ETC to outsource all services

Just came across this: ETC to outsource all services

Hmmm, very interesting... I'm not sure I understand.

Does it mean "privatize" as in selling shares of ETC to private owners, or "outsource" as in contracting an external entity to perform some of the work for ETC. Those are two very different things... maybe they are doing both with one entity, i.e. an equity for services swap?

Also, it's unclear what the news is. Is it that there's a deal being negotiated to implement the existing policy of trying to sell 30% of ETC to a foreign telco? Or is it reporting that a new revised policy is coming up?

If anyone has more info, please pass it on! I really hope the latter. Privatization is not the cure. Competition is. Privatizing a monopoly is merely handing over the profits to an outsider, and not necessarily a recipe for innovation and growth.


Black Gold

I can't wait to see Black Gold, a movie about fair trade and coffee. But, in an effort to keep myself honest, let me state my opinion before seeing it, since it will surely change. So here we go..

Fair trade? Fair schmair! In trade, the only thing that's fair is the price you can get. Guilt about grower's poverty is only going to work on a minority of global buyers and therefore have a limited effect on the overall price. What is needed is an appeal to consumers desires, not their guilt. Desire is a very powerful thing that influences price dramatically. Just look at Starbucks. Here's something I wrote about this a while ago Digital Coffee (I don't feel bad about being too self-referential -- this is a blog isn't it? All about me).

What coffee growers need is brand marketing or something like that. Decommoditize the commodity. Then instead of the retailer getting 90% of the value, the source would get 90% of the value. The day rich consumers insist on House of Jimma Ethiopian Coffee, just like they do Godiva Belgian chocolate, or Emmentaler Swiss cheese, that will be the day of the rich coffee farmer.



Test driving the blog... Can't yet trust it with anything new,
so let's try recycling some old musings.
Here's one from 1998

Licensing, Microsoft and Salvation


Many have compared Microsoft in the 1990s to Standard Oil in the 1890s, and Gates to Rockefeller. But I think there's a better (even if slightly exaggerated :) historical analogy to be made.

Almost everyone who buys a PC pays about $90 for the Windows95/98 license, about 10% of the cost of the computer (about the same percentage if you look at NT machines too). For centuries, peasants in Europe (and other Christian feudal societies) paid about 10% of their harvest to the church automatically ("la dime"). It was the licensing fee for the Bible. I'm sure that at the beginning, it appeared to make sense. What's 10% in exchange for eternal salvation? But they didn't tell you about the bugs in the Bible. They didn't tell you all the things that you wouldn't be allowed to do under future releases. They didn't tell you you wouldn't be able to boot Buddha, and that the Islam API was not compatible. Instead, you are told to wait for the upcoming release which will solve all your problems... provided you stay faithful.

Why is this important?

Afterall, most of the suffering in the world today has nothing to do with what's good or bad in the computer industry. But! when the work patterns, the relationships between capital and labor were being put in place, in the mid 19th century, only a small fraction of the world was involved in the industrial economy. By the time it became "important", it was already too late to change it rationally, only extreme violence could challenge the established order.

So, what happens today in operating systems and the software industry in general, could well shape the basic structure of human society for the next century. Do we want to wake up in the year 2050 and see 3 billion enraged slaves of "intellectual property" led by Vladimir Info Lenin, or Mao Techno Tung?