Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Grid: innovation or marketing?

In the overdose of information that we experience everyday, in April i found the following news:

Coming soon: superfast internet called "Grid"

Most of the articles about Grid are based on one article (April 6, 2008) of british Times. In the article you can read the words of David Britton, professor of physics at Glasgow University and a leading figure in the grid project: "With this kind of computing power, future generations will have the ability to collaborate and communicate in ways older people like me cannot even imagine". It's a kind of sentence that can mean everything and nothing at the same time, it sounds like an advertising of a new product. Have scientists become expert of marketing?

Not huge difference of information since another article of Guardian (July 3 2003)
Welcome to the grid: unlimited PC power at your fingertips

another article full of hype:
The Internet's over ... here comes the Grid
Daily Mirror, 7 April 2008

What is the Grid?

A very fast speed network is obviously a positive invention but what is the
content of this network? What could be the benefit for "common" people? They
didn't tell us, but they (Ian Bird, project leader for Cern's high-speed
computing project) said "It will lead to what's known as cloud computing,
where people keep all their information online and access it from anywhere".
And the privacy? Who can guarantee that corporations won't search through my
private information that i could store online?

I'm not saying that the Grid is useless, probably it could be very useless,
but could anyone explain the usefulness to normal people instead of using
trendy slogans?
Is it possible to see the day when some journalists ask simple questions, instead
of just repeating/translating what they saw on the net?

In another site, at last we can read some specific information:

The EGEE Grid consists of 41,000 CPU available to users 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in addition to about 5 PB disk (5 million Gigabytes) + tape MSS of storage, and maintains 100,000 concurrent jobs. Having such resources available changes the way scientific research takes place. The end use depends on the users' needs: large storage capacity, the bandwidth that the infrastructure provides, or the sheer computing power available.

You can see the blog of David Britton (don't expect much because he
started blogging 1 month ago)

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Al Gore tours for launching italian Current TV

from the left: Carelli (director of italian Sky news), Al Gore, translator and Marc Goldman (US Current)

Few days ago (8th May 2008) Al Gore (do i have to write he was vice president of USA from 1993 to 2000 and he won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize?) was in Rome to talk about the new tv channel: italian version of Current Tv. Bloggers met Al Gore in a theatre and asked him 15 questions about the new channel (but i think that italian director Tommaso Tessarolo will have much autonomy for italian Current); i took some pictures and i listened to the "dialogue".

The italian blogosphere is full of comments about blogger's reaction to Al Gore, if you know italian language you can read the opinion of
(my friend) Antonio Pavolini
Michele Colitti
Valeria Gentile
Kay Rush
Mario Tedeschini Lalli
Vittorio Zambardino
Francesca "LaFra" Casadei
David Orban

I'm not going into a deep debate about the philisophy of brand-new Current Tv Italy (is the name correct?) but i have an easy complaint: not everybody (from 18 to 34 years old) can afford an annual contract with Sky Italia; less viewers, less impact on society.

The risk is that we'll have a smarter version of YouTube, as somebody already has said.
I don't know what kind of clip (or pod, like Gore said) we'll be able to see in Italy but from the blog of Foreign Policy i saw that the american version of Current has shown very interesting clips such as:
- Lost in democracy (18 minutes)
Christof Putzel travels to Bhutan to find out how young people are dealing with democracy, westernization, and other challenges to their unique national culture
- City on steroids (almost 28 minutes)
American filmmaker Adam Yamaguchi tours the little-known megacity of Chongqing, China. Growing at a rate of nearly 200,000 people per year, Chongqing is the one of the fastest growing cities on the planet and an emblem of China's rapid urbanization. The clearly overwhelmed Yamaguchi takes viewers on a quick tour of this modern boomtown from brand new yuppie apartments to factory floors
- A civil war ends? (6 minutes and half)
Short documentary on the conflict in Uganda that includes an interview with a former top Lord's Resistance Army commander who says he has no regrets about his actions

The first 2 videoclips are Current Vanguard, which means are special video not sent by "normal" users; users are only allowed to send video from 2 to 8 minutes. If italian Current will show this kind of video (which i can NOT see from the website!), i would say: two thumbs up! Anyway, doesn anyone know what's the social impact of 3 years of Current TV in USA??

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Globalization of football (soccer) ownership

This season we've seen 4 teams in Champions League: 3 english teams (Man utd, Chelsea and Liverpool) and 1 spanish (Barcelona); and we now we can be sure we'll see 2 english teams (Man utd and Chelsea) for the final, scheduled on May 21st 2008, Moscow.
Who are the owners of theese teams?
Barcelona is owned by its members, they are more than 150 thousands and every four years they have the right to vote in the club’s presidential elections.
Let's see what happened in english football in the recent years:
1997 egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed bought Fulham FC
2003 russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea FC
2005 US businessman Malcolm Glazer bought all of the shares and delist Man Utd from
London Stock Exchange
2006 US entrepreneur Randy Lerner bought Aston Villa FC
2006 irish Niall Quinn bought Sunderland AFC
2006 icelandic billionaire Björgólfur Guðmundsson bought West Ham United
2007 US businessmen George Gillett and Tom Hicks bought Liverpool FC
2007 thai businessman and politician Thaksin Shinawatra bought Manchester City

All the most important teams (except Arsenal) today are owned by foreigners, probably there's a connection between the foreign investors and the first final with two english clubs.

There are several rumours that George Soros (hungarian-born US speculator and philanthropist) is going to buy Roma ; Steven Horowitz of Inner Circle Sports has been recently seen in Rome more than once, therefore someone does want to buy the club. Some newspapers wrote Soros offered about 210 million Euro for 67% of shares, which is 2,37 Euro per shares, more than double the current price. Will it be enough for the family that now owns the club?

If you don't have any idea why people like football (or soccer, if you are from USA), you can have a look at this research:
Parity and Predictability of Competitions - 2006
(you can view and download the 6-page pdf file)
3 US researchers (Eli Ben-Naim, Sidney Redner and Federico Vazquez) studied the results of nearly all regular season competitions in 4 major American professional sports leagues (Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, National Basketball Association and National Football League) and English Premier League; they analized more than 300,000 games in over a century.
It is hard to say whether to rely on this study (they admitted "home and away games are not incorporated into our model, but game location does affect the outcome of games") or not; anyway at the end they wrote "soccer and baseball are the most competitive sports while basketball and [US] football are the least"
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