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Thursday, October 04, 2012

TPRC Celebrates 40 Years of Research in Telecom

Two weeks ago the Telecommunications Policy Research Conference (TPRC) had a great event to celebrate its 40th year of delving into communications, information and Internet policy issues  (I'm a member of the program committee so, yes, this is a shameless plug).  What I enjoy most about TPRC is that it is truly interdisciplinary; that should come as a relief to anyone who's been in a room filled only with lawyers--bless our hearts.  The conference brings together scholars from all fields as well as policy makers and private and non profit practitioners.  There were many outstanding sessions including a Friday evening panel (soon available on video) about The Next Digital Frontier with speakers straight out of the "who's who" of telecom:  Eli Noam (Columbia), David Clark (MIT), Gigi Sohn (Public Knowledge) and Thomas Hazlett (GMU). 

There is much more work of note, I'll single out a few articles after the jump, and I encourage you to look at the TPRC Program files for additional articles of interest.  Also, around March keep your eyes open for next year's call for papers.  I will still be on the program committee so, in case you're interested, you should know I'm highly motivated by gifts of chocolate (dark preferred).

As mentioned, the TPRC website has the full program of presented articles so be sure to check it out.  I particularly enjoyed the work of the legal and economic scholars--and not just because they made the math easier than the engineers did, but that didn't hurt.  Three pieces that come to mind are Payment Innovation at the Content/Carriage Interface by James Speta, American Media Concentration Trends in Global Context: A Comparative Analysis by Eli Noam and Political Drivers and Signaling in Independent Agency Voting: Evidence from the FCC by Adam Candeub and Eric Hunnicutt.

First, if you haven't exhausted your interest in net neutrality issues, take a look at Speta's article that considers payment innovation at the customer level as a means by which congestion may be resolved in a content neutral manner.  This is a highly topical piece as current net neutrality regulation is arguably on shaky, jurisdictional ground.  Second, my friend Eli Noam, who never fails to intrigue, shared some counter intuitive observations from a multi-year, 30 country research project that tracks concentration levels in 13 communications industries.  And third, Candeub and Hunnicutt make a welcome, empirical entry in a largely qualitative arena by quantifying the effects that party affiliation (of FCC Commissioners, Congress and the Executive) has on agency decision making.  It's really a must read for anyone interested in the areas of communications, administrative law and political economy (and who isn't!).

Finally, a shout out to my fellow blogger Rob Howse who recently wrote on our need to be more patient with each other when we accidently hit "Reply to All."  The conference also featured some innovation demonstrations and, Rob, I have just the plugin for you!  The product is "Privicons" and as self-described (because I could not make this up):

Unlike more technical privacy solutions like tools that use code to lock down emails, Privicons relies on an iconographic vocabulary informed by norms-based social signals to influence users' choices about privacy.

In other words,with this plugin you can send a graphic reminder to email readers that they should "act nice."  I think I'll send some Privicons to my students right around evaluation time.

Posted by Babette Boliek on October 4, 2012 at 09:41 AM in Information and Technology | Permalink

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