The 21st Century Project
The 21st Century Project Blog

Welcome to the 21st Century Project Blog

Welcome to the new blog for The 21st Century Project at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, the graduate school of public policy at the University of Texas at Austin. This blog will be an ongoing source of news and opinion about technology policy, particularly policy about telecommunications, the Internet, broadband, digital media, community technology, and how society and organizations are being changed by networked information. The 21st Century Project started in 1991, and affiliated with the LBJ School in 1994, but this blog and this Web site are new. This blog will be authored principally by Gary Chapman, director of the Project, who was the first executive director of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, then a newspaper and magazine columnist for ten years. He is a member of the faculty at the LBJ School, where he teaches classes and conducts research on the topics described on this Web site. Click on the “Projects” link at the top of this page to see what The 21st Century Project has been doing, or the “Classes” link to see the sort of classes offered in technology-related policy areas at the LBJ School. Feel free to register for this site and comment on any of the posts, or sign up for e-mail announcements. Simply use the “Register” button in the right-hand margin if you haven’t already registered here. Once you’ve registered, you can comment on blog posts, too.

We’ll be adding more features to this Web site in the near future. Please tell us what you’d like to see—just use the “Contact” link in the navigation bar at the top of each page.

Again, welcome, and either sign up for e-mail updates or revisit this Web site for news, commentary and dialog about our evolving networked society.

September 4, 2007 Log in or register to comment on this post

YouTube Mapped to Google Earth

Google is now letting its users geographically tie YouTube videos to specific places on Google Earth, the company’s satellite imagery mapping service. A new YouTube video layer has been added to Google Earth, which allows Google Earth users to see videos of places they select. More information can be found at this link.

This is an example of “geotagging,” which means giving data geospatial attributes. Yahoo’s popular photo site, Flickr, allows geotagging of photos, so that user-uploaded photos can be tied to geographical points on a map. Nearly 30 million photos on Flickr contain geospatial metadata.

October 11, 2007 Log in or register to comment on this post

Internet 2 up to 100 Gbps, 400 Gbps Next

The Associated Press reported on October 10 that Internet 2 — the federally-funded research network that is used by universities, research institutions and some companies—has been running at 100 gigabits per second (Gbps) since late August, and plans are in the works to bump speeds yet again in another 12 to 18 months, to 400 Gbps.

Internet 2 is run by a consortium of university partners, and managed by Level 3 Communications, the Colorado-based Internet backbone carrier.

The AP story notes that the 100 Gbps network allows Internet 2 participants to use a single, dedicated 10 Gbps channel for specific applications. The article mentions that physicists who want to acquire enormous datasets from the new Large Hadron Colliderat the European Organization for Nuclear Research are likely to be among the early users of such channels.

A 10 Gbps channel can download 1 megabyte of data in 0.0008 seconds; a typical movie in uncompressed digital format could be downloaded in about 5 seconds.

October 11, 2007 Log in or register to comment on this post

AT&T Buys Into 700 Mhz

AT&T today bought into the 700 Mhz market by purchasing Aloha Partners, a move that gives AT&T potential broadband wireless coverage of 196 million people in 281 markets, according to the news release. The spectrum covers 72 of the top 100 and all of the top ten markets in the U.S.

As Om Malik noted today, the purchase appears to steer the price of the 700 Mhz auction scheduled for January 24, 2008, when the A and B spectrum blocks will be auctioned off by the FCC. Verizon, Google, eBay and other companies are considered likely bidders. (The FCC moved the auction date from January 16th to January 24th yesterday, October 8.)

Aloha Partners has been the country’s largest owner of the lower band of the UHF-TV spectrum, channels 52-59. Aloha had planned on using channels 54 and 59 to broadcast television to mobile phones, via its HiWire subsidiary. But so far it’s not clear what AT&T will do with this spectrum. Some of it is occupied by television broadcasters in specific markets, but they are supposed to give it up by February 2009. If and when AT&T clears out the spectrum, it can support up to 50,000 watts of power, meaning AT&T could quickly have a national broadband wireless network.

UPDATE: One wonders if this was part of Apple’s consideration for signing up with AT&T for the iPhone. Did Apple know something in advance?

October 9, 2007 Log in or register to comment on this post

Miro and the Participatory Culture Foundation

Wired is featuring a story on Nicholas Revilleof the Participatory Culture Foundation, a nonprofit organization “with a mission to build tools and services that give people more ways to engage in their culture.” One of the PCF’s main projects is Miro, a free and Open Source video player for digital files. The Wired article notes, “Ultimately, the foundation’s goal is to promote and build an entirely new, open mass medium of online television.” The nonprofit group has 12 full-time employees and is supported by grants from a variety of supporters, including Skyline Public Works and the Mitch Kapor, Surdna, Mozilla and Knight foundations.

October 8, 2007 Log in or register to comment on this post

Available: WiFi Detector Shirt

ThinkGeek is now selling ($30) a T-shirt with a visible wireless network detectoron the front of the shirt. A patch on the shirt (removable for washing) glows when it is in the presence of a WiFi signal, and shows the signal strength too. The patch runs on three AAA batteries that are stored in a small pouch inside the shirt.

October 8, 2007 Log in or register to comment on this post

Information Age vs. Connected Age

Anne Zelenka has posted an interesting article on GigaOm, with the title “From the Information Age to the Connected Age.”

“Today’s version of the web, whatever you want to call it,” she writes, “is notable because people and hardware and information and software and conversation are all mixed together into a hyperconnected network. Maybe instead of getting tangled up in discussions of what’s web 1.0 vs. web 2.0 vs. web 3.0, we might look instead at another shift: how the web enables us to move from one era into another, from the Information Age to the Connected Age. You can see this shift both in the practices of individual workers and in the strategies of technology companies.”

Zelenka speculates that the old paradigm of the Information Age was one of the “knowledge worker,” and the new paradigm of the Connected Age is ruled by the “web worker,” yet another sort of Microsoft-Google comparison represented in this chart:

Zelenka acknowledges that most web workers will pursue a “hybrid” model, and that these categories are not meant to be descriptive but suggestive of new ways of thinking about trends.

October 8, 2007 Log in or register to comment on this post

Citizens Defy Myanmar Blackout, Internet Cut Off

The Wall Street Journal reports todaythat “citizen journalists” in Myanmar have been using cell phones and blogs to get out news of the military crackdown in the country, following mass protests sparked by dissenting Buddhist monks. Many of the reports have been going to an exile publication about Myanmar, based in New Delhi, called Mizzima News.

The WSJ article, by Geoffrey A. Fowler, says, “In the age of YouTube, cellphone cameras and text messaging, technology is playing a critical role in helping news organizations and international groups follow Myanmar’s biggest protests in nearly two decades. Citizen witnesses are using cellphones and the Internet to beam out images of bloodied monks and street fires, subverting the Myanmar government’s effort to control media coverage and present a sanitized version of the uprising.”

But now there are reports that the military junta in Myanmar has cut off Internet access in the country, blocking the bloggers and others sending images and text over the Internet. Ko Hitke, a blogger who has been featuring reports and images from Myanmar, writes today that “I sadly announce that the Burmese military junta has cut off the internet connection throughout the country. I therefore would not be able to feed in pictures of the brutality by the brutal Burmese military junta.”

One of the images that made it out of Myanmar was of 50 year-old Japanese video journalist Kenji Nagai, who worked for Agence France-Press (AFP), and who was killed in the violence.

September 28, 2007 Log in or register to comment on this post

Dell: Carbon Neutral by 2008

Dell, the Round Rock, Texas computer company, announced today that it is moving up its scheduled date for the company to be carbon neutral, which means that Dell will offset all greenhouse gas-producing activities with other activities that help reduce greenhouse gases. Dell has been a leader in the PC industry for environmental initiatives, with an aggressive and free “take-back” policy for its computers and other equipment.

“In terms of producer takeback, they have the best policy of any global electronics company, period,” Robin Schneider, of the Texas Campaign for the Environment, told CNN last March. “They went from being a laggard to being a leader.”

September 26, 2007 Log in or register to comment on this post

FAQs on Digital TV Transition

Cnet has published a set of FAQs(frequently asked questions) about the U.S. transition to digital television, which is mandated to take place on February 17, 2009.

Polls show that three-fifths of Americans don’t know anything about this transition, which will be the biggest change to television in the United States since the introduction of TV itself. Congress and executive branch officials are concerned that a large portion of Americans will not take the steps necessary to prepare for the end of analog, over-the-air broadcast of television. So there will be a massive public education campaign in the United States over the next year. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration held a public education kick-off event in Washington, D.C. on September 25.

September 26, 2007 Log in or register to comment on this post