Further Adventures of a literary nobody

Latest installment of a continuing series. In this issue: I get snubbed by the Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival.

So the other day I sent a note to the organizers of the Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival inquiring about setting up a booth there from which to do my Billy Mays thang. (I remembered having been turned down two years ago, the last time the MV Book Festival was held, when I made a similar request. But I couldn’t remember the rationale given. Had I missed a deadline? Had they run out of room?) Anyway, their response this time was <Wayne Campbell voice> DENIED! </Wayne Campbell voice>.

I thought their DENIED notice was a little bit snotty, so I replied with a note of my own that was also a little bit snotty.(But not too snotty, I hope. On a snottiness scale of one to ten, I would put our exchange at about a “2”. Read on and you can judge the level of snottinessosity for yourself.)

Below the fold: The prissy exchange, plus! what’s the difference between being a “Vineyard Writer” and “A writer who trades on the Vineyard”?

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CORRECTION: The Record Is NOT Closed In White Spaces. Record On That Item Open Until Friday.

Serves me right for rushing something out late last night. As one reader pointed out to me in email, the FCC has not closed the record on the white spaces proceeding, although it has on the other agenda items. The record for white spaces will remain open until Friday, October 31.

Although closing the record a week before the meeting is usual, the FCC has authority to extend the time for ex parte presentations and hold the record open. The last time I recall them doing this was before the first 700 MHz Order back in April 2007.

I do not think this extension of the Sunshine period is necessarily good or bad for any side in the white spaces debate, although I would prefer if they would just vote the Order on circulation and get it out (which won’t happen ntil the record closes). At a guess, I think Martin (and it is his prerogative as Chair) extended the opportunity for presentations because the Commissioners have been on travel as roving amabassadors for the DTV transition, and getting meetings with Commissioners and their staff has been very difficult for folks — especially given the crush of other items on the agenda. The Order is also fairly complicated from a technical perspective, and, as a political matter, it helps mitigate the accusation about a “rush to judgment” (because five years is just too short, ya know).

Stay tuned . . . .

I Am Pleasantly Surprised By Comcast Complaince, But Am Still Nasty And Suspicious By Nature.

Well, after saying that while Comcast might fully comply with the FCC’s requirement to report on September 19, but I expected them to play games instead, Comcast handed me a very pleasant surprise. Not only do they appear to have made a thorough disclosure of their current network management practices and their future network management plans, not only have they submitted the required compliance plan with benchmarks, but they actually served me with an electronic copy. As I pointed out last time, this last was not required but is generally good form.

The downside, of course, is that I must go and actually read the filings. That nasty suspicious nature they beat into me at law school rears its ugly head again. Still, it’s a “problem” I enjoy having so I can’t really complain.

But it looks like Comcast has decided that its best interest lies in complying and getting this behind them (with the exception, of course, of the Petition for Review). While I am by no means ready to lower my guard and drop my own Petition for Review (that nasty suspicious nature again), I give credit where it belongs. At first glance, Comcast appears to have complied as thoroughly as I could wish. Assuming this bears out after proper verification, I hope I am pleasantly surprised a second time when Comcast complies on schedule.

Stay tuned . . . .

The Other Road Ahead

Last time I argued that from a technical perspective, the “server”, “client”, and “P2P” labels were complicated. That narrow view deliberately ignored the roles that these technologies have on the user, and on communities and business built around them.

I’ve been looking back at Paul Graham’s 2001 essay on “The Other Road Ahead.” He laid out a bunch of benefits that accrued from his successful company’s use of what he called a server-based architecture. While Viaweb originally relied on generic “Web 1.0” clients not distributed by his company, his essay looked ahead to richer clients such as what would come to be known as “Web 2.0.” I think the essay applies just as well today to mixed-technology deployments like Google’s current development. And I think it applies to some Croquet deployments, including those by my employer Qwaq. A lot of what Paul describes turns out to be things we’re already doing. But by explicitly identifying the benefits and what enables them to be realized, even a peer/client-centric geek like me can appreciate the operational value of the different technologies I’d mentioned last time. From this perspective, I’d say we’re “half-server-based.”

Worth a read (as are his other essays). See if you don’t agree.

Assessing the 700 MHz Order Part III — Anonymous Bidding Alone Makes This a Big Win

Regular readers will know that, as far as I am concerned, getting anonymous bidding automatically makes this Order a big win. I pushed hard on this in the lead up to the AWS auction a year and a half ago. Sadly, I lost. As a result, the cable companies were able to block the DBS guys from winning any new licenses, and the incumbents generally succeeded in keeping out any potentially disruptive new entrants (the cable guys having made it clear they would not compete with the cellular guys).

Fortunately, Greg Rose spent a year crunching the data and demonstrated that if the incumbents hadn’t rigged the auction, it sure looked like it from a statistical analysis/game theory perspective. With this “smoking gun” evidence in hand (utterly dickish footnotes by the Wireless Bureau staff to the contrary), we were able to persuade the Commission that adopting anonymous bidding rules would make the auction more competitive, give new entrants a better chance, and as a result probably increase the auction revenue overall.

So, having lost this last time around, I consider it a real coup to get it now. As both Google and Frontline supported anonymous bidding as necessary to encourage new entrants, I am hopeful that we may still get our “third pipe” provider even without wholesale open access.

Analysis below . . . .

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Making a Living in Languages (Redux) part 8: Killer Apps

Last time: “Give ‘Em What They Want,” in which I said that having a desirable application “from the beginning” is necessary to promote a platform.
Now: Sounds good, but how do we go about creating such a scenario? We engineer it!

[This is an excerpt from a Lisp conference talk I gave in 2002.]

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Making a Living in Languages (Redux) part 7: Give ‘Em What They Want

Last time: “Can’t Make a Killing From Platforms Without Killing the Community,” in which I said that those who develop a platform rarely recoup their cost directly, and so they might look to reduce their cost through open-source efforts.
Now: How do you create demand for a platform?

[This is an excerpt from a Lisp conference talk I gave in 2002.]

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A Quick Update on Sessions Bill

My good buddies at Free Press have have created a page on the Sessions bill. As I mentioned last time, that’s the bill that would make it illegal for municipalities to provide new broadband, cable or telecom networks that compete with any private offerings.

As Free Press discovered, Mr. Sessions has about $500K in SBC stock options. Understandable that he might get upset if SBC had to _gasp_ compete for a living.

So take a minute to visit the Free Press site. Among other things, it has a simple way for you to tell your Congresscritter that you, unlike Mr. Sessions, would like to see competition in the broadband market.