DeLong on Google/China

Here’s James DeLong, with the most sophisticated take on the Google-China dilemma. He not only gets the technology right but also offers intriguing thoughts on the geopolitical landscape and the very state of democracy in the West. It’s provacative, but I think he’s right. Tom Hazlett also understands what’s going on. -Bret Swanson

Stuck in Neutral

Are Comcast and Verizon bent on slowing your Google and Yahoo! searches to a crawl? Each day, it seems, yet another pundit jumps into the “net neutrality” fray, and that is the impression they give readers. In last Sunday’s Washington Post, it was Christopher Stern failing to listen to the technology. Stern’s treatment was fairer than most but still drew a false caricature of the complex business and technical issues that have recently dominated the Internet and New Media debate. Stern asks: “Do you prefer to search for information online with Google or Yahoo? What about bargain shopping — do you go to Amazon or eBay? Many of us make these kinds of decisions several times a day, based on Read More ›

Google’s “Infinite Database” targeted by Rep. Markey

Google thinks everyone should have the right to visit any legal web site they choose — as long as it can track every move and remains free to manage the data in its wisdom. Google maintains server logs that record the date, time and originating IP address of every search query and subsequent click on a link. The New York Times reported in 2002 that Google collects “150 million queries a day in its databases, updating and storing the computer logs millisecond by millisecond.” If you were a prosecutor, an investigator or a private plaintiff, could you resist the temptation to examine this material? And what about the more serious problem of theft and loss? If Gen. Wesley Clark’s mobile Read More ›

Fragmenting the Internet

Proof that you can never have it both ways can be found in a report by Christopher Rhoads in today’s Wall Street Journal, which notes that countries and organizations are erecting rival Internets. Internet pioneers such as Vinton Cerf are alarmed about a fragmentation of the Internet, according to Rhoads. But we should step back and give thanks for what this development is not. It is not U.N. control of the Internet. The U.N. is a sclerotic, and some say corrupt, organization that is full of strange notions about the importance of personal and commercial freedom. Were it to control the Internet, foreign dictators and bureaucrats would be able to influence how we can use the Internet in this country. Read More ›

Thought Free Telecom

Today at, Adam Penenberg examined the “net neutrality” debate in an article entitled “Internet Freeloaders: Should Google have to pay for the bandwidth it consumes?” Following is Penenberg’s column (indented) with my comments interspersed: Internet Freeloaders The Internet has always been about democracy–what the geeks who designed it call “network neutrality.” Data, whether e-mail, a Web page, or video, get sent as packets that are reassembled at the end of their journeys. All packets are created equal, and Internet service providers deliver them without prejudice, based on their network’s speed and capacity. This isn’t quite right. For years, providers of certain content, applications, and services have used specialized techniques to deliver higher value data in faster and more robust Read More ›

Charging for web speed

At a Congressional staff briefing this week, the Chief Technology Officer of BellSouth referenced an agreement between BellSouth and Movielink in which BellSouth receives a fee to ensure that Movielink’s customers can download movies quickly — even if they have a slow Internet connection. In today’s Washington Post, Gigi Sohn — an advocate of “network neutrality” — ridiculed the arrangement with this clever comment: “If we want to ruin the Internet, we’ll turn it into a cable TV system.” I would actually hate to see the Internet turn into either a cable TV system or a telephone network. That’s the problem with Sohn’s proposal. Sohn’s proposal would turn the Internet into a wasteland where transport providers can’t make any money. Read More ›

Google and Net Neutrality (continued)

Like my colleague, Hance Haney, I find Google’s support of “net neutrality” regulation surprising. Or if not surprising, at least disappointing. Google is not a search engine company or a dot-com. Google is an Internet infrastructure company. A networked computer company. It is a general purpose platform of processors, bandwidth, and software. It does search, yes, but every few months now Google introduces another array of new Net products and services: GoogleVideo, GoogleBase, GoogleMaps, GoogleDesktop to organize my PC. Read this column by Robert Cringely, who explains Google’s infrastructure buildout and says Google is about to monopolize the Net, leaving no room for competitors or even mid-sized companies, only small guys and entrepreneurs. I don’t believe Google will monopolize the Read More ›

Vint Cerf and Net Neutrality

Internet pioneer Vint Cerf penned a letter expressing his fear that legislation before the House Energy & Commerce Committee “would do great damage to the Internet as we know it.” Cerf is now an employee of Google, a great company that unfortunately strongly supports the legislation’s net neutrality provisions.

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GoogleTalk About Game Over

So now that Google has entered the instant message and voice-over-IP games, adding to the existing 76 million U.S. users of AIM, Yahoo, and MSN Messenger, not to mention Skype‘s 47 million VoIP users and a few million Vonage customers, with robust broadband video conferencing from these web-based applications providers on the way, can we finally agree that the rigid price ceilings and floors and geographic pricing layers and cross-subsidies for traditional voice telephony administered by the 51 state utility commissions are no longer operative? -Bret Swanson