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Comcast must be regulated untill competition exists September 18, 2007

Posted by Pontiff in comcast, Telecommunications, unbundled, unbundled content, web 2.0, web applications, web video.
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From Slashdot

Alien54 writes Comcast has finally clarified what ‘excessive use’ is when it comes to their cable internet service. A customer is exceeding their use limit if they: download the equivalent of 30,000 songs, 250,000 pictures or 13 million emails in a month. ‘[A Comcast spokesperson] said that Comcast’s actions to cut ties with excessive users is a “great benefit to games and helps protect gamers and their game experience” due to their overuse of the network and thus “degrading the experience.”‘”

My take on this from Slashdot:

People actually depend on the internet to make a living these days. The only thing that will control abuse by these common carriers is competition. Period. Government cannot regulate their service levels but consumers can vote with their business and take it elsewhere. That is if there was a place to take it. Your argument would be reasonable if Comcast was not a government enforced monopoly. No actually and more accurately it would hold water if they, Comcast, were not the beneficiaries of government policies that enforce their defacto monopoly. These policies are by and large promulgated by Comcast, Bellsouth now ATT, Verizon ect. Take Nashville, TN for example. Comcast is the only provider of highspeed internet service in large sections of the city because Bellsouth , a similarly protected monopoly, was too incompetent and complacent to offer DSL in huge sections of the city. Their state reason is that the equipment needs upgrading. They still can’t get it together under ATT. Bottom line is both Bellsouth and Comcast exist under franchise agreements with the city which in effect keep competition from easily accessing consumers. So Comcast enjoys an artificial and bogus advantage . Until that is rectified they should not be allowed to kick anyone off their network if they are paying the bill.

It’s worth repeating is here I think. When it comes to possibly cutting off someone’s livelihood there needs to be some sort of due process. Competition ensures a kind of due process in being able to take your business elsewhere. However if a monopoly exists whether real of de facto then safeguards need to be in place that ensure vital services are not cut capriciously. It doesnt really matter if the monopoloy is the result of government policies or not. In point of fact almost all cable is a government induced monopoly of sorts. Municipalities enforce the franchise agreements that were crafted in the 60s and 70s under vastly different technological constraints. They sort of made sense then.Now these agreements are just a digital protection racket. Big telcos pay cities to keep the competition out and its not good for consumers who are potentially victimized by the behavior of the monopoloy.

The choice is simple really. Cities like Nashville should open the market [for TV, Phone, Broadband not just one or the other] to anyone who can afford to lay new cable. Period. The telephone poles can handle the extra weight. The only franchise fee they should ask is to require the new entrants start their buildout in the underserved areas. The market will take care of the rest.


Balance August 31, 2006

Posted by Pontiff in chronicnews, Copyright, Kangaroo Copright Court, Law & Politics, unbundled content.
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Yesterday I received a letter from Godaddy, our hosting provider, that they were suspending one of our servers due to a claim that there had been a copyright violation. A blogger claimed his content was being aggregated without permission yet we had not received notice. Had we had even the slightest inkling the content would have been removed immediately.

This was the capper to a bad few days and not really necessary nor does it actually help anyone or prove a point. The sites we run all ask for permission before aggregating a blog. Mistakes happen allot so we have a big printed note on the front saying that if you find your content here and didn’t give permission then please send us a note and we’ll remove it.

We got two such notes from other bloggers on Phoenixsnews.com last week and removed the content immediately. Both bloggers had given their written permission to aggregate but the swirling accusations made them decide to remove. No problem in both cases it was done in less than 24 hours.

I wrote hime. Here is what I said last night. I was really tired.

This is the first I’ve heard about this really.

All I can do is say that I”m really and truly sorry.

They’ve taken taken our server offline. If you sent an email notice we didn’t get it to my knowledge but we very well may have and our systems just didn’t work.

Since I’ve been personally involved with this we’ve been sending letters to the blogger — for over six months — before aggregation the feed. I’m attaching an example.

I”ve been spending way more money keeping this thing going than I’ve ever brought in — zero actually. My wife just had a baby so I’ve not been paying as much attention to what’s been going on and missed your pleas. Again. I’m sorry.

John B
your sploggoer.

We’ve deactivated Phonexsnews.com now. Godaddy would let us reactivate at any time. Its just that despite what was said we don’t make money at this. Our intent has been to do so but at this stage its not happening. We’ve actually been investing in finding ways to help the bloggers make money and therefore make the whole thing make sense economically. I’ve written allot about this on these pages. Sorry its not more interesting.

The upshot of this was that Godaddy analysed the facts I provided and responded quickly (in under 1 hour) to restore service.
The Chronicnews Network runs network of blogs that are aggregations of blog content focused on various topics. Prior to aggregation we send a letter to every blogger. Here is an exact replica of the most recent letter.


RE: yourblog.com
We would like to ask permission to aggregate your blog’s feed on on our site – http://www.selfemployedworker.com . The site is an aggregation of the best feeds we can find on subjects concerning self employment, freelance employment and the attendant issues.

We believe there is a need for good high quality aggregators on these subject and we’re looking for blogs that either deal directly or touch on self employment issues.

All you need to do is reply to this email and tell us if you are okay with that or not.

To see the initial version of one of the sites go to http://selfemployedworker.com/ Creative huh?

Why would you want to do this?

There may be little traffic at the site for the moment because we’ve not started a general ad campaign. We will soon start an Adwords campaign but want to set the initial blog slate and let the site settle down.

We’ve done this for a few other cities. To see some of the results click on the following links:

http://nashvillesnews.net [this is our oldest and least advanced site however it gets a lot of daily traffic]

You may get more readers as a result of our adwords campaign. It’s not guaranteed however there’s nothing to lose in this regard.

We only promote aggregated content we like and actually have pretty high standards. Our taste and judgment might be impaired but we like your blog’s feed items and believe this can only help you get more readers.

You need do nothing more than reply to this email giving the go ahead. If you should want admin control over your feed at a later time you need to create and account which of course is free. This is completely discretionary and doesn’t affect your feeds aggregation one way or the other.

The site should give you a pretty good idea of what it does and if you allow us to aggregate you can find your feed several ways. First you can click the sources link in the left menu or either the ‘categories’, ‘sitemap’, or ‘content list’ tabs along the top.

The feed items should show as being contributed by you or whomever you have designated in the originating blog or content feed.

Each feed had a link to ‘original article’ AND ‘source’ to be a redundant as hell.

There is a feature on the site that allows you to add your Pay Pal info and give the readers the ability to “Tip” you with gratuities for writing such wonderful content. Again you can deal with this at some other time. You can see a demo at http://www.tipit.ws or on Phillysnews.com.

Almost all the bloggers are happy to be carried. But if you decide its not for you just send us a note and we will take down your feed.

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The myth of the citizen journalist July 17, 2006

Posted by Pontiff in chronicnews, local search, Pontification, unbundled content, Unbundled Media, user interface.
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I’ve been in a dialogue with someone whose been involved with the whole citizen’s journalist thing and asks a good question.

How do you plan to get people in each of the communities to view the sites and more importantly contribute to the site? The whole contribute thing is a big problem for a lot of people and it is one that I have yet to see a solution that works on a constant basis for multiple communities.

My response:

Our approach is slightly different. But this tiny difference matters in terms of the sustainability. Without going into the long history of how we got here I’ll explain.

We target certain bloggers in an area based on criteria yet to be formalized (nice way of saying we just wing it). Then we send them letters and ask for permission to aggregate their blogs and its almost always given. Once the slate is set we proceed to automatically aggregate the feeds. The software displays the product in a fashion designed to emulate a human editorial team – i.e. not too many items from a single blog at once and a good mixture of content types and voices.

The aggregation creates natural urls and pings the blog directories and search bots to say its updated every hour or so. It creates a huge index and search visibility rather fast but can be a technological problem keeping things fast.

So to answer the question in a round about way the content isn’t dependant on group participation from average readers..I tried this and its not really a business model that works consistently enough. Dan Gilmour started Bayosphere at the same time and learned this as well. The citizen journalist is a myth. You are either a journalist or you are not and theoretically we are all citizens of the web.

Think of ours as tapping into a new source for content from a semi-professional sort — the constant blogger if you will.

I guess the last thing here is that we are trying to create ways to attract and keep the better bloggers but that’s another discussion.

That is our key difference and we’re working on ways to massage these content sources better. Its the current focus and will be manifest in http://chronicblogs.com relatively soon — sometime this week I hope..

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Chronic Advertising June 9, 2006

Posted by Pontiff in chronicnews, Pontification, unbundled content, Unbundled Media.
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Chronicnews shows network bloggers its ad system that flows text and rich media through blog content in place of static banners or text. Node Flow ads allow publishers and bloggers to set a synchronized or semi random placement of text, flash, image or streaming video content inside ‘ad nodes’ which flow along the page with the content as it moves from top to bottom.

The service is free to bloggers in the network. Chronicnew is a Nashville company operating a web based publishing network focused on local content. It utilizes RSS for content delivery and relies on search visibility for its site promotion. The results of their initial experimental development were evident in late May when NashvilleSNews , the original development site, reached number 8 in Google search results for the search phrase "Nashville News". That key word combination is one of if not the single most competitive in the market.

Full PDF

Advertising whereever you look…!!!

No actaully this works nicely and while it isn't going to revolutionize the web it will help productive bloggers get paid for their output whereever it may end up.

Unbundled content for real May 18, 2006

Posted by Pontiff in Pontification, unbundled, unbundled content, Unbundled Media.
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I just noticed something I didn't think was working yet. The Tipit actually travels from site to site in the bloggers RSS feed. I think this is what Terry Heaton is talking about regarding the unbundled web.

Follow this link to a post by Elizabeth Perry. Notice the Tipit logo at the bottom. Elizabeth is one of the Pittsburghsnews.com bloggers and probably among the best 10 artist offering work on the net openly accessible to all. Note this does not mean free and it does not mean it isn't copyrighted.

That post is on Socialistsytem which is our internal blog for employees to keep up with what's going on with the other sites. Now what's nice about this is that the Tipit part of the feed originated back on Pittsburghsnews.com and will stay with her feed as long as its picked up by relatively up to date sites that process RSS 2.0.

The content originates and stays on her site .

This may seem confusing but its not. Her content is published on her site which produces an RSS feed. We pick up her feed on Pittsburghsnews.com where she has enabled Tipit with her Pay Pal information. A reader does not have to be logged in to leave Elizabeth a tip. All they have to do is click the Tipit logo and enter an amount. That's it.

We pickup the Pittsburghsnews.com feed for our internal purposes and the Tipit and her content are in essence reproduced there. A user can again leave Elizabeth as tip or payment and has no reason to know that the feed is coming form Pittsburghsnews. The transaction is between the blogger and the user and the rest is as it should be — invisible.

Thank you Elizabeth.

elizabeth perry photo art