mobile Entertainment.
"The Impact on Consumer Electronics Manufacturers of Cloud Computing Deployment" will feature Mick Bass, VP, Strategic Alliances, Ascent Media; Sean Barger, CEO, Equilibrium; Les Ottolenghi, CEO & Founder, Fuzebox; Alexander Marquez, Director, Intel Capital; Mark Taylor, SVP, Content & Media, Level 3 Communications; Michael Papish, Product Development Director, Rovi Corporation; AJ McGowan, CTO, Unicorn Media; and Stuart Elby, CTO, Verizon Digital Media Services.
A Basic Introduction to Cloud Computing
Excerpted from Hosted PBX Services Report
Cloud computing in its simplest form is a way to store data. The cloud is basically the Internet, so it's Internet computing, the exact definition will vary slightly depending on whether you're a consumer or a business.
If you're a business, several of the big names on the Internet like Amazon, IBM, Google, etc. all have cloud computing services. Instead of having to buy hardware and software and manage infrastructure to host a website, cloud computing lets you deploy it on another existing infrastructure (e.g., Google or Amazon, etc).
The other advantage is, because you're not purchasing physical hardware, you can scale up and down as you need so if your load suddenly goes up, you're only paying for what you're using right now; if the load suddenly goes down, again you haven't got a whole host of machines sitting idle
From a consumer point of view, it's really the idea that you can keep your information in a cloud or on the Internet so you don't have to keep it on your computer. The beauty of this is if your computer breaks it's all stored elsewhere so all you need to do is get a new computer, plug it into the Internet and everything you had there is still there.
For example, some applications (like Google Docs), allow you to create documents online, you can type up a report or maybe use a spread sheet, and if your computer explodes it doesn't matter, because the next time you get on the Internet that document will still be there because it was stored on that applications servers.
Another great advantage of cloud computing is that you can share these documents with other people, and you can invite them to collaborate on them and you can actually both edit them in real-time and then once that's done, you can easily publish them as web pages and make them available to the rest of your organization or the wider world.
So why is cloud computing so important? For small businesses especially, one of the biggest challenges can be backing up your data and making sure everything is secure, and making sure you're not going to lose everything when replicating.
One of the big advantages of cloud computing is that you're putting that onus on someone else, by deploying your data in an online storage engine, you're actually relying on those guys to look after your information, and given that the bigger infrastructures are world class and your small business may not be able to normally afford that level of hardware and network infrastructure, you're actually getting a really good deal.
If you think about having a web server, you wouldn't have your website hosted on your computer on your desk at work so why should you have your documents there? It's good for people to be able to access this information at any time.
Another more important thing is that it allows collaboration, in a way that running information on your computer doesn't, by pushing stuff into the cloud you can have multiple people collaborating in real time and this is already happening with things like Google Docs and spread sheets, you can have tens of users logged in at the same time editing the same document.
Report from CEO Marty Lafferty
S-3804: Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) was passed in a 19-0 vote this week by the Democrat-controlled US Senate Judiciary Committee.
Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said, "Rogue websites are essentially digital stores selling illegal and sometimes dangerous products. We cannot excuse the behavior because it happens online." While we agree that a problem exists, COICA as drafted is not the answer.
It is now up to either Senator Ronald Widen (D-OR) to block this well-intentioned but ill-conceived measure from going to the Senate floor for a vote or, failing that, the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives to ensure that COICA does not proceed any further. Senator Widen has consistently demonstrated valuable leadership skills on key technology sector issues.
This measure would use public funds for a dangerous and ultimately self-destructive scheme to attack websites globally that have merely been accused of facilitating copyright infringement of entertainment content.
Among the seventeen sponsors of this woefully misguided proposal, which if enacted would ultimately backfire in very damaging ways, were Senators Herb Kohl (D-WI), Arlen Specter (D-PA), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Evan Bayh (D-IN).
S-3804 bypassed normal due process and there was no hearing for this controversial and potentially very costly measure that would, ironically, at the entertainment industry's urging, threaten free speech. It would also seriously harm the Internet
This highly prejudicial bill would empower movie studios and record labels to order the Department of Justice (DoJ) to disrupt websites, search engines, e-mail applications, social networks, and other software programs that they allege enable links to and/or transmissions of material that could include copyrighted works.
There's no question that had COICA been enacted while YouTube was in development, this innovative service would have been shut down.
The subjective bias of this measure is apparent in its provision for the public to engage in helping Hollywood name websites to be so blacklisted - and publicly so - while failing to provide any mechanism for appealing such listing of services that are wrongly targeted for government sanctioned interference and taxpayer funded service disruption.
Ultimately, any Internet-based offering with a domain name anywhere in the world could be threatened by S-3804, which would spawn court orders under in rem jurisdiction forcing domain registrars and Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to accused sites.
As DCINFO readers know, the Distributed Computing Industry Association (DCIA) advocates commercial solutions to the serious problem of online infringement that is the result of what has frankly been a shared failure to date of entertainment, telecommunications, and technology concerns to develop business models that harness and exploit advanced digital distribution technologies.
Until motion pictures and music are authorized for online distribution and a vibrant marketplace replaces the global phenomenon of Internet users simply redistributing such material without regard for licensing, Hollywood's emphasis on enforcement is doomed to continuing failure and increasing embarrassment for all who are associated with it.
We not only agree with the legion of legal pundits who question the Constitutionality of this horrendous bill - has the First Amendment been repealed? - but we also have grave concerns about the practical consequences of enacting it.
How can US Senators justify a law that is essentially censorship on behalf of large entertainment contributors who refuse to update their own business models? What do they think will be the consequences of investing in the costly enforcement actions as prescribed in this bill?
Do they think this would actually do anything other than bring about the obsolescence of the Domain Name System (DNS)? Can't access www.thepiratebay.org? Fine, just use http://184.108.40.206.
Why is the US federal government and DoJ in particular getting involved at all in what is essentially a civil commerce issue? And on what basis is it attempting to reach beyond national borders to shut-down websites in other countries, regardless of whether they may be in full compliance with applicable laws?
Of tremendous concern is the needless escalation of cyber-warfare that COICA will inevitably instigate. Simple analogies can be drawn to historical conflicts like the American revolution, where a large army of institutionalized British regulars was no match for small bands of individual American freedom fighters.
We've already had a small taste of the digital mayhem that will transpire if S-3804 is enacted. In the wake of large Hollywood interests sponsoring cyber-attacks against sites that host unlicensed music and movies, "net freedom fighters" now routinely respond by taking down high-profile entertainment trade group websites.
Can't we learn from the pattern of large government-sanctioned action followed by small paramilitary reprisals? Does anyone need yet another example of the fact that fighting the war on piracy exclusively with enforcement tools - and absent robust commercial solutions - is a losing proposition? Isn't there a better way?
More precisely and also more ominously, earlier this year in Australia, government websites hosting vital data were blocked in protest of plans to introduce Internet filters to combat online infringement of entertainment content. What happens when S-3804 makes the focus of this activity America?
How do the irresponsible backers of this measure propose to stop the collective manpower of the open-source Internet community? This is a growing movement of individuals who have prided themselves on technical prowess and anonymity, and it is flourishing in the digital realm. Why go to war with them over an issue that will be resolved as new business models are deployed?
What we need instead of S-3804 is an acceleration of new cloud-based and other advanced distributed computing solutions for licensed entertainment content. Streaming P2P music sensation Spotify needs to be authorized for the US. The fact that it hasn't been is a disgrace.
And Google Music, with storage-in-the-cloud coupled with a choice of streaming or downloading, could be an example of a much more viable commercial approach than Apple's outdated and declining iTunes. Meanwhile, we commend Microsoft for its response to a similar threat in Russia.
COICA shows that when it comes to enforcement, content rights holders can demonstrate enormous creativity. It should be no surprise that our view is that this energy would be better directed towards innovative business models. Share wisely, and take care.
Anti-Piracy Proposal Pits Free Speech Advocates Against NAA
Excerpted from Daily Online Examiner Report by Wendy Davis
A Senate committee this week unanimously approved a troubling anti-piracy law that would enable the federal authorities to seek court orders directing Internet service providers (ISPs) and domain registrars to shut down sites allegedly dedicated to infringement.
The vote drew sharp condemnation from digital rights groups, who say the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) would allow the government to unconstitutionally shut down speech. "Rather than just targeting files that actually infringe copyright law, COICA's 'nuclear-option' design has the government blacklisting entire sites out of the domain name system - a reckless scheme that will undermine global Internet infrastructure and censor legitimate online speech," says the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
A coalition of more than 40 law professors likewise argues that the bill would "fundamentally alter US policy towards Internet speech, and would set a dangerous precedent with potentially serious consequences for free expression and global Internet freedom."
They argue that the law is troubling because it would allow courts to order injunctions against domain registrars before hearing the website operators' side of the story. "The act contains no provisions designed to ensure that the persons actually responsible for the allegedly infringing content - the operators of the target websites - are even aware of the proceedings against them, let alone have been afforded any meaningful opportunity to contest the allegations in a true, adversarial proceeding," the law professors write.
Additionally, they argue, the law would "suppress vast amounts of protected speech containing no infringing content whatsoever," because more than one individual site can operate under a single domain name. "Indeed," the letter states, "many web hosting services operate hundreds of thousands of websites under a single domain name."
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and a host of entertainment companies and unions back the bill, which has also drawn some surprising support from the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) - a group that one would expect to be especially sensitive to censorship concerns.
The organization says that the law's "narrowly tailored provisions support free discourse online." And, completely ignoring the possibility that innocent sites would get swept up in a domain name takedown, the organization insists that the only sites that would be blocked are the ones primarily designed to offer infringing material. Blocking that kind of site, the NAA says, doesn't harm free speech because it "doesn't contribute to online discourse."
Senator Threatens to Block Online Copyright Bill
Excerpted from IDG Report by Grant Gross
A US Senator has vowed to fight attempts to pass a controversial copyright protection bill that would allow the US government to shut down websites suspected of hosting infringing materials.
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) said late Thursday that he would seek to block the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, or COICA, from passing through the full Senate, unless the legislation is changed. Earlier Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 19-0 to approve the bill and send it to the full Senate.
Wyden called the bill the "wrong medicine" for dealing with online copyright infringement. The bill would allow the US Department of Justice (DoJ) to seek expedited court orders requiring US domain-name registrars to shut down domestic websites suspected of hosting infringing materials. The bill would also allow the DoJ, through court orders, to order US ISPs to redirect customer traffic away from infringing foreign websites.
"Deploying this statute to combat online copyright infringement seems almost like using a bunker-busting cluster bomb, when what you need is a precision-guided missile," Wyden said during a hearing on digital trade issues. "If you don't think this thing through carefully, the collateral damage would be American innovation, American jobs, and a secure Internet."
Wyden's opposition means the bill is likely dead this year. Individual Senators can place holds on legislation, and there are only a few working days left in the Congressional session this year. Sponsors of the legislation, including fellow Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, would have to reintroduce the bill if it doesn't pass this year.
Opponents of the legislation say it amounts to censorship. Even websites with infringing materials have content that's protected by free-speech rights, opponents have said.
The bill could also lead to a fragmentation of the Internet, with other countries emboldened to enforce their own laws, including censorship, said critics, including the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT).
COICA is an example of repeated efforts to fix long-time problems through Internet restrictions, said Ed Black, President and CEO of the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), a tech trade group. The Judiciary Committee pushed through the bill without adequate hearings and input from the public, Black said.
"The significance and implications of the legislation I don't think have been well thought through," Black said during the hearing on digital trade. "Sadly, it's an example of what not to do in an important, complicated digital ecosystem."
Long Live the Web
Excerpted from Scientific American Report by Tim Berners-Lee
The web is critical not merely to the digital revolution but to our continued prosperity - and even our liberty. Like democracy itself, it needs defending
The world wide web went live, on my physical desktop in Geneva, Switzerland, in December 1990. It consisted of one website and one browser, which happened to be on the same computer. The simple setup demonstrated a profound concept: that any person could share information with anyone else, anywhere. In this spirit, the web spread quickly from the grassroots up. Today, at its 20th anniversary, the web is thoroughly integrated into our daily lives. We take it for granted, expecting it to "be there" at any instant, like electricity.
The web evolved into a powerful, ubiquitous tool because it was built on egalitarian principles and because thousands of individuals, universities and companies have worked, both independently and together as part of the World Wide Web Consortium, to expand its capabilities based on those principles.
The web as we know it, however, is being threatened in different ways. Some of its most successful inhabitants have begun to chip away at its principles. Large social-networking sites are walling off information posted by their users from the rest of the web. Wireless Internet providers are being tempted to slow traffic to sites with which they have not made deals. Governments -totalitarian and democratic alike - are monitoring people's online habits, endangering important human rights.
If we, the web's users, allow these and other trends to proceed unchecked, the web could be broken into fragmented islands. We could lose the freedom to connect with whichever websites we want. The ill effects could extend to smart-phones and pads, which are also portals to the extensive information that the web provides.
Why should you care? Because the web is yours. It is a public resource on which you, your business, your community and your government depend. The web is also vital to democracy, a communications channel that makes possible a continuous worldwide conversation. The web is now more critical to free speech than any other medium. It brings principles established in the U.S. Constitution, the British Magna Carta and other important documents into the network age: freedom from being snooped on, filtered, censored and disconnected.
Yet people seem to think the web is some sort of piece of nature, and if it starts to wither, well, that's just one of those unfortunate things we can't help. Not so. We create the web, by designing computer protocols and software; this process is completely under our control. We choose what properties we want it to have and not have. It is by no means finished (and it's certainly not dead). If we want to track what government is doing, see what companies are doing, understand the true state of the planet, find a cure for Alzheimer's disease, not to mention easily share our photos with our friends, we the public, the scientific community and the press must make sure the web's principles remain intact - not just to preserve what we have gained but to benefit from the great advances that are still to come.
Several principles are key to assuring that the web becomes ever more valuable. The primary design principle underlying the web's usefulness and growth is universality. When you make a link, you can link to anything. That means people must be able to put anything on the web, no matter what computer they have, software they use or human language they speak and regardless of whether they have a wired or wireless Internet connection. The web should be usable by people with disabilities. It must work with any form of information, be it a document or a point of data, and information of any quality - from a silly tweet to a scholarly paper. And it should be accessible from any kind of hardware that can connect to the Internet: stationary or mobile, small screen or large.
These characteristics can seem obvious, self-maintaining or just unimportant, but they are why the next blockbuster website or the new homepage for your kid's local soccer team will just appear on the web without any difficulty. Universality is a big demand, for any system.
Decentralization is another important design feature. You do not have to get approval from any central authority to add a page or make a link. All you have to do is use three simple, standard protocols: write a page in the hypertext markup language (HTML) format, name it with the universal resource identifier (URI) naming convention, and serve it up on the Internet using hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP). Decentralization has made widespread innovation possible and will continue to do so in the future.
The URI is the key to universality. (I originally called the naming scheme URI, for universal resource identifier; it has come to be known as URL, for uniform resource locator.) The URI allows you to follow any link, regardless of the content it leads to or who publishes that content. Links turn the web's content into something of greater value: an interconnected information space.
Several threats to the web's universality have arisen recently. Cable television companies that sell Internet connectivity are considering whether to limit their Internet users to downloading only the company's mix of entertainment. Social-networking sites present a different kind of problem. Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendster and others typically provide value by capturing information as you enter it: your birthday, your e-mail address, your likes, and links indicating who is friends with whom and who is in which photograph. The sites assemble these bits of data into brilliant databases and reuse the information to provide value-added service - but only within their sites. Once you enter your data into one of these services, you cannot easily use them on another site. Each site is a silo, walled off from the others. Yes, your site's pages are on the web, but your data are not. You can access a web page about a list of people you have created in one site, but you cannot send that list, or items from it, to another site.
The isolation occurs because each piece of information does not have a URI. Connections among data exist only within a site. So the more you enter, the more you become locked in. Your social-networking site becomes a central platform - a closed silo of content, and one that does not give you full control over your information in it. The more this kind of architecture gains widespread use, the more the web becomes fragmented, and the less we enjoy a single, universal information space.
A related danger is that one social-networking site - or one search engine or one browser - gets so big that it becomes a monopoly, which tends to limit innovation. As has been the case since the web began, continued grassroots innovation may be the best check and balance against any one company or government that tries to undermine universality. GnuSocial and Diaspora are projects on the web that allow anyone to create their own social network from their own server, connecting to anyone on any other site. The Status.net project, which runs sites such as identi.ca, allows you to operate your own Twitter-like network without the Twitter-like centralization.
Allowing any site to link to any other site is necessary but not sufficient for a robust web. The basic web technologies that individuals and companies need to develop powerful services must be available for free, with no royalties. Amazon.com, for example, grew into a huge online bookstore, then music store, then store for all kinds of goods because it had open, free access to the technical standards on which the web operates. Amazon, like any other web user, could use HTML, URI and HTTP without asking anyone's permission and without having to pay. It could also use improvements to those standards developed by the World Wide Web Consortium, allowing customers to fill out a virtual order form, pay online, rate the goods they had purchased, and so on.
By "open standards" I mean standards that can have any committed expert involved in the design, that have been widely reviewed as acceptable, that are available for free on the web, and that are royalty-free (no need to pay) for developers and users. Open, royalty-free standards that are easy to use create the diverse richness of websites, from the big names such as Amazon, Craigslist and Wikipedia to obscure blogs written by adult hobbyists and to homegrown videos posted by teenagers.
Openness also means you can build your own website or company without anyone's approval. When the web began, I did not have to obtain permission or pay royalties to use the Internet's own open standards, such as the well-known transmission control protocol (TCP) and Internet protocol (IP). Similarly, the Web Consortium's royalty-free patent policy says that the companies, universities and individuals who contribute to the development of a standard must agree they will not charge royalties to anyone who may use the standard.
Open, royalty-free standards do not mean that a company or individual cannot devise a blog or photo-sharing program and charge you to use it. They can. And you might want to pay for it if you think it is "better" than others. The point is that open standards allow for many options, free and not.
Indeed, many companies spend money to develop extraordinary applications precisely because they are confident the applications will work for anyone, regardless of the computer hardware, operating system or Internet service provider (ISP) they are using - all made possible by the web's open standards. The same confidence encourages scientists to spend thousands of hours devising incredible databases that can share information about proteins, say, in hopes of curing disease. The confidence encourages governments such as those of the US and the UK to put more and more data online so citizens can inspect them, making government increasingly transparent. Open standards also foster serendipitous creation: someone may use them in ways no one imagined. We discover that on the web every day.
In contrast, not using open standards creates closed worlds. Apple's iTunes system, for example, identifies songs and videos using URIs that are open. But instead of "http:" the addresses begin with "itunes:," which is proprietary. You can access an "itunes:" link only using Apple's proprietary iTunes program. You can't make a link to any information in the iTunes world - a song or information about a band. You can't send that link to someone else to see. You are no longer on the web. The iTunes world is centralized and walled off. You are trapped in a single store, rather than being on the open marketplace. For all the store's wonderful features, its evolution is limited to what one company thinks up.
Other companies are also creating closed worlds. The tendency for magazines, for example, to produce smart-phone "apps" rather than web apps is disturbing, because that material is off the web. You can't bookmark it or e-mail a link to a page within it. You can't tweet it. It is better to build a web app that will also run on smart-phone browsers, and the techniques for doing so are getting better all the time.
Some people may think that closed worlds are just fine. The worlds are easy to use and may seem to give those people what they want. But as we saw in the 1990s with the America Online dial-up information system that gave you a restricted subset of the web, these closed, "walled gardens," no matter how pleasing, can never compete in diversity, richness and innovation with the mad, throbbing web market outside their gates. If a walled garden has too tight a hold on a market, however, it can delay that outside growth.
Keeping the web universal and keeping its standards open help people invent new services. But a third principle - the separation of layers - partitions the design of the web from that of the Internet.
This separation is fundamental. The web is an application that runs on the Internet, which is an electronic network that transmits packets of information among millions of computers according to a few open protocols. An analogy is that the web is like a household appliance that runs on the electricity network. A refrigerator or printer can function as long as it uses a few standard protocols - in the US, things like operating at 120 volts and 60 hertz. Similarly, any application - among them the web, e-mail or instant messaging (IM) - can run on the Internet as long as it uses a few standard Internet protocols, such as TCP and IP.
Manufacturers can improve refrigerators and printers without altering how electricity functions, and utility companies can improve the electrical network without altering how appliances function. The two layers of technology work together but can advance independently. The same is true for the web and the Internet. The separation of layers is crucial for innovation. In 1990 the web rolled-out over the Internet without any changes to the Internet itself, as have all improvements since. And in that time, Internet connections have sped up from 300 bits per second to 300 million bits per second (Mbps) without the web having to be redesigned to take advantage of the upgrades.
Although Internet and web designs are separate, a web user is also an Internet user and therefore relies on an Internet that is free from interference. In the early web days it was too technically difficult for a company or country to manipulate the Internet to interfere with an individual web user. Technology for interference has become more powerful, however. In 2007, BitTorrent, a company whose peer-to-peer (P2P) network protocol allows people to share music, video, and other files directly over the Internet, complained to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that the ISP giant Comcast was blocking or slowing traffic to subscribers who were using the BitTorrent application. The FCC told Comcast to stop the practice, but in April 2010 a federal court ruled the FCC could not require Comcast to do so. A good ISP will often manage traffic so that when bandwidth is short, less crucial traffic is dropped, in a transparent way, so users are aware of it. An important line exists between that action and using the same power to discriminate.
This distinction highlights the principle of net neutrality. Net neutrality maintains that if I have paid for an Internet connection at a certain quality, say, 300 Mbps, and you have paid for that quality, then our communications should take place at that quality. Protecting this concept would prevent a big ISP from sending you video from a media company it may own at 300 Mbps but sending video from a competing media company at a slower rate. That amounts to commercial discrimination. Other complications could arise. What if your ISP made it easier for you to connect to a particular online shoe store and harder to reach others? That would be powerful control. What if the ISP made it difficult for you to go to websites about certain political parties, or religions, or sites about evolution?
Unfortunately, in August, Google and Verizon for some reason suggested that net neutrality should not apply to mobile-phone based connections. Many people in rural areas from Utah to Uganda have access to the Internet only via mobile phones; exempting wireless from net neutrality would leave these users open to discrimination of service. It is also bizarre to imagine that my fundamental right to access the information source of my choice should apply when I am on my WiFi-connected computer at home but not when I use my cell-phone.
A neutral communications medium is the basis of a fair, competitive market economy, of democracy, and of science. Debate has risen again in the past year about whether government legislation is needed to protect net neutrality. It is. Although the Internet and web generally thrive on lack of regulation, some basic values have to be legally preserved.
Other threats to the web result from meddling with the Internet, including snooping. In 2008 one company, Phorm, devised a way for an ISP to peek inside the packets of information it was sending. The ISP could determine every URI that any customer was browsing. The ISP could then create a profile of the sites the user went to in order to produce targeted advertising.
Accessing the information within an Internet packet is equivalent to wiretapping a phone or opening postal mail. The URIs that people use reveal a good deal about them. A company that bought URI profiles of job applicants could use them to discriminate in hiring people with certain political views, for example. Life insurance companies could discriminate against people who have looked up cardiac symptoms on the web. Predators could use the profiles to stalk individuals. We would all use the web very differently if we knew that our clicks can be monitored and the data shared with third parties.
Free speech should be protected, too. The web should be like a blank sheet of paper: ready to be written on, with no control over what is written. Earlier this year Google accused the Chinese government of hacking into its databases to retrieve the e-mails of dissidents. The alleged break-ins occurred after Google resisted the government's demand that the company censor certain documents on its Chinese-language search engine.
Totalitarian governments aren't the only ones violating the network rights of their citizens. In France a law created in 2009, named Hadopi, allowed a new agency by the same name to disconnect a household from the Internet for a year if someone in the household was merely alleged by a media company to have ripped off music or video. After much opposition, in October the Constitutional Council of France required a judge to review a case before access was revoked, but if approved, the household could be disconnected without due process. In the UK, the Digital Economy Act, hastily passed in April, allows the government to order an ISP to terminate the Internet connection of anyone who appears on a list of individuals only suspected of copyright infringement. In September the US Senate introduced the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, which would allow the government to create a blacklist of websites - hosted on or off US soil - that are just accused of infringement and to pressure or require all ISPs to block access to those sites.
In these cases, no due process of law protects people before they are disconnected or their sites are blocked. Given the many ways the web is crucial to our lives and our work, disconnection is a form of deprivation of liberty. Looking back to the Magna Carta, we should perhaps now affirm: "No person or organization shall be deprived of the ability to connect to others without due process of law and the presumption of innocence."
When your network rights are violated, public outcry is crucial. Citizens worldwide objected to China's demands on Google, so much so that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US government supported Google's defiance and that Internet freedom - and with it, web freedom - should become a formal plank in American foreign policy. In October, Finland made broadband access, at 1 Mbps, a legal right for all its citizens.
As long as the web's basic principles are upheld, its ongoing evolution is not in the hands of any one person or organization-neither mine nor anyone else's. If we can preserve the principles, the web promises some fantastic future capabilities.
For example, the latest version of HTML, called HTML5, is not just a markup language but a computing platform that will make web apps even more powerful than they are now. The proliferation of smart-phones will make the web even more central to our lives. Wireless access will be a particular boon to developing countries, where many people do not have connectivity by wire or cable but do have it wirelessly. Much more needs to be done, of course, including accessibility for people with disabilities and devising pages that work well on all screens, from huge 3-D displays that cover a wall to wristwatch-size windows.
A great example of future promise, which leverages the strengths of all the principles, is linked data. Today's web is quite effective at helping people publish and discover documents, but our computer programs cannot read or manipulate the actual data within those documents. As this problem is solved, the web will become much more useful, because data about nearly every aspect of our lives are being created at an astonishing rate. Locked within all these data is knowledge about how to cure diseases, foster business value and govern our world more effectively.
Scientists are actually at the forefront of some of the largest efforts to put linked data on the web. Researchers, for example, are realizing that in many cases no single lab or online data repository is sufficient to discover new drugs. The information necessary to understand the complex interactions between diseases, biological processes in the human body, and the vast array of chemical agents is spread across the world in a myriad of databases, spreadsheets and documents.
One success relates to drug discovery to combat Alzheimer's disease. A number of corporate and government research labs dropped their usual refusal to open their data and created the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. They posted a massive amount of patient information and brain scans as linked data, which they have dipped into many times to advance their research. In a demonstration I witnessed, a scientist asked the question, "What proteins are involved in signal transduction and are related to pyramidal neurons?" When put into Google, the question got 233,000 hits - and not one single answer. Put into the linked databases world, however, it returned a small number of specific proteins that have those properties.
The investment and finance sectors can benefit from linked data, too. Profit is generated, in large part, from finding patterns in an increasingly diverse set of information sources. Data are all over our personal lives as well. When you go onto your social-networking site and indicate that a newcomer is your friend, that establishes a relationship. And that relationship is data.
Linked data raise certain issues that we will have to confront. For example, new data-integration capabilities could pose privacy challenges that are hardly addressed by today's privacy laws. We should examine legal, cultural and technical options that will preserve privacy without stifling beneficial data-sharing capabilities.
Now is an exciting time. Web developers, companies, governments and citizens should work together openly and cooperatively, as we have done thus far, to preserve the web's fundamental principles, as well as those of the Internet, ensuring that the technological protocols and social conventions we set up respect basic human values. The goal of the web is to serve humanity. We build it now so that those who come to it later will be able to create things that we cannot ourselves imagine.
Cloud Computing Promises Benefits to Businesses Big and Small
Excerpted from TMCnet Report
For an industry defined by the pursuit of "the next big thing," the hottest thing going in the information technology (IT) world is cloud computing.
The expanding penetration of cloud computing promises to forever change the role of the company "computer guy," open up a new world of technology to small and mid-sized businesses, reduce capital expenditures, and provide savings in operational expenses that range from reduced maintenance costs to lower energy bills.
Major players in the tech world already are heavily involved in cloud computing, including Google, Yahoo, Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft.
There are three big pieces of the cloud, according to Microsoft's Buck Woody: infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), software-as-a-service (SaaS), and development platforms such as Microsoft Windows Azure that use the cloud infrastructure to deliver software such as web-based applications (PaaS).
The Azure platform is like the chassis of a vehicle, Woody said, with some becoming a van and others a racecar.
"Say you're a small business and you want to hire a developer to write a program for managing your business. The developer could write that using Azure, and then turn it back to you as a web application," Woody said.
"You may decide, 'This is a really cool application and there are other people who do what we do.' You could turn around and sell that and pay for the business you're running."
"So instead of it being a liability, it actually becomes an asset." With the virtual swipe of a credit card, a business owner can increase his or her bandwidth or data storage needs. Sticking with the car analogy, Woody said during a seasonal spike in business, such as the holiday season, a business owner may need a pickup instead of a compact. "You're renting rather than owning," he said.
"You use the pickup for a month and you turn it back in. You pay a little more, but then you go back to your compact ... you're spending more but making more. When you're making less, you can spend less. That's the key."
Large customers are heavily into cloud computing as well. More than 60 case studies are on the Microsoft Azure website from 3M to the Country Music Association. With so many players in the field, and notoriously independent-types in software development, Woody said Microsoft isn't exactly trying to corner the market.
"That's not what we're going for, a you-have-to-do-everything-with-us play," he said. "In fact, we would play well if you use another cloud provider and us. The code shouldn't care. What we'd like people to do is look at what they're developing today both internally and externally for their customers, look at how they're servicing them and would they benefit from this paradigm."
Internet or TV: Americans Are Watching Mega-TV
Excerpted from Media Daily News Report by Wayne Friedman
Big watchers of Internet content on their traditional TV sets are also watching plenty of regularly scheduled TV programming.
A new study by The Nielsen Company and commissioned by the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) says that 84% of watchers who have Internet-connected TV sets or other devices are still watching a heavy dose of network TV shows the old-fashioned way.
More importantly to broadcast and cable networks: these watchers are not "cord-cutters" - those consumers looking to abandon cable system operator monthly programming packages. Of those surveyed, 92% have regular cable systems video packages. The study says 3% plan to transition from their cable subscription models.
CTAM President and CEO Char Beales stated, "We've learned that new technologies are providing additional opportunities for viewers to access TV shows and movies, at their convenience. But it's supplementing viewing of regularly scheduled TV, not replacing it."
During the summer the study surveyed men and women 18-49 who watched at least five hours of TV per week and included a mix of cable, satellite, telco, and former pay TV subscribers. All respondents had high-speed Internet connections, and at least once in the past month, watched full-length TV shows or movies from the Internet on the TV set.
Music Streaming Is the Future, Like It or Not
Excerpted from Tech.Blorge Report by Dave Parrack
All signs point towards streaming being the future of music, and the record labels need to embrace rather than shun this form of consumption.
Sales of physical media have been dropping for many years now, and that is unlikely to change any time soon, or indeed, ever. But while digital downloads via Apple iTunes and other sources have replaced CDs in the main, streaming is becoming another option; one that is becoming easier to choose and more popular by the day.
According to the latest study of US consumers from NPD, the growth in downloads has slowed over the last few months, while the growth in streaming has quickened. In August, 30% of music listened to on PC and Mac was digital downloads, up from 29% in March. Streaming, meanwhile, clocked up an impressive 29%, up from 25% in March.
The implication is clear: streaming is now as popular, or just about as popular, as downloading is. And the next few months should see streaming race ahead of downloads if the trend continues in this vein.
It is too early to sound the death knell for downloaded music. Too many people use PMPs to listen to music on the go for it to disappear quickly. But with smart-phones increasingly replacing the need for PMPs, and streaming music services offering mobile solutions, downloads could soon be sidelined.
The one remaining problem with this is the music industry itself, which is loath to accept the changing needs of its consumers. Europe's P2P music streaming sensation Spotify has been trying to get a foothold in the States for the best part of two years but its launch keeps getting held up by the record labels insisting the company plays to their tune. Essentially, the freemium model Spotify offers in Europe isn't palatable to the record companies in the US.
The saddening and maddening thing about this is that streaming music services have the capacity to all but eradicate music infringement. By allowing people to access artists' back catalogs whenever they desire the need to download unlicensed songs or albums disappears. And with a freemium model in place there's still a lot of money to be made.
Coming Events of Interest
LA Mobile Entertainment Summit - December 7th-8th in Los Angeles, CA. This event is brought to you by the producers of the widely acclaimed 3D Entertainment Summit, this high level strategy and networking event will explore all facets of the mobile entertainment industry.
International CES - January 6th-9th in Las Vegas, NV. With more than four decades of success, the International CES reaches across global markets, connects the industry, and enables consumer electronics (CE) innovations to grow and thrive. The International CES is the world's largest consumer technology tradeshow featuring 2,700 exhibitors.
CONTENT IN THE CLOUD - January 7th in Las Vegas, NV. The DCIA's Conference within CES explores this cutting-edge technology that promises to revolutionize entertainment delivery. Six keynotes and three panel discussions focus on cloud-delivered content and its impact on consumers, the media, telecom industries, and consumer electronics (CE) manufacturers.
Global Services Conference 2011 - January 27th in New York, NY. Cloud computing has implications not only for IT services but also for business processing; cloud-based delivery models present a discontinuous and disruptive shift that will redefine how IT and BPO services are delivered. The conference will present actionable propositions to leverage cloud-based models.
Cloud Connect Conference - March 8th-10th in Santa Clara. CA. Learn about all the latest cloud computing innovations in the Cloud Connect Conference -- designed to serve the needs of cloud customers and operators - where you will see the latest cloud technologies and platforms and identify opportunities in the cloud.
Media Summit New York- March 9th-10th in New York, NY. This event is the premier international conference on media, broadband, advertising, television, publishing, cable, mobile, radio, magazines, news & print media, and marketing.
1st International Conference on Cloud Computing - May 7th-9th in Noordwijkerhout, Netherlands. This first-ever event focuses on the emerging area of cloud computing, inspired by some latest advances that concern the infrastructure, operations, and available services through the global network.