The science fiction of scarcity is definitely more interesting. Not that it’s wrong to posit futures in which some or all needs aren’t scarce, and what happens or matters then.
The big news today is about Dell buying EMC. This hits close to home, EMC being a Massachusetts company and employing people I know. It also reminds me of all the people I knew who worked for DEC before it was bought by Compaq, which still seems odder to me than the current merger. But then, DEC was shortsighted in some ways, missing the boat when it came to microcomputers, even more than IBM, which at least grasped things enough to create a market and widely adopted standards. IBM has been seen to varying degrees as the walking dead for decades, yet somehow kept going, even thriving. Then again, installed base creates inelasticity on the way to doom. Just ask COBOL. This is why, in the absence of total annihilation, civilization itself will not collapse absolutely and immediately in the face of many possible disasters. But I digress.
EMC is arguably more focused, robust and nimble than was DEC, and a better fit with Dell than was DEC with Compaq. It could work, until enough of their combined business goes obsolete. We’ll see.
Recently I found myself toying with the new .XYZ top level domain, checking whether anything interesting might be available.
Naturally I tried abc.xyz which, predictably, was taken. Makes sense, right? Since something like ABC would naturally tend to snag a new TLD to match, or since someone like me, but faster, would snag it on a whim.
Google is now under an umbrella of many disparate companies in one, but as Alphabet, rather than as Google. It becomes one of many. I found out about this in the middle of the night, just before going to my “day job,” seeing the announcement at that time.
My overwhelming thought about it since then has been: Didn’t we used to call this a conglomerate? Those were all the rage, decades ago. Breaking those up to extract shareholder value was all the rage fewer decades ago.
Still, if being a conglomerate is effectively a done deal already, it makes some sense to brand the conglomeration differently from the original and presumably still most major component of the conglomerate. One could poke fun at the name, but hey, this is a company that called itself Google and wound up taken utterly seriously.
My secondary thought: .XYZ will be taken seriously as a TLD in a way that it might not have been.
Had copyright law remained as it was in 1957, quite a list of works would have become public domain on January 1, 2014. As noted at the link, famous works will tend to remain available, if not as inexpensively so as might be the case, but I am concerned with orphan works. When I look up books I liked as a child and cannot find them in print, or in print at a price one can afford, then the copyright holder either has no interest in holding them in copyright, or there is no living copyright holder, heir or assign who is aware or interested in that status. Such works have no reason to remain protected. Even if that protection lies only in fear that someone who can legitimately prove ownership might come out of the woodwork after all, if any interest is shown.
Worst are the academic publications that are behind overpriced paywalls that keep the useful arts and sciences from being promoted. Congress ought to be ashamed of extending copyrights to unconstitutional lengths, and courts out to be ashamed of going along with it. At least, I assume they have, since there must have been challenges. Copyright should not be controlled by media corporations. That was never the idea.
Remember the old series of AT&T commercials that predicted how we’d do things in the future, touting AT&T as the company that would bring you that new technological application? The entire series has been captured in one YouTube video, and it’s fascinating. They were on entirely the right track – not that the predictions were far-fetched – if not in small details or in who would be bringing it to you.
SpaceX successfully launched a commercial satellite to geostationary orbit for a dramatically lower price than the international competition. This was part of the point of having a private space industry, after all, but it’s great to see it get real.