A good (or was it bad) chunk of 2012 in Internet-land was spent dreading and getting ready for the ITU World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai that will conclude about the time this column is published. (See "The Internet has escaped the ax, at least in the US, at least for now"; "When does free mean none?"; "The non-Internet that never was but might be"; "US Congress passes another resolution opposing UN Internet takeover.") But the year was not all focused on the spectre of a United Nations takeover of the Internet.
2012 was yet another year in which the Hollywood-based copyright industry wielded undue influence over the rule makers in Washington and other national capitals around the world. For example, there is no rational world in which a trade agreement like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could be seen as a good thing for Internet users except in that of policy-makers managed by Hollywood. Money-wise Hollywood is, at best, a round-off error in Internet commerce. The relative importance of Hollywood can be seen by the fact that a single video game ("Call of Duty: Black Ops II") outdid the biggest Hollywood movie in history ("Avatar") in reaching $1 billion in sales and in the last month has had more franchise revenue than the 10 top movies if 2012, combined.
2012 was also another year of Wall Street weirdness. Facebook, the hype magnet of the year, opened at an unsupportable price, which produced a lot of money for Facebook's bank account, then Wall Street seemed to panic. Reality had little to do with either the pre-IPO hype or post-IPO panic. Reality also seems to have little to do with the price of Apple stock. Wall Street had established Apple as the most valuable company in the world by mid-year but seemed to start having second thoughts shortly afterward. It seems strange to worry about Apple with a price earning ratio of about 12 and not about Amazon with a P/E of more than 2,700. If Apple's stock was priced with the same logic as Amazon's it would be worth more than $100,000 per share with a market cap of $6.4 trillion. You will get no explanation from me, but Forbes gives it a try.
The United States continued to treat its citizens as second, or maybe third, class when it came to privacy even as Europe's stronger Internet privacy rules went into effect. This is yet another reflection of Washington fully understanding where campaign contributions come from.
Speaking of campaigns. I sure would not want to have the Romney Project ORCA get-out-the-vote app-based system on my resume -- an almost perfect example of how to mess up a major project.
On the other hand, there were a few outstanding examples of knowing what you are doing, including The New York Times' Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight polling aggregation website and blog.
We will know soon what impact the results of the aforementioned WCIT party in Dubai will have on the Internet of 2013 -- I can hardly wait.
Disclaimer: Harvard has hundreds of years of learning how to wait and is quite good at it by now, but the above review is mine and the University had no input on it.
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