CS110 - Internet Technologies

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Response to “Get Out of My Namespace”

It is ridiculous how far companies have gone to protect their names in cyberspace. Yes, in some cases theses are legitimate issues. However, a majority of these cases are a waste of taxpayers’ money and the time of the government. It also ties up the court systems with these unneeded litigations.

The Internet has always been a forum for people to express their likes and dislikes, their hobbies, their opinions, their interests, or whatever they feel like posting on the web. And if their namespace conflicts with a corporate trademark, then so be it. As long it is in good faith. Otherwise, these conglomerates have the right to protect their trademarks. I am not defending these giant corporations, but this is a capitalistic society. We as consumers need these companies as much as they need us.

There are individuals out there who are only interested in making a quick buck off of these established trademarked names. They either cybersquatting on these names and hoping to sell it back. Or they are trying to mislead the public as the legitimate companies. Whatever, the case may be these miscreants must be punished in order to protect the credibility of others whose intentions are in good faith.

I definitely agree with Jeff Burgar’s saying. ''It's a business. The arbitration process is geared to take domain names from one party and give them to another’ -- from the have-nots, he means, to the haves. ‘The arbitrators are almost all of them attorneys who have a vested interest in looking out for big business or celebrities.'' This is unfortunate, but true. You know the cliché of “Money talks, and bull*** walks.”

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Response to "Much Ado About Blogging"

What is a blog? Well, blog stands for weblog. It is an online medium where anybody can express their opinions on whatever topics that interest them. It started out as personal diaries that were posted on the web. However, now blog topics range from social and political commentaries to just a depot of information on anything. It is digital voice for people to freely express their opinions without any constraints and get their fifteen minutes of fame. Software are now developed to help the general public to easily publish their blog online. So that not only the technically savvy’s are entitled to blogging, but the general population as well. It is a popular trend among teenagers nowadays since broadband has become affordable.

Some professional see this blogging trend as a duel between the old and the new journalism. The traditional journalists view these bloggers as “wannabe amateurs badly in need of some skills and some editors.” However, these bloggers bring a valuable service to the public as well as complementing the professional journalists. Bloggers are amateurs. They are not out to make a buck like their professional counterparts. They are free to write about anything without the some giant conglomerations dictating what to write. They are also not concerned about their piece attracting a mass audience in order to support their livelihood. Bloggers act as a check-and-balance for professional journalists to insure that their articles are factual. If not, these bloggers will pounce on them and it wouldn't be one individual, but an avalanche. Also blogs sometimes provide topics and research for these news institutions. However, professional journalists have something that these online commentaries do not have. And that is resources that the giant media conglomerates can provide. Some pieces require extensive research or breaking news need a great newsroom to disseminate the information out to the public. In the end both schools rely heavily on each other.

Both blogs and traditional journalism provide valuable services to the public. Traditional news media covers everything that’s happening all around us in a convenient package. Blogs cover niche markets rather than a broad spectrum.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Start Up.Com

The film “Start-Up.Com” provided an interesting insight of the life a dot.com company. The film revolved around the start-up company, govWorks.com. A group of childhood friends had a vision that everybody one day will be able to pay their parking tickets via the World Wide Web instead of having to physically pay for it at town hall. It was a revolutionary idea. People would not have to take a day off just for the purpose. Also the technology could be expanded to other municipal functions such as paying for excise taxes, renewing your license, and etc. This will be beneficial to both the government, in reducing costs, as well as the citizens, in terms of convenience.

Even though it was a solid idea with a lot of potential, this dot.com start-up was doomed to fail from the beginning. First, none of the original founders had any experience in building a company and managing it. One worked in the finance industry. Initially these skills were essential for raising capital for the company. The other two individual had more of a technical background which was needed to develop the initial technology to make this venture possible. Also the venture-capitalists were too eager to invest in anything that was related to dot.com. During the capital raising period, the group really didn’t have a solid business model to present to the venture capitalists. Even during meetings with these capitalists the group didn’t communicate a unified business model. And tension was beginning to build. However, it was easy for them to overcome this problem when they were raking in million of dollars in funds.

Starting a company also proved to a strained on their personal relationships. They ran into problem with one of the original founders’ right from the beginning. This individual had invested a lot of time and effort to build the initial the engine. However, his interest in the project was dwindling after they had raised the money. The group went through a terrible ordeal in order to buy him out. And it had cost them a friendship. Later on the film, it was pointed out that the relationship between the CEO and his girlfriend was extremely stressed by the lack of the quality time between the two since the inception of the company. Eventually, the two broke up. Towards the end, one of the co-CEO was terminated under pressure by the board for the lack-luster revenue and difference in vision with his partner and long time friend. Their friendship had weakened ever since that episode.

Spending by this inexperienced management was careless. The company had grown exponentially within a short period. They should have grown with the market instead. It also appeared that they forecasted the growth of the market extremely optimistically. It almost seemed that they didn’t take in account the rate of consumer acceptance to online payment in this early phase of e-commerce. Overconfidence in the market, management at govWorks.com had mismanaged their funds and their burn-rate was just out of control. I think they had spent eight million dollars on a week of consumer testing.

At the end under heavy financial stress govWork.com was bought out by another company. “Start-Up.com” was a very educational case study on the dot.com era and the life cycle of one of these companies that was started in this period.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

E-Biz Returns

I was one of those unfortunate souls that got caught in all the hype of the great dot-com bubble. It was a time when making a buck off the new dot-com startups was a breeze. All one had to do was choose any company with an e-business model and you were golden. Plus the boom of the online stock brokers like E*Trade made it so easy and convenient to trade over the internet for the average person with a fast internet connection. That was the era of the digital gold rush.

Yes, the technology had a lot of potential. Yes, the analysts had nothing historic to compare with these new start-up companies. And thus a lot of these companies were extremely over-valued. However, implementing these new technologies into mainstream U.S.A. would not be as easy and quick as some entrepreneurs had promised. When these new companies never pulled out of the red quick enough, they went belly up. Instead these new technological innovations would trickle into reality after the downfall of the dot-com boom.

Companies everywhere know that the internet will revolutionize the way business will be conducted in the future. And if you don’t renovate your business to adapt to this new medium, your competitors will leave you in the dust. Budget is tight with the economy still recovering from a down-turn, especially for IT. However, companies have increased their budget on e-business solutions in the past few years. A sign acknowledging that internet applications are more than just hot air.

As consumers are becoming savvier with the internet and broad-band is becoming more affordable for more households, it is inevitable that everybody will be always online. Also as wireless technology begins to build a strong foothold, people will be jacked-in anywhere and anytime.

With the development of smart dust, companies will be able to better manage their inventory. Retailers like K-Mart are already experimenting with this new smart dust technology in order to improve their inventory tracking systems. Others in the manufacturing sector are utilizing the smart dust on their automated machineries so that every machine will be able to keep tabs on every other machine as well as parts flowing through the factory. As robots begin to maintain themselves this will reduce down-time on the assembly line and increase productivity.

I am sure there will plenty of new and surprising innovations on the horizon for the consumers as well as for businesses. But with all these wonderful technological developments that will improve our consuming experiences and reduce costs for businesses, we must be concerned with security and privacy. Information gathering will be extremely easy as the net become ubiquitous in our society. As new technology emerges exponentially we should be wary of the consequences.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Reaction to Tom O'Reilly's Article

Online file distribution has been a controversial topic among the music, film, and book industry ever since the development of peer-to-peer technology has made it so easy to distribute files for the internet community. The RIAA has gone on a witch hunt for those that have blatantly gone up against them. Any who threatens their very existence, that is their bottom line, will perish. They have taken down the “infamous” Napster and converted its business model to a profit-driven one. When they realized that it is impossible to take down the channel of distribution since there will always be another Napster that will take it place, they decided to after the source, the people. They hope by prosecuting a few that these illegitimate activities will stop, but how can you stop something that has no boundaries. These giant corporations have to realize that P2P is here to stay and if they want to stay in business, they will have to change their business models.
Tom O’Reilly’s article “Piracy is Progressive Taxation, and Other Thoughts on the Evolution of Online Distribution” offers some very insightful thoughts on the matter. It is refreshing to see the perspective from one who is a writer and publisher of books. He has carefully studied this new medium and successfully incorporated it into his business model instead of taking-up arms against this new online movement.
O’Reilly has pointed out that “obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.” It is advantageous for new authors and musicians to be discovered by the consumers through free copies that have been distributed over the web than never to be discovered at all. The stark reality is that a very low percentage of new books or CD’s ever hit the shelves of major retailers and even if they do, their shelf life is limited to a few months before they are moved to warehouses awaiting the recycling factory. The statistic is even bleaker for film producers because of the high cost of production.
The web not only offers a mean to discovery for new artists, but it also helps level the playing field for them. “Lowering the barriers to entry in distribution, and the continuous availability of the entire catalog rather than just the most popular works, is good for artists, since it gives them a chance to build their own reputation and visibility, working with entrepreneurs of the new medium who will be the publishers and distributors of tomorrow.” The big media conglomerates driven by the empirical initiative will only promote those that have the mass appeal over those that do not. With the web, it is the people who will decide what they will read, listen, and watch. Not only will the obscured artists benefit from this new medium, but society will greatly appreciate the freedom of choice.
O’Reilly also stated that “customers want to do the right thing, if they can.” He points out that customers usually practice self-policing for piracy. His publishing firm has received enormous amount of email reporting of sites that illegally distribute their products. Also Stephen King’s experiment with the online distribution which relied on the public redistributing the publication, failed due to the fact that the people “thought it was wrong.”
This overreaction by these giant media conglomerates to this new medium is uncalled for simply because they are afraid of changes or haven’t realized how to adapt to this new medium. If they don’t change their business model, they will perish and new entrepreneurs will take their place. Peer-to-peer technology is not going to kill the music, film, or book industry, but it is going to change the way companies conduct business in the future.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Hello World.

Hey, wassup world. Anything cool going on?