Expect the unexpected from giants' battle for air supremacy

A year ago, if anyone had said that Google and Facebook would be fighting each other to acquire drone manufacturers and technology, you might have rightly called that person crazy. Loony, even. But that’s what’s going on now.

Google announced this week that it bought Titan Aerospace, a New Mexico-based maker of drones. That follows stories more than a month ago that Facebook was in the process of buying it.

Titan’s drone technology will be used by Google both for imaging purposes and to bolster Project Loon, which is aimed at bringing Internet connectivity to parts of the world that can’t be economically reached by conventional means.… More

Zuckerberg wants fill planet's toughest broadband gaps with drones

There’s a huge difference between some Internet access, no matter how poor, and none at all. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is looking at drones as economically sustainable broadband infrastructure where conventional technology doesn’t cut it. In a white paper published on Internet.org, Zuckerberg frames the question…

Our research has shown that approximately 80–90% of the world’s population lives today in areas already covered by 2G or 3G networks. These environments are mostly urban or semi-urban, and the basic cell and fiber infrastructure has already been constructed here by mobile operators.


Bitcoin exists to make it possible for people to make their own bad decisions

1 March 2014 by Steve Blum
, , , ,

Where’s the fashion police when you need them?

Knee jerk calls to regulate virtual currencies, in order to protect us from a repeat of the total collapse of the Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange this week, prove two things: 1. there are people in Washington (and, I wager, Sacramento) who must do nothing all day except see what’s trending on Twitter and paste top tweets into boilerplate bills, and 2. there’s a dangerous misconception that personal online behavior can be regulated.… More

Bullies and nannies alike threaten Internet freedoms

2 February 2014 by Steve Blum
, , , , , ,

“Everything we’re talking about are threats to authoritarian regimes, and they have the votes”, said Robert McDowell, formerly an FCC commissioner and currently a thinker (or would that be a tanker?) at the Hudson Institute think tank. He was speaking at CES earlier in January. His concern is maintaining the vitality of an open Internet and everyone’s freedom to use it as they please. “A big threat to this is international regulation and governance”, he said, renewing his warning that some governments – via international organisations as well as their own efforts – want to bring online activists and entrepreneurs to heel.… More

CES needs to bring global partners to the dance

3 January 2014 by Steve Blum
, , , , , , ,

The “global technology event” which is officially – whatever that means – called “International CES” isn’t living up to its name even as well as it did (or not) last year. Exhibitors from Africa, South America, South Asia and Southeast Asia are even thinner on the ground in 2014, judging from the pre-show floor guide.

Last year, 23 companies from ASEAN nations exhibited products, this year the total is only 18. Hanoi-based Tosy is thankfully back – nothing like a dancing robot to perk up the day.… More

Santa Cruz becomes the place Silicon Valley wants to be

31 December 2013 by Steve Blum
, , , ,

Sticking out like a surfboard in a cubicle farm, Santa Cruz has risen to the top of Silicon Valley’s hot spots for 2014. It’s a top 5 tech mecca for the coming year, according to Silicon Valley Business Journal, and the only one of the bunch with local culture that rises above strip malls, fast food and bad haircuts.

According to author Lauren Hepler

Hippie beach enclave no more? A gaggle of politicians, entrepreneurs and deep-pocketed investors want to diversify from Santa Cruz County’s $500-million-a-year reliance on summer tourism.


Kim gets gamed, because the Internet never forgets

21 December 2013 by Steve Blum
, , , ,

Supreme Leader, we have immutable faith in your shining mastery of Pong.

In Rudyard Kipling’s novel Kim, a teenage boy is trained to be a spy with a memory game. He’s given a brief glimpse of some items, and then has to describe what he remembers. Over the course of many rounds, his powers of observation and memory grow. It’s called Kim’s game.

But as North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is finding out, the Internet gives everyone a Kiplingesque memory.… More

Rich countries bid up the price of Internet freedom

Assume perfect information.

The richer the country, the greater the impact and accessibility of the web, but the more intrusive governments become. The annual Web Index, compiled by the World Wide Web foundation, shows a strong correlation between high GDP and high scores on the attributes it measures. Even amid warnings from Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the web and the man behind the foundation, that “a growing tide of
surveillance and censorship now threatens the future of democracy”, it’s people in rich countries that are better able to improve their lives and affect the course of government via the Internet.… More

LA lands in the middle of global ranking of broadband's effect on local society

22 November 2013 by Steve Blum
, , ,

A picture is worth a thousand numbers.

Los Angeles ranks 11th out of 31 major metropolitan areas around the world in Ericsson’s 2013 City Index, behind 8th-ranked New York, barely ahead of of 12th-ranked Miami, the only other U.S. cities rated, and beats Seoul at number 13. The index compares cities on the basis of the level of information and communication technology (ICT) maturity and the contribution that ICT makes to the local economy, environment and social equity.… More

The world is getting smarter

11 October 2013 by Steve Blum
, ,

Out of 157 countries rated by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), 154 had a better information and communication technology (ICT) environment in 2012 than in 2011. Although some countries saw fluctuations in the usage and penetration of one technology or another, taken as a whole international and domestic connectivity is growing virtually everywhere.

The ITU publishes statistics on a range of telecoms and information technology metrics, from plain old telephone lines to home Internet subscriptions to adult literacy.… More