In his blog, Marcus Gilroy-Ware who has written for openDemocracy about Wikipedia, defends the open source encyclopedia from The Register's Andrew Orlowski. Orlowski's article, "Wikipedia founder admits to serious quality problems" has been buzzing around the internet propelled by horror that someone could say something so mean about a collaborative success story. "Yes it's garbage," he says, "but it's delivered so much faster!" Admittedly, he makes some good points (you should read it) but not enough to merit such scorn. Like Marcus, I'm left with the sense that Orlowski doesn't quite get it. Has he ever edited a page himself?
US forces questioned about journalist killings
On Sunday, Reuters soundman Waleed Khaled, was killed by five shots fired by US snipers in Iraq. His colleague, cameraman Haidar Kadhem, survived a shot in the back, but has now been detained by American forces without explanation.
According to the International Federation of Journalists this brings the number of journalists killed by American troops to 18. And it's caused all the major international freedom of the press organisations, including IFEX, Reporters Without Borders, and the Committe to Protect Journalists to raise questions about not just the killings, but the "wall of silence" they are met with whenever they demand inquiries into their deaths.
A statement from the IFJ on Monday says:
"The IFJ acknowledges that many of the incidents may have been unavoidable in the context of the war, but in a number of cases there are serious questions still to be dealt with that have given rise to suggestions of deliberate targeting of media staff."
It would be nice to know what's going on. Ever since a US missile hit Al Jazeera's offices in Kabul in 2001, it's hard not to suspect the worst. Then again, if you look at the high number of soldiers killed in "friendly fire" or "fratricide" maybe something else entirely is to blame.
We media or me media?
Welcome to the Evolving Personalised Information Construct. In this eight minute video, what starts as a spoof history of the media in the 20 years since Tim Berners Lee "invented" the World Wide Web, quickly turns into a cautionary tale of the future hegemony of Google and Amazon in the age of we media. Will the democratisation of the news lead to the destruction of the media as a democratic force? Decide for yourself.
Online input at Young Democrats convention
When the The Young Democrats of America, the official youth arm of the Democratic Party in the US held their national convention last week, they accepted online submissions for their new visions platform, and real-time online feedback from the general membership across America using a new technology called the "Online Progressive Congress". The prospects of something like that being used in the "adult" end of the party are pretty interesting.
I only just read about it in their newsletter, and haven't found any links to the software/website, but they say it was funded by Garrett Gruener a former candidate for California governor, and one of the main venture capitalists behind the search engine AskJeeves.com. Gruener did most of his campaigning online, but Governor Schwarzenegger was the Terminator.
State of the blogosphere
A couple of amazing and inspiring facts from the summary:
* Technorati was tracking over 14.2 Million weblogs, and over 1.3 billion links in July 2005
* About 13% of all blogs are updated at least weekly
Have you created a blog today?
G8 blogs are all the rage
Africa will be high on the agenda at the G8 summit, but who's perspective will we all be getting on it? Panos London will be darned if we don't all hear what Africans have to say about it - and this means Africa too. Because African media often lack the resources to follow international processes and events, they themselves end up falling back on Western media reports, angled entirely wrong for stimulating national debate.
Panos have gathered a crew of seasoned African reporters from Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, Sierra Leone and Tanzania, funded their trip to Scotland, and invited them to blog events here: www.panos.org.uk/africavox. Tune in tomorrow.
openDemocracy's own G8 blog is heating up here. And yesterday I got a phone call from Seed Magazine, who have launched a culture/science G8 blog here: www.scienceg8.com (nearly ready, give 'em a day).
G8 blogs are all the rage. Here are a few more in totally random order:
The Overseas Development Institute in the UK has a G8 blog too: ODI 2005 Blog
Map of the Creative Commons
From Lawrence Lessig's blog: The countries marked in green are all the places where the Creative Commons exists locally. Yellow is where they are nearly there, and red is where the bug has yet to spread.
Hoder: Blogging his way home
I've been an activist of sorts for many years, but never under threats of imprisonment or torture. I can't pretend to know what I would do in his situation. Among others, Anthony Barnett has encouraged him to jump on the plane, and believes "young people must be brave". Now that he has finally decided to go, I quite admire him. Especially because I know he has good reason to be concerned. Another blogger, Mojtaba Saminejad, just received a two year prison sentence.
When Hossein was in London, I met with him and his friend Sina Motallebi who was detained for three weeks last year because of his blog. Sina was jokingly telling stories of how his interrogators asked him whether Hossein (aka Hoder) had sent him articles to post in his blog. He responded with a question and asked them, why on earth Hoder would send him articles, when he was more free to write what he wanted in Canada ("and anyway I'm a better writer than him, ho ho"). The next time they interrogated Sina, they accused him of sending articles to Hoder's blog instead.
You can say what you want about the effect blogs may or may not have on the politics of the country, but the Iranian government is certainly taking their influence very seriously. In New York, Hossein showed me a scanned handwritten testimony on the internet, that stated Hossein was linking (shock, horror) to subversive and anti-government websites. He thinks someone probably wrote it under force. His website is filtered by the government in Iran.
Join me in wishing him luck on his trip, and if you would like to support him with a little cash there is a Paypal donation link on his website. He has promised to blog, photograph and record his entire journey - in his own blog, as well as in the one he helped create right here on openDemocracy - Iran Scan 1384. In return, he asks that if he gets arrested we all blog, report and raise awareness about it as loudly as we can.
Photo: Sina Motallebi, his wife, and Hoder in Covent Garden in May.
If you were a Chinese blogger, would you tell the government your name?
They used to say you can't censor the internet. Will someone please tell the Chinese government? They have announced that all China-based websites and blogs that are not officially registered with the government before 30 June will be shut down and/or fined. Reporters without Borders have sounded alarms.
Internet service providers in China who host the websites have been ordered to cooperate. Political bloggers are likely to move their sites to servers outside China, where they unfortunately are easier for the government to "filter" or make inaccessible to Chinese web users through the "Great Firewall".
On the Chinese ministry of information website (via the BBC), the reasoning goes:
It's best to be skeptical about the counts of how many bloggers have registered so far. Chinese officials say 75%, the Blog Herald reports only 10%. The excellent Global Voices has promised to stay on top of developments, and this post about the anniversary of Tianamen Square gives a sense of the kind of writing at stake.
It's been about 10 years since Privacy International published the report Big Brother Incorporated, about how corporations in the developed world assist repressive regimes through the international trade in surveillance technology. And it's still relevant. In May, openDemocracy's Becky Hogge warned about Google's business ties with China, and judging by this recent article on ZDNet about American tech-industry priorities in China, freedom of expression is as good as nonexistent on the agenda compared to software piracy and killing off alternatives to Windows.
Of course, it's harder to count human rights breaches in dollars and cents. What's it worth to you? Support the organisations that care. Including openDemocracy, of course.
Who's blogging the NY Times?
I don't think I've linked to this before. This very cool site is called The Annotated Times and it shows you who is blogging current New York Times articles on a mock Times site. It is mind-boggling to see it displayed this way. Here's a description of how it works.