Google co-founder and President Sergey Brin met with U.S. lawmakers Tuesday to press for legislation that would prevent Internet access providers from charging Web sites more for faster content delivery.
"The only way you can have a fast lane that is useful--that people will pay a premium for--is if there are slow lanes," Brin told reporters, according to a Reuters story.
Click here for related up-to-date information on the politics of Net neutrality.
In a move that will certainly strike fear in the hearts of creative ad agency employees, a major advertiser has created a new television ad using nothing but viral video from YouTube, MySpace and other such sites.
Fast food company KFC has turned to user-generated content, also known as UGC, to advertise that its food has "0 grams of trans fat per serving" but with "the same great taste." Why bother paying ad agencies to come up with a fresh idea for a commercial, along with writers, actors and filmmakers, when you can just grab free video off the Web that has nothing to do with the product or company but which might be entertaining?
In KFC's ad, you've got break dancers twirling upside down on the sidewalk, a toddler bouncing in a baby swing, guys being goofy and pumping the air, wedding reception footage, random women dancing at home and, in the one product placement, someone blowing candles on what appears to be a cake inside a KFC bucket. Now that's a lot of talent! The ad is scheduled to debut during American Idol Tuesday night.
A new report surfaced Tuesday that Google's hell-bent on making its own mobile phone operating system, adding to the rumors that a prototype could be released soon.
Engadget is reporting that we could hear official news from Google about its plans for a handset-optimized operating system in September. The newest report falls into the more likely category--at least in my opinion--that Google would be working with existing phone companies on a device that uses a Google-developed operating system and suite of mobile applications, not building its own hardware.
The appeal for Google is simple: mobile phone growth is exploding, and it's the future of computing. It's not a perfect analogy, but it's almost like the early days of the PC industry when Microsoft hadn't yet come to dominate the industry and there were several different ideas for software to run those new-fangled PCs.
Google's OS is supposedly based on Linux, and designed to work well with its existing applications. If the rumors are true , Google will find itself in new ground competing against Microsoft, Palm, Symbian and its good buddy Apple.
At this week's cable industry trade show , Moxi showed off a new set-top box that will run Moxi's software and be built by Samsung. Moxi also showed off a second, smaller box that can either serve as a basic set-top box or work in conjunction with a bigger box in another room to offer features such as digital video recording.
While the box resembles Apple's small new desktop, it is, in effect, a very different Mini. It lacks an optical drive for playing DVDs and, of course, it's not a computer. What it is: a low-cost box designed to offer an entry point into Moxi's services or serve as a device for a second TV in a home that already has a more capable Moxi set-top box.
The Mini and the bigger Samsung box are just the latest in a series of attempts by Moxi to reach the masses . The company offers an environment for cable set-tops that offers features like games, photo viewing, program guides and digital video recording. The company is also looking, along with others, at ways of helping its cable company customers crack into the telephone market . So far, the company's technology is in about 100,000 homes through deals with companies such as Comcast and Charter, as well as less well-known names such as BendBroadband, NewWave Communications and Sunflower Broadband.
While the Mac Mini can still be somewhat hard to find, it's impossible to get one's hands on the Moxi Mini just yet. It isn't slated to arrive until 2006.
It's ironic how different Europe can be from the United States. While the U.S. continues its mindless rampage against the future of digital distribution with DRM, RIAA, MPAA, and other acronyms designed to stuff the 21st century back into the 20th century's ideas of how to package and sell property, Europe is actually investing in that future. To be exact, it's putting $22 million toward peer-to-peer technology , in a BitTorrent-minded project called P2P-Next.
Surely European broadcasters are against the move, right? After all, research suggests that 50 percent of those using BitTorrent are doing so to steal TV shows . As one TorrentFreak blogger noted, however, European broadcasters believe this situation presents an opportunity rather than a threat:
One of the biggest names taking part is the BBC, who will use the new BitTorrent client to stream TV programs. Other partners in the P2P-Next project are the European Broadcasting Union, Lancaster University, Markenfilm, Pioneer Digital Design Centre Limited and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. The main goal is to develop an open source, BitTorrent-compatible client that supports live streaming.
The current project will help broadcasters to find better ways to reach th online audience, and offer high quality on-demand television.
Now if only we could work on U.S. industries threatened by digitization and downloading. The software industry might actually more fully embrace open source. The entertainment industry would find ways to monetize the heavy demand for its products, as evidenced by file "sharing."
The EU apparently recognizes that the way to monetize P2P is to get out in front of it and enable it on superior terms to those available by more illicit means. Imagine that.
The scenario: Within ten years from today Google and Amazon merge, forcing the beacon of mainstream media to go offline and sue the Googlezon colossus in the United States Supreme Court for violation of copyright law.
In an eight-minute flash presentation , the Museum of Media History presents its picture for how the Fourth Estate will be toppled by participatory journalism, aided by the titans of the Internet industry.
Seminal moments leading to the destruction of the media industry include the creation of the Web, the founding of Amazon and Google, blogging, TiVo and social networking services, such as Friendster.
But it's the year 2004, according to the clip, that sets the stage for dramatic changes in how people consume--and make--their news and information. Sony and Philips announce the first mass-produced electronic paper; Microsoft unveils a social news filter Newsbot; and Amazon unveils its own search engine.
Then the video clip's makers get really creative. Awash in cash from going public, Google acquires TiVo in 2005. The following year sees the emergence of the Google Grid, which allows consumers to access an unlimited amount of storage and bandwidth to share media.
Google and Amazon merge in 2008 and trump Microsoft's competitive efforts with an algorithm that allows computers to construct news stories dynamically tailored to each individual user.
The symbolic demise of the Fourth Estate occurs in 2011 when the New York Times Company loses its suit against Googlezon.
In 2014, Googlezon unleashes EPIC, the Evolving Personalized Information Construct, which collects and filters media of all types to consumers. Some people are actually employed, too, paid according to the popularity of their work.Martin LaMonica is a senior writer for CNET's Green Tech blog. He started at CNET News in 2002, covering IT and Web development. Before that, he was executive editor at IT publication InfoWorld . E-mail Martin .
Tech companies are trooping to Congress today to testify before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law .
Fairly or not, politicians have held the tech industry's feet to the fire over sundry issues touching on human rights in the age of the Internet. It's been an unsatisfying debate marked by lots of finger-pointing but little in the way of results.
In her prepared remarks, Google Deputy General Counsel Nicole Wong offers a few concrete suggestions that I think make sense. Here's a summary:
Include censorship in trade negotiations. We believe that government-sponsored censorship is one of the largest barriers to making information more available online, and so it is vital for the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, to make censorship a central element of our bilateral and multilateral trade talks.
Strengthen the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. More can be done to ensure that the ICCR--developed more than 30 years ago--truly protects free expression online. The U.S. should renew diplomatic efforts to encourage more countries to ratify the agreement; countries that belong to the covenant should submit regular compliance reports; and aid should be provided to help individuals filing complaints under the covenant.
Enhance the State Department's Global Internet Freedom Task Force, and appoint an at-large ambassador. The task force has accomplished a lot so far but should receive additional prominence, authority, and funding. For example, the State Department could appoint an ambassador-at-large for Internet freedom to serve as a diplomatic advocate for these issues.
Promote free expression as part of foreign aid. Government can do more to tie U.S. aid programs to countries' implementation of their ICCR obligations. We have already urged the Millennium Challenge Corporation to incorporate Internet censorship in measuring whether candidate countries have achieved criteria for democratic governance.
Up until now, Silicon Valley's been left on its own to deal with authoritarian regimes like China. That's a no-win proposition. Without solid backing from Uncle Sam, there's no way that even a powerhouse tech company like Google or Microsoft is going to be able to stand on its own.
The Google suggestions aren't the last word in figuring out rules of engagement, but they're a sensible beginning. Now it's up to the hired help in Washington to take the lead. Will they grab the opportunity or opt for more grandstanding? We'll find out later today.Charles is an executive editor with CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years. A graduate of Queens College and Columbia University, Cooper began his career in journalism at the Associated Press before moving to technology coverage. Before joining CNET News, he worked at Computer & Software News , Computer Shopper , PC Week , and ZDNet. He received the Excellence in Journalism award from the Northern California branch of the Society for Professional Journalists for column writing. In addition to his blogging and podcast appearances, he is a co-host of the CNET News Daily Debrief. E-mail Charlie .