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thesis 12:

there are no secrets. the networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.

well – reaction to the amazon patent has been [predictably] swift. i suppose this is what happens when a company that has never turned a profit attempts to satisfy shareholders. while i don’t normally bother to attribute links, for some reason i’ll give credit where credit due this time around – namely the following links are pilfered from Scripting News and Hack the Planet.

it seems that usability guru Jacob Nielson has predicted this kind of behavior:

“Many patents on fundamental e-commerce business models and Web user interface improvements will finally issue in 1999. It seems to take 3-4 years for most Internet patent
applications to wind their way through the Patent Office, and since the years 1995 and 1996 were fertile ground for Web inventions we should start seeing many more Web
patents issue soon.

With the Web, futurism has ceased being a luxury: regular visioneering projects are a necessary defense mechanism for anybody who wants to thrive in the network
economy where your fundamental business and customer service become automated and thus patentable. Companies that don’t claim their stake in the future will wake up in
five years and discover that their competitors own all the patents they need to be on the Web.

not suprisingly – he has been taking his own advice – with some very innovative patents to boot:

“Nielsen, J.: Method and system for efficient organization of selectable elements on a graphical user interface, U.S. Patent 6,005,567 (1999)”

not that it’s going to make a big impact on amazon, but i became the 44th person to join the nowebpatents boycott”

“Marketplaces pay a very high cost to grant patents — patents inhibit open markets and stifle competition. Patents should only be issued in cases where someone can copy an innovation for a
drastically lower cost than the innovator’s original investment.

In this case, the patents cover the general mechanism behind one-click shopping and affiliate programs. However, any good programmer will tell you that the general mechanism is easy to design. It’s the actual implementation, the programs themselves, that’s difficult to produce.’s implementation, which accounts for the bulk of their investment in these technologies, is already protected by copyright law, and doesn’t need the addition of a patent.”

the .bookshelf links have also been changed to point to fatbrain [although it will take me some time to change all the archived links].

finally – a parting cheapshot directed towards people who are probably asked to do too much with too little:

“USPTO Employment Application

1. Name ______________ 2. Date _______________
3. DOB _______________ 4. SSN ________________

5. I.Q. (check one)
( ) Moron
( ) Idiot
( ) Dim-wit
( ) Liberal Arts Flunkee

(Y or N) Have you ever been affiliated with a terrorist organization or
received a grade D or or better on an engineering examination?

(Y or N) Can you be trained to operate a rubber stamp within a period
of 16 weeks?

(Y or N) Are you able to employ a method and process for inducing
condensation upon a reflecting surface?

(Y or N) Do you agree that you deserve a patent for the above?

(Y or N) Were you alive when Al Gore invented the Internet?

(Y or N) Do you agree he deserves a patent for that?

it looks like europe will encounter the ‘trillion-device-problem’ a little sooner than thought. symbian has announced a new reason for me to move to europe:

“If I was Palm I would be beside myself with panic,” said IDC analyst Jill House. “In Europe, where there’s a good wireless infrastructure, the competition is pretty much over.”

But the deathblow for today’s PDA manufacturers may be the price: zero.

in related news m$ promises to ship its “pocket pc” software by june:

“There will be no slipping. We’re going to over-deliver on this one,” Brian Shafer, marketing manager for the mobile device division, told Reuters on the sidelines of the CeBIT technology fair in Hanover.”

o.k. I admit it – I’m a technology optimist. I think good thoughts when I see things like this:

It weighs four ounces, is about 5 by 3 inches in size, contains a QWERTY keyboard and LCD display, and holds half a megabyte of memory. It can connect to a PC to exchange files and download Email, and it contains a 900 MHz wireless transceiver that allows IMing (Instant Messaging) with others within about 300 feet. If you scatter a bunch of these devices around an area they expand the IM reach by automatically acting as relay points for devices farther away.

It supports wireless interactive gaming. It contains a To-Do list, phone book, Spanish/English dictionary, Music Composer, calculator, alarm clock, and more, and it will scan the profiles of other devices in the area, notifying you with a vibrating alert when someone that interests you approaches. In the future, it will also play MP3 music files.

Sounds like this might be the next high-end Palm Pilot or Windows CE organizer, but it’s not. It’s a new toy.

and yet something tells me it’s a good thing there are people with alternate views.

Well – I finally finished The Cluetrain Manifesto. My turnaround wasn’t that bad, although cryptonomicon is not faring as well. Hi. Ho. At least I’m getting better in my old age – Godel, Escher, Bach was in the queue for something like 10 years.

Anyway, I wanted to like The Cluetrain Manifesto. I really did. Overall, I’d recommend it, with some reservations – the most glaring being its western-centric view of the world. I’m sure the author’s realize it, but half the world hasn’t even used a phone yet. I’m also not a big fan of the tone of the book with its big spurts of ‘cheeseball radical’. That said, I don’t disagree with its core theses and its sense of optimism:

Imagine a world where everyone was constantly learning, a world where what you wondered was more interesting that what you knew, and curiosity counted for more than certain knowledge. Imagine a world where what you gave away was more valuable than what you held back, where joy was not a dirty word, and where play was not forbidden after your eleventh birthday. Imagine a world in which the business of business was to imagine worlds people might actually want to live in someday.” [p.183]

It’s hard to argue with a grand vision like that, although my cynical side would certainly like to give it a run for the money.