Posts by Brock Read
July 18, 2007, 01:46 PM ET
Six months into its campaign of sending pre-litigation notices to campus music-piracy suspects, the Recording Industry Association of American shows no signs of slowing down. Today the trade group sent a total of 408 messages to 23 different colleges, which must now decide whether they will pass the notices on to their students.
None of the institutions have received pre-litigation letters before, according to the RIAA. The recipients of the notices are California State University at Monterey Bay; Case Western Reserve, George Washington, New Mexico State, Northern Arizona, Northern Michigan, Ohio State, Pennsylvania State, San Francisco State, Santa Clara, and Western Kentucky Universities; Eckerd College; Franklin and Marshall College; the Georgia Institute of Technology; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; the State University of New York at Morrisville; and the Universities of Central...Read More
July 18, 2007, 11:11 AM ET
We in the United States are in deep technological trouble. That's pretty much what a report to be delivered to President Bush in a few weeks is going to say about national technology policy. It's also going to suggest some high-priority fixes.
On the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, members have spent a year evaluating the 14 federal agencies that support IT research, to the annual tune of $3.1-billion. "Almost all academic computing is covered by this umbrella," said Daniel A. Reed, a council member and vice chancellor for information technology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. But it's a leaky umbrella, and one that's about to be blown away by international competition, he told several hundred academic computer scientists this week at the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit in Redmond, Wash.
The report highlights three urgent problems. First "we...Read More
July 17, 2007, 02:40 PM ET
Ramesh Johari, an assistant professor of management science and engineering at Stanford University, is shooting up the iTunes U charts with a set of free lectures that attempt to chart the Internet’s economic and infrastructural future.
The first installment in the “Future of the Internet” lecture series, taken from a continuing-education course Mr. Johari is now teaching, starts with what the professor calls a “ridiculous question:” What is the Internet? But Mr. Johari quickly moves on to rockier terrain: Subsequent lectures tackle the economics of the Internet, network neutrality, and “TCP, IP, and the Alphabet Soup.”
The lectures aim to offer “a nontechnical introduction to the architecture of the Internet,” according to iTunes, so they’re not alienating to tech newcomers. The recordings are audio-only, but slides that accompany the talks are also available through the online store...Read More
July 17, 2007, 02:18 PM ET
“I’m going to print up bumper stickers: Just Say NO to Incrementalism!” said Jeannette Wing yesterday. Her audience of 400 — mostly engineering-school deans and computer-science-department chairs — sat up a little straighter in their seats, because Wing was calling for proposals to help her spend $52-million dollars in grant money by 2008.
Ms. Wing has the money. She’s the new assistant director for computer and information science and engineering at the National Science Foundation. And she’s pushing for “audacious proposals” for a new NSF program: Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation.
Ms. Wing made her plea at the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit, a meeting of the minds in Redmond, Wash., put on by the software company’s corporate research lab. And Microsoft Research has some bling of its own that it is trying to hand out. The lab announced it will dedicate more that $6-million in...Read More
July 17, 2007, 06:40 AM ET
Just weeks after a New Mexico judge told the Recording Industry Association of America it could not use “John Doe” subpoenas to identify a batch of campus song-swapping suspects, a Virginia judge has followed suit, Ars Technica reports.
Walter D. Kelley Jr., a U.S. District Court judge, ruled that the RIAA has no right to use ex parte discovery tactics — in which John Does are often unaware that they are subpoena subjects — to ascertain the names of seven students at the College of William and Mary.
In doing so, Mr. Kelley took a different tack than did Lorenzo F. Garcia, the New Mexico district-court judge who said the RIAA could not prove it had faced “irreparable harm” from students’ offenses against copyright. Mr. Kelley argued that the industry group incorrectly cited the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 — which applies to cable operators, not colleges, he said — as the basis...Read More
July 16, 2007, 03:35 PM ET
Siva Vaidhyanathan will be the Institute for the Future of the Book’s first fellow.
Mr. Vaidhyanathan, a media-studies scholar who recently moved from New York University to the University of Virginia, is best known for his work on copyright and digital media. He told The Chronicle recently that he was working on a book about Google.
Certainly his thoughts about Google will be a part of his fellowship at If: Book, but the rest of what he will do there is still up in the air, according to an announcement. “Precisely what ‘fellowship’ entails will develop over time but for now it means that the Institute is the new digital home of Sivacracy, Siva’s popular weblog,” If: Book says. —Scott CarlsonRead More
July 16, 2007, 02:27 PM ET
Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child project has recruited a surprising new partner, thanks to an about-face from Intel, the chip-manufacturing giant that was once Mr. Negroponte’s archnemesis.
The company has made a large financial contribution to the nonprofit group, according to The New York Times, and one of Intel’s vice presidents will take a seat on the organization’s board. One Laptop Per Child will also use Intel’s servers to build up “educational systems” in the nations that buy the project’s low-cost laptops.
But the laptops themselves won’t have Intel chips, at least not for the time being. Mr. Negroponte chose nearly two years ago to outfit his machines with processors from Advanced Micro Devices, one of Intel’s competitors, and the project has not announced any intention to change its plans.
One Laptop Per Child’s decision to forsake Intel may well have contributed to the...Read More
July 13, 2007, 04:02 PM ET
This year marks a computing milestone, but it’s not one that will have IT officials popping any corks: The computer virus has turned 25, according to Scientific American.
And boy, has it matured. The first computer virus to spread in the wild, Scientific American says, was “Elk Cloner,” a relatively simple piece of software created by a high-school student in Pittsburgh. Cloner didn’t attempt to destroy the data of Apple II users; it merely serenaded them with a poem:It will get on all your disks It will infiltrate your chips Yes it’s Cloner! It will stick to you like glue It will modify RAM too Send in the Cloner!
That’s a bit more charming than Blaster or Love Bug, one has to admit. —Brock ReadRead More
July 13, 2007, 03:02 PM ET
The IT department at the State University of New York College of Technology at Delhi has come up with a nice idea: Staff members have built a group blog that aims to put the department in close contact with the campus community.
The blog has already touched on a number of issues that might be of interest to students and professors — like the college’s domain name, its helpdesk, and its plans (or lack thereof) to migrate to Microsoft’s Vista operating system. “There’s a fair bit of ‘thinking out loud’ here, too,” writes Michael Feldstein of e-Literate, “which is…well…not the sort of bravery one expects from campus bureaucracy.”
All in all, this seems like a good public-relations move and a potential boon to Delhi’s IT policy makers. Does anyone know of other IT offices that have taken on similar outreach projects? —Brock ReadRead More
July 12, 2007, 03:39 PM ET
From Mark Twain through Mark Helprin, a lengthy lineage of authors hs argued that copyright should last forever. But that contention doesn't go far in the Internet age, says Rufus Pollock, a graduate student in economics at the University of Cambridge.
In a paper titled "Forever Minus a Day? Some Theory and Empirics of Optimal Copyright," he says the duration of copyright should lessen, over time, as technology makes it easier to produce and disseminate content. Then Mr. Pollock, a Ph.D. candidate, goes a step further: After some mathematical heavy lifting, he concludes that the "optimal term" for copyright on books and recordings is only 14 years.
"This is substantially shorter than any current copyright term," he writes in the paper's abstract, "and implies that existing copyright terms are too long." (Thanks to Boing Boing for the link.) --Brock ReadRead More