FREE SPEECH ZONE | Why ACCESS DENIED? Or, you and net-neutrality

Why ACCESS DENIED?  Or, you and net-neutrality.Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. The opinions expressed in the Free Speech Zone and Neighborhood Notes, as well as the opinions of bloggers, are their own and not necessarily the opinion of the TC Daily Planet.Review: “The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires”; by Tim Wu; published by Knopf Doubleday; © 2010; available paperback and e-book.”The Master Switch” is a necessary read to understand your legal rights to net-neutrality.  You will see your legal rights are part of the common law concept of the common carrier.  While many support the concept of open access to the internet, their reasons sound more like statements of entitlement than a reasoned legal position.  Wu’s book is a good history of the cartels, monopolies, and trusts that have attempted to limit public access to information or as we call it today net-neutrality. Tim Wu’s book is about the movement of information over common carries.  In today’s world, we know those common carriers as satellite, Wi-Fi, DSL and the companies associated with them like Comcast, AT&T, and Century Link.  If you want to enter into the debate of free unfettered access to the internet Wu helps one to understand the history and players that have attempted to constrain and control your access.  For this reader I came to appreciate the importance of the concept of the common carrier. “The Master Switch” describes the concept of common carrier as part of common law.   In common law a common carrier is a ferry that carries people and cargo across a body of water.  That cargo can be as precise as the bits and bytes of today’s internet information.  As the owner of a ferry, especially if you are the only one in service, you could charge whatever price you want to carry a cargo of information.  Charge prices so high only the rich can afford the ferry.  Common law stands in opposition to that practice.  It says if a price is so high that it abridges access, you are wrong and liable to a suit for that illegal action.Wu goes on to explain how in 1934 the Federal Communications Commission, aka FCC, was created to help control the flow of information first over radio waves and then the telecommunications industry.  Throughout the FCC’s life and its predecessor, the Federal Radio Commission, lobbyists and moneyed interests have attempted to influence decisions of the Commissions for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many.  Today that attempt at control is of the broadband access to the internet.  Wu’s history communications starts with Western Union in the nineteenth century and moves onto the early twentieth century’s AT&T.  Wu fleshes out historic players like AT&T ‘s Theodore Vail and RCA’s David Sarnoff. His history also includes the moguls of the movie industry.  The book maybe a bit too extensive though in its history of movie cartels and monopolies that have attempted to control access to the transmission of ideas in the production and distribution of movies. “The Master Switch” includes a good conceptual description of Google.  Google exists in a highbred world between information and the common carriers.  Google is an aggregator of information of internet sites and conveys that aggregation, collection of, websites to Google users.  Google neither owns the information nor controls the flow of the information over the common carriers.  Google is the shuttle on the common carrier, the shuttle of information to the person who makes an information enquiry.  Despite how hard they try, the oligarchies that attempt to control the shuttle of information they carry they are but common carriers.As the shuttle, Google has blindsided the common carriers.  The common carriers have mistaken their cargo, which is information, for their ferry.  To control the bandwidth of information for a select few is to deny common access.  It is obvious why net-neutrality is supported by the likes of Google, Amazon.com, and Microsoft.  Technologies change.  At one time Western Union thought it controlled all information and was blindsided by Alexander Gram Bell’s telephone and the same is now about to happen to the likes of ATT&T and Comcast because Google, Amazon and Microsoft are but information gathers and use the common ferry to move their cargo. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | “I think therefore I am.”; “We communicate therefore we are.”

Gleick’s “Information: A history. A theory. A flood.” details, how, in today’s internet, one is overwhelmed with information, yet can find little to use.  Anyone and everyone can, and does communicate, on the internet.  To find information, one now uses search engines like Google, to filter out the information to find the information you want.  To find the needle in the haystack.  Gleick describes the internet as a library, where all the books are miss shelved.Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. With search engines, we filter, give value to specific information we want, need, and seek.  Yet, the information we search through, and filter, is neutral.  In its totality, all the information lacks value unless we place value on it.  The concept of neutral information comes from the work of mathematician Claude Shannon.  Shannon described the simplest, fundament, piece of information as a “bit” a word we are familiar with in the age of the computer.  In 1948 he wrote a paper “A Mathematical Theory of Communication” and in that paper introduced the word “bit” to our lexicon.  A “bit” is either a “0” or a “1“; a “yes” or a “no“.  “The Information” retells how Shannon wrote the paper, while at New York City’s Manhattan Bell Labs, in the late 1940’s,  That paper, and other work done by Claude Shannon, are a common thread that runs thought Gleick’s book, to describe the way Shannon saw information communicated.Gleick puts Shannon’s paper in historic perspective, when he points out, that he was part of the same Bell Labs where Walter Brattain and William Shockley invented the first transistor.  We know the transistor well.  Yet “The Information” puts Shannon’s concepts on a par with the invention of the transistor, and that his concepts have had an equal impact on the world we know of today.  When Shannon published his paper on the “bit”, he was a young scientist, with academic experience in the 1930’s at MIT that included work on Veneer Bush’s Differential Analyzer.  When at the Bell Labs, in the midst of the Lab’s Second World War efforts, his work included cryptography and consultation with Briton’s Alan Turing, creator of the concept of the first computing machine known as the Turing Machine.  From this background of experiences, Shannon’s paper on the “bit” went on to described how a “bit” is the best way to communicate information over telephone lines.”The Information” looks at how we have progressed through various forms of communication and information, and what we have done to preserve communicated information over time.  One time the way to communicate was with drumbeats.  For Victorians it was the telegraph.  Alexander Graham Bell gave us the telephone, as well as, the recorded cylinder.  Today we have the radio where we have gone from cylinders to long play records, and music in the “cloud”.  Encyclopedias have gone through similar changes. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | “The Longevity Project” a book you can bet your life on! The myth and facts behind longevity.

“The Longevity Project” the myth and facts behind it.   This book is easy to read. It is like a conversation between friends, over coffee, who recount their research experience in the study of why some people live a long life.  The researches, Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin, whose research experience covers the past couple of decades of their continuation of a longitudinal study started in 1921, of 1,500 four and five year old students, in the San Francisco area.  As of the publication of the book, the study is still in process, because some of the subject were still alive.  The original work was started in the 20’s by Dr. Lewis Terman.Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. Throughout the book, the authors offer questionnaires one can use to measure themselves with, to see how your responses compare to the experience of those that have lived a long or short life.  Friedman and Martin point out in their conversation with the reader, how they are impressed with many of the myths that fly around the concept of a healthful long life.  One myth is, if you jog on a regular bases, you will increase you life expectancy.  They point out, if a twenty-one year old jogs daily, for an hour, to age sixty-six, they will have spent 14,400 hours, or 900 days, or two and one half years as joggers.  They question, as researchers, is the lack specific data on life expectancy by way of exercise, and that a two and a half year extension of one’s life would be note worthy.  Yet, in their study of the subjects in the longevity project they found an absence of a correlation between exercise and life expectancy.Rather the authors were impressed with the characteristic of conscientiousness and sociability as key characteristics of people as predictors of longevity.  The authors used, by way of example, Lewis Terman, the person who initiated the longevity study, and our local Ancel Keys, of the University of Minnesota, as conscientious and sociable people.  Conscientious, Lewis Terman was dedicated to his psychological studies and Ancel Keys to his study of cholesterol.  Sociability, Lewis Terman lived to 79, and died the same year his wife of 55 years died; and, Ancel Keys, who lived to 100 “was survived by his wife” of 57 years.  Neither Terman, nor Keys, were known for their exercise regimen.  In fact, Ancel Key’s work, which included the study of runners, spent much of his leisure exercise time in the garden or as a walker.  The book asks, is it more pleasurable to garden or to jog?Friedman and Martin gently raise some very serious questions about the assumption of modern medicine and compare them against what does happen.  Health care has a cure for all your ills; and, the medical / pharmaceutical industry, if they were able to, would create a “polyp ill” that one would take on a daily bases that would cure any and all of your ills.  While medicine has reduced the average cholesterol in many people, by use of a pill, it has left us with an overweight general population because the medical / pharmaceutical industry wants to fix all issues, and have yet to find a cure for longevity, with a “poly pill”.”The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study” by Howard S. Friedman and Leslie R. Martin, Published Hudson Street Press, © 2011, hardbound $25.95 Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Book review: Susan Maushart’s “The Winter of Our Disconnect”

“The Winter of Our Disconnect” is a memoir of one mother’s experience, with her three children, of six months spent of deliberate disconnection from higher technology, which included internet, cell phones, instant messaging, etc.While the author recounts her, and her family’s loss, of identity in contemporary society’s connectedness, when finished with the book, this reader was left to wonder what it was about. It was then you realize the book recounts the author’s experience of the world as a Luddite. It is the memoir of an individual blinded in the headlights of tomorrow.It is fortunate the edition of the book I read is printed on pulp paper. Over time, it will make it easier to remove, and discard the book, as the book’s pages yellow and start to disintegrate.”The Winter of Our Disconnect” by Susan Maushart; copyright 2011; Tarcher-Penguin; NYC, NY; $9.97; paperback. Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Dreams are an adult conversation one has with oneself.

Book review of Gillian Holloway’s “The Complete Dream Book” by Nicholas P Heille. Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. Dreams are an adult conversation one has with themselves is the way Gillian Holloway’s “The Complete Dream Book” leaves the reader.  Her book is intended for those who remember their dreams, as well as those who find it difficult to recall them.  For those who find it difficult to remember their dreams, Holloway offers the reader ways to enhance the recall process. Chapters of the book range from common dreams, by age group, youth, middle age, and older folks; to dreams that reoccur over time and deal with subject matters like sex, relationships, and travel by car plane or train.  There is also a chapter devoted to serious dreams that are often referred to as nightmares. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | War in Somalia becomes killing ground for Somali youth from Minnesota: review, “BROKEN DREAMS” a documentary by Fathia M. Absie.

Review by N P Heille of public showing of “Broken Dreams”, South High, Mpls MN, 7pm, 2-12-10. Fatima Wade has given us a great documentary that captures the Twin Cities Somali diaspora as they come to terms with Somali’s war, whose violence has touched American Somali youth. Somali, in their own words, describe how they have strived to be part of America’s culture, as they recount the confusion and grief, as they learned how local young Somali men returned to Somali to fight.  The story they tell is recounted against the backdrop of their always-present Muslim beliefs.  The documentary’s producer, when she introduced herself, said “I am proud to be able to say I am a Somali American” has given us a documentary where she is an ambassador for her fellow Somali immigrants.  Immigrants from violence, who in America have been visited with the violence they tried to escape.  In the documentary, as they speak, they describe how they are an ethnic minority, whose culture is one of nomadic tribal families of Muslim beliefs.  The production goes on to tell of the intensity, the palpable pain, suffered by the mothers of the young men who returned to Somali to fight.  The mothers, and family members, tell of how they lost their families’ sons.  Youth who were enticed to retuned to Somalia, to fight with Al Shabab, only to be killed.  One who died as a terrorist bomber.  Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. Somali leaders: religious, business, and higher education, describe what they have seen happen.  Of how they have seen the power of some to use their Muslim beliefs to recruit others to kill in the name of that belief.  When the producer was asked if she experienced intimidation from others as she produced her documentary, Absie responded “No; rather there was support because the (Somali) people wanted the story gotten out.”  There are moments of brief flaws in the documentary, like some words in sub-titles need to be corrected; the time frame for descriptive words, between some scenes, need to be extended to make them easier to be read.  Compared to the power of the story of the documentary these are minor flaws one expects will be corrected.  The title “Broken Dreams” captures the dark side of the Somali diasporas: the broken dreams of Muslim beliefs; the broken dreams of recent American immigrants; the broken dreams of freedom from the violence of war.  Despite this reality, Absie ends her documentary with a strong statement of hope.  At the end the documentary captures the faces, and voices, of young university aged Somalis, both men and woman, who express a strong sense of hope in this place they know as American immigrants, of how they are part of America’s future, as well as Somali’s, and that their Muslim beliefs gives them strength to thrive.  After the documentary, I am proud to be able to say I share the place I we call America, with the new Somali immigrants.  As a third generation American immigrant, we, together, can only make this a greater nation.  Notes from from the documentary’s website: “Fathia M. Absie trained as a social worker, today works as a freelance journalist, prior to that, for 3 years she worked at the Somali Service of the Voice of America (VOA) in Washington DC.  ‘Broken Dreams’ is a documentary film about the Vanishing Somali youth of Minneapolis, MN.  Home to the nation’s largest Somali immigrant population.  Most of these boys left Somalia as refugees when they were very young.  Some of them came here in the United States as toddlers while some of them were born outside Somalia in refugee camps and elsewhere.” Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Book review: Cognitive Surplus – Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age

Cognitive Surplus looks at how it is generosity that has made the internet we have today. Reviewed by Nicholas P Heille Jan. 30, 2011 Clay Shirky is a contemporary commentator on communications, who, as one reads him, is reminded of Marshall McLuhan, known for the quote: “The medium is the message”:  In Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus – Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age he says the message today is seen in the phenomena like Wikipedia where the free time available to individuals, to do as they wish, have created Wikipedia. Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | You can be a leader in the use of social media tools even when you are unable to use them.

That is the point Rabbi Hayim Herring, PhD, made at United Theological Seminary at a recent mid-term Workshop presented at the seminary in New Brighton, MN.  Rabbi Herring is the President and CEO of Twin Cites’ Herring Consulting Network.  Rabbi Herring presentation is part of the seminary’s outreach program for church leaders offered at various times in the year.  While orientated to those in leadership positions United’s events are open to those who want to grow as well.  The title of the workshop was, “From Devine Revelation to Media Revolution: Leading in the Era of Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube”. Internet, Facebook, twitter, friend, past, present, networking, blog, extreme, moderate, … are a sample of the 50+ words participants in the workshop came up with when asked, how many single words can you think of to describe contemporary social media?  Of the 24 in attendance there was a very good representation of the various cultural groups silent majority, baby boomers, millennials, and, gen-x’s (we were also introduced to “gen-a’s” – those born after 2000 -, aka, “generation apps”) which may help explain the 50+ words used to describe social media.        Age influenced the words used and often determines if you are an immigrant or refugee in the world of today’s social media.  The workshop presenters asked: If you are a leader in your place of prayer, are you an immigrant or refugee?  As an immigrant leader one looks forward to be part of a tomorrow; or, do you hold fast to the old ways like a refugee who longs to “go back home”?  “Anything, anyone, anytime, anywhere, change is what we are in the midst of in this age of social media.”, is the way Rabbi Herring described it.   He reminded the participants, “There is a time for everything, a time every affair under the heavens. … ” (Elccs. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | The Dragonfly Effect: 2010 winter addition to Henn Cty library

The Dragonfly Effect: 2010 winter addition to Henn Cty library; book looks at psychology of social media. Reviewed by Nicholas P Heille Jan. 17, 2011 The heart of The Dragonfly Effect is the “why” of social media, the likes of Facebook and Twitter.  Co-author Jennifer Aaker, uses her expertise as a social psychologist and marketer to demonstrate the importance emotions, especially happiness, to engage of users of social media.  Like the four wings of a dragonfly, that allow it to hover dart land and takeoff, the book covers four principles of the psychology of social media: focus, attention grabber, engagement, and action.  Focus, keep it simple; attention grabber, use imagery that is original, simple, and grounded; engagement, tell a personal story; and, encourage the user of social media to take action. Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | How to grow a business with internet social media.

Book Review “Complete Idiot’s Guide to Social Media Marketing” Reviewer: Nicholas P Heille; Minneapolis, MN; 10-06-10 How to grow a business with internet social media. The reader will find very solid advice in the “Complete Idiot’s Guide to Social Media Marketing” on how to merge the “what” of proven marketing and public relations techniques with the “how” of contemporary internet social media platforms.  Some of the proven tools covered include: business relationships; creation of an image of you as an authority in your field; and name/brand recognition.   The reader is shown “how” to use internet platforms like Facebook and Twitter to build relationships; videos on YouTube and articles in E-Zines to promote yourself as an authority; and, the “how” to create a common name recognized across platforms, be it your internet name, photos, or just a response to an emails.  There are five Parts to the book with a total of 21 chapters.  Three of the parts deal with the specifics platforms of Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin as well as other less known platforms.  The proven “how’s” are woven together in each of the three parts.  Each chapter opens with a list of what is to be covered in the chapter; and, the chapter ends with an excellent “The Least You Need to Know” statement.  A very good summary of the “what”, that was just covered, and may have been lost in the details of the technical “how” of social media platforms.Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. In the last chapter the author makes this observation: “Many people set up accounts on these platforms and expect the cash register to begin ringing within the first 30 days.  It just doesn’t really happen that way. … Continue Reading