In the latest in a set of one-sided discussions with customers about how to deal with bandwidth diversity among users, some ISPs are deciding to put a hard limit on total download volume. Isn't a market in bytes the best way to encourage users and the sites from which they download to be conservative in their bandwidth use? In such a system, each megabyte would cost something, perhaps something that is a function of time of day or time of week. Then a user who needs something huge now can pay to have it, a user who is downloading "just because they can" is thrown a disincentive, people who are more clever with compression pay less, and everyone gets a more functional ISP. Of course for a market to really be functional, the consumers would also have to have a good choice of ISPs. I ask Slashdot: what is the best pricing structure for ISPs?
One thing I have learned in the last few weeks is that if I ever have a multi-million dollar race horse break his leg on the track, I am going to take him to this guy.
So if oil prices hit all-time highs, who needs subsidies or tax breaks? The people who sell oil, or the people who buy it? Our wondrous federal government, 8 months ago, answered wrong and now they are trying to backtrack, but interestingly no-one (in the US, anyway) is emphasizing the simple and relevant fact that it is a reversal of this recent legislation.
Sherry Turkle, writing in the London Review of Books (paid subscription only; sorry), discusses the emotional connections between humans and robot-like machines, including furbys, tamagotchis, and therapeutic robots (for the lonely or isolated). She suggests that these relationships can plausibly approach something like "love" but that in the end they will probably modify our concept of what love is. Nice quotation, in re tamagotchi: "nurturing is the killer app".
I keep finding myself in conversations with tertiary educators in the hard sciences (physics, astronomy, chemistry, etc) who note that even the geeks—those who voluntarily choose to major in hard sciences—enter university never having programmed a computer. When I was in grade six, the Commodore PET came out, and I jumped at the opportunity to learn how to program it! Now, evidently, most high school computer classes are about Word (tm) and Excel (tm). Is this a bad thing? Should we care? Is this the harbinger of the end of the world?