I just tried taking my NTT Docomo Foma (3G) SIM out of my F900iC and put it in my unlocked Nokia 7600 which is also a 3G phone. The SIM worked fine, but I couldn't send international SMSs. When I put the US T-Mobile SIM into the F900iC, it said "please insert your Docomo SIM". So obviously, the phone is locked. The question is, is there a way to unlock it? And, is there a way to use it on foreign networks. The Good news for Docomo users is that it appears Docomo now has roaming agreements so you can keep your Japanese phone number overseas, but the big question for gadget freaks is if you foreigners can use the new swanky Docomo phones. ;-) I'll look into it, but if anyone has any info, let me know.
October 2004 Archives
My phone also has a nifty fingerprint thing that actually works. It's really fast. To access secure features, instead of punching a pin, I just swipe my finger across a fingerprint pad. It also has the standard 2 screens, 2 cameras, mini SD and a QVGA TFT display.
As a side note, I noticed that when I turned on my Nokia 7600 the other day, both J-Phone and Docomo showed up as available networks. I was able to send and receive SMSs internationally using my US T-Mobile SIM card in my Nokia while in Japan. Some SMSs took days to get to me so it's not perfect yet, but what a change! We have a multi-operator 3G network that allows foreign SIMs and phones! It looks like I have SMS on my Docomo Foma phone, but I can't seem to figure out how I can send international SMSs. Does anyone know how to do or if I can do this?
UPDATE: Reading the manual, it says that I can only send SMSs to other Foma owners only. Which is weird, since my Nokia roaming on the Docomo network using a US T-Mobile SIM lets me send international SMS. Go figure. I wonder what happens if I put the US SIM in this Japanese phone...
via Andrew and Springveggie
This morning I feel like an IM switchboard operator.
"Hey, ABC is hitting us 30 times a sec and our system is getting DoS'ed"
"OK, let me IM the VP Engineering at ABC"
"Here's his nick, he's waiting for your IM"
"Hey, I can't seem to reach XYZ."
"Hmmm... OK I found him. He says he'll IM you in 10 min so please hang on."
Don't get me wrong. I love being useful and the IM introductions and switch-boarding is a very high return on time for making connections. Much more efficient and useful than email stuff. It just feels funny. I feel like an operator answering calls like, "Hello Operator? Please get me the police!"
Jonas and Shelly have taken exception to the somewhat inflammatory headline "fired for blogging" in a previous post. To be honest, I stole the headline from Loic without thinking and I probably should have said "blogger suspended without pay" or something like that.
I've scattered comments around about my response to their responses, but I'll consolidate some of points here:
Accusation - Bloggers are attributing everything to blogging and being typically self-important. It wasn't about blogging, she broke company rules by posting the photos.
Response - The company rule was about using uniforms in photos. She says in the BBC interview that others had done so without being reprimanded. She did have a blog and the picture "outed" her identity and that of her employer. The fact that the blog was an anonymous semi-fictional account of a flight attendant until the photo probably didn't help. I would assume that blogging had something to do with it and the rule about the pictures was the technical reason. Also, blogs make it much easier to "post your picture on the Internet" and easier for people to find them. Therefore, I don't think it's silly to talk about blogging. More importantly, it's a good wake-up call for companies to be clear about blogging policy since more and more people are doing it.
Accusation - She broke a company rule. What's wrong with her being reprimanded for it?
Response - Companies have lots of rules that are broken every day. Companies need to think of what is in the best interest of the company and for their stakeholders. If a company does something that looks unfair or produces bad publicity, it's stupid whether it's a rule or not. It reminds me a bit about people who talk about "breaking copyright law". It's not like a speeding ticket. You don't "break copyright law". People use copyright law to go after people who are hurting their business. I think Delta should think about whether going after people who post pictures of themselves in uniform hurts their business or not and whether shutting these people down hurts them more.
UPDATE: She was fired. From the comments:
Queen of Sky @ October 31, 2004 10:41 AM
Actually I WAS fired yesterday, so Loic was correct.
The only reason given for my dismissal was "inappropriate pictures in uniform on the Web."
I have combed through Delta's HR manuals and found no rule against this.
The only rule is that they can fire you for anything they deem "inappropriate" behavior. Sounds rather arbitrary to me.
-Q of S
Rebecca MacKinnon is a the former bureau chief for CNN in Japan and now a fellow at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet & Society. She's one of the people I turn to when trying to understand the future of journalism and she writes about some of the difficulties Wikinews will have and provides some thoughtful suggestions.
Groovy new OS X client by Adriaan for Flickr.
disclosure: Adriaan works for me and I'm an investor in Flickr.
LoicThe BBC talks about Ellen, a flight attendant fired for blogging by Delta Airlines
Ellen Simonetti, who writes the Diary of Flight Attendant, has been fired (BBC article) by Delta Airlines because she posted pictures of herself in uniform. Maybe a blog to protect the rights of fired bloggers should be launched ?
I think this is a stupid decision on the part of Delta Airlines. If they didn't have a policy and didn't like it, they should have told her to take it down, not suspend her. What they should have done is not cared. I'm sure her blog would INCREASE the number of Delta Airline flyers, not decrease them. I for one now have a lower image of Delta.
There is guidance which suggests the company uniform cannot be used without approval from management, but use in personal pictures on websites is unclear.
UPDATE: She was not "fired". She was "suspended without pay".
If this is true, this is VERY bad behavior. 5060 is the port that SIP uses. I can understand why a phone company wouldn't want "free phone calls over the Internet" running on their system, but this is exactly the kind of behavior that makes Internet folks dislike telephone company control.David BeckemeyerBT appears to be blocking third-party VoIP
I've been biting my tongue on this since I first ran across it several months back. But now I have to say something. If someone can prove me wrong on this, fine, I'll post a retraction, but now I'm going to say it: British Telecom appears to be explicitly blocking VoIP for their DSL subscribers.
I've worked with an associate to examine the situation and all signs point to an explicit blocking of VoIP. In Cisco ACL-speak, it appears there is a rule somewhere in the BT network being applied to inbound packets of the form:deny udp any eq 5060 any
Can anyone else corroborate this fact?
VoIP stands for "Voice over IP" and SIP is the open standard "Session Initiation Protocol" used to set up calls over the Internet
UPDATE: Looks like it is a customer router issue, but still may be BT driven. Update on Mr. Blog.
Speaking of unreachable sites... George Bush's official site used to time out when you tried to access it from Japan, Australia, New Zealand and a few other places I think. I blogged this back in August. Now it tells you formally:
Much more formal than just timing out on us. But it's more clear now that it is intentional. Why would the Bush campaign want to block access from Japan?www.georgewbush.comAccess Denied
You don't have permission to access "http://www.georgewbush.com/" on this server.
The day before yesterday, I received a notice from my hosting service that I was 80% through my bandwidth limit. I replied and asked for m.m.m.more bandwidth please. Then suddenly, I was at 100% and some trigger kicked in and shut down my site. It appears to have been a flood of requests from a singe IP address. (Who would want to DoS my blog...?)
Bloghosts has been generous on their pricing and Jace who runs it has generally been fairly responsive. For some reason, I haven't been able to get any response from anyone from Bloghosts. It is very unlike Jace so I'm going to hold back my criticism until I have more facts. It could be that there is some reasonable explanation.
Anyway, thank you for the flood of emails letting me know my site was down. I'm so glad you all care. (sniff) But the real thanks goes to Jason who set me up with space on his machine (where are you are reading this now) and Adriaan for getting my blog moved over to the new machine after a 24 hour outage. Since Jason doesn't seem to mind, I think I'll hang out on this server for awhile... so move over and give me some more room Sean, Chey and Gary.
Sony delayed the beginning of the meeting announcing that one of their directors was caught in heavy traffic. (right...) Eventually, they got their act together and announced that they would not be announcing the price. ;-)
Take a look at the site for details, but you can imagine how much fun they had. The picture above is Windows Media Player running on the ATM. As they point out, the scary thing is that Diebold are also making the voting machines.Midnight Spaghetti & The Chocolate G-StringsDiebold ATM Media Player
March 17, 2004
Midnight Spaghetti causing a ruckus as always.
The Scene: Carnegie Mellon University
The Event: A newly installed Diebold Opteva 520 ATM crashes, then reboots. Suprizingly, it's vanilla-style Windows XP operating system initialized without the actual ATM software.
The Result: A desktop computer with only a touch screen interface is left wide open for the amusement of the most wired university in the U.S.
Angela, Dan and Ross have blogged about Wikinews so I assume the idea is "out" and I can blog about it. Wikinews would be to journalism what Wikipedia is to encyclopedias. Reports and articles would be written by a community wiki-style and would follow the Wikipedia rule of Neutral Point of View (NPOV). There would be controls in place to decide when an article was "finished" and a lot of thought has gone into the workflow of how this would work. The idea of accreditation of contributors has also been proposed.
I've been spending some time hanging out on IRC with the Wikipedia community ever since I met Jimmy Wales and a few Wikipedians in Linz. I've worked on a few articles, but I'm fascinated as much by the community as the product of their efforts.
That's why I'm against Wikimedia doing Wikinews. I think Wikinews is a great idea and a noble experiment. Someone should do it. I'm just worried that it will change the tone of the Wikipedian "bookworms for the common good" community. Competing with encyclopedias is very different from competing against journalists. it reminds me of the Jack Handy quote: "To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there's no music, no choreography, and the dancers hit each other."
On the other hand, who would have thought Wikipedia itself would have worked in the beginning. To their credit, they do have some rather politically charged articles that have managed to stay quite NPOV, but pumping a consistent flow of these out is another matter. I've posted more thorough comments on the Talk:Wikinews page.
In any case, it looks from the votes like the project will happen, so I will support and participate in any way that I can.
I blogged earlier about the very negative reaction that the Japanese taken hostage in Iraq received in Japan. The main reason was that when the parents asked for their release, they didn't apologize to the Japanese government and even denounced the war. I believe it was a rather unfortunately, but understandable reaction in the context of Japanese culture for the Japanese to say, "we told you to stay away from there, and how dare you cause such shame on Japan without even apologizing."
I recently talked to someone involved in the Arab press and learned that if the parents had apologized and sucked up to the Japanese government, there was a good chance that the hostages would not have been released. So if I had to choose between whether my children were released alive or whether they would be happily received by the Japanese government, I think I'd choose to have my children live. Whether it was done on purpose or not, their parents made the right decision.
Then there is the story of the Australian journalist who was freed because a Google search revealed he was not CIA or a US contractor.
I don't think that all of the kidnappers are smart and politically motivated
and ethical, but they are clearly sending a signal that their targets are not all random.
Yay! Thanks to Wired for pulling this off and all of the artists for participating.Creative CommonsThe WIRED CD: Yes, We Have Arrived
You can now get your copy of the WIRED CD, free with the November issue of WIRED, at your newstand. Get yourself two copies: one for you and your friends, and one to save, in plastic, for your grandchildren.
See the full track list.
Has anyone ripped and posted it the music anywhere?
Suw blogs about Yet Another Pointless Social Network (YAPSN) issues. Interesting post and something that I've been observing myself. How can you get people to keep coming back to a Social Network Service like Orkut or Friendster once the initial fun of creating the network is gone? I think that a lot of the YAPSNs focus too much on the size of your network. When Orkut was publishing the "most networked" top 10, everyone was running to have the biggest network. It was a game. I now have 1001 "friends". Whoopie! This is incredibly useless data for me. Sending a message to all of them would be spam. I really don't have much use for Orkut's network at this point other than to fiddle around and look at pictures when I'm bored. (Some of the communities on Orkut are interesting so I drop in from time to time.)
I personally find LinkedIn useful. (Not just because Reid is my friend.) LinkedIn is not about fun. It's about work. There is really no way to have too much fun on LinkedIn, so my network is very utilitarian and I'm mostly connected to only people I actually know and would write a reference for. This is a useful data set. You'd think LinkedIn wouldn't be viral since it's not that much fun, but it's growing faster than any of the social network services.
But as Suw points out, social networking is a natural byproduct of doing things like photo sharing and music listening. I think that the way for many of these YAPSNs to survive will be to integrate with external sites such as last.fm and flickr. However, once you've grown your social network to 1001 friends, there really isn't any way to unpollute your data so at least for me, I can't imagine how Orkut could become more useful to me. I guess I could eBay my Orkut account and start again. ;-P
According to a copy of the police report from the University of Arizona Police Department on The Smoking Gun, the "Al Pieda" were involved.
UAPD reportSearch incident to arrest I located on both Wolff and Smith pieces of paper (propaganda) involving Coulter's name and the explanation of "Al Pieda".
I found editorgrrl in my last.fm neighborhood. She and I have extremely similar taste, but she seems to have a bunch of stuff that I don't have in my profile so I listen to her personal radio a lot. I notice my profile becoming more and more similar to hers as her playlist starts to influence my playlist. I just noticed that this feels a bit like online music profile stalking...
I also realized that if you had a crush on someone, you could listen to their music all day long. You would show up in their neighborhood. You would get to know their music. Or... you would keep hitting "ban" and you would realize that you should NOT have a crush on them. ;-)
I am not recommending that this be a primary reason to use last.fm, but just a thought...
I'm going to quote David's whole post because it has a bunch of good links.
I totally agree that this "ethnoclassification" is really an amazing solution to the metadata problem. Although, as they point out, there are some problems, I think that we'll find solutions. I feeling very taggy these days. I think there should be more cross-site tag linking. Blog categories, wiki pages, music meta data, and many other things can be "tagged". TAGCON 2005! Sorry. Just kidding.David WeinbergerMetadata without tearsBut what if we could somehow peek inside our users thought processes to figure out how they view the world? One way to do that is through ethnoclassification  how people classify and categorize the world around them.
He takes del.icio.us and Flickr as examples of "ethnoclassification" (a phrase he tracks back to Susan Leigh Star),. (I am enamored of the branch of ethnoclassification on exhibit at del.icio.us if only because people have started calling it "folksonomy.") He looks at the benefits. Then he addresses the problems, and suggests the paths out of the forest we're making for ourselves.
Jay Fienberg points us also to Jon Udell's article on "collaborative knowledge gardening." I've also been looking at some related issues (e.g., here, here, here, here and here), but Peter has the advantage of knowing what he's talking about.
Sorry about the light blogging. I've started immersing myself in reading and studying ICANN related stuff. I know this is generally true, but the more I study, the more I learn how little I know. Soon I will probably convince myself I know absolutely nothing. OK. It's not THAT bad, but it quite daunting. I hope it gets better by the time I have to go to the first official board meeting. I'm trying very hard to understand as many of the points of view as I can and am still looking for more views and opinions.
I do promise to blog more about my thoughts in the future, but I'm still very much in learning mode.
I was de-spamming my comments and I think I accidentally erased a few legitimate comments. I'm really sorry. It was truly a technical error and not an attempt to censor anything. I think I deleted one or two comments, but didn't catch the details since it was a quick click and an oops.
The reaction of the ISPs is natural. Be more afraid of people who are more likely to sue you. It takes some guts to be firm about stuff like this, but I think experiments like this and praise to those companies and institutions who are diligent are important to encourage companies to care about these issues. I remember that back in the early days (I don't know about these days) ISPs used to get too friendly with the police and often ended up giving them more information than appropriate about their customers. ISPs have a huge responsibility to uphold the law as well as protect their customers. Hat tip to the ISP that asked for proof from alleged plaintiff.Jason SchultzCopyright Takedown Experiment Reveals Horrible ISP PoliciesDutch civil rights organization Bits of Freedom has run an interesting experiment: They put up a text by a famous Dutch author, written in 1871 to accounts with 10 different ISPs. Then they made up an imaginary society that is supposed to be the copyright holder of the author in question, and sent copyright infringement takedown notices to those 10 ISP via email (using a Hotmail account). 7 out of 10 ISPs took down the material, sometimes within hours and without even informing the account holder. One ISP doubted the legitimacy of the claim and asked for some proof that the alleged plaintiff was in fact the copyright holder. Yet another ISP actually realized that copyright had long since run out on the work. That's real scary, don't you think? Made up society, Hotmail addresses and a website is gone.
BOF's paper is available here (PDF)
One of the difficulties with Creative Commons licenses for music and images is that the images and the music are often copied or forwarded without the licenses. By embedding the license information inside of the mp3 or jpeg data itself, it makes it easier to keep the license attached to the file.
Nathan has just released a nice drag and drop embedded license lookup tool. See the page about metadata embedding on the CC site for more information on our thoughts on this issue.
UPDATE: TSR says it's just a tropical storm, but it feels stronger than the other one. It's supposed to hit early in the morning...
UPDATE: 17 dead, 19 missing and 207 injured as of 10PM (1 hr 40 min ago). 187,000 homes evacuated. This one seems to be worse than the last one. It should hit our town in about 30 minutes. Doesn't seem so bad yet, but should probably shut down desktop computers...
UPDATE: Now 22 dead, 30 missing. The typhoon veered NorthWest and missed our region.
This image may be copyrighted. I don't know the origin of the image. If someone knows, please let me know.
Larry Angell via EmailHi Joi,
I was the original poster of the iDebate image. I posted it on my blog
back on Wednesday, the 13th. It was an original work done by one of our
MacMinute.com readers (I'm the editor over there) who let me post it.
Thanks for any possible link :-)
Such illegal communications services hurt telephone companies and in many countries these telephone companies are run by the government or wield a great deal of power. Sometimes it's easy to forget that competition with monopolies is illegal in many countries.David WeinbergerVoIP crime
US citizen Ilya Mafter has been detained by the Belarusians for committing the crime of Voice over IP. The government says that he caused about US$100,000 in damage to the country's telephony providers "as a result of illegal communications services using IP telephony that were organized by Mafter."
Cory Doctorow @ Boing BoingJon Stewart on his Crossfire appearance
Here's a clip form Jon Stewart's Daily Show monologue following on his now-legendary Crossfire appearance in which he post-mortems his performance. Very good stuff.
Jon StewartThey said I wasn't being funny. And I said to them, "I know that, but tomorrow I will go back to being funny, and your show will still blow."
Thanks Cory and Waxy!
Flight is boarding now. See you later London and thanks for the Fish and Chips. See you on the other side.
The Guardian had an interesting project to try to get readers to send email to people in Clark County and influence the US vote.
They got some feedback from Americans.The Guardian
It works like this. By typing your email address into the box on this page, you will receive the name and address of a voter in Clark County, Ohio. You may not have heard of it, but it's one of the most marginal areas in one of the most marginal states: at the last election, just 324 votes separated Democrats from Republicans. It's a place where a change of mind among just a few voters could make a real difference.
Writing to a Clark County voter is a chance to explain how US policies effect you personally, and the rest of the world more generally, and who you hope they will send to the White House. It may even persuade someone to use their vote at all.
PROUD AMERICAN VOTING FOR BUSH!
p2p-Politics.org is a cool new site that lists video ads supporting Kerry, Bush and Nader. Although the site was launched by known Kerry supporters and currently there are only ads from the Kerry campaign and some of MoveOn.org's Bush in 30 Seconds ads, there is a tab for Bush and Nader and are soliciting ads from them. They also ask people to submit their own ads. The idea is that the site would be a non-partisan site that allows you to view ads of the candidates and email links to the ads to friends. The ads are hosted by the Internet Archive and licensed under a Creative Commons license. The "p2p" here stands for people-to-people or peer-to-peer but is not p2p as in the file sharing protocol. This site is a volunteer effort by J Christopher Garcia and Aaron Swartz, "with some ideas by Lawrence Lessig" and support from the Internet Archive.
David Sifry has posted another cool graph of showing the number of corporate bloggers. See his blog for the details.
Anil points out that Microsoft Passport seems to have withered away silently.
My last.fm user page shows my profile, friends and my neighborhood.
The amazing thing is, the only reason I am able to watch it at all is because of P2P filesharing / Bittorrent. I think file sharing of videos is a key component of freedom of speech and public discourse when so much attention is focused on television. Although we can dance around singing "fair use", is there any chance news programs can make their content available via Creative Commons for people to share so those of us not in America and have better access to your "public discourse"?
'Daily Show' viewers ace political quiz
Survey reveals late-night TV viewers better informed
By Bryan Long for CNN.
via Lisa Rein
I love it when the good guys win. Congratulations EFF!Electronic Frontier FoundationNo "Fishing License" for the RIAA
This just in: the Supreme Court has denied cert in RIAA v. Verizon, the case in which the recording industry initially won the right to unmask an anonymous KaZaA user with a special non-judicial, PATRIOT Act-like subpoena under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The DC Circuit reversed (PDF) that ruling, but the RIAA appealed. Now the Supreme Court has declined to hear the case.
Said EFF's Wendy Seltzer, who worked on the case, "The Supreme Court's refusal to take the case leaves the DC Circuit's well reasoned opinion as law: The DMCA doesn't give the RIAA a blank fishing license to issue subpoenas and invade Internet users' privacy."
Crossfire is an a nonconstructive form of "talk show" and represented the divisive and shallow television media news and politics of today. I'm glad Jon Stewart had the guts to point this out and call them on it. Yay Jon! And yay for Bittorrent too!Xeni Jardin @ Boing BoingJon Stewart's Crossfire appearance on bittorrent
BoingBoing reader bryan says, "Jon Stewart blasted the hosts on CNN's Crossfire for hurting the democratic process instead of helping. He also calls Tucker Carlson a dick. Bittorrent: Link, and transcript here.
BoingBoing reader Hal points us to Salon's coverage (Link), and describes the interview/buttkicking alternately: "Tucker Carlson gets his ass handed to him on a platter -- without falafel to sweeten the taste."
If you're using OS X, you can now search for Creative Commons content using Sherlock! Just connect to sherlock://drop.creativecommons.org/sherlock/ccsearch.xml
If you don't have OS X, you can still use our search engine to find licensed content.
More info on the CC blog.
See you later Helsinki and thanks again for the yummy reindeer steak. I'm off to London today.
Dave's posted some great charts.
More info on last two charts also on Dave Sifry's blog.
More info on this chart also on Dave Sifry's blog.
Japanese and the Finnish tend to pronounce things rather monotonously or accent the first syllable. I find that the American's tend emphasize the second syllable. In notice this in particular with three syllable words like Nokia or Joichi. The American's say no-KEEE-ah (mp3) or Jo-WEEE-chee. In Japanese, it's JOH-ichi and the Finnish say NOH-kee-ah (mp3). One of the reasons I shortened my name to Joi from Joichi was that I didn't like the sound of the second syllable accent. For some reason the second syllable accent sounds less respectful for formal... Like Run DMC's "My Adidas!" Am I being weird? I'm not a linguist or anything and this is just a totally random, personal, emotional observation. Am I besting culturally intolerant?
Just went with Marko and a bunch of friends (including Loic and Heiko) to the Finnish Sauna Society. The sea wasn't frozen yet, so it wasn't avantouinti, but the ocean was 8 degrees celsius so it was plenty cold. Did the sauna, whip each other with birch branches and swim in the ocean routing five times. Then we sat around the fire cooking sausages. Very relaxing and a nice unwind after the Italian anarchy. ;-) Now I'm ready to spend the day tomorrow in a conference room with the Finns.
I love Italy so much. Thanks for all the fun. I'll be back soon. I've just arrived in Helsinki and it's warmer than I expected. I am about to head over to Aula to give a talk on the the future of music...
Yes! The woman speaking ahead of me gave the history of television and talked about Steamboat Willie. What an excellent segue-way into my Creative Commons "creativity is built on the past" riff. Steamboat Willie, as you will know if you read Free Culture, is the Walt Disney
rip-off parody of Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill Jr. and the first successful Mickey Mouse animation. Lessig likes to call this parody and remix creativity "Walt Disney creativity". The panel is about innovation and creativity in digital television and I'm going to talk about going beyond interactive television and allowing people to interact with the content as creators and considering the use of creative commons in the television context.
UPDATE: It was fun. Since "freedom of the press" was invoked by a previous speaker, I got a chance to point out that the US founding fathers were probably referring more to giving the people a voice and not about protecting multi-national media conglomerates.
I'm on a panel right now in Milan. I learned the name of the conference when I finally got my pass. Lucky for me that they have simultaneous translation. On the other hand, I'm the ONLY one in the room who is using it right now since the speaker is speaking in Italian. There are two translators as usual who switch back and forth so the other can take a break. The thing is, the resting translator seems to be trying to make the speaking translator laugh. She keeps shutting off the translation and cracking up laughing. You can still catch the laugh when switches the mic back on and here the giggle under her breath. You can also hear the antagonistic translator scribbling jokes onto paper and putting it in front of the other translator. This reminds me of when the IRC back channel tries to make people giggle during serious talks.
It's a bit surreal. I'm the only participating in their performance and everyone is listening to this serious talk oblivious to whatever tremendously funny thing is going in the translation booth. I wish I could signal them so they would let me in on the joke...
After my blog post about joining ICANN and protecting the Internet from the ITU, I received several essays and arguments about how I didn't understand the ITU. I promise to study the ITU more and enter the dialog with an open mind. The previous post is based on my understanding which is admittedly not first hand maybe a bit shallow. It was based on discussions with people whose opinion I respect highly so I am still fairly convinced that ICANN is better than ITU, but if anyone has anything that they think I should read to understand the ITU and why THEY should take over ICANN's role, please send me email or drop a comment here and I will read it. I'll post again when I'm a bit more educated from more first hand sources.
I'm sitting in the Italian Parliament (I think.) The panel I was on was dealing with the impact of digital/Internet on content creation and distribution. It started yesterday and continued today. I think it lasted about seven hours or so in total. I found myself in violent disagreement at the beginning because they kept talking about piracy. The interesting thing about this panel (probably more common in other cultures, but new for me) was that we had to come to a written consensus by the end of the session and present it in the Parliament building. It would then be distributed to politicians across Europe as a recommendation.
I found myself negotiating like some UN diplomat.
In the end, here is where we ended up on a few of my "hot buttons".
Organized, for-profit, commercial piracy was different from P2P file sharing by individuals. We could not agree on the impact of P2P file sharing, but we agreed that punishing file sharing was not the only/best way to deal with the issue. I pushed for a stronger stance, my position being that as Chris Anderson says in The Long Tail, it's a matter of price and convenience. People will pay if the experience is better. That was not included in the statement, but "education" was used instead. Blah. I just made a statement that I disagree with this and that there is not enough evidence that P2P filesharing of music is really bad for the music industry.
It appeared that people had a VERY bad image of Creative Commons. For some reason they thought that CC was trying to force people to share and was anti-copyright. I explained the CC was built upon copyright and was trying to help artists choose their copyright.
This part turned out quite well in the statement. They said that CC was a tool, not to steal from artists, but to give them the choice to share and lower the parasitic costs (legal) of choosing a license. They concluded that CC was NOT a threat as they had originally envisioned, but a complimentary and a good thing. The tone was very pro-artist and less tolerant of distributors, the idea of giving more control to artists seemed to be quite attractive.
I'm about to have a chance to object to some of the issues I see in the statement and give an address about my thoughts. I'm going to talk about the value of the Long Tail and Creative Commons.
Yesterday, I got lost running around looking for the building where I was supposed to be on the panel. The street was numbered so that they they started from one on one side of the street, go all the way to the end of the street and turn around and continue to increase in number on the other side of the street. So the highest number and the lowest number are across the street from each other. This was very disorienting and very inconvenient since I started on the wrong side of the street and I was trying to go to building #1. I was carry a very heavy bag with my computer, but I scurried down the street to try to get to the panel on time. I got them just in time. No one was there. )panic( Then people slowly started showing up. They had wine, food, dessert, espresso, and finally the panel started about one hour late. OK. My fault. When in Rome...
So today. I showed up a whole hour late, trying to game the system properly. Little did I know that a special rule applies for early morning meetings. It was a 9AM panel. I arrived at 10. A few people were here chatting in the hall. The organizer seemed relaxed and said we'd be starting in a bit. It's 10:30 AM now. Most of the panel have arrived, but we're still short. Anyway, I should probably just relax and enjoy it. I'm not complaining. I'm just observing how utterly different it is from Japan where I get scolded for starting my press conferences 2 minutes late...
Thanks to everyone for a wide range of advice about ICANN. I am trying to understand as many of the perspectives and issues as I can before going to my first meeting in December. I've created a wiki page listing some of the essays and links that people have suggested I read. If you have any other suggestions, please email, comment here or post on my wiki. I will try read everything I can and approach this with an open mind. I am also happy to receive private email with personal opinions.
I've just been nominated to the board of ICANN (Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers) and will be officially joining already seated members at the conclusion of the ICANN Meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, December 1-5. ("Nominated" technically because I officially join in December, but the selection process is completed.)
This is the end of a two or so year process of people telling me I should get involved and others warning me against it. Some of my wisest advisors urged me not to join saying things like, "you will make 3 mistakes in your life... this is one of them..." or "friends don't let friends do ICANN."
ICANN has its share of problems and a negative image associated with it in many circles. I've even taken my fare share of cheap shots at ICANN.
I am joining ICANN for two reasons. ICANN is changing and it's critical that ICANN is successful.
I've talked to on the phone and met a great number of people involved in ICANN in a variety of capacities. I realized that ICANN today is not what ICANN was a few years ago. Please reset your biases and pay attention to what they are doing. Yes. There are still problems, but they are being addressed by an extremely committed team of people who are doing amazing work. Also, take a look at the board. It's very geographically and professionally diverse. It's not some puppet of the US or special interests.
Why is ICANN important? If ICANN is not successful in proving that it can manage some of the critical elements of the Internet such as the name space and IP addresses, ICANN will be dissolved and the ITU will step in. Why would that be bad? I am generally in favor of multi-lateral approaches, but in the case of the ITU, I believe it is biased towards the telephone monopolies. The ITU was built by telcos to set technical standards for telcos. That suits the telephone system architecture, which is highly centralised and is structured as a patchwork of geographic monopolies. The Internet is decentralised, and there are many small companies and individuals working at the peripheries to develop new applications for the overall network. The governance process has to reflect the diversity and the needs of these companies, as well as the needs of the network providers.
I believe that many of the things that ICANN is doing are important, but the single biggest factor leading to my decision to try to participate in ICANN is to try to prove that the people of the Internet can govern themselves without direct involvement from nation-states and to try to help build an organization that can deliver that promise.
I've been hanging out a bit with part of the Wikipedia community since meeting Jimmy Wales in Linz. One thing that has struck me is that many, if not most, of the people I've met from the community who are involved in managing Wikipedia seem to be women. I haven't conducted any scientific analysis or anything, but Wikipedia seems much more gender balanced than the blogging community. I know many people point out that ratio of men at conferences on blogging and ratio of men who have loud blog voices seems to be quite high. I wonder what causes this difference in gender distribution? Is it that the power law aspect of blogs is inherently more competitive and appeals to the way men are "trained" in society? Or is it that we're just talking to the "head" of the blog curve and that the more interesting blogs are actually by women in "the long tail"? Or is it something about Wikipedia that attracts powerful women? Has anyone else noticed this or done a study on gender distribution on wikis? I wonder if this true of wikis generally? I don't think Wikipedia is a "traditional" anything let alone a traditional wiki. Has anyone noticed this on other wikis?
I'm leaving today for Rome, Milan, Helsinki then London. 24 degrees C in Rome, 0 degrees C in Helsinki. Hmm...
As usual, my schedule is on my wiki.
UPDATE: Note to self. Try not to travel the day after a typhoon> If you have to, arrive VERY early. Luckily I arrived unusually early. The airport is hell. Piles of sleeping bags and cranky people who spent the night at the airport. Two hours to get to the check-in counter. Took me 4 hours to get to the gate. Ugh.
So the big question for me after reading Chris Anderson's excellent article, The Long Tail is... Will there always be producers and consumers of music and other content, or does the amateur revolution really take off and completely blur the consumer and the producer of content? Will amateur and nearly free Creative Commons style content become the primary content that people consume? Will most consumers create content as well? In other words, will the long tail wag? I've heard many theories about this and it is probably different for text, audio, photos and video, but I think this is an important question.
And in case you haven't noticed, it's clearly now a discovery problem, not a delivery problem.
It turns out that the typhoon has downsized to a category 2 instead of the predicted category 4 typhoon by the time Ma-On hit Japan. The Japanese evacuated a few thousand people. Many people were standing around outside. Similar category 4 hurricanes in Florida can cause will be cause for the US government to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people. So why so few evacuations in Japan? Less floods because of the mountainous Japanese terrain? Better buildings? Or should the Japanese government have evacuated more people and we are just got lucky that it wasn't a category 4 in the end? I drove to dinner after the two notch downgraded typhoon and saw trees blown across the streets, and minor but visible damage. If it had been a category 4 storm, I can image many of the buildings that I saw around having been blown away. I just wonder how prepared the Japanese were and if we were just REALLY luck that the storm shrank just as it approached the islands...
UPDATE: Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) just downgraded it from a category 5 (maximum) to a category 4. Peak winds at 115 kts or 130 mph. It is projected to still be a category 4 when it hits Tokyo. We just closed our storm doors and gathered our candles.
UPDATE2: TSR is showing a rather different path than the Japan Meteorological Agency. Odd. JMA shows a direct hit, whereas TSR shows it veering a bit north...
16:51 JST: 1331 homes have been evacuated in my prefecture, Chiba. Several hundred homes have been evacuated in Sakura, the next town over.
16:58 JST: Typhoon just turned South and is headed directly for us now. House has started to leak water and it's not even here yet...
17:20 JST: 108,000 locations have lost power in Shizuoka.
17:43 JST: Lost power for a minute but it's back up again. My PHS wireless network card shows no network.
1,387 homes evacuated in Chiba, my prefecture. I'm on higher ground so probably no risk of flooding...
16:32 JST: Feels like it's over. That wasn't bad. I guess it's really the flooding that's causing damage. I guess we were lucky. Sorry to worry anyone.
18:50 JST: Chiba is warned that there may be some fukikaeshi or "blow back" still.
I took a video of the trees dancing in front of our house in "super night mode". (800K QT MOV)
I was just watching the debates and Kerry was making a comment about tax cuts for "Small Business Owners". Kerry mentioned that Bush's ownership in a timber company would qualify him as a small business owner under the Republican definition. Bush said, he didn't own a timber company and made a joke about it. It looked for a moment like Kerry had gotten factchecked by Bush. The FactCheck.org page seems to be down, but from the Goggle cache:
Nice try President.FactCheck.orgPresident Bush himself would have qualified as a "small business owner" under the Republican definition, based on his 2001 federal income tax returns. He reported $84 of business income from his part ownership of a timber-growing enterprise. However, 99.99% of Bush's total income came from other sources that year. (Bush also qualified as a "small business owner" in 2000 based on $314 of "business income," but not in 2002 and 2003 when he reported his timber income as "royalties" on a different tax schedule.)
Thanks to Jess' for the link
UPDATE: ABC just picked up this story from FactCheck.org too. ;-)
Mena writes about August Capital and Jay Allen joining the Six Apart team. August is a top class Silicon Valley VC firm and they have recently invested $10M in Six Apart. Thank you for your confidence and welcome to the team. Jay Allen is the author of MT Blacklist and will be joining as a product manager. Welcome Jay.
People have been reporting about the FBI ordering a hosting provider, Rackspace, with offices in the US and the UK to seize at least two servers from Indymedia's UK datacenter. Indymedia is a well known edgy alternative news site which was established to provide grassroots coverage of the WTO protests in Seattle. It has grown into a multinational resource for some hardcore journalism including a lot of work on the Diebold and the Patroit Act issues. The reports as well as Indymedia's page on this story say that the FBI has not provided a reason for the seizure to Indymedia. The statement from Rackspace says:
In past, Indymedia has done stuff like posting photos of undercover police officers. However, according to Indymedia, the "FBI asked for the Nantes post on swiss police to be removed, but admitted no laws were violated". This time the FBI has not told them what they've done wrong and Rackspace is under a gag order so they can't even tell Indymedia exactly what hardware they removed.RackspaceIn the present matter regarding Indymedia, Rackspace Managed Hosting, a U.S. based company with offices in London, is acting in compliance with a court order pursuant to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), which establishes procedures for countries to assist each other in investigations such as international terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering. Rackspace responded to a Commissioner’s subpoena, duly issued under Title 28, United States Code, Section 1782 in an investigation that did not arise in the United States. Rackspace is acting as a good corporate citizen and is cooperating with international law enforcement authorities. The court prohibits Rackspace from commenting further on this matter.
This implies that some non-US entity had the FBI force an action in the UK under MLAT. This means that Indymedia is being suspected of engaging in international terrorism, kidnapping or money laundering. I've seen some extreme reporting on Indymedia, but terrorism, kidnapping or money laundering? I guess the definition of "terrorism" has been expanded to meet popular demand these days, but come on... really?
This reminds me of toywar. A group of Swiss artists established in 1994 who are Golden Nica award winners from my Ars Electronica jury in 1996 call themselves etoy. Later, Etoys, founded in 1998 tried to take the etoy.com domain by force. They got a temporary injunction against the web site because a judge in LA agreed that it was confusing to customers of Etoys. Network Soutions complied and went beyond their call of duty and shut down etoy.com email as well for good measure. Swiss artists can be sued in a US court and having their email shut down by a US registrar.
My point is, be careful where your data lives...
UPDATE: nyc.indymedia.org is speculating that it is because Indymedia published the identities of the RNC delegates.
UPDATE2: It appears that maybe it wasn't the RNC, but the photos of the police officers according to Cryptome.
UPDATE3: imajes has an written a letter to his MPs. Maybe others should do the same.
Holy shit. Watch out Amazon, here they come!
Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Since a lot of the world's information isn't yet online, we're helping to get it there. Google Print puts the content of books where you can find it most easily; right in Google search results.
To use Google Print, just do searches on Google as you normally would. Whenever a book contains content that matches your search terms, we'll show links to that book in your search results. Click on the book title and you'll go to a "content page," where you can see the page containing your search terms and other information about the book. You can also search for other topics within the book. Click on the "Buy this Book" link and you'll go straight to a bookstore selling the book online.
If you're a book publisher and you'd like to have your books included in Google search results, look into the Google Print program for publishers.
UPDATE: It appears that people have known about this since last year and it has been on and off in test mode, but the official announcement was Oct 6th.
I've agreed to be the technical advisor for a movie currently in production called The Negotiator / Mashita Masayoshi. It's the third movie in a series which started as a TV series and was followed with two movies called Odoru Dai Sousasen or Bayside Shakedown. In the first two movies, Ujiie-san from Infoseek Japan helped out a bit and in exchange they used Infoseek in the movie and had an Infoseek.co.jp sticker on the hero's computer. The third movie doesn't have the sames stars as Bayside Shakedown, but has a pretty big role for the computer team.
The series is about the police force based in Tokyo Bay. The characters are quite fun and I've always enjoyed the series. I am excited to be working with this excellent team. In the past they've always done little things to get a cult following. Cool stickers, realistic technology, etc.
The story is about a negotiator for the police and a very technically sophisticated bad guy. The movie comes out during Golden Week next year. I don't think they have plans for US release.
My job will be to help them find images, software and ideas to try to make the movie realistic from a computer network and technology perspective. I've just set up a wiki page. Guess why? Because, I need help from all of you. ;-)
Fantastic article in Wired by Chris Anderson titled The Long Tail. You MUST read it. Physical distribution limits the number of titles of books, music, DVDs that can be stocked. He explains that online sales show that the market size of stuff below the break even threshold for physical distribution is often larger than the market for the "hits" that make it into stores. He calls this "The Long Tail". We can essentially double the market for most content by figuring out ways to help people find the stuff they are looking for in the long tail and deliver it online.
He also makes another important point about pricing. The iTunes 99 cents is too expensive. It's based on a calculation to protect CD distribution. He suggests that the price should be based on how much your time is worth. In other words, at what price is it not worth your time to find, download and tag a track from a file sharing network. He thinks that maybe this number is around 20 cents for a college student.
I absolutely agree with his analysis and it's great that he's got so many figures and facts to support the argument.
UPDATE: POP STARS? NEIN DANKE! -
In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen people... written by Momus in 1991 is very relevant to this discussion. Thanks Boris.
According to The Lantern, LaRouche founded Wikipedia.
I DID NOT KNOW THAT. So who was that Jimbo guy I met in Linz. Hmmm...
On October 4, 2004, an article titled “LaRouche PAC group sings, shouts, argues with Bush supporters” was published in The Lantern, the student newspaper at the Ohio State University. The published form of the article contained a terrible inaccuracy – Lyndon LaRouche was mistakenly credited as the founder of Wikipedia.com, the popular free online encyclopedia. Its founder is actually Jimmy “Jimbo” Wales, an Internet entrepreneur based in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Newspaper articles pass through the hands of various editors before publishing, a fact that the public often is not aware of. The original copy of the article submitted to The Lantern contained information about LaRouche obtained from and attributed to Wikipedia.com. Without the knowledge of other editors, a copy editor changed the article and inserted the erroneous information. The mistake was subsequently printed and published online.
The author of the article and a frequent Wikipedia user, Joktan Kwiatkowski, took up the issue with The Lantern immediately after discovering the mistake and also arranged for corrections to be made in print and online form following correspondence with Wales. However, the article was referenced in many weblogs and message boards, and Kwiatkowski was unfairly ridiculed and characterized as inaccurate.
The article was the first submitted by Kwiatkowski to The Lantern, and he received an apology from the paper over the incident. He has contacted bloggers that circulated the article, and some have already extended their support in an effort to help clear his name.
I used to give a lot of talks to Japanese audiences, but have recently been spending more time speaking overseas and writing on my blog. Kenta in my office suggested that I accept the occasional talk in Japan to keep in touch with the Japanese audience. I accepted a talk at the Japan Information Technology Services Industry Association (JISA) annual conference. As I was preparing my presentation yesterday, I tried to imagine my audience and I realized that I had "lost it". It was almost impossible for me to imagine what they wanted to hear, or what they would understand. They had allotted me 70 minutes and the last slot so I had plenty of time.
I tried to explain very clearly with examples where I thought things were going. I showed blogging, Technorati, Wikipedia, last.fm, Creative Commons and talked about the future of the music, telecom, and copyright. I could see a few people understood what I was talking about, but there were several hundred people who were politely attentive, but didn't seem to be smiling.
Later, at the party, one of the younger members told me that most of the people in the association still programmed on mainframe computers in COBOL and viewed the primary disruptive threat as low cost outsourcing to Asia. They didn't really use the Internet yet. Oops. I guess I missed my target. Sorry! That's what happens when I stick my head out of the echo chamber. I guess I should probably do it a bit more so I remind myself that social software is not really "here" yet. For some people, the Internet is barely here...
A must for anyone interested in hacking on Technorati.
I just got my student ID which lets me into the library. I can now finally look up citations that the academics throw at me. But more importantly... I have access to Lexis-Nexis. w00t!!
It's a weird feeling. I feel like I'm sitting behind some massive intellectual firewall. I can research all kinds of stuff here, but many of the sources are not online and do not have permalinks. I can blog about them, but many times all I will be able to provide is the "nah nah, I bet your library doesn't have THIS periodical" sort of citation. On the other hand, I guess part of my new job here is to get some of the knowledge out of this institution and into the public...
I wonder what Ralph Nader is going to do...Warren EllisA peace activist who once fasted for...
Jerry Rubin, 60, said he plans to consume only liquids from Saturday until Nov. 2 if Nader doesn't take a meeting with him. "I know Ralph Nader and I don't think he's doing the right thing," Rubin said Saturday. He said the consumer advocate's campaign is dividing the progressive political movement.
Rubin is often confused with now-deceased "Chicago Seven" defendant Jerry Rubin. He legally changed his name to Jerry Peace Activist Rubin to avoid confusion with the 60s radical...
UPDATE Via Warren: "We're sending him some carrot juice," Nader said Sunday...
Jay Rosen blogs about Nick Coleman's "classic" anti-blog piece Blogged down in Web fantasy. Both are worth reading, Coleman's piece just for yuks.
This is exactly what Dvorak does, except he usually does a 180 at the end. Strike a nerve to get attention and dive right in. For instance, he slams blogging, then starts merrily blogging himself.Jay RosenFor me the funniest part of Coleman's column was the way he wrote it knowing he was to get ripped by the bloggers he was ridiculing. It's the Struck a Nerve Fantasy in opinion writing. I'm sure some of you recognize it.
X publishes something graceless and unconvincing, but extremely polemical. Everyone hates it because it's bad writing. Friends of the argument are not friends of the piece. So X has almost no defenders. The reactions come in. X's piece gets ripped because it's aggressive, mean and wrong.
But X walks away satisfied: looks like I struck a nerve, says X to self. And the greater the hostility back, the bigger the nerve struck!
I think crumudgening is used in politics to create diversions. Some authors like Dvorak use it to get attention. Sometimes it's not crumudgening, but sincere stupidity. The problem is that it is sometimes hard to tell which unless you know the person. On the other hand...
Robert J. HanlonNever attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
UPDATE: Weird... the Coleman piece just went behind a registration wall. I was able to read it just a few minutes ago without registration.
Suw Charman writes about Egogooglebombing. I sometimes accidentally do this to people with my moblog.
Andrea HarnerTerizm, Terizm, Terizm...
Hey congrats to all who have said 'terrorism', '9/11', etc ad nauseum because now it all sounds like blah, blah, blah!
I think I'm supposed to be scared into voting for Bush.
Well Mr. 'Not Such A Good Debater' Bush....BOO! I'M VOTING FOR KERRY.
Check out this short video:
I mirrored the the movie in case the source above gets overloaded.
Apologies to my Republican readers, but although I already declared that I'm a partisan blogger, I'm going to start leaning into it a bit harder as you can see from my recent posts. Since I can't vote, it's the least I can do. Feel free to comment though. ;-)
Torrent alert! Hop on now! torrentocracy has a torrent of the presidential debate audio.
Interesting. I find the term "these people" annoying because it is a "us and them" sort of word and also makes "them" sound like enemies or maybe a nuisance. "Leave it up to me. I know how to deal with these people," sounds like some intermediary negotiating with Native Americans in an old Western movie to me. He should have said, "I know the other world leaders and know how they think." Or something like that... although Frank's right in that it does make it sound like that they all think in the same way which is silly, but not really insulting - just stupid.Frank Boosman"These People"
I've talked with two citizens of foreign countries about the presidential debate -- one from Australia, the other from Germany -- and interestingly, both of them found the following statement by President Bush extremely offensive:I know how these people [world leaders] think. I deal with them all the time. I sit down with the world leaders frequently and talk to them on the phone frequently.I like to think I'm sensitive to international points of view, but honestly, I wouldn't have predicted that reaction. Apparently it's the phrase "these people". On reflection, I think I can see why someone from outside the US would find it condescending -- and misguided as well, since it seems to imply that "world leaders" all think similarly.
Unlike the US Army in my previous post, the WSJ stood up for her.Mark Frauenfelder @ Boing BoingWSJ reporter confirms authenticity of her letter to friends about horrific conditions in Iraq
Farnaz Fassihi, a Wall Street Journal correspondent in Iraq, confirmed that a widely-redistributed letter she emailed to friends about the nightmarish situation in Iraq was indeed written by her. Too bad the WSJ doesn't allow this reporter to write these kinds of stories for the paper."Iraqis say that thanks to America they got freedom in exchange for insecurity," Fassihi wrote (among much else) in the letter. "Guess what? They say they'd take security over freedom any day, even if it means having a dictator ruler." And: "Despite President Bush's rosy assessments, Iraq remains a disaster. If under Saddam it was a 'potential' threat, under the Americans it has been transformed to 'imminent and active threat,' a foreign policy failure bound to haunt the United States for decades to come.
...Making clear what can only, at best, appear between lines in her published dispatches, Fassihi concluded, "One could argue that Iraq is already lost beyond salvation. For those of us on the ground it's hard to imagine what if any thing could salvage it from its violent downward spiral. The genie of terrorism, chaos and mayhem has been unleashed onto this country as a result of American mistakes and it can't be put back into a bottle."
Continue reading to see a copy of the email.Editor & PublisherAfter she confirmed writing the letter on Wednesday, Paul Steiger, editor of the Wall Street Journal, stood up for her, telling the New York Post that her "private opinions have in no way distorted her coverage, which has been a model of intelligent and courageous reporting, and scrupulous accuracy and fairness."
Farnaz FassihiBeing a foreign correspondent in Baghdad these days is like being under virtual house arrest. Forget about the reasons that lured me to this job: a chance to see the world, explore the exotic, meet new people in far away lands, discover their ways and tell stories that could make a difference.
Little by little, day-by-day, being based in Iraq has defied all those reasons. I am house bound. I leave when I have a very good reason to and a scheduled interview. I avoid going to people's homes and never walk in the streets. I can't go grocery shopping any more, can't eat in restaurants, can't strike a conversation with strangers, can't look for stories, can't drive in any thing but a full armored car, can't go to scenes of breaking news stories, can't be stuck in traffic, can't speak English outside, can't take a road trip, can't say I'm an American, can't linger at checkpoints, can't be curious about what people are saying, doing, feeling. And can't and can't.
There has been one too many close calls, including a car bomb so near our house that it blew out all the windows. So now my most pressing concern every day is not to write a kick-ass story but to stay alive and make sure our Iraqi employees stay alive. In Baghdad I am a security personnel first, a reporter second.
It's hard to pinpoint when the turning point exactly began. Was it April when the Fallujah fell out of the grasp of the Americans? Was it when Moqtada and Jish Mahdi declared war on the U.S. military? Was it when Sadr City, home to ten percent of Iraq's population, became a nightly battlefield for the Americans? Or was it when the insurgency began spreading from isolated pockets in the Sunni triangle to include most of Iraq? Despite President Bush's rosy assessments, Iraq remains a disaster. If under Saddam it was a potential threat, under the Americans it has been transformed to imminent and active threat, a foreign policy failure bound to haunt the United States for decades to come.
Iraqis like to call this mess the situation. When asked how are things? they reply: the situation is very bad.
What they mean by situation is this: the Iraqi government doesn't control most Iraqi cities, there are several car bombs going off each day around the country killing and injuring scores of innocent people, the country's roads are becoming impassable and littered by hundreds of landmines and explosive devices aimed to kill American soldiers, there are assassinations, kidnappings and beheadings. The situation, basically, means a raging barbaric guerilla war.
In four days, 110 people died and over 300 got injured in Baghdad alone. The numbers are so shocking that the ministry of health, which was attempting an exercise of public transparency by releasing the numbers-- has now stopped disclosing them.
Insurgents now attack Americans 87 times a day.
A friend drove thru the Shiite slum of Sadr City yesterday. He said young men were openly placing improvised explosive devices into the ground. They melt a shallow hole into the asphalt, dig the explosive, cover it with dirt and put an old tire or plastic can over it to signal to the locals this is booby-trapped. He said on the main roads of Sadr City, there were a dozen landmines per every ten yards. His car snaked and swirled to avoid driving over them. Behind the walls sits an angry Iraqi ready to detonate them as soon as an American convoy gets near. This is in Shiite land, the population that was supposed to love America for liberating Iraq.
For journalists the significant turning point came with the wave of abduction and kidnappings. Only two weeks ago we felt safe around Baghdad because foreigners were being abducted on the roads and highways between towns. Then came a frantic phone call from a journalist female friend at 11 p.m. telling me two Italian women had been abducted from their homes in broad daylight. Then the two Americans, who got beheaded this week and the Brit, were abducted from their homes in a residential neighborhood. They were supplying the entire block with round the clock electricity from their generator to win friends. The abductors grabbed one of them at 6 a.m. when he came out to switch on the generator; his beheaded body was thrown back near the neighborhoods. The insurgency, we are told, is rampant with no signs of calming down. If any thing, it is growing stronger, organized and more sophisticated every day. The various elements within it -- baathists, criminals, nationalists and Al Qaeda -- are cooperating and coordinating.
I went to an emergency meeting for foreign correspondents with the military and embassy to discuss the kidnappings. We were somberly told our fate would largely depend on where we were in the kidnapping chain once it was determined we were missing. Here is how it goes: criminal gangs grab you and sell you up to Baathists in Fallujah, who will in turn sell you to Al Qaeda. In turn, cash and weapons flow the other way from Al Qaeda to the Baathisst to the criminals. My friend Georges, the French journalist snatched on the road to Najaf, has been missing for a month with no word on release or whether he is still alive.
America's last hope for a quick exit? The Iraqi police and National Guard units we are spending billions of dollars to train. The cops are being murdered by the dozens every dayÜover 700 to date -- and the insurgents are infiltrating their ranks. The problem is so serious that the U.S. military has allocated $6 million dollars to buy out 30,000 cops they just trained to get rid of them quietly.
As for reconstruction: firstly it's so unsafe for foreigners to operate that almost all projects have come to a halt. After two years, of the $18 billion Congress appropriated for Iraq reconstruction only about $1 billion or so has been spent and a chuck has now been reallocated for improving security, a sign of just how bad things are going here.
Oil dreams? Insurgents disrupt oil flow routinely as a result of sabotage and oil prices have hit record high of $49 a barrel.
Who did this war exactly benefit? Was it worth it? Are we safer because Saddam is holed up and Al Qaeda is running around in Iraq?
Iraqis say that thanks to America they got freedom in exchange for insecurity. Guess what? They say they'd take security over freedom any day, even if it means having a dictator ruler.
I heard an educated Iraqi say today that if Saddam Hussein were allowed to run for elections he would get the majority of the vote. This is truly sad.
Then I went to see an Iraqi scholar this week to talk to him about elections here. He has been trying to educate the public on the importance of voting. He said, "President Bush wanted to turn Iraq into a democracy that would be an example for the Middle East. Forget about democracy, forget about being a model for the region, we have to salvage Iraq before all is lost."
One could argue that Iraq is already lost beyond salvation. For those of us on the ground it's hard to imagine what if any thing could salvage it from its violent downward spiral.
The genie of terrorism, chaos and mayhem has been unleashed onto this country as a result of American mistakes and it can't be put back into a bottle.
The Iraqi government is talking about having elections in three months while half of the country remains a no go zone -- out of the hands of the government and the Americans and out of reach of journalists. In the other half, the disenchanted population is too terrified to show up at polling stations. The Sunnis have already said they'd boycott elections, leaving the stage open for polarized government of Kurds and Shiites that will not be deemed as legitimate and will most certainly lead to civil war.
I asked a 28-year-old engineer if he and his family would participate in the Iraqi elections since it was the first time Iraqis could to some degree elect a leadership. His response summed it all: "Go and vote and risk being blown into pieces or followed by the insurgents and murdered for cooperating with the Americans? For what? To practice democracy? Are you joking?"
Avex's partial cessation of copy protected CDs (translation), Sony Music Entertainment in Japan has announced that it will abolish its Label Gate CCCD format (translation) beginning in November 2004 and move back to normal CD-audio format discs for all future releases. Reasons cited are music users' increased consciousness about copyrights and maintenance of legality (conformity to the CD-audio format specification). In related news, Sony also released a slightly updated HD walkman (translation) due to pressure from the iPod, but because of hardware limitations the device still does not support MP3 playback."Yay! Sony does something smart in the DRM space for a change.
Ethan explains that although Wikipedia tries to maintain an neutral point of view (NPOV), it is inherently systemically biased by its demographic to pay more attention to articles that the contributors know about and research from sources which are available online. Xed, a Wikipedian has tried to address this systemic bias with a new project called the "Committee Regarding Overcoming Serious Systemic Bias On Wikipedia" or CROSSBOW.
They are planning a variety of projects to try to address the bias. If you are interested and can help, you should.From draft CROSSBOW manifestoWikipedia has a number of systemic biases, mostly deriving from the demographics of our participant base, the heavy bias towards online research, and the (generally commendable) tendency to "write what you know". Systemic bias is not to be confused with systematic bias. The latter just means "thoroughgoing bias". Systemic bias means that there are structural reasons why Wikipedia gives certain topics much better coverage than others. As of this writing, Wikipedia is disproportionately white and male; disproportionately American; disproportionately written by people from white collar backgrounds. We do not think this is a result of a conspiracy - it is largely a result of self-selection - but it has effects not all of which are beneficial, and which need to be looked at and (in some cases) countered.
Wikipedia is biased toward over-inclusion of certain material pertaining to (for example) science fiction, contemporary youth culture, contemporary U.S. and UK culture in general, and anything already well covered in the English-langauge portion of the Internet. These excessive inclusions are relatively harmless: at worst, people look at some of these articles and say "this is silly, why is it in an encyclopedia?" Of far greater (and more detrimental) consequence, these same biases lead to minimal or non-existent treatment of topics of great importance. One example is that, as of this writing, the Congo Civil War, possibly the largest war since World War II has claimed over 3 million lives, but one would be hard pressed to learn much about it from Wikipedia. In fact, there is more information on a fictional plant.
Our good friend Andrew Orlowski points out that as Wikipedia tries to get more distribution on smaller devices such as mobile phones, they need to be wary of the size of the database and the framework in order to be more inclusive than just web oriented techies or in his words, "Californian techno-utopians, wiki-fiddlers."
This is another way to address the bias. Move to non-web devices too, although in this article Andrew is talking about "Questions like 'What's the kid's soccer schedule?', and 'Is Thursday street cleaning day on Geary?'" I do agree that Wikipedians should be spending their time writing about the Congo Civil War instead of writing a 20,000 word article on me.
So the most useful thing the Wikipedia project could do is not write another adoring 20,000 word article on our good friend Joi Ito (the spiritual leader), or "memes", but nail down a simple lightweight framework that librarians, schools, churches and small businesses could use as an annotation and broadcast channel.
The Essay, Why We Cannot Win is still on the LewRockwell.com.SalonOperation American Repression?
An Army officer in Iraq who wrote a highly critical article on the administration's conduct of the war is being investigated for disloyalty -- if charged and convicted, he could get 20 years.
Sept. 29, 2004 | An Army Reserve staff sergeant who last week wrote a critical analysis of the United States' prospects in Iraq now faces possible disciplinary action for disloyalty and insubordination. If charges are bought and the officer is found guilty, he could face 20 years in prison. It would be the first such disloyalty prosecution since the Vietnam War.
The essay that sparked the military investigation is titled "Why We Cannot Win" and was posted Sept. 20 on the conservative antiwar Web site LewRockwell.com. Written by Al Lorentz, a non-commissioned officer from Texas with nearly 20 years in the Army who is serving in Iraq, the essay offers a bleak assessment of America's chances for success in Iraq.
I don't understand. How can writing an essay like this send you to jail for 20 years?
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