A few of us had a conversation sparked by remakes of a telecom CEO who said that consumer Internet telephony would be the "killer app" for broadband.
Few people have any problem with the idea that Internet telephony will become dominant at some point, but one has to worry about what form (actually forms) it will take and what the shape of the adoption curves will look like.
At this point we have about a quarter of a percent of households in the US using a Vonage class solution. Most of them are paying about $25 a month (the unlimited spread that goes for $35 isn't as popular) and almost all of them have backup cellphones. Other types of voice over the Internet that don't appear as telephone-ish are more difficult to measure, but some research shows them at around one percent of households. Of the dozen or so Vonage class users I know, only one has severed his other telephony services.
South Korea'a broadband penetration - about 70% of households - is close to saturation. Internet telephony usage in South Korea is about the same as it is elsewhere in the world -- it clearly isn't a "killer app" for broadband there. One can add that the quality of infrastructure isn't the issue. Most Japanese and South Koreans would sneer at what is called broadband in the US.
Andrew has thought deeply on the subject over the past decade and I mostly agree with him. It will take a few years for this to occupy even a modest percent of the pie. I will be surprised if there are more than 5 million "Vonage class" users in the US at the end of 2005 - the economics aren't there for most people and there are other issues standing in the way.
Consumer voice over the Internet in other applications (Skype for example) is seeing much steeper growth. It seems clear where the innovation will come from. It also seems likely that a mini-bubble may stand between us and the end state.
A bluetooth phone coupled with iChat AV gives a quality version of telephony. Bluetooth headsets are getting smaller and, hopefully better. It would be interesting if Apple introduced something that linked to a Mac via bluetooth and had a small buddy list display/selector. It is only a matter of time, but Apple would probably get it right.
A great shot of the Himalyas from the ISS. The resolution isn't great, but it is an amazing view nonetheless...
If you want resolution there is a Quickbird image of Zurich in the same set (warning - 6MB) - the optics get down to 60 cm resolution. Here are a few more Quickbird images - so, when it is going over, be sure to wave.
Results suggesting that music sharing does not negatively impact music sales. The RIAA claims data that suggests otherwise. This sort of thing is very difficult to cleanly measure and poking holes in methodology isn't particularly difficult.
I have looked at it from more of an ethnographic point of view, carefully picking market segments. The most interesting signal I have seen suggests that 18-25 year olds actually buy music and there is a stimulation effect. Unfortunately for the major record companies, the stimulation is more towards smaller labels and live music.
There are also some tantalizing signals that suggest a more intense interaction with music may be developing. It appears that doing music is on the rise. Americans spend over $10 billion a year on making music these days ... it is rising and getting within striking range of the amount spent on CDs.
Those familiar with his work won't find much that is new, but the piece is written in a chatty style and makes his points crisply (I can't say the same for some of his earlier works). There is a tension between copyright holders and users - and the tension is now very much out of balance. The fix is to rework copyright law.
Upon reflection, it should be obvious that in the world with the Internet, copies should not be the trigger for copyright law. More precisely, they should not always be the trigger for copyright law.
[this idea is] perhaps the central claim of the book, so let me take this very slowly so that the point is not easily missed. My claim is that the Internet should at least force us to rethink the conditions under which the law of copyright automatically extends, because it is clear that the current reach of copyright was never contemplated, much less chosen, by the legislators who enacted copyright law.
Thus, my argument is not that in each place that copyright law extends, we should repeal it. It is instead that we should have a good argument for it extending where it does, and should not determine its reach on the basis of arbitrary and automatic changes caused by technology.
Lessig provides more than a few interesting examples.
Perhaps I've been a bit too close to this, but I recommend it.
An explanation for the spiral shaped gorges in the Martian polar ice caps has been presented.
The tilted planet causes ice on one side of a crack to heat and vaporize, deepening and widening the crack. Then the water vapor hits the shady, colder side of the growing canyon and refreezes.
Eventually, chasms more than a half-mile (1 kilometer) deep developed, and they cover hundreds of miles of the polar regions. But only on Mars, it seems.
Characteristics unique to the red planet -- its thin atmosphere, chilly climate and specific planetary tilt -- make it the only known place in the solar system where the ice spirals occur. They don't exist at Earth's poles, in part because temperatures are regulated somewhat by global ocean and air currents.
"On Mars, the surface temperature is strongly determined by the angle with respect to the Sun, because very little heat transport occurs in the thin atmosphere," Pelletier told SPACE.com .
"The troughs form by an instability in which areas on the ice cap that are slightly steeper towards the Sun begin to melt while nearby areas remain frozen," he said. "The steep areas get steeper, face even more directly towards the Sun, and further melt in a positive feedback."