Sunday, 20 December 2009

35 best innovators of 2009

After mentioning best innovators of 2008 and 2007, it's the turn of best innovators of 2009.

Since 1999, the editors of Technology Review have honored the young innovators whose inventions and research we find most exciting; today that collection is the TR35, a list of technologists and scientists, all under the age of 35. Their work--spanning medicine, computing, communications, electronics, nanotechnology, and more--is changing our world.

Theese are the winners of 2009

2009 Innovator of the Year: Kevin Fu
2009 Humanitarian of the Year: José Gómez-Márquez

Andrea Armani (31 - University of Southern California)
Sensitive optical sensors detect single molecules

Michael Backes (31 - Saarland University)
Proving that Internet security protocols can really be trusted

Jeffrey Bigham (28 - University of Rochester)
Free service to help blind people navigate the Web

James Carey (32 - SiOnyx)
Using “black silicon” to build inexpensive, super-sensitive light detectors

Jorge Conde (32 - Knome)
Offering consumers whole-genome sequencing--and software to interpret it

Ranjan Dash (32 - Y-Carbon)
Nanoporous carbon could help power hybrid cars

Adam Dunkels (31 - Swedish Institute of Computer Science)
Minimal wireless-networking protocols allow almost any device to communicate over the Internet

Nathan Eagle (32 - Santa Fe Institute)
Mining mobile-phone data for the public good

Cody Friesen (31 - Fluidic Energy)
Making cheaper, higher-energy batteries to store renewable energy

Kevin Fu (33 - University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
Defeating would-be hackers of radio frequency chips in objects from credit cards to pacemakers

José Gómez-Márquez
(32 - Innovations in International Health, MIT)
Practical medical devices for use in poor countries

Jeffrey Heer (30 - Stanford University)
Easy-to-use tools allow people to present data in creative and interesting ways

Andrew Houck (30 - Princeton University)
Preserving information for practical quantum computing

Kurt Zenz House (31 - C12 Energy)
Capturing carbon dioxide through cement production

Shahram Izadi (33 - Microsoft Research U.K.)
An intuitive 3-D interface helps people manage layers of data

Ali Javey (29 - University of California, Berkeley)
“Painting” nanowires into electronic circuits

Michelle Khine (32 - University of California, Irvine)
A children’s toy inspires a cheap, easy production method for high-tech diagnostic chips

Anat Levin (31 - Weizmann Institute of Science)
New cameras and algorithms capture the potential of digital images

Erez Lieberman-Aiden (29 - Harvard University/MIT)
Quantitative tools offer new insights into evolution

Andrew Lynn (32 - Ortho­mimetics)
Repairing joints by stimulating regrowth in bone and cartilage

Ellis Meng (34 - University of Southern California)
Micropumps deliver drugs that prevent blindness

Pranav Mistry (28 - MIT)
A simple, wearable device enhances the real world with digital information

Aydogan Ozcan (30 - UCLA)
Inexpensive chips and sophisticated software could make microscope lenses obsolete

Shwetak Patel (27 - University of Washington)
Simple sensors to detect residents’ activities

Andrew Perlman (34 - GreatPoint Energy)
Slashing carbon emissions by converting coal into natural gas

Ashoke Ravi (32 - Intel)
Using software to send diverse radio signals

Vera Sazonova (30 - Nat’l Research Council Canada)
World’s smallest resonator could lead to tiny mechanical devices

Elena Shevchenko (32 - Argonne National Laboratory)
Assembling nanocrystals to create made-to-order materials

Vik Singh (24 - Yahoo)
Opening up search secrets to spur innovation

Dawn Song (34 - University of California, Berkeley)
Defeating malware through automated software analysis

Jaime Teevan (32 - Microsoft Research)
Using personal information to improve search results

C. Shad Thaxton (33 - Northwestern University)
Nanoparticles could treat cardiovascular disease by mimicking “good cholesterol”

Andrea Thomaz (33 - Georgia Institute of Technology)
Robots that learn new skills the way people do

Adrien Treuille (30 - Carnegie Mellon University)
Complex physics simulations that can run on everyday PCs

Cyrus Wadia (34 - Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)
Identifying materials that could be unexpectedly useful in solar cells

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Dark future for Telecom Italia (at least in Italy)

number (in millions) of fixed-line network connections in Italy 1997-2008 and isdn only

number of fixed-line network connections (including ISDN) in Italy of Telecom Italia, from 25.698 millions of 1997, the peak in 2001 (27.353 millions) and down to 20.031 millions (2008). On March 2010 they will release the report for 2009 but on 30th june 2009 the number was 19.170 millions. I may predict a number of 18.6 for 31st december 2009. The rise of 1997-2001 is because of big success of ISDN; in 2006 they stopped giving numbers about ISDN but the peak was on 2003 (6.027 millions).
Today a consumer customer has to pay a monthly fee of 16.08 Euro (vat included) to Telecom Italia; 192.96 Euro for one year

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Zeitgest of the year 2009

After Google Zeitgeist of 2007, and 2008 it's time to write about the Zeitgeist of they year 2009.

Zeitgeist is a german word and it could be translated as "spirit of the age" or "spirit of the times", it is best known in relation to Hegel's view of philosophy of history.

"Except where noted, all of these search terms are most popular for 2009—ranked in order of the queries with the largest volume of searches this year. In some cases, we list the "fastest rising" queries, which means we found the most popular searches conducted in 2009 and then ranked them based on how much their popularity increased compared to 2008. Conversely, "fastest falling" queries were very popular in 2008 but flattened in popularity in 2009."

Fastest Rising (Global)

  1. michael jackson
  2. facebook
  3. tuenti
  4. twitter
  5. sanalika
  6. new moon
  7. lady gaga
  8. windows 7
  10. torpedo gratis
1 New moon should be the sequel to 2008's Twilight
2 is a vietnamese newspaper
3 torpedo gratis is a portuguese language site where you can send free sms

For first time, we have the top 10 fastest falling

Fastest Falling (Global)

  1. beijing 2008
  2. euro 2008
  3. heath ledger
  4. barack obama
  5. amy winehouse
  6. kraloyun
  7. dailymotion
  8. bebo
  9. wii
  10. emule
Somebody in Techcrunch Europe asks "Why does Turkish startup Sanalika feature on Google Zeitgest 2009?" and explains us:

Sanalika is a virtual world where you can play multiplayer games and join realtime events. It was launched on November 2008 and has already reached over 3 million users.

But how did Sanalika make Google’s Zeitgeist 2009?

Sanalika isn’t yet available in english so that isn’t the reason why it’s become a popular search term. Instead, it’s the way Google is used within the Turkish online community.

Most Turkish Internet users search for the domain or keyword of a website on Google then click on the first search result to go to the actual site. So, when a web service has millions of users it’s inevitably searched for on Google over a million times a day.

Techcrunch writes:
Google Publishes Zeitgeist 2009 – Michael Jackson Crowned King Again

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Interview with a european commissioner - part 2

second part of an interview with (a member of staff of) european commissioner about "Information society and media"

2- The main difference between digital tv and digital radio is that digital tv (in Europe) has one standard (DVB-T), while digital radio has a lot of standards (DAB, DAB+, DRM, DRM+,IBOC,etc). Do you think that this is the reason behind the failure of the success of digital radio in Europe? Or should we blame the broadcasters?

Given that cable, satellite and terrestrial transmission all require different modulation schemes, there are actually different standards for digital TV, even if the Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) Group has made conversion between them very easy. Within the DVB-T standard, technological progress means that a more modern compression standard - MPEG4-AVC - is now being used alongside the older MPEG2 system. A new and more efficient standard called DVB-T2 is also entering the market in order to facilitate HDTV transmissions in scarce terrestrial spectrum. It is a myth therefore that there is a single standard for digital television. We have a family of co-existing standards, which evolve in the light of technological possibilities and market needs. The situation is not so different in digital radio.

So far, digital radio has been launched successfully in a number of EU Member States.

Radio is an important part of the cultural landscape in Europe and can be delivered over a huge variety of different platforms. Besides dedicated digital terrestrial transmission for which different standards exist, radio services are also transmitted over the internet, over digital terrestrial and mobile TV platforms, via cable and satellite and over analogue terrestrial FM and AM networks.

The most common digital terrestrial radio standard in the EU is Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB). The United Kingdom is by far the most advanced country in the EU in terms of penetration with digital radio using this standard. By mid 2008, 6.8 million digital radios had been sold in the United Kingdom (and 1 million in Denmark).. DAB has also been implemented in Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden.

Freeing up spectrum for new wireless applications and innovative broadcast services drives EU policy on terrestrial TV switchover. The current DAB standard for digital radio transmission does not provide a significant increase in the efficient use of spectrum over (analogue) FM radio. That is why so far there has been no spectrum efficiency argument for switching off analogue terrestrial radio.

Now, established market players and new entrants have a second generation of digital terrestrial radio broadcast standards available which use spectrum more efficiently. These standards facilitate innovation and interoperability. At the same time co-ordination around common solutions has become more complex.

France will introduce a second generation standard for digital radio, Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB). Launch is planned for December 2009 in Paris, Nice and Marseille. In the Netherlands there are also plans to launch DMB radio, in combination with DMB mobile TV services before the end of the year in The Hague.

Malta has launched DAB+ services in 2008.

16 Member States have not yet introduced digital terrestrial DAB-based radio. All Member States still heavily rely on analogue FM and AM radio since receivers are cheap and almost omnipresent.

The WorldDMB industry group has developed receiver specifications which would integrate the first generation digital radio standard DAB and the second generation standards DAB+ and DMB in one receiver, thanks to the availability of more powerful integrated circuits (chips). These receivers facilitate the upgrade from DAB to DAB+ and DMB in a Member State and would allow the reception of digital radio services in foreign countries if one of the three standards is used.

This demonstrates the ability of the market to come up with solutions where different broadcast standards are used. Consumers and broadcasters are served best if the selection of radio transmission techniques is left to market forces, industry co-operation and well co-ordinated national policy initiatives in which all players are carefully consulted.

The Commission will continue to monitor technological and market developments closely and to discuss digital radio issues with Member States and industry.

3 - Do you think that Europe should help the transition to digital radio with public funds or leave it to the interaction among broadcasters, manufacturers and listeners?

Because of the subsidiarity principle, this question would have to be answered at Member State level. For digital TV switchover, there have been no subsidies at EU level.

Jean Houghton
Assistant to Martin Selmayr

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Interview with a european commissioner - part 1

I tried to interview (through e-mail) Viviane Reding (european commissioner about Information society and media). Probably it's too late to get an interview (the first Barroso commission was supposed to serve from 22nd november 2004 till 31st october 2009; but the second Barroso commission isn't ready yet!), anyway i sent an e-mail and somebody of the staff answered me, then i sent 3 questions and another person answered (2 questions out of 3).

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that european commission is far from common people, this interview may be the answer

1-The (first) Barroso commission is ending the job now: do you think that, for the point of view of pushing for an information society, all the best was done or that could you do more?

Of course there is always more to do and that is why every Commissioner should use the end of his or her 5 years term to outline a future-vision for the area in which (s)he has been working – because even though we have been talking about the completion of Europe's 'single market' since 1992, we are not there yet. I am thinking here for example of a Single Digital Market which makes access to rich content online easy for Europe's 500 million consumers while at the same time remunerating creators.

Nevertheless, we should also look back at our achievements and I think that the Barroso Commission has clearly delivered on the 'Europe of results' and on putting the citizen into the heart of the single market project. My portfolio for example, Information Society and Media, might sound rather technical but what I regard as my personal achievement is that I have succeeded in creating a connection to the people; giving technology a human face and putting technology at the service of Europe's citizens.

For example thanks to the EU rules on roaming people are no longer punished on their phone bill when crossing a border and due to the lower roaming prices (a 70% reduction for roaming calls and another 60% reduction for roaming SMS) people actually use their mobiles abroad more than before!

Another example is Europeana, Europe's digital library, which we opened last year. It is available in 21 languages and offers today access to 4.6 million digitised objects, including books, paintings, movies etc. An internet platform offering everyone around the world access to Europe's rich cultural heritage – a symbiosis of technology and culture which I find truly fascinating.

Last but not least let's not forget the huge social potential of ICTs that I have always been trying to promote next to the economic potential: internet access for all is vital in order to create an all-inclusive information society in which everyone has access to knowledge. ICTs can help us achieving a sustainable, low-carbon economy or to treat (elderly) people from home saving them the daily trip to the doctor.

The European Commission has been the driving motor behind projects putting ICTs at the use of our society and I regard this as an achievement for the building of an information society for and in Europe.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Best DJs of 2009!!

Armin Van Buren, world's n.1 DJ (pic from Flickr)

I talked about it one year ago, two years ago and I can't miss it this year!
DJ magazine wrote the TOP 100 DJ of 2009, the first two positions haven't changed:

1 Armin Van Buuren - (Netherlands) Third year in a row as world number one!

2 Tiësto - (Netherlands)

3 David Guetta - (France)

4 Above & Beyond (England)

5 Paul Van Dyk - (Germany)

6 Deadmau5 - (Canada)

7 Ferry Corsten - (Netherlands)

8 Markus Schulz - (Germany)

9 Gareth Emery - (England)

10 Sander van Doorn - (Netherlands)

11 ATB - (Germany)

12 Infected Mushroom - (Israel)

13 Sasha - (Wales)

14 Axwell - (Sweden)

15 Andy Moor - (England)

16 Bobina - (Russia)

17 John Digweed - (England)

18 Carl Cox - (England)

19 Cosmic Gate - (Germany)

20 Steve Angello - (Greece-Sweden)

To know the whole TOP 100, click here

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Monetary policy of Bundesbank 1975-1998

German banknotes

Around one year ago a paper was released, its name was

and it was written by:
Andreas Beyer (ECB)
Vitor Gaspar (Banco de Portugal, special adviser)
Christina Gerberding (Deutsche Bundesbank)
Otmar Issing (Centre for financial studies)

During the turbulent 1970s and 1980s the Bundesbank established an outstanding reputation in the world of central banking. Germany achieved a high degree of domestic stability and provided safe haven for investors in times of turmoil in the international financial system. Eventually the Bundesbank provided the role model for the European Central Bank. Hence, we examine an episode of lasting importance in European monetary history. The purpose of this paper is to highlight how the Bundesbank monetary policy strategy contributed to this success. We analyze the strategy as it was conceived, communicated and refined by the Bundesbank itself. We propose a theoretical framework where monetary targeting is interpreted, first and foremost, as a commitment device. In our setting, a monetary target helps anchoring inflation and inflation expectations. We derive an interest rate rule and show empirically that it approximates the way the Bundesbank conducted monetary policy over the period 1975-1998. We compare the Bundesbank's monetary policy rule with those of the FED and of the Bank of England. We find that the Bundesbank's policy reaction function was characterized by strong persistence of policy rates as well as a strong response to deviations of inflation from target and to the activity growth gap. In contrast, the response to the level of the output gap was not significant. In our empirical analysis we use real-time data, as available to policy-makers at the time.

Some excerpts:
"In the period 1960-1998, German inflation measured in accordance with the Consumer Price Index, was, on average 3.1 per cent per year [...] the lowest and most stable, as recorded internationally."

"The Mark, initially (1873) created as a currency based on gold had ended its existence in the hyperinflation of 1923 which destroyed Germany's civil society. The successor of the Mark, the Reichsmark, created in 1924 ended its short life with the currency reform of 1948. People had again lost most of their wealth invested in nominal assets.No wonder that a strong aversion against inflation and a desire for monetary stability became deeply entrenched in the mind of the German people!"

It would be interesting to know more about the dispute over currency union with East Germany. The paper doesn't talk about it; according to Wikipedia, the dispute between Helmut Kohl (then chancellor of West Germany) and Karl Otto Pöhl (president of Deutsche Bundesbank) led to the resignation of Pöhl. I assume it was a blow against the famous independence of Bundesbank "of instructions from the Federal Government".

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Digital radio development in Ireland

coverage of DAB in Ireland today (Dublin, Cork and Limerick)

About 2 weeks ago (25th september 2009), the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (but since 1st october "The duties and responsibilities of the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland have transferred to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland") published the report:

Most of the report deals about the question "DAB or DAB+?". A very good choice is calling a chapter "What radio listeners say".

The authors are:
Helen Shaw - CEO Athena Media
Brian O'Neill - Head of School of Media, Dublin Institute of Technology
Agata Olbrycht - Research Assistant Athena Media

Digital radio in Ireland:
-chapter one - survey findings
-chapter two - strategic interviews

-chapter three - online digital radio

-chapter four - what radio listeners say

-chapter five - conclusions and recommendations

Thursday, 20 August 2009

UN, Stiglitz and Blanchard about the economic crisis

Joseph Stiglitz

UN conference on the world financial and economic crisis and its impact on development
24-26 june 2009

From official site of UN:
"The United Nations is convening a three-day summit of world leaders from 24 to 26 June 2009 at its New York Headquarters to assess the worst global economic downturn since the Great Depression. The aim is to identify emergency and long-term responses to mitigate the impact of the crisis, especially on vulnerable populations, and initiate a needed dialogue on the transformation of the international financial architecture, taking into account the needs and concerns of all Member States."

In Italy the media coverage about this conference was close to zero but it's interesting to point out few things.

The Commission of Experts on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System, chaired by Joseph Stiglitz and informally known as the Stiglitz Commission, was convened by the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, "to review the workings of the global financial system, including major bodies such as the World Bank and the IMF, and to suggest steps to be taken by Member States to secure a more sustainable and just global economic order". It presented its recommendations on March 20, 2009 and a preliminary draft of its full report on May 21, 2009. The draft is available here.

On August 18 2009, Olivier Blanchard (Economic Counsellor and Director of the IMF’s Research Department) wrote an article for IMF's F&D magazine:

Sustaining a global recovery

Blanchard on April 2009 wrote a paper called The crisis: basic mechanisms, and appropriate policies

Joseph Stiglitz (2001 Nobel Prize in economic sciences) is the chairman of the UN commission of experts and he wrote his view in an article on The Nation:

A global recovery for a global recession
These are the contents of the draft of that commission of experts:

chapter 1: introduction
the crisis: its origins, impacts, and the need for a global response
the institutional response to the crisis
policy responses to the crisis
a global crisis needs a global response
some basic principles
impact on developing countries

chapter 2: macro-issues and perspectives
the sources of the crisis
international responses: fiscal policy
monetary policy and restructuring financial markets
the role of central banks
risks and policy trade-offs
multiple and new objectives
impacts on developing countries
developing countries need additional funding
concluding remarks

chapter 3: reforming global regulation to enhance global economic stability
failure of the prevailing regulatory philosophy
the purpose of financial regulation
financial policy and regulatory policy
regulation and innovation
regulatory capture
boundaries of financial regulation
micro-prudential regulation
some common principles of macro- and micro- prudential regulation
macro-prudential regulation
countercyclical regulations
capital market liberalization
capital account management for development
capital market interventions during crises
financial market liberalization
further issues in micro-regulation
lending and public banking to promote development
regulating other players
credit rating agencies (CRAs)
sovereign wealth funds
regulatory institutions
capture and voice
regulation and political processes
incentive structures
regulatory structure
global regulation
international banking centres and international tax cooperation
international cooperation on taxation
beyond financial regulation

chapter 4: international institutions
the challenges ahead - the need for new global economic governance
a global economic coordination council could lead the way forward
policy coherence for development also has to be improved on the national level
policies and instruments
the Bretton Woods institutions must support national capital account management
other international financial bodies
international lending and ODA
additional funding for developing countries is needed
aid effectiveness
expansion of resources by IFIs
the IMF needs an immediate expansion of its resources
review developing countries' debt sustainability in light of the financial crisis
establish a new credit facility
trade and investment
commodities trade and compensatory financing
appendix: the Doha round and development

chapter 5: international financial innovations
the global reserve system
sovereign debt default and restructuring
innovative risk management instruments
innovative sources of financing

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Walter Cronkite 1916-2009

Walter Cronkite, legend of american broadcast journalism, died on 17th July 2009; he was 92.

NYT: Walter Cronkite, 92, dies; trusted voice of tv news

USA today: Iconic journalist Walter Cronkite dies at 92

Los Angeles Times: Cronkite - that's the way he was

NASA: Cronkite remembered for coverage of Apollo launches

MBC (The Museum of Broadcast Communications): legendary CBS newsman Walter Cronkite has died at 92.

CBS: television pioneer, CBS legend, passes away in New York at 92

The Times: Walter Cronkite: CBS news anchor

Telegraph: Walter Cronkite, who died on July 17 aged 92, was the avuncular anchorman on CBS Evening News for 19 years and often referred to as "the most trusted man in America"

Guardian: US salutes Walter Cronkite, giant of TV journalism's golden age

Barack Obama: "he never lost the integrity he gained growing up in the heartland"

Don't forget to have a look at Walter Cronkite school of journalism and mass communication

Monday, 11 May 2009

Tiscali, the dream is over

Tiscali group on 2001

Tiscali has sold Tiscali UK to Carphone Warehouse Group for 255.5 million of GBP. After years of sales, the dream of a italian-based european provider is over.

Renato Soru created Tiscali on January 1998.

October 1999: IPO (Tiscali enters the stock market during the dot-com bubble). People pay 46 euro for 1 share of Tiscali.
May 2009: (after the stock split 10:1 of april 2000) the same investor would have 10 shares of the value of 0.416 euro each, never a dividend.

Tiscali, son of the dot-com bubble, victim of bad management.

Chief executive officer
1998-2004 Renato Soru
2004-2005 Ruud Huisman
2005-2008 Tommaso Pompei
2008-incumbent Mario Rosso

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

as roma for sale - no future for Sensi group

If you look at financial statements of Compagnia Italpetroli (owned by 51% by Sensi sisters and by 49% by Unicredit bank), it's difficult to understand how the group can keep going.

ebitda is getting worse (14.431 million of euro on 31-12-2006; 4.365 million of euro on 31-12-2007)

ebit is getting worse (-1.718 million of euro on 31-12-2006; -8.497 million of euro on 31-12-2006)

debt is huge and is growing (381.208 million of euro on 31-12-2006; 396.715 million of euro on 31-12-2007)

The only solution (to try to survive) will be the sale of as roma, it's only a matter of time.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Pulitzer Prize winners 2009 - journalism

April 20, 2009
- Columbia University announces 93rd annual Pulitzer Prizes in journalism, letters, drama and music.

Here you can read the winners for journalism:

-Public service
Awarded to the Las Vegas Sun, and notably the courageous reporting by Alexandra Berzon, for the exposure of the high death rate among construction workers on the Las Vegas Strip amid lax enforcement of regulations, leading to changes in policy and improved safety conditions.

-Breaking news reporting
Awarded to the New York Times Staff for its swift and sweeping coverage of a sex scandal that resulted in the resignation of Gov. Eliot Spitzer, breaking the story on its Web site and then developing it with authoritative, rapid-fire reports.

-Investigative reporting
Awarded to David Barstow of The New York Times for his tenacious reporting that revealed how some retired generals, working as radio and television analysts, had been coopted by the Pentagon to make its case for the war in Iraq, and how many of them also had undisclosed ties to companies that benefited from policies they defended.

-Explanatory reporting
Awarded to Bettina Boxall and Julie Cart of the Los Angeles Times for their fresh and painstaking exploration into the cost and effectiveness of attempts to combat the growing menace of wildfires across the western United States.

-Local reporting
Two Prizes of $10,000 each:
Awarded to the Detroit Free Press Staff, and notably Jim Schaefer and M. L. Elrick, for their uncovering of a pattern of lies by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick that included denial of a sexual relationship with his female chief of staff, prompting an investigation of perjury that eventually led to jail terms for the two officials
Awarded to Ryan Gabrielson and Paul Giblin of the East Valley Tribune, Mesa, Arizona for their adroit use of limited resources to reveal, in print and online, how a popular sheriff's focus on immigration enforcement endangered investigation of violent crime and other aspects of public safety.

-National reporting
Awarded to the St. Petersburg Times for "PolitiFact", its fact-checking initiative during the 2008 presidential campaign that used probing reporters and the power of the World Wide Web to examine more than 750 political claims, separating rhetoric from truth to enlighten voters.

-International reporting
Awarded to The New York Times Staff for its masterful, groundbreaking coverage of America's deepening military and political challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan, reporting frequently done under perilous conditions.

-Feature writing
Awarded to Lane DeGregory of the St. Petersburg Times for her moving, richly detailed story of a neglected little girl, found in a roach-infested room, unable to talk or feed herself, who was adopted by a new family committed to her nurturing.

Awarded to Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post for his eloquent columns on the 2008 presidential campaign that focus on the election of the first African-American president, showcasing graceful writing and grasp of the larger historic picture.

Awarded to Holland Cotter of The New York Times for his wide ranging reviews of art, from Manhattan to China, marked by acute observation, luminous writing and dramatic storytelling.

-Editorial writing
Awarded to Mark Mahoney of The Post-Star, Glen Falls, N.Y., for his relentless, down-to-earth editorials on the perils of local government secrecy, effectively admonishing citizens to uphold their right to know.

-Editorial cartooning
Awarded to Steve Breen of The San Diego Union-Tribune for his agile use of a classic style to produce wide ranging cartoons that engage readers with power, clarity and humour.

-Breaking news photography
Awarded to Patrick Farrell of The Miami Herald for his provocative, impeccably composed images of despair after Hurricane Ike and other lethal storms caused a humanitarian disaster in Haiti.

-Feature photography
Awarded to Damon Winter of The New York Times for his memorable array of pictures deftly capturing multiple facets of Barck Obama's presidential campaign.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Zuckerberg and the future of Facebook

26th October 2005, Zuckerberg explains how you can monetize users "pretty easily"; today he would have said different things...

Mark Zuckerberg was 19 years old when he created Facebook, with Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. It was February 4th 2004 and nobody could imagine that after 5 years Facebook has almost 200 million active users worldwide.
Zuckerberg & friends moved to Silicon Valley during the summer of 2004 (the world is NOT flat, Mr. Thomas Friedman!) and they looked for investors.

October 2008: Zuckerberg says: "What every great internet company has done is to figure out a way to make money that has to match to what they are doing on the site. I don't think social networks can be monetized in the same way that search did. But on both sites people find information valuable. I'm pretty sure that we will find an analogous business model. But we are experimenting already. One group is very focused on targeting; another part is focused on social recommendation from your friends. In three years from now we have to figure out what the optimum model is. But that is not our primary focus today."

3 years can mean October 2011! Does Zuckerberg think he has such a long time?
The future of Facebook doesn't depend only on Zuckerberg but it depends on its investors too:
- Microsoft put $240 million
- Li Ka-shing put $120 million
- TriplePoint Capital put $100 million
and others (full list here)

According to Techcrunch (article of October 2008):
"The company is likely spending well over a $1 million per month on electricity alone"
"With 750 employees and growing, Facebook is spending at least another $10 million per month on payroll."
"It costs a couple of hundred million dollars a year just to keep the lights on at Facebook. But the real problem is keeping up with growth, particularly storage needs. Add another $100 million or more per year for capital expenditures, and you’ve got a company that’s doing exactly the opposite of printing money."

Time is running out for Zuckerberg, it's going to be "Facebook must make money or sell Facebook"

It would be nice to have an etiquette for Facebook, how long do we have to wait for?

The Economist asked "Cameron Marlow, the “in-house sociologist” at Facebook, to crunch some numbers. Dr Marlow found that the average number of “friends” in a Facebook network is 120" and "women tend to have somewhat more than men"[...] "Thus an average man—one with 120 friends—generally responds to the postings of only seven of those friends by leaving comments on the posting individual’s photos, status messages or “wall”. An average woman is slightly more sociable, responding to ten."

1st phase Feb 2004-Aug 2005 Facebook only for US university
2nd phase Sep 2005-25 Sep 2006 Facebook only for US university and high schools
3rd phase 26 Sep 2006-today Facebook is open for everyone of ages 13 and older with a valid e-mail address

What would Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) think about Facebook? He could think it's the Panopticon of the XXI century with important diffences:
- in Panopticon there are prisoners and observers; prisoners don't choose to lose privacy.
- in Facebook people do choose to lose part of privacy
- in Facebook everybody can be an observer

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Techcrunch: commercial radio is dead

March 11th 2009. In a few minutes a new FM radio is starting in New York - 92.3 NOW FM - but Nicholas Deleon (Techcrunch) 2 days ago wrote:

Commercial radio is dead: Why CBS Radio's K-Rock format switch in New York won't make a bit of difference in fight against technological irrelevance

There’s something wrong with CBS Radio’s press release announcing the launch, complete with silly “countdown,” of 92.3 Now FM in New York City, a contemporary hit radio station that will replace K-Rock on Wednesday, March 11, at 5:00pm. (Contemporary hit radio, in plain English, means garbage pop songs, distinguished by their use of auto-tune and use of lowest-common-denominator song-writing.) CBS Radio Senior Vice-President of Something or Other, Don Bouloukos, is quoted in the release as saying, “Our assets in the country’s No. 1 market include among them the best known brands in the business. From the most listened to news and sports stations in the country, to the classic sounds of WCBS FM and the adult contemporary styling of Fresh 102.7, CBS RADIO offers something for everyone in the market – including young adults who are using the radio to discover today’s most popular music as featured on 92.3 NOW FM.” [Emphasis added, obviously.] And that, friends, is why the radio business, as we know it, is truly doomed. No, Mr. Bouloukos, young people are not turning on their radio to discover new music; they’re certainly not sticking around through the commercials to listen to new music on a radio station. No, sir, that’s what the Internet is for, and that’s why your business has no future. [...]

how do people discover new music in the year 2009?

[...] They’re not listening to the radio, sitting through commercials, waiting for the marble-mouthed DJ to say, “Hey, here’s [Cool New Band].” Yes, we know. We heard about [Cool New Band] two weeks ago via Twitter/Facebook/MySpace Music/whatever. Thanks for trying to remain relevant, though!

Now, I still think radio, as a medium, isn’t dead yet. Plenty of people listen to talk radio, whether it’s of the comedy variety à la Opie and Anthony, of the political variety à la Hannity or Rush, or of the sports variety. (My God does sports radio delve into minutia!) Radio is great for news, too: nothing wrong with listening to the headlines while you’re stuck in traffic on the BQE. But this idea that CBS Radio, and others, cling to, that commercial music radio has a future, that people still seek out commercial radio to listen to new music, is laughably outdated.

Click here for the full article and all the comments

Remember the Top 40 radio wars of the 60s? Well, they're back. CBS Radio announced Monday (March 9), it plans to ditch K-Rock on WXRK-FM in New York for Top 40, challenging Clear Channel Radio's Z100 (WHTZ-FM). Called "92.3 NOW FM," the Top 40 station will launch Wednesday, March 11 at 5 p.m. playing the hits that appeal to an 18-34 year-old listener.

Click here for the full article and all the comments

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Globalization of football (soccer) communication

David Beckham invited on closing ceremony of olympic games, Beijing; August 24, 2008

Let's see the official sites of football (soccer) team of Serie A: how many languages are official sites available in?

milan 6 languages: italian, english, spanish, portuguese, chinese, japanese
inter 4 languages: italian, english, spanish, chinese
juventus 3 languages: italian, english, chinese
chievo, napoli, palermo 2 languages: italian, english

other important teams in Europe:

barcelona 7 languages: catalan, spanish, english, japanese, chinese, korean, arabic
bayern munich 5 languages: german, english, japanese, chinese, spanish
manchester utd 4 languages: english, chinese, japanese, korean
chelsea 4 languages: english, american version (?), korean, chinese, russian
real madrid 3 languages: spanish, english, japanese
psv eindhoven 3 languages: dutch, english, spanish
manchester city 2 languages: english, chinese
ajax 2 languages: dutch, english
porto 2 languages: portuguese, english
olympique de marseille 2 languages: french, english
borussia dortmund 2 languages: german, english
zenit st petersburg 2 languages: russian, english
red star belgrade 2 languages: serbian, english
liverpool 1 language: english
benfica 1 language: portuguese

obviously somebody doesn't understand the globalization of audience in football (soccer) ...

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Radio's impact on public spending (USA, 1930's)

FDR (1882-1945) after giving one of his famous fireside chats

David Stromberg is a professor at Stockholm University and he wrote a paper called

Radio's impact on public spending
(quarterly journal of economics 119-1, 2004 but the paper appears in early version on 1999)


If informed voters receive favorable policies, then the invention of a new mass medium may affect government policies since it affects who is informed and who is not. These ideas are developed in a voting model. The model forms the basis for an empirical investigation of a major New Deal relief program implemented in the middle of the expansion period of radio. The main empirical finding is that U.S. counties with many radio listeners received more relief funds. More funds were allocated to poor counties with high unemployment but, controlling for these and other variables, the effects of radio are large and highly significant.

1 introduction
2 the FERA program and the expansion of radio
3 model
4 specification and data
5 results
6 conclusion and discussion

"governors allocated more relief funds to areas where a larger share of the population had radios" (page 23)

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Invention of telephone and national heritage

Sirio187: Telecom Italia telephone with caller ID and SMS - 2000

Who invented the telephone?
Yet we can't be sure at 100%. The problem is that an invention isn't only an artefact but often it is seen as a part of national heritage (similar thing about the invention of radio, i already wrote about it).

From Wikipedia:

the history of the invention of the telephone is a confusing collection of claims and counterclaims, made no less confusing by the many lawsuits which attempted to resolve the patent claims of several individuals

In the USA Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) for very long time was credited with inventing the telephone: patent 174,465 (see the 6-page patent here), including the claim on transmitting vocal sounds, was issued to Bell on 7 March 1876 by the U.S. Patent Office.
But things are much more complicated.

On 11th June 2002 the US House of Representatives passed the second version of bill number H.RES.269 EH

Whereas Antonio Meucci, the great Italian inventor, had a career that was both extraordinary and tragic; (Engrossed as Agreed to or Passed by House)


H. Res. 269

In the House of Representatives, U.S.,

June 11, 2002.

Whereas Antonio Meucci, the great Italian inventor, had a career that was both extraordinary and tragic;

Whereas, upon immigrating to New York, Meucci continued to work with ceaseless vigor on a project he had begun in Havana, Cuba, an invention he later called the `teletrofono', involving electronic communications;

Whereas Meucci set up a rudimentary communications link in his Staten Island home that connected the basement with the first floor, and later, when his wife began to suffer from crippling arthritis, he created a permanent link between his lab and his wife's second floor bedroom;

Whereas, having exhausted most of his life's savings in pursuing his work, Meucci was unable to commercialize his invention, though he demonstrated his invention in 1860 and had a description of it published in New York's Italian language newspaper;

Whereas Meucci never learned English well enough to navigate the complex American business community;

Whereas Meucci was unable to raise sufficient funds to pay his way through the patent application process, and thus had to settle for a caveat, a one year renewable notice of an impending patent, which was first filed on December 28, 1871;

Whereas Meucci later learned that the Western Union affiliate laboratory reportedly lost his working models, and Meucci, who at this point was living on public assistance, was unable to renew the caveat after 1874;

Whereas in March 1876, Alexander Graham Bell, who conducted experiments in the same laboratory where Meucci's materials had been stored, was granted a patent and was thereafter credited with inventing the telephone;

Whereas on January 13, 1887, the Government of the United States moved to annul the patent issued to Bell on the grounds of fraud and misrepresentation, a case that the Supreme Court found viable and remanded for trial;

Whereas Meucci died in October 1889, the Bell patent expired in January 1893, and the case was discontinued as moot without ever reaching the underlying issue of the true inventor of the telephone entitled to the patent; and

Whereas if Meucci had been able to pay the $10 fee to maintain the caveat after 1874, no patent could have been issued to Bell: Now, therefore, be it

    Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the life and achievements of Antonio Meucci should be recognized, and his work in the invention of the telephone should be acknowledged.

After over a century Antonio Meucci (1808-1889) is credited with the invention of telephone ... but Alexander Graham Bell is a hero in Canada (he spent years in Canada and he died on 2 August 1922, at his private estate, Beinn Bhreagh, Nova Scotia, at age 75) and after 10 days we have news from canadian Parliament:

Friday, June 21, 2002

Oral question period

Mr. Bob Speller (Haldimand—Norfolk—Brant, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

The minister must be aware now of the silly goings on in the United States capital where the U.S. house of representatives passed a motion claiming that somebody other than Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.

I am wondering if the minister will take the time to inform the U.S. congress that indeed yes, Virginia, Alexander Graham Bell did invent the telephone.

Hon. Sheila Copps (Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this is one planted question that will bear fruit.

The member for Haldimand--Norfolk--Brant has raised a very important point. It has also been raised by my colleague from Brantford and by members on all sides of the House.

I am very pleased to report that right after question period I hope we will be able to table a unanimous resolution of all members of the House recognizing the fact that the real inventor of the telephone was indeed Alexander Graham Bell.

and later the same day:

Routine Proceedings

Alexander Graham Bell

Hon. Sheila Copps (Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the House for unanimous consent on the following motion, which has been discussed with all parties, regarding Alexander Graham Bell. I move:

This House affirms that Alexander Graham Bell of Brantford, Ontario and Baddeck, Nova Scotia is the inventor of the telephone.

The Speaker: Does the hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Hon. Sheila Copps: Mr. Speaker, might I suggest that we forward a copy of this to the congress in the United States so they get their facts straight?

Not a word about Antonio Meucci, not a single evidence about the invention. Is the important thing to discover the truth about history or to save the national heritage?

There is even a second controversy about a race to the patent office between Elisha Gray (1835-1901) and Alexander Graham Bell (again!): I don't know who should be credited but I do know that Bell is a legend and Gray is completely unknown by the masses...

Friday, 6 February 2009

Using radio to fight corruption

Nathalie Francken - Catholic University of Leuven (KUL) - LICOS Center for Transition Economics -, Bart Minten - Cornell University - Food and Nutrition Policy Program; Catholic University of Leuven (KUL) - Department of Agro-Engineering and Economics - and Johan F.M. Swinnen - Catholic University of Leuven (KUL) - LICOS Center for Transition Economics - in 2005 wrote a paper called

Listen to the Radio! Media and Corruption: Evidence from Madagascar

abstract: This paper investigates the role of the media in reducing corruption. We analyze data on personal capture of public education expenditures by local officials in Madagascar. We find that corruption can be successfully constrained through a combination of media programs and monitoring. More transparent funding mechanisms and access to mass media reduce capture. However, the impact of the media is conditional on the characteristics of the population. With high illiteracy in poor regions, the effectiveness of newspaper and poster campaigns is limited, and radio programs are more important to reduce capture.

The analysis is based on data collected in a budget tracking survey in 2002-2003.

1 Introduction

2 The policy framework

3 Monitoring and the media

4 Measuring capture and its determinants

5 Theory and hypotheses

6 Empirical model

7 Results

8 Conclusion

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Digital radio and catch-22

If you want to know a simple reason (there are many reasons, actually) why digital radio hasn't succeded yet, watch this video.

It's an old video but after 1:20 you can listen to Glyn Jones (i think he was BBC managing editor of digital radio from 1995 to 1999 and today is operations director at DigitalOne):

the manufacturers hesitated because no broadcasters are committed, no one
has said "right, we are gonna start transimitting this" and the broadcasters
hesitated because the manufacturers won't say "right, we'll have sets
available in the shops by this day"

It's a catch-22.

From Wikipedia: Catch-22 is a term coined by Joseph Heller in his novel Catch-22, describing a false dilemma in a rule, regulation, procedure or situation, where no real choice exists. In probability theory, it refers to a situation in which multiple probabilistic events exist, and the desirable outcome results from the confluence of these events, but there is zero probability of this happening, as they are mutually exclusive.

We can say that, in a transition from analogue to digital radio, deregulation can't work or, at least in this case, hasn't worked at all. We need the government (after talking to everybody: authority, broadcasters, manufacturers, listeners, etc..) to set a timeline (assuming that staying forever in analogue radio isn't really an option). We'd better read the Final Report (26 pag. 121 KB) by Digital Radio Working Group published on 19 December 2008. The report doesn't really talk about DAB+ but talks about switching off analogue radio: FM started in UK on 1955 and it could almost end between 2017 and 2022 (according to the report only small scale commercial and community radio will allowed to be in FM after digital migration). What will happen to 87.50 - 108.00 MHz frequencies after the switch off?? Low power FM radio (keep dreaming!) ??
The DRM standard is mentioned only once and not about UK ("DRM has been trialled in Switzerland, Russia and China")

Some reactions:

Guardian (John Plunkett)
Digital Radio Working Group reports on DAB, but ducks DAB+
(technology blog, Guardian)
BBC welcomes DRWG's report
Grant Goddard radio blog
UK free tv blog
Frontier Silicon
Daily Telegraph

Radio is an important part of the national discourse and perhaps an even more important voice in local democracy
(Final report of DRWG, page 11)
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