Come to TEDMed -- SMART Letter #83 (fwd)
Tue, 28 Jan 2003 12:57:21 +0100 (CET)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 28 Jan 2003 04:21:45 -0500
From: David S. Isenberg <email@example.com>
Subject: Come to TEDMed -- SMART Letter #83
SMART Letter #83 -- January 27, 2003
Copyright 2003 by David S. Isenberg
isen.com - "real news, fair and balanced"
firstname.lastname@example.org -- http://isen.com/ -- 1-888-isen-com
> Quote of Note: Larry Lessig on the Price of Connectivity
> Come to TedMed, by David S. Isenberg
> Smart Remarks by SMART People
+ Juha Saarinen on New Zealand's Broadband Situation
+ ??? on U.S. Telcos Investing in New Zealand
+ Steve Maloney on E911 services
+ Chris Meyer on national-security-hardened networks
+ Rohit Khare on physical plant assurance
> Beware Telco FUD, by David S. Isenberg
> Quote of Note: Disney's Rodent, on Life as a Kept Mouse
> If it's Funny it Must be True, by Scatt Oddams
> Conferences on my Calendar
> Copyright Notice, Administrivia
Quote of Note: Larry Lessig on the Price of Connectivity
"To repeat again, here in Japan, they are selling 100
megabits per second for US$50/month, 12 mbs for $25."
Larry Lessig in his blog, January 4, 2002,
Come to TEDMed
by David S. Isenberg
If you want to be part of a superlative meeting, come to
Richard Saul Wurman's TEDMed, June 11-14 in Philadelphia,
Richard Saul Wurman is my conference guru. He does the
best conferences I've ever been to. TED stands for
Technology, Entertainment, Design. Actually, Design should
come between Technology and Entertainment, because design
is the presentation of technology to people -- so it
appeals to people, and can be used by people.
Unfortunately, TDE doesn't trip off the tongue as readily
Wurman's conferences are more than ways to "get
information." They're much, much more than people on stage
talking. He designs his shows like a great chef prepares
food -- presentation matters. There's "there" there. You
don't just experience Wurman's events; you experience the
There's a meeting by the name of TED in Monterey,
California next month, but it won't have Richard Saul
Wurman. Wurman sold TED, keeping only the rights to
TEDMed. If you've never been to TED (or maybe even if you
have) it's likely to be a very good meeting. A lot of
superb presenters will be there. "But it just wouldn't be
appropriate for me to show up," Wurman says.
I've done the experiment. I've been to two consecutive
TED-type events, one with Richard Saul Wurman and one
The first one was named TEDCity. It was held in Toronto; a
Canada-flavored TED. It was co-hosted by Wurman and TV
innovator/entrepreneur Moses Znaimer. From the surreally
lit Chihuly stage to the bisonburger hors d'oeuvres, it was
transcendent. I effused about it to savor the experience
for a few more days in "SMART Letter #40 -- You Can't See
*THAT* on TV," see http://tinyurl.com/4yl0.
The second one was renamed ideaCity due to a minor business
disagreement between Wurman and Znaimer. It was Znaimer's
show. It was good. But it was more a mirror reflecting
Canada's values than a Canada-colored lens through which to
examine our world. I felt uncomfortable at times; from the
U.S., eh? I learned a lot, but I did not feel my horizon
expand. I didn't write it up in The SMART Letter.
Why Med? The medical establishment is the least well-
understood, poorest designed, major sector of the economy.
Perforce, we're all investors. And we're all customers --
or will be soon, boomers. Hey, if food can be designed, if
meetings and houses and roads and music can be designed,
why not medical care?
To Wurman, design is about access. TEDMed is about making
the ideas, the technology, the performance of medical care
accessible to us. Sure there will be doctors at TEDMed,
most notably Oliver Sacks. Of course pharmacologists,
technologists, innovators, natural healers and
entrepreneurs will be there. But there will also be
musicians, artists, extraordinary patients and tenacious
survivors. The details are still coming together at
I visited Richard Saul Wurman at his home in Newport, Rhode
Island a few weeks ago with my friend Ted Stout. I asked
him what he thought about the fact that more people die
from information accidents in hospitals than die in car
He said, "Medical care is delivered by people. People
screw up. If you have to go to the hospital, the best
thing you can take is an advocate -- a friend who can ask
questions, use common sense, look over the nurse's shoulder
and call somebody if your condition changes."
He went on. "When I go for a physical, I get them to draw
double blood. They send the samples to two different labs.
A 'miss' can hurt you more than a false positive." He
continued, "It's insurance against mistaking your sample
for someone else's -- a mistake that's more common than
we'd like to believe." I wonder how many SMART People's
lives will be saved by this little trick.
I arrived at Wurman's house fully prepared to plunk down my
US$3000 admission to TEDMed. I wanted him to know first
hand how much I valued his work. But he surprised me. He
offered to comp me if I'd write up TEDMed in The SMART
Letter. I felt honored. Wurman explained that he wants
SMART People in the audience.
To Wurman, the design of the audience is as critical to the
architecture of the event as the design of the stage or the
sessions or the breaks. In TEDs past, I've been able to
turn to my left or right with reasonable certainty of
meeting a delightfully surprising individual.
So if you're SMART, you'll realize that you need a more
accessible understanding of the processes that could extend
your life. You'll want to experience TEDMed. Come and be
part of Richard Saul Wurman's grand design.
Smart Remarks by SMART People
Juha Saarinen [email@example.com] writes:
"I enjoyed your report from Wellington [In Trans-Pacific
Tour, part two -- SMART Letter #81]. However,
Wellington isn't typical -- it is the political centre
of New Zealand, but not the business centre. Auckland
is NZ's sprawling business centre, with a million-plus-
"You might expect Auckland to have at least as good
network connectivity as Wellington, right?
Unfortunately, that's not the case.
"If you are outside Auckland's central business district
(CBD), your only option, apart from modems, is Telecom
NZ's DSL. Telecom has priced DSL at ridiculous levels.
Residential customers pay NZ$89 a month (plus phone line
rental, plus other small telco charges) -- and there's a
quota of 1 Gigabyte of data per month. After 1
Gigabyte, you pay NZ$0.20 per MB, very expensive for
most NZ customers. Business users can get a 10 Gigabyte
per month plan for NZ$999 (12 cents/Megabyte excess).
"In Auckland's CBD, there are more options. I'm a
regular contributor to IDG publications, and recently we
upgraded IDG's offices to a 10 Mbit/s Ethernet over
fibre connection, which costs $1,200 a month, plus 12.5%
GST, but there are no traffic charges. It's a very good
"Last April I visited Telecom NZ's new lab in Wellington.
I spoke with the people behind the design of Telecom's
DSL network. They told me that a 'sales decision' was
made to dummy down the DSL offer so it wouldn't
cannibalise Telecom's dedicated data circuit revenues.
"Telecom NZ is surprised that very few customers are
taking them up on such 'generous' DSL offers. Most
people prefer their NZ$30/month 56K modem connections.
The latest figures I saw showed that Telecom NZ has
23,000 DSL customers in a potential market of 350,000
"One-way satellite (like www.getultra.co.nz) is also
available. According to the Web site, it offers burst
speeds of 1 Mbit/s, but no performance guarantee. It
seems to cost between NZ$25-30 a month for 500MB (a bit
tricky to figure from their information), or twice that
for 1GB. And you need about $40/month for the extra
phone line for the upstream connection.
"Wireless providers like Walker Wireless also service the
CBD, but they have hefty charges for low-speed service.
[Walker Wireless is providing fixed local loop and wireless
data competition to Telecom NZ in places on the South
Island, but I did not get the story first hand when I was
there. -- David I]
"Who's going to pay top dollar for a substandard service
with unpredictable billing? Most customers would accept
that geographical isolation makes international data
cost more. However, very few can see the benefit of
going from $30 month connection to one that could cost
up to ten times more, especially if you get hit with a
DoS (Denial of Service) attack.
"When you attribute per-megabyte charges to Telecom's
scarcity-based pricing of Southern Cross capacity, you
couldn't be more right. But it's not just Southern
Cross traffic that's being milked for the last penny.
National traffic, which should essentially be free, is
also being overcharged by Telecom.
"Ironically, Southern Cross Cable's CEO, Ross Pfeffer,
complained to the press in 2001 that the low broadband
uptake in NZ was harming revenues, see
http://tinyurl.com/3zlq. I'm not sure if Telecom's
corporate Gestapo has gagged him now like they have with
the other managers.
"The situation won't get any better until Telecom NZ
faces real competition. The previous and current
governments have shown very little interest in this
crucial part of the national infrastructure. The best
way for Kiwi Internet businesses to get fast access is
to go offshore. It makes financial sense for us to house
as much of our Internet business as possible in the
[Note: I have lost the name that used to be attached to
this correspondence. If you wrote this, my apologies.
-- David I]
"[In Trans-Pacific Tour, part two -- SMART Letter #81]
you wrote: 'Southern Cross is the undersea cable [from
New Zealand] to the U.S., Australia and Asia . . . Most
of its 40 Gbit capacity lies idle, unconnected, unused,
thanks to Telecom New Zealand's scarcity tactics."
"The problem, of course, is to recover the high fixed
cost, so whether you are a public utility or a profit-
maximizing private corporation, you are likely to be
tempted to go for the revenue-maximizing toll schedule.
[There might be more than one revenue maximum along the
toll-schedule axis, which is what the theory of positive
elasticity is all about, but the Midas-touch strategy of
the big telcos will never discover more than one.
-- David I]
"3. You also wrote: 'Two U.S. incumbents, Ameritech
(now SBC) and Bell Atlantic (now Verizon) . . . as the
Kiwis see it, they drained hundreds of millions of
dollars from from the Kiwi economy.'
"From the data you give, it's impossible to decide
whether there was any drain. If SBC and Verizon
collected hundreds of millions of dollars from Telecom
NZ without reinvesting anything, then perhaps. On the
other hand, when SBC and Verizon bought their share of
Telecom NZ, they pumped substantial sums of money into
the NZ economy by making their funds available. If they
have now sold their stake to other non-NZ investors,
then the NZ economy is not affected at all, and no money
has been drained from it."
[Fair enough. I was just reporting how the Kiwis I talked
with see it. I don't know who bought the shares that the
U.S. telcos sold, or what they did with it. -- David I]
Steve Maloney [firstname.lastname@example.org] writes:
"One thing I don't recall seeing addressed in these
discussions [Dregs and Grabs -- SMART Letter #79,
http://tinyurl.com/4uc2] is how services like E911 might
be addressed . . . it seems unreasonable and unlikely
that those services would be addressed in [a Stupid
Chris Meyer [email@example.com] writes:
"One flank your op-ed [Dregs and Grabs -- SMART Letter
#79, http://tinyurl.com/4uc2] left uncovered is the
which would somehow have to be taken over by the
military or replaced somehow."
Rohit Khare [firstname.lastname@example.org] writes
"I figure you've already heard from a gazillion sources
about how VoIP isn't ready for the lifeline/physical
plant assurance of the current network . . . there is an
element of I'd-rather-trust-the-Bellheads on
Beware Telco FUD (for Steve, Chris and Rohit)
by David S. Isenberg
Let's review. One kind of network has centralized points
of failure. The other has distributed control. One has
services that are tightly integrated with its physical
layer, the other is designed to work over any physical
layer, even unreliable ones. One network completely ground
to a halt on September 11, 2001 (I know. I was waiting in
agony for the call that would tell me whether my wife was
alive or not) and the other network kept on ticking.
As I wrote in my widely ignored, "Buy as many nines as you
need -- SMART Letter #73" [http://tinyurl.com/4uco], which
was overlooked with such acclaim that Business
Communications Review forgot to put it in its Table of
Contents [but turn to Page 53 of the June, 2002 issue]:
"Often people take too narrow a view of reliability
differences between Internets and conventional telephone
networks. It is like trying to compare the flying
abilities of bumble bees and 747s. Not only are there
vast differences (and a single similarity), but it is
much easier to 'prove' that a telephone network is
reliable and that a 747 can fly."
I'm amazed that people who *should* be in the vanguard of
the networked cognoscenti still smoke this kind of telco
FUD. Do you still think there's some magic process by
which creaky old complex single-purpose single-owner
networks are more reliable or more secure than modern
simple redundant multiple-owner ones? I'm reminded of my
friends who stayed at AT&T because they wanted a secure
Quote of Note: Disney's Rodent on Life as a Kept Mouse
[In honor of this month's U.S. Supreme Court decision in
the case of Eldred vs. Ashcroft keeping the Sonny Bono
Copyright Extension Act intact and opening the door for
more extensions, we quote from an unauthorized interview
with a mouse so enslaved (but only for a limited time, 75
plus 20 years) that we can't use his real name, even though
it has become a synonym for "trivially simple." -- David I]
"For almost 70 years, I've only been allowed to do what
the Disney people say I can do. Sometimes someone comes
up with a new idea, and I think to myself, 'Great!
Here's a chance to stretch myself!' . . .
"In 1971, for instance, Dan O'Neill got me a part in
something called Air Pirates Funnies. It was great: I
got to have sex, I got to use drugs, I got to explore
the whole underground comix scene. It was liberating.
" . . . After two issues of the comic book, [Disney]
issued a summons and took us all to court for trademark
violation and copyright infringement."
[Allegedly spoken by Disney's Rodent in "Mickey Mouse
Clubbed" by Jesse Walker, in Reason On Line, January 17,
If it's Funny it Must be True, by Scatt Oddams
Hey! Check out Dan O'Neill's original Air Pirate Funnies
covers (the ones Disney sued him for) and a bunch of other
great Dan O'Neill works at
So sue me -- and Isenberg too!
Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mouse, nyah, nyah, nyah!"
CONFERENCES ON MY CALENDAR
February 4, 2003, Santa Barbara CA. Center for
Entrepreneurship and Engineering Management (CEEM) at UC
Santa Barbara. I'll deliver the Stupid Network stump speech
and explain why it is time for the telephone companies to
take a walk in the snow.
March 31 through April 3, 2003, San Jose CA. VON. I am
organizing a panel on April 1 (5:00 to 6:15 PM) with Tim
Horan of CIBC, Roxane "smarter-than-your-average-bear"
Googin, and Anders Comstedt, the fellow who built the
profitable, profitable, profitable, profitable, profitable,
dark fiber network in Stockholm. April 1 is one of my
favorite holidays. You will believe EVERYTHING my panel
presents -- http://www.von.com/
April 22-25, 2003, Santa Clara CA. O'Reilly Emerging
Technology Conference. My presentation will be called
Operating Models for Stupid Networks, Friday, April 25 at
2:00 PM -- http://tinyurl.com/4yhe.
June 11-14, 2002, Philadelphia PA. TedMed3. Come if you
possibly can. http://tedmed.com.
COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Redistribution of this document, or any
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Copyright 2003 by David S. Isenberg
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