Oct 09, 2000

The Mojo solution
Technology & Sociology
10/9/2000; 2:22:46 PM

'Still, Mojo Nation looks more a like a libertarian dream come true than anything else that's out there. It is nothing short of the first-ever encryption-protected, user-run, open-source, file-sharing marketplace. It essentially takes the decentralized model of other Napster alternatives like Freenet and Gnutella and adds on a layer of laissez-faire experimentation.

'Home-brewed currency, or "Mojo," lies at the core of this new world. Users cannot simply take and give as they do with Napster and every other file-sharing service. Rather, those who download the free, open-source new release in November must use Mojo to buy and sell content for prices that they themselves determine.'

This is some wild stuff. I like the central idea, which is that nothing is free. It might encourage people to produce quality files, rather then the crap that fills Napster. 

Oct 06, 2000

Why the Internet won't be metered
Technology & Sociology
10/6/2000; 11:00:53 AM

'One of the reasons that the Internet has become so popular so fast in the U.S. is that nearly all users pay flat rates regardless of their usage. But many experts, especially pundit Bob Metcalfe, have argued that Internet access should be metered so that light users don't have to subsidize flat rates for heavier users.

'In a fascinating paper, AT&T mathematician Andrew Odlyzko looks at the history of the economics of communication -- from the English Post Office in the 1840s to the telegraph, telephone, television, and the Internet -- and offers some surprising but well-argued conclusions (see Resources). He says that metering would fly in the face of hundreds of years of history and that the economics of the Internet will not be driven by multimedia content as is often claimed.'

That paper is actually buried a couple of links away from the link on the resources page.  It's on and looks like this:

Oct 06, 2000

In Defense of the Delete Key
Surveillance and Privacy from Government
10/6/2000; 10:29:42 AM

Wherein a judge suggests that perhaps the delete key should actually delete things, rather then hiding them from the user (and allowing them to be found by later parties), and, failing a technical solution, that the law should recognize that deleted material should not be considered in a court of law (within reason).

I think it's an excellent idea. As the judge says, none of us are so perfect that our every thought and casual comment could withstand scrutiny.

Oct 06, 2000

Patent Battle Takes TV Turn
10/6/2000; 9:31:12 AM

'In an application filed last week, OpenTV moved to extend its existing patent on interactive TV technology, filed in 1994. The extension seeks to expand the original patent, U.S. patent number 5,819,034, to cover one-click electronic purchases -- the technical process by which an online shopper makes a purchase with a single click of a pointing device.'

These people appear to have a patent on the idea of a "BUY" button on your TV remote.

This is a good demonstration of a major problem with the patent system. I have a very hard time seeing how the technology for the two systems is related. Oh, granted, the principles at work are the same. But it's not like you could take a television buying system, make a few tweaks, and have a One-Click purchasing system. There's no particular relationship.

If Amazon had merely patented their particular implementation of One-Click shopping, as patents are supposed to protect implementations, then we probably wouldn't have any problems. Nobody would do it exactly the same way again, with exactly the same architecture and exactly the same lines of code. But why does Amazon get to patent the entire concept of "one-click shopping" (hardly a ground-breaking patent anyhow), and why would a technically-unrelated patent on "one-button push shopping" interfere, in either direction, with a one-click shopping patent? Why is conceptual similarity enough?

(Because lawyers and patent offices refuse to admit they have no clue about computer, and actively refuse to get one.)

Oct 05, 2000

Carnivore does more than previously thought
Surveillance and Privacy from Government
10/5/2000; 12:53:13 PM 'Heavily censored FBI documents obtained by US watchdog outfit the Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC), under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, indicate that the FBI's electronic snoop known as Carnivore might be able to monitor a good deal more than just e-mail traffic.

'Among the capabilities that peek out from behind all the indelible black swaths in the documents is an ability to reconstruct an entire Web page as viewed by a subject. A planned, updated version may even be able to capture voice-over-Web communications. Presently the system can capture and record all packet traffic to and from a selected IP, while monitoring a subject's on-line movements.'

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