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


domingo, janeiro 29, 2006

Mais desigualdade na Internet Portuguesa

Millennium bcp: "Os portugueses dedicaram mais tempo a navegar na Internet no ano passado, aumentando 24,5%, face a 2004, e 88% face a 2002, anunciou a Marktest.

Entre 2002 e 2005 o número dos internautas portugueses de quatro e mais anos que durante o ano acederam à Internet a partir de casa manteve-se, apesar de uma ligeira quebra de 0,4% em 2005 face ao ano precedente.

Em 2005, foram 1 584 mil os portugueses que acederam à Internet a partir de casa, o que representa 97,1% do universo em estudo. Neste período visitaram mais de 16 mil milhões de páginas, tendo dedicado a este meio mais de 150 milhões de horas.

Foi ao nível do tráfego (medido em número de páginas visitadas) e do tempo despendido que se registaram as maiores evoluções nos últimos anos."

Getting a record deal used to be the prerequisite for fame and fortune. If the industry does not act fast, it may become an afterthough

FT.com - The record industry needs a new answer to digital discord: "The industry is up in arms that Apple charges a fixed 99¢ or 79p for a track, regardless of whether it is Britney's best or Whitney's worst. It should be grateful that Apple is charging anything at all and recognise the power of such sites to make money from the 'long tail' of older tracks which would never find space on a retailer's shelves.

But with new bands giving their music away to build up a fan base, continued price pressure from retailers and mobile phone operators selling 'all you can eat' subscriptions offering thousands of songs for a few euros a month, the traditional single increasingly looks like something which will be given away to sell other products - albums, iPods or mobile phones.

Record companies, whose business model looks as dated as their vinyl-era name, should give new singles away for free, just as Unilever gives away sachets of shampoo to persuade consumers to buy the bottle. Doing so would undermine illegal distributors more effectively than any lawsuit and force companies to focus on parts of the business where there is still good money to be made.

The strength of live music and ringtone sales shows consumers will still pay for unique experiences and good gimmicks. Recorded music companies have had little or no control over merchandising, touring or management. They should rethink this. They should also invest the savings offered by digital distribution in hunting for talent amid the cacophony of music available online.

The change will be painful, as cost structures will have to adapt to the new pricing environment. That may mean more consolidation, and a rethink of the industry's lavish lifestyle (perhaps next year's conference should be in Sheffield rather than Cannes). But it is essential. Getting a record deal used to be the prerequisite for fame and fortune. If the industry does not act fast, it may become an afterthought.

The writer is the FT's media editor


Arctic Monkeys obey new laws of the jungle

FT.com / Comment & analysis : "Record labels will undoubtedly adapt to change. As long as physical formats are sold, artists will need the clout of established record labels to shift units in large volumes. But with the effectiveness of online promotion and distribution set to grow, new ways to sell music are opening up. Bands with talent like the Arctic Monkeys can blossom into great acts, while their fan base can grow rapidly with access to the tunes they love at their fingertips."

sábado, janeiro 28, 2006

Personal Relationships Expand with Use of the Web

The Internet allows people to build social networks that support personal decisions. The findings in the report "The Strength of Internet Ties" published by Pew Internet & American Life Project refute previous assumptions that the Web limits social interaction.

Technologies such as the Internet; e-mail; instant messenger and cell phones allow people to develop both "core ties" and "significant ties" at a more global level. Core ties are defined social contacts involving a very close relationship with a person. Significant ties are people somewhat closely connected to an individual. Respondents to the study reported an average 23 core ties and 27 significant ties. The median number of core ties is 15, and significant ties are 16. This means one-half of Americans have 15 or more core ties and 16 or more significant ones.

Contrary to belief the Internet enables social contact outside of social setting, people who e-mail 80 percent or more of their core ties weekly are 25 percent more likely to have phone contact than non-e-mailing counterparts. In-person contact is about the same for those who e-mail their core group and those who don't.
"The Internet does help spur traditional means of staying in touch," said Horrigan.

In times of need, people mobilize their social network of core and significant ties to request help. "Media multiplexers," or heavy users of technological communication channels, look to their social network when they need aid. Devices and technology considered to qualify heavy users include a PDA; cell phone; text messaging; and a wireless Internet connection.

When a person looks to his social network for help, the significant ties group can be more important than a core group. Knowing people across a range of different occupations remains the strongest predictor for getting help.

"Thirty-four percent of people said the Internet played a crucial role, they got advice and support from other people," said Horrigan. "Thirty percent said they got information online to compare options."

Personal Relationships Expand with Use of the Web

The Strength of Internet Ties: The internet and email aid users in maintaining their social networks and provide pathways to help when people face big decisions

quarta-feira, janeiro 25, 2006

Worldwide Wi-Fi Hotspots Hits the 100,000 Mark

Key growth milestones from January 2005 to January 2006:

-- The number of worldwide hotspots grew 87%, from 53,779 in 93 countries to 100,355 hotspots in 115 countries.

-- The top three Wi-Fi cities in January 2005 were London, New York and Paris, whereas in 2006 the top three cities are Seoul, Tokyo and London.

-- The top three Wi-Fi countries in January 2005 were the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany, whereas in January 2006 the top three countries are the United States, the United Kingdom and South Korea.

Worldwide Wi-Fi Hotspots Hits the 100,000 Mark

domingo, janeiro 22, 2006

PC viruses hit 20 year milestone

It was during the opening weeks of 1986 that the first PC virus, called Brain, was discovered in the wild.

Though it achieved fame because it was the first of its type, the virus was not widespread as it could only travel by hitching a ride on floppy disks swapped between users.

Now 20 years after they first appeared there are more than 150,000 malicious programs in existence.

The origins of the Brain virus are disputed. It is thought to have been created by a Pakistani software firm to help protect the software it created and sold.

The virus was discovered in January 1986 but may have been written some time before that as it used a relatively slow method to travel.
"The most significant change has been the evolution of virus writing hobbyists into criminally operated gangs bent on financial gain," said Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at Finnish anti-virus firm F-Secure.

This week the FBI released figures which suggest that 84% of US businesses were attacked by viruses, spyware and other malicious programs in 2005.

On average, dealing with the attack cost US businesses $24,000, said the FBI.

BBC NEWS | Technology | PC viruses hit 20 year milestone

The Internet was completely funded by porn

At the adult entertainment industry's equivalent of the Oscars in Las Vegas this month, comedian-host Greg Fitzsimmons zeroed in on the entrenched relationship between the Internet and pornography.

"The Internet was completely funded by porn," he said from the stage of the 23rd annual AVN Awards show. And if it wasn't for the Internet, he added, "you guys would be completely out of business." The audience, packed with porn actors and adult entertainment moguls like Jenna Jameson and Larry Flynt, roared with laughter.
Online pornography, a $2.5 billion business and growing rapidly, pioneered such now-commonplace practices as streaming video, trading files and making online purchases. By comparison, sales of music downloads totaled $1.1 billion last year.

It's an old joke that every new technology is driven by porn: A big attraction for digital cameras, some hold, was the ability to take bedroom photos without having to take film to the snickering teenagers at the corner photo shop. And a force behind the rapid spread of VCR and, later, DVD sales was the ability to watch blue movies without being seen at a theater.

More recently, when Apple announced an iPod with video playback capabilities, there was a stampede among adult entertainment companies to announce that they were making video programming available in the player's format. Mobile porn is already such a booming business that it has its own trade show, the Mobile Adult Content Congress, which will take place in Miami next week. Scheduled speakers include representatives from Virgin Mobile UK and Vodafone, as well as porn actor Ron Jeremy.

"Of course pornography has played a key role in the Web," said Paul Saffo, an analyst with Silicon Valley think tank Institute for the Future. Explicit images have been key in the advent of many technologies, he said. "Porn is to new media formats what acne is to teenagers," he said. "It's just part of the process of growing up."

Technology's Seamier Side

sábado, janeiro 21, 2006

The mobile phone became a portable music device in 2005,

Music fans downloaded 420m single tracks from the internet last year - twenty times more than two years earlier - while the volume of music licensed by record companies doubled to over 2m songs, according to a report from UK-based International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). Digital music now accounts for about 6 per cent of record companies' revenues, up from virtually zero two years ago.

The legitimate digital music business is steadily pushing back on digital music piracy. In Europe's two biggest digital markets, UK and Germany, IFPI research indicates that more music fans are legally downloading music than illegally file-swapping.

The mobile phone became a portable music device in 2005, the first year in which song downloads to mobile phones spread internationally. Mobile music now accounts for approximately 40 per cent of record company digital revenues. Record companies are seeing sharply increased sales of master ringtones (excerpts of original artist recordings) which account for the bulk of their over €331m mobile music revenues.

Digital Media Europe: News - Global digital music sales triple to €912m in 2005

quarta-feira, janeiro 18, 2006

The McKinsey Quarterly: Ten trends to watch in 2006

What are the currents that will make the world of 2015 a very different place to do business from the world of today? Predicting short-term changes or shocks is often a fool's errand. But forecasting long-term directional change is possible by identifying trends through an analysis of deep history rather than of the shallow past. Even the Internet took more than 30 years to become an overnight phenomenon.
1. Centers of economic activity will shift profoundly, not just globally, but also regionally. As a consequence of economic liberalization, technological advances, capital market developments, and demographic shifts, the world has embarked on a massive realignment of economic activity.
2. Public-sector activities will balloon, making productivity gains essential. The unprecedented aging of populations across the developed world will call for new levels of efficiency and creativity from the public sector. Without clear productivity gains, the pension and health care burden will drive taxes to stifling proportions.
3. The consumer landscape will change and expand significantly. Almost a billion new consumers will enter the global marketplace in the next decade as economic growth in emerging markets pushes them beyond the threshold level of $5,000 in annual household income—a point when people generally begin to spend on discretionary goods. From now to 2015, the consumer's spending power in emerging economies will increase from $4 trillion to more than $9 trillion—nearly the current spending power of Western Europe.
4. Technological connectivity will transform the way people live and interact. The technology revolution has been just that. Yet we are at the early, not mature, stage of this revolution. Individuals, public sectors, and businesses are learning how to make the best use of IT in designing processes and in developing and accessing knowledge. New developments in fields such as biotechnology, laser technology, and nanotechnology are moving well beyond the realm of products and services.

More transformational than technology itself is the shift in behavior that it enables.
5. The battlefield for talent will shift. Ongoing shifts in labor and talent will be far more profound than the widely observed migration of jobs to low-wage countries. The shift to knowledge-intensive industries highlights the importance and scarcity of well-trained talent. The increasing integration of global labor markets, however, is opening up vast new talent sources. The 33 million university-educated young professionals in developing countries is more than double the number in developed ones. For many companies and governments, global labor and talent strategies will become as important as global sourcing and manufacturing strategies.
6. The role and behavior of big business will come under increasingly sharp scrutiny. As businesses expand their global reach, and as the economic demands on the environment intensify, the level of societal suspicion about big business is likely to increase. The tenets of current global business ideology—for example, shareholder value, free trade, intellectual-property rights, and profit repatriation—are not understood, let alone accepted, in many parts of the world.
7. Demand for natural resources will grow, as will the strain on the environment. As economic growth accelerates—particularly in emerging markets—we are using natural resources at unprecedented rates. Oil demand is projected to grow by 50 percent in the next two decades,
8. New global industry structures are emerging. In response to changing market regulation and the advent of new technologies, nontraditional business models are flourishing, often coexisting in the same market and sector space.
9. Management will go from art to science. Bigger, more complex companies demand new tools to run and manage them. Indeed, improved technology and statistical-control tools have given rise to new management approaches that make even mega-institutions viable.
10. Ubiquitous access to information is changing the economics of knowledge. Knowledge is increasingly available and, at the same time, increasingly specialized. The most obvious manifestation of this trend is the rise of search engines (such as Google), which make an almost infinite amount of information available instantaneously. Access to knowledge has become almost universal. Yet the transformation is much more profound than simply broad access.

New models of knowledge production, access, distribution, and ownership are emerging. We are seeing the rise of open-source approaches to knowledge development as communities, not individuals, become responsible for innovations. Knowledge production itself is growing: worldwide patent applications, for example, rose from 1990 to 2004 at a rate of 20 percent annually. Companies will need to learn how to leverage this new knowledge universe—or risk drowning in a flood of too much information.

Some facts and predictions to make you think

Total world cross-border trade as a percentage of global GDP
1990: 18%
2015 (estimated): 30%

Number of regional trade agreements
In 1990: 50
In 2005: 250

Change in Germany's population over the age of 75 from 2005 to 2015: 33%

Increase in tax burden needed to maintain current benefit levels for Germany's future generation: 90%

Change in Japan's population over the age of 75 from 2005 to 2015: 36%

Change in Japan's population under the age of 5 from 2005 to 2015:

Increase in tax burden needed to maintain current benefit levels for Japan's future generation: 175%

Computational capability of an Intel processor, as measured in instructions per second
1971: 60,000
2005: 10,800,000,000

Multiple by which e-mail traffic has grown from 1997 to 2005: 215

Number of US tax returns prepared in India
2003: 25,000
2005: 400,000

Combined market cap of top 150 mega-institutions
1994: $4 trillion
2004: $11 trillion

Total capital under management by private equity firms in 2003 in the United States and Europe: $1 trillion

Market cap of the NYSE in 2003: $11 trillion

Growth rate of the total wealth controlled by millionaires in China from 1986 to 2001: 600%

Estimated number of Chinese households to achieve European income levels by 2020 (assuming real income grows at 8 percent annually): 100 million

Total number of workers in China: 750 million
Number employed in China's state-owned companies: 375 million

Year when the income gap in the United States between the wealthiest 5% and the bottom 10% was the widest ever recorded: 2004

Part of national GDP spent on the public sector in the United Kingdom in 2004: 20%

UK public-sector spending as a ratio of GDP when transfer payments (for example, pensions) are included: 40%

Proportion of Latin Americans who would prefer a dictator to democracy if he improved their living conditions: 50%

Muslims as a percentage of the global population
2000: 19%
2025 (estimated): 30%

Number of major violent conflicts
1991: 58
2005: 22

Number of coal-fired power plants China plans to build by 2012: 562

Estimated year China will overtake the United States as the number-one carbon emitter: 2025

Estimated year CO2 levels will hit 500 parts per million: 2050

Years since CO2 levels last hit 500 parts per million: 50 million

Average years it takes a CO2 molecule, once produced, to degrade: 100

Global CEOs who think overregulation is a threat to growth: 61%

Probability that a company in an industry's top revenue quartile will not be there in five years: 30 percent
The McKinsey Quarterly: Ten trends to watch in 2006

domingo, janeiro 15, 2006

The 50 Greatest Gadgets of the Past 50 Years - Yahoo! News

...The Complete List of PC World's 50 Greatest Gadgets

PC World's list of the top 50 tech gadgets of the last half century was assembled after we polled our editors for nominations. We then rated the nominated gadgets for usefulness, design, degree of innovation, influence on subsequent gadgets, and the "cool factor." Here are the results. (For more on our 50 Greatest Gadgets project, see the full story.)
# Sony Walkman TPS-L2 (1979)
# Apple iPod (2001)
# (Tie) ReplayTV RTV2001 and TiVo HDR110 (1999)
# PalmPilot 1000 (1996)
# Sony CDP-101 (1982)
# Motorola StarTAC (1996)
# Atari Video Computer System (1977)
# Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera (1972)
# M-Systems DiskOnKey (2000)
# Regency TR-1 (1954)
# Sony PlayStation 2 (2000)
# Motorola Razr V3 (2004)
# Motorola PageWriter (1996)
# BlackBerry 850 Wireless Handheld (1998)
# Phonemate Model 400 (1971)
# Texas Instruments Speak & Spell (1978)
# Texas Instruments SR-10 (1973)
# Diamond Multimedia Rio PMP300 %281998)
# Sony Handycam DCR-VX1000 (1995)
# Handspring Treo 600 (2003)
# Zenith Space Command (1956)
# Hamilton Pulsar (1972)
# Kodak Instamatic 100 (1963)
# MITS Altair 8800 (1975)
# Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100 (1983)
# Nintendo Game Boy (1989)
# Commodore 64 (1982)
# Apple Newton MessagePad (1994)
# Sony Betamax (1975)
# Sanyo SCP-5300 (2002)
# iRobot Roomba Intelligent Floorvac (2002)
# Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer (1999)
# Franklin Rolodex Electronics REX PC Companion (1997)
# Lego Mindstorms Robotics Invention System 10 (1998)
# Motorola DynaTAC 8000X (1983)
# Iomega Zip Drive (1995)
# Magnavox Magnavision Model 8000 DiscoVision Videodisc Player (1978)
# Milton Bradley Simon (1978)
# Play, Inc Snappy Video Snapshot (1996)
# Connectix QuickCam (1994)
# BellSouth/IBM Simon Personal Communicator (1993)
# Motorola Handie Talkie HT-220 Slimline (1969)
# Polaroid Swinger (1965)
# Sony Aibo ERS-110 (1999)
# Sony Mavica MVC-FD5 (1997)
# Learjet Stereo-8 (1965)
# Timex/Sinclair 1000 (1982)
# Sharp Wizard OZ-7000 (1989)
# Jakks Pacific TV Games (2002)
# Poqet PC Model PQ-0164 (1990)

Following is PC World's list of the 50 greatest tech gadgets of the last 50 years, organized by decade (gadgets released the same year are listed in alphabetical order).

1954Regency TR-1 (10)
1956Zenith Space Command (21)

1963Kodak Instamatic 100 (23)
1965Learjet Stereo-8 (46), Polaroid Swinger (43)
1969Motorola Handie Talkie HT-220 Slimline (42)

1971Phonemate Model 400 (15)
1972 Hamilton Pulsar (22), Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera (8)
1973 Texas Instruments SR-10 (17)
1975 MITS Altair 8800 (24), Sony Betamax (29)
1977 Atari Video Computer System (7)
1978 Magnavox Magnavision Model 8000 DiscoVision Videodisc Player (37), Milton Bradley Simon (38), Texas Instruments Speak & Spell (16)
1979 Sony Walkman TPS-L2 (1)

1982 Commodore 64 (27), Sony CDP-101 (5), Timex/Sinclair 1000 (47)
1983 Motorola DynaTAC 8000X (35), Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100 (25)
1989 Nintendo Game Boy (26), Sharp Wizard OZ-7000 (48)

1990 Poqet PC Model PQ-0164 (50)
1993 BellSouth/IBM Simon Personal Communicator (41)
1994 Apple Newton MessagePad (28), Connectix QuickCam (40)
1995 Iomega Zip Drive (36), Sony Handycam DCR-VX1000 (19)
1996 Motorola PageWriter (13), Motorola StarTAC (6), PalmPilot 1000 (4), Play, Inc. Snappy Video Snapshot (39)
1997 Franklin Rolodex Electronics REX PC Companion (33), Sony Mavica MVC-FD5 (45)
1998 BlackBerry 850 Wireless Handheld (14), Diamond Multimedia Rio PMP300 (18), Lego Mindstorms Robotics Invention System 1.0 (34)
1999 Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer (32), ReplayTV RTV2001 and TiVo HDR110 (3, tie), Sony Aibo ERS-110 (44)

2000 M-Systems DiskOnKey (9), Sony PlayStation 2 (11)
2001 Apple iPod (2)
2002iRobot Roomba Intelligent Floorvac (31), Jakks Pacific TV Games (49), Sanyo SCP-5300 (30)
2003Handspring Treo 600 (20)
2004Motorola Razr V3 (12)

The 50 Greatest Gadgets of the Past 50 Years - Yahoo! News

sexta-feira, janeiro 13, 2006

Global corruption 'on the rise'

Corruption is on the increase in a majority of countries around the world, according to a study by global pressure group Transparency International.

People in 48 of the 69 countries covered in its annual Global Corruption Barometer survey said corruption had risen over the past three years.

The survey showed that taking bribes was particularly prevalent in Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

Political parties were the most corrupt bodies for the second year in a row.

They were followed by parliaments, police and judicial systems.

In central and eastern Europe, customs officials were seen as the most corrupt.
It found that in 13 countries more than 50% of respondents said corruption had increased a lot over the past three years - Bolivia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, India, Israel, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines and Venezuela.

Only six countries said it had decreased - Colombia, Georgia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Kenya and Singapore.

TI said corruption also extended to the education system of many countries, and that this could have a detrimental effect on their future development.

BBC NEWS | Business | Global corruption 'on the rise'

terça-feira, janeiro 10, 2006

A guerra é muito cara

An analysis by Linda Bilmes of Harvard University and the Nobel-laureate Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University suggests that the administration underestimated the economic costs by considerably more than an order of magnitude.* To paraphrase erstwhile senator Everett Dirksen: “a $100bn error here, a $100bn error there and pretty soon you are talking real money”.

So far the government has spent $251bn in hard cash. But the costs continue. If the US begins to withdraw troops this year, but maintains a diminishing presence for the next five years, the additional cost will be at least $200bn, under what Profs Bilmes and Stiglitz call their “conservative” option. Under their “moderate” one, the cost reaches $271bn, because troops remain until 2015.

Additional costs must be added: medical treatment; cost of injuries; disability payments; cost of demobilisation; need for increased defence spending (partly because of higher recruitment costs in the aftermath of the war) and additional interest on debt. Such costs will be bigger, the longer and greater the troop presence. Under the conservative scenario, the total budgetary cost is estimated at $750bn. Under the moderate scenario, the cost is $1,184bn. To put this in context, the minimum budgetary cost is 10 times the world’s net annual official development assistance to all developing countries.

Now consider the wider costs to the US economy. In the conservative case, the adjustments add $187bn to the budgetary cost, even if the macroeconomic impact is ignored. In the moderate one, they add $305bn.

What are these economic costs? The difference between the wages reserves earn in their normal occupations and the lower wages they earn in service are a cost. While life is priceless, the government necessarily values lives in making its decisions. Using the Environmental Protection Agency’s valuation of $6.1m, the authors conclude that the cost of fatalities will be at least $23bn. There are also ongoing economic costs from the terrible injuries. Finally, there is accelerated depreciation of military hardware.

So far, then, the economic cost comes out at a minimum of $839bn (excluding interest). This, alas, does not end the story. In one area, at least, further costs are evident: the jump in the price of oil. Mr Lindsey is reported to have said that “the best way to keep oil prices in check is a short, successful war on Iraq”. He was wrong. Oil production in Iraq has plummeted, from around 2.6m barrels a day before the war to 1.1m.

Before the war, the oil price was expected to remain at between $20 and $30 a barrel. In practice, it has been more than twice as high. The authors’ conservative assumption is that $5 of this is due to the war. Their moderate assumption is that the impact has been $10 a barrel. A $5 increase imposes a cost of $25bn a year on the US and a $10 increase one of $50bn.

Higher oil prices have wider macroeconomic effects. In the short to medium run, spending by the now poorer consumers tends to fall faster than spending by the now richer producers rises. Central banks concerned about inflation also adopt tighter monetary policies than they would otherwise do, while fiscal policy does not normally adjust swiftly to such changes. With a modest “income multiplier” of 1.5, the conservative estimate of the additional losses in output is $187bn over five years. With a multiplier of two and the higher price effect, these costs rise to $450bn.

The authors also add two differences between expenditures on the war in Iraq and likely alternatives: first, they are overwhelmingly abroad; second, they do not contribute directly to consumption, either now or in the future. With these costs taken into account, the total macroeconomic costs may add up to $750bn (see chart) and total costs to $1,850bn.

Critics will stress that both authors served under President Bill Clinton. In the current heated atmosphere of US politics that will be enough to discredit their analysis. It should not do so. Whether or not one believes the war was justified, one should still be concerned that a decision to go to war was taken in the absence of any intelligent analysis of the likely costs.

Nor can one argue that it was impossible to do such an analysis. As I pointed out in a questioning column on the war published almost three years ago (this page, February 4 2003), William Nordhaus of Yale had already prepared a superb analysis, which suggested that $100bn was the lowest imaginable cost and close to $2,000bn perfectly conceivable.

The present analysis also ignores a host of significant economic and non-economic effects. Among these are: costs borne by other countries, including those created by higher oil prices; costs consequent upon creating a link between Iraq and the jihadi movement that did not, on the evidence, previously exist; costs of increasing the income of some of the world’s least desirable regimes, above all, Iran’s; costs of throwing away the option to fight ground wars elsewhere or to fight in Iraq later on, under better conditions, better information and a better state of preparedness; costs of enraging many Muslims; costs to the effectiveness of the US military; costs of fragmenting the western alliance; the loss of Iraqi lives; the cost to US credibility of going to war on a false premise; and the cost to the US reputation of the torture scandals.

It is possible to argue that the benefits for Iraq, the Middle East and the world will outweigh all these costs. But that depends on the emergence, in Iraq, of a stable and peaceful democratic order. That has not yet been achieved.

Even those who supported the war must draw two lessons. First, the exercise of military power is far more expensive than many fondly hoped. Second, such policy decisions require a halfway decent analysis of the costs and possible consequences. The administration’s failure to do so was a blunder that will harm the US and the world for years to come.

* The Economic Costs of the Iraq War, www2.gsb.columbia.edu/faculty/jstiglitz/

Martin Wolf

segunda-feira, janeiro 09, 2006

Lawrence Lessig: the “Read-Only” internet

We are well on our way to perfecting the “Read-Only” internet – that network in which every bit of culture can be bought in a single click, but bought with the rights to consume only. 2006 will be a critical stage in this process.

Apple showed the world how it could be done with music. Now it is doing the same with television content. Video stores are learning how to sell DVDs more efficiently. Amazon is experimenting with pay-per-page models for selling books. Technology will increasingly make it simple for content owners to control how and when you get access to their material, and how you use it.

Intellectual property laws will support this Read-Only internet. Indeed, copyright in the digital world gives content owners more legal control over the use of their content than in the physical world. In the physical world, there are plenty of uses of creative work that are beyond the reach of copyright because these uses do not produce a copy – for example, reading a book. But in the digital world, as every use of creative work technically produces a copy, every use, in principle, requires the permission of the content owner. And thus, as technology better controls how content gets used, the law will back that control up. A perfectly controlled Read-Only internet will increasingly displace the messy freedom that defines cyberspace now. “Piracy” will be coded away, or at least reduced so significantly in the developed world as not to matter.
It is hard for those of us from the couch potato generation to understand why the creativity of the Read-Write internet is important. But if you focus on something that we are likely to understand – market value – then the Read-Write internet, indeed, has a great deal to recommend it. The computers, bandwidth, software and storage media needed to enable an efficient Read-Only internet are but a fraction of the technology needed to support the Read-Write internet. The potential for growth with the Read-Write internet is extraordinary, if only the law were to allow it.

But to those building the Read-Write internet, economics is not what matters. Nor is it what matters to their parents. After a talk in which I presented some AMV work, a father said to me: “I don’t think you really realise just how important this is. My kid couldn’t get into college till we sent them his AMVs. Now he’s a freshman at a university he never dreamed he could attend.”

The father was right. We do not realise how significant the Read-Write internet could be. Nor can I even begin to imagine how policymakers could be made to see the harm that perfecting the Read-Only internet will have for this more vibrant and valuable alternative.

FT.com / Comment & analysis / Comment - Creatives face a closed Net

domingo, janeiro 08, 2006

Coming Soon to TV Land: The Internet, Actually - New York Times

The rapid emergence of the consumer electronics and computer companies as Internet video providers is certain to challenge the control of the cable, telephone and satellite companies, which seek to dominate the distribution of digital content to the home. Competition has intensified as more consumers have upgraded to digital televisions.

Indeed, the easy availability of on-demand content over the Internet is certain to accelerate consumer expectations that they will have more control over digital video content, both to watch programs when they want as well as to move video programs to different types of displays in different rooms of the home.

"Appointment-based television is dead," said William Randolph Hearst III, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm. "The cable industry is really in danger of becoming commoditized."
In the battle for the living room, cable, satellite, and increasingly, phone companies are trying to defend their turf by offering more choice through an array of content in video-on-demand programs.

But fending off the Internet's openness will be a struggle, one that the online companies themselves lost years ago.

At the onset of the dot-com era, large online service companies like AOL, Compuserve and MSN tried to lock customers into electronic walled gardens of digital information.

But it quickly became apparent that no single company could compete with the vast variety of information and entertainment sources provided on the Web.

The same phenomenon may well overtake traditional TV providers. Potentially, IPTV could replace the 100- or 500-channel world of the cable and satellite companies with millions of hybrid combinations that increasingly blend video, text from the Web, and even video-game-style interactivity.

Coming Soon to TV Land: The Internet, Actually - New York Times

Electronic Eye Grows Wider in Britain

Britain, already the world's leader in video surveillance of its people, will soon be able to automatically track the movements of millions of cars on most of its major roads.

Law enforcement agencies are drastically increasing the number of cameras that read license plates and are building a national database that designers say will make it possible to determine in seconds whether a car zooming by has insurance, was stolen or was seen near a crime scene.

"It will revolutionize policing," said John Dean, the national coordinator of the Automatic Number Plate Recognition system, or ANPR. "Our aim is to deny criminals the use of the roads."

Electronic Eye Grows Wider in Britain

terça-feira, janeiro 03, 2006

The result of naive extrapolation is overestimation of the pace of short-run change and underestimation of the scale and nature of long-run change.

But the most important events in business and politics are generally those that we cannot observe today but will observe tomorrow, such as the (almost universally unforeseen) fall of the Berlin Wall. There is little reward for those who predict these happenings. Richard Clarke, a White House terrorism adviser, spent years unsuccessfully trying to alert his masters to the dangers of al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. He was disparaged before September 11, 2001 – people who worry about problems others are not worrying about are irritating – and disparaged after it – people who were right when others were wrong are even more irritating. Naive extrapolation is easier. Those who ignored the terrorist threat before 9/11 and exaggerated it afterwards still have their jobs.

The result of naive extrapolation is overestimation of the pace of short-run change and underestimation of the scale and nature of long-run change. None of us is very good at visualising worlds that are fundamentally, rather than incrementally, different from the one we know: and the things that change the world fundamentally are usually things that are not yet widely identified or understood.

Prediction is hard, especially when it concerns the future. It is safer, and more common, to predict the present: and such predictions are much better received, so that is what most futurologists do. The lesson for those who must nevertheless prepare for the future is to be uncompromisingly cynical and recognise that those who claim to know what the future holds reveal only their own ignorance. Listen to people who are genuinely expert in specialist fields rather than those who profess to understand how the business world will evolve. But most of all, recognise how little about the world we can ever really know.


domingo, janeiro 01, 2006

For men, it's just, `Give me the facts

American men who go online are more likely than women to check the weather, the news, sports, political and financial information, the Pew Internet and American Life Project reported Wednesday. They are also more likely to use the Internet to download music and software and to take a class.

Online women, meanwhile, are bigger users of e-mail, and they are also more likely to go online for religious information and support for health or personal problems.

"For men, it's just, `Give me the facts," said Deborah Fallows, who wrote the report based on six years of Pew surveys. "For women, it's `Let's talk about this. Are you worried about this problem?' It's keeping in touch and connecting with people in a richer way."

InformationWeek | Internet Usage | Gender Differences Exist In Internet Use: Study | December 29, 2005