Thursday, June 14
In what could prove to be a major step in closing America’s digital divide, President Obama is signing an Executive Order today aimed at making broadband deployment faster and easier. From the White House website:
The Executive Order (EO) will require the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Interior, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs as well as the US Postal Service to offer carriers a single approach to leasing Federal assets for broadband deployment. The EO also requires that available Federal assets and the requirements for leasing be provided on departmental websites, and it will require public tracking of regional broadband deployment projects via the Federal Infrastructure Projects Dashboard. In addition, the Executive Order will direct departments to help carriers time their broadband deployment activities to periods when streets are already under constructionâ€”an approach that can reduce network deployment costs along Federal roadways by up to 90 percent.
The EO also launches an effort being called “US Ignite,” which is aimed at connecting communities and campuses with 1 gigabit/second broadband in order to promote the public good. Again, from the Order:
This network will become a test-bed for designing and deploying next-generation applications to support national priorities areas such as education, healthcare, energy, and advanced manufacturing. US Ignite will challenge students, startups, and industry leaders to create a new generation of applications and services that meet the needs of local communities while creating a broad range of job and investment opportunities. This initiative will open up countless new opportunities for households and small businesses, helping them experience the economic and community benefits of next-gen applications while demonstrating a path for other communities to join.
More on US Ignite can be found on the initiative’s website.
Wednesday, September 16
Following in Apple’s footsteps, the U.S. government has created its own “app store.” Reports the New York Times:
On Tuesday, Vivek Kundra, the federal chief information officer, unveiled Apps.Gov, a Web site where federal agencies will able to buy so-called cloud computing applications and services that have been approved by the government to replace more costly and cumbersome computing services at their own locations.
The push to promote cloud computing is part of the Obama administration’s effort to modernize the government’s information technology systems and to help reduce the $75 billion annual budget for federal I.T. in the process.
Thursday, August 27
With the (twice extended) deadline for the initial round of federal broadband grants having come and gone, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration has released some numbers. From the NTIA release:
• More than 260 applications were filed solely with NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), requesting over $5.4 billion in grants to fund broadband infrastructure projects in unserved and underserved areas.
• More than 400 applications were filed solely with RUS’s Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP), requesting nearly $5 billion in grants and loans for broadband infrastructure projects in rural areas.
• More than 830 applications were filed with both NTIA’s BTOP and RUS’s BIP, requesting nearly $12.8 billion in infrastructure funding. (Applicants for infrastructure projects in rural areas must apply to BIP but were given the opportunity to jointly apply to BTOP in case RUS declines to fund their application.)
• More than 320 applications were filed with NTIA requesting nearly $2.5 billion in grants from BTOP for projects that promote sustainable demand for broadband services, including projects to provide broadband education, awareness, training, access, equipment or support, particularly among vulnerable population groups where broadband technology has traditionally been underutilized. (The Recovery Act directs NTIA to make at least $250 million available for programs that encourage sustainable adoption of broadband services, of which up to $150 million is allocated in this first round of grants.)
• More than 360 applications were filed with NTIA requesting more than $1.9 billion in grants from BTOP for public computer center projects, which will expand access to broadband service and enhance broadband capacity at public libraries, community colleges, and other institutions that provide the benefits of broadband to the general public or specific vulnerable populations. (The Recovery Act directs NTIA to make at least $200 million available for expanding public computer center capacity, of which up to $50 million is allocated in this first round of grants.)
All told, over 2,000 applications for grants were submitted. As for what companies and groups applied, the site Unstrung has started compiling a handy list.
Wednesday, January 28
As Internet video becomes more and more popular, navigating the various online formats is getting more complicated. Now, as the New York Times “Bits” blog reports, a push is being made toward standardization:
The Mozilla Foundation is trying to open one of the last proprietary parts of the Web: Video standards. The group behind the Firefox browser announced that it is giving a $100,000 grant, by way of the Wikimedia Foundation, to help develop an open-source standard for Internet video.
$100,000 isn’t exactly a large chunk of change, but now that we can watch streaming video on our TVs, computers, phones, and handheld gaming devices, standardization seems like a logical step.
Wednesday, December 17
PC World Staff’s 10 Gifts for the Hard-Core Techie - looking for something to give that special tech enthusiast this year? Stumped? Well PCWorld.com offers a good place to start your search. Gadgets, kits, and hacks for the geek who has everything.
Five New Innovations Promised By IBM - as networkworld.com reports, the ability to “talk” to the Web, information collection and retrieval systems that alleviate forgetfulness, and solar technology built into asphalt, windows and even paint are among the advances IBM sees emerging from its research labs in the next five years.
Yahoo: The Soap Opera Continues - amidst headlining news involving talks of cutting (or not cutting) a deal to outsource search to the Microsoft Corporation - including the latest from the blog at barrons.com - as well as informing 1500 employees of layoffs, Yahoo unveils a new toolbar for Web Browsing. As reported here by Rueters.com, Yahoo unveiled a new toolbar on Monday; the latest step in its strategy to make its products more open to users and third parties. The Yahoo toolbar available later this week will allow users access to a selected group of programs from the toolbar without leaving the page they are on.
Friday, October 17
About a year and a half ago I received a then coveted invitation to become a “member” of Joost. At the time Joost was one of the most innovative and talked about providers of online video. I used Joost for a while, but then gradually migrated to other online sources of streaming video and spent more time with the new kids on the block. Then, two days ago I got a notice in my mailbox that enjoying Joost’s library of programming no longer requires a player. In addition, Joost’s has expanded its programming offerings.
I am in love again! Oh sure, there are some problems with the new Joost. Finding its programming offerings is not as easy or intuitive as it could be. And, I want to meet the head of their music department and explain that Kenny G, no matter what he says, and Billy Joel, no matter how much I enjoy his music, should NEVER be classified as Jazz. But Joost appears to be living up to its initial promise as a primary source of current and “retro” programming offerings. I spent hours watching old Bruce Lee movies and Bonanza reruns and clips of Miles Davis. I suspect there are many more hours of watching Newsradio, an old favorite, and this season’s Weeds, which somehow I missed. The new Joost also has a social networking component that I want to understand better and see how, or if, it improves the experience. Overall, however, it’s good to see Joost battling back. The emergence of Veoh and Hulu and Jaman , which came online after Joost, has made Joost raise its game. Joost has responded and relaunched and is back at the head of its class. I just hope someone will put me in touch with their music guy. He has some explaining to do…
Wednesday, August 13
A couple of days ago I wrote that for the first time ever, broadband technologies would make it possible for millions of people in developing economies to watch the Olympics this year. Now those same broadband technologies are making it possible for millions of Americans to watch Olympic events as they occur (or shortly thereafter) rather than relying on the schedule set by NBC and its partner cable networks. As the New York Times noted in a front page article NBC, spent most of Friday (and likely will spend much of the next two weeks) attempting to keep its exclusive rights to the Olympics. To NBC I say, “Good luck with that.”
I commend NBCU for broadcasting (or cablecasting) 3300 hours of Olympic coverage on its various networks. NBC is adding an astounding 2200 additional hours of streamed Olympics coverage on the Internet. But much of that programming will be tape delayed because of time differences between China and the US or to maximize ratings (and advertising dollars). Internet savvy sports fan used to watching what they want, when they want, where they want and on any device they want simply will not put up with a dictated schedule. It’s not clear how broadband will affect the 2008 Olympics. It is very clear that in light of the new consumer reliance on and utilization of broadband technologies, broadcasters will have to rethink their business models as they prepare for the 2012 Olympics.
Thursday, August 07
For the first time ever, thanks to the Internet, the entire world can watch the Olympics. Thanks to a deal between the International Olympic Committee and YouTube, citizens of 77 nations that don’t have broadcasts of Olympic events will be able to watch 3 hours of the Olympics daily. In the early days of the Internet we used to say that the “Internet changes everything”. I don’t know that this deal will change the Olympics, but the broadband Internet is bringing the Olympics to millions of people who otherwise would have very little access to it.
Tuesday, August 05
Not sure if this is good news or bad news. Delta Airlines announced that by next year its entire domestic fleet will be outfitted with Wi-Fi capabilities. For those of us who can’t live without broadband connectivity, that’s great news. For those of us who viewed our time in an airplane as our last refuge and respite from the demands of clients (or families) it’s decidedly bad news… For just a little more than the seven bucks USAir is now charging for a beer or wine you can now use your laptop, iPhone or PDA to access the Web. Currently, I use my time on planes to read and to write blissfully unconnected to the Internet or to the larger world. I don’t fly Delta often, but I suspect United, American and the other airlines I fly more frequently will be right behind Delta in providing wifi. I just hope Congress is successful in passing legislation banning in flight use of cell phones . And it will be interesting to see how flight attendants react to the guys who will try to get around the cellphone ban by using Skype and a headset connected to their laptop.
Friday, August 01
Ted Leonsis is at it again. Ted, one of the pioneers in the development of the Internet and a former Vice Chairman of AOL, recently released Snag films . Snag is both a source for documentary films and a pioneering effort at using Web 2.0 techniques to promote and support films and filmakers. Snag is an extension of Ted’s interest in “Filmanthropy” a term he uses to describe philathropists using films to support social causes. In a recent interview in IndieWire ,Ted explained his belief that MySpace, Facebook, blogs and other Web 2.0 techniques could be used to expand support for films with social messages.
Earlier this month I rewatched State of the Union and embedded it on my Facebook page. I now have my own movie theater on Facebook and will continue to add other movies that I enjoy and want to share with my friends. Snag is a very new effort. But it deserves the support of anyone who loves films and wants to support the many great creative filmmakers who don’t always get the financial support or audience support they deserve. Snag yourself a couple of films and support great films. I am looking forward to curling up with my laptop again this weekend and enjoying some more films.
Thursday, March 13
CBS yesterday announced that it would no longer require registration for online viewing of March Madness, the NCAA Basketball tournament.
Thank you CBS! The registration was a pain in the rear and required folks to sit in a que, while waiting to watch their favorite team (or just to see how the underdog they picked in the office pool was doing) bordered on cruelty. CBS’s decision is another example of the increasing maturation of online video and I suspect will drive the numbers of folks watching the tournament into the stratosphere. The good thing, as CBS notes is that increasing availability online is unlikely to cut into their broadcast numbers. This truly is a win for the consumers, for the NCAA and for CBS.
Wednesday, March 12
After months in Beta, Hulu opened to the public today. If you like online video you are going to love it. If you don’t like or haven’t used online video, Hulu is likely to make you a fan. Earlier this week the New York Times noted the rapid increase in online viewing of television shows. Millions of Americans are watching their favorite television shows on their laptops, and in some instances their PDAs, iPhones or iPods.
Hulu, today, sets the bar for what the online long form video experience should be. In many ways it is reminiscent of the introduction of the iPod. Hulu is easy to use, has an extensive library of popular programs and provides very good picture quality on a laptop or desktop. Having tried virtually all of the online video services, Hulu is, by far, my favorite. It still is unclear whether Hulu or any of the online video providers have a viable business model. But it is clear to me that as television viewers, particularly young and affluent television viewers migrate to watching television online, advertisers and the networks eventually will figure out business models reflective of that migration.
Monday, November 26
There is much talk about the importance of broadband to individuals, societies and nations. It is fair to say we at the Internet Innovation Alliance from time-to-time evangelize on broadband as the transformative technology of our generation, and essential to changing how we work, live and learn. And certainly new applications for education, health, business and energy efficiency hold great promise.
But if we’re honest about things, the leading driver of broadband adoption and usage is entertainment. Music, movies and games remain core to the most innovative uses of broadband to-date and for the foreseeable future. Companies like Joost are transforming industries and business models with new offerings that take advantage of fatter pipes. Perhaps the greatest recent example is the recent release of Halo3 video game (H3).
Before H3, the biggest entertainment opening of all time had been Spiderman 3, with a $150 million opening weekend. Halo 3 rang up sales of $170 million in 24 hours… on a Tuesday… and by opening week’s end it hit $300 million. ESA President Michael Gallagher suggests more than 7 million H3 sessions were initiated in that first week, all in HD, all with surround sound.
Don’t try that with dial up.
Monday, November 19
Video sports programming on the Web will be less expensive and more widely available thanks to new and emerging technologies. USA Today reports on a new truck, nicknamed “Big Papi”, that dramatically reduces the cost of netcasting sports events and that promises to increase coverage of sports programming that might not otherwise be broadcast or covered by cable networks.
Wednesday, October 31
Akamai recently created a website to demonstrate the potential of high definition programming on the Web. The site, www.Thehdweb.com, won’t be up long (two weeks or so I have been told), so check it out soon. Right now they are running programming from CBS (CSI), the BBC (the BBC Motion Gallery) and Apple. If you have a high resolution laptop or desktop screen, it is an amazing experience and gives you a glimpse of what the Net of the future will offer. Be warned, however, that if you are not running 7.5 mps or better, the experience can be a bit frustrating. Still, for as long as it is up and running, TheHDweb.com has a spot on “Larry’s List”...
Tuesday, October 30
I was totally unaware that there was a World Internet Day until I read Seana Mulcahy’s Blog a few minutes ago.
One of the great things about the Web is that it now truly is a world wide phenomenon. But maybe the best thing is that the online experience for all of us gets better every day. And, when we have truly ubiquitous broadband and two or three billion people worldwide using the Web, today’s online experience will seem almost primitive. Check out Seana’s blog and, particularly, check out the favorite sites she lists in her blog. Several of the sites are candidates for inclusion on my next “Larry’s List.”
Monday, October 15
Now that more than 50 percent of American Households have broadband internet connections, newer, smarter, more interesting consumer oriented video applications are being developed and disseminated. I know that I am constantly on the lookout for the newest, hottest, most innovative sites so that I can enjoy them, and, more importantly, so that I can share them with my friends, family and colleagues. With that idea of sharing the newest, most interesting broadband sites, I am introducing “Larry’s List”. Yeah, I know I am biting on Craig’s List, but I figure he won’t mind, plus, I always have liked alliteration.
The rules for inclusion on Larry’s List are simple. The site has to be a site that only could exist in a broadband world, so video, audio or high density graphics are essential components. The site has to be interesting, entertaining or informative. And, the site has to be innovative (after all, this blog is on the Internet Innovation Alliance’s website.) My goal is not just to list what’s hot, but rather to help showcase what’s next. My hope is that this list will, to some small extent, approximate for the readers of this blog what Wired magazine was able to do back in the mid 90s, give needed and warranted exposure and applause to new players and new products.
Now, in order to get the more compulsive of you off my case, let’s consider MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, iTunes and Skype to be emeritus members of the List. Their ubiquity and mindshare make it unnecessary for me to introduce anyone to the merits of the sites. So spare me the emails about why didn’t they make the cut. They made it.
In the last few months, I have, however, found or been introduced to several new sites that I find compelling, interesting and worth sharing with friends. The sites selected for this inaugural list are eclectic. Some are derivative, or even imitative of, the YouTube, MySpace or Facebook models. Some take existing models and attempt to expand on them or create a new paradigm from an existing model. Some of the sites are small, independent companies with no corporate connections or venture funding. Others are funded or founded by some of the biggest media and internet companies in the world. I found all of the sites interesting, however, either because of the concept, the content or both. That’s the ultimate test for me: is the site worth five minutes of my (or your time.) If I could answer yes, the site made the cut. So here, in no particular order, is the List:
www.wwitv.com www.Ning.com www.joost.com www.veoh.com www.godtube.com www.teachertube.com www.cruxy.com www.jazzfusion.tv www.pandora.com www.localpointtv.com
Now we all know that many, some, or all of the above sites may not be here six months from now. Conversely, one or more may be the next phenomenon. There is simply no way for any of us to know with certainty. I am certain, however, that all of the above sites are worth a minute or two or five of your time. Check them out. More importantly, send me the urls of other broadband sites you think are fun, or interesting or innovative and not yet mainstream. If they are any of the above, but particularly if they are all of the above, they will make it on the List and we will share your find with the rest of our readers, maybe as soon as tomorrow.
So, holler back at me. What do you love? What do you hate? What new sites should be included? What do I need to know about? Are there some interesting international sites? The list will keep growing as long as there is interest in it and as long as there are interesting sites to add. I look forward to hearing from you…
Monday, September 24
Today is the semi official beginning of the new television season. This year, the networks are not just unveiling their new series, they also are unveiling their new Internet strategies. The major television networks now realize that the Net is critical to not just their short term success, but their long term survival. Television viewers increasingly are using the Net to supplement, and in some instances supplant, traditional broadcast, cable and satellite options.
Over the past several months, all of the networks announced new Internet plans. The Disney-ABC television group recently announced plans to make its top shows available on AOL; NBC and Fox have teamed up with partners such as AOL, Yahoo and Comcast on a new video site, Hulu.com; and CBS has patched together its own network, which they call CBS Interactive, utilizing established video providers, including iTunes, YouTube and AOL, but also utilizing newer entrants such as Joost and Veoh. There will be plenty of corporate jousting as content providers, content distributors, advertisers and consumers get used to these new models and methods for video distribution and viewing.
Much of the excitement in this space centers around two of the new platforms for long form video distribution, Veoh and Joost. Veoh describes itself as an “independent, Internet Television Broadcasting System that uses the Internet and peer-to-peer distribution technology to create essentially unlimited capacity for long form and broadcast quality video content”. I have had the Veoh player loaded on my laptop for the past month or so, and, so far, have found the experience interesting, but the content has been a bit underwhelming. Currently there isn’t an abundance of content I find exciting or compelling (although for those of you who missed Shark Week on cable this summer, the shark video on Veoh helps explain its cult status.) I also find the player a bit balky or slow far too often. But the open platform Veoh provides for long form video providers is an exciting development and it should be exciting to see the model evolve.
Last week I hit the Joost lottery and got a coveted invitation to join the Joost generation. Joost, which has corporate partners including Viacom and Creative Arts Agency, describes itself as “the next generation of television”. As an avid Skype user, I hope Joost can do for online video what it has done for telephony (the founders of Joost founded Skype), and I have been looking forward to trying Joost since first hearing about it. Unfortunately, even after downloading the software to the three different computers I use, I am still on the outside looking in, with my nose pressed against the video screen. So far I have not been able to access the registration page that allows me to set up a password and user name. That’s a problem. But worse is Joost’s abysmal customer service. It is impossible to reach anyone by phone and the web based assistance has been useless. These are the types of problems that are expected with beta launches, but there will have to be considerable improvements before the technology and the brand can go mainstream.
When I got frustrated trying to access Joost this weekend, I discovered wwitv.com, which is an amazing site providing access to over 2500 television sites worldwide, many of which, perhaps the majority of which, are streaming video programming. On wwitv.com you will find programming from television stations from Albania to Zimbabwe, and you just haven’t lived until you watch the US Open finals on a Vietnamese sports channel. The forces changing television in the United States are igniting changes globally. It is exciting to see how different video providers from around the world are reacting to these technological and economic changes and opportunities.
As broadband gets faster, more ubiquitous and less expensive, online video options will get more compelling. For now, however, when I want to watch television programming away from home, I rely primarily on my Slingbox, which allows me to port my home satellite, cable and Tivo content to my laptop and to my Treo. I am curious to see if any of the new players can knock Slingbox off its throne or provide me as fulfilling an experience. I am even more curious to see how the rapid increase in new programming options will affect the dynamics and the economics of the television networks and production houses.