Thursday, May 17, 2007

The State of Telecom Policy Discourse in Washington

This week I accepted an invitation of Educause to appear on a panel discussing network neutrality. See As in my writing I try to offer an unbiased perspective that can see both sides particularly in light of the fact that I avoid financial sponsorship of my academic work.

Scott Cleland, a paid network neutrality opponent and agent provocateur attended and had particularly obnoxious and inappropriate comments about my presentation. See In a nutshell Scott could not come up with anything substantively incorrect about my presentation so he dissed it by writing that he could not understand it and that it offered nothing substantive.

I soon will post the presentation on my web site at: Additionally I wrote Scott the following:

Hello Scott:You are sorely mistaken if you think I am an "ardent" supporter of net neutrality.As a matter of fact you know damn well I expressed clear support for most types of price and service discrimination and that my point of view does not jibe 100% with the net neutrality folks. Did you not hear me characterize the save the net folks as viewing change as "curtains for the free world."?

I know it does not make good copy to give me some credit for a fair and balanced perspective, but that is exactly what I offer as an unsponsored and unbiased observer.It is both unfair and obnoxious to deem my presentation and thoughtful commentary on network neutrality as nothing you can understand. Why not review the presentation and paper substantively and in the true spirit of peer review get back to me on areas with which you have a problem. I will need your email address to send you the presentation, but in the event I never hear from you I'll attach it here in any event.

Two papers I have written on the subject that quite frankly lies midway between Mssrs. Wu and Yoo are available at: and

So here's the state of play in D.C.: hire a junkyard dog to spew vitriol and personal attacks. Is there any wonder why the level of discourse and analysis is so low? I take time out to prepare a fair and balanced point of view that Scott from his bully pulpit deems as echoing the collective brilliance and moral superiority of the panel. Ouch. I like to come across as self-effacing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Does Video Have a Long Tail?

During one of the plenary sessions at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association annual conference a content supplier executive cut the tail off of video. He claimed that video content, such as movies and television, does not exhibit the same market characteristics as music and books.

A long tail for movies and books means that small, ideosyncratic demand can support the availability of diverse content, because suppliers can fill web shelf space that they know will trigger few sales. Itunes can offer consumers countless songs and Amazon can arrange the delivery for millions of books.

Presumably cable television operators could fill terabytes of storage with millions of movies and television shows, but perhaps they don't have to. When I visit Blockbuster I typically head to the most recent releases, despite having access to thousands of older movies at a substantial discount. My book library visits do not always focus on the new releases.

I am wondering what the implications of a shorter tail for video may be. Perhaps vertically integrated content plus distribution companies can leverage access to recent video releases to secure a competitive advantage. If so cable wins.