Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Blogs in developing nations

BBC News posted African Bloggers Find their Voice, a survey of African blogs and their implications for politics and the media. The article has links to several African blogs and to Harvard's Global Voices site which follows and encourages blogs in developing nations.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Assessing the Wikipedia

The British science magazine Nature published a comparison of Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica based on the number of errors in selected articles in each. For more on Wikipedia assessment see these links.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Inmarsat: global mobile connectivity

Inmarsat offers global access to portable computers using LEO satellite. For terrestrial mobile connectivity options, see this class note.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Doug Kaye: audio production how-to

At the November 2005 Portable Media Expo, Doug Kaye of IT Conversations gave a talk on what IT Conversations does and will do in the future, open source audio production software tools they are developing, the management of his volunteer organization and many how-to tips on audio editing and production for podcasts. This 24 minute excerpt includes only the how-to portion of the talk in which Kaye tells us how to produce MP3 podcasts. Check the full, hour-long talk for the other topics.

Protopage -- a useful tool?

The Protopage service allows you to create and maintain a site with text, graphics and links very simply using your browser. Can you find applications for it?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Problems with AJAX

User interface expert Jakob Nielsen points out some flaws in AJAX. With AJAX, there is no longer a one-one association between a URL and a Web page, the Back button does not work, some browsers have problems, etc.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

A false Wikipedia "biography"

In our homework survey, we found the Wikipedia to be quite accurate and complete; however, errors can go undetected for some time. One example is the Wikipedia biography of John Seigenthaler. It has been deleted now, but, for 132 days, the Wikipedia falsely linked him to the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and made other completely inaccurate assertions. This erroneous biography was copied verbatim to other Web sites.

In response to this incident, Wikipedia began requiring registration before posting a new article. And, finally, the man who made the false post has apologized.

Don't take the Wikipedia or anything else on the Web as The Truth. Can you find any errors in the Wikipedia?

Portable Media and Podcast Expo

The Expo was held in November 2005 in Ontario, California. The keynotes and sessions covered podcasting and audio technology and business and the future of media. Many sessions were excellent, and they are all online. Here are direct links to recordings of the Friday and Saturday sessions.

Doug Kaye on the value of free content

I posted a 3m 19s excerpt from Doug Kaye's keynote address at the Portable Media Expo held in November 2005. Doug talks about the value of free information. He feels you maximize the value of content by making it free with no impediments (like registration) to accessing it. If you like this excerpt, listen to the entire talk in which he describes his IT Conversations project and his (ambitious) future plans.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Free media hosting services and their implications

I just listened to an excellent presentation on two media hosting sites, Open Media Network and Ourmedia.org. The speakers describe their sites and their vision of future media. I will add this as a link to our media context note.

Another free image editor

Washington State University has developed an image processing program called Paint.NET. It offers a good deal more than Microsoft Paint, but not as much as Photoshop ane Gimp. I'll add a link to it to our image processing notes.

If you try it out, let us know what you think.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

$100 portables for children in developing nations

Andy Carvin blogged a talk by Nicholas Negroponte on the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project to build $100 laptops for children in developing nations. The entry includes a link to a podcast of the talk.

Social bookmarking at IBM

We have been using del.icio.us for social bookmarking in our class. Researchers at IBM built a social bookmarking tool which they use within IBM. This article describes the tool and presents data on its use on the IBM intranet.

We discussed social bookmarking in our class note on content being created at the edge of the network.

Wikipedia lectures

Last night we talked about the Wikipedia and the "management" of the "organization" that creates and maintains it. Here are links to recordings of two thought-provoking talks on the Wikipedia given recently at UC Berkeley:


What do your management professors think of the Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Municipal data center/exchange points

Last week we talked about data center/traffic exchange points like One Wilshire. One Wilshire is privately owned.

We have also talked about municipal networks. Governments operate exchange points in many nations. Is there a role in the US for municipal exchange points like these in New Zealand and Canada?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Connecting Africa to The Internet

The International Telecommunication Union has just convened the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), focused on eliminating the digital divide. During the last ten years, studies and pilot projects have demonstrated that the Internet can improve the quality of life for the roughly 3 billion people living in rural areas of developing nations. Conferences like WSIS are great, but, after ten years of conferences, workshops and projects, it is time for action.

Rahul Tongia of Carnegie Mellon University has proposed FiberAfrica, a project that would bring Internet connectivity to within walking or bicycling distance of 400 million rural Africans. In July, at a meeting reminiscent of WSIS, the G8 pledged $25 billion in new African aid -- Tongia's proposal would be a good way to spend some of it.


For more on connecting rural villages in developing nations, see GRNet .

Cisco buys Scientific Atlanta

Cisco announced the purchase of Scientific Atlanta, the leading supplier of TV set-top boxes and cable TV technology. Cisco also owns Linksys, a leading provider of wireless LANs for the home. You can see the outline of video being delivered to, stored and distributed within your home.

This announcement is also interesting in that the press release, audio recording of the press conference, and supporting material are available on Cisco's Web site.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Google Base -- Google's latest service offering

Google just announced Google Base, a service that will apparently provide unlimited, free server space. This is the latest in a growing list of major service announcements from Google which hopes to "organize the world's information and make it universally useful and accessible."

Microsoft dominated the PC desktop, but has not been able to dominate the Internet. Google and Yahoo are working on many new services -- will one of them become the "Microsoft" of the Internet? Bob Cringley thinks the game is already over, and Google has won. What are the implications of that possibility?

(See our class note on development platform evolution).

Monday, November 14, 2005

The role of blogs in the French riots

This article is on the role the Internet (primarily blogs) is playing in the French rioting. What do you think of the implications of the Internet for political speech?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Breaking end-to-end design: SBC and the US Congress

SBC Communications Inc. Chairman Edward E. Whitacre Jr. recently stated:


Why should they be allowed to use my pipes? The Internet can't be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment and for a Google or Yahoo or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes free is nuts. see article.

A congressional committee is considering a bill that would allow telephone companies to treat some traffic differently than other traffic. Vint Cerf, co-inventor of the TCP and IP protocols, wrote the committe a letter objecting to the proposed legislation. He compared this violation of the end-to-end design principle to letting the telephone company tell you who you could call. (See our class note on the end-to-end design principle).

What is at stake for the telephone company here? For the economy?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Breaking end-to-end design

The Chinese government, with the help of an American firm, is attempting to block VOIP traffic. Can you explain why they want to do that?

This is an example of putting "intelligence" inside the network, or breaking the end-to-end policy by which routers only route traffic, ignorning the content. (See our class note on the end-to-end design principle).

Accelerating change

Kurzweil spoke of accelerating change in information, biological and nano technology. These interact, feeding each other. For instance, as IT improves, biological research accelerates. The following quote refers to HapMap, a genetic research project:


At the project’s outset, determining which SNP a patient carried at one site cost almost a dollar, and researchers could test hundreds a day. Today, the price has dropped to less than a cent per SNP, and millions can be tested in a day. The accuracy of the testing has improved as well, Daly says.

Similar improvment in IT technology has had dramatic impact on many genetic research projects.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

New wireless services from Google and Yahoo

As Michael suggested in class last night, I may soon stop downloading podcasts to my computer and transferring them to my MP3 player. If offerings like these prove successful, I may download podcasts directly to a portable device. (Perhaps a combined cell phone and MP3 player).

Kurzweil teaching note

I prepared a teaching note on Ray Kurzweil.

Ray Kurzweil, accelerating change

Last night, we discussed inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil and his predictions of continued accelerating change and its implications for the future of humanity.

This class note describes progress in computing, communication and storage technology.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Al Gore on the news media

Al gore has given a talk suggesting that the traditional news media are no longer functioning in a manner consistent with democracy. He feels interaction is missing, and hopes the Internet will provide that. You can read the text of the speech here.

You can can listen to the speech or watch video highlights at Andy Carvin's blog.

If you watch the video highlights, you will see the talk being blogged by an audience member as it occurs. That is an example of "citizen journalism."

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Social bookmarking: screencast information

We have been using del.icio.us for "social bookmarking."

Our video group is planning to use Camtasia for their project, and a blogger named Beth Kanter has been researching screencast software, including Camtasia.

To see what she has learned, you can check her del.icio.us bookmarks on screencasting. If you had questions, you could link back to her blog and send her an email.

As we have said, you can use the Net to find helpful people as well as information. Herbert Simon once told me he "kept most of what he knows stored in colleague's heads."

Moodle, a course managment system

Those of you in the CMS group and others might be interested in Moodle an open-source course management system.

Are you using Blackboard in any of your other courses? If so, how does it compare to Moodle?

For a quick introduction, here are a couple of short screencast movies on Moodle.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Telephone industry consolidation

We have have talked about the power of the incumbent telephone companies. Syed noticed that the FCC just approved the purchase of MCI by Verizon and the purchase of AT&T by SBC (which plans to change its name to "AT&T").

This is part of an ongoing consolidation trend in which the companies that own the wires to our homes and businesses, the "last mile," are growing.

For background, check the class note on telephone history and regulation.

EVDO offering from Sprint

We were talking about Verizon EVDO last night. Syed points out that Sprint also has an EVDO offering, and they just announced music and video downloading services. Here is the press release from the Sprint Web site.

Periodical sources of news and opinion

Last night we talked about trade journals, market research and other sources of news and opinion. I promised to compile a list of the news and opinion sources I use for CIS471 -- here it is.

I also added a link to it to the class home page.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

High altitude platforms

We talked a bit about high-altitude platforms in class last week, and I promised to make up a teaching note on the topic. I did, and posted it here.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Map of community and municipal networks

Last week we spoke of community and municipal networks. Freepress maintains a map and description of them. I also added this link to our WiFi hotspot note.

Speaker of the House a blogger

Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House of Representatives has just started a blog.

Check out his welcome message.

Do other politicians have blogs? How might they change politics and political discourse?

Hosted applications: software as a service

Technology review just published an article on Salesforce.com and their success as a provider of Internet-hosted applications.

They are a successful company, and are encouraging software developers to use their tools for their own hosted applications. Perhaps their tools will turn out to be the "Visual Studio" of the Internet.

We have a related course note on Hosted applications: software as a service.

Home connectivity options

This article surveys home connectivity technologies. It covers both home LAN and broadband connection options.

Contextual search

I added a link to Yahoo's Y!Q search to our note on search applications. Y!Q searches consider the content of the Web page you are reading when you do the search.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Sites for hosting video

Here is a New York Times article on low-cost video. It lists several sites where videos may be hosted:


  • BLIP.TV Service for users who want to integrate video clips into their blogs. www.blip.tv
  • CLIPSHACK Basic, simple user interface. Limit of 50 megabytes of storage. www.clipshack.com
  • GOOGLE VIDEO Accepts clips of unlimited length and makes them searchable. video.google.com
  • OURMEDIA.ORG Stores videos in the Internet Archive, which is intended to be a permanent online trove. www.ourmedia.org
  • PHANFARE $6.95 monthly fee covers unlimited video posting, but individual videos may not exceed 10 megabytes. www.phanfare.com
  • VIMEO Circles of friends and family members can easily keep up with and comment on one another's clips. www.vimeo.com
  • YOUTUBE Site keeps track of most-viewed, most-discussed and best-rated videos; organizes similar clips into "channels," like sports or humor. www.youtube.com

The video team should check this out.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Industrial strength AJAX

Here is a link to a video demo of a fully functional, browser-based messaging client. (If you do not already have it, this demo installs a video playback program before it runs).

The demo is from scalix.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Dan Gilmore on the future of journalism

Last night we talked about the influence of blogs on conventional journalistic media. Dan Gilmore is a widely respected print journalist who is very much interested in this topic and largely moving to online journalism. He gave a talk on the topic at Stanford last week.

The title of the talk is "We the Media: The Rise of Open-Source, Grassroots Journalism"

RSS tutorial

Last night someone asked about RSS, real simple syndication. Here is an RSS tutorial.

There are many RSS readers available -- which one should we use for this class?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Reed Hundt: "Limits on wireless leave U.S. at risk"

Reed Hundt, past FCC Chairman, published an article in the San Jose Mercury arguing that ad hoc wireless networks played an important role during huricane Katrina, and that state laws banning municipal networks are a mistake. He feels the federal governmnet should encourage municipal networks with matching funds.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Using the Net to share bicycles

This article describes a unique application. Thousands of commuters in Lyon, France, are using pedal power instead of gas, under an ambitious new program that lets people rent bikes from public racks at low cost.

I have seen similar Web sites for sharing cars and airplanes, but don't recall where.

About this blog

This blog covers Internet applications and technology and their implications for individuals, organizations and society. Check the tag cloud to the right to see some coverage key words or skim over the last 5 or 10 posts to see if they sound interesting.

The blog supplements my classes -- letting me incorporate relevant current events -- but it is open to anyone interested in the (admittedly broad) topic. I do a couple of posts per week and welcome your suggestions and feedback.

I have a couple of other blogs, listed on the right, which might also be of interest.