Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (July 21-27, 2014)

Monday, July 28th, 2014


Next To Silicon Valley, Nonprofits Draw Youth Of Color Into Tech.” By Aarti Shahani. Morning Edition/National Public Radio. July 21, 2014.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (June 30-July 6, 2014)

Monday, July 7th, 2014


The new 501(c)(3) and the future of free software in the United States.” Gnome,org. June 30, 2014.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (April 14-20, 2014)

Monday, April 21st, 2014


Keeping the Internet Free—for Now; The Commerce Department has second thoughts about surrendering America’s online oversight.” By L. Gordon Crovitz. Wall Street Journal. April 14, 2014.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (March 31-April 6, 2014)

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014


“‘Global’ Internet Governance Invites Censorship; If the U.S. surrenders Web oversight, firm steps must be taken to protect free speech and commerce.” By Julius Genachowski and Gordon M. Goldstein. Opinion. Wall Street Journal. April 4, 2014.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (March 17-23, 2014)

Monday, March 24th, 2014


Updating Internet Governance.” Editorial. New York Times. March 19, 2014.
Related story:
Internet governance: Doing the ICANN-can; America promises to release its grip on the internet’s phone book—and opens up a debate on how to govern cyberspace.” Economist. March 22, 2014.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (April 4-10, 2011)

Monday, April 11th, 2011


US government developing activist technology.” BBC News. April 8, 2011. Protesters in Cairo using laptops Anti-government campaigners in Egypt use laptops to help their campaign to oust Hosni Mubarak The United States government is spending millions of dollars developing technology to help pro-democracy activists in the Middle East and China. Washington has begun to open-up about the projects which include a “panic button” that lets protesters wipe their mobile phones if they are arrested. State department official Michael Posner said that the US was investing money “like venture capitalists”. He also revealed that it was providing campaigners with technology training. The US has budgeted $50m (£30m) since 2008 for its activist projects, which include developing systems to get round internet-blocking firewalls. “We are working with a group of technology providers, giving small grants,” said Mr Posner, who is assistant secretary of state for human rights and labour. “We are looking for the most innovative people who are going to tailor their technology and their expertise to the particular community of people we’re trying to protect.” Mr Posner described the challenge of keeping ahead of government controls in certain countries as “a sort of cat and mouse game”.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (March 14-20, 2011)

Monday, March 21st, 2011


City Ballet A-Twitter Over Posts.” By Erica Orden. Wall Street Journal. March 15, 2011. New York City Ballet is set to become one of the country’s first major performing-arts companies to govern its employees’ posts on Twitter, Facebook and other social-media outlets. And Devin Alberda, a member of the company’s corps de ballet, is part of the reason why. After news of his boss’s drunk-driving arrest was made public, Mr. Alberda tweeted: “Thank goodness riding the subway while intoxicated isn’t a misdemeanor offense,” adding the hashtag “#dontfireme.” In another tweet, he mocked a character in a production with a reference to the presidential executive order that paved the way for Japanese internment camps: “Yellowface character in NYCB’s 2010 revival of The Magic Flute the worst thing to happen to the Asian American community since EO 9066.” Plenty of professional ballet dancers have Twitter accounts, parting the curtain on a long-cloistered world with details on their backstage warm-up process or what they’re snacking on during intermission. But some, such as Mr. Alberda, go a step further, posting the kind of workday gripes or jokes dancers might say to each other but that are rarely aired publicly. The company now is negotiating a social-media policy as part of contract talks with the dancers’ union, the American Guild of Musical Artists. The ballet’s executive director, Katherine Brown, said in a statement: “Because social media usage has dramatically increased and will continue to do so, like many organizations the company is exploring the development of social media guidelines for all artistic and administrative employees with respect to their professional lives.” The union’s national executive director said it doesn’t see the need for a social-networking policy but wouldn’t object as long as rules don’t over-police the dancers.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (February 28-March 6, 2011)

Sunday, March 6th, 2011


Religious apps grow in availability, popularity.” By Lisa Fernandez. San Jose Mercury-News. February 27, 2011. Just before sundown Friday, a group of plugged-in Jews released a custom-made app to alert their Facebook friends and Twitter followers that they were checking out, logging off and generally not answering their e-mails for the next 25 hours. Then, with iPhones tucked away in a cutesy sleeping bag, these frenetic, high-tech Jews met — in real time — at an organic ranch in Los Altos Hills to drink wine, break bread and honor the Jewish mandate of not using technology on Shabbat. This just-off-the-shelf smartphone application, the Sabbath Manifesto, was designed by members of a Jewish nonprofit called Reboot. And it’s just one of a plethora of religious apps bombarding the online landscape as each faith tries to stake its claim. Many see these electronic forms of religion as an extension of age-old concepts of study, prayer and evangelism. Others see the apps as potentially controversial, or confusing at best, when a Buddhist meditation timer or the teachings of Jesus are juxtaposed next to “Angry Birds” and a Netflix account. What’s clear, however, is that the number of religious apps is growing at a pace impossible to count. “Everyone wants their religious presence on that space,” said Rachel Wagner, an assistant professor of religion at Ithaca College, author of “Sacred Texting” and an upcoming book, “Godwired: Religion, Ritual and Virtual Reality.” “They want the online world to be colonized by their apps.”

Obama administration joins critics of U.S. nonprofit group that oversees Internet.” By Ian Shapira. Washington Post. February 28, 2011. The California nonprofit organization that operates the Internet’s levers has always been a target for such global heavies as Russia and China that prefer the United Nations to be in charge of the Web. But these days, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is fending off attacks from a seemingly unlikely source: the Obama administration. Concerned about the growing movement to cede oversight to the U.N., the U.S. government, which helped create ICANN in 1998, has been reprimanding the nonprofit group to give foreign nations more say over the Web’s operations. The battle has come at a sensitive time for ICANN, which this month is meeting with foreign governments as it pulls off the biggest expansion ever of Web suffixes – including .gay, .muslim and .nazi. Also this fall, the nonprofit organization is seeking to hold on to its federal contract to oversee the Web’s master database of addresses – a sweeping power that governments fear could be used to shut down foreign domains that the United States finds unsavory. “There’s a deeper question of how the world is reacting to a small company – even a nonprofit – completely in charge of a key part of the Internet. Is that acceptable? There’s no 100 percent comfortable solution here,” said Steve Crocker, ICANN’s vice chairman, who lives in Bethesda and is the chief executive of Shinkuro, a technology company. With some Middle East countries shutting down the Internet within their borders to curb uprisings, the question of who runs the Web is increasingly figuring into global foreign policy debates. Some fear that governments such as those of Libya or Iran could more easily crush rebellions if they gained more control over the Internet’s inner workings.

For BIL, Tagging Along With TED Proves to Be an Excellent Adventure; An ‘Unconference’ Shadows Meeting of High Fliers; Couch Surfing, Carpools, Low Expectations.” By Erica Orden. Wall Street Journal. March 1, 2011. For jet-setting CEOs, academics and artists descending on Long Beach, Calif., this week to schmooze with the likes of Bill Gates and Stanley McChrystal, there’s nothing quite like TED, an annual tech extravaganza billed as the “ultimate brain spa” that costs $6,000 a ticket. The exclusive TED conference has an upstart little follower. It’s called BIL and it’s free and open to anyone who wants to attend or give a lecture. WSJ’s Erica Orden reports. For everyone else, there’s BIL. BIL is the “unconference” that has been a tagalong with TED since 2008, held the same week and as close as possible to the more glittering gathering. “BIL sort of formed out of a desire to shadow TED,” says Eric Gradman, a roboticist who spoke at the first BIL, in 2008. For example, Mr. Gradman says, “TED often defaults to, ‘How can we use neuroscience to help the sick?’ and BIL says, ‘How can we use those same technologies to make humans even more awesome?’” A TED spokeswoman, when offered several chances to talk about BIL and its relationship with TED, declined.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (February 21-27, 2011)

Monday, February 28th, 2011


Cannibalized computers organize San Jose neighborhood.” By Joe Rodriguez. San Jose Mercury-News. February 21, 2011. It would be nice to say this project was somebody’s brilliant idea for empowering the powerless and disconnected, but no. You could say it was the accidental offspring of a more modest idea. A few years, ago Nvidia, a computer graphics company in Santa Clara, started Project Inspire. Rather than throw holiday parties for its own people, Nvidia invited schools and community groups to apply for $250,000 improvement grants. The catch was that Nvidia employees would work side-by-side with school parents and neighborhood folks. The McKinley Bonita neighborhood association and elementary school teamed up with the city to apply, and they won. In 2009, about 1,000 Nvidia employees repainted the school and community center, landscaped the grounds and hooked up 74 computers for students and teens. Almost as an afterthought, a few of those computers went into a small room in the community center for local adults to learn computing skills but not necessarily to organize themselves. “It was great, people came,” said Paul Pereira, a neighborhood manager for the city’s Strategic Neighborhoods Initiative. “But then they told us, ‘What good is it to have the computers here when we could be using them at home?’ ” That’s where Sami Monsur literally came in for a look. She started the neighborhood association after buying a house there in 2007 but was having a hard time recruiting low-income Latino and Asian families. The group communicated by the cheaper and faster Internet, not by snail mail or fliers. A research analyst at San Jose State, she managed to scrounge up six computers on her own, hardly enough. But then she learned that the Upward Bound program on campus was getting new computers. Monsur persuaded a dean to donate 80 of the units to the McKinley neighborhood center. cannibalize and rebuild the old machines. Basically, they combined chips and other stuff from the computers to produce 42 units that were able to navigate the Web and send e-mail at a decent speed. Two of the geeks were interns at a computer-repair training program for disabled students. Two were at-risk youth from a local summer program. The other two were neighborhood volunteers. Meanwhile, Pereira and Monsur looked for trustworthy low-income residents already active in local affairs; the ones who wouldn’t abandon e- organizing to play video games or gossip on social networks. No matter the price, Montano said the computer has made organizing her neighbors “easier and faster” and is surprised at how quickly she took to the Internet.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (October 11-17, 2010)

Monday, October 18th, 2010


From Merseyside to Madagascar – via Facebook; Ailie Tam used the power of social networking to win funding from a prestigious competition for charity work overseas.” By Anna Timms. Guardian (UK). October 9, 2010. The ailing jobs market never daunted graduate Ailie Tam who is setting up home in a hut in south-east Madagascar. Equipped with a degree in English literature and a master’s in social work from Liverpool John Moores University, she bypassed the obvious rungs of the career ladder and volunteered for an HIV prevention programme in Africa. Next she entered the Vodafone World of Difference competition, which pays for eight winners to work on a chosen charitable project abroad. Her African experience won her 4,000 Facebook votes and last month she set off for Madagascar with £45,000 of funding for her Aids work. While there she’ll gather material for a PhD at the University of East Anglia before embarking on a career in international development. Tam is one of a new generation of graduates who have harnessed the internet to market themselves and their skills to otherwise oblivious employers. “I’ve used social networking tools such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to get my name out there,” she says. “That and the fundraising and voluntary work have been invaluable. I wouldn’t have been a credible applicant for any job in international social work without them.”