June 29, 2002

The Public Has Spoken -- Does Anyone Care?

The public at large would prefer to have a large number of diverse stations over huge conglomerates that play the same crap over and over again.

The survey, conducted by the Future of Music Coalition, is part of a larger research study on the effects of radio consolidation on musicians and the public that is being conducted in partnership with the Media Access Project and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Consolidation of radio station ownership is not popular. Eight of ten favor congressional action to protect or expand the number of independently owned local stations By a better than ten to one ratio - 76 percent to 7 percent - radio listeners believe that DJs should be given more air time for songs they think will be of interest to their audiences rather than be required to mostly play songs of artists backed by recording companies.

If it can be substantiated that radio stations are paid to give air time preference to the music artists supported by record companies, the public approves by a 68 to 24 percent ratio for Congress to consider passing laws to ensure that all artists have a more reasonable chance of having their songs heard.

Half of the respondents - 52 percent - say radio would be more appealing to them if it offered more new music, less repetition and more music of local bands and artists.

By a ratio of six to one, radio listeners prefer a long, rather than a short, playlist that provides them a greater variety of songs and less repetition during the week Seventy-five percent would like to see low power FM stations (LPFM) expanded in their communities, especially if they offer (a) the music of local bands and artists, (b) talk shows on issues of local interest, and on local issues and (c) health, science or fitness programming. Additionally, 74 percent favor legislation to expand the number of LPFM stations in the United States.

The public opinion research firm Behavior Research Center conducted the survey from May 13-20, 2002 via 500 in-depth telephone interviews on a random sample of adults throughout the United States.

Control vs. Freedom

Jonathan Rowe has written a great commentary for the Christian Science Monitor:
Tollbooths of the mind.

Share money and you have less; share an idea and you still have it, and more. Jefferson practiced what he preached, in this respect at least. As the nation's first commissioner of patents, Jefferson did not grant these monopolies easily or eagerly. He accepted the need for copyrights and patents, but strictly limited in extent and time.

The aim always was to enrich the public domain – the commons of the mind – not to line the pockets of a privileged class of monopolists of ideas. Jefferson actually refused to patent his many inventions, because he believed invention to be the property of humankind.

This vision prevailed in America for two centuries, more or less. The result was more enterprise, research, and invention than the world had ever seen. The nation had its share of patent hounds, Thomas Edison not least of them. But in the realm of science, the Jeffersonian ethos prevailed. Jonas Salk, who discovered the first polio vaccine, once was asked who would own the new drug. "There is no patent," Salk replied. "Could you patent the sun?"

Today, that question would not be rhetorical. Fences and tollgates are rising rapidly on Jefferson's commons of the mind. Copyright and patent monopolies have gone far beyond what he and other Founders intended. Corporations now are claiming ownership of everything under the sun, if not the sun itself: body parts, business practices, the genetic code. They even are claiming ownership of the English language. McDonald's has asserted trademark claims to 131 common words and phrases, such as "Always Fun" and "Made For You."

June 24, 2002

The Economist On Wireless

The Economist has a new article on "emerging wireless" technologies (smart antennas, mesh networks, ad hoc architectures, and ultra-wideband transmission):
Watch this airspace.

June 23, 2002

The Skinny On The Spider Goat

Although I just heard about the Spider Goat story yesterday for the first time, it turns out that Forbes had written a full story on it over a year ago. ABC News also covered the story in detail a while back.

(And here's the poop straight from the source at Nexia Biotech.)

Here's the Forbes story by Christopher Helman:
Charlotte's Goat.

Nexia is tackling a materials-science conundrum that has stumped even DuPont for 20 years: how to synthesize spider silk. Milking the spiders themselves is out of the question—they're cannibals. "Put a bunch of them together and soon you end up with one big, fat, happy spider. It's like trying to farm tigers," says Turner.

By injecting the orb weaver gene into the father of Mille and Muscade, Nexia bred she-goats whose mammary glands are able to produce the complex proteins that make up spider silk. Their milk looks and tastes like the real thing, but once its proteins are filtered and purified into a fine white powder, they can be spun into tough thread.

Here's the ABC.com story:
Here Comes Spider-Goat?: Genetically Altered Goats May Lead to Strong Silk-like Threads.

Ounce for ounce, spider silk is five times stronger than steel and about three times tougher than man-made fibers such as Kevlar. And that makes the material ideal for all sorts of interesting uses — from better, lighter bulletproof vests to safer suspension bridges.

But "harvesting" spider silk hasn't been easy. Unlike silkworms, spiders aren't easy to domesticate. "Spiders are territorial carnivores, they eat each other if placed in contact of in close proximity," says Jeffrey Turner, president and CEO of Nexia Biotechnoloies, Inc. "It's like trying to farm tigers."

Now, researchers at the Quebec-based Nexia along with scientists at the U.S. Army's Soldier Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM) in Natick, Mass., say they may have figured a way out of the sticky situation.

CARP Update

Here's a summary of the Librarian's determination and the full text of the regulations adopted by the Librarian (http://www.copyright.gov/carp/webcasting_rates_final.html).

To subscribe to the U.S. Copyright Offices Newsletter, fill out the form at:

The Register's recommendation and the Librarian's order will be available to the public next week.


July 1: Expected effective date of Copyright Office fee changes (67 FR 38003)

July 1: Beginning of 60-day period when, in the absence of a license agreement, a party with a significant interest in establishing reasonable terms and rates for certain statutory licenses may file a petition to initiate a rate setting proceeding (67 FR 4472)

October 7: Initiation date should arbitration proceedings be necessary in adjustment of rates and terms for noncommercial educational broadcasting compulsory license

Writers With Drinks Rocks

I met a bunch of cool comics, poets and writers last weekend at Charles Ander's Writers With Drinks spoken word variety show at San Francisco's Cafe Du Nord.

Heather Gold gave an awesome and spontaneous stand-up performance with lots of uncomfortable political material I don't even feel comfortable repeating in print :-)

Analee Newitz had some insightful thoughts on the rather fundamental differences between stem cell cloning and human cloning.

I also bought books by performers Daphne Gottlieb (Why Things Burn) and Lynn Breedlove (Godspeed).

More on them later...

Anyway, if you're in San Francisco, my advice to you is to check out the next Writers With Drinks on July 13th at the Cafe Du Nord...