Archive for April 18th, 2012

April 18, 2012

Spectrum Auction

fcc auction

A spectrum auction is a process whereby a government uses an auction system to sell the rights (licences) to transmit signals over specific bands of the electromagnetic spectrum and to assign scarce spectrum resources. Depending on the specific auction format used, a spectrum auction can last from a single day to several months from the opening bid to the final winning bid.

With a well-designed auction, resources are allocated efficiently to the parties that value them the most, the government securing revenue in the process. Spectrum auctions are a step toward market-based spectrum management, and are a way for governments to allocate scarce resources. Alternatives to auctions include administrative licensing, such as the comparative hearings conducted historically (sometimes referred to as ‘beauty contests’), or lotteries.

read more »

April 18, 2012

Monopolies of Knowledge

empire and communications

space bias

The Canadian economic historian Harold Innis developed the concept of monopolies of knowledge in his later writings on communications; they arise when ruling classes maintain political power through control of key communications technologies. In ancient Egypt, for example, a complex writing system conferred a monopoly of knowledge on literate priests and scribes. Mastering the art of writing and reading required long periods of apprenticeship and instruction, confining knowledge to this powerful class.

This theory suggests that monopolies of knowledge gradually suppress new ways of thinking. Entrenched hierarchies become increasingly rigid and out of touch with social realities. Challenges to elite power are often likely to arise on the margins of society. The arts, for example, are often seen as a means of escape from the sterility of conformist thought.

read more »