November 18, 2008

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Looks like the evacuation notices have been lifted. And The Map (which is very well done) now has two pages showing the status in the area, including (near as I can tell) all 211 burned structures, nearly all of them homes.

My shots of the aftermath are here.

Hard to believe I’m in Boston now, and about to be in Zurich, then Amsterdam. See some of ya’ll there.

This makes me glad I don’t have advertising on this blog.

Collateral damage?

Ever notice how many car ads you see on the evening news? On sports broadcasts? (Between the ones for beer and “erectile dysfunction” relief — nice promotional symbiosis there.) How much of that is Detroit money? How much of that money will go away, whether or not Detroit gets bailed out? And will Asian and European car makers spend enough to take up the slack?

Just wondering.

In any case, watch for commercial broadcasting to take more hits.

This is @#$% insane.

I’m at the Lufthansa lounge in Boston’s Logan Airport, where T-Mobile provides wi-fi service, just like it provides wi-fi service in countless other places around the U.S., including (near as I can tell) most airports and airport lounges. The “welcome” page looks normal. I try to login. It doesn’t work. Then I notice that I can login as a “visitor” from T-Mobile USA. But I’m IN the @#$% USA. I pay T-Mobile $29something/month to use their @#$% service already in the U.S.A.

It’s bad enough that I have to pay $.18/minute to “roam” on T-Mobile when I’m overseas. But in the U.S.? Why? Because T-Mobile wants to shake down customers held captive by the conveniences of an airport lounge? I’m guessing. I don’t know.

Really, I don’t care if the lounge is operated by Lufthansa, and Lufthansa is a German airline, and they have their own deal with T-Mobile Deutschland, which treats this little outpost as some kind of consulate or whatever. I’m guessing that’s the reason, but I don’t know. I can only guess. What is clear is that The System is rigged to trap and shake down customers.

So I’m on with my Sprint datacard. It’s not free, but it’s also not T-Mobile. To its credit, Sprint hasn’t screwed me yet. T-Mobile has. It’s not much of a screw. Just $.18 per minute. But that’s $.18 more than I’m already willing to pay.

Let’s see. I’ve been with T-Mobile (and MobileStar before that) since MobileStar first began serving wi-fi to Starbucks customers. I forget what I paid, but let’s say it’s averaged $25/month since November 2001, or seven years. Comes to $2100.

“Life is for sharing”, T-Mobile’s slogan says.

I now plan to share less of my life, and my money, with T-Mobile.

If they want me back — and other customers like me — they’ll have to stop thinking like an old telco and start thinking like the Internet service company they’re going to become anyway.

Quote du jour

Yochai Benkler: Spectrum is not a resource. It is an engineering assumption. True.

This afternoon at 4:30 I’ll be talking (though not alone… it’s a discussion, not a lecture) at the in Cambridge (the new one with and , born in 1630-something; not the older one The topic will be The Intention Economy: What happens when free customers prove more valuable than captive ones.

Are you tired of carrying around “loyalty cards” for retailers who speak to themselves about “acquiring,” “owning” and “controlling” their “relationship” with you? — and do little more than clog your wallet and slow down checkout lines?

Are you tired of login and password hell? In the everyday world you don’t have to become a “member” of a store to shop there, or to click “accept” after not reading “agreements” that are anything but.

Wouldn’t it be cool to rent exactly the car you want (for example, one that seats six and has an AUX input for your iPhone), rather than whatever the rental car agency decides to give you?

If you answer Yes to any of those questions, you should know about VRM, for Vendor Relationship Management. It’s how we manage them at least as well as they manage us.

VRM tools are being developed right now by a community of developers and other volunteers, organized around ProjectVRM at Harvard’s Berkman Center and led by Doc Searls, the originator of the VRM concept and a fellow at the center.

More here.

That same pitch would also do for the in Amsterdam on Thursday. I’ll be there too. Big thanks to Maarten Lens-Fitzgerald and friends for putting that together, even as Maarten continues to withstand medical insults in the midst.