Happy Birthday, IT
The IT Strategy Letter, which I began publishing as a weekly newsletter
more than two years ago, was conceived as a way for me to communicate
my personal strategic thoughts. The newsletter is now barely a monthly,
and some of you have asked me why the content no longer includes
my own essays. The answer is that I've found a better way to bring
you the ideas of top consultants, journalists and analysts who know
a whole lot more about their fields than I ever will. Just look
at the examples of amazing people below.
Twelve months ago I recorded my first interview with Phil
Windley, and since then the archives
have swelled to include 113 interviews, discussions and conference
presentations. By year end, that number will exceed 250. I've added
transcripts for those who prefer reading to listening, introduced
RSS feeds, and most recently added features such as Personal
Program Queues and SmartBrowse.
In February, I broadcast IT Conversations' first live events, the
Democracy Teach-In and Emerging
Technology Conference. These were a huge success, so look forward
to coverage of more O'Reilly conferences and others. (I'll be announcing
a great one in the next few weeks.)
Along the path to achieving my goal of five new shows per week
by the end of the year, I've recently added programs organized and
produced by others such as Matt Hartley's open-source series starting
with evangelist Chris
DiBona, and now the fabulous Gillmor
Gang, which Steve Gillmor hosts live
So join me in wishing IT Conversations a happy first birthday,
and keep listening as we work towards our second. For now, here
are some of the highlights of the past month on IT
This is the one interview I hope everyone will read or hear.
In his lated book, Beyond
Fear, security guru Bruce Schneier goes beyond cryptography
and network security to challenge our post-9/11 national security
practices. Here are some teasers:
- "We're seeing so much nonsense after 9/11, and so many people
are saying things about security, about terrorism that just makes
- "Homeland security measures are an enormous waste of money."
- "If the goal of security is to protect against yesterday's attacks,
we're really good at it."
- "The system didn't fail in the way the designers expected."
- "Attackers exploit the rarity of failures."
- "More people are killed every year by pigs than by sharks, which
shows you how good we are at evaluating risk."
- "Did you ever wonder why tweezers were confiscated at security
checkpoints, but matches and cigarette lighters--actual combustible
materials--were not?...If the tweezers lobby had more power, I'm
sure they would have been allowed on board as well."
- "When the U.S. Government says that security against terrorism
is worth curtailing individual civil liberties, it's because the
cost of that decision is not borne by those making it."
- "...people make bad security trade-offs when they're scared."
or listen to this terrific interview in which Bruce also says
what he thinks of the 9/11 hearings and answers questions from listeners
regarding spam and biometrics. This is one of the best.
and Mena Trott - Six Apart
We buy and download software from faceless companies all the time.
(Quick: Can you name the authors of the programs on your PC or Mac?)
But some companies are as well known for their founders and CEOs
as for the products and services they provide. While still a tiny
Apart is already in this group. Not only has the company carved
out a leading position in the nascent niche of blogging tools, its
founders, Ben and Mena Trott, have acquired personal reputations
among their customers and critics alike. Some say there's a mystique
surrounding Six Apart.
Ben and Mena may be the classic examples of founders who succeed
because they don't know what they're not supposed to be able to
do. Prior to version 3.0, Movable Type was donation-ware and the
average contribution was only US$0.38. That's probably not too shabby
compared to others, but it wasn't going to support what the team
has in mind for the future. Six Apart recently brought in outside
funding and members of its board, and the company is changing rapidly.
I sat down with this husband-and-wife team on the eve of the launch
of Movable Type 3.0 to find out what's behind Ben and Mena's public
image and the company they're building. The couple has been dating
since they were 17 years old, and the company name reflects that
their birthdays are six days apart. But beyond the tabloid questions,
you'll find they're truly passionate about their products, employees,
and customer and developer communities.
In this deeply personal interview you'll hear how Ben and Mena
have struggled with the challenges of growth from a two-person shop
to nearly 30 employees on three continents in just six months. You'll
appreciate their angst over charging for MT 3.0 for fear they'll
offend their customers. Quite a contrast to those little utilities
you download for $29.95 and never use again. (A limited personal-use
license of MT 3.0 is still free.) Now they're dealing with the controversy
surrounding TypeKey, their hosted identity service for weblog comments.
Hasn't Microsoft tried the same thing with Passport? Hear why Ben
and Mena think TypeKey is different.
If you've ever had the urge to start your own software company,
with or without your spouse or significant other, you'll enjoy listening
to or reading this conversation. If you're a TypePad or Movable
Type customer, you'll learn a lot about the people behind the code.
Gillmor Gang -- A New Weekly Series
Steve Gillmor, contributing editor of eWeek, has been around IT
long enough to know and/or worked with every top journalist and
analyst in the industry. He's pulled together some of the very best
as the Gillmor Gang:
Steve Gillmor, contributing editor, eWeek
Doc Searls, senior editor, Linux Journal
Jon Udell, lead analyst, InfoWorld Test Center
Dana Gardner, senior analyst, Yankee Group
Join Steve, the Gang, and a special guest live
every Friday at noon Pacific time (3pm Eastern) for this timely
discussion of whatever's on the tops of the gang-members minds.
If you can't be there Friday, check the archives;
I usually manage to post the shows by late Friday night, followed
by transcripts of the best shows a few days later.
Steve and I have produced three programs to date, with the following
Vizard, editor-in-chief, CRN Magazine
Jo Foley, author of Ziff Davis' Microsoft-Watch.com
Farber, ZDNet Editor
Zimmermann -- PGP
During the 1990s, Phil was the target of a three-year criminal investigation
because the US Federal Government held that export restrictions
for cryptographic software were violated when his invention, Pretty
Good Privacy (PGP), spread all around the world following its publication
as freeware. Despite a lack of funding, a staff, or even a company
to stand behind him, and despite government persecution, PGP nonetheless,
became the most widely used e-mail encryption software in the world.
After the government dropped its case in early 1996, Phil founded
PGP Inc., which was acquired the following year by Network Associates
where Phil stayed on for three years as a senior fellow. In August
2002, PGP was acquired from Network Associates by a new company
called PGP Corporation where Phil now serves as a special advisor
and consultant. Phil is also consulting for a number of companies
and industry organizations on cryptographic matters and is also
a fellow at the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society.
In this interview Phil explains how reading a kids' book on secret
codes and invisible ink led to a career in cryptography. He explains
why he developed PGP and how he obtained a license to use the Diffie-Hellman
algorithm even though it was held by a patent cartel at the time.
Phil also talks about the history and future of PHP, tells the
odd-bedfellows story of finding himself in agreement with Attorney
General John Ashcroft on issues of encryption exports, the solutions
to spam, and why he rarely digitally signs his own email messages.