Saturday, November 17, 2007

MySpace undermines CNN

Well, sort of:
Maria Luisa, the UNLV student who asked Hillary Clinton whether she preferred "diamonds or pearls" at last night's debate wrote on her MySpace page this morning that CNN forced her to ask the frilly question instead of a pre-approved query about the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

"Every single question asked during the debate by the audience had to be approved by CNN," Luisa writes. "I was asked to submit questions including "lighthearted/fun" questions. I submitted more than five questions on issues important to me. I did a policy memo on Yucca Mountain a year ago and was the finalist for the Truman Scholarship. For sure, I thought I would get to ask the Yucca question that was APPROVED by CNN days in advance."
The story links to her MySpace page, which has (now?) been set to private.

Marc Ambinder (November 16, 2007) - "Diamonds v. Pearls" Student Blasts CNN (Updated With CNN Response)

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MyOffice: Facebook app for light project management

For a while, I've been agitating for a project management application that does what Basecamp does, but in a more networked fashion. Basecamp is great, but if person A and person B both have Basecamp accounts, and they decide to work on the same project, they have to answer the question: "Your Basecamp or mine?" One of them will wind up with two accounts, a "home" account and a "guest" account, and there's no way to achieve total information awareness on all projects.

I was convinced that Google would climb this hill eventually. It seemed like a natural: Google was pushing into the B2B collaborative market with GDocs, GCal, and GMail, and if they added a PM application, they could leverage that momentum easily. You could even get down to the task level, allowing one task to "live" in more than one project (not canonical PM, I know, but worth considering in a net work environment). And when Google bought JotSpot, the speculation was that they were going to unveil something like this. Maybe in early 2007, some speculated.

Well, here we are in November, and no sign of a Google PM system. JotSpot isn't even accepting new users. But a lot has happened in those months. Most significantly, Facebook opened its membership to everyone and it opened its API to third-party developers. And now there is a rudimentary project management system along the lines I described several months ago -- a Facebook app with the stunningly original name MyOffice.

MyOffice provides the basic features you may recognize from Basecamp and similar systems such as activeCollab: projects with members you can designate; dated tasks (similar to milestones); calendar events; file storage and sharing; and a dashboard so you can see what's going on. Actually, two dashboards: one for system events such as new task creation and one for all dated events (calendar events and tasks). Most intriguingly, you draw members from your Facebook friends, and as they accept your membership invitations, they simply install the app in their Facebook account. Suddenly everyone's in the same space, using the same app, and you don't have to juggle multiple accounts in order to get total information awareness on your projects. Similarly, messaging uses the Facebook messaging system, so discussions that take place within projects show up under Facebook's Notifications and will buzz your email address if you have Facebook set up that way. These seem like really clever ways to leverage Facebook's infrastructure.

The app is a long way from perfect. Annoyingly, tasks are listed under the Tasks tab in reverse order of their creation, not by the due date, and they don't even show a due date in this list. You can see them by due date under the Events tab, but you can't check them off there. So I imagine a lot of toggling between these two windows as people try to figure out which task to check off. Similarly, the dashboard split between events (under the Events tab) and changes (under the Overview tab) is not very useful, especially for those of us who are used to Basecamp or activeCollab. Finally, I don't have a good read on the security built into this app.

Nevertheless, for small projects, MyOffice should fit the bill. I'd be afraid to use it for a larger project, a mission-critical project, or one that demanded security, at least until the app matures a bit.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Google, mobile phones, wireless spectrum

The WSJ speculates that Google could run its own mobile network and points to Google's apparent plans to bid on part of the wireless spectrum. But can it compete with established players etc. etc.?

Sure. Take a look at how MCI competed with Bell. They set up microwave towers in certain markets and provided long-distance service between those markets. They caught Bell flat-footed because Bell was committed to serving all markets and built up a huge cross-subsidy burden, funneling money from profitable markets to subsidize less profitable ones. It was also committed to maintain the same high transmission quality across all lines, exacerbating the cross-subsidy. That was the deal Bell cut to run a monopoly, and since MCI didn't have that cross-subsidy burden, it could dramatically undersell Bell.

That cross-subsidy was a big deal in low-density markets. When you're committed to 100% market penetration, like Bell was, you have to erect telephone poles and run miles of lines to anywhere people are.  And you have to maintain them. When you're MCI, you put up a couple of microwave towers in high-density areas and you're done.

The cross-subsidy still exists in another form: every telecomm provider pays into the Universal Service Fund, which then goes to subsidize the service and maintenance in low-density and disadvantaged areas. Take a look at your phone bill and you'll see that cost broken out, as well as many other costs, such as the Federal Excise Tax that was originally instituted as a luxury tax to fund the Spanish-American War. One reason Skype is so cheap is that you don't have to pay those taxes to use Internet lines.

So here's the question: is Google going to pull an MCI? Can it set up a mobile communication network that falls outside the jurisdiction occupied by telecomms? Can it avoid the USF and the other regulatory taxes that make telecommunications so expensive in the US? If it can, look for Google to crank up lobbying efforts in Congress as well.

Google Has Even Bigger Plans for Mobile Phones -

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

JCMC Social networking special issue

Via BoingBoing. Looks interesting.

JCMC Vol 13 Issue 1

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RescueTime out of private beta

I've been using RescueTime for a few weeks now, and am pretty happy with it as far as it goes. Methodologically, it's dicey to simply associate apps with tags, since apps can be used for multiple purposes -- but I'm not how sure you would slice that problem, and at any rate there's a limit to how fine-grained you want your self surveillance to be.

TechCrunch has a good, short overview of RescueTime and its uses, as well as some background. (I didn't realize that it was being funded by Y Combinator, for instance.)

RescueTime Out Of Private Beta, Tracking How (Un)Productive You Are

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Monday, November 12, 2007

The networks' plan B?

Jeff Jarvis argues that the networks should have a Plan B for the writers' strike, one that leverages all that free content on YouTube. Sure, why wouldn't they do that? Maybe because people would realize they could cut out the middleman, Jeff?

BuzzMachine » Blog Archive » The networks miss the boat

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The Google Mobile OS ...

Looks really good. Complete with the obligatory demo of Quake, the sine qua non of open source handheld computing demos.

Tech Monday: First Look at the Google Mobile OS

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Etelos Projects: Good Ideas, Poor Execution? voices the same wistful desire that I have had for about a year:
I have been in the market for an online project manager I could integrate that would allow me to access and work on Google Docs and Spreadsheets, and Etelos’ integration with Google Apps (the all-in-one package that integrates with your domain) seemed promising.
Unfortunately, according to this review, Etelos Projects does not do this job well. I haven't checked the product out myself, but if I have time to do so, I'll post my own review here. CS
Review: Etelos Projects Offers Good Ideas, Poor Execution -

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Google thinking about buying Sprint?

Just a rumor. Personally, I think they would be crazy to do it for some of the reasons listed in this article.

Rumor Mill: Google Acquiring Sprint

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