December 12, 2003"Citizens media meets bulldog journalism; finds the future of news," writes Jeff Jarvis
"I'm witnessing the future of journalism unfold over at DailySummit.net.
"There, a bunch of webloggers sent there by the British Council (can someone explain them to me?) are covering the U.N. World Summit on Information Society with a vibrancy, immediacy, passion, imagination, doggedness, and openness you simply won't find in big media... More
Business as usual. Business knows to behave itself at UN conferences. Don't come in strength. Smile a lot. And use the word 'partnership' whenever things get dicey.
Its final statement came in the form of a speech from Richard McCormick, honorary chair of the ICC. In most part, it was another a plea for the status quo and also for patience. More
A quiet summit. Civil society has had a quiet summit. It has delivered few of the press conferences, eye-catching stunts and noisy demonstrations that normally keep the media entertained.
Its representatives adopted a counter-declaration, condemned the Swiss authories and summit organisers, but failed to provide a definitive assessment of the summit's outcome. More
Good news travels fast. Digital Solidarity Day, invented by the President of Senegal little more than an hour ago, has already made it into a leading online encyclopedia... Mugabe tightens net. New Zimbawe has more on rumours that President Mugabe is planning to exert a stranglehold over the internet.
Daily Summit has just heard direct from an ISP in Zimbabwe. We are told that the government doesn't yet have the capacity to censor internet traffic, but that may change soon. More
We'll tell you why. Ahmad Motamedi, Iran's Minister of ICT, has been in the summit media centre, talking informally to Iranian journalists and bloggers.
Farshad, editor of Gooya and Gooya news, challenged the Minister directly to explain why one of his websites is blocked (and is only available to Iranians via a proxy server sponsored by the US government).
"We want to know what the limits are," he told the Minister. "You should tell us what causes a website to be blocked and how you make that decision." More
On the web, WSIS pictures from Caravita, more moonlighting at BBC online, and loads of detailed reports from Andy Carvin.
Also: Wizzy Digital Courier (and Community Networking's take), powerful forces ranged against free software, and Paul Boutin and Nico MacDonald weigh in... The Arabic take. Arabic speakers (that's all of you, right?) shouldn't miss Ahmed Reda's coverage of yesterday's press conference with Iran's President Khatami.
Read Reda's take on Iran, Al Qaeda and Egypt, EU-Iran relations and the EU's role in defusing the recent nuclear crisis, Iranian censorship of the internet, and the heavy security cordon thrown around the press conference itself. EU leaders begin crunch summit. But in Brussels. Not Geneva. Zimbabwe clamps down? News reaches Daily Summit that Zimbabwe has ambitious plans to route all email through a government-owned hub, allowing the Mugabe regime to tighten its grip on the internet.
Apparently, the necessary equipment has been purchased. However, technicians are nervous about installing it, afraid it will break down, Without money for spares, Zimbabwe could then be cut off from the web. More
After a UN/business love-in, Daily Summit asked Microsoft Managing Director for Global Affairs, Pamela Passman what the company hoped to achieve at the summit.
"It's been an incredible opportunity to put together all the stakeholders who are incredibly passionate about IT for development," Passman replied, in fluent NGO-speak. "We all have to do more. We need to engage in broader and deeper dialogue and partnerships. We have a milestone in 2005 in Tunis and we're very focused on ensuring there's some tangible developments for then." More
In the news, dissenters feel ignored, Africa projects win awards, China will spare no efforts to accelerate the information society, and IT-literate children are "respected like village elders."
Also: a campaign for equal access to scientific knowledge, Zambia wants to build a self-renewing society, Geneva is agog (allegedly), and India's teaching software is revolutionary.
And, finally, no-one knows who uses the internet... Members-only? What is civil society? Do you have to join? Earlier in the week, an activist claimed civil society was 5 billion strong. What did the other 1 billion do wrong?
In Tunisia, it appears, civil society really is run like a club. And it has 8000 members - all of whom enthusiastically support Tunisian plans to host phase 2 of the summit: More
December 11, 2003Do you blog? After President Khatami mentions the explosion of weblogging in Iran, Cara Swift asks: do you use weblogs, Mr President?
"I do not use weblogs," the President replied. "But I do not use many good things. My own daughters do not have weblogs but they are very active in using the internet and chat. Our youth and adolescents during high school - and university - are using weblogs very extensively. In universities, there is a lot of access and there are many internet cafes in Iran. Access for youth to the internet is very satisfactory." Only 240 sites! Aaron Scullion asked President Khatami : "Will you pledge uncensored access to the internet or publish a list of sites deemed unacceptable?"
The President replied: "The BBC, Voice of America and other American sites will not be censored in Iran. Many things that are contrary to the policies of Iran are available in Iran. Even opposition websites are available. We are exerting greater control over pornographic and immoral websites that are not compatible with Islam. And even some political sites that are very insulting to religion. But we are not censoring criticism. Criticism is OK.
"The numbers are very few - it's only porn sites. (Asks Minister of ICT for a precise number) Altogether 240 sites, the Minister tells me. The majority are porn sites, not political sites. We hope to have a world where morality will prevail and we will not have to censor any sites."
Aaron pushed Mr Khatami to justify the comments he made on Wednesday - telling the summit's plenary session that a key requirement of a knowledge based society was a commitment to "principles of democracy".
"Democracy without free flow of information, and without access to the thoughts of others, is not possible - democracy runs in tandem with freedom of expression. This does not mean that everything goes. I think many Western countries will not allow fascists or nazis or racists to say whatever they think. Stopping such ideas does not mean restriction of freedom - freedom of expression and freedom of thought are the preconditions of a democratic society - but at the same time, freedom does not mean chaos, or the absence of law and order." President mentions weblogs! Asked by Ahmed Reda of Daily Summit who controls internet censorship in Iran, Mr Khatami replied:
"I think there are hardly any countries in the developing world, or in Islamic countries, where you have such expanded ICT networks and ICT use. Of the weblogs that are created and generated - after those in English and French, we are number three.
"There are a lot of internet connections in Iran. All countries have certain reservations about the internet, but they are not about freedom of expression. They are only porn and immoral websites. Even political websites that are openly opposed to the Iranian government, and all other educational and scientific sites, are available to the Iranian people. But the expansion of digital expression should not harm the culture or identity of nations. We need new conventions, while allowing fair use of the internet.
"Of countries that have been very sensitive to the harm these communications can cause, we can use France, as an example. Its example shows we should not sacrifice the great benefit of these communications, but we should pay attention to the harms they can cause. The internet should not harm the fundamental freedoms of people. Within the framework, of law, we believe in Iran we have imposed the minimum restrictions. In other countries there are broader restrictions." The Iranian President has just started speaking - "energetic and ready to answer our questions." More
What summit security? Activists have managed to obtain an official pass for the summit using an assumed identiy and a fake plastic identity card - breaching the summit's supposedly tight security.
They are also furious that summit passes, which contain a radio chip, can be used to track the movements of delegates, with information stored in a central database - especially as the database could be transferred to the Tunisian authorities, who host WSIS 2 in 2005. More
He gets it? "Up-to-down approaches based on concentration have often failed everywhere in the world," says Yahya Tabesh, member of the Supreme Council of Informatics.
"Internet itself has had an endogenous growth. Nobody is the owner. Anyone who has something to contribute, remains in the net, and others without contribution, will be erased... More
Thieves at work? Daily Summit receives an email from the people behind Terra Viva newspaper, accusing shadowy, and possibly Tunisian, figures of making off with huge numbers of their newspapers.
"A woman who identified herself as an architect from Tunisia took an estimated 1,000 copies "for her friends" and responded angrily when questioned... More
A new magna carta??? Lucio Stanca, Italian Minister for the Innovation and the Technologies, finally kicked off a delayed EU press conference (Italy holds the EU presidency and thus leads the European delegation).
This is the first world summit where there has been no need for late night and last minute negotiations to reach agreement. The result, he claimed, was "a magna carta for the information society."
Erikki Liikanen, European Commissioner for Enterprise and the Information Society, hailed the summit's commitment to the "enabling environment" - code speak for a light regulatory regime. "If you get the regulations right in a developing country, you have more competition. Price goes down and quality goes up." Firm and unbending. "Studio 7 will die. It faces death. They think we are sleeping; we want to see where they are going," a typically subtle threat to media freedom from Zimbabwe Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo.
But Wilson Johwa reports that cyber cafes are doing well: "Devon, a cyber cafe assistant in Bulawayo, says there has been an upsurge in the number of people, "from school children to old men in their sixties", using the Internet. He says apart from checking mail and searching for jobs, users visit news portals and read online newspapers." More
On the web, Andy Carvin blogs from the summit, Jeff Jarvis writes about how blogs are making possible the "first free and uncensored Iraqi news service," WIKIs continue to excite, Dana Blankenhorn says that the internet is too big (and encryption too powerful) for governments to control, KnowProSE is waiting for news from the Free Software Foundation,, Andy Oram demands some responsible journalism to untangle the spin about ICANN, and Microsoft's patch-free month lasted... one day. In the news, Kofi Annan thinks "a lot of web-based information is simply not relevant to the real needs of people;" Protestors, Polymedia have finally found a new home (their old one was repossessed); and the EU describes the summit as "a new adventure" (rumours that Hollywood plans to make the film can probably be discounted, though).
Meanwhile, Egypt's Mubarak has used the summit to discuss Palestine with Iran's Khatami and co-operation with Bangladesh's Zia; regulators have said competitive markets are need to widen telecoms access; and Saudi Arabia has promised a "comprehensive national plan for the development of the sector of communications and information."
Finally, civil society detects backsliding, Sri Lanka wonders what it can gain from the summit, and Pakistan PM Jamali believes "the enormity of the digital opportunity is marred by a vast digital divide."
December 10, 2003Habeas corpus? Tibetan demonstrators today added their voice to those protesting new and old methods of information control.
The Tibetans are furious that China is inside the summit, lobbying hard to commitments to enforcing freedom of expression - when Tibetans can be punished even for reading the UN declaration on human rights or listening to a radio broadcast in their own language.
"The world has to tell China," Tibetan activist, Nima Changten, told us, "that ifyou want to be a respected member of the international community, you have to live up to international standards." More
In WSIS news, the gender caucus wants a fund set up to help women use information technologies; the Linux community is showcasing an open source translation system (the Economist explains why this matters); and others are noticing the US's strange defence of Status Quo.
Mugabe attacks autocracy. As we wait for Robert Mugabe to deliver his speech (things are running late here), here are his thoughts on UN reform.
"At a time when citizens everywhere are pressing for a greater say in national governance, it is imperative for us as Heads of State and Government to seek, in turn, a fairer representation through the democratization of multilateral organisations... What is good for the goose must surely be good for the gander. More
On the web, Glenn Reynolds accuses the human rights community of doing too little to fight internet censorship, while our own Aaron Scullion is moonlighting for the BBC, writing a summit diary. Let a million speeches bloom - His Excellency Mr. Pascal Couchepin, President of the Swiss Confederation, fresh from re-election, has kicked off a couple of days of speeches. He urged the world to bridge the digital divide - arguing that "if the rich countries do not keep their promises, they will plunge poor countries into despair."
Kofi Annan has now taken the floor, claiming that English-language websites are, at times, crowding out local views... Business has been clearing up the ICANN confusion - but bemusing me further.
At an International Chamber of Commerce press conference, ICC boss Maria Livanos Cattaui said "internet governance doesn't exist" - but then implied that she thought it should do. More
Mugabe is in town and due to speak this afternoon - we'll keep you posted. US backtracking? At UN meetings, agreement is a relative term. Even though draft summit documents have been agreed by all countries, there's still room for wriggle room - or in UN jargon, "interpretative statements."
An interpretative statement allows a state to express reservations about parts of an agreement it is unhappy about (and does not intend to hold to!). They caused chaos at the end of WSSD, where no-one really knew whether last-minute US attempts to water down the text on corporate social responsibility had been successful. The signs are that they plan something similar here in Geneva... More
Live hands? US journalist, Jeff Jarvis is not here - but we thought we knew what question he'd be asking the US Ambassador (and head of the US delegation to the summit) at today's press conference (and here) . So we asked it for him.
Daily Summit: "Ambassador Gross. There's a lot of anger back in the US about what are seen as predatory attempts by the UN to wrest control of the internet from ICANN. Jeff Jarvis yesterday said the UN would have to prise the internet out of 'dead American hands.' How do you reassure the folks back home that the internet is safe?" (laughter) More
So what do we know about John Marburger, George Bush's science and technology adviser, and the man the US has just announced will speak for them at the summit (he replaces Mr Who)?
According to this profile, Marburger - an authority on nonlinear optics - is a natural shmoozer, whose influence has grown in the wake of the Sept 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. More
David Steven @ 09:39 AM | Comment (0)On the web, Will Wilkinson urges us to "get over stipulating ideal markets and ideal states, and work harder at understanding how even partially functional markets and states get to be partially functional, as opposed to fully non-functional, in the first place" (via Reason).
Meanwhile: Instapundit wants the summit to listen to Daily Summit's growing thread on censorship in Iran, Vox Pop is cross with Microsoft, Lextext is disturbed by African spin on the ICANN fudge, MobileWhack likes Hello World, and there's a worm in the money machine. More productive? An earlier Daily Summit piece on productivity led reader Chris Stokes to comment: "If we are indeed going to hear a lot about how ICTs are going to boost productivity, I do hope we hear first that the IT productivity paradox has been solved once and for all... the fact remains that over the period when investment in ICTs has shot up (since say the 60s), productivity has refused to follow suit and insisted instead on stagnating."
Maybe this McKinsey Global Institute study, reported in the Harvard Business Review, is relevant. It claims that a "new economy" does exist in the US - but it behaves differently from how many people think. More
December 09, 2003An intense war between a bunch of girls. If you're tired of all this seriousness - why not take time out for a SISSYFIGHT - "an intense war between a bunch of girls who are all out to ruin each other's popularity and self-esteem."
Grab, scratch, tease, cower, tattle and lick your lollipop until you and your new best friend are the only two left standing. Along the way, pause to wonder how a game so simple - and one now bereft of sponsors or funding (god knows who pays the bandwidth bill) - can support such a vibrant and tight-knit community. More
David Steven @ 10:30 PM | Comment (44)On the web, Jeff Jarvis is not a happy man. "Instead of worrying about America and the Internet -- since we made it happen, after all -- maybe the U.N. should worry instead about Iran censoring the Internet. Yes, the U.N. would be a fine organization to run the technology future of the world. No f'ing way! They should pry the Internet out of our dead American hands." (Via Instapundit).
Meanwhile, our post on Iranian censorship has attracted a blizzard of comments. KnowProse wonders who the confusion benefits, and says WSIS technical is on the wrong side of the digital divide (protests from Veni Markovski on this). A classic "yes, but" press release, from the International Trade Union Movement. ICT jobs are good, but not the ones currently being created, they say.
"Millions of workers are being drafted into forms of new economy employment that are clearly unfit for the information age," says Philip Jennings, General Secretary of Union Network International. "But the question of action to ensure that fundamental workers' rights are respected has been side-stepped." "Aaaaaarrrrrgggghhhh....." We interrupt this post to bring you the sad news that David Steven, hyperactive blogger and aged resident of this site, has been incarcerated in a Swiss asylum, following a serious - and we fear irreversible - breakdown.
Steven was dragged away by a UN-seconded Swiss soldier, frothing at the mouth and clutching his beloved laptop to his chest. "All I want is an internet connection," he was heard to scream. "We're supposed to be at the heart of the internet revolution but everything's [bleeped] and no one has a [bleeping] idea what's going on." More
The media workshop has been shut down by Geneva police, claims protest group, WSIS? We Seize.
Apparently, the group had been rented a building by a tenant who had no legal right to do so. "Subsequently, ten members of the Geneva police force arrived, outfitted in riot gear, demanding identification papers from all participants. At this time, the approximately fifteen participants inside the location have been informed that they will not be permitted to leave unless they bring all of their equipment with them. The locks of the building are currently being replaced, and no re-entry will be allowed."
David Steven @ 05:24 PM | Comment (0)Mugabe storm - the summit is agog at the news that Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has travelled to Geneva to attend WSIS - reports say there's confusion over whether he intends to address the summit. He's able to attend because the travel ban that stops him going to EU countries doesn't cover official UN functions. Plus, of course, Switzerland isn't in the EU... More
Cyber Oscars - A Cambodian project connecting disadvantaged young people to the global market place has won the top award in this year's Cyber Oscars.
Digital Data Divide is a Cambodian-US company providing data entry services to US companies. It has turned over 140,000 US dollars and benefited over 80 Cambodians under the age of 25. We'll link to details of other projects honoured when the details go online...
December 08, 2003Daily Summit has written about the sheer number of government, NGO and media delegates attending WSIS - but Forbes has a different complaint. Too few business delegates:
"As of yesterday, the Geneva WSIS registered nearly 13,000 participants from 174 countries. More than 9,000 are from states or non-governmental organizations. Just 636 are from businesses. Business members include such companies as might be expected like Microsoft, IBM and Time Warner, as well as multinationals like Exxon Mobil, Coca-Cola and McDonald's, not particularly known for their roles in the information society." AIDS in Nigeria: "Vivian Nyoko wears a low cut white top and tight denims as she perches on a dirty plastic chair outside a bar on a potholed rubbish-strewn dirt road in central Abuja, trying to lure clients...
"Of course I am scared of Aids. But what am I to do?" Nyoko says, sipping from a beer bottle... "Of course I must make sure that men wear condoms when we have sex. Some men don't want to wear a condom, but then I fight them - I am not stupid, I am not going to kill myself."
Read the whole thing.
David Steven @ 02:59 PM | Comment (2)CHOGM news - the summit's communique has been issued...
...but everyone's still talking about Mugabe. ABC news says CHOGM "limped to a close on a sour note of crisis and recrimination," the Age says Zimbabwe's withdrawal from the Commonwealth "stunned weary Commonwealth officials," while Channel News Asia points out that many countries, such as Singapore, have refused to give any opinion at all on the Mugabe issue. More
David Steven @ 02:44 PM | Comment (0)In WSIS news, the Register and BBC catch up on progress on negotatiations (but you read that here first).
The excellent SciDev.net, meanwhile, reports efforts to get governments to support "initiatives that offer free access to research results published in the electronic versions of scientific journals." More
David Steven @ 01:26 PM | Comment (0)US and Israel murdering journalists, claims BBC reporter. The US and Israeli governments are actively targeting journalists, according to a senior BBC reporter. Nik Gowing claims that the media is now seen as "a real time military threat that on some occasions justifies our removal by the application of deadly force."
Journalists are killed as part of a deliberate policy that is carried out without remorse, he believes. Dead reporters are of "barely marginal concern" to the governments, while US and Israeli action "is already encouraging others to believe they can get away with targeting and eliminating journalists." More
David Steven @ 11:38 AM | Comment (3)
December 07, 2003In WSIS news, there's little interest in the summit in the Philippines, despite the country's role as an exporter of software professionals, while Israel and Jamaica are gearing up for the summit. CHOGM news: the Queen apparently cancelled her trip to Kano and the Kano Commissioner of Information believes Kano is being punished for being a 'sharia state'; while the panel considering Zimbabwe's fate may or may not be deadlocked; and Nasir Danbatta has an excellent round-up of Nigerian reaction to the summit. More
On the web, the digital divide is 'little more than a marketing campaign for Internet service providers' and KnowProSE compares Trinidad and Tobago to Nigeria...
December 06, 2003Daily Summit highlights: internet killed the radio star; Tatchell slams Mugabe, Mbeki; a 419 scammer speaks; children and the net; Nigerian opposition; McKinnon under the spotlight; your digital IQ; African women online; Arthur C. Clarke, genocide by word of mouth; and a tax on telephones. On the web, the computer science of gerrymandering (via slashdot) and the Economist internet security special (Lawrence Lessig's comments linked to here) has kicked up a storm.
December 05, 2003As a panel is set up to decide Zimbabwe's fate, Daily Summit has talked to Peter Tatchell, who has twice tried to arrest President Mugabe. First, in London in 1999, then in Brussels in 2001, where he was severely beaten by the dictator's bodyguards, as Belgian secret service agents looked on.
Tatchell was on typically passionate form - accusing Thabo Mbeki of standing aside while South African electricity is used in Zimbabwe torture chambers; describing Mugabe as Ian Smith with a black face; and calling for an armed struggle against the Mugabe regime... More
More CHOGM news: Don McKinnon, once New Zealand's foreign minister, has just been re-elected as Commonwealth secretary general, despite facing opposition from a dozen or so African countries.
They - with South Africa's Thabo Mbeki to the fore - are angry about Commonwealth treatment of Robert Mugabe. Unusually, the Sri Lankans forced a vote, with their candidate, former foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, also in the ring. More
On the web, open source software in Africa, and at WSIS (more at KnowProSE); Blog.org urges us to see how rich we are, in global terms, while linking to excellent lists of English language weblogs about/from China and Africa; while Many to Many reports that BlogShares is for sale and Notebook Africa is appalled by a two-year wait for a cellphone. Canadian compromise? The Canadians are apparently trying to broker a compromise to get Zimbabwe back into the Commonwealth within the next two years...
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe is desperately short of food (via mostly Africa - required reading!) Squadrons of new readers are hitting our server today - thanks in the most part to Instapundit, Tim Blair and Al Jazeera (how's that for an eclectic list?)...
Welcome. Much of the action will be from Abuja over the weekend, where the Commonwealth is (mostly) arguing with itself. Next week - the main course - when we'll be live from Geneva with all the news from the World Summit on Information Society. Have a look around. Hit the comments. Enjoy! ICANN chair, Vinton "father of the internet" Cerf is defending his organisation's role in The Washington Post: "The bizarre argument that gets made: What ICANN does is Internet governance, and since ICANN doesn't deal with all those other issues, it's not doing its job and let's replace it with the ITU."
Via Lextext. Thanks to reader, Mike McCallister for pointing out that the executive summary of the ITU World Telecommunication Development Report is now online. The full report will be available from Tuesday - expect a third launch...
We really value your thoughts, comments, tips, hints, brickbats, corrections etc. (hold fire on the abuse though!). So hit the comments or email info -at- dailysummit.net... Sci-fi legend, Arthur C. Clarke speaks to One World:
"Because we frequently suffer from the scourge of information pollution, we find it hard to imagine its even deadlier opposite - information starvation. I get very annoyed when I hear arguments - usually from those who have been educated beyond their intelligence - about the virtues of keeping happy, backwards people in ignorance. Such an attitude seems like that of a fat man preaching the benefits of fasting to a starving beggar! More
The BBC is blogging CHOGM, too. Reporting from the opening ceremony, Peter Biles ticks off the world's leaders for being too smartly dressed: "The dark suited leaders of Commonwealth countries looked sombre and incongruous as they watched the actors and dancers in the most extravagant Nigerian costumes."
He doesn't like Abuja much either - "a town planners nightmare, with hardly anything - buildings, roads or bridges - that looks even vaguely complete." From the department of the bleeding obvious, IT firms use jargon 'to deceive'. Reporters without Borders, banned from the summit and harrying IT giants, is also protesting the arrest of a Bangladeshi editor as he left for Israel to deliver a speech on the role of the media in Muslim-Jewish dialogue; defending a Romanian journalist beaten unconscious when investigating corruption; urging the authorities to investigate an explosion at a Georgian TV station; and expressing outrage at the death sentences passed down on the editor of a Burmese sports magazine and eight other Burmese citizens. In WSIS news, the ITU is determined to wring every last drop of publicity from their flagship World Telecommunication Development Report. After one release last month, yesterday saw a re-release (what next: a re-mix?).
The focus this time is on the Millennium Development Goals. The news is unsurprising - ICT's biggest contribution is to MDG#18, which deals with access to ICTs and information. The news is dutifully picked up here and here, though this takes a different angle).
Bizarrely, the report itself doesn't yet appear to be online... CHOGM news: the Commonwealth Business Forum has adopted the "Abuja Manifesto on Business-Government Partnerships for Removing Practical Obstacles to Wealth and Job Creation," while civil society continues to call for more robust engagement with the intergovernmental process. But as leaders arrive in Nigeria, President Mugabe - who is not invited - continues to dominate media coverage
The privacy/security kaleidoscope is being given a shake by the growth of internet telephony, as we reported yesterday. Via John Robb, some interesting thoughts from Skype founder, Niklas Zennstrom:
"The landscape is changing. In the old world you had issues like lawful interception of telephone calls. [But] We cannot do anything because we don't have access to the data stream. The old way of thinking was easy. You'd go to the local telephone company and they'd get a wiretap. That's not a problem because the telephone service owns the infrastructure, provides the service, and operates in one country. The Internet is a bit different." As if IP in the real world wasn't complex enough, there's a lot of chatter at the moment about intellectual property in virtual worlds (Second Life, There or agoraXchange, for example). James Grimmelmann has a superb (but long!) introduction to the issues...
December 04, 2003Hold your hats, as Daily Summit gets technical, dipping into the exciting world of ENUM, our attention piqued by a post from Tim Denton, a Canadian lawyer specialising in telecommunications and the internet, and "with a strong concentration on explaining what the technology is and what it means."
Tim is worked up by Canadian reactions to Enum, a system which aims to let users call existing telephone numbers - over the Internet. As I wasn't quite sure what the issues were, I picked up the phone and Tim helped me out... More
Three Rwandan media executives have received long prison sentences from a UN Tribunal for inciting genocide through radio stations (Radio Hate, Radio Machete etc) and tabloid papers "filled with cartoons and pictures that targeted for extermination all Tutsis, especially women."
The journalists were convicted for the use of words alone, with the presiding judge telling them that "without a firearm, machete or any physical weapon, you caused the death of thousands of innocent civilians."
Human rights activists seem pleased by the verdict, despite the freedom of speech implications. Libertarians are less impressed. CHOGM news. The Mugabe issue is going away? Yeah, right.
Readers with long memories may recall Daily Summit's coverage of the Zimbabwean President's performance at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, when his speech was met with laughter and applause from many of the world's journalists (the only leader to get any reaction from the hard-bitten media). More
In the news, online women demand better access, while the US has no intention of giving ground on control of the Internet or the digital solidarity fund. On the web, Karl Auerbach asks which is the real ICANN: "Is ICANN the sword-bearing guardian of the internet as described in ICANN's MoU (and amendments) with the United States and in ICANN's own bylaws? Or is ICANN merely an impotent 'coordinator' that has no power over the IP address allocation systems and DNS root servers except to make suggestions and hope that those who really operate those systems might heed ICANN's non-binding advice?" Privacy or security? The Economist suggests you can't have both in its special report on internet security. Novell's chief technologist, Alan Nugent is quoted. "I'm kind of a fan of eliminating anonymity if that is the price of security," he says. But then we all know who he is...
December 03, 2003We're going to hear a lot at WSIS about how the information society can boost productivity - so why not mug up on how productivity is measured (at least by the Americans)? Some highlights you may have missed - Sony's downfall, WSIS unzipped, the church volunteer, freedom of expression, and the battle for the internet.
There's also news on Nigerian hopes, arrests and scams. Open source works, according to University of California research.
"Free and open-source software development is faster, better and cheaper in building a community and at reinforcing and institutionalizing a culture for how to develop software," says lead researcher Walt Scacchi. "We're not ready to assert that open-source development is the be-all end-all for software engineering practice, but there's something going on in open-source development that is different from what we see in the textbooks."
Nigerian spam scam. According to the Register, Nigeria is once again cracking down on so-called 419 fraud, setting up a new commission to tackle fraudsters who lure the gullible through emails promising millions of dollars to victims who pay an up-front fee (examples here, here and here).
President Obasanjo is determined to stamp out a fraud he believes is giving Nigeria a bad name, the BBC reports. He has promised "the government will step up measures against these criminal activities." More
In the US, Howard Dean - front-running Democratic presidential candidate - has caused a stir by suggesting he'd break up big media corporations.
"Yes, we're going to break up giant media enterprises," Dean promised. "What we're going to do is say that media enterprises can't be as big as they are today." More
December 02, 2003On the web, Esther Dyson worries about social networking, wondering whether services like Plaxo, Friendster, Spoke and LinkedIn are taking us towards "a world of surveillance, not just on the part of governments or even corporations, but widespread peer-to-peer surveillance." Via Many to Many, where David Weinberger argues that "these social networks are debasing the words 'friend' and 'social'." More
Shame and Ridicule. A few weeks ago, Sony was brought low by the power of distributed computing. Allow Ghenwivar to tell the story: "On monday November 17th, in the most amazing and exciting battle ever, Ascending Dawn, Wudan and Magus Imperialis Magicus defeated Kerafyrm, also known as The Sleeper, for the first time ever on an EverQuest server."
For the unitiated, Everquest is "the world's #1 massively multiplayer online game" and recently its owner, Sony Online Entertainment, decided to spice things up by creating an "unkillable" monster. Big mistake. More
CHOGM news - Will India use CHOGM to continue to campaign for Pakistan's exclusion from the Commonwealth? And how will a "livid" Robert Mugabe react his exclusion from the Abuja meeting?
Meanwhile, Nigerian troops say that they will "decisively crush" anyone causing trouble at the summit; the Commonwealth Business Forum has been opened, while the African diaspora (which sends USÂ£3 billion every year) is being discussed; and President Obasanjo cannot escape domestic troubles - he is defending himself, as the naira continues to slide.
December 01, 2003On the web, jailed Chinese blogger Liu Di, aka the Stainless Steel Mouse, has been freed from jail; John Robb is wowed by another Chinese weblog that receives 10 million visitors a day; Instapundit continues to follow rows over the outsourcing of IT jobs; KnowProSE has more to say about the digital divide; and David Wilcox links to a new academic network for those interested in the internet and development.
David Steven @ 01:50 PM | | TrackBack (0)Internet governance continues to excite us here at Daily Summit (no, really!).
In an Op-Ed for the Toronto Star today, Michael Geist pushes the debate along with the results of a survey he conducted for the ITU on the role of national governments in administering national internet domains (.sc for the Seychelles, for example). More
David Steven @ 11:13 AM | | TrackBack (0)
November 29, 2003On the web, KnowProSe highlights some weaknesses in the Business Week article we linked to below: "All statistics in the article are based in the United States and Israel. If you want a better reflection of the World and the Digital Divide, you'll have to count more than Texas and Israel. Anyone who has drawn a graph should know that two data points do not a line make."
Indeed. But let's add a third point - from the Oxford Internet Access survey of usage patterns in the UK. More
David Steven @ 02:26 PM | | TrackBack (0)
November 28, 2003In the news, Marc Furrer, who leads the Swiss delegation, has been talking to the Swiss press about Switzerland's role as an "informal mediator during last-ditch talks with individual countries, aimed at ironing out lingering differences over the draft declaration and plan of action" (more here).
He's playing his cards close to his chest, "optimistic that we will find a way with China," but not wanting to say anything that could jeapordise agreement with Russia.
David Steven @ 12:25 AM | | TrackBack (0)
November 27, 2003Private or free? The EU appears to be moving towards much tougher regulation of the internet on the grounds of privacy, following a landmark ruling upholding a Norwegian decision to fine a woman who had set up a website giving information to church parishioners.
According to Out-Law.com, Mrs Lindqvist's mistake was to give out information about her fellow church volunteers (names, telephone numbers etc) without their explicit permission. She also revealed that one lady had injured her foot and was working part-time on medical grounds. More
David Steven @ 02:02 PM | | TrackBack (0)In the news, a Chinese human right activist, jailed by the Chinese, but freed after intervention from George Bush, looks like she's now on her way to a jail sentence in the US - for smuggling microprocessors back to China... (link via Instapundit)
David Steven @ 09:46 AM | | TrackBack (0)
November 26, 2003In the news, the Washington Times reports that the "UN could restrict content on the internet", in its take on the ongoing battle between supporters of ICANN and those who want a UN-regulated internet. More
David Steven @ 08:06 PM | | TrackBack (0)On the web, KnowProSE (blogging on technology, society, free software, open source and Trinidad and Tobago... and more) is exploring online participation in the summit, while Susan Crawford discusses problems at ICANN (more on ICANN here, here and here).
David Steven @ 02:34 PM | | TrackBack (0)
November 25, 2003On the web, and from a few months back, Douglas Clement asks whether innovation requires intellectual property rights and, along the way, provides a good primer on the economics behind WSIS's IP debates.
Clement talks to Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine who argue in a much-talked about paper that patents and copyrights create "intellectual monopolies" which, like any other monopoly, leave us all worse off in the long-run. More
David Steven @ 08:55 AM | | TrackBack (0)In the news, the India Economic Summit is receiving plenty of coverage. With 1 million people employed, the ICT sector is being touted as a model for other industries. However, there are worries about a backlash from rich countries losing jobs (some US comment here).
Meanwhile, Disney and Rupert Murdoch's Star India have plans for the sub-continent, with Star's CEO claiming that India "could become an important destination for production of entertainment software." Bollywood film makers agree, with one predicting that 70 percent of global revenue in the entertainment business will come from Asia over the next 10 years.
No summit is complete without demonstrations. In New Delhi, Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat, is being compared to Hitler.
David Steven @ 08:10 AM | | TrackBack (0)
November 24, 2003On the web, Caspar Henderson, writing on OpenDemocracy's Globolog, casts an eye over the United Nations ("a starved wee critter", whose "legitimacy and competence are as questionable as its finances").
WSIS comes in for a pasting from civil society - "a step back not a step forward." And there's this great quote from William Drake (who works here): "Basically, you have a bunch of dictatorships sitting around discussing which language on freedom of expression they can agree with."
David Steven @ 06:20 PM | | TrackBack (0)
November 22, 2003Tunisian internet journalist, Zouhair Yahyaoui, whose story we reported here, has been freed...
David Steven @ 07:17 PM | | TrackBack (0)In the news, Shashi Tharoor (snappy job title: UN under secretary-general for communications and public information) argues that "The information revolution is inconceivable without political democracy."
David Steven @ 07:12 PM | | TrackBack (0)The world's NGOs employ 19 million people and have an annual budget of $1 trillion. Together, claims John Powers, they would form the world's eighth-largest economy.
Powers also offers useful background the relationship between the UN and the NGOs that lobby it on a daily basis: More
David Steven @ 07:07 PM | | TrackBack (0)On the box. Kofi Annan has been celebrating World Television Day (yes, really) and loyally linking this momentous event both to the summit and the World Electronic Media Forum.
"Television can be a tremendous force for good," the UN Secretary General said. "It can educate great numbers of people about the world around them. It can show us how much we have in common with our neighbours, near and far. And, it can shed light on the dark corners, where ignorance and hatred fester." More
David Steven @ 06:53 PM | | TrackBack (0)
November 21, 2003In the news, One World East Asia carries an interview with Chetan Sharma on Indian preparations for WSIS. Sharma is "utterly dissatisfied with the government's response," but remains "certain the WSIS will help the poor."
David Steven @ 05:40 PM | | TrackBack (0)
November 20, 2003In the news, among plenty of reaction to the ITU's new ICT index (see below), the Koreans are planning to jump further up the table, Bahrainis are pleased, but Kiwis, Aussies and Brits are depressed.
David Steven @ 03:51 PM | | TrackBack (0)Technology League Table. Summit organisers, the ITU are trumpeting their new Digital Access Index as the "World's First Global ICT Ranking".
And it's a Scandinavian one-two-three - with Sweden in pole position, and Denmark and Iceland just behind them on the grid. Norway (5th) and Finland (8th) are only just behind. The US only comes in 11th (apparently because of its weak mobile phone network), just behind Canada, while Italy (22nd) and France (23rd) only just edge out Slovenia. More
David Steven @ 03:35 PM | | TrackBack (0)
November 19, 2003In the news, the FT reports on the perilous state of the negotiations, Angola prepares for the summit, and Pakistan plans 2,000 Internet labs planned for state schools.
David Steven @ 08:06 AM |
November 17, 2003In the news, New Zealand civil society is being funded to send a one-person delegation to the summit, while a three day national consultation for the summit has started in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, President Mbeki of South Africa has argued that, with ICANN administering internet domains, "the world continues to be be governed by California law."
David Steven @ 08:27 AM |
November 16, 2003Iran has confirmed its participation at the summit, as we reported yesterday - which is interesting as the country supports a particularly vigorous online culture, with Persian blogs mutliplying by the day.
A few days back, Hossein Derakhshan celebrated the second anniversay of the Persian blogging day, the day he first published a step-by-step guide to creating a Persian weblog. More
David Steven @ 12:13 PM |In the news, Reuters analyses the progress of the negotiations, but reports that developing countries are making some progress on the"digital divide" fund they have been pressing for. It looks like they're going to get... more talks!
According Pierre Gagne, head of the summit secretariat: "No decision will be taken on the establishment of a fund, but I think that there will be agreement to establish a mechanism that will come up with specific recommendations on what to do."
David Steven @ 11:36 AM |
November 15, 2003In the news, ABC reports that control of the internet was the key obstacle blocking progress at this week's prepcom, quoting Pierre Gagne, head of the summit secretariat, as saying that ""Unless there is a miracle, no draft declaration will be adopted" during the preparatory talks this week."
Gustavo Capdevila, meanwhile, provides a more detailed run down of the state-of-play, reporting that high level officials will meet in special session on Dec 7-8 to try and resolve the issues. Finally, IranMania brings news of Iran's participation in the summit.
David Steven @ 12:52 PM |
November 14, 2003In the news, Steven Lang reports that arguments over the role of the media are stopping consensus being reached on a draft declaration to be considered by heads of government in Geneva.
"China argues that since the WSIS meeting is about the Information Society, it is purely a technical meeting," he wrotes, "and as such, the media certainly has no special role to play." More
David Steven @ 08:46 AM |
November 12, 2003In the news, the International Federation of Journalists is furious that freelance journalists will only get press accreditation if they have a confirmed assignment from a media outlet.
David Steven @ 03:34 PM |
November 11, 2003More technology=better education, writes Tony Roberts, head of NGO Computer Aid International in the FT today.
99 percent of children in developing countries "leave school without having seen or touched a computer," he claims. But Computer Aid International has the answer...
David Steven @ 01:05 PM |In the news, Associated Press reports that the French Prime Minister and German Chancellor are among 56 world leaders committed to attending the summit, while the World Bank is resisting plans proposed by Senegal for a special fund to address the digital divide. More
David Steven @ 09:09 AM |
November 10, 2003In the news, the FT reports that "an attempt by developing countries to put management of the internet under United Nations auspices is likely to be shelved" - at least for now. More
David Steven @ 09:35 AM | | TrackBack (0)
November 07, 2003In the news - Nitin Desai, the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser for the Summit, briefs journalists. US Ambassador Gross argues that privatization, human capacity, and IT security are the fundamental bulding blocks "crafting an ICT-for-development agenda." Malawi, meanwhile, is holding a consultative meeting in advance of the summit, with the government promising to "establish an integrated infrastructure programme that will help link the different facets of communication, including transport, telecommunications and other services to enable the growth of an informed society." Finally, NGOs are angry at not being included in the Indian delegation.
David Steven @ 09:32 AM | | TrackBack (0)Coming soon - a business portal for the summit...
David Steven @ 09:17 AM | | TrackBack (0)
October 31, 2003The Christian Scientist is calling on the US to "defend the net from the UN."
In an editorial, it argues that countries such as China and Cuba may use WSIS to impose government control on the internet. More
David Steven @ 11:18 AM | | TrackBack (0)
October 28, 2003Open Source. The US position on this is summed up as follows: "The United States recognizes that open source software can contribute to increased access and diversity of choice but it is only one of many possible models for the development of software. The WSIS documents should not promote one over the other (i.e. open source vs. proprietary), but should instead foster the availability of diverse alternatives and the freedom to choose among those alternatives."
Update: The guys at Slashdot have got their teeth into this. 147 comments in 5 hours...
David Steven @ 11:06 AM | | TrackBack (0)
October 25, 2003Tunisia gets it in the neck, from French NGO, Reporters without Borders.
They're campaigning hard on behalf of cyber-dissident, Zouhair Yahyaoui, who ran an online magazine under the pseudonym Ettounsi.
Ettuunisi was recently sentenced to two years in prison for "spreading false news", after being hung by his arms through three gruelling torture sessions.
How can Tunisia pose as a friend of freedom, but jail Internet dissidents? the NGO asks.
David Steven @ 11:01 AM | | TrackBack (0)Why the summit matters to Latin American journalists:
"Why all this fuss about yet another United Nations chat fest? Because Latin American journalists have learned through long and bitter experience that the obtuse blather issued at these international jaw-jaws is often used by their governments back home to justify censoring and closing newspapers and fining or imprisoning journalists."
David Steven @ 10:51 AM | | TrackBack (0)Telephone Tax. Senegalese President, Abdoulaye Wade has proposed a global tax on international calls, personal computers and software packages. Revenue would fund a "digital solidarity" fund to help Africa catch up with the IT revolution.
"It is paradoxical and ironic that the continent which invented writing . . . [is] excluded from universal knowledge," the President commented.
His tax, he argued, would be a painless one. Daily Summit is not so sure - shrieks of pain can be expected from IT lobbies should the proposal ever be put seriously on the table once the summit gets going in Geneva next month...
David Steven @ 10:47 AM | | TrackBack (0)