Mark Bult Design: San Francisco, CA, Established 1988

Web design and development for small and large business, e-commerce, b2b, b2c, SAAS, and community websites. User experience design and usability testing.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Free the Airwaves

Remember on old TVs how, when you used to switch from channel 5 to 7 (for example), there might be static on channel 6? Those unused spaces on the analog broadcast spectrum are called “white spaces.”

Currently more than half of the spectrum is unused. When TV broadcasters go fully digital-spectrum next year and discontinue their analog broadcasts altogether, there will be a lot more. A coalition including Google, Microsoft, Dell, and others, is asking the U.S. government to turn over white spaces to public use (broadcast spectrum is, after all, a legally recognized public resource). It could be used for better public access to wifi, Internet telephony, and many other things.

While the technology companies that are part of this coalition arguably stand to gain much from this, a variety of public advocacy groups and think-tanks are advocating for public access to white spaces too (Free Press, Public Knowledge, New America Foundation, Wireless Innovation Alliance).

I predict this fight will get nasty when many other companies realize they stand to lose a lot too. Expect the traditional and cellular phone companies, for example, to form a similar coalition on the other side, lobbying Congress for strict licensing and fees which would effectively lock out public access the same way licensing has kept citizens from broadcasting their own TV or radio stations.

For more information, and to sign a petition, visit Free the Airwaves.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

why tags can be both good and bad

One of the best things about tags is that they give non-hierarchical control to users of a site, thereby allowing an organization with, say, two people, to effectively leverage the far greater power of a volunteer staff of hundreds or thousands of users, as those users engage with and enhance the site's content through the use of tags.

Sites like digg are a great example of this.

Of course, there's a downside. You're giving over a level of editorial control to basically any wacko who walks in off the, er, Internet.

Thanks in part to Ynnej's inability to just simply smile for a damn photo, and in part to the ability for any member to tag another member whatever they want, I am currently the only person on Consumating tagged ear_sex_guy.

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