"in a new whitepaper, China has declared the Internet to be 'the crystallization of human wisdom' and officially issued what appears to be a defense of its policies on Web censorship, while at the same time making contradicting statements like 'Chinese citizens fully enjoy freedom of speech on the Internet' and (in the same paper) 'Laws and regulations clearly prohibit the spread of information that contains content subverting state power, undermining national unity, [or] infringing upon national honor and interests.' The paper also claims some questionable superlatives such as 'China is one of the countries suffering most from hacking.' On the positive side, this 31-page document might be offered as an operating guide for businesses, like Google, looking to understand exactly what the law is surrounding the Internet in China. The document is a rare glimpse of transparency in China's regulations."Meanwhile, talk about Internet freedom! UgLyPuNk writes that Chinese Internet addicts attempted a prison break:
"A group of inmates at the Huai'an Internet Addiction Treatment Centre decided they'd had enough of the 'monotonous work and intensive training.' Working together, they tied their duty supervisor to his bed and made a run for it.
Last week, one of the major events bringing together technology and politics took place in New York. All of the footage from Personal Democracy Forum 2010 has been made available online by Civico - a live streaming web company based in the UK. It's good to see a conference covered so well, and the footage being made available so quickly, allowing those who couldn't make it to join in the conversation.
One of the best talks relates to an issue covered recently on this blog - how much the web is contributing to an increasingly segregated world where we rarely come into contact with ideas and opinions that differ from our own. Along this theme, Eli Pariser (executive director of MoveOn.org) argued persuasively that increasing personal filtering online is great for us as consumers, but bad for us as citizens.
Sites like Google and Facebook use sophisticated techniques to filter the information that we see. The idea is to direct us to the information that will be most useful to us, based on our online habits, and it is easy to see why some kind of filtering might be seen to be essential, given the vast amount of data out there (one of Parier's most striking statistics is that more data was created in the 2009 than in the whole of human history up to 2008).
Ira David Socol is a Ph.D. student studying special education technology at Michigan State University. This would not be of interest to our community were he not also a champion of liberation technologies in education. At his personal blog and institutional blog, Ira has various resources that may be of interest to those studying at the intersection of liberation technology and education. As Ira notes in an interview with OpenEducation.net:
Starting today through the end of the weekend, Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK), in collaboration with Crisis Commons, is hosting its second hackathon — a global gathering of hackers in many locations around the world, coming together in real time for a marathon weekend of coding around problems relating to natural disaster risk and response. Washington D.C. is the headquarters for RHoK #1.0, where Microsoft is providing state-of-the art hacking space where we can get busy building software solutions to challenges facing regions affected by natural disaster risk. RHoK #1.0 Washington, D.C. is being held in conjunction with the second D.C. Crisis Camp bar camp and the Understanding Risk: Innovation in Disaster Risk Assessment Conference, a gathering of hundreds of experts from around the world who will be discussing some of the very challenges hackers are seeking to provide solutions for. More | Register
In an article in The Hill today, Gautham Nagesh reports that Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) co-founder John Perry Barlow speaking at the Personal Democracy Forum (PDF) in New York on Thursday said that the deluge of information available on the web has rendered the United States ungovernable. The former Grateful Dead songwriter said those disppointed in President Barack Obama are disregarding the extent to which the political system is broken. Barlow blamed the Beltway establishment, which he said is loathe to give up any accumulated influence. Barlow argued that citizens by necessity will increasingly have to organize at the local level around the issues most important to them in order to get things done. Barlow said:
"There is a circle of fat around the Beltway that is incredibly thick. We can no longer try to run this country from the center. We've got to run it, just like the Internet, from the edges."
Barlow also had some harsh words for search engine leader Google, which he compared to the Catholic Church:
Phelim Kine -- a Hong Kong-based Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch -- has a great op-ed in a recent issue of Forbes Magazine on China's Internet Crackdown. Kine states that, barely a month since Google pulled the plug on its China-based search engine, the Chinese government has started demanding deeper corporate complicity with China's security agencies. As Kine states:
Tim Berners-Lee began by explaining his excitement about the potential to maximize the value in data which currently sits unused. Data which is in itself uninteresting can become extremely useful and insightful when linked to other data. The UK and US government projects to make huge data sets available should be welcomed because they enable people to develop whatever data combinations they want, releasing untapped value to the economy.
The retreat is closed to the public, but one of this year's key discussions -- with Google's Eric Schmidt, the State Department's Alec Ross, Columbia's Tim Wu and The Atlantic Monthly's James Fallows on the Internet and political dissent -- will be webcast live tonight at approximately 8:30 p.m. ET.
Follow the live stream here.
UK based social movement We Are What We Do has joined forces with Google to create Historypin- a tool to create the world’s largest user-generated archive of historical images, stories and memories. Using Google Maps and Street View, Historypin allows users to layer their old images onto modern Street View scenes, providing an engaging insight into the past. The team has already amassed a large collection of images and from June 3rd will be calling on the public to upload their own images and commentary.
The Historypin project has been designed as a simple way for different generations to share their history and digital know-how. It is part of a larger We Are What We Do campaign to get generations talking more, sharing more and coming together more often.
We Are What We Do is a project of Community Links and a global social enterprise sustained through the voluntary efforts of partners from across all sectors. Find out more here.
Ex-Google employee Andrew McLaughlin, now serving as a technology adviser to President Obama has been reprimanded for email contact with former colleagues, reports the Washington Post. The content of the emails covered topics relevant to his current duties, which is prohibited by Obama's ethics policies. The email exchanges were released by the White House following a Freedom of Information Act request from California based Consumer Watchdog. From the article:
"There's nothing in these communications that's not reflected in our public comments, public positions or official communications with the White House," Mistique Cano, spokeswoman for Mountain View, Calif.-based Google, said in an interview. E-mails released by the White House show McLaughlin and Google employees discussing strategy to combat digital piracy of movies and music, relief efforts after Haiti's earthquake and administration plans to promote "net neutrality" rules for the Internet. "Has there been so much flack from the Hill that you guys feel a need to back away?" Google Vice President Vint Cerf said in a Jan. 9 e-mail about opposition to net-neutrality rules. "Don't be silly," McLaughlin replied. "No one's backed away from anything."
John M. Simpson of Consumer Watchdog commented: "He's got too many ties to influence-peddling and it's clear that those ties haven't been completely cut."