FCC Google “Spy-Fi” Investigation To Establish Network Neutrality Authority? Thanks Scott!

Scott Cleland is mad at Google. This is not much of a surprise. Scott Cleland spends much of his time mad at Google and wishing terrible things would happen to them. This time, Cleland wants the FCC to investigate and punish Google for their collecting user data while sending their truck fleet to find open hot spots as part of their “street view” project. The FCC has confirmed it is investigating Google’s conduct. Cleland hopes the FCC will throw the book at Google.

I’m also hoping the FCC will act. But having pondered this for awhile, I’m not sure Cleland understands precisely what an FCC action against Google would mean for issues like network neutrality and regulation of wireless broadband access. Briefly, it would require the FCC to either assert authority over all unlicensed spectrum and passive reception under some combination of Section 301 (47 USC 301) and Section 302 (47 USC 302a) of the Act, or authority over wireless broadband pursuant to Section 705 (47 USC 605). While this does not trouble me, evil pro-regulatory big-government free-market hating Socialist that I am, I am rather surprised to see those (like Cleland) who usually want the FCC kept at arms length begging the FCC to charge into the fray and extend its authority over Google, especially when such an expansion of authority would extend to network neutrality regulation as well.

More below . . . .

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Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist Geraldine Brooks talks with Wetmachine about the future of publishing

Today Wetmachine talks with Geraldine Brooks, whose novel March won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2006, about trends in publishing. She joins the roster of Wetmachine “Whither Publishing?” interviewees including Writer’s Digest impresaria Jane Friedman,  ebook pioneer Mark Coker of Smashwords.com, and book designer extraordinaire Joel Friedlander.

I met Geraldine Brooks when we were seated next to each other at a small dinner party about two months ago. (Geraldine and her husband Tony Horwitz (also a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize — his is for journalism) and I have many mutual friends, including my wife Betty, who directs the lecture series at the Vineyard Haven Public Library, where Tony has been a speaker and Geraldine is on the hook for a talk next year.)

At that dinner party Geraldine and I discovered that we had many similar interests, including a shared taste for dystopian science fiction novels — the very kind of book I write. I offered to drop off a few copies of my books at her house and she said, “Oh, please do.” So the next day I hoped on my bicycle and rode to the address she had given me, and that’s how I discovered where she lived and that I had met her young son Bizu some 9 months earlier, when the fire truck to which I’m assigned, T___ 651, was parked in front of their house during a routine “furnace backfire” call. When I got home from dropping off my books I sent Geraldine the write-up in my diary about that fire call, and she was thrilled to get it, saying “That’s fantastic.  Thank you so much for sending this. I remember that day quite vividly.  I thought, that’s a very nice man out there, letting Bizu ramble away at him..”

Since then Geraldine & I have become  pals. I think the moral of the story is, if you want to get on the good side of a famous writer and get her to answer questions for your insignificant little blog, let her observe you being nice to her child without having any idea who he is or that she’s observing you through the window.

I’ve attached that diary entry at the end of the interview. Continue reading

Protecting The Future of 3D Printing, Don’t Let the IP Mafia Rob You of Your Right To A Replicator.

My colleague Michael Weinberg at Public Knowledge has written a truly awesome piece on 3D Printing and how folks should organize now to prevent the IP Mafia from screwing it up. You can see the full white paper here.

For those unfamiliar with it, 3D printing is the closest thing yet to the Star Trek replicator. You place a physical item in the machine and the machine makes a replica. As explained in the article, we are now at the point where 3D printing can replicate devices with moving parts. You can get a lot more info on 3D printing on PK’s issue page. There are a lot of very obvious advantages to this technology and many potential cool applications — especially as the technology advances. It also challenges a lot of business models and assumptions based on existing copyright, trademark, and patent law.

More below . . .

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Did You Know This Election Turned On Network Neutrality? Why Washington Has Its Head Up Its Rear End.

Apparently, the election results last Tuesday were a “national referendum” on network neutrality. I’m not sure how I missed this, but the constant repetition of this idea in the blogosphere and on Twitter has now utterly convinced me and everyone else in the Washington Echo Chamber that is totally true. In fact, I am assured that the only reason I refuse to acknowledge this fundamental truth is that I am in deep denial.
For those readers outside Policyland, you may wonder how government officials entrusted with making decisions that actually impact your lives could come to believe something so plainly ridiculous. In all of the various “lessons learned” pieces out of the election, no one outside the Telecom neighborhood of Policyland has even suggested this is the case. But, through the amazing combination of narcissism that puts us at the center of everybody else’s universe, the utter certainty with which people around here make ridiculous statements, and the sheeplike willingness of people on both sides of the debate to retweet this at each other, I now have people asking me about this and whether I think it’s true.

This is why Washington is broken and out of touch with America. There is a difference between stuff that is incredibly important because it has real impact on people’s lives, which applies to a lot of the policy work here in DC, and stuff that people care about, which is not a heck of a lot that goes on in DC. I wish it weren’t so. I would love it if we lived in a nation of policy wonks where the difficult details of national policy are the stuff of kitchen table conversations and earnest discussions at social gatherings.
However, I can assure you from personal experience that trying to engage people in detailed conversations about telecom policy is about as popular with normal people as the intimate details of your last root canal.

Still, as a case study in how conventional wisdom evolves in Policyland, this may amuse some of you non-DC folks. More below . . .

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Shallow Hiro / Deep Hiro

With all the Avatars running around this Halloween, I figured it was an appropriate time to go back to the book that introduced the world to this usage of the term. But my Hiro Protagonist felt more like a sort of literary Diogenes, wandering the streets and other people’s parties with my pizza box and katana, looking for anyone who had read Snow Crash.

I was disapointed.
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