Book Review: Common As Air by Lewis Hyde

June 14, 2011

An excellent historical and philosophical treatise on our copyright and patent laws.  Mr Hyde does not preach too much though there is no doubt where he stands on the issue.  The historical perspective is from our country’s Forefathers and British/European history from the Feudal System.

Foremost I learned that copyrights and patents are limited monopolies whose privilege is granted by our government.  Limited means copyrights and patents are time bound and must expire to become part of the ‘Public Domain’

Second I learned that granting these limited monopolies has two effects:

  1. Free Market economies are driven by money.  The copyright/patent system rewards creators of Knowledge monetarily, eliminating the need for support from patrons/aristocracy.
  2. The copyright/patent system restricts Free Enterprise and Knowledge Growth by ‘enclosing’ Knowledge.

Mr. Hyde uses the quote by Newton:

What Descartes did was a good step. You have added much several ways, and especially in taking the colours of thin plates into philosophical consideration. If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.

To great effect – by enclosing knowledge in copyrights and patents we restrict our ability to make intellectual progress.

Mr. Hyde never says that copyrights and patents are bad or wrong.  After all everyone wants praise and money for their accomplishments.  We just cannot enclose our ‘Common’ Intellectual ‘property’ forever.  The “Mickey Mouse” Copyright Act of 1998 extended copyrights another 20 years (a generation!).  This means for me that I have to wait to get Faulkner, Hemingway and others on Project Gutenberg; and I have to ask myself why?  So, Disney and other’s heirs can make more money off of material that is over 50 years old?  Really?  Is that the purpose Jefferson, Adams, Franklin and others envisioned when they provided for copyrights and patents?

From reading Mr Hyde’s book I see copyright and patents as a tax.

Our legal system is overburdened by copyright and patent lawsuits.  In a Knowledge-Based economy can we afford to wait (waste?) generations to build on the knowledge we create today? For example, perhaps Bill Gates might better serve his Foundation’s goals by releasing all of Microsoft’s patents to the Public Domain versus throwing more money at the same problems others have for generations.

Just a thought.


Analysis of HarperCollins Strategy for eBooks in Libraries

March 17, 2011

I am very interested in the current disruption going on in the publishing industry due to the digitization of books (eBooks).

I bought my first eReader back in February 2010 and I’m on my second eReader (NOOKcolor).  What a fantastic way to read.  And all those .pdf’s on web for continuing eduction?  They’re on my NOOKcolor too.  ‘Lean Back’ technology is a wonderful thing!

Recently, the publisher HarperCollins announced that their eBooks at public libraries would have a 26 checkout limit before the license expires.  I.e. Libraries will have to buy another license (copy) after a book is checked out 26 times.  HarperCollins’ reasoning is that ‘physical’ books [also know as DTB‘s – Dead Tree Books] ‘wear out’ so therefore eBooks should ‘wear out’ too.

Personally, I think it is ‘silly’ to map business models from ‘physical’ objects to their ‘digital’ counterpart.  The digital ‘world’ should have its own set of business models/rules.

HarperCollins’ proposal is causing a stir with the Libraries.  Both Publishers and Libraries are trying to survive the disruption, but neither are going about it very well.

Here is a link to a nice analysis on the potential impact of HarperCollins 26-checkout-expiration’ rule by Eric Hellman on TeleRead.

Screen Shot of my NOOKcolor in Explorer

February 9, 2011

How to add covers to your free (non-DRM’d) eBooks using Calibre

January 29, 2011

To my friends on the NOOKcolor General Discussion Board:

I read Nallia’s post from a couple of weeks ago “Things you Should Know” which contained a very brief description of how to add covers to your side-loaded (non-DRM’d) eBooks.

It worked for me and I thought it might make things a little easier with some screen shots, so here is a .pdf if you are inclined to do this.

It is simple and low risk and your shelves will look awesome on your NOOKcolor.

I now feel the pain of those complaining about the .pdf reader.  You (I) cannot open this on your NOOKcolor.  However, as you need to be on a computer to add the covers anyway it is no big loss.

– Lee

How to Add Colorful Covers to eBooks for – UNKNOWN

06-24-2010 Thursday – Wireless Plans and the “Network”

June 24, 2010

Here is an interesting analysis on Wireless “Oligopoly” by Ryan Singel at

If the people who brought us television had played by the same rules that today’s wireless carriers impose — we’d probably all be listening to the radio.

Which is a nice way of saying the wireless industry — AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile — needs some ground rules that make clear they are common carriers that get the right to rent the airwaves by abiding by fair rules.

Thank you Mr. Singel.  I feel my posts are becoming redundant; it’s about regulation, stupid.

Following Mr. Singel’s article is one by Steven Levy and his Three Laws of Tablets.

Law Three:  “Tablets must always be connected”.

Kinda hard to do if the Network is NOT Everywhere and we’re ‘paying-by-the-drink’…

To close here is a recent blog from Emily Green with the Yankee Group titled “Where are our Anywhere Network Leaders“. 

It’s the people who deploy technology who are the ultimate agents of change in any technology revolution. Some of our Anywhere revolution’s change agents include: the academics who adopted the U.S. military’s TCP/IP protocol for inter-university file transfers; the rebels whose digital sharing websites cracked open the entire music industry; the passionate designers of powerful simplicity at Apple, who unlocked our appetites to use their creations. People are the agents of change in our networks… or not.

Case in point: the state of IT today within some network service providers. At the same time these carriers rail against the forces pushing them toward commoditization of their assets, and while they acknowledge the imperative for change to continue playing an important role in the lives of their customers, the real guts of their networks languish.

The Dichotomy:

  • Is right in front of the network service providers (NSPs) noses – If the NSP’s do not build the “Network”, soon enough, fast enough, and at a ‘good’ price point they will be regulated…even more than they ‘fear’.

The Irony:

  • The NSPs are giving ‘us’ the tools to make sure we get the “Network” we want; or there will be regulation – emailing our representatives…ePolls…using the “Network”…the FCC has already fire the first shot over the bow by seeking our comments and thoughts on regulation – on the FCC Website!
  •  The NSP lobbyists will make our representatives rich…But we make sure the representatives ‘keep’ their jobs so they can get richer…and the ‘Power’ is keeping their jobs..and power is a greater aphrodisiac than money.

06-22-2010 Tuesday – Uncle Gene (Genachowski and the FCC) Wants You!

June 22, 2010

  A lot has been happening on the Broadband front this past week –

  1. The FCC wants your input
  2. A presidential ‘Emergency Cut-Off’

First, I want to encourage everyone to participate/vote on the FCC “Notice of Inquiry” when available.  This is an opportunity to get directly involved with government. 

In the category of “A Subject for Another Day” the Anywhere society will change how government works.  Have you emailed your congressman or senator recently?  It is really very easy.  There are drop down menus for subjects and a simple text box for a simple message.

Imagine signing up for a RSS Feed from your representative.  Then during an important vote your representative sends a poll.  Your voice is heard!

Now imagine the same scenario above and you are on vacation.  Hiking along the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.  You will not get the poll.

ANYWHERE won’t work if it is NOT EVERYWHERE.

There is no business reason for any Tier 1 to provide coverage in rural locations.  It must be subsidized by the government.  Hence regulation.

Now, call me paranoid because I read “Fatal System Error” and “Cyberwar” but we will need a method to disconnect us from the Internet.  In an emergency.  Again, regulation is needed. 

Have you ever noticed those emergency cut-off switches at the gas pumps and inside the stores at gas stations.  That is regulation. 

Would you drive up to a 10-island gas station…in the family van…with the spouse, kids, and your best dog…KNOWING this facility DOES NOT have these safety shut-off devices…just to save $0.02 per gallon?  Would you really?

Now, in a related article by Noah Schachtman at, a status on the DHS US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) is not ready.  This is the agency responsible for all the *.gov sites.  No one is responsible for the *.com sites.

So, let’s summarize…no plan or team to secure the  *.gov network…no one at all to secure the *.net network…and as many as 50,000 new malicious programs detected every day…Nah, we don’t need no stinkin’ emergency cut-off…Do we???

06-17-2010 Thursday – Three Independent Events

June 17, 2010

Three articles came out the same day:

  1. Singapore Wired for Speed (FTTH)
  2. Starbucks to offer free Wi-Fi
  3. ESPN to stream ESPN3 through Xbox

Seemingly independent stories, but all have in common delivering ‘connectivity’ to mass audiences.

Give me your business and I’ll let you ‘connect’ Anywhere…for your laptop, smartphone, eReader, game device, or tablet…

With AT&T doing away with ‘unlimited’ plans will you stop at a Starbucks to get a ‘free’ on-line “fix”?

I will.  And I am not a Starbucks customer.

The speeds Singapore will have are ridiculous…FTTH – Fiber-to-the-Home…What a wonderful concept…As I’ve said before, if the US is going to keep up the FCC must step in and make the Tier 1 providers to ‘speed’ up speeds…I recently did my DSL test…a ‘whopping’ 3 Mbs…that’s right “A-SINGLE-FREAKIN-DIGIT” 3 Mbs…Countries around the world are getting 10 times that for no more than I’m paying now…All I ‘see’ from the Tier 1’s are promises…call it…VAPOR bandwidth…

Bonus article from, Cord-cutting a ‘Myth,’ Says Nielsen — But Will It Be in 5 Years? by Ryan Lawler.  Nielsen research is showing cable subscriptions are growing, while households going ‘broadband’ only is essentially flat.  I see two reasons for this –

  1. Not enough network bandwidth/speed (see above)
  2. HDTV

The combination of HDTV and paltry speeds in the US is postponing the inevitable…what we want, when we want it and where we want it, i.e. ON-DEMAND.

It will happen.

06-16-2010 Wednesday – China’s Growing Pains

June 16, 2010

Suicides at the Foxconn factory compound, striking workers at other plants.  Not a good couple of weeks for our Sino-Friends.

There is even more threats of a strike this week at a Honda parts facility.

Then we have stories about young workers going to Shanghai and Hong Kong to avoid ‘censorship’.  Fortunately, China, through its State Council Information Office, released a white paper – “The Internet in China

So, prices for most of our goods (that we buy) will be going up…

With regard to China…keep your eye on the ball…

  1. How Labor issues are handled/resolved
  2. Internet Security Policy
  3. Monetary Policy
  4. Relations with foreign businesses, e.g. Google

Everything/Anything else is noise to distract from the above, e.g. Taiwan and ‘saber rattling’

6-17 UPDATE:

Today in the NYT is an article on how technology is helping the labor revolt organize and communicate…very similar to what happened in Iran last summer…it will be revealing to see how long the Chinese Government lets this go on…

06-15-2010 Tuesday – The ‘blurring’ of work and life…

June 15, 2010

This a complicated subject…from the ‘nuclear’ family to the ‘connected’ or ‘anywhere’ family.

So, are you one of those that need an on-line fix?  Here are a few articles from and that some of ‘us’ may be “too” plugged in:

In response, here is an op-ed from

It’s a he-said/she-said kinda thing…some say our brain can’t adapt…I say (and many agree) our brain will adapt…and change…and evolve…

So, how’s this impacting the family?  I have more ‘time’ at home because I can “work” at home.  But is time ‘working’ at home better than less time at home and more at “work”?

6-10-2010 Thursday – The Internet of Things

June 10, 2010

Once again browsing through the NYT I stumbled upon a site,, this site is perhaps a bit too technical for some but I am particularly enamored with the “Internet of Things” section.

Between the ReadWriteWeb and Brookings institution I have a lot of reading to do…maybe I do need an iPad!!!…It wouldn’t hurt to do some of this reading with a ‘lean-back’ technology versus a ‘lean-forward’ technology…my Nook is NOT the device for this kind of reading…

Richard MacManus (Founder and Editor in Chief of ReadWriteWeb) has written a series of articles on the ‘Coming Data Explosion’

  1. The Coming Data Explosion
  2. Why HP Thinks Sensors Will Lead to The Next Big Wave of Computing
  3. Data Explosion: Analytics Software Must Adapt or Die

The last one is quite superficial but interesting to me as an analyst…I would take exception to the quote “business intelligence [BI] systems have not changed much in the last 20 years”…I would agree that BI is a term/acronym thrown about a little too loosely.  As an example,  just this past week on LinkedIn, I participated in a question posted to the Business Intelligence Professionals Group – “My quest for understanding Business Intelligence” – which has quite a few disparate responses…but I digress…

To quote from article 1 above:

One of the key aspects of the emerging Internet of Things – where real-world objects are connected to the Internet – is the massive amount of new data on the Web that will result. As more and more “things” in the world are connected to the Internet, it follows that more data will be uploaded to and downloaded from the cloud. And this is in addition to the burgeoning amount of user-generated content – which has increased 15-fold over the past few years, according to a presentation that Google VP Marissa Mayer made last August at Xerox PARC. Mayer said during her presentation that this “data explosion is bigger than Moore’s law.”

Also, at the end of 2009 there were 281 exabytes of data online data.

Now, let’s see if can appreciate what an exabyte is:

  • 1,000 bytes           1 Kb (kilo-byte)
  • 1,000 Kb                 1 Mb (mega-byte)
  • 1,000 Mb                1 Gb  (giga-byte)
  • 1,000 Gb                  1 Tb (tera-byte)

These are ‘quantities’ of data we are most familiar with…the Terabyte being 1,000,000,000,000 bytes; typically a set of eight 0’s and 1’s, e.g. 10001110, is a byte.

Now, to get a ‘feel’ for an exabyte, which is a million terabytes, I went to Wikipedia:

The word exabyte is the basis for the term exaflood, a neologism created by Bret Swanson of the Discovery Institute in a January 2007 Wall Street Journal editorial.[21] Exaflood refers to the rapidly increasing torrent of data transmitted over the Internet. The amount of information people upload, download and share on the Internet—known as internet traffic—is growing (due in large part to video, audio and photo applications) at an exponential rate, while the capacity of the Internet, its bandwidth, is limited and susceptible to a “flood” of data equal to multiple exabytes. “One exabyte is the equivalent of about 50,000 years of DVD quality video.”[22]

The article claims that in the next four years more data will be created than in the history of the planet.  That’s quite a claim.