Recently in Global Voices Category

Ulrike Reinhard posted a nice "best of" video of our DIY Video panel. The panel was a lot of fun. The moderator was Howard Rheingold and the panelists were John Seely Brown, Yochai Benkler, Henry Jenkins and me.

Denied in Dubai.

Time to fire up my VPN…

Gerfried Stocker
Gerfried Stocker

Other than being 7 degrees celcius and raining most of the time, Ars Electronica this year was a lot of fun. It was packed full of work for me this week with five talks and ten media interviews, but with Sandra, Elizabeth and Fumi's help, everything went smoothly and I survived. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to see all of the installations or talk to as many artists as I would have liked, but I had more than enough interesting conversations to make it great.

I went to Ars Electronica this year together with the MOGA unit which is a collaboration between Professor Inakage's lab, Joi's lab (mostly Fumi) and Hiroyuki Nakano's Peacedelic team. MOGA set up the "Jump" installation in Linz. Yuichiro Katsumoto, also from Professor Inakage's lab presented Amagatana. It was fun seeing the students I had been working with in the Ars Electronica context.

I think that most of the talks will end up online somewhere, but I'm not sure where. ;-) I did see one video interview on Artivi.com.

The theme of this year's Ars Electronica was privacy.

The first session I participated in was with the Austrian Association and Judges and members from the Ars Electronica community. I talked broadly about the generation gap and the how the behavior and use of the technology was very different among the new users of the Internet and how difficult it was, yet how important it was, for the older generation to try to understand the way the new generation used the new medium. I was really impressed in the conversations with some of the judges and how forward looking they were. I also talked about the importance of Global Voices in the future of global democracy. I suppose that federal judges can think more long term about democracy and things like the cost of privacy than their politician brothers. Having smart judges is a great thing as the recent ruling by the 10th Circuit Court in the US shows.

Summer Watson
Summer Watson

The second session I participated in was a discussion about future trends with some of corporate executives. It was a good group with a number of interesting presentation. The presentation that was the most interesting to me was Summer Watson, a British soprano opera singer, who announced that she is going to ski the last degree (from 89 to 90) of the North Pole and sing an Aria at the North pole as a call to action on environmental issues.

I had coffee with her afterwards and we talked a lot about Creative Commons and online identities and was inspired to start the Summer Watson Wikipedia article.

I also did a session about WoW which I think you can imagine without me going into too much detail.

Volker Grassmuck
Volker Grassmuck

I did a session with Leonard Dobusch to talk about importance of Free Networks and Free Knowledge. Again, I'm sure readers of this blog can imagine what my position was. Leonard, who is also the son of the Mayor of Linz, had some interesting perspectives on the role of municipal governments in supporting public access. He had co-edited a book recently where they discussed many of these issues. He cited an article by Volker Grassmuck where Volker argued that having a public space for hosting content on the web was important.

Finally, I was on a panel as part of a awards ceremony and a kick-off meeting for Fair Music. The idea behind Fair Music was sort of a music parallel for the Fair Trade mark. Whereas the Fair Trade mark tries to identify products where the production meets basic Fair Trade parameters and requirements, Fair Music marks were awarded to companies and projects where the artists and consumers were treated fairly. Fair in this context means a number of things including the artist receiving a fair share of the remuneration or the project promoting diversity against the bias of "Northern" dominance in the music business.

I mostly talked about the need for new business models and the role of Creative Commons in this context.

I uploaded my photos a Flickr set.

John Brockman's EDGE asks a tough question every year. For 2007 the question was "What are you optimistic about?" My answer was:

Emergent Democracy and Global Voices

I am optimistic that open networks will continue to grow and become available to more and more people. I am optimistic that computers will continue to become cheaper and more available. I am optimistic that the hardware and software will become more open, transparent and free. I am optimistic that the ability to for people to create, share and remix their works will provide a voice to the vast majority of people.

I believe that the Internet, open source and a global culture of discourse and sharing will become the pillar of democracy for the 21st Century. Whereas those in power as well as terrorists who are not have used broadcast technology and the mass media of the 20th century against the free world, I am optimistic that Internet will enable the collective voice of the people and that voice will be a voice of reason and good will.

There are other answers from other people on the website.

Happy New Year.

I'm on an Internet Governance Forum (IGF) panel on openness and free flow of information. We've been talking a lot about China and a gentleman from the Chinese delegation to the UN in Geneva was in the audience. He stood up and confirmed that "China does not restrict access to any content." I did not know that. ;-P

UPDATE: Would like add that my position was that we are bashing China too much on this panel and I pointed out that there are good things going on there. I just thought it was silly to completely deny content restrictions in public. I think the Chinese delegate caused China to lose all of the sympathy that had been building up in the room because of the focus on China.

UPDATE 2: It's rather frustrating being on a 3 hour 11 person panel... I'm glad I have my blog. *wave*

UPDATE 3: In the end, I barged in and said what I wanted to say so I'm OK now. Phew.

UPDATE 4: Rik has a better account of this incident. Also, excuse the grammar of the title. My excuse is that I posted during the panel and I was a bit preoccupied. Changing it now would break the permalink...

WITNESS and Global Voices Online just launched the Human Rights Video Hub Pilot. WITNESS has been working for years on enpowering people to make documentaries about human rights issues. Global Voices has been working, initially mostly through blogs, to provide voice to people around the world. This new project is great collaboration between the two projects, bringing the power of video expression to even more people through an online video hub.

I am involved in WITNESS as a recently appointed board member and Global Voices as one of the founding participants. We've been talking about and working on the various unique issues involved in setting up a hub like this for awhile now and it is great to see the first step launched.

Yay!

(Post on Global Voices | Post on WITNESS )

I was recently approached by a publisher who wants to translate my Chinese Anti-Japan Protests post and some of the comments into Japanese and publish them as a book. This site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license so legally they can do this without asking permission. However, I am worried that some people might be posting comments on this blog without being aware that their comments are also covered under this license. If you have contributed to the post and would not like to have your comments translated into Japanese and reprinted, please let me know. Any royalties or fees I might receive for this I will donate to Global Voices, which is the most relevant project to this post.

I just finished my keynote for the 22C3 conference. I'd been mulling over what to talk about from about 2AM or so this morning. After reading the program and the amazing breadth of the 150 or so talks and imagining the 3000 leet hackers that I would be talking to, I decided to put together a brand new talk hitting a lot of the points that often skip because they are controversial or difficult for me to discuss. I was a bit nervous kicking off what I think is one of the most important conference I go to. I am happy to report that it was the best crowd ever. ;-)

Although there is a bit of preaching to the choir, (I got cheers for just saying "open network"), judging from the hallway conversations I had afterwards, it was a smart and motivated crowd and I'm honored and happy that I was able have people's attention to allow me to talk about some of what I believe are the most important things going on right now.

The Syncroedit guys set up an instance for my talk where you can see my notes and things others have said. (Use Firefox please.) http://22c3.ito.com/ Please feel free to add stuff. It's still a test install and fragile so please don't try to break it. It's not a challenge. ;-)

Anyway. Thanks much to everyone at 22C3 for the invite and look forward to spending the rest of the week hanging out with everyone.

A video of the presentation should soon be up at http://22c3.fem.tu-ilmenau.de

Dec505 Gala Frontcvr-1
Last night Mizuka and I attended the Focus For Change gala benefit for WITNESS in NYC hosted by Peter Gabriel and Angelina Jolie. I first became interested in WITNESS when I met Gillian Caldwell the Executive Director in Davos in 2004. I started talking to her about blogging then. I helped Gillian get her blog set up when she and Angelina Jolie were headed off to Sierra Leone to deliver the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's recommendations to the government in May. The blog was a success. We've been talking about other ways to use the Net. She invited me to attend the Gala last night which was an amazing event.

The videos and comments from Peter Gabriel, Angelina Jolie and Gillian were awesome and inspiring. However, the main event for me was Ishmael Beah, a former child soldier from Sierra Leone. He talked about how his life started as a happy kid who played soccer in the streets. As the war swept across the country, he survived the loss of his family and fled from village to village as he watched them being ravaged by the war. He eventually ended up being recruited as a child soldier. He was able to leave the military and attended college and appear before us last night to express his hope for lasting peace in Sierra Leone. It was an extremely well delivered and moving speech and really highlighted the strength of the words of a witness.

The festivities were also great. There were a number of great performances, but my favorite part was when Nile Rodgers and CHIC rocked the house with their classics. They did an auction with some pretty cool things. The only thing I bid on was the Nano programmed by Lou Reed, but I wasn't able to keep up and didn't get it in the end. ;-)

In total, the event was the best fund-raiser gala sort of event that I've ever attended. It had a clear and moving message and vision, it was fun and it was extremely well executed. Congratulates to everyone involved.

I wonder why Dubai is blocking Flickr. Aren't they trying to become the center of media in the Middle East? More info on Metblogs Dubai.

Congratulations to the whole Global Voices team for winning a Best of the Blogs award from Deutsche Welle. The won the Best Journalistic Blog in English. (More information posted by Ethan on the GV Blog.) It's been almost a year since we posted the Global Voices Covenant, which at the time was really a mission statement for Global Voices. I remember Rebecca and Ethan were worried about whether it was feasible to take on such a broad mission. Clearly, they have succeeded driving this forward and continuing build the team and to foster the community into something really important.

Here is the manifesto again. (Wiki translation effort on the GV wiki.)

We believe in free speech: in protecting the right to speak -- and the right to listen. We believe in universal access to the tools of speech.

To that end, we want to enable everyone who wants to speak to have the means to speak -- and everyone who wants to hear that speech, the means to listen to it.

Thanks to new tools, speech need no longer be controlled by those who own the means of publishing and distribution, or by governments that would restrict thought and communication. Now, anyone can wield the power of the press. Everyone can tell their stories to the world.

We want to build bridges across the gulfs of culture and language that divide people, so as to understand each other more fully. We want to work together more effectively, and act more powerfully.

We believe in the power of direct connection. The bond between individuals from different worlds is personal, political and powerful. We believe conversation across boundaries is essential to a future that is free, fair, prosperous and sustainable - for all citizens of this planet.

While we continue to work and speak as individuals, we also want to identify and promote our shared interests and goals. We pledge to respect, assist, teach, learn from, and listen to one other.

We are Global Voices.

Good post on Global Voices describing how Gaurav Sabnis made comments about an educational institution and receives threats to sue him for 30 billion rupees (45 rupees to a USD). Gaurav leave IBM but sticks behind his words and fights for his freedom of speech. This is an important issue where, as the GV post points out, the USP of the country is its open democracy.

It reminds me a bit of my sms.ac incident...

via Suresh

Global Voices Live Chat on Handbook for Bloggers & Cyber-Dissidents going on right now. Join us at #globalvoices on Freenode. For more information see the post on the Global Voices blog.

Update: Just ending now. Will post link to transcripts when they've been posted.

Update: The transcript of the IRC chat has been uploaded.

Hyena06
Copyright Pieter Hugo
Xeni Jardin @ Boing Boing Blog
Pieter Hugo's photos: Hyena people of Nigeria

The thought that popped into my head when I first saw this incredible photo was, "next time you feel smug or badass, remember this and say -- no you are not tough. This is tough."
Pieter Hugo
's photo series "Hyena People of Nigeria" is the result of a ten-day trek the South African photographer took with a group of wandering minstrels and their animal companions: three hyenas, two pythons and four monkeys. Shown here: "Mallam Mantari Lamal with Mainasara, Nigeria, 2005"

Here's a snip from a "making of" interview with Hugo:

‘Last year I saw a picture on a website that was taken from a car window in Nigeria,” says Pieter Hugo. “It showed a man with a hyena on the streets of Lagos.”

Seated on a restaurant balcony overlooking Cape Town’s city bowl, the tall, athletic photographer says it was this crude photograph that motivated him to visit Nigeria. “The caption said he was a debt collector,” he continues, a glass of wine and salad placed in front of him. “The photograph really intrigued me.”

Through a local researcher Hugo was introduced to Adetokunbo Abiola, a Nigerian journalist who emailed him to say he knew of the men (there were more than one) in the picture. A few weeks later Hugo nervously exited Lagos airport on his first visit to the country."

Link. See this post on Clayton Cubitt's blog for a slew of additional links about Hugo's work.
Previously on Boing Boing: Hyenas and baboons for pets
I remember linking to a picture of these Hyenas last year. The picture was amazing, but honestly, it didn't motivate me to visit Nigeria. I'm glad it motivated Hugo though.


Technorati Tags: ,

Global Voices
Blogger Khalid Jarrar, author of Secrets in Baghdad, remains in custody of the Iraqi intelligence service, known as the Mukhabarat.

As we reported yesterday, Khalid’s brother Raed says their family was relieved to hear on Thursday morning that Khalid is still alive after going missing for two days. On Sunday, Khalid described on his blog how his apartment in Baghdad had been broken into and his hard drive was stolen. Soon after that he disappeared.

Khalid’s family are calling for his release, or at very least that he be charged and tried for something. Raed says: “Our goal now is to ask the mokhabarat to take Khalid to court and reveal what exactly he is being charged with (if anything).”

The Committee to Protect Bloggers supports the Jarrar family’s appeals.

Please show your support for the Khalid Jarrar by posting supportive comments at Raed’s and Khalid’s latest posts. If you’re a blogger, please help spread the word by linking to them.

At least they found out that it's only the secret service...
Raed
If your child or sibling vanishes for two days then calls from the secret service jail in any other place on earth, that would be considered a disaster and a violation of human rights…

In Iraq, however, it’s Happy News.

Because the other options include: To be tortured, executed, and thrown in garbage by SCIRI and their Badr brigades. To be held by the Iraqi police and left to choke to death in one of their cars. To be held by the US troops then disappear and be mistreated for months in one of their many prisons. To be kidnapped by one of the countless criminal gangs and cost your family some tens of millions of Iraqi Dinars and/or your life.

I wish there were more that we could do than just hope Khalid makes it home safely...

UPDATE:

6- nofrills @ July 24, 2005 04:26 AM

Just a quick note... His mom says he is now free.

Read his mom's blog (Saturday, July 23, 2005):
http://afamilyinbaghdad.blogspot.com/

Global Voices has undergone a redesign. Nice look. Congrats to all involved.

Micah Sifry has written a nice piece about why wifi and cheap broadband is an essential enabler and more important than direct aid for communities which need help. He references various examples and source. I completely agree. I remember speaking to a UN diplomat who said that the Internet has changed the face of global policy making. He told us that the Anti-Personal Land-mine Treaty would not have happened if it weren't for email and the ability for NGOs to get information, organize and pressure governments and the UN using the Internet. I believe that at every level, it is essential to empower individuals and communities with a voice and the Internet is in a position to enable people for the first time at a reasonable cost. It is about global voices.

I believe that it is easy enough to run a basic Wifi, Internet and Voice over IP network that in many cases municipal governments can run them. I realize this hurts competition and this is what Verizon argued when they tried to stop Philadelphia for setting up their own Wifi network, but I think it would be better than what we have now. In many places broadband is controlled by organizations that are effectively monopolies anyway. See for example the new ruling in the US that cable companies don't have to allow others to provide access through their network. Would you rather have the network run by a monopoly that is controlled by a bunch of greedy shareholders or a local government that the people at least have some control over?

People will argue that allowing local governments to operate networks will stifle innovation because of lack of competition. I think that the benefit is worth the cost of providing cheaper and more universal access. The network is becoming less and less a "service" and more and more a "thing". You can buy a bunch of routers and hook them together and you have a pretty good network. You do need maintenance, but you don't need some huge company with a bunch of bell-heads running the thing. Simple access is more like a road than a full-service hotel. It just has to be cheap and work.

I agree that this isn't for all municipal governments, but I think the central governments of the world should try very hard not to give in to the pressure of the telco lobbies and stifle the attempts of municipal governments to provide network services including voice. I also believe that non-profits and NGOs can play a huge role in helping provide access in addition to municipal governments as well as helping municipal governments set up such networks.


We just launched the Technorati Live 8 site.

Technorati has teamed up with Live 8 to bring you the latest conversations about the campaign to Make Poverty History. Read first hand accounts of the concerts and events, and get all the news and opinion from the blogosphere.

We've also put together some resources to help you find your way around Live 8 and the blog world:

What is Live 8? Which organisations are behind Live 8?

Are you new to blogging? Find out what it's all about.

Get a Live 8 badge for your blog.

Join in the conversation and find out how to make your posts show up on Technorati.

Do more than just blog - contact the G8 leaders.

The posts listed on the Technorati Live 8 site have been written by bloggers worldwide and appear in real time from Technorati's index of 1.1 million blogs. Find out more about Technorati.

Joe Trippi called us about two weeks ago with this idea. Thanks to a guest appearance of Suw Charman as the producer of the site and extra hard work by the Technorati team, we were able to get this site out in time.

This is such a good opportunity for nations like the United States and Japan to helped their damaged images and also show their solidarity to a cause that they shouldn't have to think twice about. I'm amazed at how poor the response of some of the developed nations has been to this call. Hopefully this concert and the voice of the blogs will help get their attention.

Technorati Tags:

Hoder, our favorite Iranian blogger is going back to Iran. He needs our help to get there as well as possibly keep him out or get him out of jail. See his blog for details.

Daniel Lubetzky @ One Voice
International Campaign Against Extremism

After a successful pilot in Chicago with talks at four universities, OneVoice decided to roll out this fall an International Education program. The program aims to counteract polarization on campuses and communities worldwide - sending Israeli and Palestinian OV representatives with nationalist credentials from each side to college campuses plagued with divisions. They will discuss OV's work and methodology and expose students and community leaders to the imperative alternative of working together pragmatically to support their leaders' quest towards conflict resolution.

The program was conceived after the realization that extremist groups pervade outside the region even though they are out of whack with mainstream Israelis and Palestinians. Over the past couple years, destructive campaigns aimed at de-legitimizing Israel through divestment campaigns or at dehumanizing all Palestinians as terrorists have been corrosive. Hopefully as audiences hear the visions and ambitious of the people living with the consequences, extremists will be exposed as false messiahs that are not helping the cause of their people.

We had a debate on IRC yesterday about whether moderate voices can win over extremists. The discussion started from my post referring to extremists in Japan and Korea, but the discussion lead to a discussion about extremists in the Israeli Palestinian conflict. There was a very convincing argument made that the extremists have won and the aggression is now supported by the majority, therefore fighting until surrender was the only alternative. The idea of trying to fight against extremism was written off as naive. I am not an expert in the Israeli Palestinian conflict, but whenever I hear about what Daniel Lubetzky and One Voice is doing, I have hope. I have hope that the voice of the reason can bring peace without fighting each other to the death. It also brings me hope that we can resolve conflicts in our regions by connecting people and fighting against extremism in all of our countries.

I agree that it is not just the extremists who harbor bad thoughts or engage in bad acts, but they are usually the source of the polarization and try to keep education and communication of the main stream from moving forward.

I just heard an excellent presentation by Krishna Bharat of Google News. He explained how Google News works. It basically crawls news sites, finds "story clusters", ranks the sources, figures out how prominently each source is running the story, figures out whether its a big story or a little story, figures out geographic references, and builds the pages for the various geographic and language editions. He was talking to an audience of editors so there were many questions about how the "editing" process worked and many people couldn't seem to believe it was algorithmic. Some people seemed afraid that Google News would replace them. The point that he made and was clear from the process that he explained is that it uses the decisions that the editors of the various media make about what story to run and where in deciding how important a story was. It was basically aggregating the decisions of the editors, not replacing them. Without the editors and the "front page process" Google News couldn't decide what story to lead with. At least in its current form.

The derivative conclusion you can come to is that Google News is just amplifying or reinforcing systemic biases in MSM editorial and NOT helping to address these issues. I think this make Google News very news media friendly and also provides an opportunity for bloggers and projects like Global Voices to still have a very important role. I guess that if Google New started incorporating more of the alternative press, they could shift the bias.

During the discussion, Dan Gillmor pressed Krishna for more transparency on the algorithm and the list of sources and I seconded the motion.

Some good notes of the sessions on the editors blog.

The winners of the Prix Ars Electronica 2005 awards have just been announced. I was on the Digital Communities jury this year. We gave the highest prize, the Golden Nica to Akshaya, an Indian ICT development project.

The two awards of distinction went to the alternative media movements NewGlobalVision/Telestreet in Italy and the Free Software Foundation. We also gave a special prize to BitTorrent as an enabling technology.

The honorary mentions were: Upmystreet (UK), E-Democracy.Org (US), Wikimedia Commons (US), The Sout-East Asian Earthquake and Tsunami Blog (IN), Kubatana (ZW), Sistema de Información Agraria vía Internet para Agricultores del Valle de Huaral, Perú (PE), Borneo Project: Mapping Their Future: Digital Communities, Indigenous Lands (US / MY), Catalytic Communities (CatComm) (BR), microRevolt (US), TXTmob (US) and CouchSurfing Project (US)

There will be a proper jury statement coming out soon, but it was a very difficult task. We had to compare the value of telecenters in developing nations with things like BitTorrent. The definition of "digital community" was very broad. I would suggest that next year, we might want to split the category into access/digital divide oriented projects and project focused on new technologies and styles of communities.

Anyway, congratulations to all of the winners. We went through hundreds of projects and these projects are the cream of the crop.

Ethan Zuckerman @ Global Voices Online
Second draft of Anonymous Blogging Guide

I posted, some weeks back, the first draft of a technical guide to anonymous blogging. I've gotten great feedback from folks all over the world and have just posted a second draft of the guide on the Global Voices wiki, inviting collaborators to help me improve it. If you're interested in the suject of anonymous blogging, please visit the guide and lend a hand in improving it.

(If you're going to participate in editing this document, two requests: One, create an account on our wiki, so we can keep track of your contributions. Two, keep in mind the audience for this document - we're hoping to write a document that's fun, readable, technically correct, translatable, and aimed at activists in developing nations. We're not trying to write a document aimed at cypherpunks.)

Thanks for your help!

As regular readers of my blog will know, I am a strong advocate for anonymity and anonymous free speech. Ethan et al have done a great job on getting this started. If you can contribute to the document, I urge you to participate in the editing on the wiki.

Rebecca MacKinnon has started doing daily summaries of Global Voices oriented stuff on blogs all over the world. They're really great. They're on the Global Voices blog and are also a separate category if you just want to see the Daily World Blog Updates.

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...

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?

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.

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!
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?

Atochastation
Atocha Station
Joshua Ramo who was moderating a panel at the Atocha summit asked the question, is the world more democratic since 9/11. Clearly most people thought no. One person in the audience stepped up and said that the elections in Iraq were a good sign and that Iraq was more democratic. A young man from Iraq jumped in and said that he didn't believe that the elections had made Iraq more democratic citing the low turnout and the problems they were having getting started. Then a young Iraqi woman who was working on monitoring elections jumped in and said that she believed it was getting more democratic and that it would take time and people had to be patient. What was striking was the passion that both of these young Iraqi's had and the strength of their words which were based on experience rather than analysis or speculation.

One of the problems with the question about whether the world is more democratic or not is that it is very difficult to measure and the word "democratic" has so many meanings and is ill-defined. What is more interesting, which Kenneth Roth from Human Rights Watch pointed out was to talk about human rights. He made the point that the Bush administration talks about liberty, freedom and democracy, but avoids talking about human rights. Liberty, freedom and democracy are very fuzzy words, but human rights is very specific. It would be easy to define terrorism as attacks against human rights and international humanitarian law forbids attacks against innocent non-combatants which is often the definition used for terrorism. Roth points out that the US has a terrible position on human rights in the name of the war on terror. He pointed out that Alberto Gonzales told the Senate committee the Senate Convention Against Torture treaty doesn't prohibit the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading" tactics, which makes the US the only country which is not upholding the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment as a matter of official policy. How can a country which is not upholding basic human rights expect to be respected and supported internationally?

One of the people in the audience mentioned that it was too easy to waste time Bush bashing and maybe there was a bit too much of that. However, someone noted that at yesterday's summit only George Soros criticized George Bush by name.

I just heard some excellent comments by Kumi Naidoo on a panel. I was going to blog them, but I'm sitting next to Rebecca MacKinnon and I looked over her shoulder and noticed that she's taking better notes and is about to post something so I'll link to her instead.

One of the things I'm going to talk about on the panel today is the addition of al-Manar, the satellite TV station of Lebanon-based Hezbollah to the Terrorist Exclusion List on December 17, 2004. The TEL limits immigration for foreigners associated with organizations on the list. This is not the worst of the various lists to be on, but according to Jack Shafer, they are the first media company to be added to this list. My understanding is that al-Manar represents the Hezbollah party in Lebanon. It is an official party with democratically elected politicians. While the content of al-Manar may be objectionable to many people, stifling the voice of a democratically elected party in a foreign country by calling them terrorists goes against the spirit of freedom of expression. The US constitution's First Amendment rights only cover Americans, but I believe that in a democracy the competition of ideas and free speech should combat beliefs that it does not agree with - more speech and debate, not censorship.

Another issue is the chilling effect that this has. Although talking about or talking to people from al-Manar might not land you on the Terrorist Exclusion List, it could easily land you on the no-fly or similar list and cause you to be perpetually harassed when traveling in the US. I imagine that people from al-Manar will have a very difficult time finding anyone to talk to or have lunch with. I feel a chill running down my spine just writing this post.

I am at this moment co-moderating the Democracy, Terrorism and the Open Internet panel at the Club de Madrid International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security with Marko Ahtisaari. We worked all day yesterday drafting a document we are calling "The Infrastructure of Democracy". The draft is currently available on the Global Voices wiki. Please give us some feedback.

Special thanks to Martin Varsavsky for giving us the opportunity and to John Perry Barlow, John Gage, Dan Gillmor, Chris Goggans, Pekka Himanen, David Isenberg, Rebecca MacKinnon, Andrew McLaughlin, Desiree Miloshevic, Jeff Moss, Ejovi Nuwere, Kazuhisa Ogawa, Marc Rotenberg, David Smith, Wendy Seltzer, Gohsuke Takama, Noriko Takiguchi, Paul Vixie, David Weinberger and Ethan Zuckerman who came all the way to Madrid to work on this. Thanks also to the other people in the room who contributed.

UPDATE: Transcripts of IRC discussion with Ethan Zuckerman's transcript of most of the comments. Thanks Ethan!

The official summary of the session is on the conference site.

UPDATE 2: Here is the full text of the recommendation draft:

The Infrastructure of Democracy
Strengthening the Open Internet for a Safer World
March 11, 2005

I. The Internet is a foundation of democratic society in the 21st century, because the core values of the Internet and democracy are so closely aligned.

1. The Internet is fundamentally about openness, participation, and freedom of expression for all - increasing the diversity and reach of information and ideas.
2. The Internet allows people to communicate and collaborate across borders and belief systems.
3. The Internet unites families and cultures in diaspora; it connects people, helping them to form civil societies.
4. The Internet can foster economic development by connecting people to information and markets.
5. The Internet introduces new ideas and views to those who may be isolated and prone to political violence.
6. The Internet is neither above nor below the law. The same legal principles that apply in the physical world also apply to human activities conducted over the Internet.


II. Decentralized systems - the power of many - can combat decentralized foes.

1. Terrorist networks are highly decentralized and distributed. A centralized effort by itself cannot effectively fight terrorism.
2. Terrorism is everyone's issue. The internet connects everyone. A connected citizenry is the best defense against terrorist propaganda.
3. As we saw in the aftermath of the March 11 bombing, response was spontaneous and rapid because the citizens were able to use the Internet to organize themselves.
4. As we are seeing in the distributed world of weblogs and other kinds of citizen media, truth emerges best in open conversation among people with divergent views.


III. The best response to abuses of openness is more openness.

1. Open, transparent environments are more secure and more stable than closed, opaque ones.
2. While Internet services can be interrupted, the Internet as a global system is ultimately resilient to attacks, even sophisticated and widely distributed ones.
3. The connectedness of the Internet – people talking with people – counters the divisiveness terrorists are trying to create.
4. The openness of the Internet may be exploited by terrorists, but as with democratic governments, openness minimizes the likelihood of terrorist acts and enables effective responses to terrorism.


IV. Well-meaning regulation of the Internet in established democracies could threaten the development of emerging democracies.

1. Terrorism cannot destroy the internet, but over-zealous legislation in response to terrorism could. Governments should consider mandating changes to core Internet functionality only with extraordinary caution.
2. Some government initiatives that look reasonable in fact violate the basic principles that have made the Internet a success.
3. For example, several interests have called for an end to anonymity. This would be highly unlikely to stop determined terrorists, but it would have a chilling effect on political activity and thereby reduce freedom and transparency. Limiting anonymity would have a cascading series of unintended results that would hurt freedom of expression, especially in countries seeking transition to democratic rule.


V. In conclusion we urge those gathered here in Madrid to:

1. Embrace the open Internet as a foundation of 21st Century democracy, and a critical tool in the fight against terrorism.
2. Recognizing the Internet's value as a critical communications infrastructure, invest to strengthen it against attacks and recover quickly from damage.
3. Work to spread access more evenly, aggressively addressing the Digital Divide, and to provide Internet access for all.
4. To protect free speech and association, endorse the availability of anonymous communications for all.
5. Resist attempts at international governance of the Internet: It can introduce processes that have unintended effects and violate the bottom-up democratic nature of the Net.

I recently agreed to be an advisor to Civiblog, a project to give free blogs to people working on global civil society. This ties in well with Global Voices. The project is run by Citizen Lab (home of the infamous Catspaw) and is sponsored by Tucows and the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation.
Welcome to Civiblog, a one-stop-site for global civil society. Canadian to the core — ever-devoted to peacekeeping and “globalist” foreign policies — it is our aim to showcase all communiqué in the sector, at home and abroad, onsite and by way of links and RSS syndication to partner sites. We are tapping into two explosive movements at once: 1) the growth of the citizen sector and 2) blogging, which is an increasingly popular tool with the potential to empower citizens the world over, one post at a time.
The site just launched and still needs some tweaking so feedback would be appreciated. Obviously using Technorati to show popular posts and breaking news on the top page and making blogs easier to find is on the agenda.
Devgatelogo
The Development Gateway Award is a prestigious award given to excellence in propagating ICT access, especially in the developing world. They've extended their deadline and are seeking additional nominations. I think $100K can go a long way, particularly in the developing world. If you know of anyone working on a suitable project, please pass this on.

From the press release:

Deadline Extended in $100,000 Development Gateway Award

Global Competition to Recognize Information Technology’s Role in Development

February 15, 2005 – The Development Gateway Foundation is extending the deadline in its global competition to reward outstanding achievement in using information and communication technologies (ICT) to improve people’s lives in developing countries. The new deadline for this year’s $100,000 Development Gateway Award is March 15.

“This competition is a global search for excellence, and we are taking every measure to find the highest-impact application of ICT to win this award,” said Development Gateway Chief Executive Officer Alan J. Rossi. “Then in June, we will profile the winner and runners-up to demonstrate for all to see the results that can be achieved using ICT to improve people’s lives.”

This year, as the number of Internet users worldwide surpasses the 1 billion mark, about half of those users will be in developing countries. “I strongly believe that access to ICT can change the lives of the poor dramatically, if we can ensure access to ICT for the poor,” said Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus, winner of the 2004 award.

Grameen Bank-Village Phone was chosen from over 200 nominees for the 2004 Development Gateway Award, then known as the Petersberg Prize. The award recognized Grameen’s innovation in combining microfinance and mobile telephone service to help create a new class of women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh who raised themselves from poverty while providing rural villages with essential communication services.

For the 2005 competition, please go to www.developmentgateway.org/award for more information and nomination forms. Nominations already submitted can continue to be updated at this site.

Hoder @ MetaFilter
Blogs help reform in Iran

Blogs contribute to political reform in Iran (New York Times): Former vice-president of Iran, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, said that he learned through the Internet about the huge gap between government officials and the younger generation.

"We do not understand each other and cannot have a dialogue," he said. "As government officials, we receive a lot of confidential reports about what goes on in society. But I have felt that I learned a lot more about people and the younger generation by reading their Web logs and receiving about 40 to 50 e-mails every day. This is so different than reading about society in those bulletins from behind our desks."

Now if only Japanese politicians would read blogs and learn about the huge gap between government officials and the younger generation.

Iranian bloggers have done an amazing job and I'm impressed that at least one politician is getting the message and even blogging himself.

Tn Palestinian Elections Ramallah 050

OneVoice
Getting out the vote in Ramallah

More photos are available in the new Palestinian Elections gallery.

Good luck and my cheers for everyone working on getting out the vote in Palestine!

It's 6AM Christmas morning in Japan right now. Today I'm reflecting on the past year and thinking about the future and I'm thinking about Global Voices. Hopefully most of you are with your family with some time to relax, think about priorities and reflect. I'm sure there are a lot of TV shows about "Peace on earth, goodwill to men," and you've probably sent and received a lot of UNICEF Christmas cards. You should be in the perfect mood to think about Global Voices. In the past, we had to rely on TV shows to try to feel empathy for people in other countries and organizations such as UNICEF to try to give our support to humanitarian efforts. These were and are noble efforts. However, at our fingertips, we have the ability to reach out and speak to, build bridges with and interact with those people we have been "wishing well" to in the abstract for all of these years. We have a long way to go before we are able to hear the voices of everyone on earth, but I believe that providing voices and building bridges is essential for the World Peace we all wish for.

We have changed the "Global Voices Manifesto" to "Global Voices Covenant 0.2". We have edited it for awhile on the wiki, but this version is frozen.

I'm not normally a very religious person, but I feel pretty religious about this.

Global Voices Covenant 0.2
We believe in free speech: in protecting the right to speak -- and the right to listen. We believe in universal access to the tools of speech.

To that end, we want to enable everyone who wants to speak to have the means to speak -- and everyone who wants to hear that speech, the means to listen to it.

Thanks to new tools, speech need no longer be controlled by those who own the means of publishing and distribution, or by governments that would restrict thought and communication. Now, anyone can wield the power of the press. Everyone can tell their stories to the world.

We want to build bridges across the gulfs of culture and language that divide people, so as to understand each other more fully. We want to work together more effectively, and act more powerfully.

We believe in the power of direct connection. The bond between individuals from different worlds is personal, political and powerful. We believe conversation across boundaries is essential to a future that is free, fair, prosperous and sustainable - for all citizens of this planet.

While we continue to work and speak as individuals, we also want to identify and promote our shared interests and goals. We pledge to respect, assist, teach, learn from, and listen to one other.

We are Global Voices.

We're trying to translated it into other languages. If you have some time over the holidays and feel like helping out, please jump in. You can come to the #globalvoices IRC channel on Freenode or just go to the wiki and add a translation there. Any of language links in red have not been done yet. You can also edit one that has been translated if you find any errors or to go the "talk" section of that wiki page to talk about the translation.

Please take a look at the Global Voices blog. We're looking for additional people and projects to hook up with so let us know if you can contribute to Global Voices or have a project that could tie in with Global Voices.

PS I'm not sending any Christmas or New Years cards this year because I don't want to kill any more trees (and I'm lazy). I'm not sending email greetings because mass mailings are becoming indistinguishable from spam. Instead, I offer this blog entry. For the more personal touch, I'm relying on my birthday reminder to remind me to say hi to my friends in a way that distributes the work across the year.

UPDATE: Says _sj_ our translation expert. "Translate a few lines or a paragraph or put up a bad translation and leave a note above it saying it is incomplete."

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