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Monday, December 30, 2002

Satellite Access

Kevin Werbach comments on the $156 million investment by Kleiner Perkins and others in WildBlue, a two-way broadband satellite company:

With DirecTV and many others abandoning grand plans for satllite broadband, one must be skepical about yet another effort. By 2004, terrestrial broadband should be widespread enough to leave only a limited market for satellite. But Kleiner Perkins and the other investors who put money into WildBlue must think they know something.

I'm equally skeptical of any investment in a market that has proved impossible to profit in at the scale a DirecTV operates. Kleiner must think there is a consolidation play here, perhaps with satellite radio operators like XM and Sirius.

[RatcliffeBlog: Business, Technology & Investing]

The failure of the current FCC's policy of granting quasi-monopolies by access type (DSL, CATV, Sat.) is quickening.  DirecTV is also abandoning DSL efforts.  Since Satellite can't compete in telephony, they are destined to be pure play TV.  Cable will continue its entry into telephony and access.  Cable recently consolidated again to the point where, according the LA times this Sunday, Comcast posesses significant leverage as a distributor over content providers and will go to war next year renegotiating contracts.  This may mean favorable terms for satellite providers as contracts are benchmarked. 

If your average consumer is faced with only the choice between ILEC DSL or municipal monopoly CATV, there is room for a third way.  Especially if by tweaking TCP/IP settings latency is resolved to provide a comparable product in Satellite.  And since it bypasses many of the rollout costs and scales well it may reach competitive price points ($10-20/month), WildBlue may have something.  Something attractive to Satellite operators to acquire when awarded for being acquisitive again and competitive with other quasi-monopolies.

4:39:51 PM    comment []

Shirky on Social Software Summit

Clay Shirky writes in about using In-Room Chat as a Social Tool at the Social Software Summit many of us have been guessing about. 

The in-room chat created a two-channel experience -- a live conversation in the room, and an overlapping real-time text conversation. The experiment was a strong net positive for the group. Most social software is designed as a replacement for face-to-face meetings, but the spread of permanet (connectivity like air) provides opportunities for social software to be used by groups who are already gathered in the same location. For us, the chat served as a kind of social whiteboard...

The core observation, though, is that under certain conditions, groups can find value in participating in two simultaneous conversation spaces, one real and one virtual. 

The article discusses some specific advantages:

  1. It changed interrupt logic
  2. "Note to self" became "Note to world"
  3. High-quality text annotation
  4. Less whispering, more whispering
  5. Alleviated boredom

The primary disadvantage is how adding a parallel unmoderated mode of communication changes the logic of interruption. 

I have two major takeaways from this article: a difference in the definition of social software and applicability of these tools to enhance meetings.

I have a broader definition of social software than that presented by this article, Social Software adapts to its environment, instead of requiring its environment to adapt to software. I believe this is more deeply rooted in applying social network theory to software design.  Whereas this experiment focused on using software to enhance social dynamics.  As Seb noted in his social software wiki, the question may be: How will the Web change how we interact socially?  I hope I am contributing progressively rather than regressing or diverging.  So I pose this question to you -- are these definitions and opportunities divergent?  For now or will they converge?

Meetings within an organization are primarily status contests. See Owens, D. A. & Bob Sutton (2000) Meetings as status contests: Negotiating order in on-going workgroups, In M. Turner (Ed.) Groups at work: Advances in theory and research. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum, in press.  In this paper they define interruption as a primary move an actor can use in status negotiations.  Specifically those with higher status use interruption to mediate moves made by others to enhance their status.

Outside an organization, say in a conference where there is no hierarchy, the dynamics can allow chnages in interruption logic.  This was the case at Supernova as well, where the parallel universe of blogging added value.  But it required real adjustment, and interruption served to add as well as detract from the learning and social experience.

As social software, as exemplified by communication tools that complement social interaction evolves -- the key question is how much software forces a change in behavior (a cost) to create new functions (a benefit), or are their complementary adaptions to social, personal and cultural norms.  In other words, are we on the verge of a new way of processing or is there a more evolutionary path?  

1:28:15 PM    comment []

Social Identity Distribution
The debate over the meaning/implementation of digital identity has continued in email between Doc, David, Bryan, Eric and AKMA.

An open user-owned identity system would empower customers and resolve the problems Doc refers to, that of comparing prices, but it would raise the bar substantially in terms of the value of the identity. We can trade on the exposure of our identity or lack thereof, getting discounts for sharing more information, just as David says. That bargaining will never stop, because companies always want more information about us. None of the systems vying for market acceptance acknowledges the sovereignty of the individual identified, placing the ultimate decision about what to do with user information in the hands of people who view that information as an asset. As we already know from the fluid "privacy policies" of Web sites, which can be transformed overnight by management fiat or a merger that replaces the old policies with new ones, no organization, except one owned by the identity owners--individuals--is safe from that threat...

People must own every aspect of their identity, guys. Design from that principle outward--the company or non-profit that does this will eventually win.

[RatcliffeBlog: Business, Technology & Investing]

This thing has to start with the individual, and proceed out to the marketplace from there. Ownership is critical.

[The Doc Searls Weblog]

Concur.  A sovereign identity begins with an open profile for personal use.  Personal use can begin with how you relate to your own information assets, both on your client and those available in the commons.  From there it is shared through one-off transactions.  Where a basis of trust is explicit, these transactions do not require additional reputation/credit/policy to reduce risk.  So the next sphere identity is extended to is the first degrees of your social network.  As your friends add to your profile, you retain control and transparency.  Participation of individuals who don't view your information as an asset in defining your identity enables a more than zero-sum game.  Small groups enhance individual information assets.

11:13:45 AM    comment []

Managing Comments

In my attempts to hold on to the history of my weblog, I found a great service for managing comments.  Radio's comment feature leaves much to be desired, using it runs the risk of comment spam, and there are third party services that out perform it.  One of the biggest problems is that users navigate directly to old posts and comment on them.  Unless you are ego surfing your old posts, many comments can go unobserved.  Not exactly what you want if you want conversation.

Courtesy of Terry Frazier, I found a method to subscribe to your comments as an RSS feed, which I highly recommend.  Now I can converse with the present on the past.

10:12:56 AM    comment []

Scaling People

IBM wins $5 billion outsourcing deal. J.P. Morgan Chase says it will transfer approximately 4,000 employees and contractors, along with some resources and systems, to IBM in the first half of 2003. [CNET]

This is definately outsourcing's day in the sun, for two primary reasons:  cost saving proposition and the currently low value of human capital.  As the value of human capital increases in recovery and the demands for internal innovation grow -- outsourcing must evolve to collaborate on innovation with trust.  What is core, cycles.

9:45:33 AM    comment []

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