Buzz Out Loud 670: Null error

We nuked Yahoo Live. That's it for that. Anyway, what's the fuss with Google Sites and yeah, when WILL the iPhone get more business friendly?

Molly Wood Former Executive Editor
Molly Wood was an executive editor at CNET, author of the Molly Rants blog, and host of the tech show, Always On. When she's not enraging fanboys of all stripes, she can be found offering tech opinions on CBS and elsewhere, and offering opinions on everything else to anyone who will listen.
Molly Wood
8 min read
We nuked Yahoo Live. That's it for that. Anyway, what's the fuss with Google Sites and yeah, when WILL the iPhone get more business friendly? In other news, there just ain't much news today, so we're going to spend some time on baby robots and Sprint's awesome new $100 all-you-can-eat plan. Yep, I said awesome.


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Google Sites: What’s all the fuss?

Under the bonnet of Android

Apple: All signs point to a more business friendly iPhone

Sprint raises stakes in the $99.99 unlimited battle http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9881662-7.html

EU may begin treating ‘Net censorship as a trade barrier http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/ 20080227-eu-may-begin-treating-net-censorship-as-a-trade-barrier.html

Former FBI Agent Calls for a Second Internet

MLB Increases Its Chokehold: Starts Its Own Online Usage Restrictions; Following NFL's Lead http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/ 419-mlb-increases-its-chokehold-starts-its-own-online-usage-restrictions-fo/

I know where you lived last summer: a “hair-brained” method for tracking people http://dvice.com/archives/2008/02/i_know_where_yo.php

Plan to teach baby robot to talk


BOL camping trip.

Agent Provacateur Portland
What about the iPhone Firmware update?

Meggy Indiana
Looks back at her life.


Not about technology at all

Tom, Molly and Jason,

Despite not being about technology at all I have a funny anecdote about listening to your show in the office.

I frequently listen to your show at work, since I have a real office with walls it usually doesn’t cause any problems or disturb anyone when I listen to stuff on real speakers.

In the last six months we hired two new people who sit right outside my office. Turns out during this time they have discussed with each other how surprised they are that I listen to the Howard Stern show so much. But since they are newer they didn’t feel comfortable saying anything until recently.

Thing is, I don’t listen to Howard Stern.

We tested, I played a bit from each of the shows I listen to and they confirmed (from just outside my office door) that when I am listening to Buzz they thought it was Howard. They were doubly sure it was your show when I did the tests because most of the other stuff I listen to that is all talk is from the BBC and, I quote “there aren’t any female voices in those and we thought we heard Howard and Robin…and sometimes there is sort of a yelling voice”. Sorry, Molly, I think they meant your voice.

So, moral of the story, I will listen to podcasts on my iPod or just stick with music.



Property tax on IP

A few things about property tax on intellectual properties.

1) Property tax is levied by the local governments, not the federal governments. The highly abridged version as to why only local governments levy property tax in the 20th/21st century is that the tax is used to fund local services such as fire, police, public education, the “justification” being local people consumes the local services (don’t get me started on feeding the homeless with my property taxes).
Prior to that, it was a wealth tax used to fund wars efforts (because we didn’t have a national income tax until 1916). A wealth tax is basically a tax based on who can afford to pay, and in the old days, land=wealth.

2) Property tax can be levied only on tangible items (real estate and
chattel) because of the concepts of locality (jurisdiction) and determinability (an objective formula). Again, the history is that cows, pigs and ranches are unique (no two pigs are identical), and therefore, easy for the taxing authorities to determine where something is, who has it, how many items there are, and therefore, who can tax it and how much.

Intangible properties, by definition, a) has no locality so it cannot be determined who has jurisdiction to tax it, and b) have no form, and are not unique (one copy of software is identical to another), so there is no determinable formula to value and compute the tax.

Taken to the extreme, when it is “located” in the minds of people, e.g., the formula for Coke(r) are inside Coke’s executives’ heads, how do you know who really “has” it, where is it, and do you tax all the copies–how many copies are there? And when they fly around the country, or drive from one county to another, does each jurisdiction get
a piece of the action? And then how much is it worth–is Coke’s
formula more valuable than say a JaMoTo’s cocktail concoction.

The property tax concept cannot really work on IP. Not that the taxing authorities won’t try to invent something–please don’t give them more ideas.

Dickson Leung


Problem with taxed copyright


In my (small) life outside of technology, I’m also a magician, and from there I can see some interesting problems with taxing copyright. The problem comes in the article’s assumption that over time the demand for the intellectual property decreases while some value remains…

Many magicians seeking to make money on effects they’ve created, aside from performance, generally try to sell those tricks to other magicians. Often, in order to increase the price or to retain enough exclusivity so that the creator can continue to regularly perform the trick (or, simply because it ends up being loved by the magic community much more than expected), a limited number of the explanations are sold, or they are sold for a limited amount of time.

Here’s the problem with taxes: while the method behind the trick cannot be copyrighted/protected per se (it is, after all, only an idea), the media on which the explanation is conveyed can be copyrighted. If a magician wanted to release his effect in that limited way, to balance profits against exclusivity, he or she would then be forced to maintain the taxes on that copyright, eating away at whatever profits he/she sought to gain in the first place. In this case, the material is specifically being kept in copyright and sold limitedly in order to increase the demand, negating an essential part of the premise of the article you cited during BOL. While magic is first example I thought of, I’m pretty sure that such a tactic would apply to other businesses.

Perhaps the best way to do this would be to tax copyright holders on a graduated basis. Those only holding a few copyrights would be exempt from taxes at all, those with an abundance of copyrights (which would include the opposite magicians who try to sell as many tricks as possible) would be taxed based on the number of copyrights they have.

Oh, and a totally random thought… I may be crazy but your show length may not be so indeterminate. Anyone else notice BOL increasing in length while Molly was on vacation (getting close to 50 minutes an episode) and then returning to normal with her return? Perhaps semi-indeterminate? Just a thought.



A little more on IE8 (developer views)

Hey Buzz Crew,

Just thought I’d add a little more perspective to the IE 8 conversation. Back in January when this whole thing came out Daringfireball.net did a nice commentary on a lot of developers statements.

A little comment from John Resig (http://ejohn.org/blog/meta-madness/) (via DaringFireball) who works from Mozilla. He says two important things.

“What seems to have slipped past the Microsoft Task Force of WaSP (or maybe it didn’t and they’re just playing coy) is that by implementing this specific feature in any other browser immediately either: A) Reduces its market size of viable web pages that will upgrade to new versions of the browser or B) Forces new versions of the browser to bloat, including backwards support for old-style rendering.

The fundamental issue is that Safari, Firefox, and Opera will all be harmed by attempting to implement this. Anne, from Opera, completely agrees.”

so apparently while this might be good for IE its bad for other browsers.

Here are some more links:

A list of responses and reactions (mainly developers): http://www.digital-web.com/news/2008/01/IE8_Version_Targeting_causes_quite_a_stir



Me, me, I thought of it first

Well, sort of. I wrote an extensive article about the intellectual property metaphor last year, can’t believe you missed it. Well, it was in a Czech literary magazine (http://literarky.cz/?p=clanek&id=4767), but still! What I wrote about was that metaphors are commonly exploited up to a point by certain interests but that they can be picked up by others and brought to conclusions that will challenge the whole metaphor. For instance, with intellectual property the advocates of ’song recording’ as property never want to hear of consequences that owning property means. E.g. they never acknowledge that their property may intrude on mine such as hearing a song I don’t like while walking down the street. Or that they rely on the common good to promote their materials, such as public airwaves or just conversations people have about a song or a book. They particularly can’t expect laws to protect their property at the expense of other rights. I compared it to the ‘right of way’ laws in England. I didn’t think about ‘property taxes’, partly because in Czech there is a different word for ‘property’ used in the phrases ‘intellectual property’ (vlastnictvi) and ‘property tax’ (nemovitost).

More nitty gritty on metaphors and frames in public discourse on my blog: http://hermeneuticheretic.net.


PS: I'm not sure I love the show (we Czechs are much more judicious in our use of the word), but I’m pretty close to being in love with Molly!


Le Monde social networks map


I heard your comments on the show about the Le Monde social network map, and would like to point out a richer version of the social networking map presented by Le Monde at this site http://csserver.ucd.ie/~mfarrugia/

Apart from showing the data on a map there are two other views of the same data. There’s an academic twist to these visualizations and the purpose of this is to try and compare the popularity of simple displays like the map, with more data rich visualizations that don’t look so pretty. If you can help popularize this site to have more people try out the different displays I’d be very grateful.

The data is presented using the many eyes site (http://services.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes/) which allows you to upload any data and visualize it. The site itself is worthy of mention in the context of collaborative visualizations at internet scale. The data used for the visualizations is also freely available and anybody can create his/her own visualization and analysis of the data.


UCD Ireland