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Mike Munger, “Franchising, Vertical Integration, and the Auto Industry” (MP3 audio), December 18, 2010

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The franchise relationship in the automobile industry has had a long tradition that has been shaken up with changes in the economy.

Michael Munger of Duke University, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about franchising, particularly car dealerships.

Munger highlights how the dealers used state regulations to protect their profits and how bankruptcy appears to be unraveling that strategy.

The main themes of the conversation are the incentives in the franchising relationship and the evolution of the auto industry in the United States over the last forty years.

Munger on Franchising, Vertical Integration, and the Auto Industry | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty

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Bernard-Henri Levy, “A stand against the new barbarism” (MP3 audio), Tavis Smiley, 2008/09/16 December 18, 2010

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Since the foundations of American democracy have ties to the French, the views of a prominent philosopher can provide insights from an external perspective.

A philosopher, activist and filmmaker, Bernard-Henri Lévy is also one of the most respected writers in Europe. He’s the author of dozens of books, including the best-selling American Vertigo and Left in Dark Times. His films include the documentaries Bosna! and A Day in the Death of Sarajevo.

Lévy co-founded the antiracist group SOS Racism and served on diplomatic missions for the French government. He started his career as a war reporter and became famous as founder of the New Philosophers group.

Tavis Smiley . Shows . Bernard-Henri Levy . September 16, 2008 | PBS

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Charles Platt, “Working at Wal-Mart” (MP3 audio), Econtalk, 2009/06/15 December 18, 2010

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What’s an economist’s view on working at Walmart?  Every associate has full visibility to Walmart data, and there’s a authority runs to the to floor.

Charles Platt, author and journalist, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts what it was like to apply for a job at Wal-Mart, get one, and work there. He discusses the hiring process, the training process, and the degree of autonomy Wal-Mart employees have to change prices. The conversation concludes with a discussion of attitudes toward Wal-Mart.

Platt on Working at Wal-Mart | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty

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John Ralston Saul, “Canada’s Metis foundation” (MP3 audio), The Agenda, TV Ontario, 2008/10/17 December 18, 2010

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In the view of John Ralston Saul, the character of Canada didn’t come from the French and the English, but from the Metis.

Imagining Canada as rooted in the encounter with North America’s native people: author John Ralston Saul on Canada’s Metis foundation.

The Agenda – Broadcast – John Ralston Saul

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Hugh McGuire, “The Future of Books” (MP3 audio), CBC Spark Plus, 2009/06/08 December 17, 2010

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How will digital technologies impact books?

Hugh McGuire … has a long history at the crossroads of book culture and technology.

He founded Librivox, a volunteer-based service, which takes public domain books and turns them into audiobooks.

He’s also co-founder of Book Oven, a new start-up that aims to be a collaborative space for making books. He’s also one of the people behind BookCamp, an unconference held in Toronto on June 6th.

Hugh came into CBC’s Montreal studios to talk about the future of publishing, and the buzz at BookCamp.

Full Interview: Hugh McGuire on the Future of Books | Spark | CBC Radio

 

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Mark Baker, “REST” (MP3 audio, Jon Udell’s Interviews with Innovators, IT Conversations, 2009/02/18 December 17, 2010

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Representational State Transfer, or REST, is an Internet design approach that become foundational in much development work.

Mark Baker has always worked with distributed systems, starting with DCE and CORBA. When he learned about the Web’s REST architectural style, he embraced it as a better way. When the Web Services movement veered away from key RESTful principles — a uniform interface, hyperlinked representations — he campaigned vigorously for them. Now, he tells host Jon Udell, REST has won the web, although not yet the enterprise.

Mark Baker is a Senior Solution Engineer at Day Software where he helps customers put their data and services on the Web using Day’s software. He is best known for his work over the past decade to try to bring the foundational Web services specifications in line with Web architecture, using his knowledge of the REST architectural style.

IT Conversations | Jon Udell’s Interviews with Innovators | Mark Baker

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Andrea Reimer, “Open cities” (MP3 audio), CBC Spark Plus, 2009/05/27 December 17, 2010

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Vancouver was an earlier pioneer in providing open government data on the web.

Vancouver City Council passed a motion (PDF) to endorse the principles of “making its data open and accessible to everyone where possible, adopting open standards for that data and considering open source software when replacing existing applications.”

Nora interviewed Andrea Reimer, the Vancouver city councillor behind the open city motion. They talked about the costs and benefits of open data, how it can affect civic engagement, and the privacy and security concerns Vancouver will have to consider as it opens up its municipal data.

Nora also asked crowdsourced questions from the Spark community, including Michael, Randall Ross, and Gizmo.

Full Interview: Andrea Reimer on open cities | Spark | CBC Radio

 

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Larry Lessig, “Current Laws and the Internet” (MP3 audio), Tech Nation, IT Conversations, 2009/02/03 December 17, 2010

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Technology advances more rapidly than laws.

Moira Gunn speaks with Stanford Law professor Larry Lessig about trying to make our old laws work with the new technology of the Internet.

IT Conversations | Tech Nation | Larry Lessig

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Philip Steadman, “The Evolution of Designs” (MP3 audio), CBC Spark Plus, 2009/05/11 December 17, 2010

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Inspirations for design can come from nature.

For part of an upcoming segment we’re doing on the QWERTY keyboard layout and vestigial design, Nora interviewed Philip Steadman, Professor of Urban and Built Form Studies at University College London and author of The Evolution of Designs, which explores biological analogies in human-made artifacts.

Full interview: Philip Steadman on The Evolution of Designs | Spark | CBC Radio

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Paul Otellini, “Enterprise Collaboration” (MP3 audio), Web 2.0 Conference, 2008/11/06 December 17, 2010

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While the focus on social computing is usually on software, there are also changes in the underlying hardware.

Moore’s Law originated with Intel, and Intel continues to push it into the future. In this talk from the O’Reilly Web 2.0 Conference, Paul Otellini, President and CEO of Intel, discusses two new technologies their future chips will enable. The first, enterprise collaboration, will bring the utility of social networking and Web 2.0 into large businesses. The second, personal internet, will proactively bring information to you rather than requiring you to seek it out.

Otellini then descibes some of the recent changes in the industry, including the iPhone and netbooks. The iPhone created demand for a whole range of smart phone products that will require powerful processors, while netbooks have the potential to grow into a whole new market. Both trends benefit Intel because they will leverage their advanced technology to provide more powerful, efficient chips for a lower cost than competitors.

Paul Otellini is president and CEO of Intel Corporation, the world’s leading manufacturer of microprocessors for personal and business computing.  Since joining Intel in 1974, Otellini has managed several Intel businesses, including the company’s PC and server microprocessor division and the global sales and marketing organization.  Under Otellini’s guidance, Intel aims to usher in a new era when portable wireless computing is available anytime, anywhere. The company also is focused on bringing the next billion people online with affordable computers tailored to their needs.

IT Conversations | Web 2.0 Conference | Paul Otellini

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Bill Wasik and Hal Niedzviecki, “Why we post regrettable videos online” (MP3 audio), CBC Spark Plus, 2009/09/11 December 17, 2010

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While it’s hard to escape being visible on electronic media, much of the disclosure is done by individuals themselves.

Bill Wasik and Hal Niedzviecki … talk about why the heck we post regrettable videos on the internet. It’s one thing to do the embarrassing or foolish or inappropriate thing, but it’s a whole other problem when we record a video and upload it on YouTube for the world to see.In the interview,

Nora, Bill and Hal talk about why some of us fail to think twice before posting online, why so many of us are drawn to these videos, and how to handle things if your stupid video has been found by the masses.

Bill Wasik is a contributing editor with Harper’s Magazine and he’s the author of And Then There’s This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture. Hal Niedzviecki’s book is called The Peep Diaries: How We’re Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors.

Full interview: Bill Wasik and Hal Niedzviecki on why we post regrettable videos online | Spark | CBC Radio

 

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David Glazer, “Google and OpenSocial: Let’s Get This Shindig Started” (MP3 audio)”, O’Reilly Media Graphing Social Patterns, IT Conversations, 2008/03/03 December 17, 2010

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Connecting identities across Internet domains and providers has evolving standards.

One way that David Glazer knows that the future of computing, namely cloud computing, is here is that people are now writing books about it. Although it has not always been a given that this would be the direction social computing would take, it is clearly where we are headed now.

People are naturally interested in other people. We want to connect and share with each other quickly and easily. But social computing as it exists now has many weaknesses that make us frustrated and uneasy. Barriers include multiple passwords, confirming identity, spam, and how to trust sites to which we send our personal information.

But Glazer has found that there is no lack of interest in solutions. What’s next is for applications to be built; he proposes starting with OpenSocial. Such applications must also fit real-world use, and companies must commit to using them. In short, Glazer says, if you want to be a part of the future of computing, get involved now.

IT Conversations | O’Reilly Media Graphing Social Patterns | David Glazer

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Peter Leeson, “Pirates and the Invisible Hook” (MP3 audio), Econtalk, 2009/05/25 December 17, 2010

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How is order maintained on a pirate ship?

Peter Leeson of George Mason University and author of The Invisible Hook talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the economics of 18th century pirates and what we can learn from their behavior.

Leeson argues that pirates pioneered a number of important voluntary institutions such as constitutions as a way to increase the profitability of their enterprises. He shows how pirates used democracy and a separation of powers between the captain and the quartermaster to limit the potential for predation or abuse on the part of the captain. He explains the role of the Jolly Roger in limiting damages from conflict with victims.

The conversation closes with a discussion of the lessons for modern management.

Leeson on Pirates and the Invisible Hook | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty

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Dirk Hohndel, “Moblin, Linux for Next Generation Mobile Internet” (MP3 audio), O’Reilly Media Open Source Conference, IT Conversations, 2008/07/22 December 17, 2010

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While Linux has been ported to many platforms, mobile devices are constrained in many ways.

If you’re looking for a Linux initiative that is truly open source, where you can download the source, contribute without censorship, and drive the project, check out Moblin.org.

A new class of devices is emerging that enables full Internet access while on the go. These Internet-centric devices known as Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs), netbooks or nettops combine the software compatibility of the PC with an easy-to-use, consumer friendly user interface. To drive innovation in this space, and foster community participation, and to avoid locking into a proprietary platform, Intel launched Moblin.org, a community focused on enabling the new technologies required to deliver this new category of Linux-based devices.

Dirk Hohndel shares his vision and provides an overview of the technologies and projects that are part of Moblin.org, including tools such as Moblin Image Creator, and provides information on how developers can start porting or developing new applications for Moblin.

IT Conversations | Open Source Conference from O’Reilly Media | Dirk Hohndel

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Stewart Brand, “Globalizing Green” (MP3 audio), Longnow Foundation, 2009/10/09 December 17, 2010

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I had heard that an alternative title for Stewart Brand’s book is “three heresies”.

Brand built his case for rethinking environmental goals and methods on two major changes going on in the world. The one that most people still don’t take into consideration is that power is shifting to the developing world, where 5 out of 6 people live, where the bulk of humanity is getting out of poverty by moving to cities and creating their own jobs and communities (slums, for now).

He noted that history has always been driven by the world’s largest cities, and these years they are places like Mumbai, Lagos, Dhaka, São Paulo, Karachi, and Mexico City, which are growing 3 times faster and 9 times bigger than cities in the currently developed world ever did. The people in those cities are unstoppably moving up the “energy ladder” to high quality grid electricity and up the “food ladder” toward better nutrition, including meat. As soon as they can afford it, everyone in the global South is going to get air conditioning.

The second dominant global fact is climate change. Brand emphasized that climate is a severely nonlinear system packed with tipping points and positive feedbacks such as the unpredicted rapid melting of Arctic ice. Warming causes droughts, which lowers carrying capacity for humans, and they fight over the diminishing resources, as in Darfur. It also is melting the glaciers of the Himalayan plateau, which feed the rivers on which 40% of humanity depends for water in the dry season—the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Mekong, Irrawaddy, Yangtze, and Yellow.

Global warming has to be slowed by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases from combustion, but cities require dependable baseload electricity, and so far the only carbon-free sources are hydroelectric dams and nuclear power. Brand contrasted nuclear with coal-burning by comparing what happens with their waste products. Nuclear spent fuel is tiny in quantity, and you know exactly where it is, whereas the gigatons of carbon dioxide from coal burning goes into the atmosphere, where it stays for centuries making nothing but trouble. Brand declared that geological sequestering of nuclear waste has been proven practical and safe by the ten years of experience at the WIPP in New Mexico, and he paraded a series of new “microreactor” designs that offer a clean path for distributed micropower, especially in developing countries.

Moving to genetically engineered food crops, Brand noted that they are a tremendous success story in agriculture, with Green benefits such as no-till farming, lowered pesticide use, and more land freed up to be wild. The developing world is taking the lead with the technology, designing crops to deal with the specialized problems of tropical agriculture. Meanwhile the new field of synthetic biology is bringing a generation of Green biotech hackers into existence.

On the subject of bioengineering (direct intervention in climate), Brand suggested that we will have to follow of the example of beneficial “ecosystem engineers” such as earthworms and beavers and tweak our niche (the planet) toward a continuing life-friendly climate, using methods such a cloud-brightening with atomized seawater and recreating what volcanoes do when they pump sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere, cooling the whole world.

Green aversion to technologies such as nuclear and genetic engineering resulted from a mistaken notion that they are somehow “unnatural.” “What we call natural and what we call human are inseparable,” Brand concluded. “We live one life.

“PS. Long Now likes to include a pointer to related reading. As it happens, the whole “Recommended Reading” section of my book Whole Earth Discipline is online, with 50 recommendations for books, magazines, and websites, with live links. It’s at: www.sbnotes.com

Stewart Brand : Rethinking Green – The Long Now

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Sean Quinlan, “Storage at Scale” (MP3 audio), O’Reilly Media Velocity Conference, IT Conversations, 2008/06/24 December 17, 2010

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When massive volumes of data is expected to always be available on the Internet, how is that engineered?

A one in a million hardware fluke would happen every day at Google, so reliability must be handled by smart software. In this talk from the 2008 Velocity Conference, Sean Quinlan of Google describes the tools that Google uses to manage terabytes of data spread over millions of machines.

Because their needs are too big for a single machine, Google does not look at single machine performance. Rather, they look for the most performance bang for the buck and buy lots of it. They then layer software on top of it, which allows them to replicate data across multiple machines to compensate for the potential failure of any one machine. The two major systems they use are the Google File System (GFS) and BigTable. GFS is a cluster file system laid on top of a data center that stores chunks of data either as append-only sequences similar to log files or as read-only sorted tables of key/value pairs. These restrictions allow seamless and reliable storage at Google’s immense scale.

IT Conversations | Velocity Conference from O’Reilly Media | Sean Quinlan

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Fareed Zakaria, “Thriving in a Post-America-Centric World” (MP3 audio), Commonwealth Club of California, 2008/05/27 December 17, 2010

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Is America capable of looking outside its borders?

Editor of Newsweek International, ABC News analyst, and New York Times bestselling author, Farheed Zakaria will discuss a future where the U.S. no longer dominates the global economy, geopolitics, and culture. Rather, Zakaria will describe a growing international climate, predicting the rise of nations such as China, India, Brazil, and Russia and the development of a truly global era. Asserts Zakaria, the U.S. needs to learn to understand other nations and find a way to thrive in this rapidly shifting dynamic.

In addition to overseeing all of Newsweek’s editions abroad, Zakaria writes an international affairs column for Newsweek, which appears fortnightly in The Washington Post. He recently joined CNN to host a weekly foreign affairs show, set to air later this year. In the past, he has been a regular member of the roundtable on ABC News’ This Week with George Stephanopoulos, and hosted Foreign Exchange with Fred Zakaria on PBS. The award winning journalist has written several books, and penned numerous pieces for The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The New York Times, and the webzine Slate. In 1999, he was named “one of the 21 most important people of the 21st Century” by Esquire Magazine.

Zakaria has taught international relations and political philosophy at Harvard, Columbia, and Case Western University. He received a Ph.D. from Harvard and a B.A. from Yale.

The Commonwealth Club

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