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German government screws up open data | Open Gov Germany

German government screws up open data | Open Gov Germany | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Last year, the German government commissioned a fairly extensive study (Link) on open data, and started preparations for an open government data portal. The open data community felt somewhat relieved. After all, lobbying for more open government in Germany, the cradle of prussian bureaucracy, is not exactly an easy task. This is a state apparatus dominated by information silos, dusty hierarchies, pen and paper workflows and an attitude towards citizens that often borders on arrogant. Bravo to the few change agents within the Federal Ministry on the Interior, who over the last months and years have closely collaboratored with a multitude of actors, including app contests and bar camps.

 

Here is what happened. Actors like the Open Knowledge Foundation (German chapter) had long ago built an open data visualization website (link), and had offered both the Interior as well as the Ministry of Finance, to actually provide that platform to them, basically developing infrastructure for the government. How nice. Community-public-partnership, real open government. What a pipe dream. Last fall, the Ministry of Finance unveiled its own data visualization website, for who knows how many thousand euros in fees paid to web agencies (Update: it cost 40.000 EUR, the original budget was 200.000 EUR ). It looks alright but isn’t as open as experts had hoped, and the amount of data is lackluster – tools for comparison and other accountability-encouraging functionality is missing.

 

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NC: City-run ISP makes 10Gbps available to all residents and businesses | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica

NC: City-run ISP makes 10Gbps available to all residents and businesses | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A municipal Internet service provider in Salisbury, North Carolina, announced today that it is making 10Gbps service available throughout the city, to both businesses and residents.

The city-run Fibrant, which has deployed fiber throughout Salisbury, was created five years ago after city officials were unable to persuade private ISPs to upgrade their infrastructure. Gigabit download and upload speeds have been available to residents since last year for $105 a month, while customers can pay as little as $45 a month for 50Mbps symmetrical service. TV and phone service is available, too.

Fibrant officials don’t actually expect much, if any demand from residents for the 10Gbps download and upload service. The big speed upgrade is mainly targeted at businesses, but the announcement said 10Gbps service is now "available to every premises in the city," including all homes.

While business pricing varies based on the deployment, residents would pay about $400 a month for 10Ggbps service. Someone running a business from their home might want more bandwidth than a typical person, but there definitely won't be a hard sell to residents, local officials said.


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How the Federal Reserve’s Economic Recovery Plan Fueled the Tech Bubble | Alexander Kelly | Truthdig.com

How the Federal Reserve’s Economic Recovery Plan Fueled the Tech Bubble | Alexander Kelly | Truthdig.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The $3.6 trillion the federal government has pumped into the U.S. economy since the 2008 financial crisis fueled a tech bubble that led to startup valuations that far exceed those of successful established companies in traditional industries.

The hospitality tech company Airbnb, for example, is valued at $24 billion, which exceeds the stock value of the company Marriott, which runs over 4,000 hotels. The transportation company Uber is valued at $15 billion, while Snapchat, an enabler of ephemeral picture-sharing, is valued at $16 billion, despite having produced no profits.

Economics journalist Doug Henwood writes at The Nation:


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Big Phone and Cable’s Summer Hack-a-thon | Tim Karr | Free Press

Big Phone and Cable’s Summer Hack-a-thon | Tim Karr | Free Press | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In the last few weeks at least five anti-Net Neutrality Op-Eds have appeared in newspapers around the country. These pieces strike suspiciously familiar notes — and in some cases use identical language.

All of this begs the obvious question: Did the phone and cable lobby orchestrate this wave of commentary opposing the Federal Communications Commission’s rules?

You be the judge. As evidence, I offer recent articles from David Balto, Clayola Brown, Joshua Davidson, Pat Ford and Pat Fong Kushida. You’ll see that each seems to have been written from an industry cheat sheet. Unfortunately, all of their talking points are wrong:

Crib Note 1: The FCC rule is an antiquated relic of the Ma Bell era.


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Union says Verizon spends $3.50 per year maintaining each landline | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica

Union says Verizon spends $3.50 per year maintaining each landline | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A union representing Verizon workers has called for investigations into whether the company is allowing its copper phone and DSL networks to deteriorate.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) said it is sending letters to regulators in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, DC. The union, which is trying to pressure Verizon while it negotiates a new contract, pointed to a Verizon statement that the telco has spent $200 million on its copper network since 2008.

"$200 million represents 0.39 percent of the $50.7 billion Verizon spent on its wireline network from 2008 to 2014," the CWA said.

Nearly all of the $50.7 billion was spent building Verizon's fiber network, a project the union supports. But Verizon still has more than eight million customers on its copper network, and "where Verizon has refused to deploy its all-fiber FiOS network, Verizon has the statutory obligation to maintain its copper plant to provide safe, reliable service," the union said.


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The Boston Globe Will No Longer Let John Sununu Shill For Telecom Companies Under The Pretense Of Objectivity | Karl Bode | Techdirt

The Boston Globe Will No Longer Let John Sununu Shill For Telecom Companies Under The Pretense Of Objectivity | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Like so many industries, the telecom industry employs a literal army of paid "consultants," fauxcademics, fake consumer advocates, ex-politicians and other talking heads to parrot industry policy under the pretense of objective analysis. Usually this sockpuppet army is used to build a sound wall of illusory support for shitty policy.


This practice has worked for decades, in large part, because very rarely can newspapers or websites be bothered to disclose the fact that these individuals are paid to spew total and absolute nonsense by anybody interested in hiring their services via a third party (usually a law firm or lobbying group).

Case in point: the Boston Globe apparently has declared that it will no longer allow former New Hampshire Senator John Sununu to proudly shill for telecom companies within the publication's hallowed halls.


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No, The FCC Is Not (Intentionally) Trying To Kill Third-Party Wi-Fi Router Firmware | Karl Bode | Techdirt

No, The FCC Is Not (Intentionally) Trying To Kill Third-Party Wi-Fi Router Firmware | Karl Bode | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

For a few months now a rumor has been circulating that the FCC is intentionally planning to ban third-party custom router firmware. Wi-Fi hobbyists (and people who just like a little more control over devices they own) have long used custom, open source firmware like DD-WRT or Open-WRT to bring some additional functionality to their devices, with the added bonus of replacing clunky router GUIs. Custom firmware is also handy in an age when companies like to force firmware upgrades that either eliminate useful functionality, or add cloud-features and phone-home mechanisms a user may not be comfortable with.

But at last July's BattleMesh 8 event, Wi-Fi enthusiasts noticed the clunky wording of an FCC NPRM (notice of proposed rulemaking) discussing the FCC's plan to modify the rules governing RF devices. The NPRM in question (pdf), like all NPRMs, is basically the FCC's way of fielding questions about potential rule changes. It's important to understand no rules have actually been passed yet before committing gadget-nerd seppuku.


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Salisbury, NC Offers 10 Gigabit Speeds to All Residents | Karl Bode | DSL Reports

Salisbury, NC Offers 10 Gigabit Speeds to All Residents | Karl Bode | DSL Reports | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Sure, most people can barely put a 100 Mbps connection to full use, but wouldn't it be nice to have ten gigabits per second? The town of Salisbury, North Carolina certainly thinks so, and has announced that it's the first municipal broadband provider in the nation to offer all homes and businesses in its territory access to ten gigabit speeds.

Dubbed "Fibrant," we've discussed for years how the five-year network build was, like all muni-efforts, born out of frustration with offerings from local incumbents like Time Warner Cable.

The company says it's now offering 10 gigabit speeds for around $400 a month. Fibrant already offers gigabit speeds for $105 a month.


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For future wearables, the network could be you | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com

For future wearables, the network could be you | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

People who wear networked gadgets all over their bodies may someday become networks themselves.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have found a way for wearables to communicate through a person's body instead of the air around it. Their work could lead to devices that last longer on smaller batteries and don't give away secrets as easily as today's systems do.

The proliferation of smartphones, smart watches, health monitoring devices and other gear carried close to the body has led to so-called personal area networks (PAN) that link the gadgets together and provide a path to the Internet through one that has a Wi-Fi or cell radio. Today, those PANs use short-range over-the-air systems like Bluetooth.


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Verizon Expands its NFL Mobile Play | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com

Verizon Expands its NFL Mobile Play | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Expanding on its NFL mobile exclusive, Verizon Wireless announced that all current and legacy price plans will include live streaming of Sunday local NFL games as well as Thursday Night Football, Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football matchups. That also includes mobile streaming access to NFL Network.

Verizon said there’s no extra monthly charge for the NFL element and that the app is free to download, though cellular network data usage applies.

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Fiber-optic Community Broadband Service in the Washington State Wilderness | Tom Ernste | community broadband networks

Fiber-optic Community Broadband Service in the Washington State Wilderness | Tom Ernste | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The Spokane Business Journal recently wrote about the community broadband system in Pend Oreille County, a long a favored destination for all seasons outdoor recreation. Beginning in 2013, the Pend Oreille County Public Utility District (PUD) began providing residents and tourists with high-speed fiber to the premises broadband via a 573-miles fiber network. The network was made possible by a $27 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant.

Private companies commonly say that such rural areas are not densely populated enough to justify investing in high-speed broadband infrastructure, leaving many rural communities on the disadvantaged side of the digital divide. High-speed community broadband systems like the one in Pend Oreille County cancel out this potential problem as they allow tourists, residents, and businesses alike to be closely connected with nature while staying connected for business demands. Indeed, as the website for Pend Oreille County’s Economic Development Council makes clear, the community broadband service is at the core of the county’s ambitious plans to attract people and businesses to the area.


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Rob McDowell: Federal Spectrum Auction Bill Teed Up | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable

Rob McDowell: Federal Spectrum Auction Bill Teed Up | John Eggerton | Broadcasting & Cable | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Former FCC commissioner Rob McDowell says to look for senior members of the Commerce Committees in both Houses of Congress to introduce legislation, perhaps by the end of this month, on freeing up government spectrum for auction.

That came in a conference call with reporters Wednesday and based on Hill sources he said he had talked to.

McDowell is currently a partner at Wiley Rein, which has a number of wireless clients, but he pushed for freeing up more government spectrum as a commissioner as well.

He said that helping "put the wind in the sales" of a government spectrum bill was the recent AWS-3 auction, which raked in an "eye-popping" almost $45 billion.


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Sharks! Skateboarders! Trees! Here's What Discovery Learned From Filming in VR. | Eric Johnson | Ra/Code.net

Sharks! Skateboarders! Trees! Here's What Discovery Learned From Filming in VR. | Eric Johnson | Ra/Code.net | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It may not have a figurative “ocean of puppies” like MTV, but Discovery Communications is starting to experiment with virtual reality — in a literal ocean of sharks, among other places.

The cable network released a mobile app this week that features VR videos spun off from some of its top shows, such as “Mythbusters,” “Gold Rush” and “Survivorman.” These 360-degree videos can be viewed just by moving the phone around, but the app — made by VR video platform Littlstar — also features a Google Cardboard mode that splits the video in two, making it possible for Android and iOS users with a Cardboard or similar headset to watch the videos in VR.

The videos are also available on YouTube, on the Web and in one of the Samsung Gear VR’s dedicated video apps, Milk VR.


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Microsoft, Google, Amazon, others, aim for royalty-free video codecs | Peter Bright | Ars Technica

Microsoft, Google, Amazon, others, aim for royalty-free video codecs | Peter Bright | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Microsoft, Google, Mozilla, Cisco, Intel, Netflix, and Amazon today launched a new consortium, the Alliance for Open Media. The group plans to develop next-generation media formats—including audio and still images, but with video as the top priority—and deliver them as royalty-free open source, suitable for both commercial and noncommercial content.

It's better than H.264, but it's going to cost more than H.264, too.
The issue of patent licenses and royalties continues to plague the video industry. While H.264/AVC video had relatively cheap licensing, it looks as if its successor, H.265/HEVC, is going to be considerably more expensive. Organizations that derive significant income from patent royalties and IP licensing weren't happy with the low-cost model used for H.264, and so are pushing back. This is a great threat to open source and non-commercial streaming, which has no obvious way to pay the royalties. The HEVC royalty structure would even threaten the viability of commercial streamers such as Netflix.

The Alliance for Open Media would put an end to this problem.


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FTC CTO: Full Disk Encryption Is Important In Preventing Crime | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

FTC CTO: Full Disk Encryption Is Important In Preventing Crime | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

While the FBI and NSA continue their campaign to fight against allowing encryption for devices, it's clear that not everyone in the government agrees. It does appear that there's a bit of a fight going on within the administration over where to come down (as President Obama himself admitted), and in a recent blog post, it seems pretty clear where the FTC comes down in this debate.


The FTC's CTO, Ashkan Soltani, who has long been a strong user-privacy advocate (and before joining the FTC helped in some of the reporting on the Snowden documents), wrote the blog post celebrating the virtues of full disk encryption and other "end user device controls." It starts out by noting that when he recently lost his own laptop, he wasn't that worried, thanks to the fact that it was encrypted.


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The myth of the cybersecurity skills shortage | Ira Winkler Opinion | NetworkWorld.com

The myth of the cybersecurity skills shortage | Ira Winkler Opinion | NetworkWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Everyone seems to think that there’s a lack of qualified security professionals, and that the reason is that there aren’t enough people entering the field with the required skills. There is a fallacy behind that thinking, though. People think that security is a stand-alone discipline, but it is actually a discipline within the computer field. Treating it otherwise is a mistake.

Most of the people who have been in the security profession for more than a decade, including me, entered the field without a cybersecurity degree. We might have certifications, but we don’t claim that those certs are the source of any expertise we may have.


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Can You See Us Now? Verizon Revamps Logo | Maureen Morrison | Advertising Age

Can You See Us Now? Verizon Revamps Logo | Maureen Morrison | Advertising Age | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Google's not the only company changing its logo this week. Verizon is also adopting a new look, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company launched the change internally today and was expected to publicly announce it Thursday. Verizon said that design agency Pentagram created the new logo. Landor Associates crafted the old Verizon logo back in 2000, when Verizon Communications was formed after the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE Corp.

The new design, which comes after Verizon acquired AOL for $4.4 billion in late June, truncates the large lighting bolt mark and moves it to the right. It also elminates the red "z" in the company name.


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The FTC is cracking down on video makers who don’t disclose who’s paying the bills | Hayley Tsukayama | WashPost.com

The FTC is cracking down on video makers who don’t disclose who’s paying the bills | Hayley Tsukayama | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The average American watches around 14 hours of online video per month. But how much do we know about who's paying for all of it?

The Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday announced it will settle with Machinima, an entertainment company that produces content for gamers, for not being clear about how some of its videos were being funded. According to the FTC complaint, Machinima did not properly disclose that some videos were paid for by Starcom MediaVest Group, an ad agency hired by Microsoft to promote the Xbox One. The agency said that a "small group of influencers" were paid thousands of dollars to create endorsement videos for the console and video games, but were not told to disclose where that money came from.

“When people see a product touted online, they have a right to know whether they’re looking at an authentic opinion or a paid marketing pitch,” said Jessica Rich, the FTC's Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, in the release. “That’s true whether the endorsement appears in a video or any other media.”


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CO: Rio Blanco County Has Big Plans for Open Access Network | community broadband networks

CO: Rio Blanco County Has Big Plans for Open Access Network | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In Rio Blanco County, you’re almost more likely to find a dinosaur fossil than a human being. This rural county in northwestern Colorado has about two people for every square mile, but its sparse population is not stopping it from advancing an ambitious open-access broadband initiative.

More than a year into the rollout of the network plan, Rio Blanco County (RBC) has already succeeded in soliciting $2 million in matched funds from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), contracted a network operator, and secured easements (land-use rights) from the county’s two largest municipalities to begin construction on the FTTx network. The bulk of the funding will come for the County budgeting for the infrastructure.

The network will initially touch every block and ultimately be expanded to deliver a fiber connection to each premise in the two towns.

Rio Blanco’s network will be a four-tier open access arrangement. The county will own the infrastructure - from the data center to the optical network terminal (ONT) within the home and everything in between. A private company, Colorado.Fiber.Community, will operate the network. And a combination of independent middle-mile Internet service providers and last-mile value-added resalers will offer services directly to residents.


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The Phone Company and the Feds — a Buddy Movie from Hell | Susan Crawford | Backchannel | Medium.com

The Phone Company and the Feds - a Buddy Movie from Hell - Backchannel - Medium

This month’s news that AT&T has evidenced “extreme willingness to help” the NSA collect, filter, analyze, and disseminate billions of communications by Americans wasn’t particularly surprising. After all, the giant phone company has been tightly involved with America’s national security operations for decades.

The obvious next question: Who will get to boss whom around? I offer three data points that may help us find an answer.

The first involves antitrust, and the strange resolution of the executive branch’s balancing of two different government interests involving the phone company.


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Workers risk business data with gambling apps on their phones | Lucian Constantin | ComputerWorld.com

Workers risk business data with gambling apps on their phones | Lucian Constantin | ComputerWorld.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

If you work for a large, global company, chances are some of your peers have installed gambling apps on the mobile devices they use for work, and that's bad news for IT security.

A study has found that the average company has more than one such gambling application in some employee devices, putting corporate data stored on those devices at risk.


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FCC Approves Good-Faith Retrans Review Item | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com

FCC Approves Good-Faith Retrans Review Item | John Eggerton | Multichannel.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The FCC has voted, unanimously according to a source there, to issue its rulemaking proposal revisiting its definition of good faith retransmission consent negotiations.

The item is in response to a congressional directive and looks at what should be included in a totality of circumstances test that goes beyond the per se violations already enumerated—although commenters are hoping the FCC will update/clarify some of those as well.

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Our view: Feds can do more to expand broadband | Editorial Board | Duluth News Tribune

Our view: Feds can do more to expand broadband | Editorial Board | Duluth News Tribune | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Driving from Ely to Duluth this week, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar suddenly lost cell service. How fitting that in addition to a book signing and other commitments and appointments, she was scheduled to chat with the News Tribune editorial board about the pressing need to expand high-speed broadband Internet service deeper into rural Minnesota.

Far beyond the convenience of a senator or anyone else being able to make a phone call, reliable broadband is becoming an increasingly critical need for farmers, rural business owners and others attempting to operate and compete globally. More and more, too, health care is going high-tech, and broadband is needed to deliver quality care to areas outside of large cities.

“This is the rural electrification issue of our time. And it’s the perfect time to move on it. We’re no longer governing from crisis,” Klobuchar, D-Minn., told editorial board members. “It’s no longer just about access. It’s how fast it is. Can you compete?”


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New FCC Rules Could Ban WiFi Router Firmware Modification | Slashdot

New FCC Rules Could Ban WiFi Router Firmware Modification | Slashdot | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

An anonymous reader writes:


Hackaday reports that the FCC is introducing new rules which ban firmware modifications for the radio systems in WiFi routers and other wireless devices operating in the 5 GHz range. The vast majority of routers are manufactured as System on Chip devices, with the radio module and CPU integrated in a single package. The new rules have the potential to effectively ban the installation of proven Open Source firmware on any WiFi router.

ThinkPenguin, the EFF, FSF, Software Freedom Law Center, Software Freedom Conservancy, OpenWRT, LibreCMC, Qualcomm, and others have created the SaveWiFi campaign, providing instructions on how to submit a formal complaint to the FCC regarding this proposed rule. The comment period is closing on September 8, 2015. Leave a comment for the FCC.


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Economics Has Math Problem | Noah Smith | BloombergView.com

Economics Has Math Problem | Noah Smith | BloombergView.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A lot of people complain about the math in economics. Economists tend to quietly dismiss such complaints as the sour-grapes protests of literary types who lack the talent or training to hack their way through systems of equations. But it isn't just the mathematically illiterate who grouse. New York University economist Paul Romer -- hardly a lightweight when it comes to equations -- recently complained about how economists use math as a tool of rhetoric instead of a tool to understand the world.

Personally, I think that what’s odd about econ isn’t that it uses lots of math -- it’s the way it uses math. In most applied math disciplines -- computational biology, fluid dynamics, quantitative finance -- mathematical theories are always tied to the evidence. If a theory hasn’t been tested, it’s treated as pure conjecture.

Not so in econ. Traditionally, economists have put the facts in a subordinate role and theory in the driver’s seat. Plausible-sounding theories are believed to be true unless proven false, while empirical facts are often dismissed if they don’t make sense in the context of leading theories. This isn’t a problem with math -- it was just as true back when economics theories were written out in long literary volumes. Econ developed as a form of philosophy and then added math later, becoming basically a form of mathematical philosophy.

In other words, econ is now a rogue branch of applied math. Developed without access to good data, it evolved different scientific values and conventions. But this is changing fast, as information technology and the computer revolution have furnished economists with mountains of data. As a result, empirical analysis is coming to dominate econ.


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Comcast has a plan to go after the cord-cutters | Tali Arbel | AP.org

Comcast has a plan to go after the cord-cutters | Tali Arbel | AP.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Comcast, which became a TV powerhouse by signing up Generation Xers, baby boomers, and their parents, is now fighting for millennial eyeballs.

The TV giant is investing in online media outlets like BuzzFeed and Vox that attract young viewers. It is setting up a TV-streaming service for millennials who don't watch a boob tube. And it's developing a YouTube-like video app and website.


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