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Peter Henry, “Growth, Development, and Policy” (MP3 audio), Econtalk, 2009/07/27 January 9, 2011

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Some of the best ways to understand economics is via economic history.

Peter Blair Henry of Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about economic development.

Henry compares and contrasts the policy and growth experience of Barbados and Jamaica. Both became independent of England in the 1960s, so both inherited similar institutions. But each pursued different policies with very different results.

Henry discusses the implications of this near-natural experiment for growth generally and the importance of macroeconomic policy for achieving prosperity.

The conversation closes with a discussion of Henry’s research on stock market reactions as a measure of policy’s effectiveness.

Peter Henry on Growth, Development, and Policy | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty

Scott Rosenberg, “Say Everything: How Blogging Began, Where It’s Going, and Why It Matters” (MP3 Audio), Copper Robot, 2009/07/19 May 24, 2010

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The history of blogging isn’t long, so it was an adventure in discovery.

The Copper Robot talks with Scott Rosenberg, co-founder of Salon.com, about … the history of blogging, from its early days in the 90s through the “warbloggers” of 9/11, to the national elections of 2004 and 2008.

Scott describes how blogging has become a tool for personal expression, political change, and holding the mainstream news media’s feet to the fire of public scrutiny. Scott also talks about the history of Salon Magazine, and what social media sites like Facebook and Twitter mean to the future of blogging.

Copper Robot

[MP3 audio]

Jonathan Christensen, “Ten Years of Internet Communications” (MP3 audio), Emerging Communications Conference, 2008/03/12 December 27, 2009

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In the history of Skype, the voice technologies were already available, but not configured in a way that made it easy for the average person to use.

Jonathan Christensen of Skype speaks about the development of IP communications over the past 10 years. Christensen is general manager of audio and video at Skype.

The pioneers of VoIP developed the basic technology between 1996 and 2001. The first ever usable VoIP technology that people remember was the VoltaTec VoIP phone. Following that, companies that established gateways across end-points entered the market. They were followed by carriers that established gateways and POPs and connected them to the PSTN networks. The two important use cases that drove the VoIP market were — PC-to-PC ham radio users such as Jeff Pulver, and tandem trunking, or two-staged dialing.

Cost saving potentials and the regulatory framework of VoIP, have changed the telecom industry profoundly. New players have entered the market and influenced prices pushing them down and as a result, per the vision of Jeff Pulver, commoditizing voice.

In summer 2003 Skype entered the market. This was really the beginning of mass market VoIP client usage. Skype combines VoIP with IM, video and visual sharing. It is simple and reliable to use and build on cost efficient P2P technology. The growth of the Skype user base has been phenomenal. However, the VoIP industry reacted negatively to Skype.

Skype clients for mobile devices are the most important next step. However, market incumbents will probably try to block this new market entrance with network discrimination of applications. The future will remain thrilling.

IT Conversations | Emerging Communications | Jonathan Christensen

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William Bernstein, “The History of Trade” (MP3 audio), Econtalk, 2008/04/28 October 4, 2009

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Trade goes back to the dawn of man.

Drawing on the insights from his recent book, A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World, Bernstein talks about the magic of spices, how trade in sugar explain why Jews ended up in Manhattan, the real political economy of the Boston Tea Party and the demise of the Corn Laws in England.

The discussion closes with the political economy of trade today and the interaction between trade and income inequality.

Bernstein on the History of Trade | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty

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Grady Booch, “Software archaeology”, ACM OOPSLA, 2008/09/20 January 19, 2009

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For most people in the modern industrial world, computer software is an everyday thing.  In the grand scheme, though, software has been a relatively new advent.

As chief scientist for software engineering at IBM Research, Grady Booch has taken the ambitious and important task of chronicling and recording software architectures to make them available for future generations.

Grady argues that while software, in a relatively short span of time, has changed the world for the better, we have little lasting detail information of the software of the past. For instance, does the Lotus division of IBM still has the details on the architecture and source code for the original 123 spreadsheet software? The same questions could be asked of many important other software, e.g., Windows, Word, Linux, Mac OS, Acrobat, Mosaic, LaTeX, and so on.

Grady relates this quest for documenting software architectures with archeological digging, such as the ones done in Egypt to learn about the technologies, science, and thoughts of past civilizations. He also introduces one of the this year’s OOPSLA keynote, Mark Lehner, an Egyptologist by training who will discuss his craft and what computer scientists and engineers can learn from archeology.

Finally, Grady gives advices and shares insights with junior engineers and scientists on what has made his career so prolific and successful. He talks about his many many books and what subjects he chooses to read next as he and his wife increase their personal library.

OOPSLA Podcast

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Caterina Fake, “The History of Flickr”, IT Conversations, 2007/02/12 October 5, 2008

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Flickr is a success story, but it wasn’t the original main development project of the team.

Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr and current member of the Yahoo’s Technology Development Group, explains the humble beginnings of one of the earliest and most successful Web 2.0 applications, Flickr. Flickr actually began as a feature in Ludicorp’s Game Neverending, a massive multiplayer online roleplaying game that was focused on social interaction rather than the more typical battle-style MMORPG. Ludicorp (from the latin word for “play”) was a small game development company in Vancouver started in 2002 by Fake and her partner Stewart Butterfield. Though the community that grew around the game was very dedicated, Ludicorp couldn’t make it profitable.

Creation of a photosharing component was the last gasp in the game’s development. Looking back, Fake now realizes that had she and her team done any research on photosharing at the time, they probably would never have moved in that direction, as back then photosharing was little more than a loss leader for photoprinting sites. But by 2003 both camera phones and blogging reached a tipping point that made the market ripe for a solid browser-based photosharing application.

IT Conversations | Adaptive Path | Caterina Fake (Free Podcast)

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Rakesh Khurana, “From Higher Aims to Hired Hands”, Invisible Hand, 2008/04/05 September 12, 2008

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Business schools granting MBA degrees were originally started to develop leaders who would direct organizations to a higher social purpose. In the business schools today, MBAs are more “hired hands”. Chris Gondek wrote:

It is only a slight exaggeration to say that Rakesh Khurana’s From Higher Aims to Hired Hands could have been the perfect book to end the series with, not that I am ending the series, but in that, as the initial impetus for starting the show was my need to work through what was wrong with my MBA experience, this book gave me some much needed closure.

[....] If you ever went to B-school and wondered if all it should be was learning skills, read this book and see what happened to the noble experiment.

Invisible Handwriting: A podcaster’s blog: Show Notes for Episode 69, Rakesh Khurana “From Higher Aims to Hired Hands”

MP3 audio

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