Kiss Me, I’m Irish

A couple months ago, I started down the long road to obtaining my Irish citizenship. Well, longish road. Actually, in retrospect, the road was pretty short, though marred by some ludicrously bureaucratic procedures. For those who don’t know, Ashley has her Irish citizenship and hence I was able to obtain it by making an application for post-nuptial citizenship. Lucky me, too, given that this route to Irish citizenship will cease to exist at the close of November 2005.

In a weird way, this is a return to roots. I believe my mother’s side of the family is originally from County Cork, though they’re from Scotland more recently. What goes around comes around, I guess.

What does this mean for me going forward? Well, for one thing, I now have the right to live and work in the 25 EU member states. Add that to being a Canadian engineer (which, through NAFTA, allows me to easily work in the US and Mexico), and it adds up to a pretty interesting map of places I can work with little or no hassle (image built using the World66 map tool):

Hmm. Maybe that’s not quite as impressive as I thought it would be. Then again, it’s not too shabby either. If I could regain my Australian citizenship it would be augmented a little more, but unfortunately I fail the residency requirements necessary to resume the citizenship I lost when I became Canadian (I was born in Australia, but at the time I became a Canadian, Australia didn’t allow multiple citizenships).

What I’d be really interested in know is how prevalent multiple citizenships are these days (and I’m not the only one interested in the topic apparently). It appears that more countries are allowing multiple citizenships – I know that the UN is starting to recommend that census organizations start to gather data to study the trend. Imagine the ramifications of a world in which not only do information workers have the skills required to allow them to easily find work anywhere, but also have the work authorizations to eliminate the last remaining barrier that would prevent an employer from hiring them. Interesting? Yes? Scary? Undoubtedly.

I predict we will see citizenships become a new asset class, one which is exempt from the usual inheritance taxes, but may ultimately bestow more value in the long term. I mean, just look at Ashley and I – if we spent a year in Australia, we would be up to four citizenships between us! Imagine the opportunities our kids will have because of that freedom. Then again, perhaps countries will have ceased to matter long before our kids even have need of this asset. Perhaps the dream of telecommuting will have come true already, or perhaps the EU and NAFTA trade zones will have expanded to the point where the globe is one giant free trade zone. Who knows?

That’s no excuse not to plan in the meantime. I would suggest anyone with an interest in maximizing their opportunities investigate how they might increase the number of citizenships they hold. The easiest way to do this is to look at your grandparents – where were they born? Do those countries allow you to obtain citizenships because of your grandparents’ birthplace? Check it out, you might be surprised the opportunities that await you!

Sell-Side Advertising

A number of bloggers have been ruminating the future of advertising (most notably Fred Wilson, John Batelle, Seth Godin, and Adam Rifkin), mostly inspired by Ross Mayfield’s “Cost Per Influence” post from eons ago (think July – that’s, like, forever in the blogosphere). I thought it might be time to weigh in on their concept of “sell-side advertising” (closely related is Greg Linden’s discussion of “intent marketing“). The idea at the core of “sell-side advertising” is intriguing: what if advertising became less about companies and advertisers pushing out advertisements to people who didn’t care about what they’re selling, and more about allowing influencers to connect products with the people who actually want them?

From my understanding, the sell-side advertising concept is part Google AdSense and part Amazon Associates. On drugs. Batelle gives a good summary:

Instead of advertisers buying either PPC networks or specific publishers/sites, they simply release their ads to the net, perhaps on specified servers where they can easily be found, or on their own sites, and/or through seed buys on one or two exemplar sites. These ads are tagged with information supplied by the advertiser, for example, who they are attempting to reach, what kind of environments they want to be in (and environments they expressly forbid, like porn sites or affiliate sites), and how much money they are willing to spend on the ad.

It’s a great idea – let the publishers (such as bloggers) advertise to their circle of influence and get paid on performance (read: actual sales). No performance, no money! Like Amazon’s Associates, there’s little incentive for someone to create a page full of links without any value-add. Like Google AdWords, it levels the playing field, offering smaller advertisers the opportunity to reach their market without breaking the bank. Even better, it offers smaller advertisers a calculable ROI – it’s no longer a crap-shoot like it is with Google AdWords (after all, even with the best click-through rate in the industry, isn’t the click-through rate still abysmal?).

From the publisher’s point of view, this is also an especially appealing model. First and foremost, I believe the improved ability of such an advertising model to provide measurable results (in terms of actual dollars, not just “eyeballs”) would result in improved revenue for the publishers themselves – far better than per-click advertising. Heck, just compare how Amazon referral fees outweighed my author royalties!As an added bonus, such a model would put advertising control back in the hands of the publisher, thus avoiding the puzzle of Google Adwords that are totally unrelated to the content on the page.

As Seth points out, this model is already out there in the form of an offering from Commission Junction. I recall signing up for a Commission Junction account ages ago when I was exploring ways to boost my book sales – I believe Commission Junction was providing the affiliate program for Barnes & Noble. It was horrible. Bad user interface, and difficult to actually find the items I wanted to sell. Anyone know if it’s improved since last I tried it (early 2002)? Perhaps if they improved the interface and created plugins for blogging tools to streamline the process of adding affiliate links, they’d really have something.

That said, there are still some issues with such a system. For one thing, I think it’s safe to say that a large part of the blog world will be uncomfortable with the idea of the commercialization of the blogosphere. Scoble won’t even use affiliate links. And Canter (God bless him for trying stuff) probably would have been burned at the stake if he showed up at Bloggercon with his get-paid-to-blog schemes.

A shift to pure pay-for-performance advertising might have some interesting ramifications. As Hugh MacLeod loves to point out:

“But that’s always been the trouble with advertising. The money has always been in the dreck. Because the good stuff advertises itself.”

While I agree, I think the problem we’re currently facing is that there’s just too much good stuff. If the advertising market moves to a model where publishers only choose advertisements that interest their readers (if only to maintain their street cred and fend off accusations that they’re being a shill), some products’ advertisements will never see the light of day. After all, some products will never invite a religious following that will build buzz – those things are called commodities. Nobody cares enough about, for example, toothpaste to write about it (unless, of course, they screw up royally), much less participate in some Crest-sponsored affiliates program.

And that’s OK, because these products are overpriced anyway, given they have little true innovation to justify their price in light of their low input costs. But therein lies the paradox – as publishers shift towards the more lucrative world of pay-for-performance advertising, commodity producers will find it difficult to even buy themselves an audience. The question in my mind: will this drive up the price of old-world, pay-for-no-guarantee-of-performance advertisements to new heights, or will the dismal economics of these commodity products prevent them from being able to gain an audience at any price?

BC v. Silicon Valley, Pt. II

Continuing on from last time’s discussion of Silicon Valley and the benefits of population density, the logical next step is to talk about one of the side benefits of having so many geeks in one place.

Hot Geek Action!

That’s right, you heard me – hot geek action. Read it again if necessary.

Silicon Valley is quite good at bringing people together. Sure, everyone’s a transplanted workaholic with no social life, but when there’s a chance of getting together to ogle a successful entrepreneur, glean a few tips for success, or grab a glimpse of the future of the tech industry, you have to beat the geeks off with a stick. It’s an insidiously effective positive feedback loop: the people smart enough to run the gauntlet to a liquidity event mold a new generation to follow in their footsteps.

Having a lot of smart people in a region by itself is no guarantee of success – you need to actually gather them together from time to time. You need the members of the population to actually engage with each other, to publicly lick old war wounds, tout their successes, and generally impart wisdom to the general population. Silicon Valley does this very well – any day of the week there’s any number of public events, speeches, meet-ups, featuring people far more successful than you who are willing to tell you how they got where they are today, the mistakes they made along the way, and how you might go about duplicating their success. Half the time, these events are extremely cheap; the other half, they’re free.

While you’re at these get-togethers, you’ll meet another bunch of people who are either exactly like the speaker or, like you, are hoping to be in the speaker’s place in about five years. Things tend to happen.

Now, compare this with the environment in the Lower Mainland.

During my MBA, I was considering joining the Vancouver Board of Trade – until I found out that it would cost $200 to join. This was the student price. In addition, any event that would be worthwhile attending would cost another $40 or so to attend. Talk about a really effective way to kill interest in participation in the community. Comparing this to paying $10 as a non-member of the CSPA and see Jerry Kaplan speak for an hour and a half, or donating $10 to the Computer History Museum to see Steve Case (and mingle with the likes of Woz and Walt Mossberg), I can’t help but feel that organizations in Vancouver are shooting themselves in the foot.

Part of the goal of these industry organizations should be about breaking down communication barriers, and encouraging connections within the business community. That’s how Silicon Valley businesses grow better, faster, and win. And business isn’t the only one that needs to be doing this on an ongoing basis – universities have to be constantly making connections to smooth the transition of technology from the lab to market.

Stanford has this program I just discovered, the Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Program. It’s a free class that’s open to the public with the express purpose of bringing together the academic and business communities. It hosts an impressive list of speakers drawn from the local business community. Talk about breaking down barriers! And yet when I suggested bringing together the Engineers and MBA students at UBC for a combination entrepreneurship/engineering project course, all I heard from members of the administration were excuses over how it couldn’t be done because of the differences in tuition fees between the two programs. Lame. Maybe Stanford had that problem, and routed around it by doing it for free as a public service.

This brings me to my next rule for duplicating Silicon Valley’s success:

  • Reduce the barriers to bringing people together: Nobody creates a revolution in isolation – get people from all industries, all ages, talking, mingling, sharing, and learning from each other.

Next time: Thinking Big

A Question Of Copyright

Poor Martin Schwimmer has stirred up quite a hornet’s nest (Scoble’s got the running summary) with his recent post on his decision to ask Bloglines to stop aggregating his blog’s RSS feed. While many are quick to criticize, I think it’s important to stop to examine the issue a little deeper to see if there’s any validity to his concerns.

First, let’s examine Martin’s opening volley:

This website is published under a Creative Commons license that allows for non-commercial use, provided there is attribution. Commercial use and derivative works are prohibited.

It was brought to my attention that a website named Bloglines was reproducing the Trademark Blog, surrounding it with its own frame, stripping the page of my contact info.

At first, you might think this is a bit ridiculous, but let’s break down the issue by examining the site’s licensing terms.

Non-Commercial Use

This is probably a pretty valid argument – although I’m not clear whether or not Bloglines is currently making money, they certainly are an ongoing commercial entity. But it is a fine line – I seem to remember there being similar grumblings in the Open Source community, back when people starting building commercial services on the back of GPL software. Actually, now that I think about it, that argument is ongoing.

Maybe it would help if we took a step back. Can we agree that if someone took Martin’s page and sold in on t-shirts, then that would be an infringement? Absolutely. And if someone offered copies of the content printed and bound? Again, a blatant violation. But what about an individual user viewing the page through a commercial aggregator located on their desktop? No way in hell is that a violation.

But once the jump is made to a server-based aggregator that provides the same functionality, the line between commercial and non-commercial purpose becomes a little less certain.

(Another question: is a web-cafe that charges for Internet access in violation if one of its users view Martin’s site?)

Although Martin, in a response on his blog, laments:

At least with Google’s contextual ad program, the blog creator gets some money.

True. Although Martin certainly doesn’t make any money from Google when it creates a derivative work from his blog and displays the result in its search listings on I wonder: has Martin contacted Google to have his site removed from its search engine? Apparently not.

No Derivative Works

You have to concede this one to Martin – “no derivative works” is a pretty clear statement.


What constitutes “attribution”? Well, if you go according to the definition provided on the Creative Commons’ Licenses Explained page:

Attribution. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work – and derivative works based upon it – but only if they give you credit.

Hmm…that doesn’t really shed much light on it, does it? What constitutes “credit”? What “contact info” would satisfy Martin’s requirements under the Creative Commons licensing scheme? A telephone number? An address? A link directly to his contact page?

How about a link to the original web site?

A quick examination of any blog in Bloglines reveals that it displays a prominent banner featuring the name of the blog as part of its user interface. And a link to the original top-level blog URL. And links to each item on the original source blog. And the following description of the blog:

The Trademark Blog from the law offices of Schwimmer and Associates

If this doesn’t satisfy the criteria of “attribution”, what will?

An Interesting Twist

Up to now, the discussion has been focused on the terms of Martin’s Creative Commons license. But there’s an interesting twist: Martin’s RSS feed doesn’t actually contain his Creative Commons license! That’s right, if you examine the raw XML, you’ll find a “copyright” element with the contents:

Copyright 2005 Martin Schwimmer

Hmm. That’s interesting – given that every other page on Martin’s site contains an embedded link to his CC license, would I be right in thinking that the RSS is not subject at all to its licensing terms? Could it be that his feed is, gasp, protected using plain ol’ regular copyright? In that case, it would appear that all bets are off.

While I certainly don’t wish this to be the case, you have to concede that Martin is following the letter of the license he stipulated, both for the original page as well as the RSS feed. While we may not like the outcome, or the fact that such an attitude not only will balkanize useful applications and innovation on the web, I don’t think you can argue the facts – after all, trademarks and copyright are his beat.


While it may not have been his intent, I think Martin’s actions have highlighted a legitimate concern for both content creators and aggregators. The proliferation of aggregation services is driven by an age-old secret to business: steal from the commons. The web is being viewed by web-based businesses as a wonderful resource for building value-added services, but it’ll only take one really well-funded lawsuit to bring down this house of cards. Web-based services need to think about embedding CC recognition into server-based applications to protect themselves from this possibility.

For us, the blog community, we need to remember that the purpose of the Creative Commons license is to allow the creator to exert control over the fruits of their labor. While we might want everyone to choose the least restrictive CC licensing terms, if we choose to blatantly disregard those licensing terms when we don’t agree with them (or dog-pile on the creator), we’re undermining the viability of the licensing scheme as a whole. To that end, perhaps we should be browbeating web-based services, such as Bloglines, Rojo, Feedster, Feedburner, and PubSub to incorporate CC license recognition intelligence into their services and use it to filter out content that hasn’t been properly licensed for their purposes. Doing so would serve two-purposes: protect these services from future infringement litigation; and further cement the Creative Commons licensing scheme’s reputation as a legitimate mechanism for creators to exert control over their works. Indirectly, such action may also illustrate to copyright owners like Martin the value of participating in these services and choosing a less-restrictive CC license, enabling the creation of technologies that not only benefits readers, but also the content creator themselves.

I, for one, would like to thank Martin for the attention he’s brought to this issue. While it may not have been his intention to bring about this level of discussion, I think it’s been valuable nonetheless.

BC v. Silicon Valley, Pt. I

It’s hard to believe but we’ve been living in Silicon Valley for year. It’s been interesting living in the center of the Technology Universe, and now that I’ve had a bit of exposure to the environment, I think I’ve started to figure out a bit about what makes this place tick. Given my previous internship with the Premier’s Technology Council studying how to make British Columbia a leading technology development centre, I thought it would be useful to compare and contrast Silicon Valley with British Columbia. In particular, I want to see if I can identify the gaps and shortcomings that British Columbia must overcome if it is to be successful in its bid for technology development stardom. I’m going to write up some thoughts on the topic over the next couple weeks. Comments welcome from both BC and Silicon Valley techies.

The Benefits of Population Density

The first thing that struck me about Silicon Valley was that just about everyone was exactly like me. I didn’t have to explain new-fangled technology in conversation to non-techies I encountered – in fact, I’m not even sure such a label can be applied to anyone in the area. People on the street that you might mistake for a refugee from a sixties commune can be overheard casually discussing network routing optimization problems and how to hack commodity consumer electronics goods in order to transform them from lifeless husks into pure, uncut geek street-cred. It’s mind-boggling.

Linus Pauling once said “The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.” If I could narrow Silicon Valley’s success to one factor, it would have to be this: lots of smart people packed into a contained space. It’s entrepreneurship by Brownian motion – if enough smart people vibrate around Silicon Valley, eventually enough of them will collide and something interesting will happen. And the process is doubly efficient as no one has to waste their time giving background introductions on the technological underpinnings of their idea. It’s a recipe for building cutting-edge companies fast and seeing what works: shake, stir, and strain pure intellectual gold.

Of course, not everyone succeeds and therefore not everyone stays. The circadian cycles of Silicon Valley’s booms and busts leaves the area with the feeling of a transient population. When I first arrived, people always laughed when I used the term “native Californians” – no such creature seems to exist, apparently – everyone here is from somewhere else. However, that’s not to say that the population of the area varies significantly – looking at the California Department of Finance population statistics, the population doesn’t vary as much as you’d expect. In fact, the population is downright steady, especially when you consider the number of people who lost their jobs in the post-dot-com blowout.

That said, I believe part of Silicon Valley’s success is attributable to its machine-like ability to separate the entrepreneurial wheat from the chaff. In some ways, it resembles a casino: people scuttle in, deposit their dreams, and if their dreams don’t pay off, scuttle back to wherever they came from. After all, there’s no way in hell you’re going to be able to afford to live here and afford a home unless you hit a home run (hence Mountain View, the town I live in, is 55% rentals). That kind of churn cleans out the cruft, refreshes the talent pool regularly, and keeps the fresh ideas coming to replenish the pool to form the basis of the next run up the innovation curve.

To summarize, it would appear the first two rules for duplicating Silicon Valley’s success are:

  • Get talented people: Create conditions to attract lots of talented people – such as lots of talented people. (Chicken? Egg? You decide!)
  • Create conditions that reward the good, or punish the bad: Either one, it doesn’t matter which, as long as the end result is a growing population of talented people who have good ideas and know how to execute on them. The rest you can do without.

Next time: Hot Geek Action!

Google Down?

Is it just me, or is Google down right now (15:32 PST)?

If so, then you can practically hear the world’s productivity declining. Or you could, if it weren’t for the screams of anguish wafting over 101 from Ampitheater Parkway.

Oh yeah: I’m also back online after being in the backwoods of Canada with only dialup to sustain me. Happy New Year!

Update: Hmm…less than five minutes later, and it seems to be working again. Must have been a DNS thing – Ashley had the same issue.

Learning Together

One of the few benefits of the MBA that I will admit without too much coercion: it exposed me to a lot of people from different backgrounds. The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that, outside the MBA, the major failing of the current form of university education is its narrow focus on a single field or discipline.

Think about it: the main purpose of university is to bring in smart people, separate them into silos, and then equip them with an exclusive vocabulary known only to peers in their own discipline. Once their degree ends, they’re shipped off into a heterogeneous world where no one but their immediate peers speaks their language. And we wonder why it’s so hard to get anything done, be it in the corporate world or the public sector.

By and large, we never actually teach people how to work together. The majority of their education is spent being trained to only be responsible for their own work, their own success. Team projects in the world of higher education are hardly representative either – after all, you’re all in the same degree program!

What I wonder is why we don’t see universities creating courses that bridge disciplines? For example, why not have a course that brings together engineers and business students? You could have the business students write a product spec based on market research, have the engineers design and build it, and then have both present the project from a technical and business standpoint?

Maybe if we had these kinds of project courses, companies wouldn’t spend as much time learning and re-learning as an organization how to span the individual specialties. It seems to me like so much of my early career has been spent trying to figure out why every company always seems to encounter similar problems. Then again, maybe I’m completely off base with this approach. It could just be that people are non-linear, and no amount of formal education will provide a solution to the problem.

Christmas in CA

It’s closing in on the final two weeks to Christmas, and I still don’t feel the holiday spirit. It was 64 degrees Fahrenheit (~20 degrees Celsius) today! There’s no snow. Heck, the grass on the hills south of 280 just finally turned green. We’re in California, what holiday spirit?

Living in California is like being an insomniac. You get loopy without a perceptible change in seasons. It’s always sunny – not that there’s anything wrong with that. But sometimes you’d just like to lay about the house and not have to close all to blinds to avoid feeling guilty about choosing to miss out on the sunshine. I’m such a Vancouverite – the temporary appearance of rain last week was cause for minor jubilation on my part at work:

Co-worker: Boy, it sure is coming down out there. I can’t believe the miserable weather we’re having!

Me: I know! Isn’t it fantastic?!?

Co-worker: ???

The really weird part about the impending arrival of Christmas in California is all the traditional imagery used to sell the season to shoppers. White Christmas? Are you kidding me? Eggnog lattes? Dude, those are meant to be spiked with rum, and their true purpose is to ward off frostbite. Take it from the son of a Scot, I know.

The pinnacle of this surreal experience has been the “Christmas in the Park” display in downtown San Jose. Picture this: a good acre of park covered in some kind of white mesh, surrounded by miniature displays of Santa’s elves throwing cotton-ball snowballs at each other, and other Christmas schtick. I feel sorry for the kids.

A Narrow Miss

Ashley‘s employer had a deal on getting a cell phone from Verizon Wireless and I was almost thinking about getting a cell phone. Note that I said almost.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I avoid cell phones like the plague. I don’t know why, but I seem to have a pathological aversion to them – despite being a blabbermouth, I can’t seem to stand talking on the phone. And the prospect of having a phone on my person at all times strikes me to be about as appealing an accessory as a cyanide tooth. When I’m away from the office or the apartment, I’m gone – I may be perpetually connected at home or at work via my laptop, but once I step away from the computer, I don’t want to be interrupted.

Cell phones come with a bunch of grief that just doesn’t interest me at this point. It requires a whole new level of dedication to gathering archaic and esoteric information (and I’m a technologist – I breathe pure, uncut archaic and esoteric information): Who are the providers? Where do they have the best coverage? How many free minutes do you get with a particular plan’s provider? The average American’s knowledge of carriers’ networks and capabilities is second only to their knowledge of prescription pharmaceuticals.

But I’m a geek, right? Shouldn’t I want one of these devices? Why would I want to cause Russell Beattie to have another aneurysm?

The short answer? The current generation of cell phones, frankly, simultaneous suck, lick, and blow, if such an action is actually physically possible. The cameras in them are low resolution, their memory is limited, and the network connectivity is constrained. And getting your data on or off the phone usually involves gymnastics to avoid going through your provider’s tollbooth to the outside world and pay through the nose.

A couple months ago, I saw a great idea: a virtual privacy machine that fits on a USB drive. The idea is that you can carry all your applications and data with you wherever you go. Simply plugging the USB drive into a standard Windows or Linux machine will boot up a private virtual machine onto which you keep everything you regularly use. But why stop there? Imagine something like this integrated into your Bluetooth-enabled cell phone – you put down your cell phone on your desk at work and instantly all your applications and data are mapped and available on your desktop machine. Hell, if the cell phone processor were powerful enough perhaps you wouldn’t even need a desktop machine – just a Bluetooth monitor, keyboard and mouse. It’s not like you really need a killer amount of processing power to do email, surf the web and create Office documents.

Now if you take that device, slap 100GB of memory in it, bolt on a four-megapixel camera on top, and package it in something the size of the Hiptop, then I might be interested. But not because it’s a cell phone.

Sony, Kottke & Us

There’s nothing the blogosphere loves more than to have its sense of entitlement to free information impugned. After all, it gives us something to blog about. With the debate over whether or not it was acceptable for bloggers to get paid to blog already a distant memory, the blogosphere was spoiling for a fight – and it found it when Jason Kottke posted a clip from Ken Jennings’ Jeopardy swan song and got a cease-and-desist from Sony for his effort. Cue the panties and…bunch!

Come on guys, this was predictable, wasn’t it? I doubt Jeopardy sports a Creative Commons license, so we can hardly be surprised if Sony gets annoyed when someone rips off their content. Fair use? It’s not only dead, it’s been buried long enough that it’s hard to make out the epitaph on the tombstone: Get Used to It.

The content industries are now in the process of encasing Fair Use’s grave in cement in case it gets any ideas of pulling some kind of undead zombie voodoo comeback. The only way forward is to talk about real ways to make this a non-issue in the future. And no Dan, I don’t think holding a boycott is the answer – boycotting has only really worked once. It was against Charles Boycott. In Ireland. In 1880. Haven’t we got better things to do with our lives than to spend them deluding ourselves into believing we’re inflicting fatal injuries by tracking a comically long list of enemies who don’t even acknowledge our existence?

Now, I hate Sony as much as the next guy. Sure, they’re evil, but they’ll die. And rather than stomping around angrily, let’s take a more direct approach to solving this problem. We’ve shown that a little technology is enough to run circles around both government and industry – why don’t we look at the ways we can use our know-how to protect ourselves from these kinds of attacks:

  1. Legal Technology: We’re under assault by corporations, why not use their own weapon against them and incorporate? This is a question that perhaps Wendy or Larry could shed some light on: could a blogger create a shell corporation in such a way that it would that limit the blogger’s liability? That way, someone like Sony could make threats all they wanted – suing the shell corporation would result in little benefit for Sony. If this was a viable option, perhaps hosted blogging tool services could provide it as a value-added service (“To incorporate this blog, click here!”).
  2. Content Distribution Technology: Following in the footsteps of Freenet and Bittorrent, why not develop a truly distributed blogging technology? My buddy Brad Neuberg did some interesting investigation in this area with his Paper Airplane project. Not only would this make it extremely difficult for a company to block content, it would also help the more popular blogs stop being victims of their own success.
  3. Content Discovery Technology: Honestly, have our lives grown so bereft of entertainment that we’ve resorted to caring about such vacuous, artificial crap? There’s boatloads of good public domain, independent content being created out there by people who aren’t even professionals, who do it because they care about creating cool stuff, enough to last a thousand lifetimes. All we need is a way to find the stuff we care about. Developers, help us grab Big Media by the Long Tail, twirl it around, and smack its head against the floor until it breaks open like a piñata!