Category Archives: Science

Lessig’s Herculean Holiday Present: Reboot the FCC

1990.05.0243.jpeg Here’s a good test for the new U.S. Executive: to recognize that steady pragmatism means radical change, starting with the FCC:
The solution here is not tinkering. You can’t fix DNA. You have to bury it. President Obama should get Congress to shut down the FCC and similar vestigial regulators, which put stability and special interests above the public good. In their place, Congress should create something we could call the Innovation Environment Protection Agency (iEPA), charged with a simple founding mission: “minimal intervention to maximize innovation.” The iEPA’s core purpose would be to protect innovation from its two historical enemies—excessive government favors, and excessive private monopoly power.

Reboot the FCC, We’ll stifle the Skypes and YouTubes of the future if we don’t demolish the regulators that oversee our digital pipelines. By Lawrence Lessig, Newsweek Web Exclusive, 23 Dec 2008

Lessig gets the connection with his old topic of intellectual property and copyright. Those are monopolies granted by the federal government, and they have been abused by the monopoly holders just like the holders of communication monopolies: Continue reading

Who Was Gutenberg, Anyway?

Regarding exogenous technological change, it occured to me that I didn’t really know who Gutenberg was, nor whether he fit the profile.

I’m quoting a bio of him in full, because it doesn’t have a copyright on it and I can’t figure out where it came from originally, other than by the style of writing it is probably 19th century or earlier and probably a translation of a German original, and thus likely long out of copyright:

GUTENBERG, JOHANNES, or Henne, who is regarded as the inventor of the art of employing movable types in printing, was born near the close of the 14th century, at Mainz. He was sprung from a patrician family, which took the name of Gutenberg, or Gensfleisch, from two estates in its Possession. Of Gutenberg’s early life no particulars are known, but it seems probable that he devoted himself at an early age to mechanical arts.

Biography of Gutenberg

For “patrician family” then read “middle-class” now. He was apparently a tinker, who might have been tuning cars in the 1950s or computers in the late 20th century or early 21st. Continue reading