Daniel Berninger's - Quandaries -

Monday, November 11, 2002

Verizon, Tonya, and Intel

Tonya Harding famously decided breaking a competitor's leg represented the best option to increase the chance of winning Olympic gold. This seems like a good analogy as to why Verizon represents a bad monopoly and Intel represents a not so bad monopoly. Monopolies won by providing customers the best service should get applauded. Monopolies won (maintained) by breaking competitors legs should get universal condemnation. Consider the pace of innovation at Intel versus Verizon as an indication of the different models they pursue. Consider that local telephone service has changed very little since 1927 with the introduction of dialed telephones and not at all since the 1950's. What computers even existed in 1950? Intel lives by Moore's law. Verizon (all Bells) live by birth rates, growth in GDP, inflation, world class litigation and lobbying, and utterly opaque bills.

Sunday, November 10, 2002

Truth as an Outlier

The distance between conventional wisdom and reality continues to grow. A mainstream reporter can not address a story unfavorable to the power status quo without fear of getting fired. The myth of objective (balanced) reporting makes it impossible to address outlier issues. Bad news about powerful people requires powerful evidence. As a reporter's audience grows, they tend to stick closer and closer to conventional wisdom. The corporate owners of media make sure this is the case. Success revolves around audience size not truth.

If a story makes it through the filter, then everyone can pile on - safely. Enron and Worldcom were not exposed by "investigative reporters". They got exposed when the companies ran out of ways to conceal the truth. An alternative model gives up on the objective reporting lie and admits all reporting represents the bias of the reporter. This conveys the job of filtering to the reader. The reader "considers the source" when deciding how to weigh information received. The Internet has lots of potential in this regard, but getting people connected, actively seeking information, and comfortable doing their own filtering seems a non-trival task.