Mitch Ratcliffe's Travels : The blog I use when on the road because posting-by-email to RatcliffeBlog: Business, Technology & Investing never works.
Updated: 12/10/2002; 3:19:56 PM.


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Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Rethinking Telecom session

Andrew Chapman, Narad Networks. A services delivery, QoS and management technology. My rejoinder to David Isenberg is that the network can't be so stupid that it can't do anything.

Mike McCue: Company about changing how people use the phone. Talking about open standards changing: call centers; directory assistance; voice dialing. [Note: This is a huge departure from their original mission, which was personalized information delivered to cell phones]

Michael Stumm, Soma Networks: Last-mile wireless broadband. $2 to $10 per home passed, miniscule compared to $500 to $1500 per home passed for copper and more for fiber.

Kevin starts: Why is there any hope for any of you? The old guard telecom companies, now the ILECs, everyone is dying.

Mike McCue: Where there is change there is opportunity. It's a matter of grabbing business opps that are short term acheiveable. You have to move from opportunity to opportunity to be successful.

Andrew Chapman: Calling isn't going away. I have a bet at that by 2007 that one of the ILECs will file for Chapter 11. That doesn't mean that they won't be resurrected by some government support to ensure universal service. There are 2x cable modem subscribers than DSL. Cox Business Services will do $250MM in revs providing business services and they have the chops to move into the local loop. If you give them an ROI model that makes sense, they will deploy [tech].

Michael Stumm: Telcos know they are in trouble, will use new technology to save themselves. His tech provides 12 Mbps shared network access, so each user gets about a Meg down and 300K up. Not a win at all, if you ask me.

Andrew Chapman: Korea is the country in the lead. Real broadband is when you never have to think of the size of the pipe, again. Narad is a fully-switched non-shared 100 Mbps services. Customers can buy whatever bandwidth they want. Tests underway in US, major announcements are coming in months. Imagine all the things that could be done in a SIP-enabled network with unlimited bandwidth. Distributed services work, but the network has to know something about the traffic.

Michael Stumm: Most households don't know how to manage firewalls, servers, etc. so they are moving into the network.

Mike M: Installing TiVo services into the network.

Andrew: What you really need is a Java client that puts the functionality in the client and commercial third parties host the major repositories of data that have to be available to users.

Michael S: The network has to have some intelligence, just putting in more capacity in place is not sufficient to deliver, for example, video. Networks need to route data based on priorities.

Mike M: I think it is strange how the IT industry thinks that all problems with centralization will be solved by decentralization or vice versa. It's going to be a mix. It used to be that in order to install a voice application, you had to buy a bunch of Nortel boxes, program them using Nortel tools, and now we can use voice XML and distributed clients to deliver the same service. Don't get too religious about centralization and decentralization.

Andrew: You have to have a balance between centralization and decentralization, because if you say you are just going to provide commodity bandwidth that doesn't make a profit you can't get it funded.

Kevin: What will change in terms of applications?

Mike M: Call center, directory assistance and communication applications (voice dialing). In the call center, it's about automating logic trees in interactive voice response systems today using Voice XML. Directory assistance with extra features: movie listings, restaurant reserverations -- voice reviews, there's a content opportunity here. Voice access to email, voice dialing.

Andrew: Migration of IT applications that are the sole province of large enterprises will migrate down to small enterprises -- backup, management of health benefits. All depends on network-based storage. Video enriched email. Video information that overwhelms home storage. Video conferencing.

Michael S: Firewall and content filtering in the network. Voice-data integration, ability to set up calls without all the hassle (but describes kind of awkward interface).

Andrew: Important that you will have tools you can use to build applications. P2P really happens in the sense that everyone is a peer on the network.

Mike M: TellMe Studio -- anyone can build a voice XML system and deliver it over the phone. Built a blogging-like tool that was a huge hit and drove a huge amount of traffic on the network. Phone companies have a huge advantage in that they have billing relationships with the user; they could provide third-party billing.

Michael S: Ultimately, it's competition from small greenfield deployments or one large company that gets desperate and deploy that will change the big carriers' behavior.

Mike M: He says AT&T Wireless would possibly run a voice blogging service [no fucking way] and they wouldn't because they don't bill end users. [Instead of thinking of the carrier relationship, TellMe should build an API and provide voice hosting for a small fee each month]

Andrew: The enterprise protocols (Gigabit Ethernet, IP, etc.) are going into the ground today because the carriers, especially the cable companies, want to deliver the full range of applications that people want to use.


3:19:37 PM    

David Isenberg and the stupid network

The really important idea that David talks about, after the notion of a dumb network that can be the foundation of any IP-based networked application, is the Session Initiation Protocol. It will allow any device to find another device and begin to communicate.

The end-to-end principle: If you can do something at the ends of the network or in the middle, do it at the ends to preserve your options, because we don't know what the network will be used for later. Thus, internetworking shifts comtrol from network owner to end-user of the network.

SIP lets client devices negotiate connections, ignoring the switches and "value-added" services that are embedded in the network. That leaves the application developer to deliver products and services to create income, ignoring, for the most part, the network.

2:30:41 PM    

Sergey Brin

I'm going to rest my fingers. This is an interesting conversation I want to really absorb. There are others blogging most of this.

This is a very smart guy.

11:57:38 AM    

Are Weblogs the Next Platform?

Kevin: At least don't have to explain what a blog is. Are we talking to ourselves? Will we ever move past it being diaries (not really the right question).

Meg Hourihan, Blogger

Dave Winer, Userland

Nick Denton, Weblog Media

Kevin: I'd like [Dave] to expand on the statement that weblogs and web services are the same thing.

Dave: Weblogs are like the word processor, for the web. We did blogs to open up writing for the web for everyone. How do I connect a word processor to a server -- that's what led me to do XML-RPC and SOAP, since it lets you do that. To me, they [blogs and web services] are the same thing. That web services are about big enterprise apps is not seeing the big picture. There's this whole other thing, called humanity, that they are not addressing.

Nick: I have a different perspective. I'm a media guy. I look at weblog publishing software as a way to produce media much more cheaply than it was three or four years ago. The unfinished business in IT is that personal information management isn't complete. Weblogs are one way to create sites that distribute content out to an audience.

Meg: I'm sort of with Dave, but what is interesting about web services is how they can be transparent to the actual users. We're so early in the development of [this stuff]. What happens when we are using our phones and are able to get photos online as easily as text. How the content and people come together is what is interesting. It took us to this point where scripting tools making publishing possible, and we need to take the next step and get them publishing even more.

Kevin: Why do you think weblogs are going to move to these other platforms?

Meg: Because people want to talk to their friends.

Nick: Last Thursday, there was a big snow storm in New York. You couldn't tell from the NY Times. But if you went to [the web] there were pictures and it was providing a good media experience and local coverage.

Dave: It wasn't just local. We were looking at it to on the West Coast.

Photolog has pictures of this panel up already.

Dave: Starting a weblog is like starting a magazine. For a person who wants to write, its a great thing. It has to be reverse chronological, calendar, permalinks, and in two years it will probably be radically different, but it will be gradual to us.

Nick: Gizmodo, a $1,000 a month investment to pay the writer. At that rate you can imagine a business that brings in $5K to $10K a month, it's a fabulously profitable business. It's not a VC-oriented business.

Dave: It's like 1981, it was a good idea to invest in word processors. [Nick] is making money, my company is making money.

Nick: Tina Brown, it costs $40MM to launch a magazine. You can do it for a lot less with a blogging tool.

Kevin: What about what happened with Hypercard, which just disappeared?

Dave: Apple didn't support it. In this industry, it won't just go away. If we close shop, other companies are ready to step in.

Meg: I hope the buzz dies down, so that we focus on the information and the way you present information. It won't just go away.

Dave: Kevin's weblog is a perfectly example. I've learned a lot about Kevin, a lot more than when I occasionally read his column in Esther Dyson's newsletter.

Marc Canter jumps in: As word processors were to weblogs, there will be a decentralized environment in which many vendors provide aspects of the systems people use. The answer to VCs is that blogging is just the tip of the iceberg, when people want to connect cameras, PVRs, broadband in and around the home and office -- the same type of tools.

Dave: It would not be good if this industry just consolidated into a single app, like Microsoft.

Bob Frankston: Are we talking about capital "B" Blog with a trademark or just about making it easier for people to post stuff? It the later, we should be clear about that.

David Weinberger: If I am a consumer, I am not going to care if it is a blog. There's a third aspect: blog as a tone of voice.

Meg: I've always defined a weblog as just a format. Whether you write about your cat, and there is this idea that it will happen frequently, but that's about it.

Dave: My first blog post was in 94, no format. By an individual, not premeditated. This is what upsets professional reporters the most. When Dan Gillmor was talking about his blog, I wanted to say that most managers want their reporters to blog, but the reporters don't want to. They should post rumors and see what happens for their journalistic work.

Nick: That's what British journalists do in paper.

Question from the audience: In what way is a blog a platform? In what sense is a drawing or writing tool a platform?

Dave: Even the most basic blogging tool has programmability, so it is a kind of platform.

Marc Canter: As a Radio developer, it is a platform for us and we're going to do a lot with it (disclosure: I cowrote Marc's business plan for Broadband Mechanics)

Nick: There are lots of ways of making money. Buying advice. Personal news services, which hasn't worked because it was keyword based. You can even imagine online dating services based on blogs.

Meg: How do you find this stuff -- that's the huge unanswered question. How do we get this information to people when it is relevant.

Glenn Fleishmann: There are more than one type of blogger. But we're all men here -- 95%, and several conferences recently. Can we go beyond this monolithic blogging story to specific examples?

Dave: The NY Times has covered blogging a lot, but they always assign a reporter that hasn't been on the story before.

Dan Gillmor: There have been many more articles saying it is the next big thing than that they are going to disappear.

Dave: But they always tell both sides of the story (laughter in room).

Nick: One of the niche blogs we're going to launch is a woman who will write about life, and she's a woman. (this is all part of a "why are there so many men here in the room?" discussion -- Phill Wollf suggests that certain tools are more conducive to women, like LiveJournal, where the average user is a 16-year-old girl).

Doc: The most important thing about blogging is linking. If it is a blog, it's got to link a lot. This builds on what Tim Berners-Lee built to begin with.

Kevin: The question is, does the blogging community become predominantly the general population?

Nick: We can talk about the sexual demographics of blogging, but the politics are quite interesting. A lot of the activity and growth are among right-leaning libertarians.

Meg: A lot of people get into weblogging to connect to a small circle of friends, family and acquaintances. If my friends from high school do it and I keep track of them, okay. A lot of people don't realize its so open.

Dave: I can use the phone, regardless of whether that fat guy with the radio show -- Rush Limbaugh -- uses the phone, too. Lots of people need to be informed about what's going on.

Kevin: Let me rephrase: In five or ten years, what percentage of people who are online will have a weblog?

Dave: Everyone.

Meg: No way.

Dave: Do you want to make a bet?

Nick: A lot more people will be writing and that's a substantial change.

I asked a question, lost track of typing. Big gap in the discusson here.

Question from audience: How is this different?

Dave: Weblogs demand respect. On an email list, people can veto you. On a weblog, you can, if you choose to, get work done on your weblog in spite of resistance in your community.

Meg: A weblog post is like an IM post to the world.

Audience: But it doesn't demand a response.

Meg: But it is a packet of information that goes out, and people respond in a variety of ways. You don't think about it as much, so you get a variety of responses that people don't have to think about.

Audience: What about collaborative work?

Meg: That was why Blogger was built.

Dave: The best response we've had is in instant outliners, but we haven't any idea how to introduce that? We will, probably in a matter of weeks, two instances of these things called blog browsers - a tool that understood the chronological nature of what it is browsing.

Meg: How does blogging change social interaction. When we started Pyra, we worked in my living room. We are both bad at email, talking would interrupt. So we created an internal weblog to [note stuff]. It became a chronology of our startup and everyone we hired read it to learn our culture.

Cory Doctorow: What makes blogging interesting, like Hypercard, others: put tools for experts into their hands without demanding they know a lot of tools for publishing. It's not the usual suspects writing. It changes everything. There's a homeless guy in Philly with a blog; I'll bet every social worker in Philly reads it, and if they are not, they should. At EFF, we used to have to clear everything by lawywers, but with the blog we can clear stuff a paragraph at a time. It removes the barriers.

Dave: What you are saying is profound. Why is this like web services? It's coming in through the back door, just like the PC did. It enables people to do what they need to do in order to get their jobs done. When I made my decision to enter this industry in the late 70s, I didn't do it to help corporate people make little changes, but to blow through barriers.

Moses Ma: I think most people don't care about running what I call "windblogs" operated by pundits. But the tools are useful for creating new environments, like Ryze.

Kevin: What are the features you want?

Meg: Push for Weblogs. I can choose where I can read it, on phone and PCs, as it happens and as I think it's important.

Doc: Search within blogs.

David Weinberger: Blog threads

Dave: Have you seen backtracks?

David: It is better than not backtracks.

Marc Canter: Multimedia conversations. Re-entrant conversations. Persistent use throughout life.

Florian Brody: There is a perceived technology hump to getting in to the technology that needs to be overcome.

Nick: I want a news front page for the blogosphere and across the entire web. I want to locate myself within my social network, people recommending what I should read that day.

Cory: Indiosyncratic Google -- not a beauty contest but the people I like at the top.

11:48:17 AM    

Summarizing Web Services

The panel is interesting for the way it wandered into a hard discussion of the fact that J2EE, APIs and open source eliminates the need for expensive server softare to support web services.

Now, you can argue all day about what the right tech is for which job -- it gets religious -- and that's what's going on, in a way. Only this religion is couched in business terms. To a degree, this is the most pragmatic discussion at the conference so far, but it still ignores the human element, which is the elixir needed.

Adina Levin asked me to expand on a phrase in a mail exhange, about how we need to change our views of one another. The first step is to forget the notion of people not as people but only as consumers. The delivery of stuff people need is important, but we need to recognize economy enables everyone to participate in large or small ways.

Take the blogging the news thing. Here's a model for covering city hall: Have everyone interested in the news contribute $50 a year to support someone who spends time blogging city hall, the public meetings, the questions asked and answered in the hallways. If three people want to do it, split the money. Make it possible for individuals to have their voice and pay them for that voice. They'll throw themselves into it with a passion, because for the first time this relatively dull esoteric interest (relative to most local citizens' interests, at least). Make it a chaord, where people share interest and control of what the money pay to focus on -- democratic coverage of democratic processes.

10:17:07 AM    

A Fox in the Henhouse

Eesh. Note that Bush has named a banker to head the SEC. Idiocy. If you want to provide legitimacy for investors, find an investor and not a banker to oversee the markets. Replacing the chief lobbyist (Harvey Pitt) for the banking industry with a banker at the SEC is compounding the original mistake.

My prediction: Resignation, again, in nine months.

9:28:03 AM    

Web Services panel

Brent Sleeper, Stencil Group: Some of those questions of recognizing who is speaking -- let me tell you who I am and you decide what to think about me. I am called an analyst, but think of myself as a consultant as I ... offer advice.

Christian Gheorghe, TIAN

Anne Thomas Manes, Author

Dick Hardt, ActiveState

Anne Manes: I hate the name "web services" becuase it has nothing to do with the web, is all about services and has everything to do with XML. The one piece of tech you need is XML, everything else -- transports, directories, etc.-- are up to you. Some protocols are widely used, so you should be using them.

Christian: Why a direct marketer up here? Big companies need to use this to connect with customers. WHen you start looking at decentralization, there is a notion of quality of experience.... [the design value argument]

I'm not sure where this is going.... will get coffee now.

9:20:40 AM    

More Dan Gillmor

The next time there is a major earthquake in Japan, it will be photographed and distributed way ahead of the rest of the press. Then journalists will say "holy shit, this is something new."

What can we trust? KayCee Nicole faked a death online, the bloggers checked it and found the person did not exist -- then the journalists picked it up. The bloggers did profoundly good journalism. I know that anything I see that is anonymous I assume it is not true.

Dan doesn't like the fact that most people get 95% of news from one or two sources. But big media does important stuff, investigation is expensive.

Ad revenues are in jeopardy. Okay. we know that. If we don't change the way we see the Net, "we are screwed."

Bob Frankston asks: Revenue models are a kind of patronage system. In particular, do we need a local model versus a global change in business models?

Dan: We have an aggregation model today that has been very successful as a journalism model.

Bob: There is a straight linkage between revenue and coverage that makes the model a blunt tool. He also points out the assumption that making content is expensive is a fiction.

[My take: At ON24, we cut the cost of production of audio and video by 90%]

We're talking about the ethics...hope someone else is blogging this.

David Weinberger: When 10 years from now and we have electronic book hardware that works -- to what degree does that change the line between journalism and blogging.

Dan: It's not a hardware question -- a copyright question. There will be a rather thorough undermining of the business models that support journalism today. When I start to think about what other bloggers think about a topic, the coalescing of the meme through RSS feeds, that gets really interesting. But the physical question of how we read doesn't affect that.

What's a journalist? The 1st Amendment protects everyone.

9:12:20 AM    

Dan Gillmor stands in for Clay Shirky

We Media, we do it with you rather than for you.

Talks about 9/11. TV, weblogs. Dave Farber's Interesting People List the next day providing a much wider set of ideas than in the mass media. Personal journals and, ultimately email messages and blog content being picked up by mass media. That would not have happened before this We Media thing happened.

My readers know more than I do. I didn't know it as profoundly until I started the weblog. This is not a threat, it is a grand opportunity.

Story about Joe Nacchio of Qwest at PC Forum. Joe was whining. Dan got a mail from someone reading Dan's blog (Doc got it, too) pointing to how much Nacchio made pulling money out of Qwest as it crashed. I noted this in the blog, and Esther Dyson (founder of PC Forum) said that because people were reading the blog in the room the temperature toward Joe lowered. Dan thinks Joe pissed people off all by himself, but it is important that the message started in Arizona hotel then went to Florida and came back to change the conversation in Arizona.

The sources we cover now have new options. The DoD posts full transcripts of all interviews. I think this is good for journalists. Anything that adds context and completion for a conversation is good.

He said he can't post his notes, because the Merc's lawyers are not happy about that. I asked why he listens to lawyers at all. He said he works or a big organization and has to take orders sometimes -- said he has tremendous freedom and would leave if he didn't. I suggested that he should leave, he'd do better.

8:46:44 AM    

© Copyright 2002 Mitch Ratcliffe.

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