Happy World IPv6 Day!

The World Internet Forum has a World IPv6 domain explaining the World IPv6 Day. IPv6 has been the long talked about successor of the present day IPv4 which is rapidly becoming too small.

On 8 June, 2011, Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Akamai and Limelight Networks will be amongst some of the major organisations that will offer their content over IPv6 for a 24-hour “test flight”. The goal of the Test Flight Day is to motivate organizations across the industry – Internet service providers, hardware makers, operating system vendors and web companies – to prepare their services for IPv6 to ensure a successful transition as IPv4 addresses run out.

I know it’s important but somehow I am failing to be excited about this event.

The importance of open internet

Who gets to define the Internet? Well during Sarkozy’s “EG8” conference last week it seemed like the internet belongs to business – but thankfully there are important representatives who could organize a press conference to push the obvious view that the internet is not a commercial plaything. BoingBoing writes:

And so, yesterday, in Paris, civil society threw together an impromptu press conference, featuring Harvard’s Larry Lessig, La Quadrature du Net’s Jérémie Zimmermann, CUNY’s Jeff Jarvis, former ICANN board member/former White House advisor Susan Crawford, Reporters Without Borders’ Jean-François Julliard, and Harvard’s Yochai Benkler. The spirt of the event was captured by Lessig. Business is important, the professor argued. But there are more than the interests of just business at stake when it comes to the future of the global network.

At E-G8, Civil Society Groups Restake Their Claim on the ‘Net

[EN] La société civile s’en va t’en guerre à l’ e-G8 from OWNI on Vimeo.

Challenging the YouTube Copyright School

Last week YouTube announced that it had launched an animated film entitled the YouTube Copyright School. The problematic thing is that YouTube begins by recognizing that copyright is complex and that education is needed

Because copyright law can be complicated, education is critical to ensure that our users understand the rules and continue to play by them. That’s why today we’re releasing a new tutorial on copyright and a redesigned copyright help center. We’re also making two changes to our copyright process to be sure that our users understand the rules, and that users who abide by those rules can remain active on the site.

They then release a film portraying a simplistic view of copyright – the complex needs to be explained not simplified or banalized. They also have disabled the comments section – this is their view, enough said, no discussion.

But that does not prevent discussion (as they should well know) criticism was swift – for example Leonhard over at Governance across borders writes

The background for this crazy/disturbing/awkward “Copyright School” is a change in YouTube’s copyright infringement policies. As repeatedly discussed on this blog (e.g. “This Post is Available in Your Country“) and described by fellow workshop participant Domen Bajde (see “Private Negotiation of Public Goods: Collateral Damage(s)“), users who posted three videos containing (seemingly) infringing content to YouTube have not only lost those videos but all of their videos: their account was deleted.

The problem is not only the one-sided view they present, or even their attempts to suppress discussion but also the control of content YouTube exerts is only loosely based on copyright. Their system of removal and criticism of content is highly biased against “amateurs”.

Yesterday Public Knowledge announced the Public Knowledge “Copyright School” Video Challenge!

In an attempt to educate its users about copyright law, YouTube has debuted “Copyright School,” a video that explains why videos are removed from YouTube. While “Copyright School” does a great job of telling you what you can’t do with copyrighted content, it does a very poor job of telling you what you can do with copyrighted content–namely, remix, reuse and repurpose it without permission from the rightsholder as allowed under the doctirine of fair use. So here’s our challenge to you: can you make a better video than YouTube that explains both what you can and can’t do with copyrighted content? Watch the video above (and read the official rules) to find out how you can win $1000 and have your video featured on the Public Knowledge website!*


Facebook as censor

When I read that Facebook was censoring updates that include a rivals name – I was skeptical. Surely they wouldnt be so stupid? But then I tried it myself.  I logged into Facebook and wrote a status update: “Is it true that FB is censoring power.com” and pressed enter.

According to a blog post in the New York Times in 2008

Power.com, a Web start-up from Brazil with some prominent backers, aims to become the portal through which people access their online social lives. It’s up against no less than the world’s biggest Internet companies.

Facebook may be the biggest player in town but there are areas in the world where alternatives exist. Of course Facebook as a company has no obligation to play nice with others but let me quote Stan Lee: With great power comes great responsibility. If they do this then what is to stop Facebook from deleting people or other organizations?

Cortado for the public sphere

The Nordic (Finland, Sweden, Norway & Denmark) countries have for a long time led the world in coffee consumption per capita (between 8-12 kg per person and year, compared to the US which has about 4 kg). The high amounts of coffee are not necessarily the same as drinking quality coffee.

In the history of coffee the actual location where the coffee was served has played an important part in the intellectual, political and social discussion in society. Coffee Houses where important in the development and support of the public sphere. In his work The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Habermas points argues that to develop a public sphere requires things like disregard of status and inclusivity and as such the coffee house provided an excellent infrastructure.

But this intellectual discussion does not spring from infrastructure alone. Twenty years ago coffee (in Swedish cafés) was badly brewed and stood warm for long periods of time. The quality of the coffee and the discussions was rather low. But there has been a fascinating development in café culture in most (all) Nordic countries with better raw material and freshly made ‘espresso’ style coffee.

So the coffee gets better but importance of the café for the public sphere is still minimal. The café does however play an important role in providing infrastructure for the public domain. It is not that we go to coffee houses to discuss the politics of the day but by providing a public place to sit and even more importantly access to the Internet through “free” wifi the coffee house is an office for the traveler, for the creative individual, for the small consultant. It is a shelter were we can sit and work.

entering the public sphere

The coffee house takes over the role of the library and the agora. It is a warm home for the digital nomad with a laptop providing access to the larger group & context of a larger discussion. The practice of sitting in public and staring at a screen may be seen as anti-social but that is only perceived so by those who fail to see the sociality of technology mediated communication.

The role of the coffee house is not what Habermas described, it is not the vibrant places of social discussion among the people who are physically co-located but if you remove the coffee or the ability of the shops to provide wifi for the wifi-less an important access point would disappear. Habermas recognized inclusivity and the coffee shop wifi provides just that. Along with a decent cup of joe.

Happily drifting into the cloud…

Jan Nolin over at SociaMediaPedia has written an interesting post about the Swedish municipality Salem that has recently announced that they are the country’s first municipality to place all of their IT services at Google apps. Jan writes:

The involved people seem to be well informed, so maybe they have already thought about things that concern me:

• -What are the ethical and legal implications in moving data and services from computers and servers owned by the municipality to computers owned by an American multinational corporation?
• -What kind of freedom of choice does the municipality have when investing in future information technology?
• -What kind of competitive advantage is Google given concerning associated technology on the local market? For instance, regarding smartphones?
• -In which ways can Google Sweden safeguard its information in relation to the mother company?
• -Did officials of the municipality have the right to take the decision to move information from Swedish citizens to an American corporation?
• -Isn’t information to be seen as a kind of currency? That we are giving away for free?
• -In which ways is the Salem information linked with other nation-based resources? What else was Google given in this deal?

These are extremely important issues that are typically not well discussed when moves such as these are undertaken. One of the reasons for the lack of discussion in situations such as this is that the move to the cloud is viewed a technological issue and therefore best discussed by technicians.

Unfortunately this view is much too limited. While the choice may be one of deciding which technological infrastructure is best for the organization it is not necessarily a technological decision. Different technological (communications) platforms effect the way in which we communicate and interact. This is part of the fundamental thoughts from McLuhan’s work The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962): Communications infrastructure affects cognitive organization, which affects social organization:

…[I]f a new technology extends one or more of our senses outside us into the social world, then new ratios among all of our senses will occur in that particular culture. It is comparable to what happens when a new note is added to a melody. And when the sense ratios alter in any culture then what had appeared lucid before may suddenly become opaque, and what had been vague or opaque will become translucent.

The organization of technology is not a limited technological question. The organization of technology is the organization of society. Since it is a question of democracy it should be dealt with as such.

What a marketer should know

Right now I am sitting in what is probably one of the most expensive (and therefore inhospitable?) airports in the world. Copenhagen Airport (CPH). Ok so I am sure there are worse airports but Copenhagen seems to be uniquely situated to annoy this traveler. And I have been annoyed here many times before.

Its not their fault the Danish krona is strong and you cannot blame one airport for being expensive – they all take advantage of their monopoly situations.

And I am not really annoyed that they still charge for internet access – only US airports seem to believe that this is something that should be offered at no cost… like bathrooms, toilet paper, heat, air conditioning, lighting and a whole other pile of services.

No, what really begins to annoy me is the pricing. Again with the local monopoly!

Internet Access, 30 minutes (DKK 40)
Internet Access, 1 hour (DKK 60)
Internet Access, 4 hours (DKK 80)

I am naturally averse to paying for Internet connection but when companies charge as much for the hour as these do it is cheaper to buy a month worth of pre-paid mobile Internet. But wait, they don’t sell such things at the airport – it would ruin the monopoly.

But what really gets me pissed off – that which really adds insult to injury is the wonderfully out of touch text about the airport:

“Copenhagen Airport is a living organism that never rests. It is much more than just a traffic hub; it is an excursion spot in itself.”

WTF?? You cannot be serious? Nobody but the feeble-minded make trips to airports as excursions – and none of these are trapped within the monopolistic terminals! So here is a message to Mr & Mrs Marketing: We are here because we have to be. We do not want to be here. Your words show a lack of connection with the real world on par with Egypt’s President Mubarak.

If I am thirsty I will drink your overpriced beer
If I am hungry I will eat your dry overpriced sandwiches
If I am tired I will try to rest on your uncomfortable chairs
If I am bored I will shop in your overpriced stores
But no way in hell will I swallow your crappy marketing.

We don’t believe you,
We cannot be bothered to argue with you
But your monopoly on defining the world does not create the world.
It insults us, it demeans you.

Posted from another country where the Internet is free. In more ways than one.

Visualizing the (invisible) archive

The Swedish National Heritage Board is an excellent example of an authority with a mixed archive of miscellaneous content. Among their content are old photographs and among the photographs are the works of the Swedish physician (and prominent balneologist) Carl Curman (1833-1913). His photographs found their way into the archives and have spent an uneventful century mainly gathering dust.

Then last year the heritage board joined Flickr Commons and began adding Curman’s images to the pool. The results were spectacular to say the least. Today the heritage K-Blogg reports

I was quite thrilled this morning when I had a glance at the Flickr statistics for views on our account on Flickr Commons. The magical limit of 1 000 000 views since the launching on 2009.03.17, was reached – actually the number was 1 000 100 when I looked, a nice sight.

Digitalization brings with it many interesting problems and, at times, we focus too much on these negative issues. But as these results show, by opening up the archives in this way the almost forgotten works have been revived and made relevant again.

Spaghetti Open Data

A couple of days ago Alberto Cottica (author of the interesting Wikicrazia – unfortunately for me in Italian) announced a major step in Open Data in Italy

A few weeks ago, after a happy hour in Rome, people started spontaneously to share links on Italian open data and tools to crunch them with. With a few others, I thought it would be nice to collect these links in one place, a sort of one stop shop for people interested in transparency not just in theory, but in the practice of extracting information from public data. One thing led to another, and today Spaghetti Open Data is born.

In the English text about Spaghetti Open Data acknowledges the importance of making open data available:

Consider it a gift. For all its shortcomings, our democracy is a great gift from the past generations: the least we can do is take care of it as best as we can.

Among the gifts of democracy is the theory of openness. Without openness and free speech democracy is somewhere between handicapped and useless. While we now have the technology to increase openness & make transparency viable on a level previously impossible this has not translated automatically into a citizen friendly approach to government data. Initiative like Spaghetti Open Data provide us with excellent examples of steps in the right direction.

Bad wifi SUCKS

Sorry about the shouting but I need to get it out of my system. While I am attending the most interesting conference for a long time (Personal Democracy Forum) it is located in a sub-standard technical environment. While this is sad it can be explained by the inability of the venue to deliver what they promised to the organizers.
But this is not what is really pissing me off. This is the second (or maybe third?) time I am at the University of Barcelona and staring at the wonderful Eduroam network. Eduroam is

eduroam (education roaming) is the secure, world-wide roaming access service developed for the international research and education community.

eduroam allows students, researchers and staff from participating institutions to obtain Internet connectivity across campus and when visiting other participating institutions by simply opening their laptop.

The system works everywhere I have come across it and I have been able to rely on it in several places in Sweden, Austria & UK. It is an amazing initiative and a fantastic idea. But my irritation is aggravated by the fact that Eduroam NEVER works when I visit the University of Barcelona. Why is this? What have they got against visitors? Why do they even have Eduroam if they don’t what to use it to its full potential?

There is nothing worse than implementing technology badly. Unless of course the point is to cause the users suffering and frustration…