October 2008

"Excuse me, where is the Google Terminal?"

by Lee Gesmer on October 31, 2008

As expected, the proposed Google Book Search settlement has led to a lot of scrutiny, criticism and questions. Here is a link to the 125 page Settlement Agreement(without attachments; pdf). Here is a link to the page that holds the full agreement which, with attachments, is over 300 pages long).

Both Larry Lessig (“IMHO, this is a good deal that could be the basis for something really fantastic”) and Wade Roush(“Book Search settlement contains some major disappointments”) have taken a first crack at trying to decipher this settlement (Roush – “exhaustive, labyrinthine”) and figure out who, amongst the many stakeholders, are the winners and losers.

Here is a particularly interesting paragraph from Wade Roush’s article:

. . . [T]he devil . . . is in the details. If you read the agreement, you’ll see that it restricts each public library to exactly one Google terminal. Tens of millions of books online—but at any given moment, no more than 16,543 people are allowed to read them without paying.

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Welcome to the Metaverse

by Lee Gesmer on October 31, 2008

Wade Roush (technology journalist and chief correspondent at Xconomy) wrote an extraordinary article in the MIT Technology Review in 2007 which I’ve had in my “must re-read” pile for a while. Recently I picked it up and noticed that the article is accessible in full on the Technology Review web site (free registration required).

Here is a brief excerpt from the article, modestly entitled Second Earth:

[w]ithin 10 to 20 years–roughly the same time it took for the Web to become what it is now–something much bigger than either of these alternatives [Second Earth or Google Earth] may emerge: a true Metaverse. In Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel Snow Crash, a classic of the dystopian “cyberpunk” genre, the Metaverse was a planet-size virtual city that could hold up to 120 million avatars, each representing someone in search of entertainment, trade, or social contact. The Metaverse that’s really on the way, some experts believe, will resemble Stephenson’s vision, but with many alterations.

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Chief Justice Margaret Marshall

Chief Justice Margaret Marshall

Thank you, President McIntyre for the honor, and great pleasure, of addressing this annual meeting.

Fair and independent courts need dedicated lawyers. The rule of law needs both. That is why, among so many reasons, I am delighted to be here: to thank this Bar Association, to thank each of you, for partnering in justice with our courts.

This has been a turbulent year. In politics. In terms of climate change. And now, a financial crisis of unparalleled dimensions. The cataclysm on Wall Street reverberates on Beacon Street. Revenue sources for state government are fast declining, and predicted to decline further. … Continue Reading

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I’ve heard this quote attributed to Alan Abelson of Barron’s, but who knows, it may be from Kansas. Maybe Abelson used to listen to Kansas.

In any event, it came to mind when I heard that the Maestro, a Master of the Universe if there ever was one, spoke thus before Congress last week:

REP. WAXMAN: You found a flaw in the reality —

MR. GREENSPAN: Flaw in the model that I perceived as the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works, so to speak.

REP. WAXMAN: In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology was not right. It was not working.

MR. GREENSPAN: Precisely. That’s precisely the reason I was shocked, because I had been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.

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