Tendências emergentes, factos e dados reveladores da evolução dos media, cultura, economia e sociedade. Impacto social, económico e cultural da tecnologia.


terça-feira, julho 26, 2005

TED Global in London

Many of the ideas on how to get better at what humans do echoed the mantra about picking battles that are big enough to matter, but small enough to win.

The clear message about technologies was that they can be used as a level playing field and as new distribution channels.

Others put the future of humanity into stark context, warning that our rate of urban growth is unsustainable and destructive to communities and to the environment.

There seemed to be a few assumptions underlying a lot of the ideas at TED such as:

* despite terrorism, environmental destruction and poverty, the future could be bright
* technology can solve more problems than it creates
* entrepreneurs are good and governments are inflexible

Too often these underlying assumptions were not questioned.

What was also conspicuously absent was the voice of those in power who can turn these ideas into policy in nations that need the solutions most.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Big thinkers show the way forward


If they wish to succeed in the growing global competition for talent, economic capitals the world over must act now

For decades, these powers have taken for granted their net gains in the circulation of more than 150m members of the global creative class: including scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, artists, musicians and entertainers, and knowledge-based professionals in fields such as law, finance and medicine. The creative class accounts for between 30 and 40 per cent of the workforce in the advanced nations. In the US, it earns a staggering 50 per cent of all wages and salaries – as much as the manufacturing and services sectors combined.

The advanced nations have been living far beyond their capacity to generate talent and have essentially been borrowing from other places to fuel their growth and prosperity. This talent deficit is now growing for two reasons. First, around the world, a large share of the existing creative workforce is ageing and set to retire. Second, the advanced countries are not producing the talent they need in critical areas of science and technology.
In the creative age, the ability to address this deficit by competing for and cultivating top talent will outstrip the competition for jobs, technology and investment. The US seems to have forgotten its core advantage in attracting top talent; its restriction of immigration and growing social intolerance suggest that it is retreating from global competition and culture. Partly as a result, the competition is heating up.

Countries from Sweden to Spain, Canada to New Zealand are increasing their efforts to attract talent – from high-tech workers to film makers, established scientists and promising graduate students. Australia and Canada have become particularly aggressive in the competition for talented immigrants. Both already have a higher proportion of foreign-born residents than the US – 22 per cent and 18 per cent respectively. Foreign students make up greater shares of the student body in these two countries and in several others than they do in the US. Taiwan, Korea, India and China are doing everything they can to retain top talent and lure expatriates back home by increasing investments in science and creativity and offering better pay and opportunities.

Many traditional economic powers, especially European ones, are experiencing a backlash against foreign influence. Ironically, these places are virtually dependent on immigrants as replacement workers – not just for low-end jobs but for critical high-skilled occupations in everything from software and information technology to biotechnology, the arts, entertainment and even sports.

If they wish to succeed in the growing global competition for talent, economic capitals the world over must act now. Aggressively recruiting foreign students and highly skilled workers must be coupled with increased investment in education to develop and harness creative talent. Laws and social practices that discriminate – whether against specific religions, ethnicities, age groups or sexual orientations – must be eradicated, so that all may contribute their ideas to a place’s economic ecosystem.

FT.com / Comment & analysis / Comment - A dire global imbalance in creativity

After ten years, what has been learnt about succeeding as an e-business?

All successful online sites have had to reinvent themselves continually, points out Andrew McAfee of Harvard Business School. Only that way have they been able to evade predatory newcomers. “The only survivors,” he says, “are the ones whose managers are able to move on.” Mr Murphy says he has “an open mind about the future”—not the sort of strategic planning that traditional boards like to hear.
Raffi Amit of the Wharton School and Christoph Zott of Insead argue in a recent paper that the internet opened up “opportunities to be very creative in the design of the business model”. In e-commerce, they say, most value is created by business models—the way in which firms conduct their affairs with suppliers and partners, as well as customers—rather than (as is largely the case in the offline world) the products or services themselves. That may be why e-businesses have not replaced as many offline firms as was first predicted.

Two features of this new business environment have been surprisingly helpful in creating value: the sheer variety of products and services that can be offered online; and the extent to which online communities help each other for free.
What might drive the next round of e-commerce business models? Mr Brynjolfsson says that two new technologies are already throwing up opportunities: mobile access to the internet and RFID tags, which enable the non-stop monitoring of the whereabouts of goods. Wharton's Mr Amit says that the old-fashioned offline world was one where producers said to customers: “I've made this; buy it from me at this price.” In the online world, customers are saying, “I want this; sell it to me at this price.” That is why these internet birthdays really are worth celebrating.

Economist.com | Articles by Subject | Internet businesses

How can a man in a cave outcommunicate the world’s leading communications society?

How can a man in a cave outcommunicate the world’s leading communications society?
Richard Holbrooke, former US ambassador to the United Nations.

Anti-Americanism is deeper and broader than at any time in modern history. It is most acute in the Muslim world, but the phenomenon spans the globe – from Europe to Asia, from South America to Africa.

The deterioration in America’s image abroad has confounded the nation that invented the public relations industry. The US appears to have lost the power to persuade, except at the barrel of a gun.

As the Pew Center’s Global Opinion Survey reported in March: “In the eyes of others, the US is a worrisome colossus, too quick to act unilaterally, too slow to solve the world’s problems, too prone to widening the global gulf between rich and poor.”

US power has long been a source of envy and resentment. What is new is that US motives have become a source of mistrust. “Brand America” is in trouble. So what is to be done?

Marketers define a brand as a promise kept. During the cold war, the US brand was strong as the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe spread the message of freedom to a receptive audience. Today, says Lee Hamilton, co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission, the US is not only losing the battle in public diplomacy, “it is barely in the game”.

Roughly $1 out of every $100 of the federal budget is spent on foreign aid; only five cents goes to public diplomacy, defined as governments communicating with the citizens of other countries. Other tools to encourage goodwill towards the US have been woefully neglected. Educational exchanges have fallen away, partly because of the tight visa policy enforced after September 11.

In the short term, the London bombings may make that pitch harder to sell. But without a balanced approach and a renewed effort at public diplomacy, the US risks losing the war on terror. Ms Hughes might care to re-read the October 2003 memo sent by Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary.

Mr Rumsfeld considered whether the US was killing, capturing, deterring or dissuading more terrorists than the radical clerics were recruiting, training and deploying.

“The US is putting relatively little effort into a long-range plan but we are putting a great deal of effort into trying to stop terrorists. The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists’ costs of millions.”

FT.com / Comment & analysis / Comment - America’s soft power needs hard work



A trend is something that appears to be happening but is in fact an illusion. All we know is what has happened; what will happen is mere speculation. Even what is happening is shrouded in mystery because it takes time to record and interpret observations. This doesn’t present a problem if history is what you are interested in, but trends are used mostly to pronounce on current affairs or to predict future ones.

Trends are good fun and make for great copy in the press. Editors love it when someone in authority issues a trend warning because it is the cheapest way to a headline that doesn’t need double-checking. Recently, we were warned of a pending fertility crisis in Europe on the authority of a leading fertility expert, but it turned out that the information did not come from new research but from a paper pulling together known material from old sources.

There are two ways of improving a trend prediction. The first possibility is to build in a “path dependency” logic. When what happens tomorrow is a result of events or decisions yesterday, one ought to be able to predict more safely. But the experience is that path dependency is difficult to observe except after the fact. Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979 on what was thought to be a neo-liberal trend that would destroy the welfare state. But it did not, and we should have known by taking into consideration that the welfare state is a ship that takes a long time to turn around. Perhaps Thatcher was not really interested, or perhaps the concept of the NHS and social security was so entrenched (in the middle class) that it was not in her power to change much.

The other possibility is to build in a “behavioural” logic. From about 1950 to 1980, taxes increased steadily in most industrial countries. (After 1980, the level of taxation has remained more constant.) Economists were worried that heavier taxes would create disincentives that would distort work and productivity. A colossal effort was invested in researching “behavioural responses” to rising taxes. At the outset, the assumption was that two effects would more or less balance each other out: some would work less because work paid less and others would work more in order to have the same after-tax pay. After thousands of studies, we still know nothing more at all about whether one effect is more powerful than the other.

The problem with trends is that they are predicted as if things just happen. But things happen for reasons and reasons are always changing, often suddenly and usually unpredictably. London was on a trend of joy and celebration earlier this month which turned to grief and sorrow on July 7. Tsunamis, stock market crashes and unexpected decisions by the International Olympic Committee are events, not trends.

China and Vietnam today have communist governments that encourage private enterprise. The result in China, for example, is that the proportion of the population in extreme poverty has fallen from 60 to 15 per cent from 1980 to 2000. If anyone had predicted that in 1980, they would have been considered mad. In Britain, Labour won a landslide election victory in 1997 on a programme of reversing Thatcherism, then cultivated a careful continuity of Conservative economic policy, even outdoing the Conservatives by delegating the power over interest rates to the Bank of England, and won re-election twice. Such a chain of events could not have been foreseen.

Poverty south of the Sahara in Africa is on everyone’s mind, but it is utterly unpredictable what will happen. The continent may be at the point of take-off in respect of progress and development, and many who know Africa believe that to be the case. Or it may continue its decline into poverty. Today, there is no way of knowing for certain if, in 20 years, we will tell a story of Africa that is akin to the one for China from 1980 to 2000.

Is the Italian population on a trend to extinction? It is true that, based on the current, ultra-low birth rate, the population will be reduced to 25 per cent of its present size by the end of the century (and the population of Germans to half of its present size). But will that happen? Not likely. We are now seeing a great awareness of the threat of population decline. That is carrying through to more active family-friendly policies in most European countries. We know that young people in Europe want more children than they are having and such policies are likely to make it easier for them to realise their family aspirations.

Demographics, as we should know now, are the result of quirky human behaviour. After the second world war, what followed was a baby boom rather than the social crisis that was expected. Europeans were happy and confident and decided to have babies. Then, in one generation, baby-boom turned to baby-bust. Demography is the most robust of all social sciences in methodology, but both baby-boom and baby-bust came as total surprises to the demographers. The same was true for the worldwide fall in birth rates in developing countries (except for in parts of Africa) from the mid-1990s, which has resulted in the unexpected prediction that the world population will reach its highest number around or after the middle of this century and then start to fall.

The very notion of a trend is misleading. Africa is not part of any trend; it can change. China has not been part of a trend; it did change unexpectedly. There has been no population trend in Europe; it’s up and down all the time. Global warming is not a trend; it is a result (the experts say) of human behaviour and can change with changing decisions.

The future is unknowable because it depends on people and because people reflect, have will, make mistakes, co-operate and change their minds and ways. The past turns into one of many possible futures through human agency. The way to understand what is happening in the world is not to draw trajectories on paper but to ask what people are thinking and doing in their own lives and collective endeavours.

Stein Ringen is a professor of sociology at Green College, Oxford.

FT.com / Arts & Weekend - Trends in high places

quarta-feira, julho 20, 2005

Net boost for European football


From next year, top European football matches will have to be shown in the UK on the internet at the same time as they are televised live, Uefa has ruled.

The body governing European football also specified that they will have to be shown by the same broadcaster.

In a £83m-a-year deal on UK coverage of the Champions League to be announced soon, BSkyB and ITV are expected to have their existing contracts renewed to share rights to broadcast games live, with the added obligations.

The condition applies to the rights to televise Champions League games in the UK for the three seasons between 2006 and 2009.

In the past, Uefa has allowed clubs to show delayed Champions League coverage and highlights online, but has never allowed live football to be broadcast online.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Net boost for European football

"Mobile phones could go on to be the most common consumer electronics device on the planet"

One billion mobile phones will be sold in 2009, according to analysts.

Research firm Gartner said that the world's appetite for mobile phones had exceeded even the most optimistic expectations.

"Mobile phones could go on to be the most common consumer electronics device on the planet," said Gartner analyst Ben Wood.

By the end of 2009, some 2.6 billion mobiles will be in regular use around the world, Gartner predicts.

The findings are based on a study that looked at sales figures from 62 countries around the globe.

It is expected that some 779 million mobile handsets will be sold by the end of this year, 50 million of which will be smartphones.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Mobiles head for sales milestone

Pirated Harry Potters hit Mumbai

Pirated copies of the new Harry Potter book have hit the streets of Mumbai (Bombay) barely two days since its worldwide release.

Hawkers and street book stalls are offering JK Rowling's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for $6, compared to the legitimate stores' $20.

Agents from publishers Penguin India are on the prowl, reporting illegal sales to the head office in Delhi.

Mumbai is flooded with pirated copies of movies, music videos and software.

Pirated Harry Potter copies started appearing on Monday, following the worldwide release in the early hours of Saturday.

At almost every major traffic junction the book was being offered by hawkers.

One street bookstall vendor offered the book to BBC reporters but upon learning he was dealing with the media quickly hid it among piles of others.

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Pirated Harry Potters hit Mumbai

segunda-feira, julho 18, 2005

Top 10 downloads of the past 10 years

When CNET Download.com opened its doors in 1996, it was home to 3,000 small shareware and freeware applications. Online software distribution was still in its infancy. What a difference a near-decade makes! Since 1996, we've watched the rise of instant messaging, digital audio and the MP3 format, file sharing, spyware and antispyware, and the open-source movement, just to name a few. And we've watched as online software distribution has gone from pipe dream to reality.
These 10 applications best represent the top trends in downloading over the past decade.
- Winamp
- Napster
- Firefox
- WinZip
- iTunes
- Ad-aware
- Skype
- RealPlayer
- Adobe Acrobat Reader

Top 10 downloads of the past 10 years - CNET.com: "Top 10 downloads of the past 10 years

terça-feira, julho 12, 2005


Delivering television via Internet technology would give viewers access to virtually unlimited channels and programs, because instead of "pushing" video through a cable with limited capacity, the viewer would access servers that store the content.

IPTV would also make the TV set and computer interchangeable and allow consumers to schedule or record programs via other devices, such as mobile phones.

"While cable companies are constrained by the size of their pipe, we have virtually unlimited content potential," said SBC spokesman Larry Solomon.

That means a local high school lacrosse match or cricket game on the other side of the world might be available to viewers.

Using IPTV, viewers would have a much wider option of so-called "video on demand," which would allow consumers to watch programs or films at their convenience instead of at the time of broadcast.

"We think, because we'll have more programming choices, it would be of great appeal to people," said Solomon. "People have become accustomed to searching the Internet and watching streaming video. So if you want to watch movies or documentaries on the Civil War, you could do that. It would put more control in the hands of customers."

Globally, about 15 million households will have IPTV services by the end of 2007, up from the current level of 600,000 homes, according to a report from the consulting firm Research and Markets. Global revenues from the sector will exceed 7.5 billion dollars in 2007, it said.

Convergence of television, Internet coming -- from phone company - Yahoo! News

Methamphetamine has overtaken cocaine as the biggest drug problem in rural and small towns in the US

Methamphetamine has overtaken cocaine as the biggest drug problem in rural and small towns in the US, according to a crime survey of 45 states.

A survey of 500 county law enforcement agencies found meth-related arrests had gone up over the past three years.

More than half of the police, sheriff departments and other agencies polled said the highly addictive substance was their biggest drug problem.

Less than 20% singled out cocaine and fewer still pointed to marijuana.

BBC NEWS | Americas | Rural US gripped by meth epidemic

UK - Internet given election verdict

The Hansard Society study points to research suggesting online activity has doubled since the 2001 polls and has made voters feel better informed.

But still only 15% of the population went online to get information about the election, it says.
Dr Ward, who wrote an essay for the new report, says an NOP opinion polls suggests the internet made a bigger impact at this election than in 2001:

* Out of all internet users, about 13% sent or received emails about the election in 2005, compared to 5% in 2001

* 17% used the internet for election information on at least a few occasions, up from 7%

* 22% visited a media website, compared to 11% four years ago

* Figures for online activities such as discussion, opinion polls, volunteering and donations are still small but are more than double 2001 levels

* 18% of those questioned this year said the internet had helped them make a better informed choice and 19% said that it helped them make up their mind - compared to 6% in 2001.

Dr Ward adds: "Internet users may be as likely to vote today as they were four years ago, but the overall importance of the internet for the election has greatly increased."

At the launch , Stephen Coleman, professor in e-democracy at Oxford University, said there had been no surge in internet election use.

Instead, there had been an incremental and pragmatic use in the campaign of a medium used in other ways for the rest of the year.

Prof Coleman said there were three main uses of the internet during the election: activities unconnected with the poll; people going online to avoid the election and find other news; and those using the internet to find out more about the vote.

But he said only 3% of people expected to have contact with their MP once the election was over.

BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | Internet given election verdict

U.S. losing share of science and engineering grads

Numbers of science and engineering graduates from European and Asian universities are soaring while new degrees in the United States have stagnated--cutting its overall share.

In 2000, the paper said, 17 percent of university bachelor degrees in the U.S. were in science and engineering compared with a world average of 27 percent and 52 percent in China.

The picture among doctorates--key to advanced scientific research--was more striking. In 2001, universities in the European Union granted 40 percent more science and engineering doctorates than the United States, with that figure expected to reach nearly 100 percent by about 2010, the study showed.

The study said deteriorating opportunities and comparative wages for young science and engineering graduates has discouraged U.S. students from entering these fields, but not those born in other countries.

These trends are challenging the so-called North-South global economic divide, the paper said, by undermining a perceived rich-country advantage in high technology.

[print version] U.S. losing share of science and engineering grads | CNET News.com

segunda-feira, julho 11, 2005

The gap between the professional and non-professional news gatherers is getting narrower

he BBC has received more than 1,000 still pictures of the unfolding events and 300 different bits of amateur video since the explosions, prompting senior executives to reassess internal guidelines governing use of unsolicited material.

Helen Boaden, BBC director of news, said: “No one knows where this is going to take us. The gap between the professional and non-professional news gatherers is getting narrower.”

That sentiment was echoed at Sky News, the TV news outlet for British Sky Broadcasting.

Simon Bucks, associate editor of Sky News, said: “This is probably the first big story in Britain where we have seen this effect, where camera phones allow eyewitnesses a method of recording news and getting it broadcast.”

Detecives hunting the bombers also made a special appeal to the public for any mobile phone images and video footage captured in London on the day of the bombings, especially from those near the site of the attacks. They urged members of the public with such images to email them to Scotland Yard at images@met.police.uk.

Sky News is offering contributors whose material is used the equivalent of a half-day freelance rate, or about £250 ($434, €364), for the copyright to photographic images.

The BBC, however, insists that images it receives are offered royalty-free with a non-exclusive licence to publish the material in any way it wants.

Use of witness images, many of them containing horrific scenes, could spark an internal media debate over the rules governing copyright and decency.

FT.com / Terror / London blasts - Mobile phone images present dilemma for TV

domingo, julho 10, 2005

Pictures of the explosions were posted in greater numbers and with greater speed than they had seen in other major events

The attacks were not the first recorded by witnesses with cell phone and other digital cameras. Online experts like operators of photography sites and photography agencies said the pictures of the explosions were posted in greater numbers and with greater speed than they had seen in other major events.

Not only has the technology for taking the photographs become more widespread in the last few years, the experts said, but posting photographs has also become easier.

Flickr, a site owned by Yahoo that lets people post photographs free, had more than 300 bombing photos posted within eight hours after the attacks.

The site had 7,000 photos from the intercontinental Live 8 concerts on Saturday, and the co-founder of the site, Caterina Fake, said it expected many more from the London attacks in a few days. "These are people who are in the crowds being rushed out of the train station," Fake said. "All of these sort of like man-in-the-street experiences are very compelling, and they're very moving."

One frequently posted image was of a young man who covered his mouth with a cloth after his train had stopped and filled with smoke. Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, one of the sites that posted the photo, identified the photographer as Adam Stacey and said he and others in the subway had escaped by smashing train windows. Mr. Stacey, the Web site said, was fine other than suffering smoke inhalation.

Moblog.co.uk, which also posted the photo, said yesterday that it had been viewed 36,300 times.

Photos posted by witnesses of disasters and important events proliferated last year after the Asian tsunami disaster, said Kurt Pitzer, a spokesman for World Picture News, which represents professional and amateur photographers. It posted about 40 messages by 11 a.m. Thursday offering to represent photographers with London photos. Within two hours, World Picture News had heard from 10 to 15 photographers, Pitzer said.

Online photos proliferate after London blasts | CNET News.com

Email traffic doubled after London bomb blasts

Email traffic has doubled in Europe today after four bombs exploded in central London.

A snapshot of email activity from security company MessageLabs found the number of customer emails it monitored grew from the average of 500,000 to one million an hour after terrorist attacks began.

Alex Shipp, senior antivirus technologist for MessageLabs, said: "Sometime after 09:00(BST) we saw email traffic rise. That's ignoring spam - that's half a million legitimate emails an hour up to one million.

"We don't know what the traffic is but we're guessing that it's 'are you OK?' and 'have you seen the news?' messages. But that's based on the emails we've been getting."

Email traffic doubled after London bomb blasts - Telecoms - Breaking Business and Technology News at silicon.com

quarta-feira, julho 06, 2005

More than 25 million text Live 8

More than 26.4 million people from around the world sent text messages on Saturday in support of the Live 8 campaign to cancel the debts of the poorest countries, setting a world record, organisers said.

Ralph Simon, who was co-ordinating the text messaging campaign in Philadelphia - the venue of the largest of 10 concerts around the world to demand relief of African poverty, said: "This is definitely going down as the biggest political call to action."

He said the previous record for the most text messages sent on a single day for a single event was around 5.8 million for an episode of the television talent show American Idol where viewers vote for the winner.
More than 25 million text Live 8 - Mobile & Wireless - Breaking Business and Technology News at silicon.com

Old hands back in demand in the global workforce

"We all get older - but at Westpac, that's not a barrier to getting a job," it said. "You've got the life experience - we've got the customers who want to talk to people like you."

Three years ago, the Australian bank committed itself publicly to recruiting 900 employees aged over 45 by the end of 2005. Its aim was to prepare for expected labour shortages as the working-age population in Australia starts to decline. People over 45 now account for the main growth in the labour supply, the reverse of 20 years ago.

By last month, Westpac had exceeded its target, hiring 951 "mature age" candidates to its branches and call centres. "We have recruited many people who had planned to retire but then found it financially challenging," says Ross Miller, business unit consultant at the bank, one of Australia's largest employers.

Skills gaps, customer demand and the need to retain knowledge are three of the main factors driving employers who have started to take older workers seriously. Some sectors are already top-heavy with employees nearing retirement. In the US, aerospace, defence, education, healthcare, financial services and utilities face skills shortages.

"It will be an issue for particular companies," says Kevin Wesbroom of Hewitt Associates, the international human resources consulting firm. "It might not be the totality of their workforce, but in some skilled areas where they can't rely on past practice of armies of youngsters coming in."

FT.com / By industry / Telecoms - Old hands back in demand in the global workforce THE COSTS AND BENEFITS OF OLDER WORKERS

el paso definitivo para que los españoles lleven pronto en sus carteras un DNI digital que les permita relacionarse virtualmente con la Administración

Los primeros DNI electrónicos verán la luz en España en marzo de 2006. Según el contrato ganado por Indra, Telefónica y Software AG, en esa fecha los españoles de una ciudad media, aún por determinar, serán los pioneros en llevar en sus bolsillos el nuevo documento nacional de identidad digital. Éste consistirá en una tarjeta de policarbonato de alta seguridad con un chip incorporado que incluye certificados digitales y firma electrónica. La intención del Ministerio del Interior es que su implantación en todo el territorio nacional ocurra a finales de 2007. El proyecto global cuenta con una dotación aproximada para los próximos tres años de unos 150 millones.

CincoDias.com -

terça-feira, julho 05, 2005

Forget the Bootleg, Just Download the Movie Legally ?

The movie industry has in years past made half-hearted attempts to let people rent a small number of movies online, but the rapidly growing use of Internet video, both legal and pirated, is prompting it to create more robust download options and to consider online business models it dismissed as recently as a year ago.

The studios have been working for months to confront the technological and business challenges of digital sales. Those initiatives gained new urgency on June 27 when the Supreme Court ruled that companies distributing software that allows users to trade pirated copies of audio and video files are liable for copyright infringement only if they induce users to break the law.
The studios have strong incentive to make sure they offer consumers legal options: the rapid adoption of high-speed Internet connections is making the trading of pirated copies online easier and more widespread.

"It just will be easier and easier to be a legitimate consumer and harder and harder to be a pirate," said James Ramo, the chief executive of Movielink, a movie downloading service established by five major studios three years ago.

Of course, nobody argues that legal video downloads are going to take off quickly. It still takes half an hour or longer to download a movie, more than it takes some people to drive to a video store. The picture quality on a computer screen is not as good as a television with a good cable hookup. And there are not easy ways to move movies downloaded onto a PC to a television set.

Still, there is already a growing group of technology-savvy video buffs who are using free file-sharing software like BitTorrent to download pirated programs, especially movies that have not yet been released to DVD and new episodes of TV shows.

Not surprisingly, the videos that people most want to download are those that Hollywood is most shy about making available online.

Studios do not want to undercut box office receipts and DVD sales for hit movies, and TV networks do not want to put popular shows online, which might allow more viewers to skip the commercials. Nor do they want to rush into new technology that itself could be perverted.

Hollywood is now betting that consumers will want to own digital copies of movies, much as they have embraced collecting DVD's. The final business deals are still being negotiated, and movies are not expected to be available for sale until this fall, but the outlines of how the business will work is clear.

The studios will most likely make downloads available to a wide range of online distributors. Those that are preparing to offer the movies include Movielink, MSN, Sony's Connect service, the Target Corporation's Target.com, and CinemaNow, an online movie rental store. Prices, to be set by the retailers, are expected to be similar to prices for DVD's, generally between $10 and $20.

The studios have decided that this model could well be at least as profitable as DVD sales.

Without the cost of distribution and the traditional retail markup, said Jeffrey L. Bewkes, the chairman of Time Warner's entertainment and networks group, a downloaded copy of the fourth Harry Potter movie, for example, could be sold "for the same price as wholesale." The wholesale price of a DVD is around $12.

Mr. Ramo, from Movielink, said downloads would appeal to people who travel because the movies can be viewed on laptop computers. And many more titles can be made available online than in a typical retail store.
Still, there are some pesky technical issues that may limit the appeal of buying movie downloads. At first, the movies will be restricted to playing on a single computer with a television hookup. Some studio executives think this is far too narrow and consumers will want the ability to transfer movies to several computers, to portable devices and possibly to burn them to their own DVD's.

"The consumer experience is not good enough yet," said Yair Landau, vice chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, which is trying to work with other studios and electronics companies to define new legal structures for downloaded movies.

"If I sell you something that doesn't allow you to do what you want, it's not worth it," he said.

Other studios worry that more permissive schemes would invite piracy because the technology hasn't been commercially deployed that would allow people to make a limited number of copies of films without duplicating them for millions of their closest friends.

Kevin Tsujihara, an executive vice president of Warner Brothers Entertainment, argues that Hollywood must overcome those fears if it is to give consumers what they want. After all, the record labels were so cautious about not cannibalizing their existing business that they allowed piracy to flourish.

"If we are protecting a business, while at the same time not giving consumers what they ultimately want, it's not a sustainable model," Mr. Tsujihara said. "The music industry did a great job of not harming their ecosystem, but by doing that they killed their ecosystem."

The New York Times > Technology > Forget the Bootleg, Just Download the Movie Legally

domingo, julho 03, 2005

Profits, Not Jobs, on the Rebound in Silicon Valley

Amid widespread signs of economic recovery in the region, Wyse is emblematic of its economy, in which demand, sales and profits are rising quickly while job growth continues to stagnate.

In the last three years, profits at the seven largest companies in Silicon Valley by market value have increased by an average of more than 500 percent while Santa Clara County employment has declined to 767,600, from 787,200. During the previous economic recovery, between 1995 and 1997, the county, which is the heart of Silicon Valley, added more than 82,800 jobs.

Changes in technology and business strategy are raising fundamental questions about the future of the valley, the nation's high technology heartland. In part, the change is driven by the very automation that Silicon Valley has largely made possible, allowing companies to create more value with fewer workers.

Some economists are wondering if a larger transformation is at work - accelerating a trend in which the region's big employers keep a brain trust of creative people and engineers here but hire workers for lower-level tasks elsewhere.

"What has changed is that Silicon Valley has continued to move up the value chain," said AnnaLee Saxenian, dean of the School of Information Management and Systems and professor of city and regional planning at the University of California, Berkeley. That has meant that just as low-skilled manufacturing jobs fled the region starting in the 1970's, now software jobs are also leaving.

The phenomenon is only the latest twist in the region's boom-and-bust history, marked by repeated cycles of innovation and renewal over the last five decades.

Industries based on personal computing, hand-held devices and electronic commerce have emerged and thrived here, and each brought waves of new jobs. Now, almost everyone agrees that Silicon Valley is coming back, and employment there grew from March to May, but the area still has about 10,000 fewer jobs than there were a year ago.

Profits, Not Jobs, on the Rebound in Silicon Valley - New York Times

U.S. to Retain Oversight of Web Traffic

A unilateral decision by the United States to indefinitely retain oversight of the Internet's main traffic-directing computers prompted concerns Friday that the global telecommunications network could eventually splinter.

"This seems like an extension of American security in the aftermath of 9-11," said John Strand, a Denmark-based technology consultant. "People will ask: `Do the Americans want to control the Internet?'"

Washington's decision, announced Thursday, departs from previously stated U.S. policy.

Many countries favor gradually releasing oversight of the Internet's so-called "root servers" to an international body, and a showdown on the issue could come in November at a U.N. information society summit to be held in Tunisia. A U.N. report this month on Internet governance is expected to address the issue.

"The announcement will definitely drive countries and organizations toward creating private solutions similar to what is currently offered by New.net and Walid.com (alternative naming systems), which will result in fracturing the global Internet into several networks," Haddad said.

In a worst-case scenario, countries refusing to accept U.S. control could establish their own separate versions of the Domain Name System, thereby making addresses in some regions unreachable in others.

The U.S. government has historically played the role of overseer because it funded much of the Internet's early development. And while it is not known to have interfered in any major sense with traffic-routing affecting other countries, that does not ease concerns that such interference could occur.

"It's not going to work in the long run to have the USA deciding everything by themselves," said Patrik Faltstrom, one of Sweden's foremost Internet experts.

Print Story: U.S. to Retain Oversight of Web Traffic on Yahoo! News

sexta-feira, julho 01, 2005

Storm costs 'could rise by 66%'

The worldwide cost of major storms will rise by two-thirds unless governments start taking immediate action to reduce global warming, a report has warned.

The average annual global clean-up cost will rise to £15bn ($27bn) by 2080 without such efforts, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said.

It said these costs could be reduced with more effort to cut emissions of carbon and improved coastal defences.

The ABI also called for more weather-resilient buildings.

It said its Financial Risks of Climate Change report was based upon international scientific research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

BBC NEWS | Business | Storm costs 'could rise by 66%'