Social media, society and technology 2009-2012

Written by  //  November 15, 2012  //  Media  //  Comments Off on Social media, society and technology 2009-2012

Restrictions to limit Internet access on the rise, warns UNESCO
The United Nations agency which deals with freedom of expression on the Internet today warned that restrictions directly limiting Internet access appear to be on the rise, and called on governments to implement policies that facilitate broadband connectivity instead of putting up barriers particularly during political developments.
“Knowledge and ideas today flow in volumes and at speed that we could not have imagined years ago, ‘regardless of frontier’ and at low cost,” the Assistant Director-General for Communication of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Janis Karklins, told participants at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). “However, barriers to this flow still exist, and new ones continue to emerge.”

15 November
Virginia Heffernan: Fifty shades of email: How electronic text seduced David Petraeus
(Yahoo!News) Once again, the tabloids are ablaze with the story of intemperate love affairs conducted over email. We’re still using the world’s best digital technology to do what goofy humans do: Exchange sweet nothings, nudie photos and goo-goo gaga love notes.
Look at them: a 60-year-old general, a 58-year-old general, a 40-year-old biographer, a 37-year-old gadfly and a 52-year-old “Sesame Street” puppeteer. A kooky cast of fallible characters who just can’t get enough of electronic mail.
None of them—not former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus; not Marine Corps Gen. John Allen; not Petraeus’ biographer Paula Broadwell; not the Tampa, Fla., hostess Jill Kelley who led the FBI to discover Petraeus’ affair; and not Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo, who was accused of having sex with a minor—grew up with the Internet. Like many in their demos, then, they still get a little rabid around email. They love it, not wisely, but too well. For email, evidently, they’ll risk everything: their jobs, families, reputations, franchises, the security of the nation.
13 November
The Real Story of the Most-Liked Photograph of All Time
[Photojournalist Scout Tufankjian’s] image of the president hugging his wife went viral on Tuesday night when the campaign tweeted it—along with the phrase “Four more years”—after news came that he’d won re-election. The post went on to become the most retweeted in Twitter history, and the image quickly became Facebook’s most-liked ever.
Sooner or later, it was inevitable that we would learn what technology was used.
David Petraeus, Paula Broadwell Used Electronic ‘Dropbox’ To Communicate, Official Says
(AP via Huff Post) Petraeus and Broadwell apparently used a trick, known to terrorists and teenagers alike, to conceal their email traffic, one of the law enforcement officials said.
Rather than transmitting emails to the other’s inbox, they composed at least some messages and instead of transmitting them, left them in a draft folder or in an electronic “dropbox,” the official said. Then the other person could log onto the same account and read the draft emails there. This avoids creating an email trail that is easier for outsiders to intercept or trace.
7 November
Move over, Obama; Twitter had a big night too
(Reuters) – President Barack Obama called it – in less than 140 characters.
Around 11:15 pm EST, just as the networks were beginning to call the race in his favor, Obama took to Twitter to proclaim himself the winner over Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
“This happened because of you. Thank you,” Obama tweeted.
That the president would take his message to Twitter before taking the stage in Chicago underscored the tremendous role social media platforms like Twitter played in the 2012 election.
Meet the man who’s kept climate change off the Hurricane Sandy Wikipedia page (Grist) In an unpaid but frenzied fit of news consumption, editing, correction, aggregation, and citation, [Ken] Mampel has established himself as by far the most active contributor to the Wikipedia page on Hurricane Sandy. … And Mampel made sure that the Hurricane Sandy article, for four days after the hurricane made landfall in New Jersey, had no mention of “global warming” or “climate change” whatsoever.
17 September
#MuslimRage: How a Cynical Social-Media Play Became an Awesome Meme
What Newsweek’s hashtag reveals about conversation in an evolving media environment
(The Atlantic) Newsweek underestimated both its audience and, with them, itself. While it may still be true that a good magazine — just as a good newspaper — is a nation talking to itself, the standards for that conversation have risen considerably since people have been able to talk to each other on their own. Conversation can no longer exist for conversation’s sake alone — which is also to say that people understand, almost intuitively, the difference between being inspired and being trolled. Newsweek didn’t give any indication that its incitement to discussion was motivated by a desire for anything beyond pageviews and newsstand sales. So its audience met it where it was, in that glib place of low expectations. But they turned the magazine’s own cynicism into something better — something funny and meaningful and insightful and real. They turned Newsweek‘s “scripted experience” into something they wrote on their own.
13 September
Social sites have modest political impact: poll
(Reuters) – Social networking sites play a modest role in influencing most U.S. users’ political views, with the biggest impact among Democrats, a survey showed on Tuesday.
The poll by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project comes as Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are using Facebook Inc pages and other social media as campaign tools ahead of the November election.
U.S. ex-con identified as man behind anti-Islam movie ‘Innocence of Muslims’
(AP via Toronto Star) Federal authorities identified a Southern California man who is on federal probation for financial crimes as the key figure behind an anti-Muslim film that has spawned mob violence against American embassies across the Mideast, a U.S. law enforcement official said Thursday.
There was no sign of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula …  as details slowly began to emerge about his checkered past, his connections among Southern California’s right-wing Christian organizations and his central role in the production of the film. …
Nakoula pleaded no contest in 2010 to federal bank fraud charges in California and was ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution. He was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and ordered not to use computers, the Internet or online user or screen names for five years without approval from his probation officer. He is still on probation, according to court records.
17 August
Investors defriend Facebook’s shareswe couldn’t resist this headline!
(FT) Trading volume triples as sell-off is intensified by expiry of ban that prevented pre-flotation investors from selling their holdings
(LA Times) Is Mark Zuckerberg in over his hoodie as Facebook CEO?
Facebook’s stock price slide has raised doubts about Mark Zuckerberg’s role as CEO. Some say he should hand the reins to a more seasoned executive.
Assange faces hard road out of U.K.
British authorities undeterred by Ecuador’s political asylum
British authorities say they will arrest the WikiLeaks founder despite his being granted asylum by Ecuador.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appears to have a new home in Ecuador, but it remains to be seen how he’ll get there.
The dramatic decision by the Latin American nation to grant Assange political asylum is a symbolic boost for the embattled ex-hacker, but legal experts say it does little to help him avoid extradition to Sweden — and does much to drag Britain and Ecuador into an international faceoff.
Rio+20 was the first global summit of the Internet age
More than 50 million people the world over participated electronically in the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development because of social media and greater access to the Internet and mobile technology, according to United Nations estimates. “I think that the success at Rio+20 had little to do with the final outcome document,” writes Jacob Scherr of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Instead, the success was found in the gathering of thousands of leaders, experts, and activists in Rio to focus on the common goal of a sustainable future.” blog (8/2)
Use video not journals to disseminate research

(Financial Times) One of the main objectives of academic research is to have an impact on society and its development. But as much of this research is published in specialised international academic journals, it is read by only a limited number of people. Consequently, its impact and reach are very limited.
We are all familiar with the emerging social media landscape – YouTube, Vimeo and other popular social media sharing websites as well as video sharing concepts such as TED Talks – where popular speakers share their ideas in a convenient, accessible and effective video format streamed online. Given the ubiquity of online technology why does academia not make greater use of it, instead of continuing to rely on writing papers as a means of publicising research?
19 March
Backlash against Kony 2012: Where are the voices of Ugandans?
(CSM) Since the Kony 2012 video about atrocities in Uganda went viral, there has been a backlash and counter-backlash over the campaign by Invisible Children to stop Joseph Kony and his rebels. Lost in the debate: the need to include the voices of Ugandans.
12 March
John Moore: Joseph Kony gets his moment of activism chic
He’s been a soulless, murdering tyrant for thirty years but African warlord Joseph Kony is no match for the Facebook generation. Now thanks to a charity group called Invisible Children we can fix Kony’s wagon by pressing “Like” and “dig” and by buying bracelets.
27 February
The Atlantic’s caustic reaction to l’affaire Stratfor
Stratfor Is a Joke and So Is Wikileaks for Taking Them Seriously
The corporate research firm has branded itself as a CIA-like “global intelligence” firm, but only Julian Assange and some over-paying clients are fooled.
U.S. security firm Stratfor spied on activists for multinationals, says WikiLeaks
(AP via Toronto Star) WikiLeaks said Monday it was publishing a massive trove of leaked emails from the geopolitical analysis firm Stratfor, shedding light on the inner workings of the Texas-based think-tank that bills itself as a leading provider of global intelligence to a range of clients.
The small selection so-far published to WikiLeaks’ website gave a rare look at the daily routine at a private intel firm: One described a $6,000-a-month payment made to a Middle Eastern source, another carried bits of gossip dropped by a retired spook, and many were filled with off-colour office banter.
Crack in China’s firewall turns Obama page into freedom forum
(Reuters) – Chinese Internet users taking advantage of temporary access to Google Inc’s social networking site, Google+, have flooded U.S. President Barack Obama’s page on the site with calls for greater freedom in the world’s most populous country.
23 February
White House privacy push seeks cooperation
(Reuters) – The White House proposed on Thursday a “privacy bill of rights” that would give consumers more control over their data but relies heavily for now on voluntary commitments by Internet companies like Google Inc and Facebook. Obama proposes online privacy “bill of rights” — Seven point plan calls for “individual control, transparency, respect for context, security, access and accuracy, focused collection, and accountability.”
And then there’s Canada’s C-30
Toews’s ‘child pornographers’ gaffe aside, Bill C-30 has real dangers
(Globe & Mail) … the new bill, C-30, doesn’t invite police to monitor your every online move without a warrant. It does, however, require Internet companies – loosely defined – to cough up your name, Internet protocol address and a few other identifiers if the police ask for them, even without a warrant. This means that the police could conceivably collect a pseudonym you’ve been using to comment on websites, present it to the relevant company, and say, “Who is this person?” … another part of this bill could have even further-reaching impacts. The Internet today, for all its vulnerabilities, is not really built to facilitate centralized, wiretap-style surveillance. The Tories want to change that. This bill would require Canada’s ISPs to rework their systems, at considerable expense, so that just such an option exists.


Hong Kong teen’s somber design for Jobs a cyber hit
(Reuters) – A Hong Kong design student’s poignant tribute to Apple founder Steve Jobs became an internet hit Thursday with its minimalist, touching symbolism and brought a job offer and a flood of commemorative merchandise using his design.

Steve Jobs and Me
He said my 1971 article inspired him. His iBook obsessed me.
World mourns Steve Jobs
Apple’s visionary Steve Jobs dead at 56
(Reuters) – Outpourings of public grief and appreciation swept the globe on Thursday after the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
Jobs, who touched the daily lives of countless millions of people through the Macintosh computer, iPod, iPhone and iPad, died on Wednesday at age 56 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He stepped down as Apple chief executive in August.
The Man Who Invented Our World
(Slate) More than anyone else, Steve Jobs shaped modern technology—and modern life. The Machines Regret the Bio-Expiration of Steve Jobs
(NYT) Apple’s Visionary Redefined Digital Agean extraordinary 5-page obituary
Not to be left behind, The Onion posted this tribute:
Last American Who Knew What The Fuck He Was Doing Dies
CUPERTINO, CA—Steve Jobs, the visionary co-founder of Apple Computers and the only American in the country who had any clue what the fuck he was doing, died Wednesday at the age of 56. “We haven’t just lost a great innovator, leader, and businessman, we’ve literally lost the only person in this country who actually had his shit together and knew what the hell was going on,” a statement from President Barack Obama read in part, adding that Jobs will be remembered both for the life-changing products he created and for the fact that he was able to sit down, think clearly, and execute his ideas—attributes he shared with no other U.S. citizen. “This is a dark time for our country, because the reality is none of the 300 million or so Americans who remain can actually get anything done or make things happen. Those days are over.” Obama added that if anyone could fill the void left by Jobs it would probably be himself, but said that at this point he honestly doesn’t have the slightest notion what he’s doing anymore.
7 September
Yahoo CEO Bartz fired over the phone, rocky run ends
(Reuters) – Yahoo Inc Chairman Roy Bostock fired CEO Carol Bartz over the phone on Tuesday, ending a tumultuous tenure marked by stagnation and a rift with Chinese partner Alibaba.
25 August
Jobs’s Legacy: Changing How We Live
(WSJ) Most people are lucky if they can change the world in one important way, but Mr. Jobs, in multiple stages of his business career, changed global technology and media in multiple ways on multiple occasions. And that changed the way people live.
He did it because he was willing to take big risks on new ideas, and not be satisfied with small innovations fed by market research. He insisted on high quality and had the guts to leave out features others found essential and to kill technologies, like the floppy drive and the removable battery. And he has been a brilliant marketer, personally passionate about his products.
6 August
William Dutton on 20 Years of the World Wide Web
On August 6 1991, Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, made his invention accessible to the Internet community. He did so in a discussion forum called alt.hypertext …
In a SPIEGEL interview, William Dutton of the Oxford Internet Institute discusses how fundamentally the World Wide Web has changed our lives since its creation 20 years ago, offering his views on how it helps communities organize and its emergence as a ‘Fifth Estate,’ helping hold both governments and media around the globe accountable.
3 August
UN is among targets in world’s largest known cyber-attack
Evidence reportedly points to China as the source of an apparently unprecedented hacking campaign that over five years targeted the networks of 72 governments, companies and organizations, including the United Nations. “This is the biggest transfer of wealth in terms of intellectual property in history,” said a spokesman for the McAfee security company, who added that hackers broke into UN computers in Geneva in 2008, then combed through secret data for nearly two years. Reuters (8/3)
21 July
Fake Apple Store even fools staff
(Reuters) – Chinese counterfeiters have had a field-day pumping out knockoffs of Apple Inc’s best-selling iPhones and iPads but one appears to have gone a step further — a near flawless fake Apple Store that even employees believe is the real deal.
14 July
Online crisis management : A web of support (in the Mumbai bombings)

(The Economist|Babbage) .. it appears, responsible netizens co-operate to stop rumours in their tracks. And, besides the odd vituperative tweet that Indian politicians should be shot for allowing such a dastardly act of terrorism to take place, most users were content to keep their opinions to themselves, focusing instead on re-tweeting important information. As the tragedy unfolded, social platforms have shown just how much good can be achieved, often in less than 140 characters, when people use them prudently.
30 June
Steve Clemons: Strauss-Kahn and the Age of Reputation
(HuffPost) the problem of reputation wrecked still stands whether the target is warm and likeable or a brilliant storm, as I see Strauss-Kahn, and that lesson is a bad one for people on the internet, who are becoming commentators and writers, to learn.  They see the successful effects of attack, whether based in truth and credibility or not, and sense that the downsides of backlash and consequence to an accuser’s or scandalmongerer’s credibility are not serious.
29 June
Craig and Marc Kielburger: Playing Video Games for Social Change
Co-Founders, Free The Children
As school wraps up and kids retreat to virtual worlds, parents fear their children are hunkered down in the basement, slaying aliens. What if they were solving real-world problems? Could video games be the antidote to apathy? The question seems odd, since we think of video games as an escape from reality. But we grew up in an age of solitary teens playing Mortal Kombat. Maybe it’s time to reconsider the social impact of virtual reality. The video game Evoke sparked a worldwide movement. Its first round saw 19,000 players collaborate to increase food security and access to clean water, and fight poverty in 130 countries. What if the ‘can-do’ attitude kids learn from video games manifested in their daily actions?
28 June
Supreme Court Ruling on Violent Video Games
(ABC News) … a major victory for video game manufacturers. The Supreme Court has overturned a California law that restricted sales of violent video games to minors.
The justices said it was a free speech issue.
23 June
‘I’m @ the #Riot!’ Educating Generation Me
What teachers are telling students about social media and hanging out at crime fests.
(The Tyee) “You might think it’s amazing, you might think it’s something you want to participate in, but what happens when you are caught up in the wrong moment and it is captured and put throughout the world? You might not get the reference letter; you might not get the scholarship recommendation because there’s an added story that might be there because of social media.”
4 June
(Montreal Gazette) … your Internet search has just helped kill the planet. Depending on how long you took and what sites you visited, your search caused the emission of one to 10 grams of carbon into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.
Sure, it’s not a lot on its own – but add up all of the more than one billion daily Google searches, throw in 60 million Facebook status updates each day, 50 million daily tweets and 250 billion emails per day, and you’re seriously helping to melt some Greenland glaciers.
20 May
Why LinkedIn is good news for U.S. economy
(Financial Post) Amid all the hype over LinkedIn’s scorching IPO Sherry Cooper, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets, reminds us why it matters for the U.S. economy:
It means that more capital will be available for new ventures, which is an important component of economic recovery and job creation. Young companies need capital for new investment and hiring. An active IPO market enables companies to move from private to public funding and allows venture capital firms to recycle capital and fund additional businesses.
10 May
Microsoft Buys Skype For $8.5 Billion

Buying Skype would give Microsoft a potentially valuable communications tool as it tries to make a bigger splash on the Internet and become a bigger force in the increasingly important smartphone market. Microsoft Buys Skype: What the Web Is Saying Very few people saw a Microsoft deal for Skype coming, so when Om first reported it was in the works, the idea was met with a lot of skepticism. Now that Microsoft has confirmed the deal and the price of $8.5 billion, the news is still leaving many scratching their heads. Others, however, say there is some wisdom in the move — although it still comes down to Microsoft making the deal work, which is far from a given.
3 May
Twitter users don’t blink in online showdown with Elections Canada
The Twitterverse played a game of 140-character chicken with Elections Canada on Monday by posting results from the federal election well before all polls were closed.
Now it remains to be seen if any “tweeps” find themselves in a head-on collision with the full force of the law.
Elections Canada spokesman John Enright wouldn’t say if anyone had complained about the too-soon tweets.
2 May
First bin Laden reports came in tweets, as media scrambled for confirmation
(WaPost) … [Keith Urbahn tweeted] “So I’m told by a reputable person, they have killed Osama bin Laden. Hot damn,”
[His] pithy missive was the first credible public report about what became one of the biggest breaking news stories in years. Viewers didn’t hear it on CNN or Fox News until some 20 minutes later. The cable networks certainly had an inkling — Urbahn said he got his information from “a connected network TV news producer” — but in this case, the usual dogs didn’t bark until after Urbahn had sent off a missive that was re-tweeted around the world.
Canadian ISPs say they need the money; critics say Internet fees are a cash grab
A new report shows the degree to which Internet services are marked up: a staggering 6,000 per cent and rising
7 March
Peter Mansbridge talks with best-selling author Don Tapscott on the “wiki-revolutions” in the Middle East and how mass collaboration is changing our world.
20 February
Maureen Dowd Stars and Sewers
Evgeny Morozov, author of “The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom,” told me Twitter creates a false intimacy and can “bring out the worst in people. You’re straining after eyeballs, not big thoughts. So you go for the shallow, funny, contrarian or cynical.”
Nicholas Carr, author of “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains,” says technology amplifies everything, good instincts and base. While technology is amoral, he said, our brains may be rewired in disturbing ways.
“Researchers say that we need to be quiet and attentive if we want to tap into our deeper emotions,” he said. “If we’re constantly interrupted and distracted, we kind of short-circuit our empathy. If you dampen empathy and you encourage the immediate expression of whatever is in your mind, you get a lot of nastiness that wouldn’t have occurred before.”
Egypt’s Internet blockage raises concerns
While the Internet — in particular social media — played a prominent role in the recent Egyptian protest movement, the government’s ability to almost completely disrupt communications early on has caused concern among rights advocates. Egyptian authorities were able to shut down access to the Internet for five days using their control over the country’s technology infrastructure. Advocates worry other authoritarian regimes in the region and elsewhere may take similar steps. The New York Times (2/15)
8 February
Google Executive Who Was Jailed Said He Was Part of Facebook Campaign in Egypt
Ending the mystery over who helped begin the social media campaign that inspired the protests, Mr. Ghonim said that he was a creator of the We are All Khaled Said Facebook page. That page and multiple videos uploaded on YouTube about Mr. Said, a 28-year-old Egyptian man beaten to death by the police in Alexandria on June 6, 2010, helped to connect human rights organizers with average Egyptians and to raise awareness about police abuse and torture.
26 January
Can Governments Really ‘Block’ Twitter?
(Foreign Policy) Not really. The domain name is inaccessible, but it’s not that hard to get around.
21 January
Google turns a new Page
(The Economist) IT HAS been all change at the top of two of Silicon Valley’s most prominent tech giants this week. First Apple revealed that Steve Jobs, its boss, was stepping away from day-to-day management responsibilities at the company to focus on an unspecified health problem. Then on January 20th Google said that Eric Schmidt, the firm’s chief executive, would hand over that role in April to Larry Page, one of the firm’s two co-founders.
17 January
Apple needs more formal delegation of Jobs’ power
8 January
A Walled Wide Web for Nervous Autocrats
Beijing and Moscow see American information technology as a threat. They want systems of their own
(WSJ) At the end of 2010, … Vladimir Putin signed a 20-page executive order requiring all public institutions in Russia to replace proprietary software, developed by companies like Microsoft and Adobe, with free open-source alternatives by 2015.
The move will save billions of dollars in licensing fees, but Mr. Putin’s motives are not strictly economic. In all likelihood, his real fear is that Russia’s growing dependence on proprietary software, especially programs sold by foreign vendors, has immense implications for the country’s national security. Free open-source software, by its nature, is unlikely to feature secret back doors that lead directly to Langley, Va.
5 January
Is Technology Wiring Teens to Have Better Brains?
(PBS Newshour) Science correspondent Miles O’Brien looks at what could be happening to teenagers’ brains as they develop in a rapid-fire, multitasking world of technology and gadgets.
… DAPHNE BAVELIER, professor, Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department at the University of Rochester: We can show that they have better vision, the kind of skills that are not typically corrected by training, but corrected by your glasses, which is not something that you would think playing video games actually changes.
And it’s not only the case for vision, but it’s also the case for attention, for different aspects of cognition, like multitasking, visual short-term memory.
4 January
Facebook Generation Fights Hungarian Media Law
(Spiegel) As Hungary takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has introduced a new law aimed at gagging the media. The Facebook generation is up in arms. But Orbán remains largely unchallenged in his country, where most people have other worries.
3 January 2011
Goldman Invests In Facebook At $50 Billion Valuation
(HuffPost) Social networking behemoth Facebook has raised $500 million from Goldman Sachs and a Russian investment firm in a deal that values the company at $50 billion, The New York Times reported.
Goldman invested $450 million and Digital Sky Technologies invested $50 million, the newspaper reported Sunday in its online edition, citing people involved in the transaction that it did not name. Goldman has the right to sell part of its stake, up to $75 million, to the Russian firm. (WSJ) Facebook IPO: Could Zuckerberg Be a Permanent Holdout?


31 December
Twins’ Facebook Fight Rages On
(NYT) … The Winklevosses — identical twins and Harvard graduates — say that they, along with another Harvard student, Divya Narendra, had the original idea for Facebook, and that Mark Zuckerberg stole it. They sued Facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg in 2004, and settled four years later for $20 million in cash and $45 million in Facebook shares.
They have been trying to undo that settlement since, saying they were misled on the value of the deal.
Clay Shirky: The Political Power of Social Media
(Foreign Affairs Jan/Feb 2011) Discussion of the political impact of social media has focused on the power of mass protests to topple governments. In fact, social media’s real potential lies in supporting civil society and the public sphere — which will produce change over years and decades, not weeks or months.
Assange signs book deals worth over £1m
Julian Assange has signed book deals worth more than £1m in the US and UK, to allow the WikiLeaks founder to cover his legal fees and maintain the whistleblowing site.
16 December
What’s Really Wrong with WikiLeaks
The dissolution of privacy is a fundamental aim of totalitarianism.
(City Journal) … The dissolution of the distinction between the private and public spheres was one of the great aims of totalitarianism. Opening and reading other people’s e-mails is not different in principle from opening and reading other people’s letters. In effect, WikiLeaks has assumed the role of censor to the world, a role that requires an astonishing moral grandiosity and arrogance to have assumed. Even if some evils are exposed by it, or some necessary truths aired, the end does not justify the means.
Dealing with WikiLeaks: The right reaction
America is rightly furious. But it should learn from its mistakes in the past decade and stick to its own rules
(The Economist) The big danger is that America is provoked into bending or breaking its own rules, straining alliances, eroding credibility and—because it will not be able to muzzle WikiLeaks—ultimately seeming impotent. In recent years America has promoted the internet as a menace to foreign censorship. That sounds tinny now. So did its joy of hosting next year’s World Press Freedom Day this week. Chinese and Russian glee at American discomfort are a sure sign of such missteps.
15 December
TIME Person of the Year 2010: Mark Zuckerberg
… Almost seven years ago, in February 2004, when Zuckerberg was a 19-year-old sophomore at Harvard, he started a Web service from his dorm. It was called, and it was billed as “an online directory that connects people through social networks at colleges.” This year, Facebook — now minus the the — added its 550 millionth member. One out of every dozen people on the planet has a Facebook account. They speak 75 languages and collectively lavish more than 700 billion minutes on Facebook every month. Last month the site accounted for 1 out of 4 American page views. Its membership is currently growing at a rate of about 700,000 people a day.
13 December
Special Report: Julian Assange versus the world
(Reuters) … Assange, relatively unknown until earlier this year, has masterfully manipulated elite media outlets. He has exasperated and humiliated the U.S. government and its diplomatic partners by creating a resilient, hard-to-kill worldwide network of websites that reveals their secrets. And he has in short order turned WikiLeaks and himself into household names, demonstrating how reality can be stranger than Hollywood fiction.
6 December
Matters of life and death
(Montreal Gazette) … whether he fully understands what he is doing — as I’m sure he does not — he is advancing the cause of the enemy in quite direct ways. The question of whether WikiLeaks revelations endanger the lives of specific persons in the field (and of course they do), only scratches the surface. For the issue here is not the arithmetical one of body count, by which media are too easily distracted. The sabotage goes much deeper, and the possible consequences are on a scale vastly beyond a few bodies here and there.
Assange and colleagues are doing something that undermines the functional integrity of the whole western security apparatus. And whether we sneer at this or not, our very survival depends upon that “security apparatus.”
4 December
Cables Discuss Vast Hacking by a China That Fears the Web
(NYT) As China ratcheted up the pressure on Google to censor its Internet searches last year, the American Embassy sent a secret cable to Washington detailing why top Chinese leaders had become so obsessed with the Internet search company: they were Googling themselves.
30 November
Releasing, reporting, or dumping?
(The Economist) … I think the current dump of diplomatic cables is basically a poor editorial decision. I think the format of “document dumps” is an attempt to evade the very idea that the organisation is making editorial decisions, to make it merely a neutral throughput for leaked information. But I don’t think that works. I think it’s clear that the institution of WikiLeaks needs to recognise that it is making editorial decisions, and that those decisions need to take place in a fashion at least as transparent as WikiLeaks would like corporate and governing institutions to be. Basically, I think WikiLeaks needs an ethical review board. [We applaud the entire tone of this piece.]
18 November
A regulatory nightmare: Facebook and its goal of a less private Web
(Globe & Mail) On the Internet, information is power, and no company has more information than Facebook, which will likely eclipse Google soon as the world’s most-visited website. Unlike Google, where users spend a few seconds or minutes searching for something and then move on, many of Facebook’s 500-million users spend hours on the site every day. That shift – from a two-way street model of asking for and receiving information to a multidimensional set of interactions – has the potential to change the Internet in ways not seen since its popularization in the 1990s.
10 October
Frank Rich: Facebook Politicians Are Not Your Friends
The Web, with its potential to hold politicians accountable, has also given partisans license to find only the “facts” that fit their prejudices.
4 October
Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted.
Social media can’t provide what social change has always required.
by Malcolm Gladwell
(The New Yorker) The world, we are told, is in the midst of a revolution. The new tools of social media have reinvented social activism. With Facebook and Twitter and the like, the traditional relationship between political authority and popular will has been upended, making it easier for the powerless to collaborate, coördinate, and give voice to their concerns. BUT …
Man fined $1B for sending Facebook spam
A Montreal man who sent more than four million spam e-mails to Facebook users over a two-month period was ordered to pay the social media giant more than $1 billion in compensation.
27 August
Reckless editing
(Ottawa Citizen) Two incidents of Wikipedia vandalism that seem to come from Canadian government computers raise an important question: Just how involved in the nuts and bolts of new media should public servants be?
Neither of the two incidents in question was an official government action. In one case, an article on the Joint Strike Fighter was edited to remove information that was critical of the Conservative government and to insert insults about Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.
24 August
Wikipedia tampering traced to Winnipeg air force headquarters — The computer was used last month to alter the online encyclopedia’s entry on the Joint Strike Fighter. The alterations included the removal of any information critical of the Harper government’s plan to spend at least $16 billion on the new fighter aircraft.
“Official Languages Act” renamed on Wikipedia to “Quebec Nazi Act”
( The Correctional Service of Canada started an investigation after the Wikipedia entry relating on the Canadian “Official Languages Act” was altered …
22 August
Sweden Rescinds Warrant for WikiLeaks Founder
The bizarre episode in Sweden on Saturday left more questions than answers, and raised doubts about Mr. Assange’s apparent strategy to make Sweden a new permanent home for himself and WikiLeaks because of the country’s strong press freedom laws that he hoped would offer protection against legal actions.
19 August
Why WikiLeaks Must Be Protected
On 26 July, WikiLeaks released thousands of secret US military files on the war in Afghanistan. Cover-ups, a secret assassination unit and the killing of civilians are documented. In file after file, the brutalities echo the colonial past. From Malaya and Vietnam to Bloody Sunday and Basra, little has changed. The difference is that today there is an extraordinary way of knowing how faraway societies are routinely ravaged in our name. WikiLeaks has acquired records of six years of civilian killing for both Afghanistan and Iraq, of which those published in the Guardian, Der Spiegel and the New York Times are a fraction.
12 August
Why Skype has conquered the world
The internet phone service is an unheralded internet success story. No wonder Rupert Murdoch has it in his sights
5 August
Blackberry agreement reached between RIM and Saudi Arabia
Placing a BlackBerry server inside the kingdom will allow Saudi government to monitor user messages
(Globe & Mail) The kingdom is one of a number of countries expressing concern that the device is a security threat because encrypted information sent on the phones is routed through overseas computers — making it impossible for local governments to monitor.
Google and Verizon issue net neutrality denial
(The Independent) Closed-door negotiations on the future of net neutrality have been halted in the US after rumours of side talks between two key participants, search giant Google and internet provider Verizon Communications.
Clinton Voices Support for RIM
Citing Right of ‘Free Use,’ Secretary of State Enters Fight Over U.A.E. Plan to Curb BlackBerry Access
(WSJ) U.S. Secretary of State Clinton and Canada’s trade minister weighed in in support of Research in Motion and its BlackBerry amid threats to ban the device in the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia.
2 August
Emirates to Cut Data Services of BlackBerry
(NYT) The United Arab Emirates, citing security concerns, said Sunday that it would suspend BlackBerry mobile services like e-mail and text messaging beginning in October;  The Economist: The United Arab Emirates and BlackBerry? Cherchez la server; See also Bloomberg on BlackBerry and India.
In Restive Chinese Area, Cameras Keep a Watchful Eye
Nowhere else is video surveillance growing as explosively as in China, where seven million cameras already watch streets, hotel lobbies, businesses and even mosques and monasteries — and where experts predict an additional 15 million cameras will sprout by 2014.
17 July
How Old Spice campaign changed social media
Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ads, staring Mustafa as a chiseled dreamboat moving through surreal landscapes while brandishing Old Spice body wash, launched in February and have generated millions of hits. This week, Old Spice and ad agency Wieden + Kennedy took the campaign to an extraordinary next level.
The masterminds answered questions on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites with personal video messages. Alyssa Milano Challenges Old Spice Man To Oil Spill Donationa great advance in fundraising
3 June
Book asks: Is Internet ruining our minds?
(Reuters) The Internet is sharpening our decision-making capabilities — but we’re losing a whole other set of mental skills in the trade-off, says author Nicholas Carr.
Israel takes to social media to justify raid
Israel lost a critical public relations battle by failing to account for the fact that social media would play a significant role in the perception of the Israeli raid on the Gaza-bound humanitarian aid flotilla — a perception dominated by activists’ social-media coverage. Turkish TV maintained cameras on the ship, which they’ve used to broadcast the stories of the activists on board. After the blunder, Israel has tried to turn to services such as YouTube and Twitter to broadcast its justification for the raid. Room blog (6/2) , CNN/Wired (6/2)
28 May
Internet and social media behavior 101
We can stop our rude, crude, online ways through a new era of Internet etiquette and by using tools that give us time to cool off.
We’re rude and crass and unthinking on the Internet for the same reason it’s easier to blow up people when you’re piloting a drone from 6,000 miles away.
Psychologists call it “moral disengagement.” The further removed we are from the consequences of our actions, the easier it is to emotionally separate ourselves from our own behavior. Distance makes the heart grow colder.
27 May
Think Again: The Internet
They told us it would usher in a new era of freedom, political activism, and perpetual peace. They were wrong.
(Foreign Policy May/June 2010) Many of the transnational networks fostered by the Internet arguably worsen — rather than improve — the world as we know it. At a recent gathering devoted to stamping out the illicit trade in endangered animals, for instance, the Internet was singled out as the main driver behind the increased global commerce in protected species. Today’s Internet is a world where homophobic activists in Serbia are turning to Facebook to organize against gay rights, and where social conservatives in Saudi Arabia are setting up online equivalents of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. So much for the “freedom to connect” lauded by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her much-ballyhooed speech on the Internet and human rights.
26 May
Facebook boosts privacy controls amid criticism
(Reuters) The issue has come to a head in recent months amid concern that Facebook makes it possible for Internet stalkers, cyber criminals and even nosy neighbors to gain a wealth of information about its users without their knowledge thanks to a confusing system for setting privacy safeguards.
No more texting for UN drivers  This would appear to be a no-brainer
Drivers of United Nations vehicles around the world are no longer permitted to text while driving, under a new directive from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in support of a global push to counter “distracted driving.” In the U.S. alone, more than 6,000 people died in 2008 as a result of crashes involving the use of hand-held devices. (5/19)
15 May
How Google and Facebook are undermining our trust in the social web
(Pandia) Google and Facebook make a mess of things, putting private information out in the open. This may ultimately undermine people’s trust in search and social media.
9 May
Tell-All Generation Learns to Keep Things Offline
(NYT) Members of the under 30 tell-all generation are rethinking what it means to live out loud.
In a new study to be released this month, the Pew Internet Project has found that people in their 20s exert more control over their digital reputations than older adults, more vigorously deleting unwanted posts and limiting information about themselves.
16 April
‘Haystack’ gives Iranian opposition hope for evading Internet censorship
(CSM) Haystack, an encryption software custom made to help the Iranian opposition evade official attempts to censor the Internet, is giving some regime opponents hope of organizing and making progress online.
Meanwhile, on a much lighter note

Norwegian PM uses iPad to run his country after Iceland volcano
Of course, Stoltenberg could have done all of this on a normal laptop – or a smart phone for that matter. But there’s something humorous about the prime minister almost showing off his hipness. Trapped abroad? Oh, no, his staff will tell you. He’s got an iPad. Seems there’s now an app for governing.

“This isn’t entirely shocking, though.” jokes ZDNet. “One has to wonder how much the United States is run from President Obama’s BlackBerry.”
13 April
David Eaves:If you won’t tell us about our MPs, we’ll do it for you
New websites herald the rise of digital democratic activists who seek to open up government for all to see
Unbeknownst to most Canadians, some interesting experiments in democracy are taking place in the shadows of the Internet. Across the country, a generation of democratic activists who know how to create webpages and write computer code are pushing to make government more open, accessible and transparent.
Yesterday with little fanfare Michael Mulley, an ordinary Canadian with a passion for democracy, launched, a website that enables you to search Hansard to see what MPs say in the House, peruse and search bills, look up press stories about any given MP and explore voting records. Suddenly, the entire debating history of Parliament is online, accessible and indexed. Any citizen can find out who said what and when.
7 April
The Wikileaks Incident: How Social Media has Changed Warfare Coverage
Tragedy aside, this is all good for us in the bigger sense, starting with the video release. Transparency is the victor here. More information and even more yelling back and forth gives everyone more data and opportunity to make up their own minds. And it keeps life-and-death topics like war fully in the bull’s-eye heat of aggressive social interaction.
5 April
Debunkers of Fictions Sift the Net
(NYT) Along with the freest access to knowledge the world has ever seen comes a staggering amount of untruth, from imagined threats on health care to too-easy-to-be-true ways to earn money by forwarding an e-mail message to 10 friends.
David and Barbara Mikkelson [an] unassuming California couple run Snopes, one of the most popular fact-checking destinations on the Web. (The Guardian) Snopes: The website that explodes urban myths
2 April
The End of History (Books)
(NYT) TODAY, Apple’s iPad goes on sale, and many see this as a Gutenberg moment, with digital multimedia moving one step closer toward replacing old-fashioned books.
Speaking as an author and editor of illustrated nonfiction, I agree that important change is afoot, but not in the way most people see it. In order for electronic books to live up to their billing, we have to fix a system that is broken: getting permission to use copyrighted material in new work. Either we change the way we deal with copyrights — or works of nonfiction in a multimedia world will become ever more dull and disappointing.
1 April
Amazon caves to book publishers
HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster will now, like Macmillan, be allowed to use an agency model that gives them control over their book’s prices.
16 March
March 15 marked the 25th anniversary of the Internet designation “.com.”
Arianna Huffington writes that a panel on which she is participating has been asked to predict the next “game-changing .com breakthroughs” and what “the next generation of .com might hold in store.” Her prediction? That “someone is going to create an online tool that makes it possible to instantly fact-check a story as you are reading it — or watching it on video.
“Picture this: It’s last summer and you are reading or watching a story about health care, and Sarah Palin or Betsy McCaughey is prattling on about death panels. Instantly, a box pops up with the actual language from the bill or a tape rolls with a factual explanation of what the provision in question really does. And this is a non-partisan tool. So when, in the midst of the legislative debate, President Obama says “I didn’t campaign on the public option,” the software will fire up and instantly show you where support for the public option appeared in his campaign plan, and clips of all the times he mentioned it in public after he got elected.”
10 March
Dan Rather: Watermelons, Washington, and What We Call News Today
Much of what we call news, isn’t. Much of what we Tweet, or post, or chat away at under the guise of news, are distractions.
The optimist in me believes that we are not as polarized as the partisans on the left and right would want us to believe. They make money on division. I have gotten dozens of letters from viewers for my HDNet show saying that they thought I was a left-wing partisan hack until they sat down and watched our reports. This is not meant to be self-aggrandizing. It is just evidence that if we stopped worrying about political point-scoring and sat and listened to the issues that matter, we would be less distracted and more focused on the problems that we all face and must solve together. Unfortunately, the (Twitter) posts below this article illustrate Dan Rather’s thoughtful points all too well.
22 February
How to decline Facebook friends without offence
The consequences of offending someone by ignoring their friend request are greater with a colleague you see every day than with a careless dining companion you may never meet again.
China fears threat posed by U.S. Internet
A state media report alleging China was the victim of a major cybersecurity violation suggests that China — considered in the West to be a source for cyberwarfare — is concerned about the threat the Internet poses to its security and political stability. Security analysts say the Chinese believe foreign actors, in particular the U.S., use communications technology such as Twitter to undermine China, politically and strategically. U.S. security experts say China’s defenses against Internet-based attacks are almost certainly weaker than those of the U.S. The New York Times (2/11)
2 February
Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier
(PBS Frontline) Within a single generation, digital media and the World Wide Web have transformed virtually every aspect of modern culture, from the way we learn and work to the ways in which we socialize and even conduct war. But is the technology moving faster than we can adapt to it? And is our 24/7 wired world causing us to lose as much as we’ve gained?
In Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier, FRONTLINE presents an in-depth exploration of what it means to be human in a 21st-century digital world. Continuing a line of investigation she began with the 2008 FRONTLINE report Growing Up Online, award-winning producer Rachel Dretzin embarks on a journey to understand the implications of living in a world consumed by technology and the impact that this constant connectivity may have on future generations. “I’m amazed at the things my kids are able to do online, but I’m also a little bit panicked when I realize that no one seems to know where all this technology is taking us, or its long-term effects,” says Dretzin.
Marc Garneau: Where is Canada’s plan for the digital age?
Canada must set an ambitious goal of 100% connectivity for all Canadians. including Canada’s rural and remote communities; we must create an environment of competition that accelerates investment in next-generation fibre and wireless digital networks; we must also reform our laws to ensure the internet remains a free and open platform for the sharing of ideas.
Technology is changing our world. While mindful of Canadian content and the cultural ties that bind our nation through radio, television and other traditional media, we must also evolve if we hope to prosper.
Time to retire touch-tone fee: researcher
Bell says the monthly fee funds other system upgrades
Touch-tone fees introduced by Bell in the 1970s to fund the switch from a rotary-dial system should be dropped, as the costs have been more than paid for, says Srinivasan Keshav, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Tetherless Computing at Waterloo University.
Enter the iPad – Can Apple’s new media machine save the book industry?
(Suite 101)The New York Times reported this week that five of the world’s largest publishers have signed on to provide e-books (or in Apple parlance, ibooks) for the new iPad. And because of the streamlined chain of production, publishers will get a larger return on their investment; 70 percent of the sale price, compared to the current 50-60 percent. The hope is that the savings will be passed on to the customer. Sounds attractive, but it’s not perfect.
As one might expect, Apple digital books are exclusive in their use. This means that for those who have already purchased Amazon’s Kindle e-reader they will be unable to directly copy their files to the iPad. If Apple is particularly clever, as they have often proven to be, they will offer to convert the files for new consumers, as they currently do for those converting from PC’s to Macs. This would require extensive circumnavigation of copyright laws enforced on e-books, so whether or not Apple will offer this service remains to be seen.
29 January
iPad: the closest we’ve got to a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
There’s something strangely familiar about the iPad.
It might not have the words “Don’t Panic” inscribed in large, friendly letters on its back, but Steve Jobs’ latest creation just might be the closest human beings have ever come to producing a real, tangible Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Remember life before iPad Wednesday?
That was back when they used to cut down trees for paper and sometimes people on subways would talk to one another?
Wired Kids, Negligent Parents
Young Americans from the ages of 8 to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours a day on average using a smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device. On top of that, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation study released last week detailing these habits, many children are electronic multitaskers — surfing the Web, for example, while listening to music or watching TV. If American parents are distressed by these findings, why don’t they do anything to change their children’s behavior? Are they being inattentive, or even negligent? Or is the portrait of media overload more complicated yet less daunting than it seems? . .
Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds is the third in a series of large-scale, nationally representative surveys by the Foundation about young people’s media use. It includes data from all three waves of the study (1999, 2004, and 2009), and is among the largest and most comprehensive publicly available sources of information about media use among American youth.
28 January
Online effort erases language barrier between Haitian quake survivors, aid worker
(CanWest) The relief effort in Haiti has now extended to the Internet with the development of software designed to erase the language barrier between foreign aid workers and Haitian Creole speakers.
27 January
iCountry News
The maestro has spoken. The all-powerful Oz has come and gone. Behold: after a buildup so big it makes the State of the Union speech look like a rebranding of Grape Nuts, Steve Jobs has descended from the mountain with a tablet. The written word is safe — for now — with him.
Apple unveils iPad tablet computer
(CBC) … but the full version, if it becomes available to Canadians at all, may cost a lot to use.
26 January
The 3 Facebook Settings Every User Should Check Now
In December, Facebook made a series of bold and controversial changes regarding the nature of its users’ privacy on the social networking site. The company once known for protecting privacy to the point of exclusivity (it began its days as a network for college kids only – no one else even had access), now seemingly wants to compete with more open social networks like the microblogging media darling Twitter.


28 July
“Who needs newspapers when you have Twitter?”
Chris Anderson, the editor in chief of technology and culture magazine Wired, may be a part of the press but that doesn’t mean he depends on newspapers for his news. In this revealing interview, Anderson talks about the Internet’s challenge to the traditional press, why free is best when it comes to business models on the Web and why he would rather read Twitter than a daily newspaper.

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