News, views and what I choose to dos



Isn’t it time Dell, HP and Nike reviewed their CADNA membership?

You have to wonder how often large corporates review the work done in their name through lobbying organizations, because it is definitely time that big names such as Dell, HP, HSBC, Morgan Stanley, Nike and Wells Fargo consider whether their support of the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse – CADNA – is starting to undermine their credibility.

CADNA has been pushing wildly inaccurate information, mostly against ICANN, for a few years. But in a recent frivolous piece of nonsense, it has pushed out a press release claiming that new Internet extensions (gTLDs) will cost “brand owners” $746 million. The figure is pulled out from nowhere, doesn’t stand up to even the most basic scrutiny, and is in fact is no more than a press release. It also stands in stark contrast to the serious work that has actually been done on the possible impact of new Internet extensions on trademark owners.

How is it possible that CADNA – which famously held a Washington event on the future of ICANN and then refused to allow anyone from ICANN to attend – is allowed to get away with this kind of nonsense? The answer is that the companies that give the organization is vanishing credibility aren’t aware of what is being peddled in their name.

So who is CADNA? Well, based in Washington, CADNA is just two people – Josh Bourne and Phil Lodico. Josh and Phil were both previously from Register.com and CADNA is an offshoot and the main client of their lobbying company, FairWinds Partners.

What does a truly democratic Q&A format look like?

Category : General, ICANN, Internet, Technology · No Comments · by Feb 8th, 2010

Internet thinker and political operator David Weinberger has posed an interesting question: how do we design a question-and-answer format for politicians that is truly democratic?

Weinberger’s blog post was noted by Andrew McLaughlin on his Facebook page – Andrew is the White House Deputy CTO and the man more than any other that could make a democratic Q&A system a reality.

And so I figured I’d have a stab at designing something since this is an area where I have a fair amount of knowledge and experience both as a journalist and as ICANN’s general manager of public participation. Here then is a rundown of a system that I think would broadly work:

You want iBooks? Apple gives you iBoobs

Category : Funny, Internet, Technology · No Comments · by Jan 28th, 2010

I think Apple really needs to rethink about how it launches products. The Steve Jobs super-secret wham-bam thing is all well and good when something really new comes out – like the iPod with video or the iPhone – but in between the super-hype is just tedious.

I recall a number of jazzed-up keynotes that simply announced improved versions of the iPod and years before that, super exciting launches that basically just improved iMacs. But this time there was a whole new product – The Tablet!

From the over-the-top reactions, especially considering no-one has any real information, it might as well have been the Ten Commandments tablets, except this time God felt we only needed one and he use Steve Jobs to deliver them to the world.

The Tablet – renamed a quite dodgy iPad – is basically a great big iPhone (without the phone). It’s sort-of like the giant cricket bat that was banned back in 1800-and-something for being too wide and covering all the stumps. Worse that producing a huge product that is already being mocked as the iTampon, Apple failed to launch the one thing that did seem interesting about the iPad – its use as a new medium for ebooks.

Google, eBay, Facebook, Yahoo warn about UK Digital Economy Bill

Four online giants have warned the UK government against a provision in the Digital Economy Bill, currently going through Parliament. In particular, clause 17 gives a government minister the right to restructure copyright law without having to go through Parliament.

The government says this helps it to “future proof” the legislation; Google, eBay, Facebook and Yahoo disagree strongly and say it risks undermining confidence and “stifling competition”. It’s not the only bad part of the Bill, which also proposes giving the regulator, Ofcom, far reaching powers over the UK’s Internet infrastructure; and comes up with an uninspiring – possibly damaging – goal of “fast” broadband access to UK citizens.

The Lords debate – going on as I write this – is worrying in that very few of the Lords have grasped the realities of the modern digital economy and tend to be applying old and outdated perspectives and mindsets on a crucial modern part of our lives.

You can see stories on the letter from the BBC and the Financial Times. The actual letter is pasted below:

Twitter wins the battle, now journalists and politicians need to win the war

Category : Internet, Journalism, Technology · No Comments · by Oct 13th, 2009

Delighted to wake up this morning to find out that people acted on appalling press gagging regarding Trafigura and had used their collective voices to flip things over.

trafigura-twitter-map

Much of the credit is going to Twitter so it is fitting that Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger twittered himself about the “victory” when Carter-Ruck solicitors backed down at the last minute (just an hour before a court hearing questioning the Draconian court order restricting the newspaper from reporting questions asked in Parliament). Soon after, Rusbridger thanked those that had used Twitter to bring attention to the issue and for their great support.

I could go on and on about Twitter – everyone else has – but while this is a very interesting development in modern communication, ultimately the only thing that Twitter brings to the game is speed. I had never heard of Trafigura before yesterday, and this morning, when I went to type it in the company’s name to find out what had happened overnight, I found myself hard-pushed to remember its name – it was traffic-something.

Google Voice and the rise of locationless people

Category : Domain names, Internet, Journalism, Technology · No Comments · by Oct 11th, 2009

Google VoiceI’ve got a Google Voice number. It’s +1 415 937 1451.

Although that appears to be a San Francisco telephone number, what happens is that I am able to cause that number to redirect to whatever other numbers I want – which means that I am now longer wedded to a telephone number and I don’t have to constantly update people when I shift home or mobile phone suppliers or numbers.

The service is quite interesting although far from perfect. Someone calls it, it rings a few times and then asks them to leave their name to see if I’ll answer. It then rings me and I can decide whether to accept the call or not. What is quite good is that if a message is left, Google Voice automatically transcribes what is said and then emails and texts me the transcript (so far, I would give the transcript accuracy 7 out of 10).

Tr.im conceeds tiny URL fight to bit.ly

Category : Domain names, Journalism, Technology · No Comments · by Aug 10th, 2009

If you don’t use Twitter, that headline will look like gibberish, but basically one company that produces very short URLs has given up and publicly conceded defeat to a more popular service.

tr.im trimmedWhat’s annoying is that I have been happily using the loser – tr.im – and been enjoying the stats it produces. No more – the stats are gone and the ultimate display of the risk of fast-paced information becoming dead information, the short links will stopped working at the end of the year.

Here’s what is on Tr.im website at the moment: “tr.im is now in the process of discontinuing service, effective immediately.

“Statistics can no longer be considered reliable, or reliably available going forward. However, all tr.im links will continue to redirect, and will do so until at least December 31, 2009. Your tweets with tr.im URLs in them will not be affected.

“We regret that it came to this, but all of our efforts to avoid it failed. No business we approached wanted to purchase tr.im for even a minor amount.

“There is no way for us to monetize URL shortening — users won’t pay for it — and we just can’t justify further development since Twitter has all but annointed bit.ly the market winner. There is simply no point for us to continue operating tr.im, and pay for its upkeep.

“We apologize for the disruption and inconvenience this may cause you.”

Interesting that even in these heady hype days of Twitter than no one would pay for Tr.im. Ah well, like the note says, now I’m shifting to bit.ly. I wonder how long it will be able to provide the service before desperately seeking funds.

Technobile – amusing myself

Category : Funny, Internet, Journalism, Technology · No Comments · by Aug 6th, 2009

Purely by accident I just came across a “technobile” column piece that I wrote for the Guardian a few years ago. I have to say I amused myself. Posted below but grabbed from the Guardian site:

Technobile

Concerns grow about internet users who are dangerously addicted to Google. Quick, read it now!

I can’t believe Google gives no results for “Internet Derived Lethargic Episode”, because the search engine is a major cause of IDLE. It is a particularly destructive illness where the victim, having spent days working at their computer, awakens to discover they can barely recall a single event, save a joke about the Lib Dems.

Bombarded by stimuli, the victim ends up in a state of highly excited lethargy where any activity taking longer than 30 seconds is too tiring to tackle. The brain, fizzing with chemicals, produces an effect similar to a caffeine overdose but combined with dangerously high levels of pathos. Overfilled with trivia, the sufferer can often be found transfixed in front of his computer.

Twitter success at crucial point

Category : Domain names, Internet, Sex.com, Technology · No Comments · by Aug 6th, 2009

So everyone and their dog knows about Twitter. Now the problem is they have started using it – and you can see it through the pretty drastic impact on third-parties the past two weeks or so.

Services you use to make Twitter more manageable keep getting knocked offline. A few months ago Twitter itself was suffering from the attention and keep falling offline. It was at an inflexion point – it had grown so much that it needed an influx of money to build the system to deal with the demand. And that’s when the likes of Google started offering to buy it – leading Twitter’s owners to (somewhat stupidly to my mind) outright reject any suggestion of selling their company.

Twitter got some money and hired consultants – one of whom I know – to help them deal with demand. They shifted to the same style of server spread and backup that Google and Facebook use.

That wave has passed but now the third-parties are having the same problem. Tr.im – which allows you to stick in a long URL and get a short one out (which is ideal for those 140-character-only tweets) – has been falling offline repeatedly in the past fortnight. It’s got so bad that I’m ready to shift to a different company. And today Splitweet – which allows you to post to multiple Twitter accounts – also went offline. It popped up an hour or so later saying it was under a denial of service attack. As of writing this I still can’t use its service.

The same is happening with other third-parties. SocialToo is running slow. And Twitterfeed keeps timing out while I’m trying to create an account with it because I can’t use Splitweet.

All this means that, after Twitter itself hit the wall and pushed through, that the third-parties feeding off this service’s success are also about to hit that wall. They are going to need money to maintain their (free) service. Who is going to stump up that money? And to which service? Should be interesting to see which services people think will be able to provide a return on investment, and which will fall by the wayside.

A new bigger, pricier Kindle

Category : Journalism, Technology · No Comments · by May 6th, 2009

I love my Kindle. It really is a great machine. The Kindle 2 made all the right changes to the original Kindle, which is why I forked out a hefty $359 for it. It contains literally thousands of books – which has completely changed my reading habits (more reading, less lugging around of books). It is glorious and if you are a serious book reader you should invest in it.

Not so sure at the moment though about a new Kindle that Amazon just announced – the Kindle DX. It’s the same as the Kindle 2 but with a much bigger screen – just a little smaller than a magazine. I get the logic straight away – a bigger screen is much, much better for reading on. Particularly if you are reading PDF documents or magazines. It doesn’t matter with books – you want something you can shove in your bag and pull out.

But clearly Amazon has found out that alot of people are using their Kindle to read documents – probably work documents – on a device that doesn’t have a backlit screen and which doesn’t require you booting up a computer. I can see the logic, although I’ve not go into this habit yet.