From September 2005 to June 2006 a team of thirteen scholars at the The University of Southern California's Annenberg Center for Communication explored how new and maturing networking technologies are transforming the way in which we interact with content, media sources, other individuals and groups, and the world that surrounds us.

This site documents the process and the results.

network infrastructure

internet use in japan

A recently released report from Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) has intriguing data about internet use by Japanese broadband users. Look at this table:


Submitted by fbar on May 2, 2006 - 12:30pm

future shock

The future mashups were produced by netpublics. More info soon...

Kazys Varnelis, Networked Publics Fellow Lectures at Yale, 18 February

Kazys Varnelis, visiting scholar with the Networked Publics program at the Annenberg Center for Communication will be speaking on Saturday, February 18 at “Philip Johnson and the Constancy of Change,

Submitted by kvarnelis on February 13, 2006 - 10:26pm

Google Won't Pay ... and They Don't Want to Give Our Data to the Feds Either.

So maybe Google is really living up to its motto, “Don't be evil.

Submitted by kvarnelis on January 20, 2006 - 3:58pm

Happy New Year! Happy New Media War!

Google gets the New Year off right... According to the Wall Street Journal, Google plans to sell content from CBS and the NBA. What will Edward Whitacre say about that? May you live in interesting times... An ancient Chinese curse (ok, not really, but still).

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Submitted by kvarnelis on January 6, 2006 - 1:44pm

Will Next Generation Broadband Do Nothing For Us?

My argument against a headlong embrace of wireless as a solution to the last mile problem is that there has always been a dialectic between wireless and wired (e.g. optical telegraph vs. wire telegraph, telephone vs. radio, coaxial cable vs. microwave, satellite vs. fiber). In most of these cases, the flexibility of wireless solutions has been counteracted by the greater bandwidth of wired solutions. So even though wireless seems like a way of giving the Internet to those who live in poor, under-served areas and even though it holds the potential of setting us free of the grips of network pipes, I have maintained that faster connections will be the envy of those on wireless. A recent online discussion tackles this issue. Om Malik suggests that the next generation of broadband will do little for the user experience, but he warns that slow upload speeds are an issue. But make sure you read the comments and the online discussion that follows. My take is here

Submitted by kvarnelis on December 28, 2005 - 11:05am

surveillance and centralization

I've posted some news at my research blog about how the US government is using the highly centralized nature of world telecommunications for eavesdropping. Read more here.

Submitted by kvarnelis on December 26, 2005 - 7:48pm

A telco that gets it?

The phrases "France Telecom" and "a telco that really gets it" are seldom found in close proximity. So this interview of Norman Lewis, the Director of Technology Research for France Telecom by O'Reilly's Bruce Stewart is worth noting.

The regulator's visible hand is clearly giving France Telecom plenty of incentives to 'get it' quickly, through brutal unbundling rules: FT's competitors can get access to local loops for 10euros/month. This largely explains the current explosion of French broadband.

The broader question is whether that model can sustain network investment in the long run, which, in the US, is what is pushing carriers to try for new revenue models.

Submitted by fbar on December 14, 2005 - 3:30pm

Is Email Broken?

I can no longer send email to my friends at AOL because, according to AOL, the server is on has also been used to send spam. Since a nonprofit group, the LA Forum is on the same server, members who are on AOL don't get their emails anymore either. The problem is that AOL's policies on what constitutes spam are ludicrous. No doubt AOL users get spam, but my ISPs terms of service are strict. users have a nice big button tempting them by saying "Mark as Spam" over their list of emails. The problem is that clueless users simply look at all of their email, get overwhelmed by the tempting ads for penis enhancement, Nigerian 419 scams, and so forth, hit select all and then "Mark as Spam" to delete the entire bunch. When enough AOL users do this, the site is blacklisted by IP, not by originating server. Then of course there are the people who sign up to mailing lists (such as the LA Forum's) and then want off but are too lazy to read the instructions at the bottom of the email message in order to figure out how to unsubscribe and just hit "Mark as Spam" to get the emails banned from their account. Same effect. Heck, if I just bcc 20 people and one of them is from AOL, I'll be blocked for a day since that's not acceptable, even if I'm doing it to send out a party invite. If I enter in what AOL considers a malformed URL—or even respond back to a message with a malformed URL-the same thing will happen. Some of them persist in sending me email from their AOL. I've given up trying to respond back to them. The next stage may just be to have set up an auto-responder to tell people that I won't read their email and to get a real email address.

Then again, this morning a friend with SBC sent me an email (an my netpublics account) that had bounced back from Why? Because the ISP has put in spamcop and his smtp server is considered blocked.

Spam blocking is becoming more of a problem for me than spam. Perhaps all this will be solved soon, but email seems more and more broken, heading down the route of Gopher or Usenet and other dead media. I asked Mimi Ito about this since she knows everything about such matters (or at least seems to me) and she responded: "Ours will be the last generation to use email." Sites like and instant messaging will defeat email once and for all in her analysis.

But what happens when IM spam and IM spam blockers rear their ugly heads?

Submitted by kvarnelis on December 8, 2005 - 3:02am

The Last Mile and the Threat to the Net

In Saving the Net: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes, at Doc Searl comments on the threats the Internet faces from. In this lengthy piece, Searl suggests that the combination of mergers among broadband carriers and the continued hatred of the Internet by the same entities poses tremendous danger to the future of networked publics. Searl's position is something that I've mentioned before in my response to Chris Anderson's talk on the Long Tail. For in the rapidly elongating Long Tail of microcontent and—as Mimi Ito underscored for us—the even more quickly proliferating cultural sphere of amateur cultural production, we are perversely reversing the undoing of big media that marked the last forty years. If my concern in that post was with what might happen to, say, Indy labels if artists can just go directly to iTunes, or what power entities like Google or even Flickr begin to have over us, Doc Searl reminds us that the much-vaunted free access that we have to the Internet is an illusion, not reality. In an earlier article for Cabinet Magazine, I explored the highly-centralized structure of the Internet itself and, in particular, the peering arrangements and physical structures created by the Tier 1 carriers. This article turns our attention to the last mile. Read on for more.

Submitted by kvarnelis on November 29, 2005 - 11:37pm