October 2003 Archives

social reasons responsible for the digital divide

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The CNET article Study finds gaps in digital divide theory reports on a study that compares socio-economic, gender, life stage, and rural-urban internet access and use in eight countries.

One of the most important findings in this study is that it brings forth the argument that there are social reason why people are not on-line, making it clear that more technology and internet access will not close the multifaceted digital divide gap that exist around the world.

"Bridging the digital divide requires more than simply offering computers and Internet access. Technological fixes won't close the divide unless they take into account the social reasons why people aren't online," Patrick Moorhead, GCAB chairman, said in a statement.

Nicely said...

I've tried to present similar arguments in the following entries: the digital divide: more than a technological issue, :: access to information a solution to poverty?!, :: is IT alone really a solution to poverty?, :: the seriousness of equal access to information for all, :: Discord at digital divide talks.

HOW MUCH INFORMATION 2003?

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HOW MUCH INFORMATION 2003? is an interesting study trying to estimate the amount of new information (i.e. information-as-thing) created each year. It is important to note the emphasis on information-as-thing in this study.

From the page:

"This study is an attempt to estimate how much new information is created each year. Newly created information is distributed in four storage media – print, film, magnetic, and optical – and seen or heard in four information flows – telephone, radio and TV, and the Internet. This study of information storage and flows analyzes the year 2002 in order to estimate the annual size of the stock of new information contained in storage media, and heard or seen each year in information flows. Where reliable data was available we have compared the 2002 findings to those of our 2000 study (which used 1999 data) in order to identify trends – recognizing that 1999-2002 were years of relatively low economic activity. The 2000 study is located on the Web at http://www.sims.berkeley.edu/how-much-info/. Note that this – the 2003 study – has revised certain of the 1999 estimates when we have found new and better data sources."

The Digital Imprimatur

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How big brother and big media can put the Internet genie back in the bottle

The Digital Imprimatur (via Open Access News):

John Walker, The Digital Imprimatur, September 13, 2003 (revised October 9). The co-founder of Autodesk pulls together the grounds for pessimism about the future of the openness of the internet. Excerpt: With the advent of the internet "[i]ndividuals, all over the globe, were empowered to create and exchange information of all kinds, spontaneously form virtual communities, and do so in a totally decentralised manner, free of any kind of restrictions or regulations....Indeed, the very design of the Internet seemed technologically proof against attempts to put the genie back in the bottle....Earlier I believed there was no way to put the Internet genie back into the bottle. In this document I will provide a road map of precisely how I believe that could be done, potentially setting the stage for an authoritarian political and intellectual dark age global in scope and self-perpetuating, a disempowerment of the individual which extinguishes the very innovation and diversity of thought which have brought down so many tyrannies in the past."

more nonsense: SCO attacks GPL

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I think this is the most irrational nonsense yet to come out of the SCO camp. SCO attacks open-source foundation reports on SCO as stating:

"The GPL violates the U.S. Constitution, together with copyright, antitrust and export control laws," SCO Group said in an answer filed late Friday to an IBM court filing. In addition, SCO asserted that the GPL is unenforceable.

Are they (SCO folks) out of their mind? When did it become a violation (of any sort) to share for free your knowledge, expertise and any other product that may derive from it?

Such sharing could certainly reduce the profits of commercial companies when the open source products in question are Linux, Apache, OpenOffice, etc. But, how does that violate the "U.S. Constitution, together with copyright, antitrust and export control laws"?

Apparently SCO is going for all or nothing, and this route they have taken will get them faster to nothing.

social software - what's in the name?

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I've come across few various sites and some articles (blog entries, etc.) talking about social software. The phrase does sound interesting and the name (i.e. social software) appears to promise much more than what actually happens to be.

For example, in iCan for the Public the folks over at Many2Many state:

"The BBC's iCan is in public pre-beta, a social software project to foster social capital and democratic participation. I posted on M2M about the project back in May. (Just a little before that we were having the same power-law inspired discussion of weblog modalities we are today)."

After reviewing the iCan site, it appears to be a collaborative tool/portal where people from the UK can share personal opinions and learn from each other. A clear statement is made at the site that iCan can't be used for commercial purposes.

The common denominator of the tools termed 'social software' seems to be the ability to facilitate open collaboration among the publics or users of such software with the 'publishers/moderators' playing a facilitating role. According to this I would contend that a wide range of software packages that support collaboration have the potential to be used in a way that makes them 'social software'. For example, any software such as mailing lists managers, CMS/portals, blogging software, etc., fit the pattern. However, it is their use that makes them 'social software’ or not. Needless to say, those collaborative software packages that do not support open communication and sharing of ideas and thoughts can't be considered 'social software'.

information science in Directory of Open Access Journals

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I just came across the Directory of Open Access Journals and was amazed at the number of open access peer-reviewed Library and Information Science journals. The "Directory of Open Access Journals ... covers free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals ... [with the] aim to cover all subjects and languages."

Invest in open source, say the Danes

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Invest in open source, say the Danes

"The ordinary market conditions for standard software will tend towards a very small number of suppliers or a monopoly," the report says. "It will only be possible to achieve competition in such a situation by taking political decisions that assist new market participants in entering the market."

An interesting thought. Instead of the profits going to few big software companies, various organizations share their cost in developing opens source software. The potential profits (for the software firms) are turned into savings (for the users of the software). Isn’t this enough of an incentive for various governments and corporations to ‘invest’ in open source? This mode of thought also urges corporations to compete at the true level of their values instead of competitive advantage due to being able to afford the right software.

Where did the technology come from?

Writing a critique on McLuhan’s work and ideas presents the challenge of where to start and exactly what to critique in light of the fact that McLuhan has written so widely and perhaps less coherently than the rest of his contemporaries.

In this paper I’m concentrating on few of his ideas and thoughts, namely McLuhan’s technological determinism viewpoint or lack of one thereof—considering his opinionated statement that “… all media, from the phonetic alphabet to the computer, are extensions of man that cause deep and lasting changes in him and transform his environment” (McLuhan interview, p.54, column 3), in conjunction with his statement that “the medium is also the message” (McLuhan interview, p.56, column 1), and his apparent misdiagnosis of the role of the media in the hegemonic process as described by Gitlin.

McLuhan has so much to say about various technologies and their intimate interplay with human and social senses, yet, he does not say anything about how various technologies are constructed. While McLuhan does not necessarily fit the profile of a technological determinist, he appears to be supporting the view that the human society is helpless and must, or eventually ought to succumb to the technological forces: “The computer thus holds out the promise of technologically engendered state of universal understanding and unity, a state of absorption in the logos that could knit mankind into one family and create a perpetuity of collective harmony and peace” (McLuhan, 1969, p.72). The shortcoming of this argument is that McLuhan does not address the process of technological innovation, despite the fact that this very process of innovation provides the explanation of how various technologies come to be constructed via and through the complex process of interplay of various social, human, and non-human entities in our society. The process of technological innovation is constantly in flux, including here various media and communication technologies. Therefore, the lack of the innovation and the social constructionism argument presents a shortcoming in McLuhan’s overall argument that the human society must succumb to technological forces. Media are not isolated entities that spur by and in themselves. Media technologies are invented, created, and deployed by man. Thus, there is a control factor that determines to a certain degree their use and their potential effect. Even if it can be assumed that the social forces and factors in the process of social constructionism of media technologies can totally imbed and manifest themselves through the technologies that they help create, it wouldn’t be the technology that is the instigator. Certainly, in McLuhan’s arguments this seems to be the case and this is precisely the underlying problem that I see with his argument: while media technologies can and do manifest certain socio-economic and political power structures, media technologies do not create those; media technologies merely mediate and/or reinforce the power of the social structures within which they are imbedded and utilized.

computers can save the classroom ... IF ...

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In Why computers have not saved the classroom George Siemens comments on CSM's article which states that "Putting computers in classrooms has been almost entirely wasteful, and the rush to keep schools up-to-date with the latest technology has been largely pointless".

I agree with George's quote:

"Comment: I disagree with the statement of technology in education being pointless...but it's very interesting to watch the dramatically different discussions happening in schools. We talk in dollar amounts in regards to technology that most librarians/teachers have only dreamed of for their respective fields. Funds seem to be available for hardware/software...but not for teachers/books."

and would just like to add to this that the resources are misdirected and misused. For one, definitely there should be more funding for the appropriate training of teachers, including books and courses.

But most importantly the technology appropriated in schools should be appropriated for the very reason of enhancing students' learning and understanding capabilities. Unfortunately, technological updates and upgrades in schools are mostly ineffective because the environmental and contextual factors of the surrounding local situations are usually shelved under the rug. One of these factors is the necessity for not so traditional literacy, i.e. information, media, and computer literacy. What good are technologies if the students that are supposed to use them are not given the appropriate training about technologies’ benefits, shortcomings, limitation, impacts, etc?

A succinct definition of Actor-Network Theory

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The ISCID Encyclopedia of Science and Philosophy provides a very succinct definition of the Actor-Network Theory.

The definition emphasizes on the most important and pertinent aspects of ANT (actor-network theory) as a theory and methodology about how to describe the interplay between various elements (or actors) in networks where human and non-human elements (or nodes, or actors) are present.

In What is Actor-Network Theory: various ANT definitions I've provided few definitions taken from What is Actor-Network Theory?.

Back in July we had an interesting discussion about few ANT related concepts such as nodes, or actors, or networks with Jeremy Hunsinger. It is an interesting discussion that brings forth few different viewpoints and understandings. Other related ideas and thoughts can be found in the Actor-Network theory & methodology category.

It would be interesting to hear if anyone out there is using the actor-network theory and/or methodology in their research. I would be mostly interested about the challenges in such application.

Open Source Everywhere - not just in software

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Open Source Everywhere by Wire's Thomas Goetz.

A must read article elaborating and explaining various aspects of the open source philosophy most widely apparent and spread in software development.

"We are at a convergent moment, when a philosophy, a strategy, and a technology have aligned to unleash great innovation. Open source is powerful because it's an alternative to the status quo, another way to produce things or solve problems. And in many cases, it's a better way. Better because current methods are not fast enough, not ambitious enough, or don't take advantage of our collective creative potential."

Check these open source efforts mentioned in the arrticle:

  • OPEN SOURCE FILM
  • OPEN SOURCE RECIPES
  • OPEN SOURCE Π
  • OPEN SOURCE PROPAGANDA
  • OPEN SOURCE CRIME SOLVING
  • OPEN SOURCE CURRICULUM

Some quotes:

"Software is just the beginning … open source is doing for mass innovation what the assembly line did for mass production. Get ready for the era when collaboration replaces the corporation."

"But software is just the beginning. Open source has spread to other disciplines, from the hard sciences to the liberal arts. Biologists have embraced open source methods in genomics and informatics, building massive databases to genetically sequence E. coli, yeast, and other workhorses of lab research. NASA has adopted open source principles as part of its Mars mission, calling on volunteer "clickworkers" to identify millions of craters and help draw a map of the Red Planet. There is open source publishing: With Bruce Perens, who helped define open source software in the '90s, Prentice Hall is publishing a series of computer books open to any use, modification, or redistribution, with readers' improvements considered for succeeding editions. There are library efforts like Project Gutenberg, which has already digitized more than 6,000 books, with hundreds of volunteers typing in, page by page, classics from Shakespeare to Stendhal; at the same time, a related project, Distributed Proofreading, deploys legions of copy editors to make sure the Gutenberg texts are correct. There are open source projects in law and religion. There's even an open source cookbook."

"Of course, for all its novelty, open source isn't new. Dust off your Isaac Newton and you'll recognize the same ideals of sharing scientific methods and results in the late 1600s (dig deeper and you can follow the vein all the way back to Ptolemy, circa AD 150). Or roll up your sleeves and see the same ethic in Amish barn raising, a tradition that dates to the early 18th century. Or read its roots, as many have, in the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary, the 19th-century project where a network of far-flung etymologists built the world's greatest dictionary by mail. Or trace its outline in the Human Genome Project, the distributed gene-mapping effort that began just a year before Torvalds planted the seeds of his OS."

Digital divide 'hits black families'

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From Digital divide 'hits black families':

"Black people living in deprived areas have less access to home computers than their white neighbours, a study suggests."

The finding reported by this article is a good step in the right direction to remedy the ever increasing digital divide at various levels and among various groups.

However, more technology will not resolve the problem. The article suggests that the problem of digital divide can be remedied with "... encouraging more people to learn how to use computers.”

Is encouragement the most appropriate remedy? Perhaps the investigators should further look at the underlying socio-economic issues in the deprived neighborhoods that have created the digital divide between black and white neighbors.

Intrusive technology may make us less secure

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Intrusive technology may make us less secure

"The relentless drive for more intrusive technology to help improve security may result in a society that is less secure, warned Al Gore, former vice president of the U.S., speaking Tuesday at the Carnahan Conference on Security Technology in Taipei."

Perseus - The Blogging Iceberg

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Perseus - The Blogging Iceberg

"This analysis does not cover nonhosted blogs - blogs that individuals maintain on their own servers using their own tools. Such blogs require more work to set up and will be characteristically different than those blogs created using hosting services."

Thoughts about weblogs in education

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Thoughts about weblogs in education

Very insightful ideas about the use of weblogs in education and learning environments. It presents the faculty, student, and student group perspectives.

fighting information pollution

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Web guru fights info pollution:

"The entire ideology of information technology for the last 50 years has been that more information is better, that mass producing information is better," he [Jakob Nielsen] says.

If you are a company somehow related to the management and manipulation of information, certainly more information is better. However, this does not say much about the quality of life, and not much about the quality of information.

"The fix for information pollution is not complex, but is about taking back control your computer has over you."

This is a very profound philosophical statement; certainly not everyone believes that there is a control we have to take from the computers. Just how do we go about tacking back the control anyway? I'm not saying that this is not possible, it is just now easy due to many factors, and one of them being that not everyone believes there is a control to be taken back. As in any solution to a potential problem, one of the most important things in the process of discovering the solution is the ability to diagnose the problem properly. In the case of the information pollution, contextually diagnosing the root of the problem might turn out to be the hardest task.

Why PLoS Became a Publisher (Vol 1, Issue 1)

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Public Library of Science (PLoS) has finally published their first issue, Vol 1, Issue 1. Especially interesting is their first article/editorial Why PLoS Became a Publisher that provides the rationale for the open access to scholarly and scientific literature.

Quote:

"PLoS Biology, and every PLoS journal to follow, will be an open-access publication–everything we publish will immediately be freely available to anyone, anywhere, to download, print, distribute, read, and use without charge or other restrictions, as long as proper attribution of authorship is maintained. Our open-access journals will retain all of the qualities we value in scientific journals—high standards of quality and integrity, rigorous and fair peer-review, expert editorial oversight, high production standards, a distinctive identity, and independence."

Blogging and empowerment

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Blogging and empowerment is another insighfull entry by Tim Jarrett, a reflection from the BloggerCon conference.

Some quotes:

"More importantly, the act of posting thoughts in a blog on the Internet (as opposed to in a private document) enables others to hear that voice. If the blogger’s words are heard, and others enter into dialog, the blogger has ceased to be a passive observer of the Internet and has instead become a creator of it."

"A big conference theme was blogs as mediating transformative connections. By providing alternative outlets for publishing commentary on other materials on the web and for relating first-hand experience, blogs enable individuals to publish opinions and other material that might not otherwise be published—this is empowerment by publishing."

definition of 'blog'

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What is a blog? by Tim Jarrett:

"Blogs are personally published documentson the web, with attribution and date, collected in a single place, generally published with a static structure to facilitate incoming links from other sources, and updated with some regularity and frequency from every few days to several times daily. Blogs are generally understood to be subjective, with no authority other than that lent by their author generally. Many blogs consist of links and commentary—comments about something or some entity with a web presence, links to enable the reader to discover the original object being commented on and explore it for themselves. Bloggers leave link trails, hyperlinks back to the subjects of their commentary, and the link trails enable others to go beyond the blogger’s subjective opinion and find the original source so that they can evaluate it and form their own opinions."

Note the emphasis on connectivity and open communication. My emphasis in bold.

I particularly like the definition of a blog as a collection of "personally published documents". This definition brings forth an objective and not so circular definition. The best part of this definition is that does not define blogs in terms of daily personal journals and/or personal diaries.

The Beginning of the End of the Internet?

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From The Beginning of the End of the Internet?:

"The Internet as we know it is at risk. Entrenched interests are positioning themselves to control the network's chokepoints and they are lobbying the FCC to aid and abet them. The Internet was designed to prevent government or a corporation or anyone else from controlling it. But this original vision of the Internet may soon be lost. In its place a warped view that open networks should be replaced by closed networks and that accessibility can be superceded by a new power to discriminate is emerging."

Scary thoughts.... but indeed very real...

technology use by East and West

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Asia plays with hi-tech visions:

"But researchers have found big cultural differences between East and West when it comes to what people actually do with their computers and mobiles phones.
In many Asian countries, technology has become a tool for learning, religion and politics, says Intel ethnographer Genevieve Bell."

Let's just hope that the technology keeps changing further and modifying itself to the needs for learning, religion and politics; and not the other way around where the actual process of learning is modified to fit within certain technology's capabilities.

"More importantly, mobile technology has been adapted to reflect the cultural priorities of each nation, such as their religious faith.
In Malaysia you can now get mobiles that come with a built-in directional finder to help Muslims pray in the direction of Mecca."

It appears that the factor of profit will be hard to remove from the picture. But at least the product manufacturers are listening to the spiritual needs of their audiences.

"Suddenly this device that I use to keep in touch with my family and friends became a way of keeping in touch with your inner spiritual life and your God."

ESCHEWING MOONBEAMS, BERNERS-LEE STICKS TO HIS KNITTING

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ESCHEWING MOONBEAMS, BERNERS-LEE STICKS TO HIS KNITTING
(ShelfLife, No. 127 (October 9 2003))

Quote: "Asked by a BBC interviewer whether it's a "stupid fear" to worry that the Internet will become a giant brain, World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee replied: "Computers will become so powerful and there will be so many of them with so much storage that they will in fact be more powerful or as powerful as a brain and will be able to write a program which is a big brain. And I think philosophically you can argue about it and spiritually you can argue about it, and I think in fact that may be true that you can make something as powerful as the brain, really whether you can make the algorithms to make it work like a brain is something else. But that is a long way off and in fact that's not very meaningful for now at all. All I'm looking for now is just interoperability for data." (BBC News 25 Sep 2003)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/technology/3131562.stm

IT fair hints at high-tech society of future

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IT fair hints at high-tech society of future:

"The theme of this year's show is ``ubiquitous society,'' or a society in which wireless technology touches every aspect of life, and households are filled with networked appliances."

Do we really want all these around us? What would it mean to be human and humane if technology will be 'controlling' all aspects of our daily lives...? Will we forget how to make coffee?

Democratizing software: Open source, the hacker ethic, and beyond

Abstract:
"The development of computer software and hardware in closed-source, corporate environments limits the extent to which technologies can be used to empower the marginalized and oppressed. Various forms of resistance and counter-mobilization may appear, but these reactive efforts are often constrained by limitations that are embedded in the technologies by those in power. In the world of open source software development, actors have one more degree of freedom in the proactive shaping and modification of technologies, both in terms of design and use. Drawing on the work of philosopher of technology Andrew Feenberg, I argue that the open source model can act as a forceful lever for positive change in the discipline of software development. A glance at the somewhat vacuous hacker ethos, however, demonstrates that the technical community generally lacks a cohesive set of positive values necessary for challenging dominant interests. Instead, Feenberg’s commitment to "deep democratization" is offered as a guiding principle for incorporating more preferable values and goals into software development processes."

Factors of regional/national success in information society

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Factors of regional/national success in information society developments: Information society strategies for candidate countries

Abstract:

"Bread or Broadband? The thirteen candidate countries (CCs) for entry into the European Union in 2004 (or beyond) confront difficult choices between "Bread or Broadband" priorities. The question raised in this article is how to put Information Society (IS) policy strategies at the service of social welfare development in these countries, while optimizing their resources and economic output.

The article summarises a dozen original research studies, conducted at the European Commission’s Institute for Prospective Technology Studies (IPTS). It identifies ICT infrastructures, infostructures and capabilities in the CCs, the economic opportunities these may offer their ICT domestic industry, and the lessons from previous IS development experience in the European Union that could possibly be transferable.

The paper concludes that only those trajectories that offer a compromise in the Bread or Broadband dilemma, taking into account both welfare and growth issues, will be politically sustainable."

From Symposium on the Role of Scientific and Technical Data and Information in the Public Domain:

"The body of scientific and technical data and information (STI)* in the public domain is massive and has contributed broadly to the economic, social, and intellectual vibrancy of our nation. The “public domain” may be defined in legal terms as sources and types of data and information whose uses are not restricted by statutory intellectual property laws or by other legal regimes, and that are accordingly available to the public for use without authorization. In recent years, however, there have been growing legal, economic, and technological pressures that restrict the creation and availability of public-domain information—scientific and otherwise. It is therefore important to review the role, value, and limits on public domain STI."

Information Environments and Learning Environments?

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From Information Environments and Learning Environments?:

"In a white paper Neil McLean and Clyfford Lynch try to give an overview of the many problems that arise when the educational world meets the library world, just after both have met the ICT world. Basically, they say that both worlds don't know each other. Sadly, this paper will not change that."

Nice observations and critique.

This is a response to Ed's argument (re: Technology addiction makes us unwitting slaves) that: "... it is not the technology that abuses individual rights, but other people. I don't think the solution is more/different technology", as well as some clarification and addition to my original entry that Ed responded.

Let me just say that I do agree with Ed that the use of the word 'addictive' in relation to the use of technology in the original article was a real misuse. I believe they meant to say dependency on technology.

Now back to the argument that "it is not the technology that abuses individual rights". True, indeed. Technology per se by itself does not have the capability to abuse anything. It is the people who use the technology in various ways, and more then often technology is used to reinforce power and social structures.

However, in the process where technology is used to reinforce existing power structures, the technology itself is designed and modified in such a way that more than often the end result ends up being a technology that is restrictive enough by embedding in itself features, capabilities and functionalities that play well in the hands of 'other people', usually the power brokers.

An interesting example is the TV broadcasting technology. The way it has been deployed it allows only those who control it to be able to disseminate information and news. This is a one way communication, i.e. one-to-many. On the other side, the internet (at least the internet as a publishing and communication medium) by design and functionality is not centralized (though some countries are restrictive) and thus allows almost anyone to be able to distribute en mass, i.e. many-to-many communication.

The point I'm trying to make is that technologies have performative capabilities according to the features and functionalities they embody. Some are more restrictive and some more open.

Here is the train of thought:
- We create various technologies
- Those technologies have limitations and restrictions because they are built for specific purpose and under limited resources
- Sometimes a technology is used for other purposes than what was initially intended, intentionally or unintentionally
- Once a technology is used, its limitations and restrictions affect how people that use the technology do their jobs and tasks
- Due to technology's limitations, people change their ways of performing various tasks that require the use of the technology
- Thus we end up modifying the tasks themselves so they can be done with the technology available at hand

Why not modify the technology so it is not limitative and restrictive? Well, the workplace has it troubles, challenges, and timeframes. Sometimes things have to be done in less then perfect environment. In such situations the technology that is available has tremendous power of how the tasks are framed and planned. Interestingly enough, the technology was most probably designed elsewhere, and maybe not exactly for the task it is being used.

Technology addiction makes us unwitting slaves is indeed somewhat philosophical but also a practical article with very pragmatic eye openers that touches on the contemporary issues of technological determinism vs. social constructionism discourse, especially as it pertains to the role of information technology in the information society.

The last bullet/paragraph in the story states: "Technology's promise and alluring capabilities are used to surreptitiously entrap and willingly imprison members of the information-age society instead of truly empowering them."

Perhaps the open source technologies which are usually not developed with profitability (i.e. bottom line in $$$) in mind can show that technology does not have to be entrapping and imprisoning. It is exactly this that I'm trying to argue in favor of open source software as an actor in the ecology of open source supported technology that manifests itself as an antidote to the claim that thechnologies "surreptitiously entrap and willingly imprison members of the information-age society".

Quotes from the article:

"Yet as we rush to embrace the latest and greatest gadgetry or high-tech service and satisfy our techno-craving, we become further dependent on these products and their manufacturers -- so dependent that when something breaks, crashes, or is attacked, our ability to function is reduced or eliminated. Given these frequent technical and legal problems, I'm wondering if we're as free and empowered as we've been led to believe."

"To make things worse, government practically has outsourced the oversight and definition of technology-based expression and community interaction to for-profit corporations and secretive industry-specific cartels such as the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America and the Business Software Alliance. Such groups have wasted no time in rewriting the rules for how they want our information-based society to operate according to their interests, not ours."

technology as key to democracy

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From Switzerland sees technology as key to democracy:

“It is our mission to make modern technology accessible to everybody,” Leuenberger said. “People living in developing countries can only escape poverty if they have access to information.”

Yes, technology can be an important key to democratic development. It has been often stated that technology will solve the problems of poverty and thus bring about democratic movements. While it might be true that technology has increased productivity in certain areas around the world, it is perhaps very much debatable whether it has decreased poverty in general.

If technology is to deliver democratic 'results', it must be used with that sense and for that purpose by helping the economic development that helps the improvement of the bottom line economies.

Unfortunately, the main players in bringing the information technologies to developing countries around the world are private companies who ultimately care about their bottom line (i.e. $$$); it can hardly be expected that much will be achieved in terms of equality to information access. This sort of exercises lead nowhere unless there is a long stick that the ITU can use to implement the promoted initiatives, to even modestly tilt the balance of access to information.

(I’ve also elaborated on these points in these previous entries: Discord at digital divide talks, is IT alone really a solution to poverty?, access to information a solution to poverty?!, Search engine for the global poor?)

information literacy: A new kind of worker

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(courtesy of Information Literacy Weblog)

"There is a short article in the October 2003 Library and information update A new kind of worker. It is written by three people from the UK information consultancy TFPL. It highlights some of the benefits and challenges of embedding information literacy in the workplace, and uses TFPL's "Find; Organise; Create; Use; Share; and Value" approach to comment on current developments. It also mentions this weblog ;-)"

Reference: Winterman, V., Skelton, V. and Abell, A. (2003) "A new kind of worker." Library and information update, 2 (10), 38-39. http://www.cilip.org.uk/update/issues/oct03/article4oct.html

again on SCO's 'stupid' claim

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By far one of the best argued positions explaining the paradoxes and stupidities of SCO's claim that they 'own' Linux.

An open-source letter by Joe Firmage, a former vice president of strategy for Novell's Network Systems Group:

"OK, Sontag, fine. If you cannot inadvertently or accidentally assign your copyright, then there should be no problem in identifying exactly which portions of Linux allegedly violate SCO's rights. Simply issue a statement that identifies the offending code, stating clearly that the identification does not represent a release of rights into open source."

"The model of open science is "communistic" in the sense of community ownership--or rather community stewardship. But innumerable highly successful organizations and institutions in America are founded upon the ideal of community stewardship--including our democracy itself.
The downfall of communism was due to state control by totalitarians--an attribute embodied by today’s commercial software industry far more than by the emergent open-source science of information technology. "

By Mentor Cana, PhD
more info at LinkedIn
email: mcana {[at]} kmentor {[dot]} com

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