OK, here's something new for Between the Lines. I'm calling it ZDNet's "threadlogs." Or maybe it should be called IMlogs. They're my private IM conversations with various industry movers and shakers. Why am I doing this? I'd rather you see the raw exchanges than my summaries of them (which I do from time to time). It's more transparent this way. Yes, they're edited. Not only for obvious stuff like spelling, but also to delete irrelevant parts of the conversation like "the girl won Idol," to make some short hand or out-of-order IMs less confusing, but never to change the intent of what was said. Basically, I edit to make them more easily digested. The first of these is a recent IM thread with Bob Frankston.
Frankston, who is the co-inventor (along with Dan Bricklin) of the electronic spreadsheet and who later went to work on Microsoft's home networking initiatives, is on a personal crusade to, in his words, "fix the Internet." Fixing the Internet involves a lot of micro-initiatives and one of those, if you follow the thread below, is to convince carriers (telcos/cellcos) to let go of the control they currently have over handsets -- control that locks users in, limits innovation (what can be done with the handsets), and that often (according to ZDNet readers who complain about this all the time) disables some of the best features of some of the more advanced headsets. How many times have you purchased a phone based on some feature only to find that the cellco has disabled it or modified it to the point that you don't use it? This has happened to me several times. As you can see below, Frankston has a special way of referring to the entry point into the carrier's walled-garden.
DB : Good morning
Bob: Good morning
DB : Saw you sign on and thought I'd say hi.
Bob: I thought I was already signed on - - probably just came alive after the red-eye.
DB : Eeuuuwww..
DB : Were you at D?
Bob: Yeah, the word for D this year is "Orifice."
Bob: Jobs used it to describe the carriers and it stuck. Walt [Mossberg] is really angry at them and that's wonderful.
DB : Well, it's the carriers that will undo Jobs.
DB : So, it's no wonder.
DB : No wonder that Jobs has that to say.
Bob: Or he will undo them. While Motorola is doing an iPod phone, they realize it's a temporary hack. But Microsoft and Intel are orifice companies.
DB : Why do you think the Moto phone is a temporary hack?
Bob: Because on the side, [Motorola Chairman and CEO] Ed Zander agrees that we need a real transport.
But Bill G thinks that the telcos need incentives and rewards.
Bob: Intel thinks that they can solve complexity with MIPS and they're wrong.
DB : why is the Moto phone a hack though? Or, am I just too dumb to see it after your last comment?
Bob: They are building special purpose devices for the carriers -- why not a general purpose device that can be defined by software? Perhaps Moto is indeed confused and sees it as an iPod with a radio but Jobs was downplaying it.
DB : iPod=idiot proof.
DB : Phone=idiot proof
DB : PDA (definable by software)=not idiot proof.
DB : Motorola doesn't make non-idiot proof devices. For the most part.
DB : They do support Java in many of their phones though.
DB : So, best of both worlds, maybe.
Bob: You may be right but for now. My concern is the orifices (or orifi?)
DB : Does this phone support Java?
Bob: Didn't get into that aspect. They have lots of phones so in the end they are still solution providers more than opportunity but I'm more concerned with chokepoints and Xbox-closure and telco pandering as with smartphones
DB : What does your reference to "orifices" mean?
Bob: A passage you must go through or, a particular one like your body's rear egress.
Frankston has a point. Does it resonate with you? What do you think of the idea of threadlogs? Should we called it threadcasting? Wanna meet me on IM for some threadlogging or threadcasting?