April 2005 Archives

I just installed Tiger on my computer and it's now importing all of my email to Apple Mail from Entourage. It's been importing for about 24 hours, but it's still only about half way through. I don't feel like reading and writing on a slow machine so I'm going to take a blog break until my new Tiger machine is running properly... See you on the other side.

This is chef Nobuhiro Okano, the chef at Baqu. Baqu is a Japanese / French fusion restaurant around the corner from the Technorati Japan offices near Yoyogi. Last order is 1AM so I often find myself there with the team after late meetings. Knowing that we'll end up at Baqu helps me get through some of the meetings. Chef Okano always shows us his daily catch and is quite a performer customizing and whipping things up to suit his customer's needs like a good DJ would. The restaurant doesn't have a sign and is a bit hard to find, but there is a map on their site. He said that if you mentioned that you read about it on my blog, he'd give you free dessert.

I do not have any direct interest in this restaurant, but I know the owner quite well. I told the chef I'd plug his restaurant on my blog, and was rewarded with an extra large portion of soup. I apologize for compromising my ethics as a blogger... However, it's a good restaurant and I'm happy to recommend it.

The American Family Association recently pressured P&G to drop ads on pro-gay shows and web sites through boycotts. I'm glad we don't have them "protecting" us in Japan.

More info on Adam's blog.

The IHT is running a story on the front page about the Japanese obsession with being on time. The recent train accident in Japan that has caused over 50 deaths was probably caused by the train engineer trying to make up for a 90 second delay. (He had recovered 30 seconds so was actually only 60 seconds behind when the train derailed.) The editors at the meeting I attended at the IHT were talking about running a story on the front page about the Japanese train wreck with the punctuality angle so I was thinking about this on my flight returning to Tokyo. I waited to blog the idea because I didn't want to steal their story. ;-)

I definitely enjoy the punctuality in Japan when I'm doing business, although not necessarily when I'm trying to relax. I think it's a generational thing as well. My sister describes the Japanese mobile culture kids not having as much of an obsession with time tending to self-organizing on the go. It reminds me of our previous discussion about p-time. Organized delineation of time and space helps structure things and make things scale, but are not very good at providing context or flexibility. For instance, in my Silicon Valley meetings people tend to allow important meetings to run overtime and eat into the next meeting whereas in Japan, I will often be ushered from a very important meeting to a completely worthless meeting in order to maintain punctuality.

However, as I get ready for my day at this moment, I am very happy to know that I can leave home at 11:10 to catch the 11:27 train and I will arrive at the train station in Tokyo at 12:28. (In 2004, the 40th anniversary of the bullet train, it was announced that the average delay for the train was only 6 seconds.) My 13:00 appointment at Pia will start on time and that I will be able to leave at 13:45 to get to my 14:00 meeting at Neoteny. In Tokyo I schedule meetings in 15 minute increments, some being scheduled for as little as 15 or 30 minutes. This is anecdotal, but I find myself sitting around in conference rooms a lot in Silicon Valley and can never expect a meeting to start on-time. I usually calculate a 30 minute cushion for meetings in Silicon Valley. In Italy... well, I only schedule a few things per day and everything else is coordinated on the fly. I never expect anything to start on time. I recently spoke at a conference in Italy where everything was 1.5-2.5 hours late. As someone who is generally against cultural stereotypes, punctuality is one thing that I believe can often be generalized because one is forced to adapt to a standard level of punctuality for a particular culture. (I'm sure different people and communities in the different countries have their own level of punctuality and that there is some sort of bell-curve-like distribution of people and groups that are more or less punctual than the norm.) For awhile lack of punctuality stressed me out enormously when I was traveling, but now I've gotten used to it. However, I'm happy to be back where the trains run on time...

I'm in a hurry and can't find the IHT article link. If someone has it, I'd appreciate it if you could post it here. Also, apologies to all of the punctual Italians and Americans that I've just offended.

UPDATE: IHT - An obsession with time

I just visited my friend Tom Crampton, a reporter for the International Herald Tribute, who just moved to Paris. Today was his first day in the Paris office. He showed me the computer system that gave him access to all of the stories and pictures filed by reporters and photographers all over the world. The computer system also had all kinds of databases including the news wires. The stories had "slugs" which were the shorthand names of the stories named after the actual lead slugs they used to use. Some had notes that said, "DO NOT SPIKE" which comes from the spike that editors used to have on their desk that dumped stories were spiked onto. These slugs were printed up onto "skeds". They let me sit in on the editorial meeting where all of the editors got together and discussed what stories might lead and which stories ended up on the front and second pages. Many of the stories hadn't been written yet. What was interesting was that, at least during the this meeting, there was a lot of non-verbal communication. There was clearly a lot more thinking than talking going on. It was the sound of NPOV.

It is definitely unfair to compare this process to blogging, but there were similarities. I scan my news feeds in the morning. Then I look at what other blogs are posting. Then I think about various things that might come up during the day that I might blog about and decide what if anything I will blog. It's a lot about timing, context and a larger narrative.

Some of the issues about what to lead with and what to balance with remind me a bit of the Prix Ars Electronica jury process (which danah just blogged about) where we chose 1 Golden Nica, 2 Distinctions and 12 Honorary Mentions from 400+ nominations.

I snagged a copy of tomorrow's IHT Japan edition which is just now being printed. I will be able to read tomorrow's paper on my flight back to Japan, which seems pretty cool.

I talked to the editors about blogging and explained that I'm a big fan of the IHT and thought a lot about how bloggers can work together with MSM and what we could do to transform their business model and preserve their craft.

Plazes has just added a tracking features that uses IndyJunior maps to visualize where you've been based on locations from which you have logged into Plazes. Plazes is a cool site that allows users to register access points to physical locations.

This is my Plazes tracking for the last 90 days.

Chilling Effects has posted the Cease and Desist letter that I received from sms.ac. I know a number of other bloggers have received this letter. Take a look at their analysis if you've received this letter. Chiling effects has done a great job explaining it. Since I received the letter, some email has been exchanged with the lawyer and I extended on olive branch on a forum to a sms.ac employee, but I'm still not sure exactly where their threats stand at this point.

Had a wonderful time yesterday at Les Blogs in Paris and enjoyed meeting all of the new people as well as old friends. I haven't been to many blogger conferences for awhile so I found the presentations and discussions a good way to catch up on what people were doing and thinking. Thanks for organizing this Loic.

Take a look at the lesblogs tags on Technorati and Flickr for pictures and posts from the conference.

I'm off to Tokyo today for some meetings and eventually a few days off next week.

Hb

Lessig Blog
Happy Birthday, Free Culture Movement!

One year ago -- April 23, 2004 -- about a hundred students gathered at Swarthmore College to begin "an international student movement to free culture." (Dan Hunter described the event in LegalAffairs). The event was organized by the students who had sued Diebold after Diebold sued them. The movement now has about ten chapters around the country.

Happy Birthday, Free Culture Movement! Creative Commons has a present that we wanted to announce today. Bizarrely, we're still waiting for the license. More soon (we hope).

Happy Birthday!!!

Anonymous friend in Chinese
The video shows the initial gathering and starting to march of the protesting in Shanghai. It was taken by my family member while I was not in Shanghai.
The video was taken April 16, 2005. I have created Prodigem page with a BitTorrent torrent. It is a 18.4 MB AVI file that runs for 30 seconds. If you download the file, please keep it seeding for awhile so that we can have a few other peers.

There is no violence or anything so don't download it if that's what you're looking for.

UPDATE: Oguradio has converted it into a 3.11MB QT file. Thanks!

UPDATE 2: And also now on archive.org...

Tomorrow I will be going to Paris to attend Les Blogs the day after tomorrow organized by Loic. Many friends will be there. I'm looking forward to it after going mainly to conferences outside of the blogging community these days. Wired News has a nice article on it.

Joho the Blog
The spit fight that ended my career at MSNBC

[...]

They want reports on what moderate left and right wing bloggers — "Nothing out of the mainstream," the producer told me yesterday — say about a "major" topic. What the hell does that have to do with blogging? And when two of the producers yesterday independently suggested that I report on the blogosphere's reaction to a Vietnam veteran spitting on Jane Fonda, I blurted out — because the flu had lowered my normal Walls of Timidity — that this wasn't a job I'm comfortable with.

What makes the blogosphere interesting to me is not that there are moderate left and right voices talking about mainstream topics. Mainstream major stories are about issues such as freakish celebrity pedophiles, a spit match over a fight from 30 years ago that the press is hoping to revive, and whatever unfortunate child has been reported missing and presumed (better for the story) murdered. I'm in the blogosphere to escape from this degradation of values.

[...]

So, fuck it. I quit.

I can't begin to imagine how hard MSM'ing about blogs is. It reminds me of the line from Jon Stewart on his show about blogging, "And that's CNN reporting on why blogs are much more interesting than CNN." (The quote from memory might be slightly inaccurate.)

Cory Doctorow @ Boing Boing Blog
Amazon directory of free MP3 downloads

Amazon has put together a single page listing all the free, no-DRM MP3s you can download from their site, as promos for CDs.

Link

(Thanks, Ben!)

Update: Erin sez, "Amazon actually launched Free Music Downloads in February of 2001. The page mentioned is just the top 200 downloads, there are a lot more available here.

Excellent!

Although I missed two years or so, today marks ten years since I started working with Ars Electronica. I think this is my 16th time in Linz, Austria and for this reason I know Linz better than any other European city. I know taxi drivers, hotel staff, shop owners and it feels sort of like coming home when I visit now. I was on the first World Wide Web category jury in 1995 and we gave Idea Futures the Golden Nica that year. I remember getting a lot of "that's not art" feedback which marked the beginning of my struggle to forge my own definition of "art". The year after that we gave the award to etoy which continues to lead the way in the alternative digital art scene and with whom I continue to have a active relationship since meeting them at Ars Electronica. Last year Ars Electronica started a new category with the leadership of Howard Rheingold called Digital Communities and the two Golden Nicas went to Wikipedia and The World Starts With Me. I met Jimmy Wales and many of the Wikipedians for the first time at this Ars Electronica and we've become good friends since then. I've met many amazing people through this process and there are many people I ONLY see during the jury or the festival of Ars Electronica.

This year I am on the Digital Communities jury again and I've just started looking over the hundreds of projects we will be reviewing over the next few days. The jury is really hard work, but it is always a great way for me to catch up on all of the cool things going on on the Net and engage in rigorous discussion with fellow jury members about all of the projects. I both dread and look forward to this and imagine I will be drinking a lot of strong Austrian coffee.

I have a flickr set that I'll be adding to with photos.

Dan Gillmor on Grassroots Journalism
More Bad Behavior by 'Journalists'
Wall Street Journal (subscription)
How Companies Pay TV Experts For On-Air Product Mentions. Plugs Come Amid News Shows And Appear Impartial; Pacts Are Rarely Disclosed
Once again, we read a story of improper activities by people who appear to be journalists.

The most depressing part of this story isn't the individual behavior, though that's bad enough. It's the way these commentators' big-network employers -- maybe that should be enablers -- go through such contortions of logic to defend what's going on.

This is depressing. How can these people shake their fingers at us about our lack of blogging ethics. Would any blogger get away with secretly taking money for mentions?

Skypechange
Skype's Echo / Sound Test Service (echo123) used to have a woman with a wonderful Estonian accent. They've replaced it with a faceless corporate sounding voice. (via pt) Eek. Kerli has many fans. We want Kerli! Anyway, for any geeks who miss Kerli, you can fine an Echo Test with a face for Chinese Skype. Just call echo-chinese.

Update: There is now a Japanese soundtest. (soundtestjapanese) The voice is definitely a Japanese woman, but she is also incognito. Also, if you IM "callme" to any of these sound test accounts, they will call you.
via Kengo


Sleeping with Bo

Mizuka took this awhile ago. Just found it on my camera.

The MetaBrainz Foundation is a 501.(c).3 tax-exempt non-profit based in San Luis Obispo, California that operates the MusicBrainz project.

MusicBrainz is a user maintained community music metadatabase. Music metadata is information such as the name of an artist, the name of an album and list of tracks that appear on an album. MusicBrainz collects this information about music and makes it available to the public.

With the creation of the MetaBrainz Foundation, the MusicBrainz project enters its second phase of life. In the first incarnation, the project was privately maintained and focused primarily on basic music metadata described above. Today the MusicBrainz project has the legal backing and infrastructure of the MetaBrainz Foundation, which will allow it to embark on a mission to expand its scope.

This is a very important project because, unlike CDDB, MetaBrainz is protecting the data from capture by corporate interests and if successful, will allow us to make information about music interoperable and the data will provide a foundation for this interoperability. This will allow people to share playlists across languages, meta-search on music across services, etc. I have joined the board together with Dan Brickley, Cory Doctorow, Lawrence Lessig and founder Robert Kaye. They are doing a fundraiser and we'd be happy for your support. Congratulations Robert.

Listening to: You Trip Me Up by The Jesus and Mary Chain from the album Psychocandy

There is a good blog post by Andrea about bloggers in China talking about the anti-Japan protests.

As a Japanese who has a great deal of sympathy and empathy for China, what I find difficult is trying to understand the various threads and how Japanese people can try to make a difference. In particular, the hateful and extreme actions of some of the Chinese make it difficult, if not scary to even try to open a dialog. At the same time, the extremes in China are fueling the nationalists in Japan and not helping the cause for the more moderate voices. I believe hate will never help communications.

One of the biggest problems is that most Japanese don't understand the issues. Another point is that most Japanese are not great supporters of the military. When I think about the military in Japan, I don't think dirty nationalist thoughts. Rather, I think about May 15, 1932 when Prime Minister Inukai was assassinated by the military which ended party-based politics in Japan until after WWII. I think about the Japanese military taking over the government and sending Japan into one of the worst periods in its history. I think about the small children being sent off to war as Kamikaze or human torpedos and I think about the letters homes from them that are enshrined in Yasukuni Shrine. There are letters from terrified little boys writing about how scared they are about going to war. Most Japanese do not trust the military and most Japanese believe that the military run government of the 30's was an illegitimate government as a result of a coup. Many Japanese believe that the Japanese people were victims of the military.

Having said that, I do think that the text books and teaching in Japan underplays the actions of the military in China and I believe the Japanese text books are a real problem that should be addressed. I really think that the Japanese don't understand how victimized the Chinese and Koreans were and I believe this education needs to occur. I would point out that it is not just this aspect of Japanese textbooks that is broken. Japanese text don't use the word "revolution" or "civil war". It was the "Meiji Restoration", "The American fight for independence", the US Civil War is the "North South War" etc. There was a move to simplify Pi to just 3. In other words, the Japanese ministry of education needs an overhaul. Maybe they should use Wikipedia instead.

I'm not trying to trivialize the issues that are being protested by the Chinese, but if they are trying to cause change in Japan, maybe some of them can try to talk to their allies in Japan like me instead of trying to force or scare into submission their enemy. A reasonable bridge building effort between activists and experts on both sides to try to address the issues through tactical maneuvers might be useful.

Or am I missing the point completely?

I'm off to Kuala Lumpur today. I've been invited to give a talk at a Philips meeting tomorrow. I will be meeting up with some bloggers tonight in KL. Sign up on the wiki if you'd like to join us.

UPDATED: I uploaded the pictures, but I need help with people's names. Sorry. Can someone help me?

I was a technical advisor for a Japanese movie called "The Negotiator" which will be opening here on May 7th. They recently did a press conference with the key stars including Prime Minister Koizumi's son who plays one of the cyber-police. They showed the laptops sporting the stickers that everyone sent me. Thanks again! The title of one of the stories about the press conference is, "The Negotiator Mashita, dancing with DEFCON?" (The nickname of the series is "Odoru" or dance, from the original title "Odoru Dai Sosasen" or "dancing scan lines".) The text is in Japanese, but there are some pictures of the actors and the laptops on display.

And of course there is a blog. (Japanese)

Phillip Torrone @ Make:
Make your own Nine Inch Nails

MacMinute has a story about Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails making the band's new single, "The Hand That Feeds" available to download for Mac users with GarageBand to mix and mash up (an actual multi-track audio session). "For quite some time I've been interested in the idea of allowing you the ability to tinker around with my tracks -- to create remixes, experiment, embellish or destroy what's there," Reznor says. Here's a screenshot of it on my Mac (View image) and here's where to get it (70MB file). Here are a couple of the first remixes!

How excellent. This is almost like open source music. It's one thing to say, "hey it's OK to sample this." It's taking it to a totally different level to publish it as a Garage Band project. Now if only they would put some kind of Creative Commons license on it, it would be perfect.

I just saw this cool image in my 1001 flickr stream... which lead me to Comic Life which turned into this and this. I really should be packing. I'm off to Japan today. Special thanks to Master Willem and his team for letting me stay at their chateau.

Liarspic2-1
Seth Godin sent me a a copy of his new book, All Marketers Are Liars. It's excellent. As usual, it's very provocative and typical Seth Godin. In a way, it's like Cluetrain Manifesto written by someone who speak Madison Avenuese. He writes about how people buy products because of stories and how these stories fit into their worldview. The products and people behind the stories have to be authentic, but people pay for these stories. These stories sell the products, not facts about the products. Most of these stories are not completely true. It reminds me of my Moleskine notebook which has a story that I know isn't really true, but I love the story. My Macintosh is also the same. I know Apple is suing a blogger and has DRM all over iTunes, but for some reason, I still believe the story that they're on my side. (For now.) He also writes about the end of the advertising "message" and that you can't control the story. You don't know where your customer will touch your product/company and get their first impression. Every part of your company has to be authentic and resonate with the story.

The book reminds me of Don't Think of an Elephants by George Lakoff which is about how the Republican Party is successful at telling their story because it fits the frame / worldview of their voters.

Interestingly, Seth is telling a pretty strong story that I believe doesn't fit the worldview of many of the marketers he is talking to. I hope they believe his story. ;-)

He has a blog about the book called Liar's Blog for the book.

I'm in Berkeley at the Institute for the Future 10 year forecast retreat. Tomorrow I'll be doing a breakout session and a talk with Howard Rheingold on the Sharing Economy. I'm not sure what the blogging policy is, but if it is allowed, I'll try to blog something tomorrow.

----

Jerry Michalski to Steven Weber: "If you started a Linux project you could call it SWINUX and use a pig as a logo."

Narutrix
click image for page with video
Mimi @ Chanpon
The Narutrix Re-Ninja'd

The Matrix continues to be great fodder for transnational cultural ping-pong. While the Matrix creators acknowledge their debts to Japanese anime culture with Animatrix, Japanese fans re-domesticate the Matrix again with Matrix re-enactments. Now, UK anime fandom has brought us The Narutrix Re-Ninja'd, a brilliantly edited parody of the second Matrix trailer, staged in the world of Naruto. Check out manylemons.co.uk for some more fun anime music videos.

Thanks Rachel!

Amazing example of remix culture. It is rumored that fan remixes or derivative works are more tolerated by Japanese publishers than in the US. Hopefully this fan community won't be shut down like many fan sites for US works.

Does anyone know more about this community? I hear that fan base is incredible.

Background from the site.

Many Lemons Productions
It's a Matrix Trailer parody, with Naruto footage. Original and unique? No. (That said, I've only seen one other..) However, I wanted to do one *right*.. To varying degrees of 'right' anyway.

How it came about is pretty easy to explain.. I'm a fan of good movie trailers, and while most of the Matrix's trailers were pretty crap, the final Matrix Reloaded trailer I thought was pretty awesome for what it tried to do. That combined with it has the line "So now he's found a way to copy himself?" just rang bells the size of several small countries to Naruto. Thus, the idea was formed. Hurrah!

I kinda wanted it to be both to Naruto fans and people who may not like Naruto at all, simply because it was going to be aired to a room full of both.. So it had to be generic, non-spoilery, funny, and generally "yeah I'm using Naruto footage but it's good anyway" :p

Timing is my speciality so it is pretty heavily focussed on that; lipsyncing, punches connecting, things going boom, the usual. It foillows the original trailer reasonably closely for the most part, but diverges at the end because the voice parts had stopped and it was just a chance to show off some of the better sequences from Naruto; I've kinda specifically avoided the cheesier or less well animated scenes where I could.

To clarify, it's as much of a Naruto advertisement as it is a Matrix parody; you'll see what I mean at the end :P Even for such a popular series I like to at least show a few teaser scenes to make more people go see it..

This video won over the popularity vote and the Judges' decision at AmeCon 2004, and I was awarded a Rei-in-the-bathtub soap dish, yay ;)

Note: Yes, I've given Lee the opening "Hiya Fellas" line, but otherwise Sasuke = Neo, it is on purpose.. For reasons I fail to understand now I look back, but meh, it's more amusing this way.

The Stanford Center for Internet and Society filed an amicus brief today which I signed together with a number of others. Go CIS!

Amicus Brief Asks for Legal Rights for Internet Journalists

CIS filed an amicus brief today on behalf of The First Amendment Project, Internet journalists and bloggers and others asking the court in the Apple v. Does case to treat online publishers the same rights as their colleagues who publish in more traditional formats. Download file

[delicious-discuss]
more on the announcement

As you may know, I left my job a few weeks ago in order to devote myself full-time to del.icio.us. In order to make that posssible, I accepted an investment from a group of thoughtful and influential investors. The group I chose to work with understands my commitment to maintaining the integrity of the service and the security of your data. They were also willing to take a minority stake, which will keep me in control of the future of del.icio.us.

Union Square Ventures leads the investment group, and the other members are Amazon.com, Marc Andreessen, BV Capital, Esther Dyson, Seth Goldstein, Josh Koppelman, Howard Morgan, Tim O'Reilly, and Bob Young.

I'm very excited about this opportunity to focus on del.icio.us and put together a team to help me grow the service. My first priority is improving reliability and responsiveness, with new features following soon.

-j

--
joshua schachter
joshua at burri.to
http://del.icio.us

Sounds like a great bunch of investors. Congratulations Joshua. Welcome to the wonderful world of startup companies. I'm looking forward to all of the "if only we had more resources" features you have in store for us.

Cms2005
Announcing the world's first Contagious Media Showdown. Do you have what it takes to corral enough traffic to win the cash prizes? Can you make the next Dancing Baby, All Your Base, or Star Wars Kid and ride into the sunset with the bounty? This is your chance to prove you are the best in the West.
Organized by the Contagious Media Group at Eyebeam R&D with some sponsorship from Alexa, Creative Commons, Technorati and Datagram. Eyebeam know for their super-cool often-viral art should be sending shivers down Search Engine Optimization (SEO) companies' spines.

Stanford graduate student Gary Lerhaupt has created Prodigem Marketplace. It's basically a Bittorrent non-DRM'ed media marketplace.

Prodigem Marketplace
The Prodigem Marketplace allows Prodigem users to sell their independent media (videos, music, etc) while not concerning themselves with traditional bandwidth costs associated with repeated large data transfers. Content providers (YOU!) simply upload their work, set a price, and Prodigem does the rest. Once customers pay for access to the bit torrent peer-to-peer session for your content, Prodigem grants them access so they can begin their download (no DRM). Prodigem collects this revenue, removes 10% + transaction costs (PayPal) and then sends you a monthly check. Ever considered making a living as a Long Tailor? Check out this example for-pay torrent to see what it looks like.

[...]

Mechanics Of Becoming An "Ecommonist"

The process of becoming a media retailer couldn't be any easier. To accomodate this new method of transfer, we have added a Copyright Plus Prodigem license to the available licensing options. This simple license allows you to retain copyright over your work while making a specific grant of rights to Prodigem and its users. In effect you are saying that it is fine to share your work so long as it's only through the torrent you created, and since access to the torrent is only granted when payment is received, you get exactly what you are looking for.

You are also free to instead license your work under the Creative Commons. Though with a CC license you are technically granting everyone redistribution rights regardless of venue. This is fine by us if it's okay with you, but does mean that people are free to share without payment. Realizing this conundrum, we are busy mulling over something akin to a "Delayed" Creative Commons license, where Prodigem users will be able to stipulate their work as covered under Copyright Plus Prodigem license, and then on some fixed date of their choosing (eg. 1 year, 5 years) it automatically switches over to a CC license of their choosing. It's like peanut butter and chocolate.

via Howard @ Smartmobs

I'm very interested in the economics of the end of the long tail. My theory is that people will pay, even if they are not forced. I think price, the experience and the lack of DRM should have an impact. There is some data from the unencumbered shareware software world, but it will be interesting to see how this fares for media content. I would also be interested to see how artists using Creative Commons fare against artists using the more restricted Copyright Plus Prodigem license. If this is successful, this will be yet another good example of non-infringing use of P2P to highlight the idiocy Hollywood's position on the Grokster case. (Note that NASA has also started using Bittorrent.)

Thanks to everyone who showed up in Mar del Plata to participate in the ICANN meeting. I thought that the discussion was healthy and productive and although we moved forward on a number of things, we are left with a lot of work to do based on the feedback we received on the strategic plan, the board governance guidelines, .pro, .net, IDNs, transparency, process and a number of other topics. Special thanks to staff for running such a great meeting in the absence of our CEO Paul Twomey. I think you did an excellent job.

Thanks to everyone who showed up for dinner last night and special thanks to Mariano for organizing everything. It was great to meet the Argentine bloggers. I'm sorry I was late. Our bus from Mar del Plata broke down and we had have them send a new one.

Thanks to Mookie letting me stay at his place in Buenos Aires.

I'm off to San Francisco today to do my usual rounds and to go a Institute for the Future retreat.

Since my flight doesn't leave until this evening, I hope I can do a bit of moblogging in Buenos Aires.

IDNs (International Domain Names) have been the subject of a great deal of discussion. IDNs are a way to allow non-ASCII scripts to be used in URLs. There are a number of difficulties with IDNs. One is that there are letters or punctuation that look similar to normal ASCII characters or punctuation. This allows people to spoof other URLs and use it to fool users and steal their banking information for instance. The other criticism is whether people really need them. The argument (which until recently I agreed with) is that everyone in the world reads ascii and can't people at least type the URLs in ASCII.

Fellow board member Hualin Qian said that the Chinese were using IDNs using a browser plugin and that since most Chinese read only Chinese web pages, it seemed to be doing quite well. I would have to concur. I think one thing that we forget is that the type of people who come to ICANN meetings and argue about this stuff tend to speak multiple languages, care about what is going on in other languages, and are trying to get everything perfect. We are not the norm. I remember when we set up Infoseek Japan, we decided to index only Japanese pages. I argued that we should index English pages, but I was overruled by the people who said most Japanese don't read English web pages.

Many of the problems of IDNs come from trying to do multiple languages at the same time or languages one can't read. The biggest difficulty is implementing them in gTLDs like .com or .org. I think that if we focus on helping the country level TLDs (ccTLDs) get going with IDNs in their own native languages, we would be solving the problem for 80% or so of the people. My concern is holding up the ability for these people to use IDNs because we can find the perfect solution for the edge cases.

This is a philosophically opposed to my "Global Voices" position which focuses on building bridges between cultures and languages, but I believe that the benefit for the digital divide to get something running soon is worth it. Also, once we have a lot of people using IDNs in different regions, I'm sure we can use this experience to come up with more creative ways to solve the more difficult IDN problems.

Again, this is my personal opinion and not any sort of consensus of staff or the board of ICANN. I am mainly pointing this out because until this meeting, my position (privately) was "why the hell do we need IDNs?" On the other hand, I think we are moving forward and the discussions during this meeting in MdP were very helpful.

As people have reported widely, there has been a great deal of abuse of .Pro. .Pro was supposed to be a top level domain dedicated to creating a credentialed area for verified professionals and profession related domain names. People have been registering obviously unrelated domains and going as far as selling them on eBay. This clearly violates the spirit of the agreement, but it is still unclear whether anyone is technically violating the agreement. ICANN has been criticized for not policing .PRO especially in light of ICANN approving new sponsored top level domains. As Michael Palage pointed out in his comments during the board meeting, ICANN staff is currently investigating the issues and they will come back with the facts and the board will discuss any appropriate actions.

Afriniclogo
We just unanimous approved the resolution which makes AfriNIC a fully approved and recognized Regional Internet Registry to provide IP address registration and other services for the Africa service region. This is an important step forward for the African Internet community. Congratulations to everyone involved. Yay!

There have been some severe allegations about foul play inside of ICANN with regards to the .travel sTLD allocation. Staff, counsel and the board have reviewed these allegations and I am convinced that these allegations are unfounded and have just voted in favor of .travel.

I have talked to several independent participants who are also puzzled by these allegations but I have asked them to dig around for more facts. I will report back if I find anything, but until there is some third party corroboration of these allegation, I would hope people would stop spreading this rumor as if it were fact. I understand that people don't like to give ICANN the benefit of the doubt, but these are quite severe allegations from a single source. Please be responsible.

Ray Plzak of ARIN pointed out during the board meeting that 45% of available addresses have been allocated to the RIR's (Regional Internet Registries). There are number of studies about how much longer we have before we run out of addresses. The estimates range from 10 years to 40 years of time left.

I'll write more about this later, but IPv6 seems to be moving forward, but the efficient reallocation of addresses and unanticipated technologies such as NATs (Network Address Translation) has taken the pressure off of IPv6 adoption from the "running out of addresses" perspective. However, IPv6 has many benefits, not just increased address space and we should move forward with adoption. I would also like to point out that the rumor that a single US university has more addresses than China is an urban myth. This was true in the past, but many universities and early Internet address users with large allocations have returned their address space and China has one of the largest address allocations today.

UPDATE: Hmm... This report seems to suggest that the allocation is a bit higher. Maybe I misheard. It appears that 45% of the addresses have NOT been assigned to the RIR's.

There has been a great deal of discussion about the Board Governance Committee's draft of the Core Principles and Corporate Governance Guidelines. Section 5(e) says "Having given the chief executive delegated authority, Board members should be careful – individually and collectively – not to undermine it by word or action." The idea behind this is that the board should not be undermining the activity of the CEO after it has delegated a task. As a CEO, I can understand this intention, but I believe that it should be decided operationally and should not be in a guidelines document to be signed by the board. In addition, I think the word "undermine" is vague. In many ways, the role of the board is to "undermine" management if management is not doing the right thing.

During the public forum (which is going on right now), Alejandro Pisanty, the chair of the committee, pointed out that there were a number of comments and that the committee is working on revising the draft. If you have comments, I suggest you submit them through the link above. There were a number of constructive comments from other participants during the forum and they will be posted on the site soon.

N8800
Photo by Nokia
Nokia
Art Meets State-of-the-Art: Exquisite Materials, Distinctive Details Unite to Create a Mobile Icon - the Nokia 8801

April 07, 2005

Exclusive audio accompaniment, including signature ringtone "Dharma", by award-winning composer Ryuichi Sakamoto

Espoo, Finland - Drawing upon modern watchmaking and jewelry techniques, Nokia has unveiled a truly inspired mobile phone for today's connoisseurs of quality and taste. Encased in a slim stainless steel body, the Nokia 8801 subtly glides open to reveal a number of distinctive details, each meticulously considered and researched to complement the prestige and quality of the device. To heighten the experience, the Nokia 8801 features exclusive audio accompaniment, including all ring tones and alerts, by award-winning composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. This attention to detail continues Nokia's heritage of premium mobile phones that have set the industry standard for elegance and performance.

See also "Art Meets State-of-the-Art: Exquisite Materials, Distinctive Details Unite to Create a Mobile Icon - the Nokia 8800"

When Marko Ahtisaari approached me for an introduction to Ryuichi Sakamoto I didn't know what they wanted to do with him. Nokia and Ryuichi Sakamoto? Now I know. This is great. I want one! hint. hint...

April 07, 2005 08:01 AM US Eastern Time

Wikimedia Foundation Announces Corporate Support of Wikipedia from Yahoo! Search; Helps Allow the Organization to Run Wikipedia Independently

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. & SUNNYVALE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 7, 2005--Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organization that develops and maintains free open content for the public, and Yahoo! Search, a leading global search engine, today announced that Yahoo! Search will dedicate hardware and resources to support Wikipedia, a community based encyclopedia written and edited by people from around the world. The contribution is the most significant dedication made to date to the Wikimedia Foundation by a corporate sponsor and is essential to furthering their global growth.

In addition, Wikipedia content will become available to hundreds of millions of users worldwide through Yahoo! Search via shortcuts that are automatically displayed above the relevant search results (http://tools.search.yahoo.com/shortcuts/). Yahoo! will begin making Wikipedia content available via shortcuts in the U.S., select European, Asian, and Latin American properties over the next several weeks.

So Yahoo beat Google in the race to support Wikipedia. Seems like Yahoo is running circles around Google these days. Anyway, congrats to all involved. Sounds like an excellent relationship.

UPDATE: It was pointed out to me that I should make it clear that the "race" I was referring to was that Google had been widely rumored to be in talks with Wikipedia for sponsorship. Yahoo beat them in the race to close a deal with Wikipedia. Maybe it isn't a "race" but it's interesting in light of Yahoo one-upping Google on a variety of fronts these days.

UPDATE 2: Announcement on Wikimedia Foundation page.

VideoLAN, or VLC, is a cross-platform media player and is my media player of choice. It plays everything and I just love it. It would be hard to live without it.

VideoLAN page
The end draws near...

VideoLAN is seriously threatened by software patents due to the numerous patented techniques it implements and uses. Also threatened are the many libraries and projects which VLC is built upon, like FFmpeg, and the other fellow Free And Open Source software multimedia players, which include MPlayer, xine, Freevo, MythTV, gstreamer.

Multimedia is a patent minefield. All important techniques and formats are covered by broad and trivial patents that are harming progress and alternative implementations, such as free software multimedia players.

The European commission has just passed its directive on software patents, violating democratic rules and procedures to the sole benefit of big non-European corporation and Ireland and to the detriment of small and medium sized businesses (which comprise 99% of the European software industry) and free software.

The European parliament will now be taking the last stand against software patents in a voting for which an absolute majority is needed. Such a majority is hard to come by in a parliament with a low attendance level.

But not all is lost yet as long as you decide it is time to make a difference and take action. This is our last opportunity to fend off software patents worldwide, there will be no second chance for the foreseeable future.

Signing petitions will not suffice. Contact your local EU representatives and educate them why software patents are a bad idea in the first place and why they must attend that parliament session to vote against them. Make it clear that they need to stop the machinations of the EU council and reaffirm the power of the EU parliament, the only democratically elected EU institution. For in-depth information and starting points to get active visit the software patent page of the FFII (Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure) and NoSoftwarePatents.com.

Wish us luck, we will need it.
VideoLAN - See the statistics

I've been speaking to a number of parliamentarians in Europe about the danger of software patents. This is a really important issue and here is a good example of a typical victim of software patents. I'm hoping that OSI will be able to help people avoid encumbered standards as part of the open standards initiative.

via ladi

My blog uses a "by/2.0" Creative Commons license. This means that anyone can use anything from my blog and copy or create derivative works without asking permission as long as they give me attribution. NEC has gotten into blogging and wanted to use the content from my blog. Unfortunately, I write mostly in English. I have tried translating posts myself as well as using a number of volunteer translators. The problem is, translation is not very fun and I would rather write another post in English than spend time translating. The combination of NEC's desire to use my content and my Creative Commons license allows NEC to pay a translator to translate my blog into Japanese and use the content on their blog. I don't get paid, but now my words are available in Japanese too.

NEC tells me that after a six month period, they will release the Japanese content under and Creative Commons by-nc-sa/2.1/jp license which will allow me to copy the the translations back to my blog after this period.

Translations are essential for building bridges between cultures. One big problem is that translation sometimes cost MORE than the cost of writing the original work. It's also more boring. Using CC to allow people to create business models to pay translators seems like a great idea to me. Thanks NEC!

NEC's Japanese Joi Ito's Web

Cory @ Boing Boing Blog
Anti-Starbucks site doesn't use "Starbucks" in name

NPR sez, "'The Delocator' is a site that helps you find independent alternatives to Starbucks in your neighborhood. So why isn't it called the 'Starbucks Delocator'? Because the San Francisco Art Institute was too scared that Starbucks would come through with the corporate smack-down. Of course this renaming means the site won't show up in google when people search for 'Starbucks', and what's the point if people can't discover it? Carrie McLaren is out to change that: she's launched a google campaign to get people to link to it by its real name, the Starbucks Delocator. Take that chilling effects. Now, get your link on!"

Starbucks Delocator Link
(Thanks, NPR and Stay Free Daily!)

Take that!

UPDATE: You can use a company name in the domain name of a non-commercial "sucks" site. via ICANNWatch

UPDATE 2: See also EFF Deep Links for information on the ruling.

I'm meeting some bloggers in Buenos Aires at 20:00 on April 8, 2005. Please take a look at the wiki for more information and sign up if you can come. See you there!

UPDATE: Señor Mariano

The ICANN meeting in Mar del Plata is just about to officially begin. There will be a webcast of the sessions in the main auditorium. There are some interesting issues on the agenda including DNS Security, Domain Name Hijacking and WSIS. Of course the public discussion and the board meeting should also be interesting. You can find the schedule on the web site.

WEBCAST AND REMOTE PARTICIPATION INFORMATION

ALL sessions in the main auditorium can be viewed at:
http://media.icann.org/ramgen/broadcast/argentina.rm.

ALL ccNSO sessions can be viewed at:
http://media.icann.org/ramgen/broadcast/ccnso.rm.

To send questions to the board of directors or if you have question or comments related to the meeting, please send an email to argentina@icann.org.

Just between us, I will have my computer with me and will be on IRC at #joiito on irc.freenode.net during the sessions. I would not recommend IM'ing me on anything other than Shinkuro or Skype if you want to say something to me securely since I'm on an open wifi network.

Cameo
Google & Firefox == Evil & Annoying

I recently did a search at google for "radio shack". To my surprise, I received a cookie setting request from radio shack.com. This had never happened before- and radio shack also happened to be a sponsored link. I did other searches, such as "ford", "sony", and even "girl scouts"- and each time, the top link requested a cookie to be set. Since Girl Scouts did not have a sponsored link- I realised it must only be the top link that sets a cookie. It turned out that Mozilla browsers (that includes firefox) and Google have both enabled prefetch- although it would seem that Google only recently enabled it- as this is a new occurrence. I always verify the setting of cookies- so this makes every google search into an annoying cookie refusal time waste. It would also seem that prefetching is turned on my default in firefox- and is very unintuitive to turn off.

So- for my friends that automatically accept cookies- you are now downloading a page and a cookie nearly every time you use google and firefox together.

And even though I never clicked on their link- and never wanted to visit their site- I'm downloading the top link of my search results to my harddrive every time I do a Google search.

This makes me dislike not only Mozilla- but Google as well.

There is a discussion about this on WebmasterWorld.com as well. This feels annoying and since it's more fun to pick on Google than Microsoft these days, I'm blogging it.

Slashdot
BeOS Ready for a Comeback as Zeta OS

Posted by timothy on Sunday April 03, @12:12AM

Anil Kandangath writes "BeOS, the operating system that could have been the foundation for Mac OS X, but almost died, instead has returned as Zeta OS -- which is supposed to be fast, stable, media centric and boot within 15 seconds. Zeta is being released by yellowTAB of Germany and has applications such as an office suite and the Firefox browser bundled with it. Most BeOS applications will also run as-is. Screenshots are available." According to the NewsForge story linked there, the release could be as soon as next month.

Excellent. I was hoping that BeOS would end up as an Open Source project somehow, but I guess this is better than nothing. I will definitely be watching for this. I have a soft spot for BeOS. Frank Boosman invited me onto their advisory board when he was working at Be. I joined towards the tail end of their life when they were shifting their focus to Internet appliances. We were in touch with the Japanese BeOS users group. When Be Inc. blew up, many of the core members of the users group started a company called Beatcraft, which my company Neoteny ended up investing in. Frank Boosman went on to start Air Eight, which is now 3Dsolve, which Neoteny also invested in. I've also kept in touch with Jean-Louis Gassée. Be Inc. and BeOS attracted some amazing people and it's interesting to see this revival.

UPDATE: From the comments: Rene - They are already selling this for months in German shopping TV (http://www.rtlshop.de).

UPDATE 2: You can order it from their site too.

I was IM'ing with Boris yesterday and he said an interesting thing. "He lives on in our media... Forever remembered as the first super mediatized Pope ever. There is more documented evidence of his existence than any Pope ever before. He will NEVER die... as long as we have storage memory..."

I worked with Tony Verna several times back in my MSM days. Tony is the inventor of the instant replay and one of the people behind Live Aid. I learned more about television from Tony than just about anyone else. I remembered Tony telling me an interesting account of his work with the Pope. I remember thinking about the impact of mediatizing the Pope when I heard the story. I decided to email Tony and ask him to share a story about his role in mediatizing the Pope.

Tony Verna
April 2,2005

Hi Joi,

Thank you for contacting me regarding my thoughts about the passing of the Holy Father, John Paul II.

As you may recall, in 1986, I created “Prayer For World Peace,” a one-hour live TV broadcast for Pope John Paul II that I also produced and directed. The program was viewed by a billion people worldwide.

I had directed Live Aid and Sport Aid for Bob Geldof and that made me cocky enough to present the Vatican with the largest satellite telecast of the time.

My idea was to have the Pope lead a worldwide congregation of worshippers on five continents in the rosary, a devotional prayer, where he could alternate the first part of the prayer in one of several languages… and then cut live to that part of the world for their response…

e.g. Paris or Dakar for French, Knock or Calcutta for English, Lisbon or Rio for Portuguese, Mexico City or Madrid for Spanish, and Frankfurt or Marizell for German.

I had worked with Mother Teresa and knew her well enough to ask (impose on) her to do an inspirational intro (from were she was visiting her nuns in Czestochowa, Poland) that would lead to the live presentation from Rome. Mother Teresa was a wonderful woman whom I can’t say enough about.

My reputation was good in Europe due to the Geldof projects plus I had already written 2 of my books that the American communications archbishops had read.

They were anxious to hear my idea even though they warned me that the Pope didn’t do programs other people have created.

Undeterred I moved on, and finally met with the Pope in his private chapel. My wife, Carol, was a devout Lutheran and she was ready to bolt out of the chapel at the sight of the Pope. I calmed her down and when the Pope came over to us, he was very attentive and cordial. He held our hands and gave me his blessing to proceed with my idea.

I was hoping for such, since I knew he was a communications Pope and that he knew the power of the medium.

Later, I addressed the College of Cardinals as a formality and then proceeded.

The live one-hour was done for Global Media Ltd and was possible in part by a grant from BIC. The budget was high at 2 million due to the satellite pickups in 16 locations on 5 continents, Luzan, Argentina; Marizell, Austria; Rio, Brazil; Quebec, Canada; Lourdes, France; Frankfurt, Germany; Bombay, India; Guadalupe, Mexico; Caacupe, Paraguay; Manila, Philippines; Fatima, Portugal; Dakar, Senegal; Zaragoza, Spain; Czestochowa, Poland; Knock, Ireland; and in the United States, Washington DC. All of which was cited and documented on the July 8, 1987 Congressional Record of the House of Representatives

In addition to the hundred plus cameras I had stationed around the globe, I arranged for the congregations (live on monitors) to greet the Holy Father, before and after reciting the rosary with him.

Then the problems began. The religious big shots told me I couldn’t place monitors by the Pope. I objected and told them that the Pope should decide. The next morning the Pope gave me his permission, overruling his big shots.

The insurance company (to cover the $2m) said that the Pope and I both had to take a physical. I took the physical and explained that the Pope wouldn’t. They backed down

Next, RAI television (a bunch of men in suits) said I couldn’t do the pickup from the Vatican. They claimed I was a one-timer and not welcomed. I left Rome determined not to give up.

So…I directed the show from London, England (thanks to the EBU) with the incoming feeds coming to me live from Rome. Strange but true.

The show went off without a hitch. The VCR and DVD are still available.

Another problem was that the church worked in centuries so back in ’86 I gave the Pope his first fax machine…as can be attested to by Archbishop John P. Foley.

Before leaving for Rome to do the show I stopped by Washington DC and had dinner with David Brinkley and others curious on how I could pull off such a complex live telecast.

I felt quite honored by the attention.

As I mentioned, a billion people saw the show, and afterwards the Pope invited my wife, and I back to the Vatican to thank us personally.

It was a delightful visit.

Then another strange thing happened.

After blessing us the Pope moved away but suddenly he backed up to give my wife a second blessing.

Joi, my wife converted to Catholicism but I think the Pope gave her a second blessing because she has to put up with someone like me.

That’s my recollection…… in a jumble.

Best Regards,

Tony

AKMA’s Random Thoughts
What Then Of Boasting?

Pippa continues making wonderful images with paint and pen and keyboard (Margaret and I cherish her email messages). At F2C, Dave isenberg brought out a t-shirt he'd been given by his print shop; it read in big letters, "God Bless America," with an American flag imprint. He reckoned that the clergy delegate was the right conferee to get the shirt, so he threw it out to me. (This story does get back to how proud I am of Pippa.) I sat with the shirt displayed beside me through Thursday's program, and brought it home, uncertain of what should become of it. When I explained the situation to the family, Pippa quickly pointed out some of the theo-political problems with the shirt; her first reaction was that it should be a prayer, but that instead it reads as a command. But she volunteered to take it, perhaps to wear inside-out or use for her painting shirt. Fifteen minutes later she came back. . . .

Pippa Fixes Her Shirt

I'm so proud of them, it makes my heart pound. What, as Dick Leonard says, did I do to deserve this? [Don't worry; you probably don't know Dick. But he always used to say that when he lived with us, so the family always quotes him.]

Great dad begets great family. Usually.
Xeni @ Boing Boing Blog
Shirky: stupid (c) laws block me from publishing own work online

Clay Shirky tells Boing Boing:

Welcome to the Copyfight. So, at Etech this year, I gave a talk entitled Ontology is Overrated. I want to put a transcript up online, and Mary Hodder, who recorded the talk, graciously agreed to give me a copy of the video.

When she came by NYC last week, she dropped off a DVD, which I then wanted to convert to AVI (the format used by my transcription service.) I installed ffmpeg and tried to convert the material, at which point I got an error message which read "To comply with copyright laws, DVD device input is not allowed." Except, of course, there are no copyright laws at issue here, since I'M THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER.

Got that? I am in possession of a video, of me, shot by a friend, copied to a piece of physical media given to me as a gift. In the video, I am speaking words written by me, and for which I am the clear holder of the copyright. I am working with said video on a machine I own. Every modern legal judgment concerning copyright, from the Berne Convention to the Betamax case, is on my side. AND I CAN'T MAKE A COPY DIRECTLY FROM THE DEVICE. This is because copyright laws do not exist to defend the moral rights of copyright holders -- they exist to help enforce artificial scarcity.

Copyright holders in my position, who want to use Creative Commons licensing to share material, are treated as pathological cases, because we're not behaving in the extortionate manner that current regulations are designed to protect.

I've gotten the copy another way, and the transcript will go up, but this is the state of the world, circa 2005: I can be prevented from copying my own words from my own devices, precisely because I want to share them freely, a use the law is perfectly prepared to regard as irrelevant.

Yes. Welcome to the copyfight. The scary thing is that more and more people are beginning to think it is NORMAL not to be able to do what Clay is upset about not being able to do.

Launch of Sixfoo! 660°

Something from yesterday.

via Quiplash on Flickr

I've just joined the Open Source Initiative (OSI) board.

Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a non-profit corporation dedicated to managing and promoting the Open Source Definition for the good of the community, specifically through the OSI Certified Open Source Software certification mark and program. You can read about successful software products that have these properties, and about our certification mark and program, which allow you to be confident that software really is "Open Source." We also make copies of approved open source licenses here.

The basic idea behind open source is very simple: When programmers can read, redistribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the software evolves. People improve it, people adapt it, people fix bugs. And this can happen at a speed that, if one is used to the slow pace of conventional software development, seems astonishing.

We in the open source community have learned that this rapid evolutionary process produces better software than the traditional closed model, in which only a very few programmers can see the source and everybody else must blindly use an opaque block of bits.

Open Source Initiative exists to make this case to the commercial world.

Open source software is an idea whose time has finally come. For twenty years it has been building momentum in the technical cultures that built the Internet and the World Wide Web. Now it's breaking out into the commercial world, and that's changing all the rules. Are you ready?

It's an important time for Open Source with many governments and large organizations switching or seriously considering switching to Open Source. The people at OSI are dedicated to making Open Source successful more broadly and I'm honored and excited to be working with them for this important cause.

Donna Wentworth @ EFF: Deep Links
It's Official: TSA Lied

Two government reports confirm what EFF and other privacy advocacy organizations have long known: the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) lied about its role in using airline passengers as guinea pigs for testing "Secure Flight" - the latest version of a fundamentally flawed passenger-profiling system for screening terrorists. And not only did TSA lie, it lied repeatedly, to everyone.

A DHS report [PDF], released this past Friday, reveals that TSA misled individuals, the press, and Congress in 2003 and 2004. A GAO report [PDF], released Monday, also shows that Secure Flight has failed to meet 9 out 10 conditions the GAO set for giving the program the go-ahead. These conditions include providing adequate protection for passengers' privacy and ensuring the accuracy of the data it would use to classify people as terrorist risks.

Passenger records contain detailed personal information, such as your name, address, phone number, travel itinerary -- even your credit card number. Yet the DHS report says TSA shared passenger information with outside contractors while neglecting to "inquire whether the data used by the vendors had been returned or destroyed."

"This is worse than ChoicePoint," says EFF Senior Privacy Attorney Lee Tien. "It reflects an attitude toward the privacy of Americans that falls well below what people are up in arms about in the commercial data industry. These people have a public trust and they're abusing it."

For additional information, see Bruce Schneier's GAO's Report on Secure Flight; for background, see TSA and CAPPS II -- Anatomy of a Cover Up.

As Donna says, this just confirms things that we all sort of figured were going on, but this is quite an official acknowledgment. I wonder if there will be any followup action on the part of the US government.

The US doesn't have a monopoly on this stuff of course. I've been fighting very hard for privacy in Japan. What we ended up with was a privacy bill that allows the government to strictly enforce privacy rules for businesses, but leaves the government quite free and exempt from similar oversight, focusing more on the "ethics of civil servants." Of course there is also a carve out for "the media" so they don't scream about it too much. Unfortunately, in the case of the Japanese privacy bill, "the media" includes only TV and newspapers and not magazines and of course not bloggers. Although I agree that privacy violations by businesses is a problem and a threat, I'm still much more concerned about abuse by governments, particularly when there isn't a good oversight process. The US is lucky it has the GAO.

MetaFilter
Truth?

Rape, Torture, and Lies An ongoing Canadian saga has a sad new twist today: photojournalist Ziba Zahra Kazemi was likely brutally tortured and raped before her death in Iran in 2003. Arrested after a demonstration, the official Iranian line has been that her death was an accident due to injuries from a fall. The ER doctor who treated her has now spoken out, after being granted refugee status in Canada. Wikipedia has an excellent outline of the entire story.

Hoder ponders what he should do to prevent similar treatment when he returns to Iran. What sort of pressure can help prevent governments from doing such terrible things? Can we help protect Hoder? Hoder says that credentials from a Canadian magazine would help. Can someone help him out?

Jim Downing @ Smart Mobs
like a monkey driving a car

This article in Businessweek says that "the study of neuroeconomics may topple the notion of rational decision-making. According to the new science of neuroeconomics, the explanation might lie inside the brains of the negotiators. Not in the prefrontal cortex, where people rationally weigh pros and cons, but deep inside, where powerful emotions arise. Brain scans show that when people feel they're being treated unfairly, a small area called the anterior insula lights up, engendering the same disgust that people get from, say, smelling a skunk. That overwhelms the deliberations of the prefrontal cortex. With primitive brain functions so powerful, it's no wonder that economic transactions often go awry. "In some ways, modern economic life for humans is like a monkey driving a car," says Colin F. Camerer, an economist at California Institute of Technology".

Why Logic Often Takes A Backseat

I generally don't like the idea of trying to turn everything into economics. It often reminds me of trying to make music with math. This idea that we act irrationally is obvious to most people and if neurologists can help explain it to the economists, good. But I don't think it's just our economy that's being run by monkeys.

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