July 21, 2006

A Little More on the Order in the AT&T Suit [5:12 pm]

The courts and NSA snooping

The real significance of the case exceeds the NSA wiretapping story and the use of state secrets. Walker’s opinion is a stirring defense of the role of the courts, even in times of war. Quoting the Supreme Court’s decision in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, he reminds us, “Whatever power the United States Constitution envisions for the Executive in its exchanges with other nations or with enemy organizations in times of conflict, it most assuredly envisions a role for all three branches when individual liberties are at stake.” The president and Congress seem to have forgotten that lately; Judge Walker has reminded them.

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Tim Wu on The Long Tail [5:10 pm]

The Long Tail: a dubious theory of everything

Like most good ideas, the Long Tail attaches to your mind and gets stuck there. Everything you take in—cult blogs, alternative music, festival films—starts looking like the Long Tail in action. But that’s also the problem. The Long Tail theory is so catchy it can overgrow its useful boundaries. Unfortunately, Anderson’s book exacerbates this problem. When you put it down, there’s one question you won’t be able to answer: When, exactly, doesn’t the Long Tail matter?

[...] This insight goes only so far, but like many business books, The Long Tail commits the sin of overreaching. The tagline on the book’s cover reads, “Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More,” which is certainly wrong or at least exaggerated. Inside we learn about “the Long Tail of Everything.” Anderson’s book, unlike his original Wired article, threatens to turn a great theory of inventory economics into a bad theory of life and the universe.

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OT: Not Getting A Lot Of Work Done This Week [8:47 am]

Because we have a ring side seat for viewing the demolition of the old garage next door to our building.

Still no idea what MIT has in mind for the space, but it’s been the distraction that a bunch of engineering faculty and students can’t resist — watching the use of big machines to execute on the interesting engineering task of destroying a building without harming the surrounding ones. Each machine has a name, as do the operators. (Surprisingly, despite the number of Futurama fans here, the “Crushinator” name has gone unused) Sadly, the hose guys demonstrate that we’re MITers — they’re merely Hose Guy #1 and Hose Guy #2.

They broke one of the crushing claws the second day (they really do look like lobster crusher claws), and today there’s a “veterinarian” out there fixing it.

And to see what machines like these can do to reinforced concrete and brick walls can change your world view forever!

The graphic will take you to an animated GIF — a demonstration of what having a digital camera can do to you once you realize you’re not constrained by film costs.

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More on Virtual Marketing in 2nd Life [7:48 am]

Virtual marketing - pdf

In an office located nearly 2,000 feet above his island estate, Bill Lichtenstein is overseeing construction of the new headquarters for the public radio show “The Infinite Mind.”

None of this actually exists in the real world, but rather in a 3-D virtual world known as Second Life. Here, “The Infinite Mind” is planning to broadcast its weekly one-hour radio program on health and science and create an immersive experience.

“This represents an unprecedented leap forward for broadcasting into virtual reality and 3-D online communities,” said Lichtenstein, president of Lichtenstein Creative Media in Cambridge, which produces “The Infinite Mind.” “There’s a huge potential to bring people together in a dynamic, cost-effective environment.”

When “The Infinite Mind” opens it virtual doors next month, it will become the first regularly scheduled national media broadcast within the increasingly popular 3-D web space. [...]

See also I’m Falling Behind The Curve

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