Archive for October 2009

Nokia v. iPhone: Business as Usual, Alas

If you can’t beat ’em, sue ’em. Earlier this week, Nokia filed suit in the U.S. to force Apple to pay royalties on Nokia patents involving cell phone technology. Nokia claims the iPhone infringes on its patents. As I write in The Laws of Disruption, for better or for worse (mostly for worse) litigation has […]

The Case Against the FCC’s Neutrality Rules – CNET

My analysis of the FCC’s proposed neutrality rules appears this morning on CNET. No surprise, I think the FCC’s plan is a bad idea, and I think, more to the point, that the FCC is the wrong organization to be “saving” the open Internet. Among other crimes, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation points out, the […]

Identity Theft: Not Dead Yet

Julia Angwin’s column in The Wall Street Journal argues that identity theft is nothing but a “fear campaign.” Not exactly. I also have some strong words about the overuse and abuse of the term “identity theft” in The Laws of Disruption, and have written elsewhere in this blog on the subject. But I don’t think […]

Be Careful What you Lobby Against

“Science fiction,” literary critic Frederic Jameson once said, “is a kind of nostalgia for the present.” Meaning: when faced with the possibility of revolutionary change, it’s human nature to frame it in reductive metaphors. A car is a horseless carriage. A TV is radio with pictures. Steel cable is wire rope. A Blackberry is a […]

Speaking tomorrow at CDT

I’m speaking tomorrow from 12-2 PM at the Center for Democracy and Technology.  Open to friends of CDT.  Should be a lively discussion! Details at

FTC to Bloggers: Drop that Sample!

The Federal Trade Commission has announced plans to regulate the behavior of bloggers.  Unfortunately, not their terrible grammar, short attention spans or inexplicably short fuses. Instead, the FTC announced updates to its 1980 policy regarding endorsements and testimonials, first developed to reign in the use of celebrity endorsers with no real connection or experience with […]

Net Neutrality Debate: The Mistake that Keeps on Giving

Again, a long post on Net Neutrality.  Again, my apologies. The fallout continues from FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s call to initiate new rulemaking to implement Net Neutrality principles promised by candidate Obama during the campaign. The bottom line:  what proponents wish with all their hearts was a simple matter of mom and apple pie (“play […]

The Nobel Prize in Disruption

Though most of the coverage of this year’s Nobel Prize in Economics focused on the work of Elinor Ostrom, I’m more interested in the award to Oliver Williamson, Prof. Emeritus at the Haas School of Business at UC-Berkeley. Williamson is a leading scholar in the field of “Institutional Economics,” which studies the relative economic behaviors […]

LoD Reviewed in the Wall Street Journal

Today’s Wall Street Journal has a long and thoughtful review of The Laws of Disruption by Jeremy Philips, Executive Vice President of News Corp.  Here is the link. Mr. Philips concludes, “Mr. Downes may well overstate the case when he says that our ‘industrial-age legal system’ will not survive, but there is no doubt that […]

The Year of Thinking Legally

The idea of “The Laws of Disruption” came to me when I noticed how news stories about information technology were increasingly stories about the interference of law and regulation with information technology. A nice example from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal is Andrew LaVallee’s story, “For Tech Sector, It’s an Antitrust Year.” Leading technology companies are […]