December 16, 2003Back to blogging. Accounts suggest Sina Motallebi, the jailed Iranian journalist whose case we put to Iran's government, is blogging again. (Thanks Hoder.) In WSIS news, summit organisers are attacked for sloppy security, and for too much security, but still Switzerland pats itself on the back. Our Iran investigation is followed up here and here, but strangely, ignored here. Finally, the BBC sums it all up, and has a bit of a think, Infoworld looks to Tunis, and the International Herald Tribune declares that the 'World' part of WWW is a misnomer.
December 12, 2003Get set for 12/12/2004. The President of Senegal has just declared that, from now on, December 12 every year will be celebrated as 'Digital Solidarity Day'.
We're not sure what that means, in practice, and he's not taking questions. A source tells us that, essentially, it's a fundraising exercise.
Update 1923 CET - In the closing press conferenece, ITU Secretary-General Yoshio Utsumi has confirmed that this is a "voluntary" celebration... phew. More
UN believable (2) - JM (Jack Malvern) has been updating his list of UN acronyms.. "Excellent, witty, well-informed" That's how Bill Thomson describes Daily Summit, while hitting the nail on the head with his WSIS review on BBC News.
December 11, 2003Iran round-up - a long day, dominated by Iran and with lots more posting to come.
In a nutshell, we went to President Khatami's news conference, asked about Iran online, internet censorship, and find out what he knows about blogs (background).
Then we interviewed Iran's information minister.
Also - you can watch the press conference with Iran's President here - where you'll see the Daily Summit put your questions to Mr Khatami, just as we promised. And you can read a series of posts in Arabic too. Iran's ICT minister confronted. How does Ahmad Motamedi, Iran's minister for Information and Communication Technology (ICT), explain the huge number of websites censored in his country? "Sometimes mistakes happen," he said.
Some mistake. In a rare interview, Mr Motamedi claimed that officially just 240 sites were banned in Iran and that no-one was punished for writing anti-government messages online.
He had a harder time explaining the arrest of Sina Motallebi, the journalist and blogger held earlier this year. More
Iran's president is going to speak any moment (watch here).
We've gone through an lot of security to get in, but we're in the front row. Metal detectors and sniffer dogs were used - no other news conference at the summit has had anything like this. Competition! We've decided to give away our Tunisian goodie bag to one lucky reader. All you have to do is come up with the best alternative acronym for WSIS, and add it to our list of comments - we'll email the winner.
Two suggestions are..
We Suffer in Silence or West Suffocates its Subordinates.
December 10, 2003Video diaries. One World TV are publishing a series of WSIS video diaries on their website. Free goodies. The Tunisian government are marketing themselves heavily in Geneva, almost as if they're trying to gather goodwill for the next stage of the Summit. Daily Summit has just been handed a large goodie bag, with a free t-shirt, hat, a badge and a key ring. As well as a CD of photos of Tunisia. Can't see how free stuff is going to make this go away.
Aaron Scullion @ 12:40 PM | Comment (0)Digital arts. UNESCO have been presenting their DigiArts destination, which aims at promoting arts and music through communication technology. Their online tutorials on digital music are quite interesting, but, again, for part of the presentation, the equipment wasn't working. Oh, and, when promoting an AV project like this, it's a good idea to connect the presentation up to some speakers.
Aaron Scullion @ 11:11 AM | Comment (0)'Domain Keys' the answer? Yahoo announces a new plan to get rid of spam, where emails will have to prove they've come from a real address. (Thanks to Online Blog).
Aaron Scullion @ 07:29 AM | Comment (4)Giant SMS. The Hello World project (which we told you about four weeks ago), is gathering a lot of momentum - and has even made it into Wired. We were in a taxi driving through Geneva Tuesday evening, and saw the sight for ourselves - it's pretty impressive. The giant neon green text messages scroll down the length of the water stream, hundreds of feet up in the air, and can be seen right across the city centre.
Aaron Scullion @ 07:12 AM | Comment (0)WSIS webcasts. If you're not with us in Geneva, there's a number of ways to see what's going on. The General Debate, as well as key press conferences, will be webcast and archived on the WSIS site. The World Electronic Media Forum (running parallel to WSIS) is also broadcasting its main sessions on the web. More
Aaron Scullion @ 06:35 AM | Comment (0)Ireland - a country transformed by the power of information technologies, has launched a plan to help ensure those technologies are used to fight poverty in the world's poorest countries. Irish minister Tom Kitt said his country will "respond to requests for advice and information on the policies which underpin our move into a knowledge economy", in advance of the Irish PM's WSIS address on Thursday.
Aaron Scullion @ 06:25 AM | Comment (0)In the news, the Financial Times previews the summit, and highlights the Swiss Government's success in getting almost all groups "inside the tent" (although, frankly, the strain within the tent is starting to show). The Guardian promotes the role of the UN in a leader devoted to WSIS - but claims that "in this case it (the UN) starts with a clean sheet and an ocean of goodwill. Really?
Also, Wired News reports that Kofi Annan "reaffirmed media freedoms and the rights of ordinary people" in his address to WEMF. Plus Taiwan berates the UN for kow-towing to China, Open Democracy debates the summit, Botswana an ICT leader, and Switzerland is an honoured host.
Aaron Scullion @ 06:03 AM | Comment (0)
December 09, 2003First day... The summit hasn't even started properly yet, and already we've reported on tough security, Microsoft bloopers, meetings that were cancelled and cut short, technical failures (and again), as well as Robert Mugabe's impending visit , and Kofi Annan's first WSIS address.
We've got three big days ahead - so hit the comments, link, and tell all your friends. Go on - you know you want to!
Aaron Scullion @ 08:34 PM | Comment (0)Mr Who? The list of speakers in the General Debate is now on the WSIS website. Each country is, in theory, represented by the head of the national delegation.
Except... the US and the UK don't appear to have decided who's going to speak on their behalf. At 1900 CET - both countries are being represented by the same, nameless delegate - 'His Excellency Mr. '.
The only other country in this situation is Honduras.
Aaron Scullion @ 07:07 PM | Comment (0)Arrival! The Daily Summit team has made it to Geneva! Given that the conference doesn't really get going until Wednesday, registration is pretty easy, right now, but give it a couple of hours and I think the queues may get a little out of hand. The Wi-Fi connections are working - more to follow on this - and I confidently predict that 'delegate using WI-FI laptop' will be the most popular snapshot of the summit. Our team has already been snapped twice by Japanese photographers..
Aaron Scullion @ 11:19 AM | Comment (0)
December 08, 2003Information? Society. We don't mean to go on, but the key summit documents still haven't been updated on the WSIS website, after the weekend's key negotiations - despite our calls and emails to the press office..
Update 2200 CET: The documents are now available. Thanks to Robert from the ITU for the link.
Aaron Scullion @ 04:42 PM | Comment (6)
December 04, 2003Tech giants slammed. Reporters Without Borders, pressure group currently barred from WSIS, challenges 14 major Internet and computer firms about their activity in China, raising interesting questions about the responsibilities of the gatekeepers of the information society in advance of WSIS.
Amnesty International did something similar in 2002. Nice idea... Britain's top e-Minister, Stephen Timms, says he plans to make every public library in the UK a Wi-Fi hotspot. Foresight needed. In the FT, the ITU attacks an article which claimed that WSIS should focus on universal connectivity, rather than broadband, for being remarkably shortsighted. We said pretty much the same thing last week...
December 03, 2003e-Evaluation. As if WSIS didn't have enough problems, civil society and private sector representatives are starting to question the role of communication technology in development. Speaking this week to representatives of the UK delegation, Daily Summit was surprised at the frustration felt at the lack of evidence proving the information society benefits places where even electricity is hard to come by.
The problem of evaluation is unlikely to be solved in the short-term, but media coverage in advance of the summit is illustrating real world appplications of these technologies. The BBC (more below), is looking at tangible benefits of both the serious and social aspects of the new society, while the summit organisers are working to gain publicity for successful real-world projects. But ungrounded talk of one-off applications of technology preaches only to the converted - will WSIS be the point where the technology industry realises that the rest of the world needs cold, hard facts? "Political wrangling". BBC News Online neatly explains why WSIS is important, and why so many people fear "the talks will result in a bland declaration with no real political or funding commitments". While this is all true, WSIS is about much more than the main talks - indeed, Daily Summit recently heard one highly placed British official say, "I'm looking forward to WSIS, but I'm not attending any of the main meetings"!
The BBC's WSIS special - The iGeneration - is also well worth a look.
December 02, 2003'All-new' protest. Reporters Without Borders, smarting at their exclusion from WSIS, (discussed here), have told journalists that "an original and news-worthy form of protest" is to be announced one day before the summit starts. I'm looking forward to their news conference, but a cynic reading the press release might suggest they haven't yet decided what form the protest will take...
December 01, 2003Buy 1 summit, get 1 free. From tomorrow (Tuesday), Daily Summit will be reporting from CHOGM, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which is taking place this year in Abuja.
Our reporter, Mick Fealty - of noted blog Slugger O'Toole - will be online soon, bring you all the news from the summit. More
Aaron Scullion @ 07:39 PM | | TrackBack (0)
November 28, 2003Any connection will do. Digital development should focus on universal connectivity, rather than high speeds. That's the "boring" (his words) conclusion of this piece by Eli Noam in the Financial Times - and while being connected is obviously better than not, surely such regressive thinking will ensure digital equality remains some way off?
Aaron Scullion @ 04:47 AM | | TrackBack (0)WSIS Unzipped. There's a lot to be learnt in this article by Alan Toner (part of art collective Autonomedia, whose Info Exchange is quite something). Alan's article puts WSIS into context, details past attempts to tackle communication on this scale, and explains why it could be remembered, ironically, as a conference without content...
Aaron Scullion @ 04:22 AM | | TrackBack (0)
November 27, 2003Welcome if you're just finding us for the first time.
With just under two weeks to go until the world summit starts, we're working to ensure Daily Summit becomes the first place you go to for WSIS news.
For now, we're keeping an eye on WSIS stories in the media, watching web activity, starting to unravel the summit processes, and providing background to issues relating to the information society, as the summit approaches.
Feel free to get in touch with any tips, gossip or advice - we'd love to hear from you.
Aaron Scullion @ 03:21 PM | | TrackBack (0)
November 26, 2003Schoolkids are set to interact with one of the largest educational events ever attempted on the internet. Schools from up to 40 countries will link up during WSIS - pupils even get to meet a Head of State online. There's a host of exercises designed to demonstrate how ICTs preparing children for a knowledge-based society, but whether schools play an effective role in that - even in the developed world - is questionable.
Aaron Scullion @ 06:36 PM | | TrackBack (0)Striking images of the impact of the information society are on display at a Geneva exhibition commissioned to coincide with WSIS. Tales From A Globalizing World is a series of moments highlighting the variety of globalization's effects on society.
Aaron Scullion @ 01:15 AM | | TrackBack (0)Stay CO2 neutral at WSIS by paying 'a voluntary tribute' to Switzerland's Climate Protection Partnership. They're suggesting that WSIS will generate 10,000 tons of Carbon Dioxide, and want every delegate to take responsibility for their own hot air...
Aaron Scullion @ 12:52 AM | | TrackBack (0)There's no escaping WSIS - not if the summit's Community Platform fulfils its aim of helping you "take part in the WSIS from where you stay". It contains a list of the many different events taking place in Geneva, which takes some time to download, and goes some way towards demonstrating the sheer scale of this thing.
Aaron Scullion @ 12:20 AM | | TrackBack (0)
November 25, 2003Hello World Summit! This project is a rather artistic way for people to get involved with WSIS - text messages submitted will be projected almost instantly onto locations in Bombay, Geneva - where the pictures will be presented on the famous Jet d'eau - Rio and New York - while video of the projections will be broadcast to summit delegates. The artists say it's "an invitation to take control of public space".
Of course, not everybody is waiting for an invitation.
Aaron Scullion @ 01:56 AM | | TrackBack (0)What's your Digital IQ? Speaking of the internet community (see below), this technology test is currently whizzing around the world's weblogs (discussions here and from here). Don't feel bad if you don't do well - I doubt many of the delegates to WSIS would. Here's an interesting trick - answer each question while asking yourself - 'if everybody knew about the stuff in this test, would it make the world a better place'?
Aaron Scullion @ 01:15 AM | | TrackBack (0)Who controls the net? The Register, beloved site of techie-types, has a great article covering the arguments over internet governance, closely analysing the "battle lines that are there for all to see" in the summit's key texts, while providing a detailed history of ICANN, the often criticised and much discussed US-based organisation currently in charge of running the Internet's infrastructure. But the author's assertion that WSIS is the "make or break moment" in the long-running "tussle between ICANN and ITU" doesn't do much to encompass the summit's many aims.
Is the internet community so focused on the mechanics of online operation that they're failing to make the important distinction between 'Internet' and 'Information Society'?
November 16, 2003So which comes first? Human rights, or freedom of information? It doesn't look like WSIS will give you both. As China resists any reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the WSIS declaration, Worldsummit2003.org reports that the EU's insistence on this leaves it able to "blame the failure of the summit on China".
But the ideals that power the information society lend themselves inherently to the provision of human rights, don't they? A statement distributed by the Human Rights caucus at last week's talks recognizes that human rights and freedom of information are "intimately related and hold the potential of enhancing each other". But is any country more or less likely to respect human rights if it makes it into the WSIS declaration? Of course not - so why can't we remember what we're here for?
Aaron Scullion @ 03:50 PM |
November 12, 2003Raising awareness. Daily Summit isn't even a week old, and already we're getting people talking about WSIS. A letter in the Guardian, responding to an earlier article about us, talks about what we can do to prevent the end result of the summit being "reduced freedoms and a further widening of the "digital divide".
Aaron Scullion @ 11:07 AM |
November 10, 2003Free software for schools? "Students should learn ways of life that will benefit society as a whole, and so, they should promote the use of free software". An opinion piece on Newsforge provokes a mixed response from readers. It's a tough call for educators - how are they supposed to prepare children for the real world without lining the pockets of the IT industry unneccessarily?
Aaron Scullion @ 05:26 PM |
November 06, 2003"Citizen to citizen connections?" Nitin Desai, the UN man putting this summit in place, tells Fortune magazine why WSIS will be more than just "window dressing" for the telecoms industry.
Aaron Scullion @ 11:12 AM | | TrackBack (0)"Too important for US to downplay." America, it seems, hasn't decided who should lead its pack at WSIS, even though there's just a month to go.
Aaron Scullion @ 11:04 AM | | TrackBack (0)
October 25, 2003Brussels = Washington? EU officials will have their work cut out if they want to use the conference to undermine the USA's dominance of the internet..
Aaron Scullion @ 11:03 AM | | TrackBack (0)