Wednesday, May 20, 2009

People like this give the ICT sector a bad name

I've spent the last two days at the 4th Fibre to the Home Council Asia-Pacific conference in Melbourne. It was a very interesting two days - as with all conferences some of it was patchy.

But nothing was as bad as Bret Swanson who has a background amongst other things at the Progress and Freedom Foundation. That immediately puts me off - this makes me immediately think I'm going to hear something that comes from that school of thought that thinks markets are perfect and firms are even better.

He calls his company "Entropy Economics". He explains the name as being about the a concept of entropy in information theory rather than the physics concept of randomness - but having heard him present it is certainly the random that fits.

His presentation was about a thing he wants to call the "exacloud" - which at first telling is a simple forward projection of a 56%pa growth in bits carried on the internet. His graph howed the wonderful glitch from 94 to 96 where it grew faster than that, but which WorldCom famously was telling us was still happening into 2000. Thus was the the fibre bubble formed.

He glossed over the fact that half the traffic on the net today is theft (peer to peer). He qoted again he 13 hours per minute of uploads to YouTube of which a HUGE amount is duplicated uploading of illegally copied segmnts of TV shows etc and most of the rest is not watched by anyone. In fact, as an economist he should be wondering why we are spawnng a model of such massive technical inefficiency.

The forecaster who I want to listen to is the one who is going to forecast the shake out in the internet whre demand for QoS means we drive neconmic traffic off the net - which is the point at which the exponential growth in backhaul might decline but a greater growth in valuable services emerge.

As for the rest he came out with some really interesting examples of huge processing capability to "render" digital video and tried to argue his was about some huge requirement for computing power. It was he greatest load of old-cobblers bcause he wasn't talking about anything that was to do with more efficiently producng pictures on a PC. Somehow lots of video gamers using the net to put load on this machine to render their video was better than putting the processing under he desk - sorry the processor under he desk is THE BEST example of distributed computing or parrallel processing you can find.

Being me I challenged hm on all this - and he got into the whole defensive thing about cloud computing now being an established business model. Bulldust. I will save for another day the showdown between Nicholas Carr and Jonathan Zittrain. But cloud computing is NOT the way of the future in the sense of "software as a service", it is when it comes to collaboration.

Which is better - Microsoft Office, Google Apps or Open Office - discuss?

Unfortunately just as I had Bret on the ropes Ravi Bahtia go up and made some nane comment about the size of the first ARNET connection versus Pipe's PPC-1. The true believers in he room gave him a round of applause.

I am a fan f Fibe to the Home, I am a great believer in the need for more bandwidth - I just don't believe it is about cloud computing, about videos and games - and that people like Bret damage the cause of those of us who believe in the transformation of the Digital Economy.

And I may blog later about the Communications Alliance discussions.

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