Jaywalking – who owns the city?

This thoughtful quote comes from the thoughtful essay The End of Walking by Antonia Malchik

Making jaywalking illegal gave the supremacy of mobility to those sitting behind combustion engines. Once upon a time, the public roads belonged to everyone. But since the ingenious invention of jaywalking we’ve battered pedestrianism in one of those silent culture wars where the only losers are ourselves.

After reading this you may enjoy reading The forgotten history of how automakers invented the crime of “jaywalking” by . And the great podcast 99% Invisible’s has an episode on jaywalking.

In the end it’s about what our public space is for. Who has the right of way. Of course we need to prevent people from getting killed but how much space should the road take from us?

No further comment needed

Eloquently argued by Xeni Jardinat Boing Boing Birds drenched in oil from BP spill: photo gallery

bpspill.jpg bp2.jpg

In the Boston Globe‘s “Big Picture” this week: A series of heartbreaking images by AP Photographer Charlie Riedel of seabirds caught in the oil slick on a beach on Louisiana’s East Grand Terre Island. This is just the beginning of the destruction, and of the suffering and death for all manner of living things in the region. F*ck you, BP.

Global Earth Hour

WWF has launched a great effort to bring awareness to the environment – but can equally be used to bring about technology awareness. It’s the WWF Earth Hour.

The idea is to collect a billion people around the world who will switch off their lights for one hour all at the same time. This is the information for those in the GMT zone

On Saturday 28 March 2009 at 8.30pm, people, businesses and iconic buildings around the world will switch off their lights for an hour – WWF’s Earth Hour.

We want a billion people around the world to sign up and join in.

Sign up to show that you care about people, wildlife and the planet, and that you want the world’s leaders to take action to tackle climate change.

Some 934 cities from 80 countries have already signed up. In addition, a great number of iconic landmarks will be plunged into darkness, including Nelson’s Column, the Forth Bridge, the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, the Eiffel Tower, Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Table Mountain in Cape Town and Sydney Opera House. The London Eye, too, will be dimmed for the hour. Visit our ‘Who’s signed up to switch off ‘ page to find out more.

Please join us, and help us make this the biggest mass participation event ever!

Environmentalism and Class

On the one hand environmentalism is science – irrefutable and extremely difficult to interpret socially, but it’s solutions are not. Well so I thought but my eyes were opened a bit wider after reading Monbiot’s article Flying Over the Cuckoo’s Nest on the connection between class struggle and environmentalism

If you understand and accept what climate science is saying, you need no further explanation for protests against airport expansion. But if… you refuse to accept that manmade climate change is real, you must show that the campaign to curb it is the result of an irrational impulse. The impulse they choose, because it’s an easy stereotype and it suits their prolier-than-thou posturing, is the urge to preserve the wonders of the world for the upper classes. “Cheap flights”, O’Neill claims, “has become code for lowlife scum, an issue through which you can attack the “underclass”, the working class and the nouveau riche with impunity.”(24)

The connection seems obvious, doesn’t it? More cheap flights must be of greatest benefit to the poor. A campaign against airport expansion must therefore be an attack on working-class aspirations. It might be obvious, but it’s wrong.

Working with empirical evidence Monbiot shows that the working class are not the primary users or even the intended users of cheap flights. The working class, it seems, does not fill the airlines of the world even when the tickets are priced at close to zero.

This is very interesting since confusing the science of climate change with issues of social and class justice are a wonderful way of creating counter arguments against “hard” science. If cheap air fares are not about class then the question is not about the “right to fly” but should be focused on making the travelers pay their own environmental costs.

Peeing women bad for the environment

The Vatican seems to have nothing better to do than to blame women for polluting the environment and male infertility.

The contraceptive pill is polluting the environment and is in part responsible for male infertility, a report in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano said Saturday. The pill “has for some years had devastating effects on the environment by releasing tonnes of hormones into nature” through female urine, said Pedro Jose Maria Simon Castellvi, president of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, in the report.

It’s not enough for the church to have stupid religious reasons against the use of birth control it now feels the need to add quasi scientific motivations to support its arguments. Women peeing is obviously what we should be concentrating our efforts on rather than the tonnes of other environmental threats.

(via Feministing)

Can we save energy through Blackle?

So today I came across the site Blackle -which is basically a black version of Google. Black as in the background is black rather than white. The reasoning for this is found on their about page which states, among other things:

Blackle saves energy because the screen is predominantly black. “Image displayed is primarily a function of the user’s color settings and desktop graphics, as well as the color and size of open application windows; a given monitor requires more power to display a white (or light) screen than a black (or dark) screen.” Roberson et al, 2002

In January 2007 a blog post titled Black Google Would Save 750 Megawatt-hours a Year proposed the theory that a black version of the Google search engine would save a fair bit of energy due to the popularity of the search engine. Since then there has been skepticism about the significance of the energy savings that can be achieved and the cost in terms of readability of black web pages.

So how should we react to things like this? Sure there is a minor saving and Yes a minor saving is not to be ignored. But (you knew that was coming didn’t you?) what is the point of the average wasteful consumer ignoring all other advice and then changing from Google to Blackle?

Taken on a larger level what is the point of minor energy conservation schemes in relation to the damage we are doing? Don’t get me wrong I truely believe in the importance of the accumalitve effect of small savings but in relation to energy and the environment I get the impression we are sometimes creating false feelings of contributing.

What do I mean? Well if the average (whatever that means) wasteful person feels like they are making a contribution to the environment by switching to a black start or search page then the net result saving is infinitesimal BUT the feelgood effect in the wasteful person will allow them to continue with the otherwise wasteful lifestyles and still claim to care and to contribute.

Or maybe I just a Monday morning cynic and this is an important step in awareness and energy savings…

The disposable mobile

It might seem strange for a company that makes cheap pens and disposable razors looking around for a new cutting edge (sorry for the bad pun, couldn’t help it!) product to decide to start producing mobile telephones. But this is what BIC® has decided to do. The phone comes with 60 free minutes, a charged battery, and prepaid SIM card installed.

According to the press release:

Available in citrus orange and lime green, with innovative packaging, the BIC® phone will appeal to consumers who like easy-to-use and pay as you go products. It also meets specific phoning requirements, serving as a back-up phone if needed (e.g. a second line when advertising the sale of an apartment, a car … which leaves the main phone line free).

The phone focuses on basic use, in other words sending and receiving calls and SMS. It’s cheap (Suggested retail price: €49 including tax includes 60 minutes talk time) but not intended to be disposable (battery loader included). The prepaid number is valid for 12 months but then needs to be extended.

So the company does not intend the phone to be disposable but the way in which they talk about it and “look and feel” of the packaging and phone – feels very disposable. So this is all we need now, a cheap addition to the pile of plastics, electronics, toxics, batteries and packaging which will be added to the current environmental mess.

Two New OA Books (+1)

This has been a busy week for books on Open Access. On Wednesday I blogged about the book Understanding Open Access in the Academic Environment: A Guide for Authors by Kylie Pappalardo. Today Open Access News wrote about two more new Open Access books:

E. Canessa and M. Zennaro at the Science Dissemination Unit of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste have put together an edited book Science Dissemination using Open Access.

From today’s announcement:

The book is a compendium of selected literature on Open Access, both on the technical and organizational levels, and was written in an effort to guide the scientific community on the requirements of Open Access, and the plethora of low-cost solutions available. The book also aims to encourage decision makers in academia and research centers to adopt institutional and regional Open Access Journals and Archives to make their own scientific results public and fully searchable on the Internet. Discussions on open publishing via Academic Webcasting are also included.

The other book is a 144 pp. collection of articles on OA by 38 authors, edited by Barbara Malina entitled Open Access Opportunities and Challenges: A Handbook, the German UNESCO Commission, July 2008. This is an English translation of Open Access: Chancen und Herausforderungen – ein Handbuch (2007).

Open Access Guide

The Oak Law project has produced an Open Access guide.

The book Understanding Open Access in the Academic Environment: A Guide for Authors by Kylie Pappalardo (with the assistance of Professor Brian Fitzgerald, Professor Anne Fitzgerald, Scott Kiel-Chisholm, Jenny Georgiades and Anthony Austin) aims to provide practical guidance for academic authors interested in making their work more openly accessible to readers and other researchers.

The guide provides authors with an overview of the concept of and rationale for open access to research outputs and how they may be involved in its implementation and with what effect. In doing so it considers the central role of copyright law and publishing agreements in structuring an open access framework as well as the increasing involvement of funders and academic institutions.

The guide also explains different methods available to authors for making their outputs openly accessible, such as publishing in an open access journal or depositing work into an open access repository. Importantly, the guide addresses how open access goals can affect an author’s relationship with their commercial publisher and provides guidance on how to negotiate a proper allocation of copyright interests between an author and publisher. A Copyright Toolkit is provided to further assist authors in managing their copyright.

The work is licensed under an Australian Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
2.5 License


8th International Conference on Human Choice and Computers
Social Dimensions of ICT Policy

University of Pretoria
25-26 September 2008

Thursday 25 September

9:00 – 9:30 Opening session
Welcome speeches by conference organizers at the University of Pretoria

9:30 – 10:30 Plenary session: keynote speech
Communication, Information and ICT Policy: Towards enabling research frameworks, Robin Mansell

10:30 – 11:00 coffee break

11:00 – 12:30 Plenary session: Issues of governance of the information society
• 15 Years of Ways of Internet Governance: towards a new agenda for action, Jacques Berleur
• Free and Open Source Software in low-income countries: emergent properties? (panel): Gianluca Miscione (chair), Dorothy K. Gordon, Kevin Johnston

12:30 – 14:00 lunch break

14:00 – 15:30 Track 1: Harnessing the empowering capacity of ICT
• Government policies for ICT diffusion and the governance of grassroots movements, Magda Hercheui
• Egyptian women artisans: ICTs are not the entry to modern markets, Leila Hassanin
• Digital divides and the role of policy and regulation: a qualitative study of Greece, Panayiota Tsatsou

Track 2: National information systems infrastructures
• Institutional strategies towards improving health information systems in Sub-Saharan Africa, Solomon B. Bishaw
• Technology, globalization and governance: research perspectives and prospects, Diego Navarra and Tony Cornford
• Globalization and national security issues for the state: implications for national ICT policies, Jackie Phahlamohlaka

15:30 – 16:00 coffee break

16:00 – 17:30 Track 1: ICT and development in Africa
• Examining trust in mobile banking transactions: the case of M-PESA in Kenya, Olga Morawczynski and Gianluca Miscione
• Next generation ICT policy in South Africa: towards a human development-based ICT policy, Walter Brown and Irwin Brown
• Challenges of ICT policy for rural communities: a case study from South Africa, Mpostol Jeremia Mashinini

Track 2: ICT in education
• A human environmentalist approach to diffusion in ICT policies, Elaine Byrne and Lizette Weilbach
• ICT and socio-economic development: a university’s engagement in a rural community in Yola, Nigeria, Jainaba M.L. Kah and Muhammadou M.O. Kah
• Lessons from a dropped ICT curriculum design project: a retrospective view, Roohollah Honarvar

Friday 26 September

9:00 – 10:00 Plenary session: keynote speech Dorothy Gordon

10:00 – 10:30 coffee break

10:30 – 11:30 Plenary session: panel on the policy implications of a UK mega-programme in the health sector
Evaluating ‘Connecting for Health’: policy implications of a UK mega-programme, Kathy McGrath (chair) Jane Hendy, Ela Klekun, Leslie Willcocks, Terry Young

11:30 – 12:30 Plenary session: panel on ICT and women’s empowerment
Gender research in Africa into ICTs for empowerment (GRACE), Ineke Buskens and Anne Webb (co-chairs), Gertrudes Macueve, Ibou Sane

12:30 – 14:00 lunch break

14:00 – 16:00 Track 1: European Union and national ICT policies
• Empowerment through ICT: a critical discourse analysis of the Egyptian ICT policy, Bernd Carsten Stahl
• American and African geospatial myths: the argumentative structure of spatial data infrastructure initiatives, Yola Georgiadou and Vincent Homburg
• ICT policy as a governable domain: the case of Greece and the European Commission, Ioanna Chini
• National variations of the information society: evidence from the Greek case, Dimitris Boucas

Track 2: Challenging two fundamental institutions of modernity: IPR and measurement
• Social networks within filtered ICT networks: internet usage within Iran, Farid Shirazi
• No-IPR model as solution to reuse and understanding of information systems, Kai K. Kimppa
• Measuring ICT for development, Anouk Mukherjee
• Open Access and Action Research, Mathias Klang

16:00 – 16:30 coffee break

16:30 – 17:30 Closing plenary session: Discussion of emerging issues on ICT policy research, Chrisanthi Avgerou (chair)