pbahra writes: "In nearly 20 megabytes of PDFs comprising the Leveson inquiry report into press standards in the U.K. what one might collectively describe as “new media” escapes almost entirely. On the future of media which lies online, Lord Justice Leveson is almost entirely mute. There is no suggestion that bloggers of any size or status will be required to be part of any future proposals even though there is a desire that the more influential blogs might think about it. Whether they will is an entirely different matter."
pbahra writes: There is no shortage of talk about Big Data and the transformational impact it will have, but one sector of the economy that traditionally hasn’t been a heavy user of technology is hoping it can reap the benefits, too. Charities, nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations — or the third sector — are hopeful that the ability not merely to handle vast datasets, which is one attribute of Big Data, but the combination of disparate datasets, will bring new insights to their work, resulting in greater efficiencies on the ground, and better value for money. For example, using satellite data, weather information, population density and other information allows teams to focus efforts on distributing things like malaria nets or doing indoor residual spraying, or even stepping up education programs in areas likely to be blighted.
pbahra writes: "Europeans will take to the streets this weekend in protest at the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, an international agreement that has given birth to an ocean full of red herrings. That so many have spawned is, say critics, in no small part down to the way in which this most controversial of international agreements was drawn up. If the negotiating parties had set out to stoke the flames of Internet paranoia they could not have done a better job. Accepted there are two things that should never be seen being made in public—laws and sausages—the ACTA process could be a case study of how not to do it. Conducted in secret, with little information shared except a few leaked documents, the ACTA talks were even decried by those who were involved in them."
pbahra writes: "It isn’t often you get the chance to meet a real revolutionary. It is a term cheapened by misuse, but Khaled el Mufti is a revolutionary. It is no exaggeration to say that the role he played in the Libyan uprising last year was crucial; had he and his telecoms team failed, it isn’t hard to think that Col. Muammar Gadhafi might still be in power. Today, Mr. Mufti is a telecoms adviser to the interim government and heads the e-Libya initiative, a bold plan to use the transformative powers of technology to modernize the Libyan state, overturning 40 years of corruption and misrule under Gadhafi. Mr. Mufti is an unlikely revolutionary, a softly spoken network-security engineer with a degree from Imperial College in London. Almost by chance he was in his native Libya when the revolution took place, working on a project with BT in the capital, Tripoli. When a large protest was called for Feb. 17 in Benghazi, he told his BT colleagues to leave, and he headed for Benghazi. It was quickly apparent that the key communications technology for the rebels wasn’t the internet, but the mobile network. “Having shut off international calls, we thought it was very likely he would shut down the mobile network.” In utmost secrecy Mr. el Mufti and a small team started to plan and build their own system. They had one major stroke of luck."
pbahra writes: "News that the U.K. is scrapping its unloved IT curriculum has been well received, but how important were school lessons? TechEurope asked a range of entrepreneurs from around Europe what they learned at school, and whether it was what persuaded them to take up the career they have. Here's what they had to say."
pbahra writes: "Although the debate on net neutrality is frequently heated it is also often ill-informed and can seem obscure which is why, perhaps, the arguments have often been restricted to a techy minority. A new U.K. report, The Open Internet--Platform for Growth seeks to throw a little light on the issue. It should, however, be noted from the outset that the organizations that commissioned the work, the BBC Blinkbox, Channel 4 television, Skype and Yahoo have all benefited from net neutrality. Nevertheless the points raised are ones that do need to be answered by supporters of Internet traffic discrimination. In the executive summary, the report, produced by Plum Consulting, outlines what it sees as the principles governing the open Internet. The report suggests there is a sort of virtuous circle where consumer demand for Internet access drives investment in enhanced networks, that in turn allows growth in Internet-based applications, which consumers want and therefore drives their demand for access, and so on. "The open Internet has allowed start-ups such as Skype, Yahoo!, Spotify, YouTube, Google and Facebook to scale globally," the report says."
pbahra writes: "U.K. government proposals to prevent individual users accessing social media during periods of civil disorder were not technically viable and would be legally highly problematic. “It is all bluff,” said BT’s former CTO. Facebook, Twitter and specifically Research In Motion’s messenger service, BBM, have been blamed for helping to fuel the violence that has plagued several British cities this week. Speaking to an emergency session of the House of Commons Thursday, the U.K. Prime Minister, David Cameron told MPs: "when people are using social media for violence we need to stop them. So we are working with the Police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality. I have also asked the police if they need any other new powers." Nick Tyler, senior associate at Reed Smith’s London office, said attempts to block individuals from accessing particular websites could fall foul of both article 8 and 10 of the Human Rights Act. “It would go to the heart of democracy and liberal society,” he said. “There is a confusion here between preventative measures, stopping people from doing things, and investigative matters, investigating things once they have done it. “I would say it would be very difficult to use the law to stop people from accessing these sites. The government would have to do the sort of thing China did during the Olympics,” he said."
pbahra writes: "U.K. government policy makers will be able to work securely on classified documents across departments for the first time thanks to a deal with cloud computing and content management service provider Huddle. Previously the only way for policy makers to share documents across departments, said Huddle CEO Alastair Mitchell, was via secure email: "Try working on a 500 page document to be shared by 20 people. It is a nightmare." Some 70% of government departments have been using a version of Huddle for some time, said Mr. Mitchell, but anything with a classification of "oerestricted" or above was prohibited. So the government commissioned a special secure version, called Huddle IL3, to allow it to handle more sensitive documents up to restricted level. According to a government spokeswoman a large amount of government work is done at the restricted level. Cloud-based solutions help tackle the issue of users, when faced with obtrusive security procedures, using their insecure Gmail or Hotmail accounts. Surely London-based Huddle has just made itself a target for every hacker in the world wanting to crack into the U.K. government’s secrets? Not so. “It is running on the government secure intranet on their servers in their data center” said Mr. Mitchell. He added that because they were running on the government servers, they were in theory authorized to work to higher levels. He said they were hopeful to be cleared to handle the next level of security, confidential (IL4), next year."
pbahra writes: "She has been called the most wired politician in Europe. Marietje Schaake, is an MEP for the Dutch progressive liberal D66 party. Here at the two-day summit in Brussels which will help shape the E.U.’s agenda, she is seen by many as one of the few MEPs who really understands what is going on.
“I think many MEPs try [to understand], but they don’t,” she says with self confidence that never strays into arrogance. She gets it, they don’t. And she knows it. Ms. Schaake has long been, if not a lone voice, certainly one of very few, MEPs who have embraced new media and understood its significance. With admirable brevity, her election manifesto in 2009 was expressed in just 10 tweets. But as an MEP in Brussels, she faces an uphill struggle: “I don’t even have wi-fi in my office,” she says. “But you should see the amount of paper I get. Kilos of it.”"
pbahra writes: "You could not come up with a better illustration of the clash of cultures that was the eG8 than the post-forum report. Was the output of the two-day gathering in Paris published on a website so people could link to it? Or perhaps a blog so that people could comment on it? Or even a wiki, so the people who attended could contribute and correct mistakes? No it wasn’t. The report is a book. Or rather it is an eBook. Except it isn’t even an eBook, in the sense of something that you can read on your Kindle or other eBook reader. It’s actually a Flash-based page turner, the sort of thing that was all the rage five years ago. It is a digital facsimile of a book. It is the triumph of design over access. Being Flash, you can’t even cut and paste what is in the file. And being Flash it gives complete and total control to the authors. As a user all you get to do is to read it, in exactly the way the authors want you to. It looks good, but you can’t do anything with it, except what the authors tell you to do. Metaphor anyone?"
pbahra writes: "Google has rejected attempts by the Kazakh government "to create borders on the web" and has refused a demand to house servers in the country after an official decree that all Internet domains ending with the domain suffix for Kazakhstan,".kz", be domestically based. Bill Coughran, Google senior vice president said in his blog that from now on, Google will redirect users that visit google.kz to google.com in Kazakh:" We find ourselves in a difficult situation: creating borders on the web raises important questions for us not only about network efficiency but also about user privacy and free expression. If we were to operate google.kz only via servers located inside Kazakhstan, we would be helping to create a fractured Internet." Mr. Coughran said that unfortunately, it would mean that Kazakh users would have a poorer experience as results would no longer be customized for the former Soviet republic."