Open newslist 8

Things I’d like to include:

Phil Lapsley’s book Exploding the Phone and some observations about telecoms billing records and the police that arise.

David Wood’s book Smartphones and Beyond about how the future was right here and then it…wasn’t. (“right here” includes Macclesfield and Bury St. Edmunds.)

Circling back to Scottish and other devolution. Is full fiscal devolution actually a good idea? Also, reviewing my forecast (that Labour has an effective veto, and therefore it will go down to the wire, but the Tories would be better off agreeing).

Retrieving anything from here. I still have some #Savileweek content in reserve even though I couldn’t hack the whole week.

I could do more about Hack Attack, too.


Update: Oh yes. Response to William Langewiesche’s AF447 piece.

16 Comments on "Open newslist 8"

  1. Would be interested in your thoughts on both phone books.

    Is Exploding The Phone worth reading?

    Something that occurred to me in passing this morning on the way to work:
    You will doubtless recall that people would say ‘ah, well, the PC ecosystem favoured those individualist Americans but the smartphone requires European style cooperation’ (well not in those words as I don’t think people said ‘ecosystem’ or ‘smartphone’ at that point). It would be interesting (a) to find some people who said that (shouldn’t be hard) and get them to say why they think they were wrong (b) in general an analysis of what the coming and going of that myth says.

    Also, to what extent do ‘we’ lose out by all the major platforms being American? [I know that people will say ‘ah, Linux, it’s open source and has European contributors]. My feeling is that it probably does matter, more than people on the whole think.


    1. John: I’d definitely recommend Exploding the Phone.

      Regarding smartphones, a major point I want to get across is that you bet it requires cooperation, and if you look at how Android and the Open Handset Alliance works, you’ll see that it’s very much a solution to the problems Symbian Ltd. had in getting itself, Psion, Nokia, the other vendors, the apps developers, the carriers, and the chip makers to cooperate. Apple, of course, solved the problem by internalising the cooperation into One Big Organisation. Either way, the Americans beat us at teamwork, which ought to be embarrassing.

      There may be a limit to how much I can blog about this because I’ve promised a research note about it to work, but another project has pushed that onto the back burner so we might get away with it.


    2. because, of course, Symbian never wanted to be *Apple*. they wanted to be *Microsoft*, but in hindsight they actually needed to be *Android*, especially as they were fascinated by getting into the mass-market.


  2. Interested to hear more about David Wood’s book, also the response to William Langewiesche’s AF447 piece. Fiscal deco is interesting too, as the whole referendum thing seemed to devolve for me into reminding people that if they were rethinking the Eurozone in terms of currency flexibility, then a separate currency for London seemed necessary for the good of the rest of the UK.


    1. importantly, PyS60 was never a Symbian project but a purely Nokia one, not least because David Wood and the gang didn’t really believe in apps developers until very late in the day. what do you mean, you didn’t go to Cambridge?


      1. Yes, when you come to think of it, it is counter-intuitive that the British mobile platform wouldn’t have had some sort of BASIC (i.e. OPL) for the ‘bedroom programmers’ a la Sinclair / BBC Micro.
        I can imagine them being looked down on by Cambridge weenies.
        I remember a bit in Stewart Brand’s ‘long now’ book where he talks about the difficulty of running old software, specifically Jaron Lanier’s Amiga game and then after much breast-beating and wailing says but ah well they can be run on emulators thanks to ‘vernacular programmers’ (by analogy with vernacular architecture). A lovely sniffingly snobbish term – we think great thoughts about VR, they are vernacular programmers.


  3. I just started the symbian book- it’s fascinating, thanks for the recommendation. One thing that stands out to me is how English the company appears to be, and something more specific still, that English people can perhaps place better than me. Academic or so? They’re constantly worrying that they cannot recruit enough proper people, and cannot possibly work with the wrong people. There are some reference to Dutch and Swedish people who are also deemed OK, but that’s it.

    I remember Nokia as remarkably Finnish as well, for such a widespread company.

    That might be half the advantage of the silicon valley people, an ability to grow faster because they are drawing from a wider pool of people that suit the corporate culture.


      1. Despite it being in London (which I may not have known at the time TBH, I knew some of it was in London) I instinctively viewed Symbian as being Cambridge. Specifically, ‘Cambridge Weenies’. (In my world weenies come in two flavours, Cambridge and Unix – I don’t know precisely from where in my psyche that came).
        I probably need to read the DW book again and make notes.
        Talking of Cambridge hi-tech stuff, did anyone ever write the book on Ionica?

        The main Cambridge thing I worked with many decades ago was an image processing system from a company called Gems of Cambridge –

        See also ‘could Quantel have been Adobe?’


    1. thoughts are pretty simple. HS2 is nailed on by the permanent govt, and because the WCML runs out of capacity south of Brum quite soon. Osborne’s wanking about northern powerhouse is just noise but I don’t know who it’s aimed at. up north, the fact Northern Rail is going to keep its Pacers is probably more perceptible. promises are free, though, so perhaps it’s just damage limitation.

      North-western Tories are interesting. There are quite a few in this lot and they seem important.


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