telephone

Cameraphones are different cameras & different phones

From David Pescovitz’s “The Big Picture“:

Mobile researcher John Poisson, CEO of the Fours Initiative, focuses on how cameraphones could revolutionize photography and communication — if people would only start using them more.

As the leader of Sony Corporation’s mobile media research and design groups in Tokyo, John Poisson spent two years focused on how people use cameraphones, and why they don’t use them more often.

TheFeature: What have you learned over the course of your research?

Poisson: People think of the cameraphone as a more convenient tool for digital photography, an extension of the digital camera. That’s missing the mark. The mobile phone is a communications device. The minute you attach a camera to that, and give people the ability to share the content that they’re creating in real time, the dynamic changes significantly.

TheFeature: Aren’t providers already developing applications to take advantage of that shift?

Poisson: Well, we have things like the ability to moblog, to publish pictures to a blog, which is not necessarily the most relevant model to consumers. Those tools are developed by people who understand blogging and apply it in their daily lives. But it ignores the trend that we and Mimi Ito and others are seeing as part of the evolution of photography. If you look at the way people have (historically) used cameras, it started off with portraiture and photographs of record — formalized photographs with a capital “P.” Then as the technology evolved, we had this notion of something called a snapshot, which is much more informal. People could take a higher number of pictures with not so much concern over composition. It was more about capturing an experience than photographing something. The limit of that path was the Polaroid. It was about taking the picture and sharing it instantly. What we have today is the ability to create today is a kind of distributed digital manifestation of that process.

The ACLU on monopoly control by ISPs

From the ACLU’s No Competition: How Monopoly Control of the Broadband Internet Threatens Free Speech:

Common carriage policy requires that a network owner – in this case, a telephone company – not discriminate against information by halting, slowing, or otherwise tampering with the transfer of any data. The purpose of common carriage is to prevent a network owner from leveraging its control over the pipeline for communication to gain power or control over the actual information, products and services that flow through it. This is not a new concept; for well over a century it has been applied in ways that have been central to the economic development of our nation, including canal systems, public highways, and the telegraph. And common carriage has been applied to the telephone system since the early 20th century, requiring it to serve all users in an equitable and nondiscriminatory fashion.

2. Cable networks are not open

Unlike phone companies, cable television providers do not have to provide nondiscriminatory access to their TV subscribers, because cable TV is not subject to the common carrier regulatory regime. As a result, the content that cable TV companies deliver is largely under their control. …

3. Cable providers wield total control over Internet use

… Cable providers are under no obligation to remain a neutral pipe for content over an end-to-end Internet – and have many incentives for interfering with that pipe:

Basic control of the service. Providers of course have control over the fundamentals of a customer’s Internet connection. For example, they can restrict the number of computers that a customer connects to the cable modem through a home network. They can control the overall speed and reliability of a customer’s online experie nce. And they can set the price for various levels of high-speed access.

Control over applications. Providers can block their customers from using particular applications, such as video conferencing, Internet telephony, and virtual private networks …

Control over access to content. Even more frightening is the growing ability of cable providers to interfere with content. … That is like the phone company being allowed to own restaurants and then provide good service and clear signals to customers who call Domino’s and frequent busy signals, disconnects and static for those calling Pizza Hut. …

Ability to force-feed content. Cable providers can also use their monopoly power to force-feed content to customers by requiring them to access the Internet through a particular home page containing material selected by the cable company. …

Ability to violate privacy. Finally, a cable provider’s absolute control over its network gives it the technical capacity to record everything its customers do online, down to the smallest mouse click. In February 2002, the nation’s third largest cable company, Comcast, without notification to its customers, began to track their Web browsing. …

According to data provided by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the top five cable companies in the United States control 75% of the market; if the proposed merger between Comcast and AT&T is approved, only four companies will control that 75%, with approximately 35% of all cable in the US controlled by Comcast alone. …

The FCC, meanwhile, decided in April 2002 to classify broadband Internet service over cable as an "interstate information service." That technical redefinition would mean that cable broadband could be completely exempt from federal regulation such as interconnection and common carriage requirements, as well as from oversight by local cable franchising authorities. …

In fact, the Internet would never have exploded into American life the way it has without regulations issued by the FCC that curbed the power of the telephone companies in ways that the agency is now refusing to do for cable:

  • In 1975, the FCC issued a landmark regulation preventing telephone companies from blocking their customers from attaching their own equipment to the phone network. If the agency had decided this issue the other way, regular Americans would not have been able to use computer modems, and the Internet as we know it never could have been created.
  • In 1980, the agency set out rules that required telephone companies to offer "data services" through separate affiliates because they would have had both the ability and the incentive to use their control of the telephone network to discriminate against unaffiliated, competing data services.
  • In 1983, the FCC issued a regulation preventing telephone companies from charging ISPs by the minute for their use of the local telephone network; if they had allowed such charges, consumers would have to pay per-minute fees for Internet access. That would have slowed the growth of the Internet, as such fees have done in Europe.

Secret movies in the Paris underground

From Jon Henley’s “In a secret Paris cavern, the real underground cinema” (The Guardian: 8 September 2004):

Police in Paris have discovered a fully equipped cinema-cum-restaurant in a large and previously uncharted cavern underneath the capital’s chic 16th arrondissement. Officers admit they are at a loss to know who built or used one of Paris’s most intriguing recent discoveries. "We have no idea whatsoever," a police spokesman said. …

Members of the force’s sports squad, responsible – among other tasks – for policing the 170 miles of tunnels, caves, galleries and catacombs that underlie large parts of Paris, stumbled on the complex while on a training exercise beneath the Palais de Chaillot, across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower.

After entering the network through a drain next to the Trocadero, the officers came across a tarpaulin marked: Building site, No access.

Behind that, a tunnel held a desk and a closed-circuit TV camera set to automatically record images of anyone passing. The mechanism also triggered a tape of dogs barking, "clearly designed to frighten people off," the spokesman said.

Further along, the tunnel opened into a vast 400 sq metre cave some 18m underground, "like an underground amphitheatre, with terraces cut into the rock and chairs".

There the police found a full-sized cinema screen, projection equipment, and tapes of a wide variety of films, including 1950s film noir classics and more recent thrillers. None of the films were banned or even offensive, the spokesman said.

A smaller cave next door had been turned into an informal restaurant and bar. "There were bottles of whisky and other spirits behind a bar, tables and chairs, a pressure-cooker for making couscous," the spokesman said.

"The whole thing ran off a professionally installed electricity system and there were at least three phone lines down there."

Three days later, when the police returned accompanied by experts from the French electricity board to see where the power was coming from, the phone and electricity lines had been cut and a note was lying in the middle of the floor: "Do not," it said, "try to find us." …

There exist, however, several secretive bands of so-called cataphiles, who gain access to the tunnels mainly after dark, through drains and ventilation shafts, and hold what in the popular imagination have become drunken orgies but are, by all accounts, innocent underground picnics.

… the Perforating Mexicans, last night told French radio the subterranean cinema was its work.

Film noir in the Parisian catacombs. Secret bars and telephones. Scuttling down drains for secret assignations. "Do not try to find us." I’m swooning just thinking about it!