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More on "Lessig for Congress"

Ars Technica has a great article today on Professor Lessig's potential run for Congress that I mentioned yesterday. The article does an excellent job of outlining Lessig's platform in far better detail than the one sentence I gave it. What's particularly interesting about his position is his desire to build a Creative Commons in Congress, where "[i]f politicians begin foreswearing PAC money, the theory runs, voters may come to see the failure to refuse lobbyist dollars as a badge of shame rather than simply the way things are done." This sounds like a very necessary change and requires the proverbial "Washington outsider" to really get going - Lessig is that outsider. Further, the article elaborates on the difference between Lessig and his greatest rival in the race, Jackie Speier. Lessig mentions that there aren't many differences, but that a focus on technology would give him an edge and that even though many prominent California Democrats have thrown their support behind Speier, the rush to consolidate support has frustrated voters who want more options. As I said yesterday, I can't wait to see how this plays out.

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Lessig May Run For Congress

I wrote about Professor Larry Lessig's shift in focus from Free Culture to corruption in Washington when he gave his last Free Culture talk. Since then, a seat has opened up in Congress as a result of the death of California Congressman Tom Lantos. Lessig posted on his weblog earlier today that a Facebook group and the draftlessig08.org website have caused him to actually consider running.

I think Lessig has a great chance of winning thanks to support from the tech community. Having him in Congress would not only be excellent for his next project, but would also help along causes that current Congress members are either too tech illiterate or too influenced by money to really address the right way (one such cause being Net Neutrality).

There's no word on when he'll make a decision, but along with the rest of the tech community, I wait with bated breath.

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Tab Dump - Long Overdue Edition

Too many tabs sitting open for far too long. Here we go:

Hugh Macleod on Applying "Creativity" to Your Professional Life Etc. Some nice tips, especially for those of us just starting our professional lives. Not really much to say about this, but a lot to think about. I'll probably keep this open and glance at it every once in a while despite having linked to it. (Note: This was posted on January 9th so I've had it sitting in my browser for a month!)

Andre Torrez's first Django app is a simple random color generator that is absolutely amazing and beats any other "Hello, World" I've ever seen. I'm a Rails guy and this is so cool I might just try writing my own just for kicks.

Today Is The Day is a really weird and creepy one-post blog about a day in the life of a styrofoam man. Really can't say much else about it, but it's worth checking out.

Air Traffic Controller Don Brown on air traffic safety vs. capacity. Quite an interesting and enlightening read, though probably not the best thing to read two weeks before boarding a 17-hour flight (granted I read this before I knew I'd be going back to South Africa).

I will keep doing this periodically, but it's worth noting that I'm sharing a lot more of what I come across over on Google Reader. Check out my link blog or add me as a friend directly from Google Reader/Google Chat (martingordon at gmail).

Post-Strike TV Show Statuses

I woke up this morning to a link from my friend Adam to a handy San Jose Mercury News article listing out the status of all TV shows now that the writers' strike is over. As the article states, these statuses aren't final and are subject to change, although they will be updating them as new information is released. For those of you with the same exact interests at me, here's the status of my favorite shows:

  • "Heroes": No saving the world until the fall.
  • "Scrubs": Four episodes still unaired and was planning to produce four more in what is its final season. Status is now iffy.
  • "The Office": Will film as many as eight episodes for April and May.
  • "Big Love" (HBO): May be held until early next year.
  • "Entourage" (HBO): Back in the fall instead of the summer.

Shows that I also follow but weren't on that list are American Dad, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Family Guy.

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Apple Bumps iPhone, iPod touch Storage

In a stealth update this morning, Apple introduced new models of the iPhone and iPod touch with increased storage. Both lines received new models priced at $499, the new iPhone having 16GB of storage (double the previously available 8GB) and the new iPod touch having 32GB of storage (double the previously available max of 16GB). None of the other specifications have changed.

Introducing new models with increased storage space seems like a logical move on Apple's part. The new models have practically no R&D costs and might bump up demand for the devices while Apple prepares the 2nd generation iPhone, which many speculate will be released this summer. Of course, Apple hopes that the 8GB iPhone will go the way of the 4GB iPhone. That is, that almost everyone will be willing to spend the extra $100 to double the capacity of their phones.

Something interesting to note is that the iPod touch now has the same storage capacity as the low-end 5G iPods that were discontinued last September (albeit at double the price) and that the price points and storage amounts echo that of the 3rd generation iPods, which came in at 10/15/30 GB for $299-$399. Given another doubling of storage and the iPod touch will be closing in on the iPod classic's storage capacity. Meanwhile, Apple has kept around the $299 8GB iPod touch, most likely in an effort to hit all types of iPod buyers and signaling that the touch is definitely set to become the mainstream iPod sooner or later.

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Microhoo: Microsoft Offers $44.6B to Acquire Yahoo

Yesterday I was meaning to write about Amazon's $300 million acquisition of Audible, a match made in heaven, but today comes news that Microsoft is offering $45 billion for Yahoo, which pretty much eclipses the relatively straightforward Amazon/Audible deal.

There were no shortage of rumors regarding a MSFT/YHOO merger/acquisition in 2007, but no formal proposal was actually ever made public and Yahoo came out and said that a deal didn't make sense on account of the potential upside of the restructuring and strategic initiatives set for 2007. As Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer states, a year has passed and the competitive landscape still hasn't changed. Indeed, Project Panama has done little to improve Yahoo's situation in the advertising space and search seems to be in the place that it's been in a while - an ever more distant #2 to Google. Perhaps even more indicative of Yahoo's true status, however, was this week's announcement of plans to layoff 1,000 employees.

In the eyes of most consumers, both Microsoft and Yahoo provide second-rate products. In the operating system space, especially with the lukewarm reception Vista received, Microsoft only has their incumbency to stand on. In the internet space, MSN is to Yahoo what Yahoo is to Google, if that. Yahoo does have some great properties, but they aren't the cash cows that search and advertising are, and receive both media and internal attention according. The growth opportunities of the workhorse properties, however unglamorous, are still growth opportunities and still have yet to be harnessed and perhaps this deal is the only way that these properties will get attention.

The deal makes sense to me from a competitive perspective, but does it make sense internally? Can these two behemoths really merge operations and culture well enough to come out a stronger entity? Or will their internal focus distract them so much that Google will be able to distance itself even more from Microhoo? I don't know enough about the internals of Yahoo or Microsoft, but I know that the success of this merger will depend on a few factors, including the compatibility between the cultures and structures of both companies and the appropriate handling of redundant properties.

In the end, I look forward to this deal going through. I think it will revitalize both companies, which appear to have been operating at less-than-full capacity over the past few years. In this sense, although fewer competitors in a market tend to decrease competition in that market, I think we'll see the opposite here. Though there's a very subtle feeling out there that since both are so behind the competition, both Microsoft and Yahoo are about to, or should, give up. This acquisition will give the resulting entity a much better leg to stand on against the competition.

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