A better use for 4.5 billion dollars

I am shocked by the recent winning bid for Nortel’s patent portfolio.  4.5 billion U. S. dollars.  In cash! More than shocked, I am saddened to see such a large sum squandered like this.  These patents won’t spur on innovation.  They won’t make their new owners into better companies.  At best, they’ll serve as (unreliable) insurance against the artificial, legally-facilitated disasters known as patent-infringement lawsuits.  At worst, these patents will act as a weapon of mass destruction, one that can inflict the same kind of fear and damage it’s supposed to guard against.  They’re a weapon to be aimed at competitors… and ultimately at society itself.  (Likely cost to society: more monopolies, narrower concentration of...

A Solomonic Response to Username Disputes

In recent months, I’ve read of the following scenario playing out on a couple of different occasions [1]: Person “So-and-So” chooses “CleverName” as their username on social-media service “Socialr” [2]. CleverName is So-and-So’s favorite pseudonym, a word or phrase with a personally-significant meaning. So-and-So starts using Socialr, and over a period of time builds up a digital identity on Socialr, an identity whose name, content, history, and reputation are associated with username CleverName. Some time later, a little-known company, “Company X”, comes along and wants to create an account on Socialr. That company happens to be named or have a product named “CleverName”. Company X asks Socialr to take username CleverName from So-and-So and give it...