The Internet Makes DC Closer To Homer

I’m far away from Washington DC today.  Actually, I’m a lot closer to Russia than I am to DC and that makes me an expert on Russia.  Wait, someone else said that (although the people next to me and Amy at dinner last night were speaking Russian.)

But my friend the Internets (actually, the Web) brought DC closer to me today.  While I’m only involved in a handful of things related to politics and DC, several of them popped up somewhere in my world in the last two days.  So, I thought I’d share them with you.

Let’s start with software patents.  I’m still seriously bummed about Bilski – not the specific ruling, but the fact that in my opinion the Supreme Court wimped out on something that is very important.  Several friends have told me that the Supreme Court did exactly what they were supposed to – they ruled on a vary narrow and specific issue that was put before them.  A few other friends of mine, including several lawyers that know a lot about the Supreme Court, said it looked like the Supreme Court came close to making a significant and profound ruling – with plenty of hints buried in the stuff Justice Stevens wrote.  I can’t interpret any of the Supreme Court inside baseball, but I do know how I feel about software patents and expressed my frustration in an article that I co-authored with Paul Kedrosky titled Software Patents Need to Be Abolished that showed up in the Huffington Post yesterday.  In case you need more evidence around the stupidity of the whole situation, take a look at the crap van Rijn is going through.  Or maybe this patent from Microsoft on “how to turn a page in an electronic book.”

DC Topic #2 is the Startup Visa.  Inc. Magazine has a great article about the issue and the Startup Visa titled The Immigrant Advantage.  My friends Kevin Mann (British) and Thanavath Jaroenvanit (French) – both of TechStars Boulder 2008 – co-founders of – and one of my inspirations for the Startup Visa movement) are prominently featured.  And the Kauffman Foundation just came out with a study that concludes that Job Growth is Entirely Driven by Startups.  I’ve had a few encouraging conversations about the Startup Visa movement recently, including hearing about a new co-sponsor of the Senate Bill (“The Startup Visa Act of 2010”) as well as talking to a handful of prominent organizations that are close to signing up to get behind it.

Finally, LeBron James has apparently signed with the Miami Heat.  I have no idea what that has to do with DC, other than I’m sure the Wizards were trying to get him also.

  • Bill Mosby

    Hm. The page turning feature seems like an attempt to convincingly model, on the usual "preferred embodiment", the behavior of a physical page being turned. This would open up a whole new universe of "software" patents. Essentially, by extension, one could model any other physical system you care to imagine and receive a patent on the model.

  • Brad,

    Su Hawk mentioned that she talked to you about the proposed Federal Internet Sales Tax –….

    You're probably not looking for a 3rd DC item to add to your list, but unfortunately this could be much worse than the new Colorado software taxes. We (CSIA and others) fought hard to keep that from going through and did manage to exempt SaaS/Cloud (for now) but if this passes at the Federal level it would add not just tax burden but a huge amount of complexity.

    Thanks also for the post re: Job Growth in U.S. Driven Entirely by Startups, According to Kauffman Foundation Study. This makes it all the more relevant. If net job creation is driven by startups, then it follows that we should avoid new tax structures that would be difficult or impossible for small companies to implement.

    Of course if this passes, we could start a new Cloud service that handles all 50 state tax collection on behalf of small e-commerce companies – not the kind of value creation I prefer to go for, but it will be a need…

    • Yup – Su shared the proposed Federal Internet Sales Tax thing to with me. My mind boggles, but I can't deal with yet another thing in DC these days.

  • In terms of Bilski, isn't the long term issue here Congress, not the Supreme Court? Granted the court could "fix" everything in one fell swoop, but setting the standards for patents is supposed to be the responsibility of Congress. To me, focusing on the Supreme Court just lets Congress of the hook for bad policy and allows the Congress to continue abdicating their proper role in order to protect themselves from actually having to take a vote on a controversial topic.

    • Yes, but…

      This has beens something that Congress has abdicated their proper role on for a long time. They've let the courts and the lawyers effectively set the policy while sitting paralyzed and unwilling to deal with a hard and complex issue. I had a fantasy the Supreme Court would make a bold move. I get to now relegate my fantasy to the “I had a fantasy and it didn't happen” bin of life.

  • Good to know you are having fun up there in Alaska. From where I grew up in Nepal, the North Pole is closer than New York City where I am now. So.

    It means a lot to me that your most popular post at this blog is The Founders Visa Movement.

    Btw, sent you my latest by tweet and email, to you and to Fred. Will have a follow up post soon, and that should be the final post.

  • thanks for sharing, nice info 🙂

  • The internet has changed the way we do everything didn't it? I remember buying calling cards to talk someone far away. Now you can post articles from around the world.