StratVantage News Summary

Speaking engagements

The TrendSpot

Internet News





Enterprise Architecture Resources




P2P Companies


Wireless Resources


Job Seeking Resources

XML Standards

Security Information

Online Newsletters

B2B Ecommerce Resources



Marketing Information

Search StratVantage

Search the Web

Be on the wave or under it™

The News – 09/12/02

In this Issue:

Recommended Reading

I realize this is the only newsletter you’ll ever need, but if you want more in-depth detail, check out:

Stan Hustad’s
The Coaching Connection

Management Signature's
The Express Read

Getting a Rise Out of Nanotechnology

The second part of the Why You Need to Get Hip to HIPAA series will appear in a future SNS

Alert SNS Reader Roger Hamm sent along an article about a private group that’s planning on building an elevator reaching from Earth to orbit using nanotubes, a substance made from carbon rings that is100 times stronger than steel. Nanotubes were discovered in 1991 by Japanese researcher Sumio Iijima.

This item is startling enough. Such a space elevator has been the stuff of science fiction ever since 1895, when Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky suggested a fanciful “Celestial Castle” tethered to a tower on earth. Arthur C. Clarke developed the idea significantly in his book, The Fountains of Paradise, way back in 1979. What’s even more startling, however, is the fact that the plans were announced at the First International Space Elevator Conference, held August 12-13. Whoa! A whole conference!

As recently as 2000, when David Smitherman of NASA/Marshall's Advanced Projects Office compiled space elevator plans in Space Elevators: An Advanced Earth-Space Infrastructure for the New Millennium, scientists figured such a development was decades off in the future. Smitherman himself said the technology is not feasible today but could be toward the end of the century. “First we'll develop the technology,” said Smitherman. “In 50 years or so, we'll be there. Then, if the need is there, we'll be able to do this. That's the gist of the report.” In fact Clarke, when asked when the elevator might be feasible, said, “Probably about 50 years after everybody quits laughing.”

Now I’ve yammered on before about Ray Kurzweil’s concept of the exponentially accelerating pace of change. Kurzweil asserts that we’re doubling the rate of progress every decade, which will result in a century’s worth of technological change in only 25 calendar years. He says that we tend to think of the rate of change as constant, and adjust to this acceleration automatically, hence an estimate, just two years ago, that a space elevator will take 50 years to develop. When people make predictions about how long it will take to accomplish some innovation, they unconsciously base their estimates on a constant rate of change. Although the company planning the space elevator, HighLift Systems, isn’t saying how long it will take, it’s not likely to be 50 years.

Brad Edwards, co-founder of HighLift Systems says, “What we're doing here is using the Earth's rotation. Because of that rotational acceleration, a space elevator cable is pulled outward. It has an upward tension, with gravity pulling down on the bottom. The cable is balanced and it hangs there…stable and vertical in space.”

If you’ve ever swung a ball on a string in a circle, you know the principal. A space elevator would be a long cable extending into space with its center of mass at geostationary Earth orbit (GEO), 35,786 km in altitude. Vehicles could travel along the cable like a high tech railroad. In a 1998 report, NASA applications of molecular nanotechnology, researchers said that since the maximum stress on the cable occurs at geosynchronous altitude, the cable must be thickest there. The real challenge is tapering the cable exponentially as it approaches Earth. This engineering requirement has stumped researchers in the past to the point that they have dubbed the material meeting it “unobtanium.”

Any potential material for the cable must have an acceptable taper factor – the ratio between the cable's radius at geosynchronous altitude and at the Earth's surface. This factor depends in large part on the material’s inherent strength. For example, the taper factor for steel is tens of thousands and for diamond, is 21.9 including a safety factor. Diamond’s taper factor seems doable, but the material is brittle and thus not that suitable due to the potential for cracks. Carbon nanotubes have a tension strength similar to diamond, but should resist cracking.

Space scientists have figured the strength of the cable material needs to be 62 GPa (Giga-Pascals, a unit of measurement for tensile strength). Carbon nanotubes alone among all other materials appear to have a theoretical strength far above this desired range.

Once built, the space elevator would transport materials and people into space for dollars per pound. The journey into orbit is estimated to take 7.5 days. Construction of the elevator could cost between $7 and $10 billion.

Of course, the project faces many challenges beyond the search for the proper materials and construction techniques: lightning, wind, the degrading effects of atomic oxygen on the cable, radiation, wearing down of the ribbon by sulfuric acid droplets drifting in the upper atmosphere, meteoroid hits, space junk, collisions with satellites, terrorist attack, and possible public health risks of ingesting tiny carbon nanotubes into the lungs.

If nanotubes are the right stuff, though, our grandkids will wonder why we never rode the 'tube to the sky. Now if we only could get those flying cars we’ve been promised for 50 years . . .

Yahoo News

Briefly Noted

  • Shameless Self-Promotion Dept.: I’ve put up the Nanotechnology Resources directory I promised last November.

    Also, check out the article I wrote for the Taylor Harkins newsletter entitled, Do you hate your customers? It continues the theme from my earlier article, analyzing the media industry’s response to file sharing.

    Finally, and at long last, the CTOMentor wireless white paper, You Can Take It with You: Business Applications of Personal Wireless Devices, is available at ITPapers.
  • Sports As Broadband Killer App?: Alert SNS Reader Todd Mortenson sent along an article that proposes sports as the killer app for broadband adoption. Analyst Mark Kersey says since 2001, has been offering fee-based baseball content and now boasts 150,000 paying subscribers to its live audio game broadcasts and an additional several thousand to 20-minute condensed game video streams launched early this year.

    The next step happened August 26, with the first live broadcast of a full baseball game (Yankees vs. Rangers) over the Internet. The game was free and 30,000 fans logged in to watch it. Of course, MLB will charge when the service rolls out for real next season. Kersey dubs this SOD (Sports On Demand) and declares it broadband’s killer app.

    While I believe sports will represent a significant app for broadband, not everyone’s a rabid sports fan (although I’d pay to watch the Duke Blue Devils play basketball if they weren’t on national TV pretty much every game.) Remember my definition of a killer app: If your mom wouldn’t use it, it ain’t killer enough.
    ARS Spotlight on Broadband

The Wayback Machine – A Year Ago in SNS
SNS: Enlightening and Frightening for Nearly a Fifth of a Decade!

The lead article in the September 10, 2001 SNS was The Right to Privacy?, which examined whether Americans really have a right to privacy. Given all that’s happened post-9/11, the question is more relevant than ever. The article pointed out that the word privacy doesn’t appear in the Constitution, a fact that has obviously not escaped Attorney General Ashcroft. He would do well to read the 1998 White House memorandum on Privacy and Personal Information in Federal Records, which states: “Privacy is a cherished American value, closely linked to our concepts of personal freedom and well-being. At the same time, fundamental principles such as those underlying the First Amendment, perhaps the most important hallmark of American democracy, protect the free flow of information in our society.”

The article ended with Sun CEO Scott McNealy’s quote: “You have no privacy. Get over it.” Is this our fate?

Also in that issue, Web Site Liability took a look at the liability you might face if your site is hacked. While such an event is a concern for your business due to lost productivity and costs of restoration, Margaret Jane Radin, director of Stanford's Program on Law, Science and Technology said, “there is a 'significant risk' that in the near future targeted Web sites will be held liable to their customers for harm arising from distributed denial-of-service attacks.”

At the time, I should have pointed you to an excellent article written in 2000 by M. E. Kabay called Distributed Denial-of-Service Attacks, Contributory Negligence and Downstream Liability. Kabay, who is not a lawyer, sums up his point thusly: “Simply put, whom would you rather sue: some impecunious wretch sitting in a basement cackling over his latest DDoS attack or a real business with assets?” You can learn more about DDoS attacks here.

Get ‘Em While They’re Young was about a plan by Microsoft and the State of Arizona to offer MS Office applications to 850,000 students in all 1,200 Arizona schools using an Application Service Provider (ASP) model. Cable provider Cox Business Services, hoping that education is broadband’s killer app, planned to push high-speed cable modem service to the home to provide students with the required bandwidth. (In an irrelevant, but funny note, the Interim Executive Director of the Arizona School Facilities Board is named Ed Boot.)

Arizona is offering a long list of software titles via ASP, many of which use Excel or other Office programs to demonstrate techniques. Kids may have better luck using these apps at home than at school, however. There’s some sort of dispute with Qwest that has stalled network installations at many schools. Also it turns out that Cox is the ASP provider in addition to being a provider of home connectivity. You can get a tour of what they offer here. It’s pretty impressive.

In A Sneaky Way to Increase Wireless Revenue, I bemoaned a mistake by an Australian wireless provider: sending ads for their services to the cell phones of their users, and charging them for the delivery. For more on this topic, stay tuned for an article in an upcoming TaylorHarkins newsletter on Short Messaging Service (SMS) advertising.

Signs You Live in the Year 2001 could easily be retitled Signs You Live in the Year 2002.

The article, New Times, New Art, concerned the Surveillance Camera Players and speculated as to whether they were still a going concern. Apparently the New York branch is. In a post-9/11 essay, they decried the proliferation of surveillance cameras and citizens’ blind acceptance of their worth. They point out about the innumerable cameras in the WTC area that:

None of these surveillance cameras did what they were supposed to do: anticipate or prevent another attack; provide security; keep thousands of people safe from harm. Like the NSA's orbiting satellites, surveillance cameras are a colossal waste of money. [. . .] 11 September 2001 wasn't the first time that surveillance cameras failed to do anything but violate basic human rights. In countries such as England, where the authorities keep accurate and complete records of the number of arrests and convictions that can reliably be ascribed to the use of surveillance cameras, the results are clear. Either the criminals simply move out of the sight of the cameras or the police arrive on the scene too late to make an arrest.

A recent BBC report tends to support this contention.

In Loudcloud Makin’ Some Noise, I repeated my opinion that telecom companies will make lousy ASPs and won’t succeed. The article was about ASP Loudcloud and Baby Bell Qwest inking a five-year co-marketing deal. Despite my misgivings, I called it a smooth move for Qwest.

Well, a lot can happen in a year. Loudcloud (a stupid name) is now OpsWare (a bit better) and their focus has changed to Internet operations automation. The company, which had seen its debut stock price of $6 fall to $2 a year ago, now trades at 76 cents. (BTW, now has this very irritating ad that flies a little arrow around your screen for about 20 seconds, during which you can’t do anything. Great idea! Prevent me from working while you advertise to me! I’ve no idea what was even being advertised.)

Anyway, Loudcloud sold its hosting biz to EDS and, along with it, I suppose, went the Qwest relationship. A year ago Qwest had a 1 percent share of the hosting business (EDS had 12 percent), in part due to hosting Loudcloud’s clients. Wonder what the EDS sale does to those numbers?

The article, VoiceXML 2 held up for intellectual property issues, chided the Voice XML Forum participants for not figuring out how to cross-license technology to one another. The problems were apparently hammered out by October 23, 2001, and Voice XML 2.0 is available for download at the Voice XML Forum Web site.

Finally, Report from Burning Man chronicled Alert SNS Reader Andy Stevko’s trip to the Burning Man festival in the middle of a stinking desert. Unfortunately, the photos are no longer online.

Return to Mike’s Take

Copyright © 2000-2008, StratVantage Consulting, LLC. All rights reserved.
Please send all comments to  .

Announcing Linked InSolutions, a New Social Media Consulting and Training Service from StratVantage

  • Each Power Workshop session is limited to 25 attendees to enable personal attention

Classroom rate: $125
Webinar rate: $65

House for Sale


Looking to light up your office, your business, or your city?

The WiMAX Guys can help you easily provide secure wireless Internet to your customers.

The WiMAX Guys specialize in designing and running wireless networks. We're experienced, we're quick, and we won't cost you an arm and a leg. Give us a call today provide your users a wireless Internet experience tomorrow.

Call Mike Ellsworth
Head Guy

Alert SNS Reader Hall of Fame

About The Author

Announcing CTOMentor, a New Service from StratVantage

Can’t Get Enough of ME?

In the unlikely event that you want more of my opinions, I’ve started a Weblog. It’s the fashionable thing for pundits to do, and I’m doing it too. A Weblog is a datestamped collection of somewhat random thoughts and ideas assembled on a Web page. If you’d like to subject the world to your thoughts, as I do, you can create your own Weblog. You need to have a Web site that allows you FTP access, and the free software from This allows you to right click on a Web page and append your pithy thoughts to your Weblog.

I’ve dubbed my Weblog entries “Stratlets”, and they are available at Let me know what you think.

Also check out the TrendSpot for ranking of the latest emerging trends.

In Memoriam

Gerald M. Ellsworth

March 14, 1928 - July 5, 2003

In Memoriam

Jane C. Ellsworth

July 20, 1928 - July 20, 2003