Distributedness

Ripple effects, the story of my newly replaced iPhone, on the Ai blog.
My del.icio.us feed hasn’t posted here the last few days, a glitch I need to investigate. It’s a good excuse for me to remind my less geeked-out readers (hi, Mom!) of the numerous places you can find me online. In 2008 it’s not enough to blog… you also have to
twitter: sporadic, text-message-length observations and wisecracks
…be del.icio.us: this is where I store links I find interesting, often with comments (the “links for” posts on this blog come from here)
have a second blog: AIAIO, the Ai company blog, where I tag-team with Loren Davie, our director of technology
flickr: an assortment of photos, usually one-offs taken by my phone
At some point I’ll harness the proper use of FriendFeed and Tumblr and get everything in one place. In the meantime, feel free to explore and follow along.

American values

What a great quote from AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson: “If I had a business that half the product we turned out was defective or you couldn’t put into the marketplace, I would shut that business down.”
Swallow hard, then think about what Stephenson is citing: American high school graduation rates. He says the labor pool is so thin that AT&T has been unable to fill job vacancies with Americans, forcing the businesses to remain in India for staffing purposes.
The facts seem borderline absurd, but a few minutes of research reveals it’s even worse than it seems. Some studies quote America’s nationwide high school graduation rate at just 71 percent, and the state of Georgia barely graduates half its students, like Stephenson says. Statewide! One town falling below 50% is bad; this is an entire state at 54%. Several cities, like Cleveland, barely get above 25%.
Even if this isn’t fully accurate, it’s awfully dire. Americans underappreciating eduation is nothing new. But when American companies have to outsource their labor to maintain quality, not just save costs, the signs point to a far more serious situation.

Slippery slope

December 14, 2006: New JetBlue Airplane Configuration. “JetBlue will offer at least 36-inch pitch in rows 1-11, and 34-inch pitch in rows 12-25.” Me, commenting on del.icio.us: “Very nice, but what will happen to JetBlue’s ‘sit in back, get more legroom’ come-on?”
March 19, 2008: JetBlue to Charge $10 to $20 for Legroom. “The new seats — situated in rows two through five and in emergency exit rows 10 and 11 — will provide 38 inches of pitch.”
Between this and the airline’s new refundable-business-fare policies, we have the answer: premium economy. (UpgradeTravel predicted this last year, and they’re exactly right.)
The slippery slopes here are numerous. For one thing, JetBlue is getting more and more traditional; it’s only a matter of time before they shoehorn an extra row or two back into the cabin, killing their industry-leading seat pitch. For another, those “$10-20” legroom seats will quickly cost $50 or more each way, in much the same manner as JetBlue’s fares quickly went from low-cost-carrier range to $399-each-way-to-Florida-at-Christmas levels, sometimes costing more than American and Continental.
Once upon a time I was a JetBlue shareholder. I always enjoy the time I spend on their planes, particularly when compared with other domestic airlines. But it’s hard to root for the clever underdog when the innovations are increasingly pulling them into the realm of same-old, same-old.