Blog Archives

Just a Last Thought

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” (The more things change, the more they stay the same) All good things come to an end, so they say. So perhaps that’s a good reason for bringing Just A Thought (JAT)

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Measuring the Digital Economy

When the UK still had an automobile industry, there was a standard joke about the manufacture of the Morris Mini Minor, the car Mr Bean drives. The bad news was that each car was sold at a loss. The good

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Media Maketh Man?

What do Martin Luther, the sixteenth century monk who fermented the Reformation across Europe in the sixteenth century, Emmanuel Macron, who came top of the first round of French presidential elections in April 2017, and Donald Trump, who needs no

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Time to Retreat?

Is nothing safe! From next month, Singapore’s civil servants will be disconnected from the Internet.[1] And then connected again using notebooks that are disconnected from the government intranet to which all government computers are connected. ‘Two systems, one government’ so

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A New Mercantilism?

Donald Trump and Xi Jinping seem to have something in common, despite the showman image of the former and the statesman image of the latter. They both espouse nationalism. The showman as ‘Make America Great Again’ and the latter as

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Bring Back the Robots

“iPhone manufacturer Foxconn plans to replace almost every human worker with robots: China’s iPhone factories are being automated.” So read the headline at the close of 2016 on the web news site The Verge.[1] All the more remarkable considering that

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A Connected Christmas?

Just this week I came across this fascinating pre-Christmas post on Yougotobejoking.com. “Get connected this Christmas. That’s the message coming from the IT world. The Internet-of-Things is everywhere, and now … the connected Christmas Tree!” It gets better. You don’t

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Unthoughtful Emotions

Unthoughtful Emotions The Financial Times, 5th November 2016, led its Life & Arts supplement with an interview with an American fascist of the name Richard B. Spencer, who promotes racism, anti-Semitism, and ultra ‘white’ nationalism through Twitter and other media.

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Going Up in Smoke

Going Up in Smoke Smartphones are exploding into flames. This guy was fortumate. It burnt a hole in his pocket and the phone dropped out before it burned into him. Many similar stories emerged of phones exploding, some in the

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Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous Vehicles Autonomous vehicle are driverless vehicles, vehicles that are basically robots. Singapore has stolen a lead by introducing the first test autonomous taxis, a fleet of six reconfigured Renault Zoes and Mitsubishi i–MiEVs  driverless cars in a business park

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Fishing or Phishing

Fishing or Phishing ‘We are living in interesting times’: so goes the cryptic Chinese observation, which is really a warning of impending threats. The question is, from which direction do the threats come? From the threat of terrorism and cybercrime,

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Brexit or Fixet

Brexit or Fixet “In a nutshell, the referendum is a watershed in two related trends: the rising clout of anti-establishment politics and the retreat from globalization.” (Wall Street Journal 27 June 2016) The Journal, if it were not the Journal,

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Narcissus Technologies Trump Everything?

Narcissus Technologies Trump Everything? Think of a Narcissus these days and the name Donald Trump is never far away. In Ancient Greek mythology, Narcissus was a youth of such good looks he fell in love with himself. After cruelly spurning

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Sex and the City and the Internet of Things

Sex and the City and the Internet of Things Sex sells. That is pretty well established and widely known. Sex sells for money and it sells products. The former is typically frowned upon, while the latter exonerated, not to say

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If it’s broke, don’t fix it?

If it’s broke, don’t fix it? The Bangladesh Bank heist in March 2016 netted USD81 million when fake transfer requests were wired to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (the Fed) which is where the Bangladesh central bank keeps

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Upsetting the Applecart

Upsetting the Applecart Donald Trump called for a boycott, although only after he had “just thought of it.”[1] Bill Gates, initially at least, thought it was fully justified. Edward Snowden called it “the most important tech issue in a decade”

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What Goes Around, Comes Around

What goes around, comes around Marvin Minsky died in January 2016. He was the outstanding forerunner of research and development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in machines. After studying mathematics at Harvard, he did his post-graduate studies at Princeton where in

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Ringing in the New Year

Ringing in the New Year Here’s the thing about payphones: if by error you have left your mobile phone at home, making a call will be difficult unless you borrow someone else’s phone. That’s the trade-off as mobile phones replace

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Cyber Santa

Cyber Santa Families who celebrate Christmas have long got use to Santa Claus arriving with his sack full of toys for the children the Matrix-way, through broadband cables. But this year the man-in-the-red-cloak sporting a white beard may be bringing

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Is Cybersecurity an Oxymoron?

Is Cybersecurity an Oxymoron? Many years ago I lived in one of the less secure, less affluent parts of London. It was a neighbourhood where everyone knew someone who knew someone who had spent some time “at Her Majesty’s Pleasure”.

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Migration: A Digital Road Ahead

Migration: A Digital Road Ahead “One Facebook group called ‘Stations of the forced wanderers’, which has more than 100,000 members, is essentially a vast knowledge exchange community providing advice for those caught between smugglers seeking to exploit them and the

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Brave New World of Data?

Brave New World of Data? “Octopus sold personal data of customers for HK$44”’ was the headline in the South China Morning Post, 27th July 2010. Octopus is the name of the extraordinarily successful stored-value chip-based card in Hong Kong that

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RoboShop

RoboShop Welcome to Pepper. Pepper will be your close companion, enjoying your jokes, sympathizing when you are sad, keeping quiet when you are tired, and serving you tea when you need refreshment. Not sure yet if Pepper can run down

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Technology and a Shrinking Middle Class?

Technology and a Shrinking Middle Class? No-one doubts that the rise of the middle class globally has fuelled the demand for consumer goods of all kinds; that is certainly true for electronics and all-things digital. Nothing illustrates this better over

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Droning On, and On

Droning on, and on From the postal stage coach to the telegraph, to the telephone, to the Internet it’s been a long haul, and each step of the way has required changes to laws and regulations. Today the main challenge

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False Alarms

False Alarms When in the 1990s I was researching the impact of technological change on the Hong Kong Telephone Company (HKTC) over the period to the late 1980s, I came across a lesson from history that seems to require continual

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Everyone Going Bananas in April?

This is not the usual, slightly sceptical blog that sees the hype but not the reality. This time, for a change, its real, virtually no hype involved but a big reality. That’s what makes the understated announcement by Banana.com so

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Sex, Lies and Videotape

Sex is not just reproductive, is also productive which is why in some countries, such as the UK, its service revenues will be added to the GDP data. One of its contributions to economic stability is it’s counter-cyclical nature. When

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Artificial Intelligence

It’s a perennial topic, Artificial Intelligence (AI). Concerns about where science and technology are leading society are never ending. The earliest debates leading up to the Age of Science were mostly about how to do science and the role of

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Christmas Cake Anyone?

By any standards, Bill Gates is the epitome of the superrich. It took 7 years to construct Bill Gates’ mansion overlooking Lake Washington and cost him USD63 million, according to Urban Splutter which takes special note of its many “innovative

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Net Neutrality Revisited

Telecom broadband networks that provide fast lane access to the Internet need to be managed, and even more so than the plain old telephone service circuit-switched networks that provided dial-up. The underlying reason is that so many different services have

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Theoretical Pragmatism

And this year the Nobel Prize for economics goes to: Jean Tirole, Professor of Economics at the University of Toulouse in France. The award of a Nobel Prize is a bit of a junket, which is not to say Jean

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Let Me Say That Again

Apple has finally joined the NFC bandwagon. Let me say that again. Apple is redefining mobile payments. Better? I cannot wait to use my expensive new wrist watch or smartphone to replace my miserably cheap and unprepossessing plastic card to

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Partners in Development

“Telenor cracks down on Myanmar suppliers to weed out child labour” was a headline in the Financial Times 20 August 2014. Many international companies have run into reputational problems over this issue, some maybe deservedly, others unwittingly. Monitoring long-distance supply

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Accounting for Kowtow? You can Bank on it!

It was May 1989. I had arrived in January in Hong Kong as a visiting research fellow at the University of Hong Kong, and just finished reading Jan Morris’s new book Hong Kong about Britain’s last colony. During the previous

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Move Uber Please

In a benign Internet world, the emergence of a “caring, sharing” economy would be something to look forward to. For example, a taxi driver on the streets of London or Brussels or Paris would happily check their monitor screen for

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KingCanute.com

Like most children I learned from my school days that the Philistines were, well Philistines, which they were not; that the nineteenth century machine-wrecking Luddites in England were against technological progress, which they were not; and that an imbecilic King

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Trust

Fewer, if not few, people have much trust in the banking and financial system after recent experiences of inter-bank rate rigging scandals, the unscrupulous selling of financial duds to an unsuspecting public, dodgy investments in derivatives, excessive bonus payments even

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The World Wide Crimea?

What do Crimea and the Internet have in common? They have both become the terrain of political struggle. And the protagonists are pretty much the same. To be geographically inexact about it, East vs. West, well in Europe. Refusing to

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WhatsUpp?

WhatsApp is up, by USD19 billion all told. Why? Why did Facebook pay more than the nominal GDP of 84 of the poorest countries in the world, starting with Honduras (USD18.6 billion) and descending all the way down to tiny

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End of the Age of Innocence

2013 was a Year of Revelations. Of those that will have recurring repercussions, the revelations of Edward Snowden must take the prize. Not just for the scope of the surveillance revealed, but perhaps especially for the “workaround” of safeguards and

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Memories and Symbols

This month 2 images caught my eye. First, the outpouring of grief and admiration for Nelson Mandela. There has rarely been a man who has captured so emphatically in his lifetime the essence of what it means to rise above

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The Philippines

In the 1950s Manila was the banking capital of Asia. The Philippines had more telephones per head than Hong Kong. The Philippines looked resurgent. Then came military dictatorship, assassinations of opposition politicians, including the father of the current President and

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Trade Liberalization versus Industrial Policy

Bilateral, regional and global trade agreements are all part of the modern landscape of international economic relationships. They are based upon a simple premise, that free trade is a good thing. At the purely theoretical level this is a tautology.

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Just Thinking

There is little point in saying something for the sake of it. A journo, a politician, a blogger, is often faced with the problem because they’ve got to come up with something. Is it therefore an exercise in hubris when

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Another Age

I have just finishing reading the posthumously published lectures of British Marxist historian, Eric Hobsbawm who died October 2012. Fractured Times: Culture and Society in the Twentieth Century (Little, Brown: 2013) is a good example of never judging a book

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The Revenge of Cybernetics?

If the “medium is the message” then the message in the age of the Internet is that everything we now do and say and think is interconnected; cybernetics has come of age, meaning that the interconnections include feedback loops that

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Try Forecasting the Past

In 2010, Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, two respected Harvard economists, shot to fame for publishing a paper that seemed to support the view that once a national debt had crossed the 90% GDP threshold it would impact negatively on

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Lost and Found in Translation

Words. Here is an example of some, imaginatively (and unexpectedly) cited by the ITU’s Trends in Telecoms Reform 2013. (And as an American friend remarked “anyone who takes an Alexander Hamilton quote from the 18th century and can relate it

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It Ain’t Necessarily So

In the world of social media and instant online news feeds, what actually constitutes ‘news’ is rather problematic. The 140-character ‘news item’ planted on Twitter by hackers in April that bombs had gone off in the White House injuring President

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No News is Bad News

In March, two announcements were made pointing in opposite directions. First, Google announced the closing down of Google Reader, a news-feed app widely used by the cognoscenti of the up-to-date in everything. Yahoo! followed by announcing the purchase for nearly

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What’s there to think about?

2013 is the year of the Water Snake in the Chinese zodiac. Water is considered to have the colour black, which conjures up the high levels of river pollution in China, so 2013 is also said to be the Year

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Information over the Internet

At Davos this month Tim Berners-Lee, regarded widely as the father of the World Wide Web, warned of silos that were disabling users from sharing their postings across websites. Giving the example of users placing their photo albums online, he

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Dotty.com

2012 ended on a discordant note for the Internet. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is the forum at which governments propose regulations and standards for telecoms. Many member states of the ITU regard the Internet as something which should be

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Irrational Expectations?

Nate Silver is a clever man. Using “quants” he correctly predicted the outcome of the US presidential race in every single state bar none. Interest in “business analytics” that uses algorithms that detect trends and key relationships in vast amounts

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Telecoms and Security: Old Wine in New Bottles

A recent report by the US Senate warned that entry of telecom equipment manufacturer Huawei into the US market would be a Trojan horse for China’s spy network. For good technical reasons telecoms has always been viewed by governments and

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Standards for Standards

No one wants to risk using a drug that is not fully tried and tested and accredited by the relevant health standards body. The fact that many people do just that is telling. Of course, the major reason for doing

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Net Neutrality Revisited

Regulatory capture was a concept developed by economist George Stigler of the University of Chicago, but it was already a well observed phenomenon in the USA where powerful industrial and commercial interests exercised undue influence over the agencies and the

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3D PRINTING

It used to be the case that a dental patient wanting a crown for a tooth needed to sit through an uncomfortable process of having a damp polymer stuck over their tooth and waiting for it to dry before the

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Technology, Oh Technology and Manchester City

On May 7th hundreds of millions of viewers around the world watched the exciting climax to the English Premier League football championship match between home team and clear favourites Manchester City and QPR who were fighting to avoid relegation. If

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How Unassailable is Facebook?

2012 is scheduled as the year Facebook goes public. It has been well advertised that Facebook does not need the money and the Inland Revenue is also pretty indifferent as to whether the taxes are paid by a private individual

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Artificial Intelligence – More Brawn than Brain?

The IT world is getting faster all the time. Telcos are upgrading to high speed broadband NGNs; the processing power of ever smaller chips in ever smaller devices continues exponential growth; and apps and services rely upon ever faster searches

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When the Internet Went on Strike

On 18 January 2012 the Internet went on strike. Wikipedia and a whole host of Internet sites went dark for a day in protest again SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act). The sponsors of these two

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Capitalism and social services

Sir, Lawrence Summers and Samuel Brittan, in the “Capitalism in Crisis” series, complement each other in important ways. Prof Summers (“Current woes call for smart reinvention not destruction”, January 9) manages to reduce a modern capitalism economy to two sectors,

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Year of the Dragonet?

Early in 2011 it was revealed that China was going ahead with an experiment to set up an Internet Special Administrative Region (SAR) similar in concept to the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) of the 1980s that started the process of

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ASEAN ICT Masterplan 2015

As various free trade negotiations hit the headlines –AFTA, TPP, BTAs, etc – ASEAN seems to be finding a new lease of life.  It already has well established institutions, and with Myanmar apparently on the road to reform there is

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Steve Jobs (1955-2011): A Man of Our Times

Obituaries are best written before death, and in the media they are. They can be written in relative calm and closer to the truth; after death the temptation is to use superlatives and become superficial. But in the case of

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Regulation Wars

The need for regulation arises for 3 reasons: to assign scarce resources; to protect citizens; and to promote public policy. In the case of telecoms, these equate to, for example: (i) assigning radio spectrum, or rights-of-way; (ii) enforcing public health

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Phony Patent Wars

Anyone following technology markets cannot have missed the growing use of patent wars to cripple or extort or hamper or simply bully competitors into technology agreements or into paying high fees. Patents are a lawyer’s dream and a consumer’s nightmare,

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Wither Media?

The demise of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World in the UK had nothing directly to do with competition from social media. On the contrary, it was a profitable news “rag” appealing to the lowest common denominator of readership, and

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The Death of Telecommunications

The profits warning by KPN (Netherlands) in Apr set off alarm signals. When the CTIA, the wireless telecoms industry association of the US, announced that SMS traffic had grown only 8.7% in 2010, the lowest growth figure for a decade,

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The Risk Game

In the latest in an ever growing number of massive cyber security breaches the Sony PlayStation Network (PSN) and Online Entertainment Services were hacked for more than 100 million names, addresses, IDs, passwords and possibly credit card numbers, according to

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Social Networking and the Grassroots Voice

In 1381 the nobility of England were rocked by the Peasants Revolt. There was no Facebook. In 1848 the ruling classes of Europe were rocked by worker uprisings. There was no Facebook. In 1968 student protests swept much of Europe,

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Japan’s Tragedy

Natural disasters are at one and the same time to be expected and yet shock us to the core when they occur. The world of ICTs tends to be one of optimism, hope, anticipation of ever better things to come.

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IPv6

Finally it happ Win Ex Wife Back After Divorce ened. ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has run out of IPv4 numbers. The world now has 2 choices. Either source IPv4 numbers that have been issued but are

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Chinese New Year Resolution

The Wall Street Journal (16 Dec 2010) cited an interesting research paper from the Asian Development Bank Institute in Tokyo on China’s trade balance with the USA. The researchers examined the trade in parts for an iPhone. The traditional measure

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WikiLeaks and Mirrors

Let’s put WikiLeaks into some sort of perspective. In the UK from the 1960s onwards Private Eye became a satirical magazine beloved across the political spectrum from left-wing revolutionaries and anarchists to right-wing Bonapartists and Monarchists alike for its scurrilous,

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Net Neutrality

The net neutrality issue has raised its head again, and this time Asia is getting involved in the debate. the best cigars According to Verizon (November 2010): “A key reason why the FCC doesn’t consider the activities of those who

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ICTs Post-recession

As the global economy slowly pulls itself out of the greatest recession since the Second World War, the role of ICTs has transformed the critical relationship between technologies and business operations. For decades professors at universities and business schools taught

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Will Obama Have to Give Up His Blackberry?

Next time President Obama visits the Arab Gulf States, he can leave his Blackberry at home. Because of its unique P2P security protection which allows neither RIM nor the carrier to read the content of a user’s communication, the Blackberry

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Content Factories and The New Media Model

Google has recently patented an algorithm that identifies search subjects that are under-represented on the Web. For companies such as Demand Media this could spell trouble. Demand Media uses similar algorithms to identify topics for its small army of freelance

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The Changing Face of TV

The famous off-hand remark by Lord Thompson of Fleet who in 1960 described his Scottish TV station as a “licence to print money” became a defining moment in the history of the business of TV. As sources of news and

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Boxed-in

Singapore is the latest to face the problem that is technically referred to as ‘conditional access’, meaning the conditions that apply to allow someone to access their favourite TV show. Free-to-air, no problem. Want a single cable TV or IPTV

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Cloud Computer or Pie in the Sky?

Sometimes the headline occurs to the writer before the story, which is usually not a good sign for what is to follow. But cloud computing does seem to beg more questions than answers at this stage, so whether it remains

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The meaning of Google vs. China

Cyber attacks are becoming more common, or at least are receiving more public attention. They range from the loan hacker to the highly organized and orchestrated. Google’s problems in China are in that sense just the most public to date.

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Separation: Will It Work?

Building high speed broadband networks (HSBN) has become a signature theme of national information infrastructure policies around the globe. The Asia Pacific is not short on the issue. Japan and South Korea have long vied to become the most connected

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