October, 2009

Oct 09

Open Letter Supporting Proposed Net Neutrality

This morning, I’m a signatory on behalf of Mozilla on an open letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski regarding his proposed principles for Net Neutrality. There’s quite a lot of support for this letter — you can see a bit of a writeup here at the WSJ. I think we’ll have a bit more to say on this in the coming days, but for now, I just wanted to highlight a few points.

1. In general, the Net has been neutral for the really explosive innovation phase over the last 15 years or so. Much of what’s being proposed is about protecting that.

2. There’s good experience & real data from around the world that supports neutrality as we move from the first phase of broadband rollout to the next. If you have the time, I highly encourage you to read the FCC-commissioned Broadband Study from the Berkman Center (with Yochai Benkler as Primary Investigator) [PDF link]. There’s actual data in it (a lot of it) and worldwide experience that we can use to develop our own policy.

3. Making sure that the mobile Internet is as open as the wired Internet has been is crucial. We need 1 global Internet, not a collection of non-open ones.

Beyond all that, it’s worth taking the time to read the Chairman’s speech of a couple of weeks back. It’s a fantastic and inspirational speech.

Oct 09

Juliet, Naked, by Nick Hornby

Hornby’s writing is incredibly charming, as always, and that helped the book move along, but I never felt very much affinity for the characters, so the book fell a little flat for me.

Oct 09

Manhood for Amateurs, by Michael Chabon

I’ve tried reading Chabon’s novels, but never been able to get past the first 100 pages or so — hopefully next time. 🙂 But he’s a great writer, in any event; he’s got a great deftness with words. So I was happy when Mom sent me this collection of his essays. They’re not uniformly great, but some of them are awesome, capturing a lot about what it’s like to grow up, to raise a family, to live a life.

I’d quote some of the more interesting essays, but don’t have the book to hand (shocking! an actual paper book). But fun to read, especially if you like Chabon or are a parent.

Oct 09

Remix, by Lawrence Lessig

I’ve been extremely influenced by Larry’s thinking and work and writing over the last several years, and have been hugely encouraged by the adoption of Creative Commons, which he founded many years ago. I like reading his work because it covers a number of topics that I have a deep interest in, and covers them generally from a point of view that’s original and different in background from my own. Plus, he’s an extremely articulate guy, always.

I think this is his most mainstream work to date — it’s an exploration of what’s happening in our culture today — which I’ve used the word “synthetic” for, but he calls the “remix culture.” Just the idea that modern media is all about blurring the lines between consumption and creation, and that mixing things together creates new things in the process. He articulates, quite clearly, that unless we change the way we think about creators & consumers, and adjust our social norms and laws, we risk splitting our society between young & old (at best) or criminalizing the acts of an entire generation (at worst).

There were several parts of this book that have prodded new thinking for me — one that I’ve been thinking about is related to long form reading — what we’ve always called, you know, “books.” Larry talks about how a thousand years ago (give or take), Latin was the language of the elite & educated class — but the people who spoke & valued Latin sort of missed the revolution of the masses — the rise of the “vulgar” languages like Italian & Spanish & French. Similarly, the language of today is moving from the vocabulary of words to the vocabulary of sounds and images. That seems spot on to me.

Anyway, a great book that captures a lot of the dynamic in media today — recommended for sure.

Oct 09

The Invention of Air, by Steven Johnson

I enjoyed this story about Joseph Priestly — scientist & minister & close friend of Franklin and Jefferson — well enough, but I think I wasn’t really in the right mood for a history of science book, so it took me quite a while to get through, even though it’s very short at about 200 pages.

It’s an extremely well-written and well-research book — Priestly was very involved in the discovery of oxygen, the founding of the Unitarian Church, the conversation between Jefferson and Adams, and the start of ecosystem science — the guy did a lot of important stuff and was involved in a lot of important conversations.

So if history of science crossed with the American Revolution is your cup of tea, this is a must read. For myself, it was good but not great.