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June 15, 2002

Reading Wired

Well, this post is going to be my monthly meandering through the wilds of this month's Wired Magazine, always a fun romp through its ridiculous cyberlibertarian ethos, although as this issue shows, they are having to grudgingly admit some limits.

One example is new technology to create biodegradeable plastic that quickly dissolves when it gets wet. The new Plantic plastic-substitute is a boon to the environment both in eliminating use of fossil fuels and in eliminating garbage waste.
...The kicker is that the technology was developed by the Australian government and the market opportunities for the product are being driven by stringent recycling regulations in Europe and Japan.
...While conservatives whine about government regulation suppressing innovation, in most cases it is regulation that has spurred innovation by both supporting its development and creating demand for new products to meet them.

In a sense of running their own version of mea culpa, the magazine runs a long profile of George Gilder, urber-cyberlibertarian and tech optimist (and past Wired contributor), who is now nearly bankrupt after touting collapsing companies like Global Crossing. GIlder's TECHNOLOGY REPORT newsletter put to shame other bubble economy hype with its endless buy recommendations for tech stocks, only to see it all collapse. As the story notes, Glder essentially ignored the economics of demand for the telecom fiber he was touting and ignored the regulatory environment that was needed to make it all work.

Wired also profiled its Wired Index 40, the stocks it sees as beacons of the New Economy. By their calculations, the index still promises big tech growth promise. Of course, they pull this off by dropping eight companies from the index (including Enron) who previously "promised" growth. This highlights one of the lies of "guaranteed" growth in the stock market, since historic indices often ignore the continual jiggering of indices as losing companies are dropped or go bankrupt.

Linux widespread on the desktop a geek fantasy? Actually, as Wired notes, it's already there in the form of the Sony Playstation PS2, which with a $199 kit being sold in Japan and now available in the US. Linux is also the operating system for Tivo video recorders. Call it the revenge of the appliances against Microsoft.

Posted by Nathan at June 15, 2002 09:29 AM


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