I’d love to know what people think of this projet. I’ve followed for fifteen years and it doesn’t seem to move much. I think it should. Thoughts?



Starred Review. According to Columbia professor and policy advocate Wu (Who Controls the Internet), the great information empires of the 20th century have followed a clear and distinctive pattern: after the chaos that follows a major technological innovation, a corporate power intervenes and centralizes control of the new medium–the master switch. Wu chronicles the turning points of the century’ s information landscape: those decisive moments when a medium opens or closes, from the development of radio to the Internet revolution, where centralizing control could have devastating consequences. To Wu, subjecting the information economy to the traditional methods of dealing with concentrations of industrial power is an unacceptable control of our most essential resource. He advocates not a regulatory approach but rather a constitutional approach that would enforce distance between the major functions in the information economy–those who develop information, those who own the network infrastructure on which it travels, and those who control the venues of access–and keep corporate and governmental power in check. By fighting vertical integration, a Separations Principle would remove the temptations and vulnerabilities to which such entities are prone. Wu’ s engaging narrative and remarkable historical detail make this a compelling and galvanizing cry for sanity–and necessary deregulation–in the information age.

More thought on monopolization of technology. This might be what is worth knowing, but important. New Yorker interview at

Jeffrey Toobin talks with Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School and the author of “The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires,”

The tendency of tech to move toward monopoly. What does this tell us about how we might respond to climate problems? The desire for a solution requires taking management seriously. And that leads to seeing that for the tech to work, there must be tight coordination and the authority to override rules and interests.

The big news on the stimulus going into November should’ve been this report from the Center for Public Integrity pulling together the many, many letters Republican lawmakers sent asking the administration to use the stimulus to fund projects in their district and saying, forthrightly, that those projects would create jobs and improve the economy. Obama should be going around the country, setting up a podium at each of those projects and making clear just what it is the stimulus did, and just what it was that Republicans opposed. Instead, he’s telling reporters that the foundational phrase of his sales pitch for the stimulus was a mistake, which implies to voters that the Republicans are right when they say the stimulus didn’t work. File this one under “unforced errors,” I guess.

Very peculiar. Obama at moments seems to lack experience in tangibility, almost as badly at Bush 1 and scanners at the supermarket (he’d never seen one).

People and foreclosre

October 19, 2010

I just finished reading a powerful new book called “Exiles in Eden: Life Among the Ruins of Florida’s Great Recession,” by Paul Reyes, a writer in Tampa who spent the past couple of years helping his father with his “trash-out” business—clearing out what former owners left behind in houses claimed by the banks: the letters and photos, books and posters, carpets and fridges and fleas. Reyes, treasuring what the owners themselves didn’t bother to keep, calls this “a guilt-ridden literary forensics.” (For the visual analogues, see this essay by Reyes on the Times Web site, and the new school of photojournalism it describes.) He has a weakness for the intimate details that people in haste and trouble left behind, combined with an insider’s ability to find ongoing life in landscapes that more casual visitors would regard as undifferentiated decay. It’s a bleak book, with an accumulation of unpleasant physical detail and a strain of comedy and affection—Down and Out in Tampa and Lehigh Acres. There’s also a moving subplot of dislocation and downward mobility in the author’s own family. Everything feels transient, dreamy, and thinly rooted in the sandy soil, amid the palmettos and shotgun shacks, with hard times bearing down like a tropical hurricane.

Helps remind us what life for many is like, and how far to climate change.

Looking so much more like our own children than they used to. Their socialization to the modern?

Benoît B. Mandelbrot, a maverick mathematician who developed the field of fractal geometry and applied it to physics, biology, finance and many other fields, died on Thursday in Cambridge, Mass. He was 85.

Te spread of economic theory will say that living so long is not productive and hence a cost. But this misses that the purpose of live is to be living, to have a life, and not to be a slave, not to be a producer. Sure production is necessary but not transcendent. But watch in the next decade the argument being made about generations and cost analysis.