Brad DeLong on Mon, 11 Feb 2002 19:06:17 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> All right, I admit it -- I went to Davos-in-NewYork

>I want to know who else from nettime was not down in Brazil with those
>zillion ineffectual leftists, but was hanging out with the globalist Great
>and the Good in Davos/NYC.

I was...

>Was that a gig, or what? Did you get that radio-frequency ID badge?

Yes. Cool entering the world of the future--when the id badge you are
wearing calls up a picture of you (or, rather, of the person whose badge
it is). Somewhat disconcerting...

>  And
>did you get the free Compaq WinCE handheld?


>Did yours work?

No. But I didn't really expect it to. By the time I picked mine up, the
earnest person behind the desk was telling me to (a) let it synchronize
often, (b) stay still while it synchronized, (c) be sure to try to
synchronize only where you would have a good signal, (d)  that under the
conference load the systems were proving "temperamental," and (e) not to
try to use it to send email.

So the first thing I did was try to use it to send one (1) email. It
crashed. I reset it and used it to browse around the meeting schedule for
a little while. It was slow. Then I downloaded some news headlines. Then I
discovered that it *only* downloaded headlines--that there was no way to
get to the stories that I could find. Then I used it to try to download
the superbowl score: it crashed, restarted, announced that it had to
download 8000 webpages immediately, took 45 minutes to do so, crashed
again, restarted, announced that the avantgo software had no channels
installed, and was a useless brain-dead hulk for the rest of the meeting.

Stripped of its "meeting companion" software configuration, however, it
seems a quite nice machine, the ipaq. But no easy way to sync it with my
Macs. So I'm sticking with my two-year-old Visor.

The outside of the ipaq bag has--in big letters--Compaq, Microsoft,
Accenture. I find myself wondering just what they were thinking in selling
the Davos-in-NY people a meeting-planner-and-wireless-communicator that
chokes when it tries to send wireless email, has a mean-time-to-crash of
15 minutes, and has software sufficiently unstable that crash number 4
wipes key parts of its software installation and puts it into a brain-dead
state. Did the Accenture people not test it at all? Did they fail to test
it under anything like the load it would get during the meeting?  Why
would Microsoft want its Windows CE operating system associated with such
an unstable applications package as the AvantGo system used by Accenture?
Why would Microsoft want WindowsCE to be demonstrated on a computer like
the ipaq that apparently doesn't have the horsepower or the wireless
bandwidth to satisfy the one-second or even the ten-second rule? Why is
Compaq associating its name with software companies like Microsoft and
consultancies like Accenture that overpromise what its machines can
actually deliver?

Unless the average experience was very different from mine, a lot of
people left that meeting thinking that neither Compaq, Microsoft, nor
Accenture should be trusted with any part of Our Digital Future...

>And did
>those 4,000 paranoid New York cops steal your Swiss Army pocketknife? 
>They sure got mine!

No. But the Delta Airlines security people did get it at JFK. Kudos to

>Look, I forgive you.  I'm not judgemental about your slumming with Euro
>zillionaires.  You can trust me.  I'll never tell Ted, or Pit, or Geert,
>or all those sinister women on the FACES list.  C'mon, Bono was there!
>So was Naomi Campbell.  How bad can it be?

As at all meetings, one has brief "exchanges" which may or may not be
enlightening but are rarely deep at all with the people at the formal
sessions one participates in, one compliments people one doesn't know but
has always wanted to compliment (Jim Gillmor, Eric Brewer, Lewis Lapham),
and one has significant "talks" with people one knows--in my case,
ex-graduate students, ex-colleagues at the Clinton Treasury, other
Economics professors, other Berkeley professors (it was very nice to run
into Manuel Castells and hear what he has been doing), and the people they
know who they are talking to at the time. So your network enlarges. You
(in my case at least) agree with like-minded economists that Argentina
successfully implemented 80% of the neoliberal agenda, and that any system
in which 80% implementation is not enough for success is massively
disfunctional. You catch up on what people who were interesting a decade
ago are doing now...

Brade DeLong

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