Sunday, March 28, 2004

Conference Facility Breaks Internet Speed Records

The Henry Center at Michigan State University touts itself as a unique conference and training facility. Outside each room they post a description of the technology inside. Look closely to see how fast they deliver Internet to each seat:

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

A Very Brave - Or Very Foolish - Michigan Fan in Ohio

ESPN has a TV ad showing a young couple making out on a couch, one wearing a Michigan shirt, the other Ohio State. Today on a trip to Columbus I spied a personalized license plate on a car whose owner must be very brave -- or who possesses excellent auto insurance:

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Unnoticed Irony: Imclone Stock Always Beat Martha Stewart Omnimedia

If you'd invested $10,000 in Martha Stewart Omnimedia and $10,000 in Imclone on the day when MSO was born, which investment would have brought you better results? Was an MSO investment ever a better bet versus Imclone?

Many note the irony that Martha Stewart had only $52,000 at stake in her Imclone investment, yet her insider trading scandal destroyed billions of dollars in shareholder value in her own company. Yesterday alone, after the verdict, the value of Martha's shares in Martha Stewart Omnimedia fell $100 million. People are delighting -- or fretting -- over her potential time in prison. Martha may be more worried about the likely loss of her personal fortune than her prison term. Her company's products are based on the very image of Martha; can it reinvent itself sans eponymous founder?

And in the "truth is stranger than fiction" category, the FDA approved the drug Erbitux for treatment of certain cancers on February 12, 2004 -- during Martha's trial. That's the very drug that the FDA disapproved in December 2001, leading to the insider trading. The made-for-television movie will have fun with that.

Another layer of irony: Imclone stock plummeted when the scandal broke, but has done quite well since then. I ran a stock chart comparing what you'd have today if you'd invested $10,000 in each company five years ago -- an interval covering the entire lifespan of Martha Stewart Omnimedia. Eyeballing it, it looks like if you'd placed a $10,000 bet on Imclone the day of the MSO IPO, you'd have $40K today. It looks like MSO stock never rose enough for you to cash out ahead. In fact, MSO was never ahead of the Dow Jones average.

Just wait until Monday, when reality sets in: MSO is so closely identified with Martha Stewart, this company is doomed.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Google versus Librarians -- and Google has won

A recent piece by Washington Post author Joel Achenbach quotes Berkeley's Peter Lyman:

"There's been a culture war between librarians and computer scientists," Lyman says.

And the war is over, he adds.

"Google won."

Of course librarians struggle to explain to students and others that Google alone doesn't suffice in many cases, but I didn't think there was a war going on. In fact, a librarian, Cindy Chick, introduced me to Google soon after Page and Brin launched it at Stanford. It seems to me that as a cohort librarians probably rely on Google as much as anyone else -- they just know how to use it better, and they don't use it exclusively.

For almost a year I've been saying openly that "Google has won," but the war I have in mind is Google versus Yahoo, AskJeeves, AlltheWeb, etc. Not everyone agrees. Last June, I postulated that Google had won to Craig Silverstein, Director of Technology at Google and he quickly distanced himself from the notion. Google principals display a quiet confidence but also studied humility. When I gave a talk at Internet Librarian entitled "Why Google Won", some folks from Yahoo wanted to have a chat with me afterwards -- in the Monterey Bay.

What's surprising to me is which "side" Peter takes in Google vs. Librarians :

And yet Berkeley professor Peter Lyman points out that traditional sources of information, such as textbooks, are heavily filtered by committees and are full of "compromised information."

And the open public Web is full of authentic, up-to-date, accurate information, that Google always puts at the top of the hit list? Peter, come back to visit for some Lake Michigan whale watching!!!

Actually, I bet this will prove to be a false dichotomy, as Google integrates more and more commercial content under their search umbrella, such as their recent IEEE partnership. We may yet see an Advanced Search radio button toggling between the Public Web versus Commercial Content Filtered by Committees, Full of Compromised Information. Important treaties are yet to be signed in Mountain View.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

The Quixotic Quest for Universal Broadband

Tonight I'm privileged to give a talk at the Ann Arbor Computer Society. I first spoke there in spring of 1993, when the subject was this newfangled thing called "the World-Wide Web." (Back then, it was hyphenated, kind of like Berners-Lee.)

For quite a while I've wanted to find or create a graph that shows how many years it takes for a technology -- telephone, electricity, indoor plumbing, CD players, dial-up Internet access, residential broadband -- to achieve 90% or 98% penetration.

It turns out the FCC took a stab at creating such a graph:

The source for the graph is:

The FCC offers a collection of reports on Internet and telecom deployment at: