The Innovation Garden by A. Michael Noll

Monday, May 21st, 2018

The Innovation Garden

A. Michael Noll

May 20, 2018

© Copyright 2018 AMN

Long before Silicon Valley invaded California, there was an “Innovation Garden” flourishing in New Jersey. Which easily qualified as the Invention State.

Thomas A. Edison and his laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey cemented New Jersey’s role in innovation. Many smaller manufactures of electrical equipment became located in New Jersey, all wit their on innovations. RCA Laboratories in Princeton, New Jersey was formed in 1942 and a host of inventions resulted, including color television.

One of the more famous R&D facilities in New Jersey was Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc. (Bell Labs). The freedom to take risk, coupled with a proximity to practical problems, characterized Bell Labs. These factors are today associated with Silicon Valley, but were present decades before at Bell Labs and the other R&D facilities located in New Jersey. The very “silicon” in Silicon Valley came from William Shockley, one of the inventors of the transistor at Bell Labs who later went to California.

New Jersey is known as the Garden State, but it also should be credited as being an early “Innovation Garden.”

The story of Bell Labs, from my personal perspectives, can be downloaded at: http://quello.msu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Memories-Noll.pdf

Book Cover featuring Bell Labs

AT&T’s Tarnished Brand by A. Michael Noll

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

AT&T’s Tarnished Brand

A. Michael Noll

May 16, 2018

© Copyright 2018 AMN

The payment by AT&T of over $1/2 million to President Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen has tarnished AT&T’s reputation and brand. It also raises concerns about the wisdom and competence of AT&T’s senior management.

Decades ago, the AT&T brand meant a lot to most consumers in the United States. AT&T owned the Bell System, which supplied telecommunication service as a regulated monopoly. In those old days, AT&T took its responsibility to the public strongly to supply quality service at affordable prices. However, AT&T was broken up and went through various divestitures, until in 2005, what was left of AT&T was acquired by Southwestern Bell. In effect, Southwestern Bell, a former Bell telephone company, cloaked itself in the AT&T identity (its former parent). And now the AT&T brand has been tarnished, as it has been revealed that AT&T paid over a $1/2 million to Michael Cohen, virtually as a gift, with no real work expected or received.

The two large remaining Baby Bells today are AT&T and Verizon, and they usually act in concert. If AT&T paid off Cohen and Verizon did not, a plausible explanation is that AT&T clearly was hoping that Cohen would exert influence to obtain government approval of AT&T’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner.

The proposed acquisition of Time Warner by ATT is fraught with questions. Would this acquisition create far too much control over content and the network conduit? Would it be too much vertical integration with no benefit to consumers? What does AT&T know about the entertainment business, other than that its antics certainty seem entertaining?
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A. Michael Noll is a retired professor emeritus of communications. His earlier opinion of the AT&T proposed acquisition of Time Warner is at: http://quello.msu.edu/att-goes-hollywood/

A. Michael Noll

Vint Cerf Speaking at MSU on 10 May @ 3:30PM

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

THE QUELLO CENTER PRESENTS
INTERNET PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE
BY VINTON CERF
THURSDAY, MAY 10TH @ 3:30 PM // COMM ARTS RM. 147

The Internet grew out of a successful US Defense Department experiment in packet switching and became a platform upon which a wide range of new applications have evolved. New technologies such as smart phones have reinforced the utility of the Internet by spreading access to it at increasing bandwidths and geographic scope. The Internet is estimated to have reached about 50% of the world’s population. As this decade comes to a close, what challenges remain and what new ideas may be pursued? Security, safety, reliability, misinformation, botnets, privacy, and a host of other concerns clamor for attention. Powerful machine learning tools and collaborative technologies are increasing our capacity to solve problems and ask new and challenging questions.

This talk raises questions and poses problems that need attention if we are to make of the Internet the tool it has the capacity to become.

Vinton G. Cerf is vice president and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google. He contributes to global policy development and continued spread of the Internet. Widely known as one of the “Fathers of the Internet,” Cerf is the co-designer of the TCP/IP protocols and the architecture of the Internet. He has served in executive positions at MCI, the Corporation for National Research Initiatives and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and on the faculty of Stanford University.

Vint Cerf served as chairman of the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) from 2000-2007 and has been a Visiting Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 1998. Cerf served as founding president of the Internet Society (ISOC) from 1992-1995. Cerf is a Foreign Member of the British Royal Society and Swedish Academy of Engineering, and Fellow of IEEE, ACM, and American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the International Engineering Consortium, the Computer History Museum, the British Computer Society, the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, the Worshipful Company of Stationers and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He has served as President of the Association for Computing Machinery, chairman of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) and completed a term as Chairman of the Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology for the US National Institute of Standards and Technology. President Obama appointed him to the National Science Board in 2012.

Cerf is a recipient of numerous awards and commendations in connection with his work on the Internet, including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, US National Medal of Technology, the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, the Prince of Asturias Award, the Tunisian National Medal of Science, the Japan Prize, the Charles Stark Draper award, the ACM Turing Award, Officer of the Legion d’Honneur and 29 honorary degrees. In December 1994, People magazine identified Cerf as one of that year’s “25 Most Intriguing People.”

His personal interests include fine wine, gourmet cooking and science fiction. Cerf and his wife, Sigrid, were married in 1966 and have two sons, David and Bennett.

Smart Devices – Foolish Users by A. Michael Noll

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

Smart Devices – Foolish Users

A. Michael Noll

April 26, 2018

© Copyright 2018 AMN

It seems we have become slaves to our computers and smart phones, with near constant updating, synching, and battery recharging. The devices might be considered “smart,” but the users seem to be “foolish” and perhaps even “stupid.”

We are slaves to these devices. We need to feed them electricity to keep them charged, and groom them with updates. They disturb us with interruptions and demands for our attention. We become mesmerized and perhaps hypnotized by what they display to us on their screens.

We discover that their real owners are the suppliers of information, such as Facebook, Google, and the “cloud.” We willingly give over our most intimate personal information, and then seem surprised when it is misused.

They will evolve, we are told, with artificial intelligence into even smarter devices. We will be left wondering whether their artificial intelligence should be contrasted with our apparent natural stupidity. But the myth of the coming artificial intelligence is nothing new – we have been waiting for decades for the dawn of this new age. For me, I am not smart enough for a smart phone, but if I had one, I would put it away in a drawer — and forget it. It could then linger in its “smartness,” while I have my own life to enjoy without interruption and caring for its upkeep.

A. Michael Noll

Professor Bibi Reisdorf Invited to Contribute to the Michigan Consortium for Advanced Networks

Sunday, April 1st, 2018

Governor Snyder recently announced the formation of the Michigan Consortium of Advanced Networks. This consortium is designed to ‘identify gaps in broadband service coverage and capacity, current efforts underway to address connectivity issues, and key strategies and recommendations for the State of Michigan and the private sector to pursue to achieve enhanced connectivity’. The Consortium is housed within the Executive Office and serves in an advisory capacity to the Governor. It is charged with providing a roadmap for statewide access and adoption by August 1, 2018.

The Quello Center’s Professor Bibi Reisdorf has been invited to join a subgroup titled Access and Adoption Subgroup which will work to assist the Consortium in determining long term recommendations to address access and adoption issues statewide. This subgroup will complement others in order to assist the Consortium in writing its report.

Bibi recently presented at a forum on broadband divides, organized by MSU’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR) demonstrating the expertise and research base that will bring added value to this subgroup and the Consortium as a whole.

Professor Bibi Reisdorf

DISNEY BUYS MURDOCH by A. Michael Noll

Sunday, December 17th, 2017

DISNEY BUYS MURDOCH

A. Michael Noll

December 16, 2017

© Copyright 2017 AMN

Walt Disney is purchasing Murdoch’s entertainment empire for over $50 billion. Is this a great deal – or a huge challenge for the future of Disney?

The vision is a future in which video entertainment (and sports) is downloaded over the Internet directly from the source, bypassing the middle distributors, such as the cable TV company, the satellite company, or the phone company. This vision has been known as cable bypass. But it assumes an Internet that is “free.”

Disney, and its Bob Eger, should be frightened that the FCC just terminated “net-neutrality,” which means that the middle distributors can charge different Internet rates depending upon the source and the content.

Rubert Murdoch is known as a very shrewd businessman. The fact that he wants to sell his entertainment properties should be the cause of suspicion. If it looks like a good deal, it most likely is a good deal – for Murdoch.

Indeed, the Internet was not designed for the delivery of broadband video. The bandwidth (or data capacity) and need for instantaneous delivery, coupled with the one-way nature, of video is costly. One solution is to charge more, as now allowed by the elimination of net-neutrality. Another solution would be a network optimized for the technological demands of video – but that would require technological innovation. Unfortunately, the Bell Labs of the past that used to give us such innovation is no more, and the telephone companies, such as AT&T, simply are not innovative.

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A. Michael Noll is Professor Emeritus of Communications at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. He has written many articles and opinion pieces about the telecommunications industry and technology.

A. Michael Noll

Steve Wildman Keynoting ICMC 2018 in Abu Dhabi

Friday, November 24th, 2017

The 1st INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON MEDIA AND COMMUNICATION (ICMC 2018), hosted by the Department of Communication Studies of Abu Dhabi University, will be held on March 19-21, 2018 at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE. The former director of the Quello Center, Emeritus Professor Steve Wildman, will be presenting one of two keynotes.

The Aims and Objectives of ICMC 2018 are to exchange best practices and promote international partnership and cooperation among academia and media practitioners worldwide and to create an international forum to present, discuss and exchange the latest academic research in media and communication.

Dr Mike Friedrichsen, President, Berlin University of Digital Sciences, Germany, will be presenting the other keynote.

Steve Wildman at the Quello Center

AT&T Goes Hollywood by A. Michael Noll

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

AT&T Goes Hollywood

A. Michael Noll
© Copyright 2017 AMN

AT&T wants to purchase Time Warner — the White House and the Justice Department correctly oppose the acquisition. The acquisition would create a huge vertical integration of content and conduit that would not benefit consumers, in my opinion. But the local telephone companies have a long history of lusting after content and Hollywood.

Today’s AT&T is really a former local Bell company: the past Southwestern Bell that then became SBC Communications which then acquired AT&T and then wrapped itself in the AT&T identity.

Over two decades ago, the local Bell companies chased after the entertainment industry. And now again one of the remaining of the two super Bells – AT&T – is again inflicted with Hollywood fever.

AT&T is a conduit company, providing the cables and wireless paths over which consumer access various services. In 2015, AT&T extended its control over conduit through its acquisition of DirecTV for nearly $50 billion, delivering video over satellite to homes. But throughout history, the old Bell operating companies have lusted after also providing the content that their customers want to access over the conduits.

The telecommunication conduit business in the United States has become mostly a duopoly. AT&T and Verizon dominate wireless. Either AT&T or Verizon and a CATV company dominate wired access. Duopolies inherently adjust “competition” so that markets are shared and profits maximized, without attracting government attention. In the late 1940s, the studios were forced to divest their vertical integration of movie theaters. So today If AT&T wants to become a content company, it should be required to divest its wireless and wireline conduit businesses.

AT&T knows little of Hollywood and the news and entertainment businesses. It should stick with its strengths in providing wired and wireless conduits, as I wrote in 1993.* One might argue that if AT&T wants to lose its shirt chasing Hollywood, then let it. However, like decades ago, now is still not the time for AT&T to go Hollywood.** “Hollywood” might well end up as “Follywood” for AT&T.

*“Baby Bells Should Stick With Strengths,” by A. Michael Noll, Los Angeles Times, October 22, 19933, p. B15.

**“The phone company has gone Hollywood,” by A. Michael Noll, Morris County Daily Record, January 7, 1994, p. A11.

November 22, 2017

A. Michael Noll