This Week in Google 238 (Transcript)
Show Tease: It’s time for TWiG, This Week in Google. We have a very interesting conversation coming up: when Comcast got Netflix to pay a little more money for access to Comcast costumers. I thought that was a violation of net neutrality. It turns out the story is a lot more complicated. We’ve got an expert, who’s going to explain all, and a whole lot more. Coming up on TWiG. Netcasts you love, from people you trust. This is TWiT. Bandwidth for This Week in Google is provided by CacheFly. Cachefly.com. This is TWiG, This Week in Google. Episode 238. Recorded February 26, 2014
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Leo Laporte: It’s time for TWiG, This Week in Google. The show that covers Google, but not just Google, the cloud, Google verse, the Twitter, the Facebook, the Whatsapp and all of that. Joining me right now, Jeff Jarvis, he’s at the City University of New York, where he is a professor of Journalism.
Jeff Jarvis: Uh oh, my lights just went off. I have to do the dance.
Leo: There we go. Because economy economizing is so important.
Jeff: I’m near death constantly.
Leo: Jeff is also the author of Public Parts, What Would Google Do? Gutenberg the Geek, and we love having him on the show each week. I have unfortunate news, Jeana Trapani has the day off, she’s working on Think Up, had some stuff to do unavoidably.
Jeff: How dare she have a job!
Leo: But I have very good news, from Gigaohm, Mathew Ingram is joining us. So it’s nice that you can be here, Mathew, we appreciate it. And what I wanted to point out an article, or a blog post actually, I read on the streaming media blog. Streamingmediablog.com, about how pretty much everybody who covered the Netflix/ Comcast story got it wrong. The author Dan Rayburn is an analyst at Frost and Sullivan, he’s an EVP of streamingmedia.com, which is a magazine, an online site, and also throws conferences on streaming media. And this blog post really raked everyone over the coals. Tech Crunch, Wall Street Journal, NPR, for not understanding the Netflix Comcast deal. And most of us, and I’m going to include myself in this, treated it as Comcast squeezing Netflix for access to Comcast customers. And as data points, for instance, Netflix offers an open connect system, which many other ISPs, including Google, are members of, which give direct access to Netflix data to those ISPs and their customers at no charge. And that Comcast had been, well, I shouldn’t say it this way, that Netflix had noticed a drop of streaming speeds of 27% since October from Comcast. As a Comcast customer I had really noticed that. Netflix became almost unusable on Comcast, some had even said, and there were some data points too, demonstrate it, that Comcast was actively blocking Netflix in violation of their agreement with the FCC. So Dan, where did we get it wrong? In every respect!
Dan Rayburn: Well, it’s a confusing topic. The thing that people don’t understand, and it’s understandable they don’t get it because they’re not from the industry or the networking space, is people are using a lot of terms like transit, carrying, interconnections, CDN, and they don’t really understand how it all connects with one another, Who’s responsible for paying whom. And that’s where the big break down here is. The other thing is Netflix is currently delivering video to ISPs using three different types of CBN networks, using all different types of providers in that eco system. So the easiest was to think about it is that, Netflix has a lot of options for delivering video to the ISP. The ISP itself, Comcast, Verizon, whoever it may be, does not control how Netflix sends that traffic to their network. What they do historically is they use middle men, who are called transit providers. So you’ve read a lot about Cogent, Cogent is a transit provider. So the way it works very simply is Netflix has their own server’s that are sitting in third particle location facilities. They buy transit, they pay Cogent for that transit, and Cogent gives Netflix a guaranteed level of quality. Cogent then goes to Level Three and says, “We want to connect to your network for free.” Level 3, sorry, Comcast will let them connect for free under what’s called settlement free peering. However all transit providers have to abide by the peering policy that that ISP has. So if you go to Comcast.com/peering. You can see Comcast peering policy. Comcast treats Cogent just like any other transit provider. When the transit provider wants to send more traffic than the peering policy allows, that transit provider has to pay for it. However, Cogent has been very adamant and their CEO still, to this day, is going out and saying we should not have to pay. It’s interesting to know that Cogent has also had 8 or 9 other public disputes like this over transit with ISPs. But other transit providers haven’t. So it’s really an issue of where cogent is trying to push everything to Comcast, and blame Comcast, and Comcast has basically cut Cogent out of the deal, gone to a mutual interconnect agreement with Netflix directly. So it’s Comcast and Netflix directly, cutting out Cogent, which does two things, it increases the quality for consumers, and it lowers Netflix costs.
Leo: So I think one of the things that people assumed was that this was bad for… this is an anti-net neutrality agreement because, I think the assumption is that Comcast squeezed Netflix, and made them pay more than they would have otherwise. And I think many of us feel like well I pay Comcast, shouldn’t my access to Netflix be the same as everything else? Is Comcast next going to ask YouTube for money, or?
Dan: Well they’ve already cut those deals. So a lot of people in media said this is the first time a deal like this has been done. It’s factually inaccurate, back in ‘98 and ‘99 we were covering guys in the market when guys like AOL and Yahoo were cutting deals like this with ISPs. So Microsoft cuts these types of deals, Google cuts these types of deals, AOL does, Yahoo does. So this isn’t new by any types of means. Also keep in mind what you’re paying your ISP for. You’re paying your ISP for that last mile piece to the internet. However the ISP does not control the content that’s coming into their network. The content owner, CDN controls that. So Netflix controls where they ingest it into the ISPs network, which transit provider they use. How many different links they connect, what the quality of service is with that provider, and what they’re willing to pay. Now an interesting thing to note here, if you have an Apple TV box, and you’re on Comcast, you don’t have a problem, why is that? Well the reason is that Level 3, and Limelight networks, which are 3rd party CDNS, are doing the delivery of Netflix content specifically for the Apple TV box, because Netflix has made the decision of how they get content to specific devices on specific networks.
Leo: That’s interesting, so I can use Comcast on an Apple TV and get better Netflix?
Dan: Yes, right. And Comcast doesn’t control that, Netflix controls it, so people don’t realize that Netflix is the one who controls this stuff.
Leo: There are a couple of reasons that I believed the notion was that Comcast was squeezing Netflix. First of course, was that Comcast is in the same business, they stream movies via stream picks. So it made since to me, it might be an anti-competitive move. But the other one is that Netflix offers this open connect CDN, which many ISPs are members of, but not Comcast, and not version by the way. Verizon is…
Dan: And not AT&T and Hot pine Warner, and yeah.
Leo: So why, why would Comcast not just do that?
Dan: Well what people don’t understand again about open connect. Open connect is a program. If you just google open connect you can go to Netflix page. Open connect is a program where Netflix places servers they own and operate inside the last mile of the ISP. Now the idea is okay, just the ISP should let us come in, place our own hardware in there, let us control it, let us manage it, and it’s completely free to the ISP. It’s not free to the ISP, the ISP has to give you space, they have to give you power, they have to give you handoffs, they have to give you engineering resources, it’s a direct cost to them. Now guys at Google Fiber, Cable vision, Century link, they’ve agreed to open connect, because they feel it makes sense for the business model that they have, but keep in mind….
Jeff: Perhaps for their customers too. Let’s not forget them.
Dan: For their customers too. Absolutely, But Google Fiber has less than a million subs, Comcast has more than 20 million, so we’re comparing two completely different ISPS in terms of size and shape. So each ISP has to look at what makes the most sense for them. Do they want to connect through paid peering? Do they want to do transit connections? Do they want to do third party CDNs through acromia limelight, edge cast, or do they want to do open connect? There are a lot of options in the market.
Mathew Ingram: So Dan, can I ask you something?
Mathew: So let’s say this particular range man, doesn’t actually have anything to do with Net neutrality, but it seems as though what got people was the sense that Comcast is becoming too powerful, and it’s control over that last mile in so many places is too powerful, and that customers are going to suffer or that the internet in general is going to suffer. What do you think of that? Would you agree with that?
Dan: Well here’s what I’ve said quite a bit, probably for a long time, is that I’m a firm believer that the more choice in the market is good for consumers, when it comes to telecommunication services and wireline services. I’ve only seen from this industry from 15 years ago, when we had more providers in the space, if you think of the days when real networks was around. Real Networks and Microsoft were battling it out over the video war, and as a result they added so many new improvements to their video player and platforms every couple of months. They were eager to outdo one another. So I think it’s better that we have more options in the markets instead of less. But now we’re talking about less of net neutrality and really talking more about the time warner merger.
Leo: Well and the duopoly that the FCC has hoisted on the American public. That, you know, you most people in the US can only get internet service from one cable company, and one phone company and there is no competition. So Comcast, I’m a Comcast customer and if I’m not happy I don’t have a choice.
Jeff: It is one way or the other. It does become a net neutrality in a broader sense is what I’m arguing. I sat in rooms in Silicon Valley, way back in the day, when At Home argued for premium carrier arrangements. And what was evident then is still evident now, is that there’s a moral hazard here. And the moral hazard is those who pay me, those who do a deal with me, those who let me control, will get better service. And so the issue here isn’t so much the specifies of this case, the issue that I’m arguing is the FCC you’ve got to step in and set principals.
Leo: And now we know the FCC under Tom Wildered isn’t going to.
Jeff: That’s what I fear, that’s my problem with all this. That’s why I…
Mathew: They’re going to keep an eye on things.
Dan: Right you’re talking about a bigger picture, another interesting thing to note here is keep in mind that Netfleix never had any quality of service issues of any kind, until they decided to build their own CDN. Why did they do that? When they were using Netflix, Lime light, and Level three and dispensing traffic amongst all three providers for years, we didn’t have these problems, because the CDNs are already connected to the ISPS. That’s what they do, that’s their whole business. So Netflix made a business decision to stop using third party CDNS, build their own servers, get cull location space, buy transit. Why did they do that?
Leo: Well that’s an interesting question. Are you saying that among the ISPs who participate in open connect there are QOS issues? It’s only on the ISPs who are not participating on open connect.
Dan: No, keep in mind, it’s based on transit, so if you’re a content delivery network, think Acamire limelight, Level 3, what you’re doing is you’re buying transit from multiple providers. There’s about 15 maybe transit providers out there, you’re probably buying transit from half of them. And what you’re doing is anytime there’s an issue, in real time you’re watching the performance of that video, in real time, you are using multiple providers to get around any type of bottlenecks you have. And that’s why the CDNs really worked so well. That’s why Netflix and everybody else was using CDNS and today everybody who doesn’t built their own CDNS, is using third party networks. So Netflix decided they wanted to take control and try and put servers inside the last mile. And in places like Europe, open connect did really well. In Europe Netflix was able to stop using third party CDNS in almost all their video delivery, because the ISPs in Europe said okay, you can come into our network and place servers. In the US, the larger ISPs didn’t go for that.
Mathew: Why did it work so much better in Europe?
Leo: Because they went for it! There’s no issue of transit if you’re in the last mile! There’s no issue of transit, you’re there, you’re delivering the content from the ISPs own operation center.
Dan: Well yes and no, sure transits not involved, but you still have QOS issues inside the last mile.
Leo: Well that’s my question, do you?
Dan: Yes, absolutely, that’s why SLEs exist.
Leo: Okay, so you’re saying with open connect, they didn’t solve the QOS issue.
Dan: NO, open connect did not solve the QOS issue by itself, no.
Leo: Is that because they had to transit the information to the open connect servers in the…
Dan: So open connect is two different things. Open connect is a platform, but open connect is also, there’s two ways to think of open connect. Netflix has the wrong servers running open connect platform, which are sitting in third party data centers like equinox, when are then connected to third party transit, into ISPs. That’s open connect. But open connect is also the server with the software on it that goes inside a place like Google Fiber or a cable vision.
Mathew: Just wondered, you asked the question, why did they build their own, why do you think they built their own?
Dan: I think primarily they wanted to have more control. If you look back at what Netflix talked about, one of the VPs who really spearheads the whole content delivery of Netflix, last year came to our show and did a thirty minute presentation, which I just posted on my blog yesterday, explaining, here’s what our approach is to the market, here’s why we want to do it. Also, this is the second time Netflix has tried to build their own CDN. In 2007 they tried to build their own CDN and they failed, and they went back to using CDN providers. So this isn’t the first time they’ve tried this and had problems.
Leo: My question is do they fail because there’s a technical issue, or do they fail because Comcast, and Verizon, and others don’t want them to succeed?
Dan: Well it’s not a technical issue but they failed because the business model that they had at the time didn’t work for every single provider, and not every ISP is the same size. Now keep in mind too, people say, okay Comcast doesn’t want them to benefit in anyway, but if Comcast were to do that, Comcast would also lose subscribers, that doesn’t help Comcast business, and then you have ISPs that don’t compete….
Leo: Well that’s the question, would Comcast lose subscribers, or would Netflix lose subscribers? And then Comcast serve content from another content company that was more cooperative than Comcast business model.
Dan: That’s the moral hazard.
Mathew: It’s not as if Comcast subscribers have somewhere else to go.
Leo: Right, right! It’s a monopoly. So who is going to lose business? Comcast? They can’t! It’s a monopoly. Netflix, they can, because there are other competitors out there who may well have deal with Comcast.
Jeff: And that’s the other issue with a merger, which you mentioned, is that Comcast is in a killer negotiation position with all content holders.
Leo: They’re dominant.
Jeff: There’s another thing we’re not talking about.
Leo: This agreement with Netflix and Comcast does include an SLA right? They do have an SLA agreement.
Jeff: Two SLAs.
Leo: Yeah, so it from, the point of view from Netflix subscribers on Comcast, they’re going to be happy.
Dan: Yes, not overnight, it’s going to take a couple weeks, but yes they’re going to be happy. And the price isn’t going to go up because Netflix is actually saving money.
Leo: That’s an interesting point, and I understand this is tough, Netflix is now 32% of all bandwidth during prime time in the US. And you talk about big, you talk about dominant, a third of all the bandwidth in prime time in the US, is Netflix traffic! So I understand why this is an issue for everybody. Is it really cogent that is being in transit in here? Cogent says, we will not pay anyone anything.
Dan: Well that’s the problem. That’s not the way that end of business works. So Cogent want to be a transit provider like everybody else out there, but wants to be treated special. They don’t want to have to play by any of the rules that ever other transit provider has played by for 20 years. And it’s one of the reasons why the vast majority of the major CDNs out there absolutely refuse to buy transit from Cogent, because they’re so difficult to deal with.
Leo: Why does Netflix use them?
Dan: You’d have to ask Netflix. Netflix doesn’t just use Cogent though. Keep in mind that they buy transit from multiple providers. The two major ones that they buy for are Cogent and Level 3.
Mathew: I’m interested that European ISPs went for this deal and but American ISPs didn’t. What is the crucial difference?
Dan: I don’t know off hand. I haven’t spoken to a lot of the European ISPs. But one thing to think about is that the vast majority of Netflix traffic is still inside the US, so there’s more problems delivering video inside the last mile here simply because of the capacity. Whereas in Europe there is not as much traffic being delivered to those ISPs, and they’re not having as much as an issue with it.
Jeff: The other story is that, pardon me, I’ll stay up at high altitude and low oxygen. The other story not being discussed as part of this, is the copy right story. Is that need to resend the same movie over and over again, rather than being able to use better technologies like peer to peer technologies. The amount of streaming that occurs through bit tore now and yet it’s not really available on the commercial side of things. So that’s the issue too, is the legal side of the situation is stopping us from finding this efficient ways for content, in ways that I think we could fix if we could sit down and figure that out.
Dan: Well P to P technologies doesn’t work very well for something like Netflix because of the content protection.
Jeff: That’s exactly what I’m saying!
Leo: That’s what Jeff is saying.
Jeff: That is precisely what I’m saying. If we could fix that, and get around content protection, but in a way that still protects the holder. It’s the same absurdity.
Leo: Netflix has to stream a single copy of each movie for each subscriber.
Dan: For every user, right.
Jeff: So what happened with, for example, you know on a different level, on the DVR level, the virtual DVR, it was cable vision that was the first cable company to experiment with the legal shot across the bow, to say that we’re going to keep a single copy. If you’re all watching Big Bang Theory, rather than having to record the same exact show, 100 thousand times, we’ll record it once, but you’ll have the rights to record it, and the rights to watch it. So we have to get t o a rights management structure. What we’re doing right now is an insane and wasteful kluge around antiquated copyright laws. That’s what I’m saying.
Dan: Yeah, I would agree the biggest problem outside of copyright, the biggest problem we have in the industry as a whole, is there’s no standards. There’s no standards of video performance, Kodak, Aspect ratio, Player protocol, nothing. And the only way you’re going to have that is you need Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Google, all these guys to work together. And the problem that Netflix has is they have to take one piece of video and transport it 25 different times, times 50 thousand videos, and then build a separate player, or app for every single device on the market. That’s crazy!
Leo: We’re talking to Dan Rayburn, he’s the executive Vice president of streamingmedia.com. And it was his post on the streaming media blog that caught my eye on Monday, and you know I’ll fall on my own knife, saying that the media got this story very wrong. And, of course, you can see why, it’s pretty technical story, and Dan himself, even though this is his beat said that he had to ask some network providers for clarification in some cases. But your assailant points are these commercial interconnects are how the internet works, it doesn’t have to do with net neutrality. Do you not feel that Comcast, in any way has put the squeeze on Netflix or Cogent?
Dan: No. Because what people don’t understand is Cogent is selling a service to Netflix, and they’re guaranteeing a level of quality, and then they’re going to Comcast and saying, “Even though I’ve sold a service I can’t deliver, you need to give me more access to your network than I’m aloud to have via your peering policy, oh and by the way, give it o me for free.”
Mathew: That does seem unfair.
Leo: Yeah, it does seem unfair. And by the way this is something Verizon is now dealing with as well. And you can expect a similar result.
Dan: Verizon and At&T have already publicly stated that they will do similar deals with Netflix shortly.
Leo: Is Netflix happy with this deal?
Dan: Absolutely, their cost goes down, their quality goes up.
Leo: So I mean, if it were a net neutrality issue, the first thing you’d expect is that Netflix would be upset. The second thing you’d expect was for Netflix competitors to say….
Jeff: Well that’s the Issue Leo,
Leo: ….We’re disadvantaged.
Jeff: Netflix could be happy to do this deal, what about you? What happens if you’re expected to do things that you can’t do?
Mathew: Just because Netflix is okay with it doesn’t mean it’s not a problem, a competitor problem. They’ve just paid the guy who controls the pipe for access to your house.
Jeff: If I couldn’t get movies at Netflix for my cable at some point, I’m going to…. There’s going to be riots in the street. So Netflix knows that.
Dan: Here’s the problem though, it’s not competitive because you don’t go out and build your own CDN unless you’re the size of scale of Apple, Microsoft, and Netflix. There’s less than 10 guys who’ve built their own CDN out there. So if your want good quality video, and you’re smaller and you can’t cut a deal with Comcast, like Netflix can, you use a third party CDN like Acamire, limelight, or level 3 or Edgecast, and you get the same level quality at a cheaper price because you’re a smaller provider so it’s definitely not a competitive issue.
Leo: So just bottom line, you say I should watch Netflix on Apple TV?
Dan: Well for right now! You know now it’s going to be improved in the next few weeks, so…
Mathew: Let’s get to the important point.
Leo: Yeah. Chrome cast, is that a good choice?
Dan: Chrome cast isn’t really a streaming box per say. Chrome cast is really different from a RoKu or Apple TV.
Leo: Okay, you’re right. How’s Roku? Is it good?
Dan: Roku is the best box on the market in terms of content choices available. If you go to streamingmediadevices.com you can see a breakout chart of all the devices on the market and all the content choices they have.
Leo: Is the through put good though?
Dan: Well, that’s not on the Apple TV, so but I don’t think you have to worry about that, because now that the deal is signed, and it’s already underway….
Leo: It’s going to be good on everything.
Dan: … within a couple more weeks all this will be gone.
Leo: Yeah. And then poor Voodoo will have to suffer.
Dan: Wal-Mart yeah, I don’t know that anybody really cares about Walmart to be honest.
Leo: To me that’s kind of this issue, is the other streaming companies competing with Netflix, now need to make the same deal, don’t they?
Dan: They don’t just keep in mind. Crugal doesn’t run as CDN, Crugal uses active, lime light, Level 3..
Leo: And they made those deal.
Dan: Right and the CDNs already have transits in place to get into the ISP.
Leo: Right, and that’s why it doesn’t…
Dan: Do you think…
Leo: It doesn’t affect me Jeff, because I don’t have my own CDN, I am on Youstream, and Justin, and Bit Gravity and those providers have deals with I presume Level 3 and others.
Leo: Okay, well I think Dan you’ve made everything clear as mud. But it’s not your fault. Because it is really complicated stuff although you’ve done the best job explaining it, I’ve heard yet. And I think you’ve made a strong case why this is a separate issue from net neutrality. I’m not going to go so far as to say it doesn’t impact net neutrality but it is a separate issue.
Jeff: Yeah, that is the proper way to say it.
Mathew: But I think you could see given what Dan described, you could see the sort of pinch points if Comcast starts tightening the screws on those CDNs and on those providers who are pushing stuff from Netflix, if that starts becoming an issue, that’s where Comcast controls over as well.
Dan: They can’t, remember they can’t. Remember they can’t put those screws on them though because Netflix has a guaranteed SLA with Comcast that’s covered for multiple years.
Leo: Yeah, that’s the key that they got in this. They got a service level agreement that guarantees them a certain performance.
Mathew: I’m not thinking about Netflix specifically, I’m thinking about other content providers. Companies like Netflix are always going to be able to cut deals. I’m concerned about companies that we’ve never even heard of, or content providers that come up that are new. You know, if that starts to be a bottle neck, where Comcast controls the access the last mile that’s a potential problem.
Dan: Well no, because they don’t have the traffic that Netflix has so there is no bottle neck there so there’s no through put issue. So if you’re an up and coming video company, your traffic is so small that you wouldn’t want to cut a deal with Comcast because you’re not running your own servers. You’re not a CDN.
Leo: By the way, apparently Comcast is going to go to Cogent and ask them for money too, still. Right? This doesn’t eliminate that problem.
Dan: Well sure it does. Cogent is not going to be the middle man between Comcast and Netflix anymore. So the money that Netflix was paying Cogent, Cogent is not going to get that money over time. Cogent has come out and said that around 2% of its total revenue comes from Netflix, but the interesting status is, somewhere between 70 and 80% off traffic through Cogent is from Netflix. So what does that tell you about the business model that cogent is in? Or any transit provider? It’s not a great business.
Leo; Dave Shafer who is the CEO of Cogent told Aries Technical, and maybe this is his spin on it. That Comcast wants everybody who they can possibly extract a payment from to pay them, even though the traffic that’s reaching their customers has been paid for by their customers.
Dan: Well it hasn’t been paid for by their customers, It’s been paid for by Netflix to Cogent, not by the customers.
Leo: So it sounds like he’s intentionally misrepresenting the situation.
Dan: Yes, but Cogent has been doing that. If you look at Wikipedia, Cogent. One of the first thing that comes up is here’s a history of all their major peering disputes. With AOL, Teleglobe, Tran, Telecom, The list goes on and on.
Leo: That’s really interesting. Wow. Hey thank you Dan, I really appreciate you taking the time and if people want to read more Dan Raeburn’s column is at streamingmediablog.com. And lots of good information there for instance, prices on transit.
Leo: Which apparently is as low as a buck a megabit. A lot less than it is in other countries, Japan $25.
Dan: It’s even lower than that, transits, and maybe that’s something also that quickly covers. There’s been reports out in the media that Comcast wanted 400 million dollars from Netflix in this deal, which is absurd. And then there were some that were saying well the deal size to Comcast is 25 to 50 million dollars per year. That’s not accurate either. Last year, Comcast went on record to say that the amount of revenue they got, companywide, for all these beneficial interconnection agreements that are paid was between 30 and 60 million dollars, between all content owners.
Dan: Total, that’s public record. So Netflix is not pay 50 million to Comcast for this.
Leo: Right, but they might be paying a significant fraction thereof.
Dan: Well you could run the numbers. Look at the amount of transit they need, and look at the numbers. It’s not transit you can use as an estimate because keep in mind Comcast is giving Netflix wholesale pricing. But it’s not the numbers people are putting out there.
Jeff: I just looked up Susan Crawford’s twitter feed, because Susan I think is brilliant on these issues, and she wrote a book called the Captive Audience, I think, about the Comcast, and she said one little fact here, that gives you an idea of the changing business. Comcast numbers from the periods ‘01 to ‘05 versus ‘09 to ‘13. Revenue numbers up 112% but cap ex numbers up 14 %. And her point is that Comcast is now in a position where they’re not investing more in growth of capital, they’re harvesting the incredible market position they have. And so we hear sometimes that cable is a bad, is great for cash flow, bad for profit, but the gross profit on internet access and such as that is very, very high, and when you own the monopoly this is where the business starts to go. So the dynamics of the business starts to change for Comcast, and that’s what’s worth watching here. This is one very small part of Comcast business, but Comcast is worth watching.
Leo: Susan Crawford’s Twitter feed is Scrawford if you want to follow along, and as you mentioned her book is called Captive Audience. Thank you Dan, I really appreciate your time.
Dan: Thank you. Appreciate being here.
Leo: Really interesting stuff, we’ll have you back soon.
Dan: Thank you.
Leo: Yeah, it’s nice to have an expert on this. And we’ve been trying really hard to get people like Milo Midean who runs googles gigabit project and was formerly At home.
Jeff: Formerly At Home, yeah.
Dan: They’re not going to come and talk about this.
Leo: No, they don’t want to talk about it. I think we have a chance at Dane Jasper at sonic net he’s been very outspoken on all of this too. And we will continue to cover this story.
Chad: He actually responded, Dane Jasper and his thoughts are in the notes.
Leo: Oh! So he couldn’t be here but he did send a little note.
Yeah, He did send a little blurb on his thoughts.
Leo: Alright, well we’ll talk about that when we come back. Thanks Dan.
Dan: Thanks guys Take care.
Leo: Appreciate it. We will continue This Week in Google. Lots more to talk about. This is I think a great subject but Google has been kind of busy too. We’ll talk about that too, in just a bit. Mathew Ingram is here from Gigaohm, great to have you as always, Mathew. And of course, Jeff Jarvis, from New York, New York. Our show brought to you today by Personal Capital. A great place to go if you want to build your wealth. Who doesn’t, right? You’ve got to plan for the future, plan for your retirement, at the very least. Personal capital puts all your accounts in one place, so you can see how you’re doing with all of your financial information, your stocks, your 401K, your bank accounts, your charge cards, your mortgages, your loans. Very had to follow that, beings it’s always on so many different sites with user names and passwords. And if you’re paying somebody to manage your money this is great too, because you can not only see if you’re over paying but you can also get financial Advice. Personal capital offers free software that lets you see where all of your money is. You can also keep your accounts in one place, in real time. Make better wealth management decisions and get objective financial management advice from some of the best people in the business. Your financial dash board tells you everything about how you’re doing, and where you’re over paying, for instance, on fees. The mobile apps are great, and then, of course, the financial adviser. The best financial advisory services too. All of this for free. Visit personalcapital.com/twig. Sign up for your free account. I’ve been using it for more than a year, very happy with it. Personalcapital.com/twig. Finally you’re whole financial life in one single place. And we thank them for their support of This Week in Google. So it’s in the notes. Where’s the notes. Do we have notes?
Chad: If you hover over that sell that says it has a note in it, that’s a note!
Leo: Oh there it is!
Leo: Yeah, we’re learning how to use Google Docs today.
Jeff: That’s fancy technology stuff!
Leo: Tour tips!
Jeff: I always wondered what that was! Gees!
Leo: Look at that, you just hoover over it. Dane is a friend in the network, he’s been on many times before. He’s been on This Week in Enterprise Tech. And he’s the CEO founder of Sonic net. Which is an independent internet service provider. That is one of the best in the country, consistently ranks top in protecting its users, I think they’re a great company. And it’s local, they’re just up the road appease, so he’s been a really good advisor for us all. And he has a car with a license plate, Lennox. So that’s a good thing. Right, because you asked him about all of this.
Chad: Right, we wanted to get an interview, he said he couldn’t be available but he’d write.
Leo: It’s interesting element. One thought worth discussing may be whether an evolution of the internet into a two sided model, where both subscribers and content providers ends up, which is what we’re moving… in some ways moving towards, you know, you pay for internet access and then the people who get to you, pay for their access. And it doesn’t have to be that it, the burden is on me because it goes up stream to your transit providers, and you’re CDNS, but he says, the question is, it may benefit large incumbencies. If a competitive interest can’t get contents to pay them something, while the incumbent is collecting money which subsidizes internet access, what happens?
Jeff: And this is the issue. I got into two discussions with Andreessen on Twitter and…
Leo: See Mark has been going crazy on this!
Leo: He doesn’t want any government regulation.
Mathew: I’m not sure that’s true.
Leo: Oh okay.
Jeff: Mathew wrote about this, but I think that the issue remains that we don’t have a competitive market place. And we all want competitive market place, except those who are encumbrance in a noncompetitive market place.
Jeff: In agreement about how to get there, and do we need some steps along the way, like regulation to protect consumers who are stuck in a monopoly. But even those of us, who and I think Susan Crawford would be included in this, who at some level believe that there’s some need for some regulation along the way. The ultimate solution is competition, no question about that.
Leo: Well and you can see why that would worry Dane, because he’s the small guy compared to these guys. Even though he’s becoming bigger. And he worries that he just can’t compete or nuke people in the… you never see a new internet service provider, because the encumbrances have all the deals and it’s sewed up.
Jeff: And you have states passing laws against cities creating their own competition.
Mathew: right. That’s something the FCC should be… that should not be allowed. If it’s not easy for a region, for a city or whatever to fund, or to help develop their own competitive internet service, that’s a serious problem. Then you’re basically just relying on google fiber to solve all your problems.
Leo: So let’s talk, okay Mark Andreessen said, ok, it’s weird to have a debate in 140 character chunks. Probably not the best format.
Mathew: He’s an expert at it though.
Leo: He manages to get a lot in there. His Twitter handle is PMarCa.
Jeff: So he did it, and then today Kenny Lear who’s an investor did his own little list, and now there’s mockeries of their lists going on.
Mathew: But you know what he didn’t do. What Mark does really well, is respond. If you noticed, if you go back to the threat, it’s not just him posting thought, after thought, after thought. People challenge him and then he responds. That’s the crucial difference. Then it becomes much more of a debate or a discussion.
Leo: So it’s started with a remark from Matt Iglesias who was a former Slate writer, now writes for the new first look, pier, Ohmed ERs project. The internet was nice while it lasted. And he links to an article on the Verge, actually I don’t know if this is, we’re trying to get Neili Patel as well on this. He links to Netflix is paying off Comcast for direct traffic access. I love Neli Patels article from last year. I can’t say the name of it out loud. The internet is F’d. Which he goes into greater detail about everything’s screwed up. So Iglesias said, the internet is nice while it lasted. And then Mark Andreessen responds suppose, well I’m going to let, Mathew you wrote this great article, I’ll let you do it. Because why should I read you your article? You wrote it.
Mathew: So all I did was try and take some of the tweets and put them into context, because it is hard to follow. It’s, if you see one or you see them out of order, and then you have to go back.
Leo: You basically wrote the blooms day book for Mark Andreessen’s tweets.
Mathew: So I turned it into a blog because he obviously didn’t want to, or didn’t have time.
Jeff: Well he finally did.
Mathew: Yeah he finally did. He did one of them on media.
Jeff: But as usual Mathew, you beat him to it.
Mathew: So his point, and I talked with him about this a bit after I wrote it, and I tried to include some of his responds, and it’s sort of a never ending process. But his main point was not so much as he doesn’t want or think there should be some regulation. What he’s afraid of is if it’s just your common carriers and so you have to do whatever we tell you. That Comcast and other providers aren’t going to invest. And not just Comcast and other providers but new companies aren’t going to invest what is required to create competition.
Jeff: I’m going to interrupt you for one second Mathew. That’s why Susan Crawford’s little data point is really interesting. They aren’t investing it. Go ahead.
Mathew: Right, so he admitted that he doesn’t actually know how to produce the competition that he wants to see. It’s just his fear that if there’s too much regulation, it’s going to disinsentevice anyone from providing the bandwidth that we need. And his sort of vision of the future is we have a thousand times the bandwidth we have now. We’re all doing virtual reality 3D teleconferencing, and what not. That’s kind of the future he wants to get to. It’s not so much about who’s providing our Netflix shows right now, it’s about who’s going to provide the massive quantities of bandwidth we need in the future.
Jeff: And he tried to say… And I didn’t understand his point but maybe you did Mathew. He’d say well its one matter if you’re talking about this today but if we have 100 times the bits traversing then that becomes very different and kind of who pays. And isn’t that the classic argument that nobody is going to build this unless they get paid twice. But it is true the internet has gotten faster, and faster, and rates have gone down. So that would be worth law here.
Mathew: That would be one…. Yeah, and that’s one good response. Is that you know people have invested but we also have monopolies on those last miles. And like you suggested with Comcast they’re basically harvesting the fruits of that monopoly. So the question is how to get, so his analogy was the trucking industry, highways and so on. Let’s say Netflix is a company that’s basically taking up 80 percent of the highways, should they at some point have to pay more because they’re using up so much of that resort?
Jeff: That’s actually going to work against them, doesn’t it? Because the highways number one were built by government and couldn’t have been built by private industry. They were built by government and contracted to do it, but government was still in control. A. B, if Netflix was filling 80 percent of the highways, they would only be doing that if there was a consumer demand of what they were carrying. So consumers would say, “Yeah, let’s have more highways.” Because there was a demand for it, if they can’t get their goodies that Netflix is carrying to you, that’s an issue. They’re not just going to be filling the highways, just to be filling the highways.
Mathew: No, and Dan Gilmore pointed out, which you just mentioned the highway issue that if we had relied on private industry we probably wouldn’t have as many highways, and they’d all be toll roads. So ultimately he didn’t get at the central issue which is how do you take what we have now and turn it into something more competitive. So that then new providers can be, and one of the things that a couple people suggested including me was making it easier for local towns, municipalities, regions, whatever, to bring in competitive providers. To do high frequency microwave, to do whatever to pull in fiber, to bring in Google. Something that can blunt the force of those monopolies.
Leo: There actually has been a movement, in fact we’ve talked to a good friend of mine Tim Posar who is an activist in the bay area for community internet, and we talked to, who was it we talked to that was a big supporter?
Mathew: Oh that was Ohm.
Leo: Well Ohm has community internet, in his apartment. It’s a commercial thing but it was the guy who, one of the guys who wrote VisiCalc.
Jeff: Oh Brooklyn?
Leo: It wasn’t Brooklyn, it was the other one.
Jeff: Oh um Yeah my good friend.
Leo: Can’t remember his name, but this is his big thing now. It’s completely logical for a group’s community, community groups, towns to….
Jeff: Bob Frankston.
Leo: Bob Frankston is big in this internet. Buy wholesale internet, and wire their towns, and eliminate this and you know that’s the way to get competition. The cable companies really only have a monopoly thanks to the willingness of local communities to give them a franchise. The local communities don’t have to participate.
Mathew: Andreessen also mentioned freeing up unlicensed spectrums. Which hasn’t been happening as quickly as I think most people would argue it should. There’s theoretically unlicensed spectrum out there, that new providers could use to provide all kinds of competitive service.
Jeff: Which I absolutely agree with, and I think is critical, but I’ll go back to Susan Crawford once again, because she’s brilliant, and I’m never wrong quoting here. Is that yes, we want that and yes we need that but, she says that does not substitute for fiber. If we’re going to carry that 100 times more bits than Andreessen predicts, it isn’t going to happen over the mobile.
Leo: A lot of the fiber that’s out there was built much like the internet state highway system by the US government. Or funded by the US government. It’s not all commercial by any means.
Mathew: Well and you have to admit that a lot of the fiber we’re using, that’s super cheap, was created by companies that went bust in the last bubble.
Leo: In 1999, yeah.
Mathew: And thank god they did, because they blew their brains out on all this fiber that we’re now using super cheap. Maybe we need another bubble.
Leo: What about Marc… And by the way for the young people, we need another bubble. Bubbles always build infrastructure. It happened with the railroads, it happened with the internet.
Leo: So bubbles are good in that respect. They’re not wasted.
Mathew: Bring back the bubble.
Leo: For those of you who are too young to know who Mark Andreessen is…
Jeff: Oh how can you say that?
Leo: He was a graduate student at the University of Illinois at the national Center for Supercomputing Applications NCSA interbana. And wrote one of the very earliest internet browsers. Mosaic, or co-wrote it and then, of course, Mosaic was brought commercial as Netscape. And Netscape made a lot of money as one of the first big bubble IEOs.
Mathew: In 95.
Leo: Yeah 95. It was the one that started the bubble actually.
Mathew: I started writing about technology stocks when Netscape went public. And I created net decks of early internet companies, none of which exist now.
Leo: That’s awesome. And of course now he is at Adventure capitalist and runs Andreessen Horowitz. But I think he’s respected by everybody, not merely as Adventure Capitalist but as a pioneer and a smart fellow. He does have one idea and he tweets, to you Jeff Jarvis, one more practical idea, no discrimination on type or content of bits, just volume. And isn’t that what we’re talking about here, is not kinds of bits but the volume.
Jeff: But then Isenberg came back and said, no that doesn’t work because video is volume. And so you can determine as video by… Yes exactly. All those little bits, no problem! But those big bits. Ah, gotcha!
Mathew: So it’s good for us Tech people.
Leo: Gigaohm is happy. I did like Stacy Higginbottoms suggestion is that one thing we could do is get the FCC, the FCC could do is to say to Comcast and others is, you’ve got to reveal the details of the deals you’re making. Transparency would help a lot here.
Mathew: I t sure would because what do we know about those deals? We know the tiny little details the guys like Dan or whatever could uncover. What if there was a public action market, and all those details were publically available? You can see who’s bidding for space, and who’s selling. And all that would make it more comprehensible.
Leo: Are these all pipe dreams though? Really? I mean there’s so much money no going on, the FCC cannot be trusted to regulate this. The government can certainly not be trusted to regulate this. Any though of making this more rationally or better, is there any hope at all for doing that?
Mathew; I hope so. I really hope so!
Leo: Maybe I’m just old and cynical and jaded. I just feel like…
Mathew: Well I think we have to sort of pick certain things like you can show the FCC and say, you need to beat up on Comcast, but realistically that’s probably not going to happen. But I think it’s much more realistic to say, open up some more spectrum. That’s an easy thing to do. Make it easy for municipalities or regions to start or help fund competitive providers, that’s a relatively easy thing to do. That’s a relatively low hanging fruit.
Leo: Neli Patel says, solution is to treat the internet as a utility, like water and electricity. That’s kind of what Bob Frankston was saying, just as municipalities run water and electricity in most towns, they could run the internet.
Jeff: Kevin Mark should be on here because he got into the argument with Andreessen, and pushes the British model, which is that in a BT is the mile to the home, and then there is open access across that. Which seems to work pretty well and is not discrimitory, but the issue then is BT going to invest sufficiently. Will a google Fiber come in then?
Mathew: And Andreessen actually at the last, sort of at the end of the discussion, he seemed to agree that that was not a bad model. If you had kind of a utility provider that was either wholly subsidized or partially subsidized then you could have competing providers on top of that. But the sort of bed rock, or pipe would be something that was publically funded.
Jeff: Well that’s what we’ve gone to with electricity in the US, in a lot of states.
Jeff: So the right into my house is… whoever paid for it going in, I don’t know, but now I can buy electricity from various players. I can choose to buy green electricity.
Mathew: Right. And Hydro.
Jeff: And it’s all in house. Hydro is of course, my salute to Oh Canada, Hydroelectricity, of course they could do that too.
Leo: Lots of water in Canada.
Mathew: We have tons of water, if you want any, we would be happy too.
Jeff: Oh he does! He wants it, he needs it!
Leo: You know what else you’ve got in Canada, Tim Bray.
Leo: Google will not let him work from Vancouver so he quits.
Mathew: Yeah I found that really surprising, you know. I would have expected that from Yahoo, but I guess it’s surprised me that Google wasn’t willing to accommodate that.
Leo: who is Tim Bray?
Mathew: Who is Tim Bray? He’s a legend!
Leo: He’s a legend!
Mathew: The Tim Bray.
Leo: The Tim Bray. He’s quitting as of March 17th, because he wouldn’t move to California. He’s a software developer, co-founded open text corporation. He was one of the…
Mathew: Wrote the XML spec.
Leo: Authors the XML spec. He’s one of those guys. And his blog is down, man! Too many people are trying to read this story at tbray.org. I keep trying to pull it up and I can’t get it. Anyway, yeah, that’s kind of a shame but I also can understand having been in the same position myself how hard it is to have off site employees. It just depends what you need that employee to do.
Mathew: Yeah, he said he understood, he said that he didn’t blame them for making that decision, but it’s interesting that his sort of love of Vancouver and his dislike of San Francisco just made it, he just couldn’t bring himself to do it.
Leo: Google smart watch, we thought we might see some announcements at Mobile World Congress. We did see some new watches from Samsung. The new Gear, the Neo, the new Gear, and the Gear Fit. Some pretty, actually that gear feat seemed pretty sweet. That curved look, and superamelet scrolling touch display. But no word of a google watch, although the google is Wall Street Journal, and others have said that LG will be making a Google now kind of a watch, for Google. Apple, of course, working on a watch too. Nothing to say.
Jeff: Wearable’s oh wearable’s.
Leo: I feel like any minute now this is just going to all take off!
Mathew: Are you going to get one Leo.
Leo: You know, I have a pebble and was underwhelmed by its utility and its attractiveness, so I don’t wear it. But on the other hand if somebody made a nice looking watch that did some of the things that Pebble did. But I kind of like the gear Fit. What are you wearing Jeff? Is that Google Glass?
Jeff: Well yeah, these are the lenses, I just realized the firs time I put them on during the show and because it’s curved evidently that effects my prescriptions, so when I watch you you’re all fuzzy now.
Leo: So you have to look up like that?
Jeff: Yeah, which does not work either.
Leo: But they look good! I’ve got to say that looks pretty good. You don’t look quite so dorky.
Jeff: Well Dork o meter goes higher when you go that way.
Leo: Yeah, definitely, the big band on the right.
Jeff: The funny thing was that I wore it in class this week, and the students, you know I thought I’d get that’s cool, can I play with it? I said to all of them, you’re acting like I have cooties, and they said, Yeah, you do.
Leo: Yeah. I knew that would happen! You know whenever I asked people for a year now, when I’ve said to people Oh glass, they said Oh no, you walk down the street and everybody wants to see it and touch it! Yeah, that wore off!
Mathew: Jeff, did any of your students take a swing at you like the lady at the bar?
Jeff: Now we have a story in San Francisco of a lady in a bar who…
Leo: Did that really happen? It doesn’t feel like it really happened.
Mathew: Oh I think it happened.
Jeff: Oh I think it’s over simplified a bit in the news reports, but I think it’s simply she was showing it to a friend, somebody came over and you can imagine what this is, he says, “Is that taking pictures of me?” You know why would I? And then she said I’m turning the video on now, and I’m telling you it’s on. You can tell it’s on. And then the women got all pissed off and was putting her hand up at it, and then there was some kind of fight around it.
Leo: Sarah Slocum wrote on her Facebook. OMG so you’ll never believe this but I got verbally, and physically assaulted, and robbed last night in the city. Had things thrown at me, because of some Google wanker Google glass haters. And then some bleep tore them off my face and ran out with them then, and when I ran out after him, his bleep friends stole my purse, cellphone, wallet and everything. Wow!
Jeff: This is a discussion we had last week, in a sense, is that this is, I think it’s part of this larger San Francisco google…
Leo: Maybe, witness told this local news station here, the crowd was yelling you’re being an asshole, take those glasses off. She did manage to video tape it with her glass, and she’s turned the footage over the police. Something happened.
Jeff: So they’re next going to be going through the streets of San Francisco, banging on and destroying all the looms.
Leo: Is this the video?
Leo: Well she must have gotten the glasses back.
Mathew: She did yeah.
Jeff: Well I don’t think the glass wasn’t stolen, everything else was stolen.
Mathew: I think they took the glasses but she got them back.
Jeff: Oh is that it? Okay.
Mathew: My sense is, if you’re going to be, and I’m not saying anything about her behavior, but if you’re going to wear glass and be really obvious about it late at night, in a dive bar, when people have had a lot to drink, it’s probably poor judgment, I’m just going to say. I’m not blaming the victim here.
Jeff: Well no come on!
Leo: It’s a punk bar. Right? Mellitus is a punk bar. So I think you’re kind of, I mean, do you know Mellitus Sarah? She goes there all the time!
Mathew: Matt Honen says it’s not a punk bar.
Leo: Matt Honen says it’s not a punk bar. Sarah says? What is it?
Mathew: Non techy there you go.
Leo: Where is it?
Sarah: Lower Hade.
Leo: Oh it’s a punk bar! In the lower hade it’s a dive! Don’t go in the lower Hade and we’re glass! Oh come on, don’t go in the lower hade and where glass! I mean we’re not, if you, look if you were on Union street and got beat up, then I’d say it was something there. I’m just being silly! Sarah’s shaking her head.
Mathew: It’s interesting though, I don’t think this is going to be the last, by any means. It’s going to happen more and more often.
Leo: I think It was Andy Google right, because there’s more footage in which a woman. See she keeps taping people as they’re talking to her. Can you get my audio? This is channel four.
Video Channel 4: You may want to get accustomed to people wearing that Google Glass item. Not everybody is comfortable when somebody is wearing Google glass in their presence. Well Gay, why is that? I can’t believe this, over and over again, the whole night it was the only thing that could come out of my mouth, it was the weirdest event. Sarah was out with her friends when they entered a bar in the Hate Ashbury area in San Francisco,
Leo: It’s kind of an art bar.
Channel Four: This is the video she captured through her Google glass. And we were there maybe about 15 minutes, and too girls that were there, they started showing a lot of animosity towards me because I was wearing google glass. And at that point I turned on the video on glass, so I started recording them. I walked up to the bar, just saying like Oh Google glass, negative, kind of comments.
Leo; Okay, Sarah, this is when you leave, you don’t stay there and record it.
Channel 4: It wasn’t on, I wasn’t using it. They clearly didn’t understand.
Jeff: Well wait a second. She has a right to be there and not to be harassed.
Leo: Alright, I guess you’re right. Wait a minute, she says you’re killing the city.
Jeff: Yeah but that’s the anti-google.
Mathew: According to the LA times the altercation accelerated after a friend, who was with her, took a swing at and or pushed someone who was talking.
Leo: I do feel like theirs more to this story. And it’s a little ginned up. You know what I’m saying? It’s a little too much let me tell you! I don’t know, come on glass holes, knock it off, it’s your fault! I do have to say I feel a little bit like it’s…
Jeff: So are you kicking me off the show Leo? Huh? Is that what you’re saying?
Leo: This is a good venue! You should wear you’re Google glass here! You’re amongst you’re friends.
Jeff: I’m going to be like this the whole show. These are progressive lenses, and the mid-range is there.
Leo: Sounds like you got bad, the midrange is there, are wrong.
Jeff: No the glass, these are curved, so it all ends up different for me. In fact when I look at my tablet it looks like it’s shaped like this. It’s a problem. It’s another problem.
Leo: According to courts, Google does not want to hire top college graduates. Actually it was an interview with The New York Times Tom Friedman with Google’s head of people operations, Laszlo Bock. “Hello, I am Laszlo Bock. I am head of people operations.”
Jeff Jarvis: As opposed to the other men who are the head of robot operations.
Leo: He says that ”Google has determined that your GPA is worthless as a criterion for hiring, and test scores are worthless. They don’t predict anything.” A proportion of people without any college education that google has increased, not decreased, in time. Chad and I are going, “Yeah.”
Leo: Now as high as 14%. He says, “Good grades don’t hurt, because many jobs at Google require math, computing and coding skills,” but, he says, “People who come out of top colleges are kind of arrogant.”
Jeff: Google first insisted you only came from one of the top colleges and only that you had perfect grades and only had the highest test scores, so this is just so opposite of where they were. But this notion of intellectual humility - I am quite liking this.
Leo: I do like it.
Jeff: If you’re intellectually hubristic, you think that the . . .
Leo: “I know everything!”
Jeff: . . . you’re so smart!
Mathew: You think you know everything, because they mention specifically the learning ability is one of the things they look for.
Leo: It says for every job, this is a quote, “The No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability. That’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information. We assess that using structured behavioral interviews that we validate to make sure they’re predictive.” That’s what’s I could (unintelligible)
Leo: Huh? Press this button – zzzzt! Oh! I’m sorry.
Leo: The second attribute, after learning ability, leadership. In particular, emergent leadership as opposed to traditional leadership. Traditional leadership is, “Were you president of the chess club?” We don’t care. What we care about it is, when faced with a problem, and you’re a member of a team, do you at the appropriate time step in and lead and, just as critically, do you step back and stop leading and let someone else?
Mathew: So your Skull and Bones membership is not going to cut it?
Leo: You know, I don’t care. If they don’t want me, I don’t want them.
Jeff: Now we’re going to see people trying to hide the fact that they went to Yale. I went to a community college in some local place.
Leo: You know, I am telling you, I am the best of all worlds. I went to Yale and I dropped out! So there! I knew when to step back.
Mathew: You got in and then you said, “Aaah, is that all there is?”
Leo: I was president of the chess club and then I quit. So there!
Mathew: The interesting thing, though, is that Google, - we can make fun of them for it, but they do do a huge amount of data analysis, even on stuff like this. What do people eat in the cafeteria? When they come in and when they leave. When the parking lot is empty and when it isn’t. So I’m sure they’ve looked exhaustively at the performance of new hires and figured this out. It’s refreshing in a way.
Leo: He also says people who are the most successful here have a fierce position. They’ll argue like hell. They’ll be zealots about their point of view. But then you say “Here’s a new fact”, and they’ll go, “Oh, well, that changes things. You’re right.” He says, “You need a big ego and a small ego in the same person at the same time.” By the way, I would say these are a 100% right. If I could say what I was looking for when we hired here, it would be exactly this.
Mathew: I can’t remember who it was, somebody asked a famous economist – it was Keynes or somebody - why he’d flip-flopped on an issue and he said, “When I’m presented with evidence that contradicts what my views are, I change my mind. What do you do?”
Leo: Right. It always drives me crazy that we accuse politicians of being flip-floppers, when in fact don’t you want somebody who will listen to information and then adjust his opinion based on that information? “No, I don’t want to hear anymore. I made up my mind. I know what’s true!” In fact, maybe we should use this to elect politicians from now on.
Jeff: Eric Schmidt for president.
Leo: “Talent can come in so many different forms and be built in so many nontraditional ways today, hiring officers have to be alive to everyone - besides brand name colleges.” Because, “when you look at people who don’t go to school and make their way in the world, those are exceptional human beings. And we should do everything we can to find those people.”
Leo: Wow! It is part of the debate these days – should you even go to college? Should you incur the debt (and I’m saying this with a college professor in the room.) Should you incur the debt of a college, when in fact many people say, including my good friend Don Tapscott, “All college does is prepare you to, groom you to be, part of that class.”
Jeff: Don, who’s also at a university . . .
Leo: Oh he’s a professor, too, so . . .
Jeff: I’ve got tenure, man . . .
Leo: I can say whatever I want, now!
Jeff: You absolutely, absolutely, need to be disrupted. Like media and retail and other industries, we deserve it. One of the things I learned in universities is we do a lot of talk here about outcomes, but we ascribe the outcomes to what we already want to teach. I tried to start a research project where we went in and did ethnographic research in newsrooms and startups to find these skills that are really in the marketplace, and then back into what we should teach, but I couldn’t get anybody to fund it.
Leo: You’re actually good, because you didn’t come from academia.
Jeff: Oh, no, I didn’t. I have a bachelor’s degree, and I’m teaching master’s students.
Leo: Yeah, perfect. You’re the kind of professor they need, because you come from the real world. So that’s fine, I don’t have a problem with that, it’s the people who come up through the system, they get all the degrees and they never leave the school. They make their entire lives . . .
Jeff: It’s less the people, but also the reward structures that get built around that, the cementing that occurs. And there’s a reason for tenure. I was in a discussion with a bunch of people who have chairs – I don’t have a chair. I’m sitting on a ball. I barely have lights here. They turn them off like in Iraq. Anyway, so, where was I?
Leo: I will always be a good audience, if you want to do shtick, just go right ahead.
Jeff: OH, so the chairs. So there was talk about a foundation from saying let’s get rid of this idea of tenure. A couple people in the room said, “Well, I wouldn’t have been able to do what I’ve done, because I would have gotten fired long ago.” And the truth is, when I came here to CUNY, the story my former dean has told in his memoirs, Sarah Bartlett’s predecessor, is that I quit on the first day on the job. I was the first professor hired. It was announced in the New York Times. I started here and I had a faculty meeting that day about the curriculum. I go in and try to say the professors all need to be trained in new technology and I get shot down and screamed at. And I say “Oh my God, I’ve made a terrible mistake.” I let it fester for a week. I send the dean an email saying, “We’ve both made a terrible mistake, I quit my job. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I don’t want to be the thorn in everybody’s side.” He came back and said “What are you saying? You idiot. I hired you. That’s the committee from the rest of the university. We‘re going to hire faculty who are going to do this. Are you crazy?” And he was right, and I stayed and thank God I did. But I said at the end of that, “You know, I was thinking that tenure was a horrible thing. Maybe we should talk about that.” Because I saw what it was like to be controversial, to try to take a stand that the rest of the faculty didn’t like and what could happen to you as a result. So for academic freedom, there is a rationale behind tenure, but as an entitlement? The other issue we face - and this could be said of me, too - it’ll feel the changes so rapidly, should I stay here forever? Noooo. Not unless I stay up.
Mathew: I thought it was interesting that Nick Kristof - I know we’re going off on a tangent here - but he talked . . .
Leo: That’s what we do!
Mathew: He wrote a whole thing about how it would be nice if more people in academia took part in discussions about their field outside of journals that only five people read. And he got a lot of pushback from academics about it, but I think his point was a good one, that a lot of potential knowledge and sort of useful debate and points of view that are locked up inside universities and inside journals and it would be nice if more of that was available.
Jeff: There was also a piece in, I think, Foreign Affairs - somebody saying “None of the smartest people I know is on Twitter or Facebook. Basically only dumb people are there”. It was in, like, Foreign Affairs. But that was the old horrible snotty attitude, “I don’t want to talk to the public.”
Jeff: All the biggest ideas, all the best ideas, you don’t know those. You’re not good enough to know those. Well f_ that.
Leo: We don’t have Gina do a change log here, but I’ll give you – there is a new Google + coming, look for it sometime in the next day. If you have 4.2, 4.3 will come out. Lots of new stuff: nondestructive photo editing across all your devices, so you can start an edit on one device and continue or start over on another. You can back up full resolution photos from your desktop, edit them on your phone, and then finish on your tablet. I like that. New filters, new creative tools: Crop, rotate, one-touch filters, Snapseed-inspired enhancements. A single view of all your photos, the All view, displays your entire photo library, whether it’s on your current device or backed-up in the cloud if your library’s really large. The app won’t show all your photos initially if it’s more than 10,000 photos, but larger libraries over the next few weeks and an easy way to browse photos by date. Swipe through your photos in All view, look for the scroll bar on the right, drag the scroll bar up or down, will move you backwards or forwards in time. So look for an update to – I think there was an update to the Google launcher, too, if you’re on a Nexus or Google Play device.
Jeff: I didn’t see one.
Mathew: They’re pushing their auto-backup software, too, right?
Leo: Yeah. So, that’s – there’s your change log. Rumpumpumpum.
Jeff: One story that’s on there, that I think there’s a lot of discussion going on-line. A federal court just forced Google/YouTube to take down that horrible ridiculous anti-Muslim video, over a copyright thing. And something that has major, if awful news value, ridiculous news value, what it inspired, but now copyright is taking it down from public view.
Mathew: It was a really weird ruling, because the judges decided, as far as I can tell, that because the creator of the movie had altered the work that this actress was involved with, had changed things, had added things, had changed the whole nature of the work. That effectively copyright reverted to her from the creator.
Jeff: That’s even weirder
Mathew: Yeah, it’s very strange and the dissenting judge you can tell thought the whole thing was just ridiculous.
Jeff: If I could retain copyright for everything an editor butchered, ha ha ha
Leo: Yeah really
Mathew: Would be nice.
Jeff: I’d own a lot of worthless stuff, but I’d own it.
Leo: It was a 2-to-1 decision, 9th circuit court of appeals. The dissenting judge, actually the chief judge, who voted to pull down the video, said “This is a troubling case. Actress Cindy Lee Garcia was duped into providing an artistic performance that was used in a way she could never have foreseen.”
Jeff: “Artistic” is a stretch for anything that was in that video.
Leo: She did say from the very first, “This is not what I thought I was acting in.”
Mathew: It’s not what she – yeah, he altered . . .
Jeff: That’s a fraud case – that’s a different case.
Leo: It’s not a copyright case.
Mathew: But, basically, the judge said it was not a work for hire, right? Because that changes the rules, right? Because it was not a work for hire, she only gave an implied license. And therefore, since they didn’t do . . .
Leo: She had been cast in a different film, Desert Warrior, but that film was never made, but the footage was then re-used with her voice dubbed over with an anti-Muslim . . .
Jeff: It was a sham from the beginning. There was never a Desert Warrior in the works, but nobody was going to make the horrible anti-Muslim thing that they made, so they just got people to shoot stuff so they could . . .
Leo: That does seem like fraud would have been a better . .
Jeff: It’s fraud, yeah!
Jeff: The guy’s a schmuck
Leo: Google says they strongly disagree with the ruling and will appeal.
Jeff: Jeff Roberts pointed out in our post, “The dissenting judge said it was a strained interpretation of copyright” and added that “The court had never made a similar ruling in any other case” and said that it could cause it to be ‘prior restraint of speech’, and that public interest would side with Google in keeping it up.
Leo: Julie Ahrens at Stanford said, “The idea that a copyright is a tool that’s going to be used to censor speech we don’t like, that’s very dangerous.”
Mathew: Yeah, it’s pretty frightening
Jeff: The other thing is, it’s going to bring attention back to this piece-of-junk, stupid thing that was by one schmucky idiot.
Leo: Oh yeah. Streisand Effect, yeah.
Leo: Eric Schmidt’s giving a million bucks to solve problems through technology. It seems like a paltry amount for a man who . . .
Jeff: Oh, look a gift horse in the mouth, will you?
Jeff: So a million dollar technology is better than a billion dollars in anything else.
Leo: I’ll grant you that.
Jeff: I wrote a post today, part of the - out of my trip to the valley and I get in trouble with people for this like crazy, because I’m saying that I would rather see philanthropists put money into scalability in journalism rather than just supporting more stories. And that scalability, innovation and that spent in infrastructure and platforms and things like that, is where I want to see the money go. And so all the non-profit news things are coming after me, whining at me about right now on Twitter, but . . .
Mathew: Your point is a good one. If millionaires and billionaires just give money to non-profits, we’re not going to see any new technological innovation, or sort-of new platforms, or new . . because who’s going to fund them?
Jeff: Exactly. Because there’s a competition for capital that occurs and the capital I think should go to innovation scalability, but that’s boring.
Leo: I should correct myself, the Google Now launcher which was previously available only on Google Play edition and Nexus devices, now can be downloaded from the store for any device. So that actually is a big deal. They released the launcher that the – this is the beginning of what some have worried about , that Google would slowly release all the Google service applications to the store, and even if you didn’t – you know you could basically replace your crappy Samsung launcher, your crappy Samsung apps with all the Google apps.
Mathew: Why is that worrisome?
Leo: Doesn’t worry me
Mathew: Seems like an improvement.
Jeff: I have the GS5 and I think about how half the memory is gone with all the Samsung crap.
Leo: This was the complaint I had with the GalaxyS4 and one of the reasons I didn’t use it. I bought a 16 gig Galaxy S4 and I only had 9 Gig free because of the cruft - uninstallable cruft that Samsung put on it. It’s even worse, it turns out, on the S5 -although Samsung didn’t show off any of that cruft – it’s 8 gigs free! So there’s even more stuff on the Galaxy S5 that you can’t remove that messes things up.
Mathew: That’s to help you, Leo – it’s not cruft.
Leo: Ugh, it’s so awful
Mathew: They want to help make your life easier.
Leo: I love the Note so much, I love that big screen, but I can’t use it, because I don’t want to use Samsung’s S Voice, I want to use Google Voice. I don’t want to use Samsung’s this-and-that, I don’t want golf mode in my camera.
Mathew: Hahahah golf mode
Leo: So we have been talking about WhatsApps since it happened, because it’s just so stunning. That number - 19 billion dollars. We had heard a rumor that Google had offered 10 billion, now word comes from Sundar Pichai, “No, that’s simply untrue.” He said, “WhatsApp is an exciting product, but we never made an offer to acquire them. Press reports to the contrary are simply untrue.”
Leo: 10 billion would be a lot of money.
Jeff: There were other reports that they would have paid more than Facebook paid.
Leo: Yeah, apparently not.
Mathew: And I’m kind of glad, to be honest. It sort of made me nervous when those reports first came out saying they had bid 10 billion and were prepared to match it, and all that. I thought, “That’s a crazy amount of money.” I know Google has lots of money, but it’s a crazy amount of money. It’s crazy for Facebook, but at least whatever Mark Zuckerberg has talked himself in to believing that it’s worth that.
Jeff: He went to Mobile World and said it was cheap.
Mathew: Because it was worth more, yeah.
Jeff: If you’re going to spend that much money, you have to say that. You’ve got to say that.
Mathew: 20 billion, 30 billion
Jeff: I got a deal!
Leo: I don’t care how expensive my 9000 OLED TV was, it worth twice that amount. I would have paid 20000 for it.
Mathew: Facebook stock has already gone up enough to account for a third of that.
Leo: Exactly. That’s the important point. That people ignore that 12 billion of it was stock, already inflated stock, and mostly what Facebook paid was dilution. They diluted their stock value is mostly what they did
Mathew: Om pointed out when that deal came out, that Cisco did very much the same thing in the last sort of movie, where they used their stock, which was incredibly highly valued, and they bought a company, I can’t even remember the name of it, there were two guys and a scribbled network diagram on a napkin. And they paid 2 ½ or 3 billion, because why not?
Leo: It’s almost free money, yeah.
Mathew: Right and it got something into their HQ and out of everybody else’s hands. Couple billion in stock, three days later they’d probably paid for it.
Leo: WhatsApp will be adding voice calls and that’s going to be – you know, I think if you think about what it is – it’s mostly, they’re paying 42$ per user for 450 million users, Facebook itself it worth more than twice that. And Instagram, they paid $45 per user. So it’s really right in there
Mathew: And I think they were, I don’t know about now, Mark Zuckerberg said they were adding a million users a day.
Mathew: In some countries where they’ve never even heard of Facebook, or where Facebook is not used that much.
Jeff: Rafat Ali at Skift said that every one of his relatives in India is on WhatsApp.
Mathew: Yeah. It was interesting to watch when he talked about it even on Twitter, and I talked to people in real life as well. People who didn’t either know someone or were related to someone in another country, had never heard of it.
Leo: And that’s why I was using it, because I was talking to someone in another country
Mathew: Right. If you knew someone or a relative or even someone whom you knew from a different country, they use it all the time. Literally
Leo: Yeah. I have an alternative to WhatsApp that people who are a little nervous about it, now that it’s owned by Facebook, might be interested in. It’s actually great.
Leo: I’m not going to tell you yet. Because it’s going to be my Tool of the Week. So stay tuned for that. Couple more stories and we will get to our tip and tool and number of the week.
I thought this was a very good column, I wanted to just point to it from codinghorror.com. App-pocalyse Now. The author shows, and for some reason the image is not coming in on my browser right now, but he shows the thing you see every time when you visit on the browser a website for a publication. “Install our free app.”
Jeff: It’s not just that. We killed the pop-up. Remember when pop-ups were new and we killed that dead, dead, dead. And now site after site after site I’ve got it, I don’t know how it works, but I’ve got to go in and kills these little –
Leo: Oh, it’s so annoying! Here’s the XKCD cartoon. “Want to visit an incomplete version of our website where you can’t zoom? Download our App!” And then you have two choices – ‘Okay’, or ‘No, but ask me again every time’. UUUUUGH
Mathew: It’s so true
Leo: This was, I thought, a very good article. He really says, “Yes there are a million plus apps on the Android store, but how many of them are any good?” Most of them, he says 99% of them, are awful junk nobody would ever want. And what he points out is, yes, apps are cheap, but the real cost is your time. I identified with this. How many times do you install an app and hover your finger over the uninstall button, because you just know something’s going to happen and you’re going to say “NO, get rid of that app now!”
Mathew: It’s a great piece. The point I think he makes that really hit me was this sort of vision of our at least near-term future, and messaging is a great example, where you’ve got multiple sort of siloed inaccessible proprietary platform-based things that don’t interoperate, you can’t share things between them. It’s terrible and that’s the way lots of the internet was before we got standards and before people decided to – I remember early chat with AIM and MSN and so on, it was terrible, because you couldn’t talk to someone unless they were – It’s like not being able to make a phone call to someone unless they have a specific phone. You know, it’s ridiculous and we shouldn’t stand for it.
Leo: . . . when we had this great thing call the World Wide Web, the open easily transportable web. It worked so great. I blame you, Steve Jobs. And by the way, credit to Jeff Atwood, who is cofounder of Stack Exchange, and is a really great guy and this is a great blog post and I just wish images were coming up.
Mathew: I don’t have them either
Leo: Jeff, what’d you do? You messed up your code? blog.codinghorror.com, the place to go. I just want say, you know, I agree. Been there done that. Let’s bring back the web, such a good idea.
I don’t see anything else, unless any of you have something you want to see, talk about, the rundown, we have a first look from googaohm.com, the Toshiba 13-in chrome book,video. I’m not sure, is this from Mobile World Congress? Kevin Tofel, by the way, is so great. Good acquisition.
Mathew: He is great.
Jeff: Here’s the machine – affordable pixel is going to be the Acer 27p, which has a touch screen. And it’s going to have four gigs, not two gigs, that’s hard to get. And it’s going to have LT. I figure that adds up to about $500.
Leo: I wish they’d make a mid-range. We mentioned this before. There are two choices. You’ve got this crazy expensive Pixel, or the ridiculously cheap $200-300 Netbooks, basically. Do something in the mid-range.
Jeff: 720p, there arose a version with four gigs. I put an order in for it; I’m not sure why since I have a Pixel. But anyway, I put an order for it on Amazon and Amazon killed my order and other people in the chat room said before the show that happened to them too. And so I guess it got pulled as a product. Four gigs, LT and a touch screen and you’ve a mid-range Pixel.
Leo: And 9 hours of battery life, because the Pixel’s battery life is not so good.
Jeff: I think google should make that actually to show what’s doable.
Leo: We’re going to take a break, come back and if you wish, Mathew, to provide us with anything you like. Something you want to tell people about, your Pick of the Week. I have the Tool of the Week. Jeff Jarvis will have a number.
Our show today brought to you by squarespace.com. You saw the Super Bowl ad. They actually have some new ads now on the Squarespace site. “A Better Web Awaits.” Let me show you the new one. “No Detail is Too Small.” I’m a big fan of Squarespace. (“They say the difference between good and great resides in the details.” – ad running)
Jeff: Let it be known that Mathew Ingram had a good time at the Boston Park Plaza.
Leo: Oh, now, how do we know that?
Jeff: Because we know that from Twitter, that the hotel had a very nice little Conversation of the Month. What a very smart hotel, eh Mathew?
Mathew: I never talked to a hotel before. That was interesting. They said, “Did you enjoy your stay?” It took them a while, because I think that was February 7th.
Leo: So wait a minute, you went to the hotel, you stayed there, and did they ask for your Twitter handle when you checked in? What if you had been there for an assignation?
Mathew: I checked in on Foursquare.
Leo: Oh, but they knew to go to your Twitter account.
Mathew: I think I shared it on Twitter, yeah.
Leo: Ahah. He’s @mathewi on Twitter
Leo: And what did they say?
Mathew: Just thanks for coming to stay with us, did you enjoy the conference?
Jeff: And Mathew being the nice Canadian said “Sure did”
Leo: Oh yes, thank you very much
Leo: Actually I love Mathew’s Twitter feed, I’m just reading your tweets now. Fred Wilson on Bitcoin, “I always feel good buying when there’s blood in the streets in any market.”
Mathew: That was a good one.
Leo: Yeah Fred
Leo: Reddit’s adding a new real-time reporting feature.
Mathew: Yeah, I thought that was interesting. I got a lot of feedback, mostly negative, on that. They’ve got a new feature that basically allows you to live blog a breaking news event.
Leo: Oh. That’s neat.
Mathew: And you basically become the editor of that live blog and then you can allow other people or bring in contributions from elsewhere into that live blog. So obviously everyone brought up the Boston bombing and
Leo: How they got it wrong.
Mathew: But so did CNN, so I still think more people doing those things is better. I keep going back to what Jay Rosen has said, “Journalism gets better when more people do it.” And so, yeah, I’m sure there are going to be screw-ups, I’m sure there’s going to be mistakes, but we have those every day in the regular media, so why shouldn’t Reddit be part of it?
Leo: You use as an example the Ukrainian conflict Reddit live updates. This is a perfect place to do it. Why not?
Mathew: They actually have a great Syrian civil war sub-Reddit that’s by a guy, I think he’s a law student, and he runs two or three other sub-Reddits, one about Venezuela, and they’re excellent. The Syrian civil war one is really good. I would say it’s one of the best resources about the Syrian civil war in any media form - traditional, professional, amateur, whatever - next to Brown Moses and his blog and places like that. It’s quite well done.
Leo: Wikipedia has done that for a while.
Mathew: This is a similar model
Leo: I think crowd-sourcing news is not a bad thing at all. As long as you understand the potential pitfalls.
Leo: A human mob can form at anywhere any time.
Mathew: Sure. And I think that lots of people said, “well they’re going to make lots of mistakes and how could that possibly be better”, but if you look at what happens on Twitter, lots of those mistakes are corrected and hoaxes are corrected a lot faster than they are in traditional media. So you’re got benefits and disadvantages, yes. There are more errors, but they happen faster and can be corrected faster.
Leo: I completely agree. When it works, it works so well that it justifies any potential issues that come up. So there’s a tip. Follow Mathew on Twitter. @Mathewi
Jeff: One “t”, as I learned the hard way, Mathew slaps people like nuns with rulers, to teach them it’s one “t”.
Leo: Is that how you spell if for real though, Mathew?
Mathew: Yeah, it’s only one‘t’.
Leo: Is there a story behind that, Mat-hew?
Mathew: No. Is there a comprehensible one, no. I asked my mother when I was old enough to figure out that it was weird and why she chose one, and all she could come up with was that she didn’t want me to be called Matt. She hated the name Matt.
Leo: Well now if you’re called Mat, it’s really confusing.
Mathew: Right, and I said you can’t say the name Matthew so that it only has one” t”. So anyone that hears it is obviously going to call me Matt, so that didn’t really work. She actually used to – people would call our house and say “is Matt there?” and she would say, “No one by that name lives here.”
Mathew: And would hang up
Leo: I love that
Leo: That’s awesome
Mathew: That was fun.
Leo: Well I’ve known you for I don’t know how long, years, and it’s the first time I’ve noticed there was one‘t’.
Mathew: Oh, really?
Mathew: I felt sorry for the guy who was @matthewi, with two “t’s”, I think he’s actually left Twitter, because it got too much. People were replying to him instead of me.
Leo: Anything else you want to plug before we wrap up here?
Mathew: I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but I use a service called Trovebox, it was originally called OpenPhoto. And I back up every photo from my devices to that service. And one of the interesting things about them is they integrate with Amazon’s S3, so if you have an account there, which I do, it automatically dumps all that stuff into S3 repository so you don’t have to worry about it. So you’re not relying on them for storage, they basically just handle the uploading and handle all the other stuff and then you can go to your Trovebox site and see all the photos and turn them into albums or share them or whatever. It’s quite simple, but it works really well.
Leo: You prefer that – see nowadays, Facebook, Google, Microsoft - everybody wants to give you free backup space.
Mathew: And I do do that, I actually back them up to Dropbox and to Google and in some cases to Facebook as well, but I like to have one that isn’t associated with a specific platform, that is just - me and Amazon cut a deal and that’s where my stuff is, so that in case something happens, for whatever reason.
Leo: For the longest time I was using Backupify, and they’ve kind of slowly dwindled in terms of things that they do.
Mathew: Yeah, I used it to for
Leo: So I’m looking for something else. trovebox.com. Thank you Mathew. A number, Jeff Jarvis.
Jeff: So my friend Chuck Martin, an expert in Mobile put an interesting post on LinkedIn today, with data from Monetate. It says that in the last quarter, in the Christmas quarter, average order size from Android exceeded average order size from iPhones in eCommerce. $136 vs. $126, reversing a previous trend. Which I just found interesting, because I hear complaints about “Yeah, there’s a lot more Android than iPhone, but Pete I make more money from iPhone.” I see people say they make apps and such, so I found that interesting.
Jeff: It was $2 billion in sales – cyber Monday was the highest grossing online shopping day in history.
Jeff: One out of three visits to ecommerce websites comes from smart phone or tablet. Tablet average size, as opposed to the $126/$136 from the phones, the tablet average size order is $153.
Leo: So it’s more than anybody?
Leo: Wow. That makes sense. Tablet users are affluent lazy people. They order more online.
Jeff: Yes. That’s why the numbers!
Leo: Thank you, Jeff Jarvis. We talked yesterday about secure messaging platforms on Security Now! And spent some time talking about Telegram. Telegram is a Russian secure messaging platform for Android and others, that is funded by Pavel Durov, who is, according to Mark Milian, the Mark Zuckerberg of Russia. And claimed a million new users when WhatsApp was sold. A lot of people fleeing WhatsApp, apparently, because they don’t trust Facebook. I don’t know why. Telegram makes a big deal about being a secure encrypted service, but Steve’s analysis and many others, as it turns out, is that this is far from secure and it’s just bizarre and he doesn’t recommend it. But he did mention it, and this all came up because one of the critics of Telagram is a well-known cryptography security expert named Moxie Marlinspike. He has the most Dickensian name!
Jeff: What a wonderful name!
Leo: Yeah, it is. I don’t know if it’s a real name, but it is a great handle. And Moxie has an open source implementation of security, and his company OpenWhisper Systems offers a secure message center which Steve says is very good. I installed it, in fact I found – not only it’s free, it’s easy to use, it offers all the features of WhatsApp – group messaging, audio, video, text, pictures - but it’s very easy to use. In fact, I liked it so much I replaced my standard SMS App – you could do this on Android which is really great and made TextSecure my default. Texting looks like regular texting on TextSecure, unless you exchange a key with somebody and then all of your conversations are protected by strong encryption, stored on the phone encrypted, never spend any time on their system’s servers. It is true, strong encryption and I have to say I have started using it now as my SMS. It’s really great. It does everything WhatsApp does. And the same company, OpenWhisper, does a phone service called Red Phone that is a secure voice communication. So if for some reason you’re fleeing WhatsApp, this is a great alternate choice that is, in fact, secure.
Mathew: Is it just for Android. Leo?
Leo: Right now it’s just for Android, they say they’re doing an IOS version of it, and the nice thing about it is that the encryption technology is open and freely available, you can federate with them. So others could write apps that work with TextSecure using federation, which I even like better. It means you’re not stuck with just one implementation. And Moxie’s really one of the good people. So this is a great choice. TextSecure. Highly recommended.
My friends we’ve come to the end of another This Week in Google. I’m so glad you could be here, Mathew Ingram. Thank you.
Jeff: Yes, thank you.
Mathew: Thanks for having me.
Leo: Really appreciate it. Anything you want to plug? Everyone should read gigaom.com
Mathew: Yes, read Gigaom all the time. Make it your home page.
Leo: We do
Leo: I just, Gigaom is just awesome. And it’s not just you it’s all the other great people there including, of course, Om Malik. It’s really become for me a go-to site.
Mathew: We have a great team.
Leo: Great team and very insightful stuff – it’s more than just breaking news. You learn a lot. You really do.
Mathew: And we do have some of our newer writers. Signe Brewster, for example, writes a lot about 3D printing and sort of really cutting edge stuff. I find it fascinating. I always learn something from her. She writes about drones and stuff like that. It’s incredibly fascinating.
Leo: We have a lot of people from Gigaom on this show, because they’re some of the best tech journalists out there. Really great. And I don’t know Signe, but I will look her up, or him. It’s a her.
Mathew: It’s a her.
Leo: She’s a she. Jeff Jarvis is, of course, the man in charge at City University of New York, runs the entire place. Professor of journalism at CUNY. He’s also the author of Public Parts and blogs at buzzmachine.com. Thank you, Jeffrey.
I’m hoping that Gina will be back next week; I have no reason to think otherwise. We missed Gina. Yeah she’s the greatest. It’s nice to have people like Mathew we can call on. Thank you for joining us. We do This Week in Google 1 pm Pacific, 4 pm Eastern time, 2100 UTC on Wednesday afternoons. Please stop by. Please join us, we love having you here. If you can’t watch live on-demand, audio and video always available for free, always free, at twit.tv/twig or wherever you subscribe to Netcasts.
Thanks for joining us and we’ll see you next Wednesday!