aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, November 28, 2005
Today The Philadelphia Inquirer has part 2 of Jeff Gelles’ Consumer Watch column on keeping cable from abusing its power:
[The Center for Creative Voices in Media director Jonathan] Rintels’ top priority is a rule called “network neutrality” that would bar any Internet provider from blocking or slowing down data streams from any source to give a competitive advantage to content in which it has a financial stake.
Neutrality is crucial to keep the Internet as free and open as we trust it is today. It’s also crucial if the cable-television business model - selling consumers a large bundle of content, most of it unwanted, at a high price - is ever to give way to an Internet model of unlimited choices for consumers.
Cable companies like Comcast don’t like this concept, for obvious reasons: If you can buy an individual TV show or movie from, say, “movies.com” and watch it on your TV same as you would a movie or TV show on traditional cable, the whole cable-TV business model is at risk.
In Rintels’ wish list, and mine, Congress and the FCC could simply require broadband providers to rent an open pipeline. Short of that, though, he has ideas about how smaller changes can nudge the marketplace in the right direction:
Net-neutrality rules that guarantee us access to content and applications - not just movies, but inexpensive phone service and other new Internet technologies - while barring broadband providers from discriminating in favor of affiliated sites.
Ads I want
Remember fast forward ads? Bad idea. David DeSocio, OMD’s U.S. director of strategic marketing, said he was trying to “involve the consumer even when they are in avoidance mode.”
This idea - ads when I want them - I love:
TiVo Inc. is partnering with several big ad firms to offer its users a system that lets them search for commercials centered around a specific topic. Expected to launch next spring, the feature comes as Madison Avenue is contemplating a number of ways to reach consumers who use technology to avoid traditional advertising.
TiVo is working to develop the product with three media-buying operations—Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Interpublic Media, Omnicom Group Inc.’s OMD [hopefully DeSocio’s “retired"] and Publicis Groupe SA’s Starcom MediaVest Group—along with independent Dallas ad agency Richards Group and Comcast Corp.’s Comcast Spotlight ad-sales division. [...]
TiVo users will be able to set up a profile of products on their television screens by clicking on categories such as automotive or travel or typing in keywords such as “BMW” or “cruises.” On a regular basis, TiVo will then download relevant commercials to TiVo recorders over the Internet or, for those users who don’t have broadband, send the video via traditional broadcast signals. The commercials will appear on-screen in a folder next to the list of television shows TiVo users record. [...]
TiVo’s pioneering digital video recorder, or DVR, is much beloved by consumers for its ability to easily record and pause live television shows. But it has sent Madison Avenue and broadcasters into a tizzy by allowing viewers to skip traditional commercials.
Recently, TiVo, of Alviso, Calif., has come up with a pitch for advertisers: Use the TiVo DVR itself to send new forms of interactive advertisements. Yet a big question remains: If viewers use DVRs in part to avoid advertising, will they use the devices to watch more of it? With DVR penetration expected to rise and consumers increasingly able to watch TV programs when they choose, this conundrum is one Madison Avenue has been trying to solve.
I have no problem with advertising; I have problems with advertising clutter and ads with no relevance interrupting me when I’m watching a program and so not interested in being interrupted. This addresses every one of those issues.
When I want to buy something, I want to know all about it. Give me an ad with links to more information and I’m there! HECK, I’LL EVEN WATCH SOME BECAUSE THEY’RE SLICK, WELL-PRODUCED FUN.
You’ll recall I like the Salon advertising model. I don’t mind watching an ad to read an article. The ad comes before, so does not interrupt my reading. And allows me to clickthrough for more info. Salon’s ads are honestly the only ads I click on and I have great recall. The last one I watched was for the Chevy HHR, how’s that?
Give me a folder full of ads and when I want to look at them - and, hey, coincidentally when I’m most receptive to their message - I’m there.
Credit freezes we want
In a post about how the credit industry is fighting even feeble measures to thwart identity theft, demonstrating just how seriously they take the issue, Kevin Drum discusses credit freezes:
Basically, a credit freeze prevents credit reporting agencies from revealing your credit history without first getting your express permission. This makes it nearly impossible for thieves to acquire phony credit cards in your name, since card issuers won’t issue new cards without first requesting your credit score from a credit reporting agency. If you’ve frozen your report, you’ll be notified when the request is made and can shut it down immediately.
The downside is that if you apply for new credit, you can’t get it until the credit reporting agency has contacted you first. In other words, no more same-day credit. It might take two or three days instead.
That’s not much of a downside, is it? In fact, for my money, all credit reports ought to be frozen by default. If you prefer to have your report unfrozen - that is, you’re willing to run the risk of ID theft in return for slightly faster approval of your credit applications - then you can unfreeze it.
There’s simply no reason for consumers not to have this choice, and the credit industry opposes it solely because the slight delay it introduces might make people think twice about applying for new credit - and that’s bad for business. Who cares about identity theft when there’s same-day credit to be extended?
MUST READ: Kevin’s Monthly article on identity theft, You Own You.
First4Internet programmer: “I am serious about the cash”
Cory Doctorow: Sony rootkit author asked for free code to lock up music:
First4Internet ripped off code from at least two free/open source software projects for the malicious rootkit program they supplied to Sony. Yesterday, I posted some old mailing list and newsgroup messages from First4Internet programmers where they were seeking advice on breaking peoples’ computers.
Now, Baz and Alexander have found this old newsgroup post from a First4Internet programmer offering cash if someone will do his homework for him. Later, code from the free/open source software project LAME (which does some of what this programmer was trying to do) showed up in a First4Internet product.
I know it sounds like I am just after some free code due to my laziness but I really dont have the time and I am serious about the cash - I really need this functionality!
At the end of his post are previous installments of the Sony Rootkit Roundup.
LATER: Another email.