Larry Lessig will be giving his last talk on the topic of "Free Culture" in about an hour. I had the pleasure of seeing Professor Lessig give this talk in September of 2006 as part of the Penn Reading Project and I think the ideas he presents are fascinating and have had a great impact on me. We've come a long way in some areas, such as in the slow death of over-restrictive DRM, but we're still a ways to go in other areas, such as the predatory litigation undertaken by the music and movie industries. As the blog post announcing the talk mentions, Professor Lessig will begin focusing on corruption in Washington, a topic I'm admittedly less interested in.
It's been a little under a month since my last blog post. I've been busy this past month, mainly taking care of the transition between college and the real world. Instead of blogging I spent most of my time being anxious/preparing for graduation and securing a new place to live. I graduated on May 13th/14th and since then I've been finding a new place to live. I picked up the keys to my new place last Thursday and today I bought some furniture from a former California gubernatorial candidate.
In the past month, I've split my time online mostly between Craig's List and Desktop Tower Defense. Much like I used to wonder how college kids lived without Facebook, I wonder how the world survived without Craig's List. I think I will eventually do a couple of blog posts about my apartment hunting experience and the college-real world transition in general.
The small time I had between graduation-related activities, I worked on a redesign of this site. A stupid oversight on my part (I hadn't installed the widgets plugin) kept me from launching it earlier. I tried to keep it as simple as possible, but I realized that there's I know very little about the science of design (if that makes any sense). I've always been interested in user experience/user interaction, so if anyone can point me to good resources on the subject, it would be greatly appreciated.
Now that I've got this "I'm back" post out of the way, I'll go back to posting some real content (the 22 tabs I've got open in Firefox will certainly help).
Seventy-eight days after the self-imposed deadline, Penn has chosen Microsoft over Google to replace the aging SAS (School of Arts & Sciences) mail system. The new "Penn Live" offers 2 GB of storage and integration with other Windows Live services. The Wharton School has also adopted the new service, although I'm not sure what's different between "Penn Live" and the already-existing Exchange system.
Many comments left on the Daily Pennsylvanian's site are criticizing the decision to go with Microsoft over Google, but I think anything is better than the system currently in place. As a Wharton student, we've been (relatively) blessed to have Exchange as our backend (I don't know what the College (what we call SAS) is using, but it looks like HoTMaIL circa 1997). Here's some history: coming in as a freshman in 2003, I was afforded with 50 MB of email/storage space. GMail launched with 1 GB in the spring of 2004 and sometime between then and now our quota was raised to 250 MB. For all my time here at Penn, I can't remember a single time that our email servers had gone down. What I do remember is reading in the paper every few weeks about yet another SAS email outage.
I don't have enough experience Windows Live products (which may or may not say enough about the product), but it's got to be better than what the College kids have been using. That said, much of the complaint has been about the choice over the time it took to make that choice. I'm as big a Google/Apple apologist as anyone, but I see the decision to go with Microsoft as a non-issue per se. Again, I'm not sure if Penn Live or the old system provide IMAP access, but I know Wharton provides it. I also know for a fact Google does only POP, so inbox syncing is at the very least equal to the Google solution. Most complaints contend that many Penn students already have Gmail accounts, so why change over? I see this group as a very small minority, as I know people who use their school emails as their main addresses and people who keep school addresses for school matters only.
I trust that Microsoft can do as good or an even better job than Google at providing email and collaboration services to the University (they definitely have more experience with large organizations). My only hope for this is that Windows Live can be truly platform agnostic. I don't have any stats on actual Mac adoption on campus, but from anecdotal and personal evidence I know that it is rising. I just hope Mac and Linux users aren't treated with a second-class experience as is the case with Ruckus.
I was studying (read: Twittering) at Huntsman tonight when I overheard some guys talking about their up-and-coming social network (here's some advice: don't do it in public). After some quick searching, I discovered two blogs run by fellow Whartonites. Here's some link love (by the way, thanks to Kent Newsome for his!):
If you've been wondering what's been going on with this blog in the past few weeks, Hugh Macleod made a comic about it (it wasn't for me, but it may as well have been):
Whatever little ethical integrity or journalistic standards the Daily Pennsylvanian still had left, it probably lost after a "guest editorial" ran this past week. The so-called editorial was basically an advertisement for the Ruckus Network, an online music subscription service that aims to compete with Napster, Rhapsody, et al by forming agreements with universities for campus-wide coverage instead of having to deal with pesky end users.
The editorial is "written" by Ruckus President and CEO Michael Bebel and tries to extol the benefits of using Ruckus over illegal services by running the RIAA line about how illegal downloading steals from the record industry ("According to industry observers, more than 25 million songs are illegally downloaded daily. This translates into roughly $4.5 billion worth of pirated music annually, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.") and how it can lead to getting sued ("Last year, the RIAA sent letters to 700 colleges nationwide, informing those students who ignore warnings and continue to engage in illegal downloading of music they will be sued.").
How do I know Ruckus paid to run this "editorial"? I don't. But why else run something like this? Surely the paper isn't starved for content; I haven't seen anything like this in the 3.5 years I've been reading the paper and there definitely hasn't been a shortage of news either (like what the University is doing about the string of assaults on campus?) Either it was a straight ad buy or there were promises of ad purchases or free iPods or something else fishy. I do think that running this type of ad under the guise of an editorial shows how morally bankrupt the editors of Daily Pennsylvanian are. This ad is a cut and paste/mail merge job. An almost identical piece was run in the Daily Princetonian on December 15th. And that was what I found from just searching for the last sentence of the article.
I've detailed why I don't like Ruckus when the Penn service was announced. Between this and the Brock Ruckus/Facebook incident that I just read about on the Wikipedia article, I like them even less. Only now I like the DP much less also.
Technorati Tags: Ruckus, file sharing, music, p2p, Ruckus Network, PayPerPost, Daily Pennsylvanian, Daily Princetonian, advertising, editorial, RIAA, University of Pennsylvania, UPenn, Penn, Pennsylvania, Ivy League
I've been following IvyGate, a blog about the Ivy League, for a few months now and I absolutely love them. Not only is it relevant (though not for long :(), but the guys who write it are hilarious. Here's some choice quotes/links:
Grad students are, pretty much by default, creepy. Not undergrads, not yet professors, they're caught in the murky gray zone that's home to both legitimate career academics and social misfits with no job prospects. (source)
Killer econ prof may soon learn something about the prisoner's dilemma. (source)
- An Enrique Iglesias parody about Facebook stalking
- And last but not least: Penn's reputation-demolishing stories of the year
As I continue discovering new ways to put off studying for my Venture Capital final that's tomorrow at 3, Wharton grad, Half.com founder, and venture capitalist, Josh Kopelman, has posted a link to the Blueprint Ventures' 2006 holiday card. It is available on YouTube as well. So while it won't help me learn how to value Participating Convertible Preferred Stock, the break-even valuation for a Series F investment, or what a real option really is, it does show me what I can look forward to if I do learn those things ;)
As part of the Line (for Basketball season tickets), we went to Princeton last Saturday to watch the Quakers suffer their third OT loss in a row.
We briefly discussed the Google/YouTube deal in two of my classes (MGMT 230: Entrepreneurship and FNCE 250: Venture Capital and the Finance of Innovation) this past week. In both classes, either I overheard or someone asked the professor, "What's YouTube?"
Now, I don't necessarily expect the average person walking down the street to know what YouTube is, but the people in my classes aren't particular average. For one, we're at the best undergrad business school in the country. Second of all, these are classes focused on entrepreneurship and VC, so I hope that the people in these classes have an interest in the subject. Yet there are some people in this very specific group who had no idea what YouTube is.
I'm still not sure if I've lost faith in my fellow classmates or gained faith in the power of the echo chamber.
The Daily Pennsylvanian, or DP, our school newspaper, had a front page article (with an N64 controller pictured, no less) on how video games are no longer just for nerds. Now, Wharton MBA student and Joystiq blogger Vlad Cole writes a short piece linking to the article. It was only a matter of time before the editorial quality of the DP pissed someone off in the blogosphere. Comments fall into two camps: "games haven't been nerdy for a while now" and "nerds (i.e., Penn students) are telling us what's nerdy and what's not".