Latest read: The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires

Tim Wu’s second book The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires is wonderful examination how American information empires were established and stifled innovation at the same time. This is my second book by Wu following his brilliant Who Controls the Internet.
The Master SwitchWu identifies long business cycles surrounding the birth of information systems. While they begin open over time they were consolidated and driven by the market to become closed.

We displays how they become open again following amazing innovations force a business change in order to survive in the new marketplace.

The Master Switch opens with the birth of the Bell AT&T telephone monopoly. This is a facinating story when held against the garage startups of Apple and Google.

There is an amazing look at how countries and cultures also view information empires differently. The case for Wu is the capitalist, independent market approach to radio vs the UK’s BBC dominated by the royal family.

The Master Switch reveals how four key markets actually hold government infrastructure: telecommunications, banking, energy and transportation. These four and their capitalist owners for generations established control over any citizen’s attempt at challenging their monopolies. The lesson Wu establishes is corporate control by closed technologies. Yet one cannot help but understand they magically protected the country from the devastating affects of revolution leading up to and more importantly the horrific aftermath of World War I that forever removed Paris as the hub for film entertainment.
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University cloud computing contracts

Did you hear about the university professor signed up for a cloud service and unknowingly left his department on the hook for two years of service beyond his grant….or the university who had more than 500,000 student records (social security, addresses and grades) hacked? Cloud computing poses special demands upon Universities who can no longer employ the same procurement process used to acquire computers and software since the 1980s.

Are you aware that today many Universities (and K12 School districts) use a popular email marketing program that sells contact information of students to vertical marketing firms who in turn re-sell them to other marketing and product companies?

Today’s aggressive marketplace and the business of cloud services has radically changed the procurement process. Many of us have a fiduciary duty to protect data of our students, research and institutions.  Regardless of how students freely give away their data on Facebook, our institution will still be held responsible to  protect all of our institution’s data.

My views on the impact of Cloud Computing in Higher Education have been slowly evolving. This past May I was given an incredible opportunity to further my learning by participating in an Engineering & Technology Short Course with the UCLA Extension.
Remember those “must-take classes” in college?  UCLA’s Contracting for Cloud Computing Services is one on my list of those opportunities you cannot afford to ignore.  My advice: Find your way to UCLA.

Again, I hope this can help as many people as possible understand the lessons taught in class.  Due to the nature of the beast they are in no specific order. They are all top level concerns:

For over a generation traditional desktop PC vendors focused on features and price. Since the late 1980s schools established trust in vendor’s products to conduct business, educate students and store student data. From floppy disks to magnetic tape all data was stored locally on campus.

Today’s globalized internet marketplace is radically different when compared to the modem era of computing. The cloud computing model represents a number of fundamental shifts including Software as a Service(SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) are well established.

And although it’s a bit ahead on the radar we should not overlook the quickly emerging SuperComputer as a Service. While there is no  standard acronym, there are established vendors like SGI’s Cyclone, Amazon’s Cluster Compute, IBM’s Watson, and with forthcoming merge between PiCloud and D-Wave‘s quantum computing….more options for High Performance Computing will be available to many smaller, lean and aggressive institutions.

These new services are directly tied to the “consumerization” of technology: advanced technologies at affordable price points. As a result the new focus is around access.  The shift to mobile computing via netbooks, smartphones and tablets is well underway, yet many school’s do not have a sufficient wireless infrastructure. Students, faculty and administrators are today carrying a laptop, smartphone and probably an iPad. Schools are struggling to to handle bandwidth demands of so many devices in concentrated areas around campus, from the Student Union to the ResHalls.

IMHO the tipping point with Cloud computing and digital devices is the convenience of access. Today many diverse schools have a campus community that simply demands anytime/anywhere access to data. And it’s no longer just email and web.  Its BIG data from data base research to the delivery of HD media. For better (or for worse) society has become trained to demand mobile solutions that easily integrate into the app economy and their mobile lifestyles.
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MDNA: sales vs. torrents

I simply burst out laughing reading the Detroit News‘ article regarding Madonna’s sharply falling record sales.  Her latest release MDNA debuted at #1 last week after selling 359,000 copies according to Nielsen SoundScan. Yet as the article indicated: Madonna set to make the wrong kind of chart history.  Clearly author Adam Graham (@grahamorama) has no idea how torrents have simply crushed the music industry.  If he does understand — it was not mentioned in his article.

Riddle me this: How does Nielsen, Billboard or any other entertainment resource accurately reflect the impact of torrents on sales?  Ah….they can’t. The fact that Nielsen/Billboard still lists “traditional chart history” tells me another analog business is choking to death on the globalized internet.

I have come to accept that illegal downloads are no different than drugs, ebooks, guns or music.  All are in heavy demand.  The only difference: ebooks and music use the internet. Supply and demand.  Nothing more.

Its been a long standing issue for me to see mainstream media really show how inept they are when it relates to the globalization of the internet.  So what exactly did Adam Graham miss?

If you really want to understand the way the world works…

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Superbowl Freakonomics

Is the Superbowl commercial price points of $3.5million for a 30 second commercial really worth it?
superbowl freakonomicsThe NFL, NBC and every Ad/PR firm on the face of the world is saying yes for all the reasons wall street loved credit default swaps: Loads and loads of CA$H! Life must be great on Madison Avenue.

But consider this: would a public auction of commerical time before, during and after be more accurate? Steven Dubner from Freakonomics fame takes a deeper look.

Welcome to the iPad’s Digital Golden Age

Few would imagine what creative minds at Apple and Pixar would invent when the iPad was introduced.  With compelling content and affordable mobile devices my children are growing up in the Golden Age of Pixar, Apple and Disney.  The idea of playing an old school ‘board game’ pales in comparison with the iPad’s interactive, digital game and adventure opportunities.  Beyond driving around Radiator Springs, I believe a gold mine awaits with education for all ages.  But for now….off to the Apple Store to pickup a Lightning and Mater.

The first wikileak: Pentagon Papers

Finally after 40 years the US Government will publish The Pentagon Papers for the very first time.

The Pentagon Papers

The study commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara was officially titled: “United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense” and was a secret kept hidden from President Johnson. and American public for over 40 years.

The study traces US involvement in Vietnam beginning in 1945 just after World War II and ending in 1967 before the Tet Offensive.  The report, a scathing self-examination of U.S.-Vietnamese relations and the Vietnam War, led to one of the largest and most significant court battles ever concerning government secrets vs. freedom of the press.  Nixon’s demand to damage Ellsberg resulted in the Watergate scandal.

The Nixon Library has a copy in that was part of President Richard Nixon’s papers. It will be released at 9 a.m., June 13, 40 years to the day that leaked portions of the report were printed on the front page of The New York Times.