Selling Our Wireless Future

This is a cross post/guest post by one of our guiding lights at USV, Yochai Benkler. Yochai is a law professor at Harvard, author, and a deep thinker about the Internet and its impact on economics, law, and society. We are huge fans.

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As the deficit supercommittee searches every corner to make budgetary ends meet, one solution they are considering, "incentive auctions" of the TV bands, could threaten the future of wireless innovation. These auctions may lock in an outdated regulatory paradigm, strengthen the dominant mobile broadband carriers, and block the path for some of the most innovative wireless technologies that could improve mobile broadband speed and reduce its price over the next decade. In return, the revenue they will raise is a very modest 1.5 percent of the 1.6 trillion dollar package. The auctions would trade off a small short-term revenue gain for less growth and innovation over the coming decade.

The proposed spectrum auctions are being promoted under the false premise that boosting mobile broadband, smart grid communications, inventory management systems, mobile payments, and health monitoring requires auctioning exclusive pieces of licensed spectrum. In reality, these markets are fast developing through unlicensed wireless applications, like WiFi. When the iPhone crashed AT&T's mobile broadband capacity, the company didn't buy more spectrum on secondary markets; it used WiFi to carry much of the data. In the past year WiFi traffic on AT&T's hotspots has tripled. Today, about half of iPhone and 90 percent of iPad page views are carried over WiFi. Indeed, almost two-thirds of all smartphone and tablet data traffic is carried over WiFi rather than over the carriers' networks, whose hunger is driving the demand for auctioning TV bands. In Japan, a good place to see the near future of mobile broadband, the second largest mobile carrier contracted a California firm to roll out 100,000 hotspots as a core strategy for its next generation mobile broadband network.

But it's not only mobile broadband. When you use your E-Z Pass at a toll booth or Speedpass at the gas station, you use unlicensed technology like WiFi, but in a different band. When Wal-Mart moved its field-defining inventory management system to the next generation, it used technology that uses spectrum on the same principle: unlicensed wireless. Almost the entire market for inventory management and access control is now driven by unlicensed wireless technologies. Almost seventy percent of U.S. Smart Grid communications market is served by firms that use WiFi and similar technologies, and by a one recent account, about eighty percent of the wireless market in the healthcare sector depends on an array of unlicensed strategies.

These dynamic markets are telling us something new: The future of wireless will likely be mostly unlicensed, with an important, but residual role of auctioned, licensed services. And yet the drive to auctions simply ignores the evidence from actual markets in favor of an outmoded regulatory ideal that is the opposite of what cutting edge radio engineering and dynamic markets show.

Most of these applications were developed using junk bands, where regulators dumped industrial equipment and microwave ovens. They thrived even in these harsh conditions, but in an effort to open up new, less wasteland-like areas for these dynamic, innovative technologies, the last Republican and current Democratic FCC chairs presided over the bipartisan creation of TV White Spaces, a policy that permits device manufacturers to expand the capabilities of unlicensed devices by sharing the TV bands with broadcasters. The TV Band auctions being pushed through the supercommittee threaten to displace these white space devices. As we look at the enormous success of unlicensed wireless strategies across the most dynamic markets, we see that doing so is penny wise, pound foolish.

Not only will auctions burden development of unlicensed strategies, if the last major auction is any indication, they will allow AT&T and Verizon to foreclose competition in their markets. When AT&T argued in defense of its T-Mobile merger, it said that T-Mobile wasn't much of a competitor "without the spectrum to deploy a 4G LTE network." But the reason T-Mobile lacks that spectrum is that Verizon and AT&T already own 78 percent of the spectrum bands needed. The new auctions would extend Verizon and AT&T's foreclosure to the TV Bands as well, constraining not only competitors like T-Mobile, but the whole field of unlicensed strategies as well.

As a revenue source, spectrum auctions are a particularly pernicious tax on wireless innovation. They pick the wrong technology for wireless infrastructure by regulatory fiat, and strengthen the market dominance of already-dominant players. The costs of this policy to innovation and growth greatly outweigh its revenue benefits, and the supercommittee simply does not have the time to learn enough to avoid doing more harm than good.

#Politics#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. Rohan

    Hmm. I seem to lack a bit of the contexual understanding having not lived in the US.But, the rest makes sense. Spectrum auditions are happening all over the world though.. seems like it is one big broken system.

  2. Rohan

    And continuing on the spirit of ‘on a different note’, following our discussion here on Gates’ response to Jobs’ criticism, I had blogged about it yesterday.It ended up becoming quite an experience as it was voted up on Hacker news (of course.. FW school of blogging etc) and I’ve experienced what it is likely to have 30-40+ comments on my blog – half of them screaming at me for apparently dissing Jobs.Plenty of great discussion as well though. Mac vs PC and Jobs vs Gates is clearly a lot more contentious than I thought it to be.. ūüôā I thought things had calmed down over the years.¬†

    1. fredwilson

      welcome to the jungle

      1. Rohan

        Amazing jungle it is. Thanks for the tips on your school of blogging, Fred. Nice improvements since copying it as it is – long form/short form, hacker news etc.¬†Hope to have you over sometime as well. ūüôā

      2. Rohan

        9 hours later, I have another request.It would be good to understand how you built a community that has very little name calling. I’ve found an incredible amount of that going on..¬†A ‘Fred Wilson School of Building Communities’ would be handy.

        1. fredwilson

          participate actively (sorry for being offline all day yesterday, i was at my daughter’s college for parents day)call out bad behaviorencourage good behaviorcultivate a culture of tolerance and openness to other views

          1. Rohan

            Thank you Fred. I¬†guessed as much (Kid’s event). And I think that’s a big reason I, and many others here look up to you. So, no apologies needed.¬†Hmm – I did try and call out the bad behavior. Not sure I did it enough though.And as for 2 and 3, I think I did manage to do that. And that’s largely thanks to watching you, Mark and Joanne deal with the activity on your blogs…(I just wrote a debrief post a few mins ago on the same –¬†http://www.alearningaday.co…

        2. kidmercury

          like attracts like, that is the big secret of blog stardom……well that and honesty, and affability.¬†

          1. Rohan

            Thanks monsieur mercury. ūüôā I’ll remember – like attracts like..I hope to see you on my blog once a while as well. ūüôā It’s on http://www.alearningaday.com.Would love to hear from you..

      1. Rohan

        Wow LE. That was a nice one.¬†I think I’ve been going through a bit of a learning curve on this one. When I began building up a readership last year (my 3rd year and the start of proper blogging), I remember how I used to get shocked (and hurt) by a few random comments.Over time, I’ve learnt to laugh about it.¬†We live and we learn. And the process is still on. Thanks for sharing this piece. A really nice one.. I’m sure I will blog about it.

  3. William Mougayar

    Long winded way to explain the history of this mess. Maybe I missed it, but what is the solution?

    1. Tom Labus

      Unfortunately. there doesn’t seem to be one.

      1. William Mougayar

        Maybe at the end of this thread there will be some ideas. Nothing that the collective intellectual power of AVCers can’t tackle.

    2. Aaron Klein

      Not selling the spectrum to big carriers and instead opening it up for unlicensed innovation.

    3. LE

      “Long winded way”Agree. It’s a really poor sales job originally appearing on Huffington Post (I think).http://www.huffingtonpost.c…I’ve noticed the same type of writing style in many academic authors and avoid academics generally for that reason. If the book jacket says “professor of” the writing is normally more complicated and long winded than it needs to be and usually isn’t worth the effort to read vs. other easily available choices.If what you are trying to do is convince “regular” people to take action or support your cause this approach won’t work. Only a small percentage of the population will stay awake to read and understand what is being said.¬†To get people to support your ideas (or buy your product) you have to make it easy for them to give you what you want.You have to sell them.That means you don’t make it hard for them to understand what you are trying to say.There are cases and situations of course where this type of writing is good though. People have an insecurity challenging what they don’t understand. They generally won’t question something that doesn’t make sense for fear that they will appear stupid.¬†¬†¬†

      1. JLM

        Infographics are the future.

        1. Rohan

          Agree with you, I do.To what we can see, the future belongs. ūüėČ

        2. testtest

          imo infographics are old school. SEOs have been using them for years.plus the economics aren’t great. they cost orders of magnitude more than a written article. they only become viable when you get some strong backlinks off the back of them.data¬†visualization¬†is great, but again cost is¬†prohibitive. there needs to be a consumer level platform to make the cost of production trivial. that would be a massive win!

          1. ShanaC

            rene descartes? Je pense danc je suis?

          2. testtest

            yep.i was reading about cartesian coordinates and thought he needed a shout out.don’t worry i’m not going to start speaking like him; even if thou ask thee to;)

          3. JLM

            Old school? ¬†Old school is good.Infographics is simply the combination of words, images and a “silent” voice which appeals to multiple learning styles.Whether they are digital or physical makes no mind as long as the eye can see the images as it reads the data and hears the voice.Now if you could smell them, wow!

          4. testtest

            innovation is good.they lack context and narrative. they’re information pollution.make them¬†interactive, so the information can be shown in context and along a narrative, and i’m with that.¬†i take them in the narrower definition (since that is our context). such as these:http://www.coolinfographics…some are useful, most aren’t. and i certainly don’t wake up in the morning with a lust for additional infographics

          5. JLM

            @chrishuntis:disqus¬†Perhaps, we are seeing them in different contexts.I find them to be incredibly effective particularly when communicating with customers, employees, stakeholders who may may not be the computer savvy illuminati on this blog.In my actual applications, they are powerful in communicating multi-step information such as training and player loyalty and business process information for everyone from customers to board members.I agree that there are good and bad but isn’t that true of everything?

          6. testtest

            Perhaps, we are seeing them in different contexts.perhaps so. my thinking is one class of infographic. as an overall set they’re useful; road signs, maps, business process information, storyboards etc.it’s the crappy linkbait and chartjunk i don’t have much love for

          7. JLM

            I am seeing them in the sense of understanding complex issues made simpler by authoritative fact sourcing and interesting presentation of things I do not know at the start of the journey.I like the methodology (like liking PPT) but not every thing ever presented in that methodology.I do find them incredibly useful in conveying training and other info.

          8. FAKE GRIMLOCK

            ANYONE CAN MAKE CHART.ONLY FEW CAN MAKE GREAT CHART.SAME AS ONLY FEW CAN MAKE GREAT WORDS.

          9. LE

            Flyers made with MacPaint in 1985 looking like ransom notes.10 years later web pages.

          10. JLM

            @domainregistry:disqus¬†¬†Haha, “ransom notes”!You sound like The Perfect Daughter who is a graphics arts girlie at¬†UGA and makes posters for bands in ATL and AHN.She says that posters should not make you want to puke.

          11. SubstrateUndertow

            “there needs to be a consumer level platform to make the cost of production trivial. that would be a massive win!”I’d like a serving of that please!

        3. ShanaC

          It is so much easier to both lie and tell the truth via images. ¬†Especially when you start adding statistics to the mix.And I don’t think we educated people to understand both well at all as a culture. ¬†Images can be the home of demagoguery very quickly.So as much as I love images, I hope not.

          1. Rohan

            Always in balance, they will be. Images and words.

        4. andyidsinga

          Here is one everyone reading his post should go check out just to see the magnitude of the allocation issue:US Spectrum allocation chart:http://www.ntia.doc.gov/fil

        5. FAKE GRIMLOCK

          GOOD WRITING IS FUTURE.ALSO PAST.

          1. testtest

            engagement is the futureeverything engaging with everything else

          2. JLM

            Agree completely.  Engage w/ all of the senses simultaneously when possible.

          3. Rohan

            And us, hopefully engaging with ourselves.Not easy given the ease with which we can lose ourselves in the world of connectivity.The future is us.Let the one who will move the world first move himself..

          4. SubstrateUndertow

            Do you mean engagement overload?

          5. ErikSchwartz

            Capitalization is the future.

          6. JLM

            More money gets raised with pictures and finger painting than words.

          7. Rohan

            YesssThe Grimster’s chicken picture, etched in our memory it remains.;)

          8. FAKE GRIMLOCK

            MOST MONEY GETS MOVED WITH GOOD COMMUNICATION.MEDIUM NOT MATTER.

        6. SubstrateUndertow

          I’d like to second that sentiment and add one extra word.Animated infographics are the future.

          1. JLM

            I agree.  Have you seen a good exemplar you can direct me to?

          2. SubstrateUndertow

            http://www.gapminder.org/automating the process of picking customizable X vs Y variable data-set interplay and then visually animated them on an interaction time line presentationzoom in or out on the time line animationchange X and Y comparison variablesisolate and compare specific subset in the animationect. . . .with a wide availability of open, standardized and publicly accessible data-set APIs this could be the foundation for a meaningful¬†visual¬†public debate tool for the rest of usexamplehttp://www.gapminder.org/wo…RSA Animated Talkshttp://www.youtube.com/watc…http://www.youtube.com/watchttp://www.youtube.com/watchttp://www.youtube.com/watc

      2. fredwilson

        all of Yochai’s written work, including his books, are difficult reads. but once you get to the gist of what he is saying, there is brilliance that you don’t find in many people’s work that is easier to consume

    4. Donna Brewington White

      Or rather… Will this be on the test?

      1. William Mougayar

        Lol. Exactly.Although it was factual & descriptive, the complexity & grandeur of the mess is begging for an innovative out-of-the box way out.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          In all seriousness, though, it does help to have the problem laid out, complete with historical perspective, before you brilliant pragmatists go running off to find the solution.  My best professors were often the ones who left me in a state of tension, brain burning.  Hopefully, this dilemma is keeping some brilliant mind(s) awake at night.

          1. Rohan

            nice thought, that is, donna

          2. William Mougayar

            You would hope that the same brilliant minds that analyzed this could provide some suggestions. 

          3. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            Actually, all the “brilliant mind(s)” were hired for big bucks to create the problem…..

        2. SubstrateUndertow

          I think we need to zoom out beyond this specific resource issue and start framing our democratic-nation-states as platforms.natural resources Р(including fixed limited spectrum)educational resourceshealthcare resourceswork force resourcesproduction resourcesinfrastructure resourcesIT networking resourcesbanking, monitory & credit resourcesdemocratic-rule-of-law infrastructure resourcesetc. . . .What recombinant parts of a nation-state-as-platform should be open, closed or mixed?When parts of that platform are allowed to be walled off for either public or corporate usage and control, then what rights, responsibilities and limitations should apply to insure the larger democratic community benefits in the long run.Yes, I know none of this is new or novel but still a more wide spread use of a nation-state-as-platform framing-metaphor would help untangle much of the unnecessary and unproductive idealogical rhetoric that is presently stalling any real productive social debate. 

          1. Tom Labus

            Some of those Eastern Euro countries have framed a “broadband policy’ and are enacting it.Nicely said by the way.

      2. Matt A. Myers

        I’m just going to sit next to William and lean over occasionally.. Hopefully he’ll write the correct answers..

        1. William Mougayar

          Good one.^2

        2. Rohan

          You and me, both.Always helps having friends like¬†@wmoug:disqus¬†ūüôā

    5. andyidsinga

      the solution is less dedicated spectrum auctioned off to corporations and more unlicensed spectrum available to *any wireless device* as long as the device plays according to the rules of that particular block ( ex ism bands and fcc part 15 http://en.wikipedia.org/wik… )

      1. SubstrateUndertow

        Great chart!Anyone have a URL to a zoomable vector graphics version of that chart?

        1. andyidsinga

          had one of those outside my cube too. always got attention from passers by :)that one ( in my other comment? ) should be zoomable in a pdf viewer. ( here it is http://www.ntia.doc.gov/fil… )

          1. SubstrateUndertow

            Thanks, didn’t notice it was a .pdf ūüôā

    6. Carlise

      I agree with this comment. Not only did I miss the solution, more fundamentally, I missed the problem. The post was obviously intended for people who have a deep understanding of the issue, but I am unfamiliar with this issue. And after this long post, I still am.

      1. Rohan

        Hmm. And I thought it was only me..

    7. fredwilson

      the federal government should take all the TV white space and make it unlicensed spectrum so that we can have more innovation in wireless communication

  4. Dennis Buizert

    I love the spectrum debate. Here in the netherlands is has been postponed for the past 3 years now. And it got pushed back recently to enable more parties to join in on the bidding.¬†They are of such short lifespan it only increases the amount of money taken from customers as they keep coming up with the most absurd reasons. Here they said:More people use the internet, they use less texting/calling. Whatsapps, Kik, Twitter, Facebook are taking over. So lets increase the contract prizes, reduce the minimal start of 200mb as entry level for phone+internet+free text.¬†This whole spectrum bidding is a BS. I am waiting for Google or some other company to come in and say: Lets start a phone business, roll out a lot of free wifi hotspots, use i.e. google chat for communication and provide free internet with a lower entry level then the rest.¬†Sadly regulations and spectrum bids don’t allow for that stuff to happen. Sadly.¬†

    1. andyidsinga

      google voice, skype and just about everyone else is already doing exactly what you suggested.and, imho, that is exactly the point of the post …that we are effectively forced to innovate in that way – over wifi etc. Wifi is implemented in the “wasteland like areas” of microwave ovens ( 2.4 GHz ) etc.We need to ask our government to give more spectrum to unlicensed use and less to auctioned off, short term revenue, licenced use.

  5. Carl J. Mistlebauer

    So basically its innovation vs. domination.  Create something new vs locking in market share.Name one industry where this has not occurred?Once you dominate one market (U.S.), then you move on to new markets (China). Solution?  Well, did we benefit when Standard Oil was busted up?  Did we benefit when AT&T/Bell were busted up?  We talk about the U.S. being a mature market; but it is mature because it is capped out or is it mature because it is totally dominated by bigness?

    1. Aaron Klein

      The solution isn’t busting up companies, it’s not allowing government rules and regulations to block innovation and competition.

      1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        That logic assumes that government has its own agenda that benefits no one other than government rather than assuming that all government action has a beneficiary outside of government.If government benefited only its self then there would be no lobbyists, no political contributions, and no special interests.I find it hard to believe that people and corporations pump the billions of dollars annually into the system and expect nothing in return.

  6. Tom Labus

    It’s pretty sad and demoralizing.This is an endless assault that isn’t going away.

  7. matthughes

    The solution here is way above my pay grade.But it just seems like the FCC has muddied the waters for a very long time. (dating to before the wireless issue)

    1. Avi Deitcher

      Never ever say that. Never. The very essence of democratic freedoms relies upon each and every one of us believing we have a right to an opinion, to express that opinion, and to vote for or against those with opinions. The day even one of us thinks that an opinion on a matter of public interest is above his/her pay grade is the day true democracy begins to wither.Have an opinion. Defend it. Change it in the face of evidence. But never believe you are not smart enough to have it.

      1. matthughes

        Fair enough.That’s really good advice.¬†I meant that wireless is not in my wheelhouse.Now if you want to debate the designated hitter rule in baseball I’ll take on all comers.

  8. ShanaC

    I really hope Dr. Benkler pops in:What does anyone here think about his claim that historical usage of spectrum was very ad hoc and organic in its development about the way we will be thinking about spectrum in the future?It is a very interesting factoid, and I sort of wish I could read more of Dr. Benkler’s thoughts on the subject.

  9. The Heasman

    Disrupt the telecommunications industry?That’s the obvious answer. But its bold. Neo saving Morpheus bold.Barriers to entry high, but would still be highly popular and supported by activists. Hmmm..

    1. Avi Deitcher

      Love to. How do we do it? Reality is, it takes a lot of capital to enter this space – as in tens of $MM or more – even without licensing, sate and fed regulation, spectrum, etc.

      1. FAKE GRIMLOCK

        PHONE THAT ONLY WORK NEAR FREE WIFI IS BAD PHONE.BUILD WIFI TOWERS EVERYWHERE?BETTER THINGS TO DO WITH THAT MANY BILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

        1. JLM

          Actually the idea of WiFi everywhere is exactly what some of the big cell phone companies are doing right now.It is creating a huge problem for cell phone antenna lessors and lessees as the leases did not contemplate base station installations to¬†accommodate¬†such huge installations.I own a cell phone tower (lessor) and just got my rent doubled in return for allowing the lessee to double the size of the base station installation.When you look at the “use” clause on the revised lease, bigger than Dallas it says WiFi and WiFi on steroids.

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK

            OUTSIDE BIG CITY, CELLTOWERS NOT CLOSE ENOUGH FOR WIFI.PHONE THAT FAIL WHEN GO FOR DRIVE IS PHONE THAT WILL FAIL.(HYBRID WIFI/CELL IS OK FOR NOW)

  10. Jason

    The worst part I fear from such market domination is a broken promise of 50-100GBPS over the spectrum that research has achieved. With only few major players innovation is sure to stifle as it remains profitable to not race upgrading infrastructure, especially if the unlicensed spectrum is sold. Thanks for the heads up! As I moved cross country, the reality of 4G/LTE was meh at best, the network couldn’t keep up with the devices, even 3G was spotty in many areas. Unfortunately the majority of consumers won’t miss or complain about what they don’t know exists yet.

    1. Tom Labus

      How do other countries pull this off?Korea.

      1. Jason

        Don’t know, and believe the only relevant comparisons would be Russia/China/Australia for their size, population distribution, and spectrum usage.

      2. JLM

        Political will to create jobs and to be effective.In 1974, Korea did not even make reinforcing steel in quantity.Within 7 years, they were the world’s foremost commodity shipbuilders.First step?They learned to weld.

      3. andyidsinga

        i think they all do it similar to us …you have to have some regulation otherwise it will be total chaos – imagine being in a stadium full of yelling people and trying to talk to someone 50 ft away – difficult but not impossible.In some cases no regulation would even be dangerous for our health …the old joke about a guy sitting next to a giant microwave transmitter to get warm during the cold winter ūüôā yikes.

  11. JLM

    The real issue here is the impact of government regulation on innovation and ultimately job creation in America. ¬†And this is a subject upon which folks of all different political bents should be able to agree.When folks utter a knee jerk paen against nameless, faceless government regulation this is exactly what they are talking about.Any regulation which artificially provides market share to any competitor is not in the Nation’s interest. ¬†Particularly when that market share is earned by lobbyists, rules, regulations and the stroke of a well funded pen.Governing philosophy matters and this particular example is symptomatic of what is happening in technology, energy, communications and a number of industries, that if less burdened would be creating jobs at a gratifying rate.And the jobs would be driven by the innovation, would be “in” the innovation and would spin off equipment manufacturing to support the innovation.The gov’t and the BIG guys are trying to succeed with a lobbyist, some bought and paid for politicians (rented really) and words when they should be competing and when properly motivated BUYING the technology and their competitors.It is currently much easier to invest capital in DC than it is to get out and buy your competitors. In reality, they could accomplish the same thing by buying their competitors and letting the innovators go to the pay window thereby funding the next wave of innovation.Nobody ever gets a good deal when the government’s thumb is on the scale. ¬†Solyndra is just a symptom.

    1. William Mougayar

      JLM ^2 Money quote:”Nobody ever gets a good deal when the government’s thumb is on the scale.”

      1. Stan

        This is nonsense.¬† Ask those who receive unemployment checks and are able to pay the rent rather than become homeless. Ask those who receive SSI or Medicare and are able to survive life with a little more dignity, rather than dying on the streets.¬† Ask those who attend subsidized public schools, including attending subsidized public universities on subsidized student loans (yes, yes, people love throwing stones at US public schools, yet they are, overall, the envy of the world).¬† JLM regularly conducts group jerk off sessions here praising the military.¬† Who’s thumb does he think is on that scale?¬†These pity quotes are so fucking stupid.

        1. William Mougayar

          Yes and No, and that applies to any government around the world. Of course, governments do good things, but sometimes they go overboard, and that’s the point we’re trying to make.¬†

          1. Stan

            Then say they go overboard on occasion.¬† Don’t get into this bullshit that governments are always the problem. It’s obnoxious.

          2. William Mougayar

            I didn’t say that. Liking a quote doesn’t mean you can generalize it. And my comments aren’t bullshit.

        2. JLM

          Stan, thanks for coming out of your shell.Unemployment is actually an insurance program (as is Medicare) and the reality is that folks who have paid IN are protected and entitled to those checks.The big problem is that the government wants folks to think it is “largesse” when, in fact, it is insurance.The same is true of Social Security. ¬†The government took funds — enterprise funds — and used them for general funding requirements leaving a bunch of worthless IOUs in the safe.The government should be sharing a cell w B Madoff.That was not the promise nor the financial basis for SS.When government tampers with things — putting their thumb on the scale figuratively — and alters the original intent and pretends it is being done by the market place that is when the mischief appears.I am a huge fan of public schools though I am a believer in paying back what you receive for free. ¬†I received a great education in return for going in harm’s way and the GI Bill to boot. ¬†It was a good business deal all the way around.BTW, the military is a “voluntary” organization these days and is the best military we have ever fielded — bought in the public square through acclamation and a fat check book.These examples are perfect examples wherein good systems — beneficiary paid insurance, quid pro quo education, volunteer mercenary military — were fouled by the intrusion of the government’s thumb.

          1. Stan

            being in the military is voluntary.¬† having one isn’t.¬† i can’t say i don’t want my taxes to be spent on military.¬† military is the cost of having a society.¬† regulation is the cost of having a society. taxes are the cost of having the society.¬† people in this country have become so fucking delusional it’s depressing.

          2. JLM

            @e09f6e87c9e9e97f2a884c044e12131f:disqus¬† ¬†Don’t quite get your point. ¬†I thought we were talking about the government’s thumb on the scale.In the instance of the military, there is a huge difference between the point of the bayonet (the combat arms) and the military-industrial complex which Eisenhower warned of in his farewell speech.The tip of the bayonet is voluntary and pretty damn clean. ¬†They are prepared to die for the Nation.The MI Complex is a bunch of blood suckers who are building a 6th generation fighter plane when nobody can hang w us in the sky right now or for the next 15-20 years with our current inventory and pilots.Society decides the rules, they do not have to be led to the slaughter. ¬†We should only have as much regulation as we decide to embrace.In the recent past, we have de-regulated industries to sometimes good and sometimes bad results. ¬†It is like chemotherapy.Every tax in the history of our country has been imposed upon us and we have allowed it to happen to the extent that guys like Obama truly believe they are first in line at the pay window when your check is being issued.I am fully acquainted with the word FUCK and it does not make your utterances more forceful or insightful. ¬†It just makes them shallow and unconvincing. ¬†Put FUCK on a vacation for a bit, why not?

          3. Rohan

            Adding ‘f*cks’, not powerful statements they make.Instead, the opposite they do.¬†Kiddish, they look.Unfortunate, it is.

          4. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            Stan,I can empathize! ¬†I think that as a society we need to understand that social security and medicare were promises that we made as a society must be kept.I would even like to believe that we were as evolved of a society as Germany is that we could actually replace unemployment with the government subsidizing pay to keep people from being laid off. ¬†But we are not and that program would become such a corrupt program.We need a military. ¬†Now, do we need to be a superpower? ¬†Do we need 12 aircraft carriers when the rest of the world only has 12 total? Do we need to spend more on our military than 50% of the rest of the world combined? ¬†Oh, and lets not forget that we fund 40% of NATO.I am somewhat like JLM; I got a full ride basketball scholarship from one great liberal arts college and I make sure that I paid them back and kept paying them back, over and over again.Yes, regulations are necessary, but if you have ever dealt with the EPA, OSHA, or the IRS, you really come away really frustrated and angry. ¬†Or if you really want to see some sorry ass regulations check out some state agency’s especially those that deal with daycares.It would be nice to create a society where regulations were not needed and the military was just something that we showed off for parades.What we should be focusing on is not so much government but rather what’s wrong with us as a society that even our next door neighbors, the Canadians shake their head in wonderment at times.¬†¬†

          5. SubstrateUndertow

            The democratic process seems to be failing at empowering citizen to properly regulate their elected regulators.Money has become the regulator de jour!No body here but us puppets and them fools!

    2. Donna Brewington White

      “Governing philosophy matters…”What is the governing philosophy at work here?

      1. ShanaC

        I think we’ve been missing one for years due to the interplay of money and politics. ¬†We’ve decided a war of political attrition is better.

      2. JLM

        The sense that there is a legitimate role for government in any aspect of life which can justify a campaign contribution or a fee?

    3. Carl J. Mistlebauer

      Actually, some people and or industries get great deals from the “government’s thumb is on the scale.”In fact Jim Demint and his “interest” in Honduran and Central American politics has been quite a benefit to certain apparel companies.

      1. JLM

        Know nothing about it.  Demint is an interesting guy.

    4. andyidsinga

      agree with the post and with you too JLM.some regulation is ok ..for example, when we worked on RFID products a few years back we had to follow FCC rules for operating in one of the unlicensed blocks ( 902 – 928 MHz ism band http://en.wikipedia.org/wik….I found the technical regulations quite reasonable ( even though a small pain in the ass to implement ) ..as they forced our device to play nice so that other devices could also function.we were always pissed when we found other devices that were not obeying the rules ( ex power output and frequency hopping ) ..and interfered with our device.MUCH better to have more unlicensed blocks with some ‘how to play nice’ technical regulation applied then to auction off more dedicated spectrum.

      1. JLM

        There is always a role for legitimate regulation but I would hope that industry groups would initially self-regulate and allow the marketplace to take first cut at regulation.In this manner, regulation can become consultation and even cooperation.

        1. andyidsinga

          yeah. i remember disecting FCC part 15 for our RFID work and it seemed to me that it was probably written with industry collabortion – dont know how any of that really works though.

          1. JLM

            You win the grand prize on that one.Who the Hell really wrote the Obamacare bill?How was such a clueless Congress able to pass that legislation and did Princess Pelosi really say it had to be passed to figure out what was really in it?

    5. Dave Pinsen

      “Any regulation which artificially provides market share to any competitor is not in the Nation’s interest.”There are two problems with such a broad generalization:1) Some regulations are necessary, and in the nation’s interest.2) Pretty much all regulations (even necessary ones) skew market share, because larger, more established companies are better equipped to navigate new regulations.Republicans sometimes seem to forget 1) and Democrats almost always seem to forget 2).

      1. JLM

        You have your microscope on a pretty high power of magnification.The modifier of “any regulation” was “which artificially provides market share” — this does not preclude ALL regulations but rather only those that meet that criterion.If you object to “generalizations” then you must be choking on the breadth and depth of “Pretty much all regulations…”.As to Rs v Ds, it really is more an issue of which industry’s ox is being gored and whether that industry has a regional voice or dialect.Oil issues create very strange bedfellows as did the regional accents of the S & L crisis. ¬†When the culprits had a Southern accent, the fire was stoked under the boiling oil but when the slightest suggestion of a Bean Town Brahmin accent was heard, suddenly the play book shifted to shotgun marriages.No great wisdom, other than many times the best regulation may be no regulation.¬†

        1. Dave Pinsen

          If it makes your heart happy, you can substitute “Long, complex regulations” for “Pretty much all regulations…”, but you’ll probably realize that pretty much all regulations are long and complex these days.________________________________

    6. fredwilson

      word

    7. Tom Labus

      Tip of the hat on this one.

  12. kidmercury

    benkler’s ideas here are quite right, unlicensed spectrum fits all the criteria of being an enabling technology that should facilitate a wide variety of disruptive innovations — and thus constitute a source of value and employment for all of society.¬†as others have noted benkler has not noted a solution here. fair enough, as there is not a convenient one — only difficult, controversial ones. specifically: spectrum is largely a matter of compliance. it is time for the startup scene to unite under its own morals and decide what it will comply with, what it will not comply with, and how to safely and nonviolently non-comply when it is deemed best to pursue such a policy.¬†also, on the subject of politics, the startup scene needs to take a much more united front AND a more proactive front. i give fred credit for being willing to talk about politics, but so many other “leaders” still view it as “bad for business.” lol…..youngsters, their naivete always gives me a smile.¬†anyway, all the issues, related from spectrum to employment to dodd-frank to immigration are a function of the debt/monetary problem, which makes it easy for wealth, and thus political influence, to be concentrated. failure to operate from awareness of this situation ensures an approach that is constantly reactive (always a step behind) and taken by surprise by what perils come next (capital controls preventing flow of capital outside of country, china-style internet, and israel/iran war are contenders).¬†for those who find the idea of civil disobedience to be especially distasteful and want to solve the matter via the official legislative process…..good luck, you’ll certainly need it. in any event, ron paul is the only candidate, not because i say so but because he is the only candidate committed to reduction of deficit, debt, and monetary policy reform. (everyone else is pro-war and once you go down that path you cannot seriously change anything financially). if the startup scene doesn’t unify behind ron paul it only reflects their own failure to understand the situation.¬†lastly, i expected to come here to see hundreds of comments. instead i see 20 at the time of this writing. this issue is poorly communicated (not benkler’s fault…..rather all of our faults). i researched this issue last year and was surprised at how difficult it was to get answers to simple questions. some infographics could go a long way.¬†#fs

    1. Dave W Baldwin

      What is missing is an explanation re how this will have a limiting effect on the bigger picture of progress. Otherwise, there will be more reaction to this post over next 18 hours due to everyone drinking wine or moving the pile of leaves from their wine table.

      1. kidmercury

        here’s a good video that helps elaborate on the problem:¬†http://techcrunch.com/2011/…basically more spectrum is needed as the internet grows. most of the people that share fred’s view of the internet (opens systems disrupting closed ones) probably want to see more unlicensed spectrum as that faciliates the type of technology this crowd is into. licensed spectrum is a monopoly game in which AT&T wins and innovation loses.¬†

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          Thanks for the vid, kid… This issue needs work and I agree it is monopolistic.

      2. Tom Labus

        That gets buried so people don’t get too pissed.

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          Good point.

    2. Tom Labus

      Civil Disobedience. ¬†How do we approach that one?Where’s our Thoreau?

      1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        I would love to be Thoreau, but I have way too much of a fondness for the guillotine!

      2. kidmercury

        first a bunch of people need to assert their intent to disobey and the moral justification the have for doing so, and establish a brief moral code they do abide by. then everyone can rally around that.  

    3. fredwilson

      we did get to 150ish as of this morning (next day) but you make a good pointas for political efforts, our firm is working with a few others to formulate an “innovation agenda” which of course includes spectrum policyour goal is to put forth that innovation agenda broadly within our political and government apparatusand i think monetary policy probably should be in that innovation agenda but i suspect it will not be because we need to put together a broad coalition for the innovation agenda

      1. kidmercury

        fair enough. perhaps as the situation progresses you will re-consider your options. kooks are in the business of planting seeds, though waiting for harvest always tests our patience. 

    4. Mark Essel

      KM waving the disruption banner (my favorite one).Glad to read your and JLM’s thoughts here albeit a few days later.

  13. Peter Mullen

    This is not just about the perils of government regulation but the power of the large corporations, in this case the large carriers and their lobbying $$, influencing legislation that stifles innovation. ¬†This just can’t happen.

  14. Donna Brewington White

    “..and the supercommittee simply does not have the time to learn enough to avoid doing more harm than good.”But isn’t the onus on them to have all the information? ¬†Isn’t it idiotic otherwise?

    1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

      Yes, its pretty idiotic! Our elected officials use special interests to “funnel” them information and policy prescriptions. Thus we end up with people like Jeff Immelt heading the job creation panel rather than someone like Fred Wilson heading it. We end up with health insurers writing our national healthcare plans, and we end up with Wall Street redefining capitalism.We are not Plato’s Republic by any means!

      1. JLM

        Not Fred.  Though he would be great.  I want Carl J Mistlebauer.  Because Carl has actually created a job.

        1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

          Remember TARP and the issue of Wall Street pay and bonuses?Remember the logic was that “we” have to pay these outrageous bonus’ ¬†to keep the best and the brightest employed here?I was the guy thinking, “…these best and brightest folks are the same ones that created the financial meltdown of 2008; maybe we need to let them seek employment else where!”But I stay out of politics, I have way too much of a colorful past; I was never one to say “No” to a new experience…damn curiousity, passion, and a desire to know….

          1. Tom Labus

            The lesson learned by Wall Street from 2008 is that they can get away with any size crime/scam (whatever you want to call it).Less than 3 years later, MF Global does the almost exact belly up as Bear and Lehman et al.  Yet if anyone dares say these guys are a little out of hand everyone goes ape shit.Even Goldman has lowered its leverage to around 13 while MF was out there swinging away at 33.

          2. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            …or loan money to Greece!And now we all here nothing but how if “WE” don’t deal with the Greece issue our economies will collapse! A country with the GDP of the Dallas Fort Worth metro area….A country that is known for the production of and exporting what of what?

          3. William Mougayar

            Yeah, tell that to the Europeans. US and Canada are staying out of it, but the IMF is getting suckered in.

          4. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            Actually, American banks are the 4th largest creditors of Greece….

          5. William Mougayar

            I had no idea about that. At least it’s not the US government doing it directly.

          6. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            Hmm….lets see, put Federal Reserve, the term recapitalization, and “too big to fail” and basically you have the US government, albeit indirectly….

          7. JLM

            No ax out for Corzine but it seems like there is a jail cell out there w his name on it.

          8. Rohan

            Lesson learnt? Was there any lesson learnt?Confused, I am. ūüôā

          9. Cam MacRae

            A colourful past makes for a better class of politician.

          10. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            Lets see, I have taught college for a year, did a little consulting work for international firms, and worked for the largest oil company in the world….Nothing, and I mean nothing, beats working for small companies! If you truly want to have an impact, to feel that what you do is critical, and to see the results of your decisions, then nothing beats working for a small company.The ROI, the opportunity to wear many hats, and to actually have to roll up your sleeves, makes all the difference in the world….

          11. Cam MacRae

            @tao69:disqus¬†you’ve got my vote already.

        2. fredwilson

          correct as usual JLM. i help entrepreneurs create jobs. i don’t create jobs on my own.

  15. William Mougayar

    There is a key theme that’s emerging, not just on the last few posts of this blog, but around the world:Big, old, complex, gridlocked systems are crippling progress.Occupy Wall Street – broken system Occupy App Store – inneficient systemDigital Millenium Act – bad systemWireless Auctions – corrupt system Greek & Euro debt – messy system Etc.What is vexing is that these big problems are starring us in the face. We can see them, describe them, debate them, but we can do little to change them. These systems are well entrenched with their stakeholders who are not part of the solution.When systems are good, they work wonders. But when systems are bad, they bring disasters.

    1. JLM

      The common denominator is the “system”.While technology shortening the channels of communication what is also happening is that the “system” is evaporating. ¬†There is a 911 quality of life emerging.A short circuiting of everything because the system (with just a thimble of technology) does not require the “system” to get the moving pieces to touch.Call 911, route it to the cop in the area, get the bad guys. Automated stock trading. ¬†Info curation. ¬†Kill the system and let the two ends speak directly to each other.

      1. William Mougayar

        Simplicity wins. In software and in life.Give me simpler anything. I’ll buy it.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          If you weren’t Canadian, I’d think you were a Herman Cain man.¬†

          1. William Mougayar

            What makes you so sure? Maybe I’m a New Yorker in disguise.¬†Not Cain, nor McCain…but I’m starting to like Romney since he hired a friend as an advisor. ¬†

          2. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            I can’t resist….Is their some reason a New Yorker would want to disguise themselves as a Canadian?

          3. William Mougayar

            You’ll never know ūüėČ I can’t disclose secrets.

          4. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            Alright! A Canadian with mystique!

          5. Dave Pinsen

            I was thinking specifically of the exchange between Romney and Cain when Cain questioned the number of items in Romney’s economic plan (implicitly making an invidious distinction between Romney’s plan and his own, simpler one) and Romney said simple answers often are helpful, but seldom sufficient (or something to that effect).

        2. Rohan

          Simplicity, common sense, good leadership – all like.Like them, we do.Available in abundance, they are not.

      2. FAKE GRIMLOCK

        REPLACE HUMAN IN THE MIDDLE WITH TECH MEAN ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN. VERY FAST.SOMETIMES “ANYTHING” IS “WORLD FINANCIAL SYSTEM COLLAPSE”.¬†MAYBE THAT ACCEPTABLE PRICE FOR GO FASTER. MAYBE NOT.

        1. JLM

          I am in agreement.The classic situation is the ability to execute an order for 1000 shares of GE instantly and transfer the money instantly and know exactly how man shares one owns instantly and see the trade recorded instantly but we cannot track a fake SS card for 6 months.

        2. Tom Labus

          The middle is control.That will not be given up without a huge fight,That’s where the lobbyists and others not wanting to be seen hide out.

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK

            WHEN SOMEONE TRY STAND IN FRONT OF FUTURE INSTEAD OF GET ON BOARD OR GET OUT OF WAY, SOLUTION IS EASY.STEP ON GAS.

      3. fredwilson

        i would argue the common denominator is institutions and their architectureour institutions are hierarchies that don’t adapt quickly and we are moving into a more networked model for many things in our life which adapt much better

        1. JLM

          Traditional vertical hierarchies v wheel and spoke flat organizations.

        2. William Mougayar

          the trick is in the change aspect and transitions. we don’t have time to wait for the dinosaurs to die on their own.¬†

  16. jason wright

    Government needs revenue to exist. Revenue comes from taxation, and the flow of this revenue is best guaranteed by legislating for the existence of the corporate entity and then supporting the growth and power of this entity by favoring its needs over those of wider society and economy.The notion of political ‘representation’ in the democratic system should be examined more carefully. If you are ‘represented’ you abdicate your democratic place in that system to someone else. In reality the system does not allow you to represent yourself. You are excluded. Your views are not expressed. The system allows only for the ‘representative’ to express ‘a’ view, and ‘a’ view will almost always not be your view but the corporations view, which goes back to my point that government always supports and favors the needs of corporations to guarantee its own taxation revenue for its own continued existence. The corporation is an agent of government, and government a host to the corporation. It’s symbiotic.

    1. JLM

      Over simplification but the primary source of Federal revenue from inception until 1911 was tariffs. ¬†Yes, 1911.Only in 1911 (16th Amendment, I think but I am operating from memory here) was the Federal gov’t given the right to collect taxes and not remit them to the States.The truth of the matter is that the first taxes were property taxes which were collected exclusively by the States.In the last century, we have made ourselves into vassals of the Fed gov’t and have ceased to be the UNITED STATES of America and have become the Federal Republic of America.

      1. Stan

        JLM, I recommend that you read the Federal Constitution before you lecture on its contents.  Specifically, please read Art. I, Sects. 2 and 8. This is pretty simple stuff.  You apparently risked your life in defense of a document whose contents you do not even understand.

        1. JLM

          Actually Stan my motivations were never that noble. ¬†I initially joined the military because they gave me a “free” education in civil engineering.I admit to liking jumping out of airplanes, sliding down ropes and the outdoor life. I liked the travel though sometimes the¬†accommodations¬†and food were a bit primitive.I liked blowing stuff up (combat engineer) and I liked the physical challenge (Ranger school). ¬†I liked guns and firing them.As I grew up a bit, I liked training soldiers and I liked learning their stories and I appreciated being entrusted with their lives. ¬†I wish I had been a bit better at it because I cost some men their lives because of decisions I made and I will never forgive myself for those shortcomings.As I got older I began to see the dignity and nobility of the profession of soldiering and began to understand its necessity to be a free people.I began to know that I had to be the best soldier and leader possible on an intellectual basis and became a very serious student of the profession of arms.I loved commanding troops and was always awed that they put their trust in me because we were all just citizens.I had to tell Mothers that there sons were killed in service to the Nation and it steeled me to make every life lost paid for through the professionalism of my craft. ¬†I sweated men so they did not die in combat and I held them and myself to very high standards.I never soldiered for the Constitution though I did soldier for my men and ¬†the Nation and I would do it all again.Of course in your book, that is all just a big circle jerk. But we are different people.

          1. Stan

            All I ask of you is that you read the federal Constitution before you lecture on it. Clearly you do not know what you’re talking about with regard to Congress’s authority to tax.¬† I’m not going to engage with you anymore today. All I ask is that you read the Constitution before you lecture on its contents.

          2. JLM

            Actually, Stan, I have a more than passing acquaintance w/ the scholarly understanding ¬†of the Constitution and all the docs upon which our Republic stands. ¬†I often have a copy in my pocket.You did not read my comment carefully.The Congress did, in fact, always have the right to collect taxes but they had an obligation to remit the majority of their collections to the “united” States.Not to go all “scholarly” on you but the clear direction of the earliest thinking on this issue can be seen in the Articles of Confederation which clearly prohibited the Fed gov’t from collecting any taxes.The 16th Amendment — which I stand corrected was passed in 1913 after having been drafted in 1911 — was the first time that the Fed gov’t was allowed to levy taxes and keep the proceeds for the Fed gov’t.This discussion does not do justice to the interesting Fed Tax Act of 1861 (a 3% FLAT tax BTW) which A Lincoln signed into law to fund the Civil War and which was subsequently repealed by the Fed Tax Act of 1862.But that is just a little historical detail, right?

          3. Rohan

            Very inspiring, JLM.¬†‘The more we sweat in peacetime, the less we bleed in war.’I guess you have lived that.

      2. kidmercury

        no question JLM has won this beef with stan. not only did stan initiate the beef (puts you in the hole right away when you do that) but the income tax did not come until the 16th amendment and the federal reserve act of 1913 were passed. some kooks say the 16th amendment was never ratified and thus income tax is unconstitutional, and i agree with this, but proving stuff from 100 years ago is always a tough sell.¬†the founders intended direct taxes — taxes on property — which did NOT include income tax until the 16th amendment.¬†

        1. fredwilson

          bouncing and beef settling!!!!

  17. SubstrateUndertow

    Supercommittee?Whats so super about it?A bunch of uninformed hacks in a panic to selling the farm at every level.

    1. JLM

      The Super Committee is simply going to resurrect the same “tastes great” v “less filling” tax & spend v cut & balance arguments that got us here in the first place.The entire Congress is a bunch of cowards who are unable to confront a growing reality that we really are going broke.They have kicked the can down the road to the week before Thanksgiving. ¬†Nothing more.Wait for the train wreck because it is only 2 weeks away.

      1. Rohan

        On form you are today, JLM.Government issues, we need?Fired up they get you, do they? ūüôā

  18. ErikSchwartz

    Who writes all legislation?Lobbyists.I am actually kind of shocked that more people are not talking about the fact that Herman Cain used to be a Washington lobbyist.

    1. JLM

      Great observation.  I guess we are numb to it all.I wonder what will happen when everyone discovers that Mitt was a VC.Well played!

      1. Rohan

        The lines between business and politics Рgetting fuzzier, they are. 

      2. fredwilson

        he was not a VC, he was a private equity guynothing against Mitt, except he’s a liar, but i have to call you on that one

        1. JLM

          Fair play, I was wrong. ¬†PE it is.I have no brief for Romney and frankly do not think he can beat Obama. Right now, only Obama can beat Obama. ¬†Folks will vote against him and not for his opponent.Romney has no real experience in WINNING a lot of elections. ¬†Folks forget that McCain beat him and McCain was a woefully inadequate candidate.Romney has the baggage of Romneycare. ¬†If I were Obama, I would just keep saying — Mitt, Obamacare IS Romneycare. ¬†You are the architect and you are a genius.Romney is all over the map on everything. ¬†Everything. ¬†He cannot even explain how he got to Romneycare, pro-life, etc.Romney has no real track record on creating jobs and that is the KILLER vulnerability of Obama. ¬†Killer! ¬†That is the winning card and if used correctly will ultimately invoke the mercy rule. ¬†Getting every voter related to unemployment is a killer margin.Romney is a 1%-er and while I think the Occupy Everything movement is pretty small time stuff, that 1%-er stuff will resonate w/ folks and Obama will have a field day diverting attention from the Obama record to the Romney lifestyle.Low hanging fruit.Class envy is a reality. ¬†Saddle that horse and ride it hard!

    2. LE

      Cain was not a lobbyist for hire, he was head of the NRA and lobbied on their behalf and apparently accomplished quite a bit.Isn’t this similar to when Fred and Brad “spent Thursday in DC along with a bunch of entrepreneurs and VCs. We talked to dozens of our elected officials”http://www.avc.com/a_vc/201……or with respect to Ron Wyden”I am a huge fan (and donator to him)”http://www.avc.com/a_vc/201…¬†

      1. fredwilson

        play within the system while doing our best to disrupt itthat is how we are going about this

        1. kidmercury

          how are you applying disruptive theory if you are working from within the system? the incumbents are ATT (or, from a broader perspective, the military industrial complex). the primary competence of the aforementioned incumbent is lobbying congress, taking regulators captive, and asserting control via the national security complex. what is the new dimension, the enabling technology, you are using to disrupt the incumbent? votizen is a sustaining technology offering incremental improvements to lobbying/legislating; going down to DC yourself is the same, perhaps even less of an incremental innovation. i agree the goal of disruption is admirable.   

      2. ErikSchwartz

        Sorry, the head of a trade¬†organization based in DC¬†is by definition a “lobbyist for hire”.

        1. LE

          Not my area of expertise but you can you *give a reference* for “the head of a trade organization based in DC is by definition a “lobbyist for hire”?In the disclosure act, Cain would have to be meet this requirement:¬†“lobbying activities constitute 20 percent or more of his or her services‚Äô time”http://lobbyingdisclosure.h…Additionally he isn’t listed here (although the NRA as well as others with the last name of “Cain” are.¬† The data covers the 2/3 years when he was said to be lobbying. Assuming the data is correct of course):http://www.opensecrets.org/http://www.opensecrets.org/http://www.opensecrets.org/…My understanding of the act (and therefore the definition of lobbyist “de jure”) would be that Herman Cain would have to be listed as an individual if he spent more than 20% of his time as a lobbyist.There are many articles, of course, that call Cain a lobbyist. But I’m not sure that he meets the threshold for the pejorative use of “lobbyist” which is what I was responding to.By the way, while this article seems to support your point somewhat, I will note that he was doing this for all of two to three years of his life:”Cain left his executive job with Godfather’s in 1996 but remained chairman and part-owner as he became CEO of the National Restaurant Association, which is based in Washington, D.C. The three-year lobbying job yielded relationships with important Republican figures.”http://www.omaha.com/articl…So I think that is why this isn’t being talked about. In the scheme of things it isn’t a big deal because of who he did it for and the length of time. It doesn’t appear to make him a Washington insider in my view.¬†¬†¬† ¬†(I’m not a Cain supporter by the way nor do I have any ties to lobbying or lobbyists other than the time I went to DC, or phone conversations and emails, to try and make people aware of my point of view.)

  19. testtest

    engagement is the futureeverything engaging with everything [email protected]:disqus¬†¬†Do you mean¬†engagement overload?the web medium has certain properties which direct its evolution. one of these is engagement, this comes from it being a read/write medium (CRUD, RESTful etc) — everything that can become more engaging will be more engaging.¬†there’s also the dynamic of increasing information which creates attention scarcity.¬†engagement¬†captures attention, so various agents (us, businesses, whoever) are¬†incentivized¬†to improve engagement.another property is the network. clearly we can engage with each other now, to a certain extent (social web), but there’s also the increasing shift toward objects coming online. these won’t just be dumb “things” pumping out data, they’ll increase in intelligence (machine learning), have emotion (affective computing), understand their context (context awareness), and be responsive to people (ambient intelligence).once we’ve¬†anthropomorphised these systems and object all around we’ll be engaging with them. and they’ll also be engaging with each other.everything engaging with everything else

  20. David Petersen

    I support the Occupy Spectrum movement.

    1. fredwilson

      yes, occupyspectrum!!!

  21. Ciaran

    Interesting post, and I hate to be rather pedantic (actually, I don’t), but I wanted to challenge/question this statement:¬†In Japan, a good place to see the near future of mobile broadband, the second largest mobile carrier contracted a California firm to roll out 100,000 hotspots as a core strategy for its next generation mobile broadband network.Possibly, but I think the Professor is probably talking about Fon, a European firm (founded in Spain, registered in the UK), which has created 900,000 wifi hotspots in conjunction with Softbank Mobile.¬†I realise that this is a US blog, and the professor works in the US and is talking about a US auction, but let’s not let provincialism get in the way of the fact that it’s not a US company that is driving forward the world’s largest connected wifi network.¬†http://www.wired.co.uk/maga…

  22. Trish Burgess-Curran

    I am catching up on reading the last few days worth of blogs.¬† I have just finished reading all the comments on this post and I have to admit that I have learned quite a bit!¬† I am a bit overwhelmed and I don’t really have much to add but wanted to thank you all for your insights!

  23. the jump manual

    In every problem, there’s a solution.. there can be a solution to everything.. I believe so