Net neutrality and cognitive bias

To recap, on 8 June this year, 

The U.S. House of Representatives definitively rejected the concept of Net neutrality … By a 269-152 vote that fell largely along party lines, the House Republican leadership mustered enough votes to reject a Democrat-backed amendment that would have enshrined stiff Net neutrality regulations into federal law and prevented broadband providers from treating some Internet sites differently from others. cnet

Given how important the net has become in our lives in such a short space of time, it's striking that, like a number of important things happening in the States of late (other "examples" include the "re-consideration" of America's relationship to the Geneva Convention and the removal of the protection of habeas corpus from any 'alien detained by the United States who has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination', Military Commissions Act 2006), there hasn't been the kind of coverage in the European media of the US net neutrality debate that the subject merits. From what there was, I thought the Guardian background piece in a July Media FAQ article was worth bookmarking, and John Naughton wrote an Observer column in July, As TV tunes into the net, the equality principle drops out

Last month, Esther Dyson was quoted in a Guardian interview as saying this about net neutrality: 

The problem with all of this is that it costs money to distribute rich media. When you have things like this, then either advertisers or consumers have to pay for it. In the dispute over net neutrality, actually, I have a problem with both sides. Really what we need is a Federal Communications Commission that's good at enforcing non-discriminatory action. But when you legislate things you just force people to spend time finding loopholes.

I've admired Esther Dyson whenever I've read something by her before, so that made me sit up as until then I'd thought that things were clear — and my heart was with the net neutralists. Tim Berners-Lee

I think the importance in [sic  'is'?] that neutrality is well understood by a lot of people, and I think for example outside the United States I haven't heard any concern about it. If you go to Europe and ask somebody about whether they're concerned about Net neutrality, they say, what? You know, people didn't know the phrase. It's only that in the US there were some speeches by executives of large telecommunications companies in which they suggested that maybe they should change the whole way they charge for the Internet and block people like Google, so that Google didn't get connection to their customers, quote, for free, unquote. As though Google doesn't pay for its Internet connectivity.

So I think what happened was that put a scare through. And when you look at...when you look at American industry, you know that companies are beholden to their shareholders to try to make whatever money they can. And so where they can find a business plan which they think will produce larger profits in the short term than they may feel obliged to try to pursue that, even though it might be very completely destructive, it would be destructive of the Internet community, the Internet markets and the amazing phenomenon which is built on top of the Internet at the moment.

So I think in fact Congress will understand the concern. There's a huge education process going on at the moment that a lot of people are taking the trouble to explain to American congress what it means, this important concept that if I've connected to the Internet, and if you've connected to the Internet we can then communicate. Nobody else can then start suddenly charging us extra money to building up because they feel that you're making too much money selling me your audio podcast or something.

I think it's really important that the market for Internet connectivity and the market for content are independent markets. It's thus why the Internet has expanded so quickly, because we've had one group of people working on innovations to the Internet infrastructure, and it's more or less since we started, you know, it's gone up, we're talking about, we started off by talking about thousands of bits per second and now we're talking about millions of bits per second, so that's a factor of a thousand increase in speed, which has happened during the time I suppose that the Web was being developed over the last 15 years.

And a month before that interview, Sir Tim blogged:

Net neutrality is this:

If I pay to connect to the Net with a certain quality of service, and you pay to connect with that or greater quality of service, then we can communicate at that level.

That's all. Its up to the ISPs to make sure they interoperate so that that happens.

Net Neutrality is NOT asking for the internet for free.

Sir Tim is maintaining and developing the argument. In the NYT for 27 September:

Q. Is your view that the anti-Net neutrality infrastructure actually threatens political democracy? Does it go beyond just the technical structure of the Internet?

A. Net neutrality is one of those principles, social principles, certainly now much more than a technical principle, which is very fundamental. When you break it, then it really depends how far you let things go. But certainly I think that the neutrality of the Net is a medium essential for democracy, yes — if there is democracy and the way people inform themselves is to go onto the Web.

Q. So there are political consequences. Are there are also economic consequences? If so, what are they?

A. I think the people who talk about dismantling — threatening — Net neutrality don’t appreciate how important it has been for us to have an independent market for productivity and for applications on the Internet.

Now, if we compare what you can get into your home with earliest modems, it’s maybe 1,000 times as fast. So that market has been very competitive, very successful.

And I think we wouldn’t have seen this explosion in the exciting, tremendous diversity of the kind of things you see on the Web now. So in the future, obviously, we expect to see many more things. We expect to see, very importantly, television streaming over the Internet, which is going to make a very exciting market in television content and maybe entertainment, maybe educational ideas.

The people deploying these things rely on the fact that the Internet is sitting there waiting to carry whatever they can dream up.

If I've understood Esther Dyson aright, then TBL has a word for her: 'Nobody is suggesting that you shouldn’t be able to charge more for (eg) a video-capable Internet connection. That’s no reason not to make it anything but neutral.'

The comment, though, that has interested me most in all that I've read about this issue, online (mainly) and (sometimes) off, was made in August by James Boyle. Boyle is William Neal Reynolds Professor of Law and co-founder of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law School. In an important article in the FT, A closed mind about an open world, he discussed behavioural economics and cognitive bias:

Studying intellectual property and the internet has convinced me that we have another cognitive bias. Call it the openness aversion. We are likely to undervalue the importance, viability and productive power of open systems, open networks and non-proprietary production. …

It is not that openness is always right. Rather, it is that we need a balance between open and closed, owned and free, and we are systematically likely to get the balance wrong. Partly this is because we still do not understand the kind of property that exists on networks. Most of our experience is with tangible property; fields that can be overgrazed if outsiders cannot be excluded. For that kind of property, control makes more sense. We still do not intuitively grasp the kind of property that cannot be exhausted by overuse (think of a piece of software) and that can become more valuable to us the more it is used by others (think of a communications standard). There the threats are different, but so are the opportunities for productive sharing. Our intuitions, policies and business models misidentify both. Like astronauts brought up in gravity, our reflexes are poorly suited for free fall. …

Control and ownership seem intuitively the right way to go. How do you feel about today’s debates? Should we preserve “net neutrality” and openness or give network owners greater control? Should we create new rights for broadcasters and database owners? The next project of the behavioural economists should be to study our cognitive frameworks about property, control and networks. Like the pilot in the cloud looking at his instruments, we might learn that we are upside down.



Other articles/material on or around this theme that I recommend:

  1. An earlier posting by TBL on his blog, Neutrality of the Net
  2. Kevin Marks, Internet regeneration: 'My generation draws the Internet as a cloud that connects everyone; the younger generation experiences it as oxygen that supports their digital lives. The old generation sees this as a poisonous gas that has leaked out of their pipes, and they want to seal it up again.' Also, Tiered versus Weird: 'Network engineers draw the Internet as a cloud, because it doesn't matter to endpoints how the packets get there. … By contrast, telco's and networking providers … see the wires and the complexity, because that's what they do. … they fall back on thinking hierarchically, which is another way of coping with complexity. This contributes to the difficulty of getting the open network argument across to governments - the hierarchic frame is a good fit for their default approach to organisation and information flow, so regulatory capture is a likely outcome.' 
  3. 'I did have some trust in the telecoms when they were in a free market, but they have not been playing fair as their numbers have dwindled. In the Net Neutrality debate they have taken a three legged argument (telecom, consumer, and content provider) and removed themselves from the argument. The telecoms want people to believe a lie that it is the content owners and the customers that are on opposite sides. But, in reality it is the telecoms that stand between the people and the content and the telecoms have threatened to extort money from the Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and others. The telecoms fed the lies to Senator Ted Stevens to make him look like a buffoon talking about the "Internet are just tubes".' Thomas Vander Wal 
  4. 'Vint Cerf is quoted in the International edition of Newsweek (May 15-22) saying: Sadly, it looks like the period in which the Internet functions seamlessly is over.' That's quite a warning, and I'm surprised that - in a world where the borderless and efficient functioning of the Internet is becoming vital to governments, businesses and individuals alike - it has not been picked up and commented more widely.' Bruno Giussani 
  5. In July, David Weinberger posted that 'John Palfrey and Robert Rogoyski have written a paper about Net neutrality as an architectural ideal and as a reality' and linked to a download site for the paper. 
  6. Doc Searls: '"Broadband" is like "long distance": just another name for transient scarcity. We want our Net to be as fast, accessible and unrestricted as a hard drive. (And in time even that analogy will seem too slow.) The only way that will happen is if the Net becomes ubiquitous infrastructure -- something which, in a practical sense, nobody owns, everybody can use and anybody can improve. There is infinitely more business in making that happen, and using the results, than Congress can ever protect for the carriers alone.' 
  7. ORG's Net Neutrality links on their 'List of relevant expressions of digital rights issues in artistic form' page. 
  8. Wikipedia's net neutrality entry
  9. Scientific American editorial: 'On balance, those favoring net neutrality make the better case. A system for prioritizing data traffic might well be necessary someday, yet one might hope that it would be based on the needs of the transmissions rather than the deal making and caprices of the cable owners. Moreover, personal blogs and other Web pages are increasingly patchworks of media components from various sources. Tiered service would stultify that trend. If the costs for video are not to be universally shared, perhaps it will ultimately be fairer and more practical for individuals to pay for the valued data they receive.' 
  10. It'sOurNet and (thanks, Glyn — see comment)
  11. On Senator Ted Stevens and 'the internet of tubes', there are numerous sites and sources of comedy available: eg, CheZLark, the Daily Show.

BBC Multicast

I'd love to try the BBC Multicast Technical Trial:

The BBC & ITV intend to test the technical possibilities of streaming more of their TV channels via broadband. We intend to Multicast these. This should result in a higher quality viewer experience. We are running this technical trial to seek some feedback about the quality and availability of these TV channels.

For the channels available, go here.

My ISP, the excellent Zen, does a good job of explaining what Multicast is:

Multicast is way of streaming video over the Internet in an efficient way. For example all Zen Internet customers wanting to watch the BBC News stream can get the stream from Zen’s network rather than getting multiple copies from the BBC. This helps reduce the amount of bandwidth required by large organisations wanting to stream content to many users, and reduces costs to the ISP receiving that content too. This means that more streams of a high quality can be provided to many more people.

Both my routers are Draytek (2600G and 2800: great build quality) and neither yet supports the Multicast IGMP protocol, it seems. The 2600 series may never support it. Zen's forum entry on Multicast Routers calls both series incompatible, but Draytek's UK forum has this admin posting (login required):

Multicast is in development for the Vigor2800 series, although it is not yet part of the official specification. There are generally two parts to operation, IGMP Proxy (available as a 'beta' function already on Vigor2800) and IGMP Snooping which should be available in beta soon.

To enable IGMP Proxy, use telnet command "ip igmp_proxy".

Note : this applies to Vigor2800 series only. Older ADSL models do not have the capacity for this additional function.

So, I'll give Multicast a whirl at the weekend when I'm running off the 2800 router. Anyone else having fun trying to get Multicast working at home?

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Wi-Fi for all

BBC News:

Wireless Philadelphia is a project that has been in development for several years, but which will not be finished until late 2006. It seems such an agreeable proposition to everybody involved - cheap wi-fi for an entire city. "A citizen will pay a base fee of $10 or $20 depending upon their income status, for access to the network," explained the city's chief information officer, Dianah Neff. …

When Dianah Neff announced the project she faced an immediate legal and lobbying onslaught from the giant telecommunications companies, led by Verizon. It was alarmed that the government of America's fifth largest city was getting involved in wi-fi at all, and that the fees would be a fraction of the cost of a private fast internet connection, typically around $45-60 per month when bundled with a mandatory landline telephone service. …

Verizon lost its fight in Philadelphia but has succeeded in getting the law changed in the rest of the state. Essentially it has become almost impossible for any other community to set up its own wi-fi system. Several other states have also enacted similar bans, often supported by local politicians who have connections to telecommunications corporations.

However Philadelphia says that too many low income families cannot afford high broadband prices and the service is needed to shrink the digital divide between rich and poor. The city now sees internet access as an essential service just like street lighting and sanitation.  …

Andrew Rasiej didn't get elected in New York, but he had the right idea on this one: Wi-Fi networking cities must be the way to go and it must be seen as 'an essential service just like street lighting and sanitation' — and be priced and rolled out accordingly with the fullest engagement of civic authorities.

Music like running water

John Naughton, writing in today's Observer, recalls a 2002 NYT article about David Bowie in which the musician speculated on the future of music:

'The absolute transformation of everything we ever thought about music will take place within 10 years,' he wrote, 'and nothing is going to be able to stop it. I see absolutely no point in pretending that it's not going to happen. I'm fully confident that copyright, for instance, will no longer exist in 10 years, and authorship and intellectual property is in for such a bashing. Music, itself, is going to become like running water or electricity...'

If you want to read the NYT piece, you can go here and pay $3.95 for the pleasure. And it's worth reading. Alternatively, you can go here and read it for free. Or here. I find it … amusing that the NYT carries an article prophesying the end of copyright as we know it, then tries to charge you for the same article — only to find itself defeated by the power of the net.

And that's the point. As Naughton's Observer article explains, what has happened so far (mp3/compression technology, Napster/etc, iPods/etc) to change the music-as-packaged-product model for the broadcasting and entertainment industries is but

… half a revolution, because it's still [my emphasis] based on the music-as-product model. For the record industry, it has been an unqualified disaster, because millions of people aren't paying for their packages. Legal download services like Apple iTunes are beginning to mitigate the disaster, but it's not clear that even iTunes can compete with illicit file-sharing.

So what's to be done? Here's where the water analogy comes in. It's as if we lived in a world where water was only made available in Perrier bottles, so that if you want the stuff you have to buy (or steal) bottles. But in fact water is also available as a public service, piped through mains and available by turning a tap. We pay for this either via a flat tax or a charge based on how much we use, and everyone is (reasonably) happy. We have access to water whenever we need it; and the companies that provide the stuff earn reasonable revenues from providing it.

As broadband internet access becomes ubiquitous - and wireless - this model suddenly becomes feasible for music. At the moment, the only way we can have the stuff we crave is to buy or steal the product. But if we could access whatever we wanted, at any time, on payment of a levy, our need to own the packages would diminish. We could just turn on the tap, as it were, and get Beethoven or So Solid Crew on demand. Not to mention the collected works of David Bowie. And then we could give him a Brit Award for being so far ahead of the game.

Bowie's vision of the future (2012!) is wilder/more radical than Naughton's, of course.

Broadband and the Cluetrain: Cambridge blue(s)

Hmm … (via Loïc Le Meur). Add to this the poor take-up rate for Our Social World ('Our Social World is about bringing business leaders of today into contact with the visionaries and tools that are creating a new social environment, one which spans continents, timezones and cultures; Our Social World is about enabling conversations between businesses and their customers using the new tools made possible by the WWW; Our Social World is about generating dialogue instead of the monologue of PR, press coverage and adverts' — also via Loïc Le Meur) and Tom Coates' earlier posting about the lack of UK start-ups, and one could easily feel glum.

For all the changes of the last 20 years, I have to say I feel that Hugh, seeing us from the standpoint of insider-outsider, has got hold of some things that are still true about British society:

The Brits hate any kind of new "social" media. They prefer "socialised" media, thank you very much. They still equate media with glamor, authority, privilege and the domain of the establishment. The idea that JUST ANYONE can have a voice they find vulgar and offensive. … The Cluetrain is happily chugging away. Getting a seat on it is not a God-given right, it's an individual decision. It has nothing to do with who you know, what school you went to, who your tailor is, what pub you drink in, or what political party you voted for. Which is why most Brits don't see it.

But the ones that do, of course, are starting to have the time of their lives.

Having said which, about this particular conference I think Henriette Weber Andersen is right in her comment on Loïc's blog: for those of us who went to Reboot, Our Social World duplicates too many of the speakers. (Plus, the cost of Reboot was excellent: most of us bloggers cannot afford conferences aimed at the business world.)

On the tip

Wow! Somebody sees the way it's going — Andrew Rasiej, running for Public Advocate, NY:

It’s 1:00 o’clock on Wednesday morning and I ought to be writing a dispassionate blog post about New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s latest column, which places Andrew front and center among a “new generation of politicians who are waking up” to the new challenges facing America in a “flattened world”; describes the underlying rationale of Andrew’s call for universal Wi-Fi with precision; illustrates how important it is to get the subways wired for cellphones to make 911 calls, especially in the wake of the London bombings; explains why the incumbent telecom companies and their kept politicians can’t be relied upon to bring us these reforms; and concludes by explaining (for the first time that I’ve ever seen on the NYTimes oped page) the power of networks and blogging to revitalize and transform civic and political engagement. Can You Hear Us Now?

I've been thinking of running for high office on a one-issue platform: I promise, if elected, that within four years America will have cellphone service as good as Ghana's. If re-elected, I promise that in eight years America will have cellphone service as good as Japan's, provided Japan agrees not to forge ahead on wireless technology. My campaign bumper sticker: "Can You Hear Me Now?"

I began thinking about this after watching the Japanese use cellphones and laptops to get on the Internet from speeding bullet trains and subways deep underground. But the last straw was when I couldn't get cellphone service while visiting I.B.M.'s headquarters in Armonk, N.Y.

But don't worry - Congress is on the case. It dropped everything last week to pass a bill to protect gun makers from shooting victims' lawsuits. The fact that the U.S. has fallen to 16th in the world in broadband connectivity aroused no interest. Look, I don't even like cellphones, but this is not about gadgets. The world is moving to an Internet-based platform for commerce, education, innovation and entertainment. Wealth and productivity will go to those countries or companies that get more of their innovators, educators, students, workers and suppliers connected to this platform via computers, phones and P.D.A.'s.

A new generation of politicians is waking up to this issue. For instance, Andrew Rasiej is running in New York City's Democratic primary for public advocate on a platform calling for wireless (Wi-Fi) and cellphone Internet access from every home, business and school in the city. If, God forbid, a London-like attack happens in a New York subway, don't trying calling 911. Your phone won't work down there. No wireless infrastructure. This ain't Tokyo, pal. Thomas Friedman, 'Calling all Luddites', NYT

Can you hear me now — Britain? 'The technological model coming next - which Howard Dean accidentally uncovered but never fully developed - will revolve around the power of networks and blogging. The public official or candidate will no longer just be the one who talks to the many or tries to listen to the many. Rather, he or she will be a hub of connectivity for the many to work with the many - creating networks of public advocates to identify and solve problems and get behind politicians who get it. "One elected official by himself can't solve the problems of eight million people," Mr. Rasiej argued, "but eight million people networked together can solve one city's problems.' (Friedman)

via Doc Searls

Phones, communications and the future

Joi Ito comments on PhoneGnome, the brainchild of David Beckemeyer:

The PhoneGnome is a box that you connect to your phone line and your Internet connection and attach a phone to. The magic happens when PhoneGnome figures out your phone number and auto-configures everything so that, in the future, all calls to other PhoneGnome users go over the Internet instead of the phone line. "Auto-configure" is a non-trivial thing and is the difficulty standing between normal users and SIP/Asterisk goodness and freedom. Under the hood, PhoneGnome is open standards based and is extendable in various ways, but David has kept it EXTREMELY simple so that anyone can use it and doesn't require you to have your computer turned on. You just pick up your phone and call like you normally would.

So, Skype or PhoneGnome? PhoneGnome asserts:

It will be interesting to see how this one plays out. (I read earlier this week of the supernode problems being reported with Skype.)


In an excellent posting, Paul Golding explores the future of mobile communications:

Mobile telephony is nothing new. We already had telephones before mobiles and the transition is a very obvious step and mostly a matter of economics (i.e. making it cheap enough to do). However, everything else we are likely to do with mobiles in the future will be new. We tend to think of a progression or evolution from voice-based devices to "data" devices. However, there isn't necessarily a continuum. The future is about mobile computing, which is quite a different paradigm from mobile phoning.

His short essay is very clear and sets out a compelling vision of what could now happen in mobile communications. He explains what Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is, how it's an alternative to GSM ('GSM only allows "dial to talk", which is why we need SIP') made possible because of IMS, and what he believes its role will be in the future of mobile communications. His remarks are among the best I've read recently on the future of mobile communication and cannot be summarised easily:
… if the core of the mobile network is converted to SIP, instead of GSM (CDMA etc), then overnight the network can handle calls between any SIP-compatible devices, no matter how they implement the IP connection: over Cable, ADSL, WiFi, GPRS, Bluetooth, 3G etc. You can think of SIP like a Hotmail account. You can log-on from anywhere and then get your email. With SIP, you can log-on ("register") from anywhere and get your phone calls, voicemail etc.

… the essential nature of mobile technology is connecting people. This Person-to-Person (P2P) nature will be a dominant feature of mobile computing. We need to grasp what P2P "connecting" is all about. Today, we talk to each other. But, tomorrow, we shall:

Click to play, to share, to view, to update, to invite, to compare, to tag, to consult, to message, to conference … Click to connect!

… the crucial component is the user interface. Language escapes us at this point, because there is no word to describe the forthcoming SIP-based user experience. However, the missing ingredient is something called Presence. … SIP allows all the underlying connections and signalling to take place, including transfer of presence-state information. Presence, by which I really mean "buddy-centric" communication (people or object), is an essential component of mobile computing, as it really provides the "Universal client" (and metaphor) through which we shall interact with the digital world.

Mobilisation is the name of the process of folding more and more of our daily tasks into the mobile computing realm. This is a two-way process. Technology improves and produces enablers. Circumstances change, economically, socially, psychologically, that lead us to discover how the enablers might be useful to manage aspects of our changing world.

The buddy-driven presence paradigm will play a significant role in the mobilisation process, if only because it provides us with a model of the world ("world view") that we can work with through our mobile computers. Connecting with "buddies" seems a very natural paradigm. IMS allows operators to build an infrastructure that will support this paradigm.

Broadband Britain

Via Smart MobsDemos has published a report (available as a pdf download here, Open Access licence) looking at the way Broadband is being taken up in the UK and its implications:

As the number of connections grows by 50,000 every week, broadband internet is increasingly a social phenomenon and a political issue. However, as broadband opens up the public realm, its political direction may be determined as much by users as policy-makers.

Demos has carried out in-depth research into public attitudes to broadband, and will paint a detailed picture of how high-speed access changes the way people use the internet. Broadband Britain is the interim report of the project.

Broadband access makes possible the ‘end of asymmetry’; a shift of power from institutions to individuals.  Far from an anomaly, a music industry revolutionised by broadband is but the leading edge of a set of changes that may sweep across our creative industries and public services.

Broadband users are already changing fast, becoming increasingly confident and pro-active:

  • The majority have posted content online, and 18% post daily
  • A fifth maintain websites and the same number have logged on before breakfast
  • A quarter have organised get-togethers online

As a result, we argue that public institutions will increasingly be judged against four emerging principles; flexibility, personal support and engagement, community and citizen leadership.  Broadband may help to unleash a set of challenges to which our public services must respond.


via Unmediated:

  • BBC Radio today announced that a trial of an MP3 downloading service, which saw 70,000 downloads of Radio 4’s In Our Time programme in November, had been a massive success. MediaWeek
  • — 'allows you to search the web for video and audio clips. Unlike other search providers, blinkx TV not only lets you search using standard keyword and Boolean queries but you can also use conceptual search. This type of search is provided by blinkx only, and allows you to enter normal text for which blinkx TV will return results whose content is conceptually similar to your search text.'
  • P2P TV: Guido Ciburski, a television software engineer, wants to launch Cybersky, a Web service that aims to do for TV what already applies to music and video, which can be downloaded free from the internet. At the end of January, his company, TC Unterhaltungselektronic, will unveil its Cybersky TV web service which will enable broadband users to distribute video programmes free, and exchange them with others. Unmediated
  • Lifestyle governs mobile choice: Consumers are far more interested in how handsets fit in with their lifestyle than they are in screen size, onboard memory or the chip inside, shows an in-depth study by telecommunications company Ericsson. "Historically in the industry there has been too much focus on using technology," said Dr Michael Bjorn, senior advisor on mobile media at Ericsson's consumer and enterprise lab. "We have to stop saying that these technologies will change their lives," he said. "We should try to speak to consumers in their own language and help them see how it fits in with what they are doing," he told the BBC News website. … Dr Bjorn said that people also used their camera phones in very different ways to film and even digital cameras. "Usage patterns for digital cameras are almost exactly replacing usage patterns for analogue cameras," he said. Digital cameras tend to be used on significant events such as weddings, holidays and birthdays. By contrast, he said, camera phones were being used much more to capture a moment and were being woven into everyday life. BBC News
  • mozilla is planning to release a version of Minimo (Mini-Mozilla browser for portable devices) for mobile phones.
    "Due out in January of 2005, the 0.3 version of Minimo is already in use by two mobile phone companies, however they cannot release their names due to an embargo. Mozilla Firefox has been taking over the share of Internet Explorer users very quickly, Minimo on the other hand, will be much harder to bring to market since manufacturers make the choice as to which browser to use, rather than consumers." Unmediated

IE and the future

Two pieces published within days of each other explore the weaknesses of IE and the opportunities generated for the future of computing, the web, etc:

Steve Gillmor argues
that a faltering and "under-developed" IE has admitted RSS ...

Ben Hammersley, writing in The Guardian Online, echoes Marc Canter and Joel Spolsky:

... what would happen if people's web browsers were capable of running complex applications, with code based on openly published specifications? Two things: first, the operating system would become irrelevant, so there would be no need to upgrade to the next version of Windows, and second, the playing field for everything else would be thus levelled. The majority of Microsoft's business, therefore, could have been threatened if the IE browser team had continued past 2001.

The concept of running applications within the web browser is not a new one, and indeed has been tried before and failed. But today, with a combination of cheaper bandwidth and improvements in storage and clustering technology, things are looking promising. ... Google is a very good example of this. The reasoning behind its new webmail product, Gmail, puzzles many, but makes a lot more sense when you think of it as the first in a line of major web applications built to replace desktop programs. If you start to consider Google's own system as your hard drive, and your browser as your operating system, you might see how Microsoft could be deeply worried. No one would need to keep buying Windows, or upgrading Office if all they had to do was pay Google a monthly stipend for effectively unlimited storage, guaranteed backup and an installation or upgrade process consisting of typing in a URL.