Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Life imitates Fiction

People tell us that movie makes us love life more than we loved it before; that it reveals its secrets to us; and that we see things in it that had escaped our observation.
The more we enjoy the movies, the less we care for reality.
What show really reveals to us is life's lack of design, its curious crudities, its extraordinary monotony, its absolutely unfinished condition. Reality has good intentions, of course, but, as Aristotle once said, she cannot carry them out.
As for the infinite variety of life, that is a pure myth.
It is not to be found in reality itself.
It resides in the imagination, or fancy, or cultivated blindness of the man who looks at it.
Nature is so uncomfortable. Grass is hard and lumpy and damp, and full of dreadful black insects.

If reality had been comfortable, mankind would never have invented architecture, and I prefer houses to the open air.
In a house we all feel of the proper proportions.
Everything is subordinated to us, fashioned for our use and our pleasure.
Egotism itself, which is so necessary to a proper sense of human dignity, is entirely the result of indoor life. Out of doors one becomes abstract and impersonal.
One's individuality absolutely leaves one.
And then reality is so indifferent, so unappreciative.
Nothing is more evident than that reality hates Mind.
Thinking is the most unhealthy thing in the world, and people die of it just as they die of any other disease.
Fortunately thought is not catching.
Our splendid physique as a people is entirely due to our stupidity.
I only hope we shall be able to keep this great historic bulwark of our happiness for many years to come; but I am afraid that we are beginning to be over-educated; at least everybody who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching - that is really what our enthusiasm for education has come to.

Paradox though it may seem - and paradoxes are always dangerous things - it is none the less true that Life imitates movies far more than movies imitates life.
A great director invents a type, and Life tries to copy it, to reproduce it in a popular form, like an enterprising publisher.
As it is with the visible arts, so it is with literature.
The most obvious and the vulgarest form in which this is shown is in the case of the silly boys who, after reading the adventures of somebody imitate him.
This interesting phenomenon, is usually attributed to the influence of literature on the imagination.
But this is a mistake.
The imagination is essentially creative, and always seeks for a new form.
The boy-whatever is simply the inevitable result of life's imitative instinct.
He is Fact, occupied as Fact usually is, with trying to reproduce Fiction, and what we see in him is repeated on an extended scale throughout the whole of life.
Schopenhauer has analysed the pessimism that characterises modern thought, but Hamlet invented it.
The world has become sad because a puppet was once melancholy.
The Nihilist, that strange martyr who has no faith, who goes to the stake without enthusiasm, and dies for what he does not believe in, is a purely literary product.
He was invented by Tourgenieff, and completed by Dostoieffski.

Personal experience is a most vicious and limited circle.
All that I desire to point out is the general principle that Life imitates Show far more than Show imitates Life, and I feel sure that if you think seriously about it you will find that it is true.

Life holds the mirror up to Show, and either reproduces some strange type imagined by painter or sculptor, or realises in fact what has been dreamed in fiction. Scientifically speaking, the basis of life - the energy of life, as Aristotle would call it - is simply the desire for expression, and Art is always presenting various forms through which this expression can be attained. Life seizes on them and uses them, even if they be to it own hurt. Young men have committed suicide because somebody in the fiction did so, have died by their own hand because by his own hand Werther died. Think of what we owe to the imitation of Christ, of what we owe to the imitation of Caesar.

Where, if not from the Impressionists, do we get those wonderful brown fogs that come creeping down our streets, blurring the gas-lamps and changing the houses into monstrous shadows?
To whom, if not to them and their master, do we owe the lovely silver mists that brood over our river, and turn to faint forms of fading grace curved bridge and swaying barge?

Rove, however, is more than a political sharpie with a bulging bag of dirty tricks. His campaign shenanigans — past and future — go to the heart of what this election is about.

Nothing else than the mirror of our life: a reality trying to imitate fiction..

Liberally taken from Oscar Wilde

Saturday, October 16, 2004

More on the Less

Monopoly means that there is one class that takes all the advantages and makes it impossible for the others to enter the Market.

One way is having the Governments "on their side" with suitable laws and regulations.
That is what has happened and is happening in the last century.
Progress would mean to let a new class of entrepreneurs to enter the market, giving the same opportunities to all.
In the moment they can charge millions of dollars for a frequency, that has the consequence to restrict the number of available investors to a few, to a "monopoly" of big companies that on their side will get back the money invested adding a nice sum to it.

They won't create new jobs, they won't distribute the wealth.
They will reinvest their profits to increase their monopolies in our fields, so that the all world will belong to a few...

In 1789 they had a similar situation.
A bunch of few Kings and Nobles ruled the world of that time, they didn't create jobs, they didn't share their wealth.
Their main interest was being able to create new money to be able to spend and waste more.

History repeats itself.
It is just a matter of time. And it is always the same, nobody ever understands the lesson of History.

Besides all, they keep forgetting the most important, that the people vote for somebody to be "represented" from that somebody and not to be "ruled".
The first case goes under the name of "Democracy" the other under the name "Tyranny or Dictatorship".

And it is funny how the people wash their mouth with big words like "democracy" and then, when they are in charge, they completely forget the meaning.
The air is something that belongs to the people and no nation, no government has the right to "regulate" and forbid the use of it.
The world belongs to the people who live in it and the moment somebody tells you, that you have to pay for what belongs to you, then something must be terribly wrong.

Monopoly is the father of our century, but Freedom is the mother of our future.

Patrizia form a World on IP

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Unimportance of having a Union

EU stands for European Union, that would mean the Union of the Europeans, but nothing could be more misleading.

Where do you see any Union?

We still speak a too big amount of different languages, we still have a too big quantity of different law, we still think too much as "Non Europeans".

That means all the money we spend (a huge amount) to run the EU is nothing else than money thrown away or to be more précised, too much money finished in the wrong pockets.

EU is more the Union of governments that should be representative of their people, but are so far away from them, that they do not even know anymore what people want.
What they know and quite well, is to suck inventing everyday new taxes in the name of the Progressive EU.

Let's say, as if we were not enough squeezed from our local governments, they felt the need to create something higher and bigger to suck more.
And all in the name of higher progress and higher justice.

Then, when you need a little bit of something you do not even know where to knock.
Which is not worse than knowing where to knock, because, anyway nobody would answer you.

The EU unites crooks and is a legal institution.
The Internet unites people and it is an unofficial institution, it is not even an institution, that is why it works.

When will those politicians understand it has come the time to begin to be ashamed of themselves?

Patrizia from a World on IP

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The State should be at the service of the citizens and not the other way round.

"Broadcasting was the first major commercial wireless service, quickly eclipsing point-to-point and ship-to-shore links.
Beginning with radio, it developed early in the 20th century.
Therefore, it occupies huge swaths of spectrum at what today we consider low frequencies. Newer services, such as microwave relays for telecommunications backhaul, mobile telephony, satellite transmission, and wireless data, tend to operate higher on the frequency dial.
This segmentation is partly a simple historical progression.
Like the sedimentary layers of archaeological digs, wireless services generally follow a progression of frequencies from low to high over time.
Newer technologies can support usable systems at higher and higher frequencies.

Frequency does matter.
Generally speaking, the lower the frequency, the better a signal propagates.
Lower frequencies make it easier to build systems that transmit over long distances, allowing for fewer transmitters and thus lower costs to cover a given area.
They also allow signals to more easily penetrate obstacles such as trees and walls.
These characteristics are particularly valuable for services such as last-mile broadband.

Unlicensed wireless systems based on the WiFi standard and operating in the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands have experienced dramatic market growth in recent years. Newer technologies such as WiMax (IEEE 802.16) and MobileFi (IEEE 802.20) promise higher capacity and mobility.

Meanwhile, demand for broadband data connections continues to grow worldwide. Broadband is not only a revenue-generating service on its own; it is the platform for a plethora of new applications such as voice over IP, movie downloads, videoconferencing, and multi-player online gaming.

To address broadband demand, low-frequency wireless capacity now allocated to broadcasting should be made available for wireless data services. "


For the simple reason that this is what people want.
And that the politicians who are voted to be there, are voted to "represent" the citizens and not to favor the Monopolies in the advantage of their pockets.

The State should be at the service of the citizens and not the other way round.


Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The father of our Era is Monopoly, but the mother of our Future is Freedom.

Angioplasty for the narrowed vessel between the Internet and the premises is available.
The surgery -- replacing ancient copper with fiber optics and other more recent technologies -- would be cost-effective, and its benefit to end users of the Internet would be immediate.
But Local Exchange Carriers (the telcos) and the cable industry (the cablecos) will not consent to this surgery because they are afraid for their lives.
Indeed, in a world of high-speed connections and end-to-end Internet, the cablecos and telcos would have very little to sell.
But regardless of explanation, transmission technologies are available that might otherwise eliminate the worst constrictions in data capacity are not being deployed.
These are not limited to fiber; upgrades are available for DSL and Cable Modems that could boost their speeds by as much as 100x.
These are in active use (and rapid deployment) in countries such as Korea, Japan and Iceland.
But the rest of the World is stuck in a regime of slow access; a duocracy where telcos and cablecos rule.
Wireless technology can be a way to break the cableco/telco duopoly.
"Magical things happen in competitive markets when there are at least three viable, facilities-based competitors. And we are looking to wireless to help deliver that Triple Crown."

A substantial spectrum reallocation is called for.
The current system is extraordinarily inefficient and inadequate for the challenge of stimulating innovative new services and business models. It also perpetuates the traditional and deeply awed bias in favor of content instead of connectivity.
A proper spectrum reallocation would promote new services directly, and would speed up the developing restructuring of telecommunications.
In addition, it would also help disprove many myths that are hobbling this vital industry.

The current spectrum allocation system is deeply awed. Even if it was appropriate decades ago, given the primitive wireless technologies that were available at that time, it is obsolete.

Although technology has changed dramatically over the centuries, economics, psychology, and sociology have not, and many of the issues we face today are fundamentally the same ones faced by society in the past when faced with some previous novel technologies.
A key issue is the degree of control that service providers should have.
To what extent should their technology or business model choices be constrained by government?

Wireless can play a major role in stimulating competition, both indirectly (through voice traffic ) and directly, by providing an alternative broadband link, and thus leading to real facilities based competition.

Right now, voice traffic, which is where most of the money continues to come from, is just beginning to move from wireline to wireless transmission.
In the long run, we should expect almost all voice to be carried by wireless links (at least for the first segment), as fiber will continue to be used for long haul and even in metro areas, where traffic can be.

In addition, broadband wireless access to the Internet is increasingly proving itself to be feasible, as the technology improves faster than residential users' demand for bandwidth.

That is extremely encouraging, since scaling properties of wireless deployments are far more favorable than any wireline technology.
The main costs tend to depend primarily on the number of subscribers, and not on the number of households in the area.
Therefore it is feasible to provide service in areas with low density of subscribers, and also to have multiple competing operators.

Technology has been lowering the costs of providing all telecom services.
Stock market valuations in the telecom sector are still in most cases far ahead of replacement values , and so apparently anticipate monopoly profits.
Under these conditions, the best public policy would be to be on the side of encouraging competition and innovation, and not of protecting existing carriers.
That has worked well in South Korea, and should work in the rest of the World as well.

Promoting diffusion of general broadband access is desirable, and can be facilitated by promoting wireless communication.
But there are two even more important reasons for advancing wireless and in particular for making more spectrum available for it.
One is that mobility, which is what wireless provides, is extremely valuable, and offers the promise of major boosts to economic productivity.
The other one is that the telecom industry is shackled by a set of misleading myths.
These myths impede the necessary restructuring of the industry.
In very rough terms, and using an analogy with the computer industry, the telecom sector appears to be pining for and planning to restore the mainframe to its dominant form, instead of adjusting to the distributed computing era.
Greater promotion of wireless connectivity, especially in ways that enable local innovation, would serve to demonstrate what users really need from telecom, and speed up the evolution of this sector.

For wireless to fulfill its promise, more spectrum for connectivity services is called for.
Yes, technology is advancing, but there are limits to what can be done with it, especially at reasonable cost and in the near term.
In particular, low frequencies are and for the foreseeable future will remain far more desirable for connectivity than high frequencies.
Far too much of this valuable spectrum has been assigned to broadcasting, the result of a confluence of technologies available many decades ago and one of the key myths to be discussed later, namely that content is king. Moreover, much of it is simply not being used.
It is time to redirect it more productively, towards connectivity services.

For much of the spectrum, the government prescribes not just the technology, but even the applications that can use it.
Most of the spectrum is idle, as the envisaged applications have not developed as anticipated. (In particular, much of the spectrum set aside for broadcasting is not being used.)

The only spectrum that there is any hope of reclaiming any time soon is that given to broadcasters as part of the digital transition, since it was given with explicit mandate of returning it back to the public.
The political obstacles that exist in the way of reclaiming even those frequency bands demonstrate how hard it will be to rationalize the entire system by simple government reallocation whenever there are any actual users.

That would allow other enterprises with more productive uses for the spectrum to take over.
If this is done, the amount of licensed spectrum available for connectivity services will grow substantially.

What is most amazing is that many of the misleading myths that shackle the telecom industry have been recurring in history.
It appears that often it takes hard experience for service providers to discover the right solutions.
Fortunately that can happen.
As an example, it does appear that as a result of its leadership in broadband as well as cellular usage, South Korea has unlearned some of these myths.
For example, the myths that content is king and that killer apps are required no longer dominate:
The killer application of the Internet is speed," said Lee Yong Kyung, the chief
executive of the KT Corporation, formerly known as Korea Telecom, which controls nearly half of the country's broadband market.
The money is in the pipes."
On the other hand, Korea still appears to be in thrall to the myth of streaming real-time multimedia.

Carriers can develop innovative new services
There is no serious evidence to support this myth.
In spite of many attempts, the established service providers and their suppliers have an abysmal record in innovation in user services.
The real killer apps such as email, the Web, browsers, search engines, IM, and Napster, have all come from users.
Is there any reason to expect the future to be any different?
If anything, we should expect an even greater fraction of innovations to come from users at the edges of the network.
We are experiencing several types of convergence, of computing and communications, of content and connectivity, and so on.
Hence the variety of services will be growing, and the ranks of potential creators of those services will also be growing.
It will require ever more knowledge of what users need to take advantage of the growing opportunities, and we can't expect centralized organizations to be able to do it.

Content is king
One of the oldest, most wildly held, and most damaging myths is that content is king.
Content has never been as large or as important as connectivity, person-to-person communication.

The myth of content as king has repeatedly led telecoms to waste huge amounts
of money trying to get into the content business.
Yet providing pipes for connectivity has always brought much more revenue than content distribution.

The myth of content as king is also behind much of the movement to enact harmfully restrictive copyright laws.

Voice is irrelevant
Voice is still what provides well over 70% of telecom service revenues.
In particular, the real telecom success story of the 1990s, whether measured in terms of revenue growth or number of subscribers, was in wireless voice, not on the Internet .

The greatest neglected opportunity, though, is in the wireless voice quality area.
The current quality of cellular voice is basically abysmal, just barely tolerable.

There are some signs that the wireless industry is beginning to realize that voice will be the main application of 3G.
But this recognition is late and slow.
The importance of voice leads to the relative unattractiveness of videotelephony.

But whatever the reasons, videotelephony is not a killer app, and we should expect slow growth in it.
Videoconferencing is likely to be accepted more widely, but is not likely to generate much traffic.
Videoconferencing leads to one of the minor and relatively innocuous myths of telecom.
While telecommuting and videoconferencing are likely to grow, that will not reduce road congestion.

There is this strangely persistent myth that telecommunications and transportation are substitutes for each other.
They are not, and are in fact positively correlated.
Hence we should expect growth of travel at the same time as telecom usage is booming.

Therefore, as had been predicted a long time ago by Negroponte, Gilder, and others, it makes much more sense to deliver content (which is, after all, prepared by experts for wide consumption) as files for local storage, replay, and transfer.
(Hardly any content in this definition requires the synchronicity of voice or videotelephony.)
The future of multimedia traffic is not just in file transfers, but also in faster-than-real-time file transfers. This seems to be almost completely missed by the telecom industry.

So the phenomenon of faster-than-real-time transmission has already become dominant, but the industry is not aware of it, and certainly does not understand it.
What are the advantages of faster-than-real-time transmission of multimedia?
There are a variety of them.
Among others, such transmission makes QoS unnecessary, it caters to human impatience, it allows natural behavior, such as quick download followed by a quick transfer to a portable device to take on a trip, and it allows for a natural progression, starting with slower-than-real-time when you don't have the bandwidth, and then moving up to faster-than-real-time. But the industry is still concentrating on developing technologies for streaming real-time delivery.

An American expert on streaming multimedia technology who spent the summer of 2003 in South Korea, working with researchers there, reports that even the Koreans see no reason for ever going much beyond 50 Mbps to the home.
After all, that would provide for several HDTV channels, and all the Web surfing and email anyone could want.
But with faster-than-real-time file transfers, it is easy to envisage demand arising for bigger pipes.

Information technology still has a long way to do in terms of diffusing through society, and that will continue generating additional traffic.
This is not to argue that there won't be any new applications that will be called killer apps," or that one should not look for them, but the general conclusion is that there is no need to rely on their discovery.

The Internet is often cited for erasing the gaps created by physical distance.
But that is a misleading notion.
While the Internet traffic so far has been rather independent of distance, that is likely to change substantially, to fall into the pattern of other communication services, which have been and continue to be primarily local .
One sign of that is in reports from Korea that less than 5% of their Internet traffic goes outside that country.

With convergence of consumer electronics, business information technology, telecommunications, and content, the action will be at the edges, in homes and businesses, melding all these elements together.
It will be local communication that will need to be provided in profusion, in order to allow for easy implementations of new services.

The telecom industry does not appreciate the need to encourage usage.
Technology is advancing, so bandwidth is growing, and the service providers that will win will be the ones who teach their customers how to use the increasing capacity of their links.

And nothing helps whet the appetite for bandwidth as much as flat rates and not having to worry about priorities and the like.

Expanding the spectrum that is available for connectivity, as opposed to broadcast, would not only respond to the urgent need for local mobility in communications, but would indirectly aid the whole sector by demonstrating what it is that is truly needed.

Somebody likes it "Hot", everybody likes it "Flat"

The historic trend in telecommunications has been of revenues growing faster than the economy as a whole, at least over long periods of time, and this trend is likely to resume as we continue the evolution towards an economy based on information.

Content (defined here as material prepared by professionals for consumption by large audiences, in particular movies, recorded music, and professional sports team play) is a large and prosperous business.
However, it has never been as large or as important as connectivity, person-to-person communication.

Once a service becomes inexpensive enough, social uses begin to play a major role.
In fact, the general disdain for what is often called gossip has repeatedly misled decision makers.
Not only is there a lot of money in carrying gossip, but gossip plays a crucial role in all human interactions.
The myth of content as king has repeatedly led telecom to waste huge amounts of money trying to get into the content business.
Yet providing pipes for connectivity has always brought much more revenue than content distribution.

Voice is still what provides well over 70% of telecom service revenues.
In particular, the real telecom success story of the 1990s, whether measured in terms of revenue growth or number of subscribers, was in wireless voice, not on the Internet.

In their infatuation with data and especially with content, carriers appear to have given up on doing anything innovative with voice.
The new killer app. will be VoIP and we will have broadband pipes, whether wired or wireless, and voice will be just another service delivered over them at low or even zero cost.

This will be similar to what has happened with email, which has been and continues to be the killer app of the Internet.
But note that the importance of email is understood by ISPs, and it continues to get enhanced.
Not so with voice.
And yet there is much more that can be done with voice.

This is very strange, because voice is an extremely important human method of communication.
We all know that "one picture is worth a thousand words." But that is not quite right.

Pictures, photos, and video are all very important, but usually not by themselves.

What does seem to be true is that:
One picture is worth a thousand words, provided one uses another thousand words to justify the picture.

With convergence of consumer electronics, business information technology, telecommunications, and content, the action will be at the edges, in homes and businesses, melding all these elements together.

It will be local communication that will need to be provided in profusion, in order to allow for easy implementations of new services.

The telecom industry does not appreciate the need to encourage usage.
Technology is advancing, so bandwidth is growing, and the service providers that will win will be the ones who teach their customers how to use the increasing capacity of their links.

And nothing helps whet the appetite for bandwidth as much as flat rates and not having to worry about priorities and the like.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

The Art of being Normal

Maybe I am a naïve person. Maybe I even like to be and to consider myself as a naïve person.

Sometimes I am so fed up with the so called intelligent and smart people that I do not want to belong to that category.
If being smart means to say and do certain things, let me say:
"I am happy to be dumb".

Which in principle is not an easy task.
First you have to be one and second you have to admit to be one.
It is almost like being normal. Nowadays nobody wants to be normal.
It is very, very easy to hear: I am a special kind of this and a special kind of that.

I am just a special kind of a normal human being.
And as a special kind of normal I want to be able to say and do that special kind of normal things that the normal people do.
Like having a blog where I talk in a normal way about normal things.

What is more normal than Communication?

We are born alone and we die alone, but we like to live together with somebody, possibly saying something once in a while.
So, being communication the most normal and usual thing that normal and special kind of normal people do, in my opinion investing in it can be one of the most profitable investments one could do.

But having profits, or what the smart people call having a high ROI one has to meet the expectations of many.
The number in my (normal) opinion makes the business.

To reach the high number besides meeting the expectations of many you must also meet them with the lowest price.
That doesn't necessarily mean too cheap or even free, that just means giving a lot (services that work)at the lowest.

Of course talking face to face meets 100% this goal.
But sometimes being face to face can be very expensive too.

So what about a nice good conversation with crystal clear voice at a very low price even at cost zero?

That in principle is what is behind all the talking about VoIP.
Who cares to know how it works?
It just matters to know it works and how making it possible.

What is a wireless VoIP phone?

A wonderful way to talk for free, all the rest is just technology...

Patrizia from a World on IP