Colbert Takes on the Morning “News”

Not to be outdone by Jon Stewarts superb explanation of net neutrality, Steven Colbert gives a most excellent slam on the hollowness of today’s morning “news” shows. You can watch here.

The sad thing is that Colbert is right (“as always!” he would add) in a number of critical respects. First, his show actually does more in depth political reporting than most news shows. His “434 part series ‘Better Know A District’ (he eliminated Connigham’s district)” is actually very revealing. Second, so called morning “news” shows are to real news as “People” is to real news magazines.

There's funny “ha ha” and there's funny “patheticly lame” . . . .

As anyone who watches television or movies knows, some things are outrageously funny because they hit the comedy bone just right. Other things are unintentionally funny. They come accross as so lame, so sad, so pathetic, that you can’t help but laugh.

Net Neutrality has produced some fine examples of both. No doubt I show my biases by finding many more examples of genuinely funny stuff in the pro-NN camp and many more examples of pathetically lame in the anti-NN camp. But two recent examplars absolutely stand out.

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But Do Spectrum Auctions *Really* Suck? According to Center for American Progress Report, You bet!

In all the hustle and bustle, it rather blew by that my friends Dr. Gregory Rose and Mark Lloyd have written this analysis of ten years of FCC spectrum auction data.

Summary — FCC auctions turn out to be great ways for incumbents to exclude new entrants and to bilk the government. They do not yield the promised efficiencies of distribution or even maximize revenue to the government. There are ways to improve the process, but the FCC open ascending auction systems just about ensures that a collection of incumbents can keep out any genuinely disruptive competitors and collude to minimize revenue to the government and maintain the status quo.


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More Funding For CUWiN=Good News For Open Source Mesh Networking

As regular readers probably know, I’m a huge fan of the Champaign Urbana Wireless Network (CUWiN) and its co-founder and project coordinator Sascha Meinrath. I was therefore ecstatic to hear that CUWiN
received a grant from the National Science Foundation for $500,000.

I have pushed for support for CUWiN for years as one of the great hopes for open source mesh networking using unlicensed spectrum. To unpack that a little from geek speak, it means using non-proprietary code to create nodes that use unlicensed spectrum to form a network by speaking to each other rather than sending a signal point-to-point from a central “hub” (“hub-and-spoke”). You can find a good illustration of the difference between mesh and hub-and-spoke (and good general introduction to community wireless) on this Free Press page.

CUWiN has spent years developing useful open source software and other tools designed to make wireless networks cheap, ubiquitous, and easy to implement in multiple communities and environments. CUWiN software and methods have created networks in Ghanna, the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago, Champaign and Urbana, and the San Diego Tribal Digital Village in San Diego County. Their software is freely available and downloadable fromtheir website.
People who care about creating ubiquitous and affordable wireless broadband around the world should be throwing money at CUWiN hand over fist. Sadly, as with so many good and desperately needed projects, CUWiN has lived starved for funds and hand to mouth.

The NSF grant gives CUWiN much needed money to continue and expand its good work. I’m also hopeful that “money follows money” as they say in the grant world. With this level of support from NSF, I hope CUWiN finds it easier to open doors at other foundations and grant sources.

I reprint the CUWiN press release about the grant below.

Stay tuned . . .

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Too bad this didn't happen last week

Apparently, Comcast’s video on demand (VoD) version of ABC’s July 14 “Nightline” did not match the actual show. According to this report, the Comcast version on VoD eliminates a rather embarassing minute of film for Comcast. Was it deliberate censorship or an encoding error from ABC, as Comcast claims? We may never know for sure, but I wish it had happened last week while the FCC was still considering whether our claims that Comcast might censor news to millions if the FCc approved the Adelphia transaction were merely “idle speculation.”

More below . . . .

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Through Keanu, Darkly

I saw A Scanner Darkly the other night in a giant, un-airconditioned, run down, smelly theatre in Burlingame, California. It was affected, disaffecting, funny, intriguiing, and depressing. And that was just the theatre. Wait ’til you hear about the movie.

Well I’m an ostensibly technoparanoid guy and my little corner of Wetmachine is an ostensibly technoparanoid site, and A Scanner Darkly is a Philip K. Dick story, right? And PKD is the patron saint of technoparanoaics, right? So, naturally. . . um. . . whatever. Or in other words, ergo. . . kumquats. Hey, are those aphids crawling out of you? What was I saying? I think I was going to say something about the movie, but, I mean, what do we really know about reality, anyway? (Other than that, y’know, giant, smelly run-down theatres smell a lot smellier when the air conditioning isn’t working. (I mean, they do, don’t they? Don’t you agree? When it’s all hot and you think you’re going to suffocate in a nearly empty hall the size of a NASA hangar? (And will you kindly keep those aphids to yourself?))).

Inside: Keanu as Bogart and Plank’s Constant

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Adelphia Decided

I was off at my cardiologist getting a stress test, so I missed this. Happily, I had crammed the night before and passed with flying colors! Because today’s FCC meeting was, from all descriptions, totally surreal — including a shout out to yr hmbl obdnt blogger!

Short substance review: The FCC did not adopt a network neutrality condition, they did not adopt a condition on PBS Sprout, allowing Comcast to get by with a voluntary commitment to make the programming available on a non-exclusive basis for the next three years. They acted on the Washington Nationals, and gave a nod to leased access.

More details, and further implications, below . . .

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The Adelphia Day of Judgment Comes

For over a year now, I’ve intermitently tracked the transaction between Comcast and Time Warner for the bankrupt Adelphia systems. At tomorrow’s open meeting (assuming no last minute delays for further negotiations), the FCC will issue its decision.

How we got here, what happens, and why you should care below.

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Susan Crawford's Five Good Question

Susan Crawford, a law Professor at Cardozo and a Board Member of ICANN supportive of Net Neutrality, asks and answers five good questions about Network Neutrality. Chris Yoo, a law professor at Vanderbilt and opposed to Net Neutrality, gives his answers (along with Susan’s) here. Harold Feld, not a law professor anywhere, gives his answers below.

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Stevens Mark Up — Results

A tie on NN, which translates as a procedural loss (Stevens, as chair, got to break the tie and reject the NN amendment) but a political win. A surprise win on Low Power FM. A surprise minor win on media ownership. No changes on Section 1004, broadcast flag, munibroadband, or white spaces.

Despite the telcos advancing the ball forward, the 11-11 vote has made it very uncertain the bill the will advance to a full floor vote. You can bet the telcos will mount a full court press during the July 4 recess, so intensifying public input remains critical to killing the bill.

Details below.

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