It's 10:35PM. Do You Know Where Your DNS Records Are? Or, HA, The Wealth of Networks, The $100 Laptop, and Generational Change

Thanks to the valiant efforts of Mr. Steve O’Grady, the RedMonk blogs will be up-ish tomorrow. I say “up-ish” because, as most you know, dear readers, switching domain names around on the internet is not a speedy science. Indeed, I’m often taken aback at how controlled and yet how chaotic the ‘net seems.

Then again, I’d be willing to be that there are teams of jack-booted thugs with hex screw-drivers and Cisco certifications ready to keep the network up. I mean, how terrible would that be if it went down?

While we wait for The Switchover, I still have this scrappy old thing. In the world of SaaS, High Availability means having two blogs.

Other Meanings for “High Availability”

I used to work at a company. Let’s call it WXYZ, Inc. One of the class clowns there made this joke one day:

High Availability? Baby, if you wanna get high…WXYZ is available!

Remarks like this were often followed by, “Waitress! Another Dewar’s!”

The Wealth of Networks

I started reading The Wealth of Networks last night. It’s nice, dense yet concise, academic talk about how content-producers controlling the means of production and distribution changes things. Information Marxism? Sure, sign me up as long as I can have a swanky Paris flat to go with it.

I’ve read a scant 20-30 pages, and there’s already a great conclusion: the physical distribution constraints of the “industrial information age” (pre-net) were the requirements driver of all that nasty, hegemony friendly IP law we created and now have.

Now, of course:

The removal of the physical constraints on effective information production has made human creativity and the economics of information itself the core structuring facts in the new networked information economy.

At least, that’s my understanding of those pages.

PC Means “Personal Computer”

As I read it, I keep thinking about the other 4-5 billion people who aren’t on the network. I had the pleasure of hanging out with Mr. Koranteng Ofosu-Amaah last week while he was in town. We had some Ruby’s BBQ and then some coffee (well, he had tea) at Spider House.

Somehow we got to talking about the $10040 laptop. He had two interesting things to say (side-note: a longer post on the hangin’ out is much over-due):

  • The notion of a 1:1 mapping between a computer and user may not be universal.
  • Hey, how ’bout them cellphones?

Which was interesting, because we talked with Nokia this morning. Now there’s a mega-platform for you: cellphones. The strange thing about The Wealth of Networks thinking (my 20-30 pages understanding of it) is that the people who run and own the networks seem a few successful startups away from being PanAm and TWA to the analogous Southwests. I mean: telcos! Come on!

In America, we always wave off madness in the telco world — Korea is light years ahead of us, I hear, and they have some sort of crazy cool network in Europe — as regulation and FUD. Really, it’s probably just 50-100 well paid people who’re waiting to retire until they screw with the golden goose.


And there we have one of my new pet-theories. (Inquire within for more pet-theories.) Technological change is generational. You have to wait for one generation to hand over the reins before real change can happen. Excited about Agile Software Development? Keep your eye on the retire date of all those managers and “decision makers.” Want better cellphone networks in America? Wait for “insiders” to retire.

If good software takes 10 years, seachanges in software take 30-40. As the man said, “get used to it.”

Of course, firing people works too, but it feels so nasty. And really, wouldn’t you just be sticking it to yourself in that case?

Luby’s Upgraded to STRONG BUY <eom>

The problem for us youngin’s is that retirement is soon to retire itself as a concept. Aside from all the fretting about not being able to live out The Golden Years in an RV or finally getting to writing That Novel, the generations in the tech world need to make a pact. A sort of realpolitik:

OK, we’re all going to keep our minds flexible and updated, right? I mean, if you’re going to stay in the work force forever, you’ll voraciously take on new ideas throughout your term, not just in the first 10 years. Maybe in exchange we’ll slow down a bit and focus on creating technology that allows you to work just 40 hours a week instead of 60. And we won’t say “no” next time you suggest Luby’s…. Okey-okey, and we’ll be less — just a little — snarky if you’re letting us play in your lawn.

Of course, we should probably be lining up to thank the generation ahead of us for working to pay the bills instead of bankrupting society. So, let me be the first: Thanks! …but now can we get on with some badly needed changes in core thinking?

Disclaimer: I actually like Luby’s. One word: okra. Bonus words: tarter sauce, deviled eggs.

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