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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Collective power

As a kind of analogy to the extraordinary growth in online presence, guests were treated to a screening of The Powers of 10, a visionary old movie that shows what happens when you keep panning out from a snapshot scene by a factor of 10, every 10 seconds.

The keynote speaker, journalist James Surowiecki, employed some of the thinking from his book, The Wisdom of Crowds, to describe the net as possessing an "impulse towards openness and freedom".

Broadband was funded by people who lost their shirts in the Nasdaq, and god bless them. Now we're in the baby-steps of a true people's medium

Douglas Rushkoff, author
He believes that its great potential is to tap further into the vast "collective intelligence" of mankind, in the way that Google and the photo-sharing service Flickr have enabled so many millions already.

"They generate often incredibly brilliant collective results, without actually requiring much extra work from people."

But will the next 10 years of the web be money-driven, or culture-driven? Both says Mr Surowiecki.

Networks have to stay open, and the thirst for random knowledge prevents both the "Balkanisation" of the internet by self-absorbed groups, and also its homogenisation.

Advertising agency executive Peter Figueredo pointed to a trend in his sector that should help keep the power of the net at the bottom of the pyramid.

Companies like Audible.com are building a marketplace for podcasters, following the lead of ad networks that sell advertising on behalf of bloggers.

Adam Rich, who runs a sassy online guide for New York's young men about town, said he sensed a bit of natural selection creeping into the bloated blogging world.

"Pretty soon they're going to start dying out, because a lot of people don't run them like businesses," he said.

Standing to the side of the busy cocktail reception, internet author and theorist Doug Rushkoff was striking a different note about the value of internet use.

"The corporatisation of the net failed, just as the militarisation of the net failed," he said. "The social agenda tends to outweigh any other agenda people put on it."

He is still down on dotcom, but raises his glass to what happened after the bubble burst.

"Broadband was funded by people who lost their shirts in the Nasdaq, and god bless them. Now we're in the baby-steps of a true people's medium."

He looks forward excitedly to the prospect of more collaboration and real community blogging.

"The internet started on the culture pages, and it moved over to the financial pages. I think it's going to move back to the culture pages," he said.

Time to reinvigorate

There is no doubt that the distinctions between different media are dissolving fast as broadband gets fatter and extends its reach.

The keynote speaker was The New Yorker staff writer James Surowiecki
"I think the fracturing of the advertising market is going to be very big in American media," said Frank Bajak, technology editor for the Associated Press.

"The web is looking for more content. Will that content be in the form of video, and how will that video be delivered?"

People and advertisers need smarter ads that liberate them from the conventions of old-school television, he said.

The biggest laugh of the night came when Tiffany Shain compared the first 10 years of the Webbys to a red-hot lover, who has suddenly lost a bit of steam.

Now that the bloom is off the rose, she said, it is time to reinvigorate. She fondly recalled the rough-edged founders of Google rollerblading on stage in solar capes, to pick up their Webby award, way back in 2000.

Paper billionaires do not tend to do that kind of thing, but in the unpredictable world of the web, do not bank on it.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Rebecca MacKinnon was on the CNN to talk about the international blogging phenom

A new debate is emerging "blogging vs. journalism" that concerns those who are passionate about connecting with their fellow human beings.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

مؤتمر المعلومات في تونس.. من الرابح؟ من الخاسر؟

اشد الغنوشي

انعقد في تونس بين السادس عشر والثامن عشر من هذا الشهر مؤتمر مجتمع المعلومات، تحت إشراف الأمم المتحدة، وكان على مرحلتين توفيقا بين تنافس محموم على استضافته حصل بين دولتين هما تونس وسويسرا. انعقدت المرحلة الأولى في سويسرا، والثانية بتونس في التاريخ المذكور, وحضرته وفود رسمية وشعبية من كل أنحاء العالم، لما تمثله شبكة الانترنيت من تحديات على مختلف المستويات، بما يجعل إدارتها مسألة بالغة الأهمية تتصل مباشرة بسيادة الدول من جهة وعلاقة كل دولة بشعبها.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Morocco blocked the website of Polisario

[via Jankari]
The moroccan regime has blocked websites of the Polisario.

Planned Survey of Threatened Bloggers

[via http://sabbah.biz/mt/]
I hope in the next several weeks to create a comprehensive listing of bloggers who have been, or currently are, threatened with the inappropriate use of state power.

I intend to review our records, as well as page through other sources, to come up with this list, which will have the following elements:

Name of blogger (and/or blogging pseudonym)
Blog name and/or URL (active, inactive or hijacked)
Date arrested or interrogated
Notes (alleged "crimes," public reaction, where they were or are imprisoned)
Current status (imprisoned, convicted, freed on bail, freed without charges)

Technorati Tags: Committee_to_Protect_Bloggers, threatened_bloggers

Friday, November 25, 2005

Rami's Wall: The design ofe-thesis on e-journalism in the Arab world_ Jordan as a case study

The design of my e-thesis on e-journalism in the Middle East
Could it be a breakthrough? perhaps... After a few long discussions with my Professor and Supervisor Roland Stanbridge, one of the most famous academics in scandanavia in online journalism, I have developed and basically designed my thesis idea. As you read along, you will see that this is a PUBLIC thesis, which means that comments and ideas about developing the thesis itself are welcomed.

Main Research Question:

In the Middle East, who is using the internet as an alternative (FREE) journalism medium? why? and how?

Main methods of research:

1 - Observation and analysis of the level of debate on blogs, as apposed to the level of debate on mainstream media websites (Case study: Amman bombings) - this includes studying all the trackbacks, comments, and links.

2 - Surveying a number of Arab bloggers about how free do they feel writing about "red-lines" that mainstream media do not tackle, and how do they do it. Also, studying the level of self-censorship in blogs, and link it to personal blogging experience about reactions when I write about my ideas, thoughts, and how people correspond to the idea of this thesis.

3 - Visions: In Jordan, King Abdullah introduced his vision of turning Jordan into "the ict hub of the middle-east," internet and computers are introduced at a very early stage in Jordan, which gives people, on the long run, more space for freedom of expression. I plan on studying the relationship between the cause and effect.

4 - Conducting extensive, in-depth and open interviews with pioneers in "online-journalism" in JOrdan, how their websites reported on the case study of Amman bombings, and why so far they only copy, edit, and paste material from other content providers instead of hiring "online" journalists.

5 - The level of government control, and monitoring of the internet in the Middle East with reference to a report by Human Rights Watch on this topic.

6 - Draw examples and theories from other experiences, through a wealth of international literature discussing this topic from an international perspective.

7 - Backround: Arab Advisors Group's surveys on internet penetration and on internet use patterns in the Arab world, and provide a chronological explanation of internet development in studied countries.

8 - Create a blog, where I will keep a diary of this research and update it as soon as I have any new information, to study the reactions of commentors. At the end, the thesis will be provided in an electronic format which could possibly include all comments, links, trackbacks...etc, and the blog will be turned into a free website about online-journalism in the Arab world.

Ideas, comments, are already welcomed, annonymity is not a problem. This information, and all further information on this topic that I will post on this blog are copyrighted to me.

الأبطال المجهولون يدقّون أبواب القلوب

ظاهرة تغزو الآن عالم الانترنت، هي المدونة أو الـ"بلوغ" مثلما يسمونها في الغرب. المدونة عبارة عن صفحة على الشبكة تنشر تدوينات (مداخلات) مؤرخة ومرتبة ترتيبا زمنيا تصاعديا، تصاحبها آلية لأرشفة المداخلات القديمة، وهي تشبه دفتر اليوميات، لكنها تستقبل أيضا تعليقات على المواد المنشورة من زائري الصفحة، اي أن ثمة تفاعلا بين كاتب اليوميات او المدوّن (blogger) وقرائه. تتيح هذه الآلية لكل شخص أن ينشر كتابته بسهولة بالغة، ولهذا السبب يعتبر التدوين وسيلة للنشر والتعبير والتواصل، ووسيلة للدعاية والترويج للمشروعات والحملات المختلفة. وتراوح الموضوعات التي يتناولها الناشرون في مدوناتهم بين اليوميات والخواطر والإنتاج الأدبي والكتابات المتخصصة في مجالات محددة. توجد مدونات تقتصر على شخص واحد، وأخرى جماعية يشارك فيها العديد من الكتاب، وهناك ايضا مدونات محترفة، على غرار ما نتابعه في بعض الصحف البارزة (تقدم جريدة "لوموند" مثلا في نسختها الالكترونية عشرات "البلوغات" حول موضوعات مختلفة، ثقافية واقتصادية وفكرية وسياسية واجتماعية).

القاهرة - من إبرهيم فرغلي:

كانت الحرب على العراق أحد أسباب انتشار ظاهرة التدوين على الشبكة في العالم العربي، اذ ظهرت يومذاك مدونات كتبها عراقيون يعيشون في العراق وصفوا فيها يومياتهم وتفاصيل حياتهم في الأيام الأخيرة لنظام صدام حسين وأثناء الاجتياح الأميركي. اكتسبت بعض هذه المدونات شهرة واسعة وعُدَّ قراؤها بالملايين، وطبع أحدها وهو "أين رائد؟"، المكتوب في غالبيته العظمى بالإنكليزية، في كتاب.

ماذا عن مصر؟ ربما لا يتجاوز عدد المدونين المصريين نحو 400 مدون، لكنهم استطاعوا في زمن وجيز أن يشكلوا ظاهرة جديدة، الى درجة جعلت الكاتب الصحافي محمد حسنين هيكل يشير إلى إحدى هذه المدونات في برنامج حواري له في قناة "الجزيرة" في أيلول الماضي قائلا: "في مجتمع الإنترنت أجد شخصا يكتب باسم مستعار هو بهية، أقرأه باعتبار وباحترام أكثر من قراءتي لأي صحافي في أي جريدة".

بين الظواهر العديدة التي خلقتها المدونات تتشكل في مصر الآن تجارب أدبية جديدة أبطالها من الشباب المهتمين بالأدب يقدمون خبراتهم بأساليب تتمتع بالحداثة والعفوية والبساطة المركبة أحيانا، وبعضها يمد حبال الحرية الخلاّقة إلى حدودها القصوى، وأحيانا إلى ذروة الشطط. فهل تكون الإنترنت هي الوسيط الجديد الذي تتشكل من خلاله ظاهرة كتابة جديدة تتلامس أساليبها مع بعض الكتابات الحديثة، مثلما جرى أخيراً مع كاتب شاب هو أحمد العايدي في روايته "أن تكون عباس العبد"، التي مثلت بلغتها وتشظيها وهذيان بطلها شكلا جديدا ومفصليا في الأدب المعاصر؟

اطلعتُ على بعض هذه المدونات وأعجبني الكثير منها مثل "حدوتة مصرية" (رحاب بسام) و"على القهوة" (سقراط) و"خيال الظل" (إبليس)، و"القطط العمياء" (غيفارا)، و"تياترو صاحب السعادة" (زرياب)، و"جزمة حريمي" (للثلاثي بيانيست وغيفارا وسولو) و"حياة ديدو" (دينا الهواري) وغيرها.

كتابة تفاعلية؟

الإجابة عن السؤال ليست بالسهولة التي قد تبدو بها؛ لأن الدوافع التي دعت هؤلاء للتدوين تختلف من مدوّن الى آخر، لكنها في النهاية تأتي كاستجابة طبيعية لإرضاء شهوة الكتابة، على ما يقول أحد المدونين كريم إبرهيم: "الجميل في التدوين أنك حر تماما، لن يطالبك أحد بأن تعطي وصفا نوعيا لما تكتبه، ويمكنك أن تقرأ تدوينة ما وتتفاعل معها، ويصلك منها أفكار ومشاعر قبل أن تفكر هل ما قرأته قصة قصيرة أو قصيدة نثر أو مقال". ترى مدونة أخرى هي جين لوميل أن المدونات بعدد المدونين الحالي قد لا تسمح بتشكل ظاهرة، لكنها بالتأكيد فتحت الطريق "لنوع جديد من الكتابة التفاعلية" البعيدة عن القيود المعتادة، والحرة إلى حد الجنون أحياناً. وفعلا، الحرية هي العنوان العريض لهذه الظاهرة، فنقرأ فيها تعليقات بلا لجام، على غرار هذا التعليق الذي نصادفه في إحداها مثلا: "أعلم أنني خيبت أمل أمي فيّّ. كانت تريدني بنتاً مثالية تشرب اللبن قبل النوم، وتساعد اخواتها. بنت بلسم، مؤدبة، إلى آخر هذا الهراء. ولأن هذا هو النموذج الأكثر استدعاء لقرفي، ظللت في نظر أمي البنت المشكلة، هذا رغم أنها لا تعرف عن بلاويي إلا قشطتها. والله "أمي دي على نياتها".

هناك أيضا ايجابية سهولة النشر وسرعته، فالفكرة التي تطرأ على رأس المدون من الممكن أن تكون مقروءة من العشرات خلال دقائق، ومن المئات خلال أيام ومن الآلاف خلال أشهر. هل يملك كل كاتب مغمور هذه الفرصة بكتاباته بسبب وجود جهاز مثل الكومبيوتر؟ يرى أحمد الفخراني أن المدونات تعطي حرية اكبر في التعامل مع اللغة والفكرة، "مما يتيح لنا قدرا أكبر من التمرد والابتكار. إذا كان لي أن أتحدث عن مدونتي فأنا لست صانع قضايا، إنما صانع أشكال فنية".

أيا تكن الدوافع فالثابت أن هناك ظاهرة "أدبية" عربية تتشكل، بدأت تفرز نوعا من السمات المشتركة، منها مثلا أن المدونات تنتظر الشكل، على ما يقول أحمد الفخراني: "عندما أكون في صدد موضوع ما أنتظر القالب الفني الذي سأعالجه به". وهي ملاحظة في محلها، وتنطبق على الكثير من المدونات وخصوصاً رحاب بسام التي لها مدونة عنوانها "نظريتي اللغوية" تعالج فيها هذه المسألة ببراعة. ربما تكون أهم السمات المشتركة بين المدونين، الحرص على بساطة اللغة، بلا استعراض لجمالياتها إلا في ما ندر على قول كريم إبرهيم: "التدوين في الأساس مساحة للصراخ، يريد الفرد أن يفهمه الآخرون، فجيلنا يشعر أن لا وقت للتعقيدات لأنها موجودة في أشياء كثيرة أخرى". ربما لذلك يستخدم المدونون العامية كثيرا، أو يمزجونها بالفصحى في بعض الأحيان. وكثيرا ما تكون لغة ثائرة، "غير مقيدة بآداب المجتمع المصري المتحفظ بشكل عام وموروثاته"، على وصف كريم إبرهيم. قد تنطوي السمات المشتركة نفسها على موانع فكرة لجوء المدونين الى النشر الورقي، فهي فكرة تبدو مفارقة ومدهشة لغالبية المدونين: "أنشر مدونتي في كتاب؟! ما زلت أتعجب أن هناك من يقرأ مدونتي أًصلا! لذا لا أظن أن أحدا سيشتري هذا الكتاب". ورغم استنكار جين لوميل إلا أنها تضيف: "هذا الطرح يستدعي تساؤلات عن جدوى النشر الورقي بعد اتساع دائرة قراءة المدونات، وكون الكتاب محروما من التفاعل الذي تقدمه المدونة، فإن إغراء رؤية اسمك مطبوعا على ورقة شيء لا يمكن إنكاره".

هناك بعد آخر لا يمكن توافره في الكتاب الورقي، تقول رحاب بسام، هو إضافة الوصلات (links) "التي تغنيك عن الهوامش النمطية في الكتاب وتثري المدونة بعوالم لا نهائية تشعر معها أنك فتحت صندوق الدنيا". ومع ذلك فإن رحاب بسام بدأت تفكر بجدية في النشر الورقي، لكنها تنتظر أن يصل اقتناعها الى درجة تجعل هذه الخطوة مبررة بالنسبة اليها. حتى الآن لا يزال طابع الكتابة حميميا، يشبه البوح، بوح حميم يدقّ أبواب القلب، فنقرأ رحاب بسام تكتب مثلا في إحدى مدوناتها: "أدركت اليوم أنني نجحت في تحقيق ما ظل الجميع يحضونني عليه: نجحت في التأقلم. بعد شهور عديدة تأقلمت على فكرة الفراق، وهي الفكرة التي ظللت طيلة كل تلك الشهور استغربها ولا أفهمها: لا أفهم كيف أكون أنا هنا في حين يكون هو هناك، لا أفهم كيف يكون هنا هناك وهناك هنا، بعدما كان كل شيء هو "هنا" فحسب". في حين تبوح لنا دينا الهواري بالآتي: "رغم كل ما يبدو عليّ من صلابة و قوة أنا هشة جداً من الداخل. ربما يرونني شرسة، ربما يرونني من القوة بحيث انهم يظنون أنهم لن يهزموني يوماً... ولكن في أعماق أعماقي اعلم كم أنا ضعيفة جداً من الداخل، رغم كل الاصرار وكل العناد. حين يشتدّ الطرق، بكل هشاشة انكسر".

على الجهة الاخرى

سمة مشتركة أخرى بين المدونين اكتشفتها خلال حواري معهم: عدم معرفتهم بأعمال جيل التسعينات وكتاباته؛ فكريم والفخراني مثلا لم يقرأا سوى كتاب واحد لكل من عصام راسم فهمي (الحكروب) وأحمد أبو خنيجر وياسر شعبان. أما رحاب بسام فلم تقرأ إلا لبعض الكاتبات من جيل التسعينات مثل ميرال الطحاوي ونورا أمين ومي التلمساني، لكنها في شكل عام لا تجد في هذه الكتابة ما يمثلها: "أشعر أنهن يكتبن كتابة علاجية، لا أشعر أنها تمثلني كبني آدم أو كأنثى". وهي تجد أعمالا أخرى أقرب اليها كثيرا مثل كتابات أهداف سويف ولطيفة الزيات ورضوى عاشور وصنع الله إبرهيم وبهاء طاهر وغيرهم. ولا حتى كتابات شاب أقرب الى هذا الجيل هو أحمد العايدي الذي لم تسمع به جين لوميل من الأساس، ولم يقرأه الفخراني، في حين يقول كريم إنه لم يعجب بالرواية لأنها مقتبسة من فيلم "نادي القتال" وكان الأصل شديد الجودة، فما جديد العايدي؟

على الجهة الأخرى، فإن الغالبية العظمى من كتّاب جيل التسعينات لم تنتبه الى هذه الظاهرة بعد. ومنهم مصطفى ذكري الذي يرفض فكرة التصنيف وفقا لجيل من الأساس، لأنه يرى أن ما حصل مع التسعينات تسبب في وضع الكتاب مطلقاً في سلة واحدة رغم التباين الشديد في أساليبهم واهتماماتهم.

الكاتبة سحر الموجي لا تخفي إعجابها بمدونة رحاب بسام وآخرين من الذين يكتبون بالإنكليزية، لكنها تشك كثيرا في قدرة المدونات على تشكيل ظاهرة أدبية لقلة عدد المدونات المشغولة بالأدب، وعدد المدونات عموما (تشير الإحصاءات الى أن عدد المدونين في إيران مثلا يصل إلى سبعين ألف مدونة)، وتاليا هي ترتبط بفئة ذات خلفية محددة. كما أنها لا تخلق حالة نقدية موضوعية لا توفرها تعليقات المدونين على ما يكتبونه وقد تظل تدور في الفلك نفسه لسنوات، "بالإضافة إلى أن هذه التعليقات تشتت انتباهي عن النص، بشكل شخصي لا أكاد أتخيل القراءة سوى بكوني ممسكة الكتاب بين يدي ومعزولة في غرفتي أو على فراشي" .

أما الكاتبة منصورة عز الدين فهي متابعة جيدة للمدونات ومتحمسة لها، ومدركة لإغرائها الذي يماثل تأثير الإدمان، وتعبر عن إعجابها بمدونات عدة منها مدونة رحاب بسام ودينا الهواري وغادة محمود وشروق علاء الدين، وعدد من مدونات محمد علاء الدين. ترى منصورة أن للمدونات أسلوبا وسيطا بين الأدب والصحافة، فهي تتسم بتحييد القيم النقدية وبالحرية الشديدة في الكتابة والقراءة، ويقترن أسلوبها بالعفوية والطزاجة، لكن لا يمكن التحمس للمدونات بشكل مطلق لمحدودية عدد المدونات الأدبية المتميزة. وتشير عز الدين إلى تعامل الوسط الثقافي مع الظاهرة بنوع من التعالي، لكنها تراهن على إمكانات المدونات في الإضافة على الكتابة والأدب بشكل عام في المستقبل القريب.

(ں) عناوين بعض المدونات:

- رحاب بسام hadouta.blogspot.com

- تياترو صاحب السعادة zeryab.blogspot.com

- عالقهوة 3alkahwa.blogspot.com

- القطط العمياء garad.blogspot.com

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Don't Bomb Us - A blog by Al Jazeera Staffers

Would you like to bomb us?
Originally uploaded by aljazeerastaffer. These are the men and women who bring you the news at Al Jazeera. We have a diverse staff complement. Our people are made up of dozens of nationalities...

Come and have a look at who we are (here is our flickr photoset). We are not afraid of your threats - we are journalists. And there thousands like us around the world. You may be able to kill some of us - but you will never kill us all.

Al Jazeera staff have organised a symbolic gathering outside their offices both in Doha and around the world on Thursday 24th of November 2005 at 2pm Doha time (GMT+3).

We will be demanding that the truth about Daily Mirror report to be revealed and that the Britsh and American governments set the record straight about the revelation made in the paper. If you haven't heard yet, President Bush discussed bombing Al Jazeera's Headquarters in Doha.

Check back for pictures and updates.

Arab Web Hosting Community Launches Free Blog Service

November 23, 2005 – (HOSTSEARCH.COM) – Jeeran (http://www.jeeran.com), the first web hosting community geared towards Arabs, has launched a free ‘Blog Service’. The service allows users to easily set up websites which act as online journals and allow comments and contributions to be posted by visitors. ‘Jeeran Blogs’ can incorporate images, videos and a variety of other media alongside normal text.

Jeeran’s Blog Service provides an ‘Arabized’ solution for blog creation and stems from an ongoing commitment to provide Internet technologies to the Arab online community. "We have always been a user-driven company. Blogging, the epitome of user interaction today, is the natural and logical extension to our current line of products and services," said Omar Koudsi, Co-founder & President of Jeeran. "We have added Blogs, as another useful tool, to empower our users and allow them to fully utilize the latest technologies and trends in the Internet world. A clear manifestation of how blogs fit in our line of services is that since our blogs soft launch earlier this month, two thousand bloggers have joined the Jeeran blogsphere," he added.

Jeeran was launched in 2000 as the first Arab Web Hosting Community on the Internet and is recognized as the market leader in its domain. Its blogs are provided free of charge alongside a range of products and services designed to specifically cater to the requirements of Arab users. "We have made it our strategy to analyze and predict the needs of the Arab online community and present them with solutions which address those needs in an easy to use format," said Laith Zraikat, VP of Jeeran.

"People come to Jeeran to use our web-based tools and create an online presence for them selves. We have seen tremendous success for our hosting and web building tools, which grew our community of webmasters to more than 500,000 registered members. Now with Jeeran Blogs, our members have another easy-to-use tool by which to enhance and strengthen their online presence. It will also add a whole new audience of bloggers to Jeeran," Mr. Zraikat added.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

New Media Campaigns and the Managed Citizen

[via Smart Mobs]
The political campaign is one of the most important organizations in a democracy, and whether issue- or candidate-specific, it is one of the least understood organizations in contemporary political life. This book is a critical assessment of the role that information technologies have come to play in contemporary campaigns. With evidence from ethnographic immersion, survey data, and social network analysis, Philip Howard examines the evolving act of political campaigning and the changing organization of political campaigns over the last five election cycles, from 1996 to2004. Over this time, both grassrootsandelitepolitical campaigns have gone online, built multimedia strategies, and constructed complex relational databases. The contemporarypolitical campaignadopts digital technologies that improve reach and fund-raising and at the same time adapts its organizational behavior.The new systemof producing political culture has immense implications for the meaning of citizenship and the basis of representation.

Prologue: The Flows of Information in Competitive Politics

Introduction: The Hypermedia Campaign

The Evolution of Hypermedia Campaigns in the United
Information Technology in Campaigns and Elections
Outline of the Book
Chapter 1: Political Communication and Information Technology

Politics in Code
Digital Democracy in Theory and Practice
Political Consultants as a Cultural Industry
The Structural Code of Political Communication
Analytical Frames for Studying Politics and Information
Information Technologies as Cultural Schema
Chapter 2: Producing the Hypermedia Campaign

The Digital Leviathan
Hypermedia and the Production of Public Opinion
Of Grassroots and Astroturf
Chapter 3: Learning Politics from the Hypermedia Campaign

Software and Surveillance
Political Communication and the Open Information Market
Political Redlining and Issue Publics
Chapter 4: Organizational Communication in the Hypermedia Campaign

The Development of Campaign Organization
Power and Social Control in the Hypermedia Campaign
Chapter 5: Managed Citizenship and Information Technology

TheWizards of Odds
Deviance and Decisions
Citizenship in the Digital Democracy
Political Schema Rationalized in Code
Policy and Process for the Healthy Digital Democracy
Appendix: Method Notes on Studying Information Technology and Political Communication

Methodological Challenges in Studying Hypermedia


American Blogger Provokes Yemen's State Media

American Blogger Provokes Yemen's State Media
We've linked several times to reporter Jane Novak's blog Armies of Liberation, which spearheads a one-woman campaign against the abuses of Yemen's dictator Ali Abdallah Saleh (a recent guest at the White House). A sample of Saleh's cult-of-personality campaign across the Yemen countryside can be seen at right (with a gratuitious photo of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem).

Now Saleh is directing his government-controlled media outlets to attack Jane Novak. She explains the whole story with a post entitled "A First for the Blogosphere":

إطلاق مؤسسة عربية لوضع معايير للإنترنت

المؤسسة الجديدة تهدف للارتقاء بصناعة الإنترنت في المنطقة (الجزيرة نت)
أعلن في دبي أمس الثلاثاء تحت رعاية وزيرة الاقتصاد والتخطيط في الإمارات العربية المتحدة الشيخة لبنى القاسمي عن إنشاء مؤسسة لمعايير الإنترنت العربية.

ومن أبرز مهام هذه المؤسسة هي وضع مقاييس صناعية جديدة وبرامج متخصصة لإنشاء المواقع التجارية الإلكترونية.

وتهدف المؤسسة بشكل أساسي إلى تسريع عملية تطوير صناعة الإنترنت بالمنطقة، من خلال تطوير معايير جديدة تتعلق بالتسويق عبر الإنترنت وكذلك التصميم والاتصال والأمن وإيجاد حلول للمواقع التجارية.

وسيتم طرح المعايير الجديدة من خلال برامج تعليمية تعتمد فيها معايير المؤسسة البريطانية للمعايير( BSI)، وسوف تعتمد المعايير الجديدة كمقياس على مدى تطور مواقع الإنترنت بالمنطقة.

من جانبه قال مدير مدينة دبي للإنترنت جمال عبد السلام إن هذه المبادرة تهدف لخلق بيئة غنية لصناعة الإنترنت، وإحداث ثورة في تطور هذه الصناعة بالمنطقة.

وبدوره رأى مدير مؤسسة "داتا فورت" دكتور سعيد الباروني أن إطلاق هذه المبادرة بمثابة المفتاح الذي سيساعد على مواصلة نمو صناعة الإنترنت التي ظهرت بالمنطقة، منوها إلى أن تطوير معايير صناعة الإنترنت من أهم الأدوات التي تساهم بنقل مواقع الإنترنت إلى المستويات المتقدمة.

وأكد أن المؤسسة ستنظر أيضا في جميع المشاكل التي تواجه صناعة الإنترنت بالمنطقة، منوها إلى أن مواقع قليلة بالعالم تتبع المعايير الصحيحة في إنشاء وتصميم مواقع الإنترنت.

يشار إلى أنه شارك في الإعلان عن المؤسسة كل من ممثلي الشركات القابضة العاملة بدولة الإمارات العربية، ورئيس مدينة دبي للإنترنت ورئيس تحرير الجزيرة نت ومنظمة المعايير البريطانية بالإضافة إلى ممثلين من الشركات المعنية والمصممة.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Arab world: A zone of UNFREEDOM

Journalists Killed = Iraq (8), Lebanon (1), Libya (1)

The Middle East and North Africa is one of the most troubling regions in the world for press freedom, and events in recent months have proved no exception. The continued slaughter of journalists in Iraq, intolerance and incarceration in Iran, and murders in both Lebanon and Libya have made this region the bloodiest in the world for journalists in the past six months.

Ongoing violence and instability in Iraq have made the country the most dangerous place in the world for media. At least eight journalists have been murdered in the past six months, bringing the yearly total thus far to nineteen. Most of the victims were local journalists, many falling victim to attacks by insurgents.

In September alone, three journalists were killed, two in the northern city of Mosul, and one in Basra. On 16 September, Hind Ismail, a reporter for the daily newspaper As-Saffir, was abducted by unidentified assailants in Mosul. Her body was found the next morning with a single bullet wound in the head. On 20 September, Firas Maadidi, the Mosul bureau chief for the same daily, was gunned down in front of his home. In the southern city of Basra, Fakher Haydar Al-Tamimi, an Iraqi journalist who worked for several foreign news media including the New York Times, was kidnapped and shot in execution style on 19 September.

The replacement of reformist president Mohammad Khatami by the conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran’s presidential elections in June has done little to give hope to the country’s struggling independent media. Iran’s most prominent political prisoner, investigative journalist Akbar Ganji, remains in jail. There has been no word of his condition since he was returned to prison on 3 September following a two-month hunger strike that landed him in hospital.

A few other journalists have been more fortunate. Cyber-dissidents Mojtaba Lotfi andi Mohamad Reza Nasab Abdolah were released from prison at the end of August after spending over six months in prison. In June, Yosef Azizi Banitrouf, a prominent journalist and human rights activist, was released on bail. The journalist had been detained without charge since his arrest in April for participating in a press conference.

Social agitation in the tiny kingdom of Bahrain has brought out the less tolerant side of the normally accommodating government. In the past six months, at least three bloggers and Internet users affiliated with the website Bahrain Online (http://www.bahrainonline.org) have been detained and released.

Similarly in Yemen, social unrest appears to have led to direct reprisals from the government in recent months. Premeditated attacks on the press have also been recorded. In July, following a fuel price hike that sparked riots, security forces arrested a number of journalists covering the events and attacked others, confiscating their cameras and film.

Also in July, Yemeni correspondents for foreign media were barred from sending news reports using Yemeni TV satellite stations, despite agreements to the contrary. In the same month, Hajei Al-Jehafi, managing editor of the independent daily An-Nahar, narrowly escaped injury when a booby-trapped letter exploded in his face.

Initial high hopes concerning the political future of Lebanon in the wake of the withdrawal of Syrian troops and the June parliamentary elections were dampened by the 2 June murder of popular political columnist Samir Kassir.

The An-Nahar journalist was killed by a car bomb. In a similar attack, May Chidiac, an anchorwoman with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, was seriously wounded in a car bomb attack in September. The journalist, one of Lebanon’s most outspoken during Syria’s occupation, lost two limbs and suffers from serious burns from the attack.

Egypt’s first democratic presidential elections in September put the country’s predominately state-controlled media to the test. As expected, coverage was found to be biased in favour of President Mubarak, although opposition candidates were given print space and airtime. Aside from a few independent newspapers, including the Arab-language Al Masri Al Youm, the government owns and operates all broadcast television stations, radio is restricted to entertainment, and the country’s three leading dailies are state controlled, with their editors appointed by the president.

In Algeria, the government has continued to employ defamation laws to crack down on opposition journalists over the past six months, rounding off a thoroughly disappointing year for press freedom in the country. Algeria’s most prestigious editor, Mohamed Benchicou, remains behind bars after more than a year in jail on trumped up charges. Threats, censorship, denial of press accreditation, arrests and prison sentences have become the daily lot of many journalists in the country.

The gruesome murder of a journalist in Libya in June shone rare light into a country that is normally shrouded in darkness due the lack of any independent media. On 2 June, the body of Daif al-Ghazal al-Shuhaibi was found in the eastern city of Benghazi. His fingers had been severed and his body had multiple bruises and stab wounds. He had also been shot. For the past year, the journalist had written for the UK-based web newspaper Libya, in which he had published articles criticising Libya’s governing party, the Movement of Revolutionary Committees (MRC).

With the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) set to take place in Tunis in November, Tunisia’s attempt to prove to the world its suitability to hold a UN meeting, that among other subjects, discusses issues of access to information and freedom of expression, remains as absurd as ever. The blocking of websites, consistent harassment of journalists, and banning of meetings of prominent civil society organisations over the past six months is consistent with President Ben Ali’s hostile stance toward freedom of expression. According to reports, there are more than 600 prisoners of opinion currently in jail in the country.

Saudi agency blocks access to blogger.com

Saudi Arabia is one of the countries that censors the Internet the most, but blog services had not until now been affected by the ISU’s filters,” the press freedom organisation said. “The complete blocking of blogger.com, which is one of the biggest blog tools on the market, is extremely worrying. Only China had so far used such an extreme measure to censor the Internet.”

The OpenNet Initiative: Internet Filtering

The OpenNet Initiative releases country studies based on our ongoing research. The country studies are concise, high-quality research and analysis of Internet filtering in states of interest. These studies synthesize our initial background research, which sets the political and legal context of Internet filtering, with a broad identification of the current information technology infrastructure and an analysis of our preliminary technical testing results. Country studies are necessarily brief and represent an initial investigation to discover trends and sensitive areas. ONI will follow up on some country studies with intensive contextual research and rigorous in-country testing for our major national and regional reports.

Internet Filtering in Saudi Arabia in 2004

A. Summary
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia controls the information its citizens can readily access on the World Wide Web through a sophisticated filtering system that draws upon commercial software from the United States (Secure Computing's SmartFilter) for technical implementation and site blocking suggestions, expert local staff for operations and additional site identification, and Saudi citizen input to suggest over- or under-blocking according to stated filtering criteria. The OpenNet Initiative (ONI) has tested filtering in Saudi Arabia over a three-year period. We found that the Kingdom's filtering focuses on a few types of content: pornography (98% of these sites tested blocked in our research), drugs (86%), gambling (93%), religious conversion, and sites with tools to circumvent filters (41%). In contrast, Saudi Arabia shows less interest in sites on gay and lesbian issues (11%), politics (3%), Israel (2%), religion (less than 1%), and alcohol (only 1 site). Unlike filtering in states such as China, the policies, procedures, and philosophy for Saudi Arabia's filtering system are relatively transparent and documented on the Web site of its Internet Services Unit (ISU). Users who try to access forbidden sites see a Web page informing them that the site is prohibited. Despite this openness about filtering, the system inevitably errs, resulting in overblocking of unrelated content

Monday, November 21, 2005

World Telecommunication Indicators 2004/2005

2005 edition

This publication contains ITU's authoritative World Telecommunication Indicators for year-end 2003 and some 2004 data for selected indicators.These statistics monitor the main indicators of telephone network growth, mobile communications, pricing, revenues and investment for around 200 economies worldwide.

World Telecommunication Indicators 2004/2005



Table A: List of economies

Basic indicators
Main telephone lines
Waiting list
Local telephone network
Telephone tariffs
Mobile cellular subscribers
Prepaid cellular tariffs
International telephone traffic
Telecommunication staff
Telecommunication revenue
Telecommunication investment
Information technology
Multichannel TV
ICTs in households
Technical notes

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Open media to connect communities

A US-based project is tapping into the collaborative nature of the web to provide online content that is relevant and valuable to developing nations.

Open media to connect communities

By Jo Twist_BBC News technology reporter

Many used the Wikipedia after the Asian tsunami
A US-based project is tapping into the collaborative nature of the web to provide online content that is relevant and valuable to developing nations.

The Wikimedia Foundation has set itself the ambitious aim of providing knowledge to people in their own language.

The goal is to tackle on one of the recurring issues that arose during the UN World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis about the lack of material online in languages other than English.

Wikimedia has emerged from the Wikipedia, the freely-available, editable, open and collaborative online encyclopaedia set up by Jimmy Wales.

"The Wikimedia Foundation is a non-profit organisation with the essential goal to distribute that free encyclopaedia to everyone on the planet in their own language," said Mr Wales.

The Wikimedia projects are about accessing cultural diversity and giving voices and knowledge to people in their own language. Together they form a giant, multicultural, adaptable and free cerebral net.

Going local

The foundation is setting up local chapters to further support local participation.

"Wikipedia is organised by languages, not by location, but we are building local chapters because local people like to meet and it is a way for us to interface with them on a local scale," said Mr Wales.

The foundation's other projects also include Wikicommons, Wikibooks, and Wikinews.

Freedom of speech is critical for all cultures

Jimmy Wales, Wikimedia Foundation

Preserving the essence of the net
"Wikinews was born out of observation that when any major news ever happens, Wikipedia becomes a very valuable resource for people."

"What you don't get in the mainstream media is so much of the background material. So you can come to Wikipedia and get a lot of background," said Mr Wales.

A good example of that was after the Asian tsunami. People visited Wikipedia to search for information about the phenomenon.

But eyewitness videos and images were also published on blogs and photo sharing websites, and collected and used by mainstream news organisations.

Wikicommons is an attempt to aggregate all that content to make it accessible to anyone, even mainstream media, anywhere, for free, under free licence terms.

It collects all the images, sound, and video that are all freely licensed so that they can be used in any kind of cultural context. It is like an information hub for a "global free culture", said Mr Wales.

Silencing voices

But the issue for an organisation which relies on volunteers and only two full-time employees is making groups outside of the online community aware of it, and to get them using it as part of their projects.

Wikipedia now attracts roughly more than 2.4 billion hits a month, running on more than 120 servers globally, managed by volunteers who communicate via internet chat.

It says it has a broader reach than the Los Angeles times, New York Times, MSNBC.com and The Chicago Tribune, collectively.

However, there are still big barriers to making the foundation's efforts truly global.

"Freedom of speech is critical for all cultures," said Mr Wales.

But in cultures where there are oppressive regimes, the voice of people, no matter what their political stance, is not being expressed at all.

China has cut off contact with the Wikipedia encyclopaedia
"One of the things we see in Wikipedia is that by silencing your own citizens, you are not only preventing them from reading information from outside, but you are also silencing the information that comes out.

Access to Wikipedia has recently been blocked by Chinese authorities which, Mr Wales said, has backfired in some senses.

It means people from mainland China cannot read or contribute to the Chinese Wikipedia.

The number of edits on the Chinese version since the blocking has dropped by around 40%, according to Mr Wales.

"The mainland Chinese tend to take a Chinese mainland point of view on controversial issues, and the Taiwanese take another the Taiwanese viewpoint," he explained.

"Hopefully it is just a mistake and it will be unblocked. It has happened before," he said.

Wikipedia gives people the chance to post articles which they think are of cultural and social importance from their own countries, which people are encouraged to translate into their own languages.

Each international-facing Wikipedia site features articles on the front page which are culturally relevant.

"We are not talking about dissidents and being critical of the Chinese government," he said, stressing that Wikipedia was about having the tools to promote your culture.

Worldwide broadband subscriptions to hit 500m in 2010 – report

worldwide internet users are projected to top 1bn in 2005. The number of worldwide internet users is expected to reach nearly 1.8bn in 2010.
[via smart mobs]

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Egyptian Election and political Blogging

أشهر "البلوجرز" في مصر .. يؤيدون المعارضة .. عندا في الحكومة و"الإخوان" معا!
الأحد، 13 نوٍِفمبر 2005 - 21:56
بقلم: مي الحسيني

مواطنون فى زحمة القاهرة - تصوير دينا توفيق

محمد ورامي وزينب وتامر شباب مصريون مهتمون بالسياسة أو –لأكون أكثر دقة وتحديداً- مهتمون بواقعهم الاجتماعي ، ويرغبون في تحقيق حلم "التغيير " الذي أصبح يحاصرنا كالماء والهواء في الآونة الأخيرة ، ولكنهم يكشفون عن هذا الحلم وينفسون عنه بطريقتهم الخاصة .. "المدونات".

المدونات باختصار شديد- لمن لا يعرفها- هي مساحة للتعبير عن الرأي على الإنترنت يمكنك بسهولة انشائها عن طريق عدد من المواقع المخصصة لهذا الغرض، وهي تعرف بالإنجليزية باسم "Blogs" ويعرف من يحررها باسم المدون أو "Blogger".

الانتخابات اتخذت طابعاًَ ساخناً على صفحات المدونات قد توحي لمتصفحها أن شباب مصر جميعاً مهتمون بالسياسة الداخلية ومشاركون فيها إيجابياً ومؤيدون للمعارضة بشكل العام واليسار المصري على الأخص لا حباً فيها ولكن رفضاً "للناس التانيين" المتمثلين في الحكومة أساساً والإخوان المسلمين من جهة أخرى.

رامي شاب مصري مقيم في الخارج تحمل مدونته شعار "لنتعد الطبيعي" ، ويقول في مستهلها "لم يعد بقائنا صامتين كافياً لإنقاذ كرامتنا وإنسانيتنا وكرامة إخوتنا وإنسانيتهم ، لنكسر حاجز الصمت نحن الأغلبية العادية غير المتحزبة" ، ويناقش من خلالها أمنياته فيما يتعلق بانتخابات مجلس الشعب مشيراً إلى أنه "من زمان" لا يملك سوى التمني فيما يتعلق بها ، ويسر إلينا :"شيء مخجل: لم أدل بصوتي ولا مرة في حياتي في أي إنتخابات برلمانية ولا محلية ولا رئاسية...لا يبقى لي سوى أمنيات هي أشبه بعشم إبليس في الجنة!"

أمنيات رامي ببساطة كانت الفوز لأربعة مرشحين يري فيهم الأمل لغد أفضل هم الدكتور أحمد عبدالله لصدقه وصرامته وقدراته الخطابية وكمال خليل مرشح حزب التجمع المعارض لأن "المجلس في حاجة لبعض الاشتراكية في بلد يقبع تحت خط الفقر" على حد تعبيره ، والدكتورة منى مكرم عبيد لأنها تمثل بالنسبة له "توليفة نادرة من المستحيلات" لأنها سيدة "وكمان مسيحية" والدكتور أيمن نور "ليس لأنه الأكثر بريقاً ونجاحاً" ولكن لأنه يرى أنه برلماني ناجح ، والخسارة لوزير المالية يوسف بطرس غالي والسيد كمال الشاذلي ومجدي حسين لأسباب رأى عدم ضرورة ذكرها لأنه يفضل "ذكر المحاسن دون سواها."

الأمنيات لم تكن الوحيدة على المدونات ، ولكن كان للحقائق الموثقة -والتي تعكس نشاط شديد في مجتمع المدونين- تواجد قوي يمكن ملاحظته من خلال مدونة محمد "طق حنك" التي ضمت ما يشبه دراسة كاملة لأحوال العملية الانتخابية يتطرق فيها تفصيلياً لوقائع تزوير وبلطجة –لا أجزم بصحتها- في محافظات مصر ، لا يمكن أن يكون قد أعدها وحده ولكن بمساعدة آخرون ، بالإضافة إلى استناده لعناوين الأخبار في الصحف والمجلات الصادرة مؤخراً.

ويفرد محمد مساحة مثيرة للاهتمام في مدونته للأسباب التي تدفعه إلى عدم انتخاب الإخوان المسلمين وإلى "تحمل الحموضة الناتجة عن انتخاب يساري وضغط الدم الناتج عن انتخاب وفدي" ، في سبيل عدم تأييد الإخوان ويفسر موقفه من خلال عرض مختصر للحملات التي تبناها الإخوان المسلمون في الدورة الماضية والتي تتخلص في حملات ضد المجلات العارية والفيديو كليب وبعض الكتب المثيرة للجدل والمطالبة بـ"فلترة الإنترنت" ، ولكنه يوضح في النهاية أنه لن يؤيدهم ليس لتزمتهم الأخلاقي أو لمطاردتهم لسطور الكتب والروايات أو اهتمامهم المفرط بروبي أو نانسي عجرم ، ولكن لأنهم لا يناقشون قضايا حقيقية من وجهة نظره.

ومن ناحية أخرى يفرد محمد صفحة كاملة عن "كمال خليل" قراءتها تكفي للوقوع في غرامه وليس فقط انتخابه فهي تعكس إعجاب شديد بحماسه و"ابتسامته" التي بدت قاسماً مشتركاً يذكره كل مؤيديه.

أما زينب فتتخذ مدونتها "الوقائع المصرية" طابعاًُ إخبارياً ممزوجاً برأيها الخاص في تناول الانتخابات النيابية التي لم تكن آخر ما تناولته بالتغطية حيث تطرقت أيضاً لرحيل مصطفى العقاد قبل أيام ، وهو نوع من المدونات يتشابه مع آخر يمكنك التعرف عليه من خلال مدونة "آخر الأخبار" التي تكتفي صاحبتها بنقل الأخبار كما هي من مصادرها من وكالات أنباء أو مواقع إخبارية على الإنترنت دون إبداء رأي فيها.

بدت خيبة الأمل من نتائج الانتخابات النيابية واضحة في نبرة تامر صاحب مدونة "عقدة" الذي أعلن بوضوح متشائم أن الواقع أصبح أكثر عتمة عن ذي قبل منذ أن ظهرت نتائج الانتخابات باكتساح للحكومة والإخوان المسلمين ، ويمكن للقارئ بسهولة تتبع الغضب الذي يشعر به الكاتب تجاه الاحوال السياسية والسلبية الشعبية تجاه النظام الحاكم من خلال مشهد تخيلي ساخر لانتخابات الرئاسة القادمة عام 2009 يلعب فيه المدونون دوراً رئيسياً.

مدونات كثيرة سياسية وشخصية تضمها حلقة المدونين المصريين على الإنترنت The Egyptian blog ring والتي تضم بداخلها 212 مدونة باللغة الانجليزية و228 بالعربية و4 بالفرنسية ، تعبر عن مجتمع جديد آخذ في النمو ويتمتع بوعي عال لافت للانتباه وترابط ملحوظ ، ولكن تظل الفجوة واسعة بينه وبين السواد الأعظم من الشباب المصريين.

العفو تندد باعتداء تونس على الحريات خلال قمة المعلومات

احتجاجات في تونس تندد بانتهاكات حقوق الإنسان

نددت منظمة العفو الدولية بما وصفته باعتداءات على حرية التعبير والاجتماع خلال انعقاد القمة العالمية حول مجتمع المعلومات بتونس, وطالبت الأمم المتحدة بإجراء تحقيق حول قيود فرضت على المجتمع المدني.

Rebecca MacKinnon's excellent work in Tunisia

Postings from Rebecca MacKinnon's excellent work in Tunisia

November 17, 2005
WSIS: Expression Under Repression

In about an hour from now (2pm local time), I'll be participating in in a seminar sponsored by the Dutch NGO Hivos titled Expression Under Repression. Click here for the schedule and location. There has been a lot of to-ing and fro-ing about whether we would be allowed to proceed. Yesterday our sponsors were told that the Tunisian authorities deemed our seminar's title to be incompatible with the conference's theme of ICT for Development, and that it might be cancelled. Then after some high-level negotiations the seminar was back on. Then this morning there was a sign outside our seminar room saying the event was cancelled. After more protests by our sponsors, the sign was removed.

If you are at WSIS and want to attend, the seminar room is very close to the Hivos stand in the ICT4Development area. Expo2 no.3103

I'll be giving a keynote. Below is what I have written up in preparation, and is roughly what I plan to say.

Meanwhile, please be sure to check out Ethan Zuckerman's excellent writeup of the alternative citizens' summit held by Tunisian democracy activists in downtown Tunis last night.

"Expression Under Repression" keynote

A powerful shift has taken place in the information society. I believe that this shift is so powerful and so important that I left a good job as a correspondent for CNN in order to work in service of the emerging citizens' media movement.

Until recently, the only way an American or Dutch person could know what a Tunisian, or a Chinese or a Zimbabwean person thinks (unless they are incredible world travelers) was through people like me. A journalist like myself would have to interview them and put their quotes in a newspaper or their soundbites on TV. The only way for a person in one part of China to know what was going on in another part, or for a Zimbabwean to know what's going on in the neighboring town was either through media - or physical word of mouth.

Now anybody can use the internet - set up a weblog, post information on bulletin boards, upload photos to photosharing sites - and speak directly to the world. The same tools also enable people to communicate more freely with their own countrymen - without going through media filters.

The right of people around the globe not only to speak but also to be heard is vital if we are to achieve a more equitable global information society. It is something that must be fought for.

The obstacles are not only government repression - but also commercial interests that have determined that the voices of some people in certain parts of the world have greater value than the voices of others.

Social entrepreneurs and non-governmental organizations have our work cut out for us if we want to help everybody on this planet exercise their right to speak and be heard.

[SLIDE] Global Voices Online - a project co-founded by myself and my colleague Ethan Zuckerman - is one small effort to track and call attention to the citizens' voices everywhere except the United States and Western Europe (whose citizens get a disproportionate amount of media attention compared to the rest of the world's citizens). From China to Iran to Tunisia to Zimbabwe to Malaysia, people are setting up their own personal weblogs and speaking to the world. We will hear from some of these bloggers directly in a short while.

As we link to bloggers around the world, we find that people writing from some countries, such as Iran- must write anonymously in order to avoid imprisonment. Tomorrow at 9am my colleague Ethan Zuckerman will lead a workshop demonstrating how people in politically repressive countries can communicate securely and blog anonymously while minimizing the chances of detection and retribution.

Also during today's seminar, Nart Villeneuve of the Open Net Initiative will explain how governments filter and censor the internet.

[SLIDE] I am also pleased to announce here today Nart and his colleagues have just completed a detailed study on how the Tunisian government filters the internet. They made a number of findings. They have confirmed that Tunisian filtering and censorship focuses on political content.

They also determined that Tunisian censorship comes to us courtesy of an American technology company, Secure Computing, and its filtering tool Smartfilter.

[SLIDE] This is the webpage for the Civil Society Summit which non-governmental groups tried to organize in parallel to this event, and which finally succeeded in holding a meeting yesterday afternoon.

[SLIDE] Thanks to Smartfilter, and the Tunisian internet censors, this is what the webpage looks to an internet user in Tunisia.

Not to single out Tunisia unfairly, internet filtering and censorship is happening around the world. It is expanding and getting more sophisticated.

[SLIDE] This is what the Great Chinese Firewall looks like from inside of China - which according to my more technical colleagues at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society and the Open Net Initiative, has the world's most comprehensive and sophisticated system of internet censorship and control.

Why is all of this important? There are some who have questioned whether the title of this seminar, "Expression under Repression," is compatible with the the purpose of this conference, ICT for Development. We believe that the two are very much linked.

In this rapidly changing modern world, long-term improvement of the living standards for the men and women of this earth, requires more than just handing technology to people and telling them what to do with it.

Advanced societies today require innovation and invention.

The lessons of development aid over the past several decades have shown that the most effective development programs are those which empower citizens to help themselves and improve their lives by finding unique solutions to their problems based on local conditions.

Without freedom to access and transmit information, such empowerment is difficult.

Some governments would argue that the freedom to communicate and receive economic and business information is sufficient, and that other forms of information can be tightly restricted. They argue that it is in the interest of social stability to do so.

But when a tightly-controlled government press is forbidden to report information about the outbreak of an epidemic, as happened in China in 2002 with the SARS crisis, lives are lost. The internet potentially empowers citizens to inform their fellow countrymen of dangerous outbreaks and to help their governments solve problems early - but only if people are not afraid of being sent to jail for doing so. And if the government allows the information to go through.

The villagers of Taishi in Southern China, who recently tried to recall their village chief certainly think so. But online discussion of their cause is now blocked by authorities in China. One can argue, as I do, that this suppression of expression is ultimately holding back the villagers' economic development.

These examples of repression I cite are taking place in non-democratic, developing nations. But of us who come from the West, from countries that we call democratic, should not sit back in self-satisfied complacency. We should not take the position of smugly lecturing our Chinese, Tunisian, and Iranian friends. Our own freedom of expression - and freedom to access the information we need in order to maximize our own well being - is also under threat at home.

In public libraries and public schools in the United States, teenage girls are blocked from accessing many websites about reproductive health, because local authorities have deemed many types of sex education to be politically undesirable. This is just one of many examples of the types of filtering and censorship that take place throughout the Western democratic world - largely without transparency or accountability.

To demand zero filtering is probably not the answer. Filtering technologies are necessary to protect our networks from spam and viruses, and to protect our young children from pornography, and in some cases our teenagers from irresponsible incitement to violence.

However we must demand GLOBALLY that when filtering is done, it must be done openly and accountably. We must demand that technology companies must openly declare what they are doing and how they are doing it, so that citizens can make informed decisions about what technologies and services they rely upon. We must demand that governments at very least make their filtering policies public, transparent and accountable. Not only the Tunisian government and the Chinese government, but also the governments of France, of the City of Amsterdam, and of the local county school board in Des Moines, Iowa.

If we want a world of informed and empowered citizens, this is a must.

Thank you.

Before we launch in to our next panel, we will ask Nart Villneuve of the ONI to come up and tell us a little more about the Tunisia filtering report, and answer a few questions.

WSIS: Circumventing censorship and staying safe

via [globalvoices]

A workshop on secure communications and anonymous blogging conducted by Ethan Zuckerman, Dmitri Vitaliev of Frontline Defenders, Wojtek Bogusz of the Tactical Technology Collaborative, and Nart Villeneuve of the Open Net Initiative.

The second part of the workshop was devoted to anonymous blogging.

WSIS - The Citizen’s Summit

Local and international human rights groups upset about the decision to hold the World Summit in Tunis have been planning for months to organize a counter-summit, a “citizen’s summit” where issues like the Internet and human rights - which have been difficult to get onto the main WSIS agenda - can be discussed.

WSIS: Expression Under Repression

The right of people around the globe not only to speak but also to be heard is vital if we are to achieve a more equitable global information society. It is something that must be fought for.

This is an excellent point. I fully agree with you.

تونس: تقييد استخدام الإنترنت يلقي بظلاله على قمة المعلوماتية

" على حكومات الشرق الأوسط إقامة الدليل على التزامها ببناء مجتمع المعلومات عن طريق إنهاء الرقابة السياسية على مواقع الإنترنت والإفراج عن الكتّاب المسجونين جرّاء التعبير عن أرائهم السياسية عبر الإنترنت "
سارة ليا ويتسون، مديرة قسم الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا

(تونس، 15 نوفمبر/تشرين الثاني 2005) – قالت منظمة هيومن رايتس ووتش اليوم في تقرير شامل جديد يتناول القمع الذي يتعرض له مستخدمو الإنترنت في الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا أن تونس تواصل حبس الأفراد بسبب التعبير عن آرائهم عبر الإنترنت، كما تواصل قمع مواقع الإنترنت التي تنتقد الحكومة، وذلك عشية انعقاد القمة العالمية لمجتمع المعلومات في تونس اليوم

(Tunis, November 15, 2005) � As the World Summit on the Information Society opens today in Tunis, Tunisia continues to jail individuals for expressing their opinions on the Internet and suppress Web sites critical of the government, Human Rights Watch said in a comprehensive new report on the repression of Internet users in the Middle East and North Africa.

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Tunisia Monitoring Group (TMG)

Français: ACTION COMMUNE : "Jamais plus", disent les groupes de liberté d'expression

Country/Topic: Tunisia
Date: 18 November 2005
Source: IFEX
Target(s): human rights worker(s) , Internet/website(s) , journalist(s) , other
Type(s) of violation(s): attacked , censored , harassed , other
Urgency: Bulletin

(IFEX-TMG) - The following is a joint declaration by members of the IFEX-TMG:

Tunis, 18 November 2005

"Never again," say freedom of expression groups

Media and freedom of expression groups today, at the conclusion of the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), called for a full investigation by the United Nations into attacks on human rights and freedom of expression that took place in Tunisia on the eve of and during the Summit.

Steve Buckley, President of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters and Chair of the Tunisian Monitoring Group (TMG) of freedom of expression organisations said:

"Never again should a United Nations World Summit be held in a country that does not respect its international commitments to human rights and freedom of expression.

"This week in Tunis, both inside and outside the official Summit, we have witnessed serious attacks on the right to freedom of expression including harassment of delegates, attacks on Tunisian and international journalists and human rights defenders, denial of entry to the country, the blocking of websites, the censorship of documents and speeches, and the prevention and disruption of meetings."

In the face of these attacks, it is with relief that we acknowledge the reaffirmation of human rights principles and the right to freedom of expression that is contained in the Tunis Commitment of the WSIS.

On 30 September 2005, 37 governments called on Tunisia to make the WSIS a "Summit in Tunisia, not a Summit on Tunisia". This week's events have put the spotlight not only on Tunisia but also on the central importance of human rights and freedom of expression in the information society throughout the world.

We call on all stakeholders to ensure that human rights and freedom of expression is mainstreamed into all follow-up mechanisms including the Internet Governance Forum and we commit ourselves to working towards that objective.

This week has also reminded us of the importance of being constantly vigilant, and of the courage of those who speak out in the face of repression and censorship. In this respect we welcome the decision of the Tunisian human rights defenders who agreed today to end their hunger strike. We commit ourselves to working with them and other brave defenders of human rights to continue to monitor freedom of expression in Tunisia.

Note to editors:

The Tunisia Monitoring Group (TMG) is a coalition of 14 organisations set up in 2004 to monitor freedom of expression in Tunisia in the run up to and following the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). The 14 organisations are all members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), a global network of 64 national, regional and international organizations committed to defending the right to freedom of expression.

Members of the TMG are:

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), Canada
Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR), Egypt
Index on Censorship, UK
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Belgium
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), The Netherlands
International Publishers' Association (IPA), Switzerland
Journaliste en danger (JED), Democratic Republic of Congo
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Namibia
Norwegian PEN, Norway
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC), Canada
World Association of Newspapers (WAN), France
World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC), USA
Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN (WiPC), UK

For further information, contact Steve Buckley, AMARC, tel: +216 95 703 827, e-mail: sbuckley@gn.apc.org; or Alexis Krikorian, IPA, tel: +41 79 214 55 30, e-mail: krikorian@ipa-uie.org, Internet: http://campaigns.ifex.org/tmg

**Updates IFEX alerts of 17, 16, 15, 14, 11 and 4 November, 24 and 14 October, and others**


- RSF secretary-general prevented from attending WSIS
- Amid worsening pre-summit tension, French TV crew pulls out crew because of "close surveillance"
- Human rights solidarity action by international civil society organisations: Cancellation of several civil society side events on 15 November 2005
- JOINT ACTION: Free expression groups forced to speak out
- IFJ calls on authorities to end repression after latest attack on Belgian TV crew
- JOINT ACTION: Free expression groups pull out of WSIS event
- Journalists, others at World Summit on the Information Society attacked by authorities
- "Libération" correspondent assaulted, stabbed on Tunis street
- RSF secretary-general barred from WSIS

Controversy blights UN net summit

A crucial UN summit on expanding net access around the world has ended in Tunis marred by controversy over censorship and who runs the internet.

In pictures: Young perspective on net

Cost and speed

Haddagi Majd, 19, is a Tunisian student.

"Other countries like China must help us to produce, not just consume on the net. They can give us ideas about simple technological tools, like PCs and phones.

The first obstacle for Tunisians is cost. Then speed and having the freedom to explore many websites we can't explore. Then we need to do more Tunisian sites.

I want to use the net for information, but I also speak to people from Francophone and Arabic countries."

UN predicts 'internet of things'

Changes brought about by the internet will be dwarfed by those prompted by the networking of everyday objects, says a report by a UN body.

Friday, November 18, 2005

A call for vigilance

The Internet has a bad reputation. With authoritarian regimes, that’s no surprise. It’s to be expected the enduring dictatorship in Beijing (and we must call it that, whatever the fans of the Chinese "economic miracle" think) has set up a big Internet police force. Dozens of Internet users languish in Chinese prisons for imaginary crimes - for looking at banned websites or, even "worse," daring to post news online about forbidden topics such as the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and repression in Tibet.

China is unfortunately not the only country where dissident Internet messages are tracked down. In Vietnam and Tunisia, big shots (official or otherwise) are distinctly unenthusiastic about this vast discussion forum and information exchange they have so much trouble controlling.

In this very long list of regimes opposed to freedom, we find habitual human rights violators such as Burma, Ukraine and Belarus but also countries that are places people dream about - tropical holiday destinations beloved of Western tourists. The Maldives, for example, where the other side of the picture postcard is shabby and two Internet users have been sentenced to life imprisonment for criticising a dictatorship in paradise that has been in power for the past 40 years.

This is all very logical. No surprise that Fidel Castro gives orders about the Internet as he does about everything else in Cuba, except of course for those "useful idiots" (as Lenin used to say) - the package tourists with cigars and obliging local girls thrown in.

What’s more worrying, at first sight anyway, is the distrust of the Internet among the supposedly solid democracies of Europe and North America. Why the United States, France and the United Kingdom take their place in this report alongside the thugs that are quick to lock up the merest opponent calls for an explanation.

First there are the universally-condemned child-porn, xenophobic and racist websites found everywhere. Even though a very tiny part of the Internet - less than 3 per cent of online activity according to experts - they are rightly disturbing. The authorities cannot and should not ignore them, even if that offends the purists who advocate an Internet free of all monitoring and interference. Calls for violence and appeals to hatred must be fought. But by respecting civil liberties and avoiding abuses. These pages highlight those who have failed to do that.

But this isn’t the most commonly-cited reason for Internet surveillance in traditionally democratic countries. It’s the fight against terrorism that governments say justifies repressive controls and laws. With some reason, too, in view of the e-mails exchanged by the authors of the 11 September 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York. It’s understandable that the price of our safety is some encroachment on our freedom. But only as long as parliaments approve all such measures, which doesn’t always happen, and police always act only at the request of judges, which sometimes isn’t done.

This report describes a wide range of circumstances, none of them comparable. Routinely authoritarian regimes and those that may make mistakes (which can be corrected) cannot be lumped together. The report should not be seen as a kind of ranking of regimes by their repression of the Internet, but more as an appeal for vigilance in countries where, as in democracies, it’s still possible to exposes abuses and flaws. And also an appeal for solidarity with those who are flagrantly deprived of freedom, such as the 70 or so cyber-dissidents currently in prison around the world.

Robert Ménard
Secretary-General, Reporters Without Borders

Yahyaoui was chosen by Reporters Without Borders for the “freedom of expression”

The blog of former judge Mokhtar Yahyaoui, one of Tunisia’s leading political dissidents and the uncle of cyber-dissident Zouhair Yahyaoui. His blog was recently pirated and rendered unavailable. But it can still be accessed by using Google’s “cached” function (enter yahyaoui + blogspot in Google and then choose the “cached” option).

Mokhtar Yahyaoui is one of seven Tunisian civil society figures who are currently on hunger strike in protest against the lack of freedom in Tunisia, where his blog is censored, along with dozens of others. Nonetheless, Tunis is to host the World Summit on the Information Society on 16-18 November, which is being organised under the aegis of the United Nations.

Arabic Weblog "Manal and Alaa’s Bit Bucket" wins Special Award from Reporters Without Borders.

"Manal and Alaa’s Bit Bucket" won the Special Award from Reporters Without Borders in the Deutsche Welle’s 2005 Weblog Awards. The wife-husband pair has become an institution among Arabic bloggers and journalists critical of the Egyptian regime. Manal and Alaa strive to promote freedom of expression and protect human rights as well as highlight the need for political reforms in Egypt.
Their Weblog also offers other bloggers free storage space and practical help starting their own initiatives and has been has been crucial is developing a critical and engaged blogger scene in Egypt and the Arabic-speaking world.

On a Filtered Internet, Things Are Not As They Seem

Internet filtering is hardly new - indeed, recent volumes of this very publication have chronicled the dramatic rise of filtering over the past half-decade. Using technologies like router-based IP blocking and, more recently, DNS redirection, countries have found they can block the web content they dislike, while still obtaining what they consider the benefits of the Internet. As users gain experience on this increasingly filtered ’net, it’s easy for them to become complacent, thinking they have a sense of how censors operate and of who to blame for limitations on Internet use. But recent events show the situation remains in flux, and confusion may be increasing rather than coming to an end.

Internet filtering has long failed typical notions of regulatory transparency. Go to, say, Thailand and request a banned site about politics, gambling, or pornography. Thanks to blocking technologies like IP filtering, you probably won’t get the web page you asked for. Neither will you get a warning saying "This content is blocked under order of the Information and Communications Technology Ministry." Instead, your web browser is likely to say "host not found" or "connection timeout." These messages mistakenly suggest that the server is broken or the network malfunctioning. But in fact things are just as the censors intended : the site is working fine, but you can’t see it.

Sophisticated users have become accustomed to these sorts of tricks, and have adjusted their expectations accordingly. In a country like Thailand, "host not found" is to be taken with a grain of salt. As a result, filters’ pretextual error messages become somewhat less deceptive over time.

But the past year has brought a rise of new filtering methods that, intentionally or by happenstance, are considerably more confusing. Try using Google in China : Most searches work fine, in a much-appreciated improvement over the week in September 2002 when China blocked Google in its entirety. But run a search on a controversial policy area, and Google will stop working for perhaps half an hour. What to make of these facts ? Some western analysts have wondered whether Google is conspiring with China - after all, such precise and subtle filtering interventions would seek to require Google’s cooperation. But as it turns out, all indications are that Google is innocent ; China has simply implemented a method of filtering more narrowly targeted than any before.

Still more subtle are the "modified mirrors" sometimes used in Uzbekistan. Rather than simply blocking access to sites of political dissenters, Uzbek authorities make copies of the controversial sites - then change the copies to undermine or weaken the unsanctioned positions. The key step : When Uzbek users request the controversial sites, they automatically receive the altered copies in place of the authentic originals. Experts might realize something is wrong, but this tampering is exceptionally difficult for ordinary users to notice or detect.

Clearly not all countries share the notions of free speech and freedom of the press that many of us hold so dear. Some countries explicitly disavow such notions. For example, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates openly admit to Internet filtering, even appearing proud to filter. But the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes access to information an undeniable entitlement - something China, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and others seem required to recognize. Indeed, by hiding their current efforts at filtering, these countries implicitly admit that they ought not block their citizens’ access to information. At least the Middle Eastern countries proceed openly and seemingly under claim of legal right - whereas secret filtering gives an implicit admission of impropriety, for if filtering were permitted, there would be no need for secrecy. In the coming years, we ought to look for greater transparency in governments’ Internet interventions. We ought to demand that governments admit what they do, and accept public responsibility for the consequences.

Ben Edelman, researcher studying Internet filtering

Ben is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Economics at Harvard University and a student at the Harvard Law School. His research includes empirical analysis of Internet policy and regulation, including domain names, filtering, and spyware.

Out of the 15 enemies of the Internet 6 Arab countries: Proud of you Arab regimes

1 Libya:

With nearly a million people online (about a sixth of the population), Libya could be a model of Internet expansion in the Arab world. But it has no independent media, so the Internet is controlled, with access blocked to dissident exile sites by filters installed by the regime, which is also now targeting cyber-dissidents, with the January 2005 arrest of former bookseller Abdel Razak al-Mansouri, who posted satirical articles on a London-based website. He was sentence in October to 18 months in prison for supposed “illegal possession of a gun.

2 Saudi Arabia:

The government agency in charge of “cleaning up” the Web, the Internet Service Unit (ISU), boasts that it currently bars access to nearly 400,000 sites with the aim of protecting citizens from content that is offensive or violates Islamic principles and social standards. The sites blocked deal mainly with sex, politics or religion (except those about Islam that are approved by the regime). This censorship regularly affects blogging, and blogger.com was made inaccessible for several days in October 2005.

3 Syria:

The accession to power of President Bashar el-Assad in 2000 raised hopes of greater freedom of expression, but these were disappointed. The regime restricts Internet access to a minority of privileged people, filters the Web and very closely monitors online activity. A Kurdish journalism student is in prison for posting photos on a foreign-based site of a demonstration in Damascus. Another Internet user was freed in August 2005 after more than two years in prison for simply passing by e-mail on a foreign-produced newsletter. Both were tortured in prison.

4 Tunisia:

President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, whose family has a monopoly on Internet access inside the country, has installed a very effective system of censoring the Internet. All opposition publications are blocked, along with many other news sites. The regime also tries to discourage use of webmail because it is harder to spy on than standard mail programmes that use Outlook. The Reporters Without Borders site cannot be seen inside Tunisia. The government also jails cyber-dissidents and in April 2005, pro-democracy lawyer Mohammed Abbou was given a three-and-a-half-year sentence for criticising the president online. Yet Tunisia seems well thought-of by the international community for its management of the Internet since it has been chosen the International Telecommunication Union to host the second stage of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in November 2005.

5 Bahrain:

Except for pornographic sites, Bahrain does not censor the Internet much. But it has unfortunately begun to regulate it in ways that endanger freedom of expression. The government said in April 2004 that all online publications, including forums and blogs, must be officially registered. Loud protests led to suspension of the measure but it is still on the books. Three editors of a forum were held for nearly two weeks in March 2005 for allowing “defamation” of the king to be posted.

6 Egypt:
The government has taken steps since 2001 to control online material. Though censorship is minor, some criticism of the government is not welcome. The government seems unsure what to do about the explosion of blogs, being more used to pressuring the traditional media. A blogger was arrested for the first time in late October 2005 because of the content of his blog.

The voice of Arab smart mobs is coming...

The 15 enemies of the Internet and other countries to watch

Reporters Without Borders marks the World Summit on the Information Society by presenting 15 countries that are “enemies of the Internet” and pointing to a dozen others whose attitude to it is worrying.

The 15 “enemies” are the countries that crack down hardest on the Internet, censoring independent news sites and opposition publications, monitoring the Web to stifle dissident voices, and harassing, intimidating and sometimes imprisoning Internet users and bloggers who deviate from the regime’s official line.

The “countries to watch” do not have much in common with the "enemies of the Internet." The plight of a Chinese Internet user, who risks prison by mentioning human rights in an online forum, does not compare with the situation of a user in France or the United States. Yet many countries that have so far respected online freedom seem these days to want to control the Internet more. Their often laudable aims include fighting terrorism, paedophilia and Internet-based crime, but the measures sometimes threaten freedom of expression

The Impact of the New Media

This event is about blogs and politics, but it's also about something else, which is the relationship of this medium to other media. I didn't like—you know, old media/new media sounded like old Europe and new Europe. And one of the things I hope we talk about is the inter-activity between these media, the extent to which—here I'll set off a lot of bloggers—to which the blog world is to some degree parasitic on the old media, and to what extent does it add to what is called the old media.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A new kind of Blogs in the Arab world

A very intersing blog.

politixal communication in the digiatl age: Bloggers


For decades, perhaps for as long as independent newspapers have existed, political operatives have used "spin" to shape the way the news media respond to candidates and their policies. Spin can be understood as a kind of top-down power that depends on the social network linking political leaders and the news media. Some have argued that weblogs or blogs have emerged in recent years to disrupt this culture of spin. They see blogging as a grassroots movement that also tries to shape or control public perceptions of important events and issues. Others have claimed that the blogosphere has merely enhanced the influence of traditional interest groups, giving ideologues of the left and the right even more power to “spin” the world as they wish to see it. How can we understand the interplay between spin and blogs? How do each shape, some would say manipulate public opinion? How are each subject to abuse? Is the culture of spin and blogging contributing to the polarization of American political discourse?

دويكيات - برنامج تحرير ويكي عربي لسطح المكتب


ماهو دويكيات ؟
هو محرر نصوص بسيط، مع دعم لميزة انشاء الروابط بين الصفحات، أو بشكل آخر يمكن أن نطلق عليه محرر Wiki لسطح المكتب.

مميزات دويكيات:

دعمه الكامل للغة العربية سواء في العرض أو التحرير.
عادة لا يحتاج إلى تثبيت، و يمكن تحميله على Flash Memory.
يستخدم الملفات النصية Text File.
تحميل البرنامج
حقيقةً لا أخفيكم أني تحيرت كثيراً في طريقة كتابة تعليمات للبرنامج فبالرغم من سهولته إلا أن فكرة الـ Wiki لاتزال صعبة الشرح ، لكني متأكد من خبرتكم و أنكم تستطيعون “فهمها وهيه طايرة” ^_^ ، ثلاث دقائق تجارب على البرنامج تكفي لإستيعاب فكرته بإذن الله.
تحميل البرنامج : dWikiat7001.zip - 24 KB

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Groups decry Tunisia hosting U.N. summit

By Nick Wadhams, Associated Press
UNITED NATIONS — As the Internet's influence grows, so too does resistance from nations wary of giving their citizens the tools to voice their opinions and mine the online mother lode of knowledge.
That issue will be center stage during a U.N. technology summit this week, the urgency brought home by the fact that the event is taking place in Tunisia, which activists call one of the world's worst Internet censors.

Already, rights watchdogs say, both Tunisian and foreign reporters on hand for the summit have been harassed and beaten. Reporters Without Borders says its secretary-general, Robert Menard, has been banned from attending.

These groups — including a coalition of 14 freedom of expression organizations — argue that such practices makes Tunisia unfit to host an event whose goals include promoting free expression and bringing Internet access to as much of the world as possible.

The United Nations, however, claims the summit will shine a spotlight on Tunisia's repressive tactics — and possibly lead it to reform.

"On the one hand, these are important, critical issues for the future of democracy in the world, and on the other, they're thorny and unpleasant to talk about," said John Palfrey, executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. "It's a massive brewing dispute."

The debate over who controls the Internet — an issue raised in the summit's first half in Geneva two years ago — will be a central sticking point for the estimated 12,000-15,000 delegates gathering in Tunis on Wednesday for the three-day World Summit on the Information Society. Organizers expect 40 and 50 world leaders to attend, along with Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Yet some fear that what is being billed as a "summit of solutions" could also lead to new problems — by creating new threats for governments that have long known the Internet to be a powerful tool in the hands of dissidents and ordinary people hungry for knowledge beyond what the government gives them.

In some repressive nations, blogs have become the samizdat of the digital age, and governments have sought to suppress them by either monitoring websites or cutting access to them.

China, Iran, Syria and Uzbekistan are among nations known to target Internet dissent.

A group called the Tunisia Monitoring Group, which has focused on abuses in the north African nation, has cited the case of a lawyer and rights activist named Mohamed Abbou, who was jailed in April after he wrote an online article a year ago equating Tunisia's abuse of political prisoners with American treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Ambassador David Gross, the U.S. State Department's top official on Internet policy, says Washington opposes ceding control over the worldwide network's addressing system in part because multi-country oversight could lead to further restrictions on the free flow of information online.

"Those countries that use firewalls or otherwise restrict the ability of their citizens to obtain access to information are hurting themselves, especially when it comes to their ability to compete economically," said Gross.

Indeed, fears of a crackdown have led some civil society groups who plan to hold their own summit on the margins of the gathering to adopt an air of secrecy. Several have refused to say where they will meet or hold their news conferences for fear of a government crackdown.

On Sunday, a reporter with the French daily Liberation, Christophe Boltanski, was stabbed and kicked — but not seriously hurt — outside his hotel in Tunis. Boltanski had been investigating the recent beating of human rights activists in the country.

And on Monday, police in Tunisia manhandled local and foreign activists after banning them from meeting ahead of the summit, Human Right Watch said. Eric Goldstein, a representative of the New York-based organization, said he was in a group of more than a dozen activists who were shoved away from the planned meeting site by plainclothes police.

The Tunisia Monitoring Group has highlighted the cases of seven men now on a hunger strike in Tunisia and estimates the country has jailed about 500 people for expressing opinions.

Its leader wrote a letter to Annan questioning whether Tunisia was the right place for the summit. Annan responded by saying that Tunisia was chosen by the 46 nations that make up the council of the International Telecommunication Union.

Annan said the choice offered an opportunity for Tunisia's government to address rights concerns.

He may not be wholly wrong. Tunisia has reportedly eased its crackdown on the media in recent days, though it won't be clear until after the summit whether the changes last.

On Monday, Annan met with Tunisia's president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and reiterated the importance of protecting freedom of speech, U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe said.

Yet nations have been sufficiently concerned to voice their fears. During a preparatory meeting in September, Canada read a joint statement signed by the 25-nation European Union and 11 other countries that insisted Tunisia ensure free speech during the summit.

Nouredine Kacem, a first secretary at Tunisia's U.N. mission in New York, played down the protests about his country's human rights record.

"Everywhere you go you have a protest, the people are not happy everywhere," Kacem said. "In Tunisia, we try to make the best of it, we are working very hard in human rights, the economy and so on we are doing much better than other countries."

Internet use spreading throughout Iraq

Internet use spreading throughout Iraq
By Bassem Mroue, Associated Press
BAGHDAD, Iraq — A few years ago, Ammar Adnan knew almost nothing about what was going on in the world of karate. But now Adnan, who heads Iraq's karate federation, is in contact with groups across the world, closely following events and championships wherever they occur.

An Internet cafe in Baghdad. Before Saddam Hussein's ouster, members of his intelligence agency blocked Web sites.
By Samir Mizban, AP

It's all because of the Internet cafes — scarce during Saddam Hussein's rule — now spreading throughout Iraq.

Before Saddam's fall in spring 2003, many Iraqis had heard about the Internet, but very few had used it. Internet cafes were not common, security restrictions were tight and having a home connection was very costly.

Now that many are enjoying a higher income than under Saddam, thousands of Iraqis regularly pack shops throughout the country to check their e-mail, chat and surf — despite fears that any public place can be attacked.

"I do much of my work on the Internet," said the well-built Adnan, after checking his e-mail Friday at a cafe in eastern Baghdad.

"I contact the International Karate Organization from here. It is very simple, unlike before when it was extremely difficult to get in touch," he said referring to bad telephone lines and slow mail service during Saddam's rule.

Three months after the fall of Saddam, al-Rubei Internet Cafe became one of Baghdad's first private companies, and ever since business has been doing well, said manager Jarir Majid.

"The idea came when we thought that we wanted to do something with this shop, something that people needed," said Majid, speaking as most of the 50 computers in his shop were occupied. "The Internet is great. It is sad that Iraqis were deprived of this technology."

His business did fall off last year when a car bomb exploded nearby, causing damage to his shop, but it has since bounced back.

Before Saddam's ouster, from the 10th floor of what used to be the Ministry of Information building in central Baghdad, members of Saddam's intelligence agency worked around the clock blocking websites, e-mails and chat rooms.

The last thing the former regime wanted in this tightly controlled police state was people chatting with outsiders or entering anti-Saddam websites operated exiled Iraqis.

"Intelligence officers used to monitor sites and whenever they found a suspicious domain they used to block it," said Atheer Hassan, who used to work as a part-time technician with the Ministry of Information. Now, he runs his own Internet business, selling connections to people in their homes.

Under Saddam, at a time when most people made only a few dollars a month because of inflation and economic sanctions, few people could afford the annual Internet fee from the government of about $500. E-mails were only available through the ministry, meaning they were read by intelligence agents.

Now, restrictions are of a different sort — some Internet Cafe owners ban their clients from visiting pornographic sites. A sign decorating the Twin Tower Cafe reads: "To the brothers and dear Internet users. Please don't enter sites that contradict our religion and traditions."

Internet cafes aren't the only outlet: Distributors sell wireless connections to private homes for about $50 a month. Many complain that state-run land phone lines are still slow and unreliable.

Such prices are out of range still for many Iraqis, but the cafes fill the need. An hour costs about a $1.

Ibrahim Mahamoud, 24, now goes twice a week to an Internet cafe near his house to chat with friends and relatives living abroad.

"I used to speak with my relatives who live abroad once every few months," said Mahamoud, looking back and forth to the screen as he spoke. "Now I can chat with them anytime I want."

حجب موقع "العربية.نت" في تونس قبل أيام من قمة المعلومات

فيما تستعد تونس لاستضافة القمة العالمية لمجتمع المعلومات التي تدرس ضمانات لكفالة الحرية والأمان على شبكة الإنترنت، قررت السلطات حجب موقع "العربية.نت" ابتداء من السبت الماضي 12-11-2005 وبالتالي لم يستطع أحد في جميع المحافظات زيارة الموقع منذ ذلك الوقت

Flickr, Buzznet expand citizens' role in visual journalism

Traditional journalists and newspaper sites tap into online photo communities to gather visual research and allow readers to contribute and interact. It’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The ideas interview: Joe Trippi

The net and mobile phones are giving us the power to change politics for the better, Howard Dean's campaign manager tells John Sutherland

Blogger Questioned for Taking Photos During WSIS Registration

Looking at our cameras, when we still had to take a picture, this security person came to us and warned us to refrain from taking pictures. Then, he asked for our passports and started questioning as to why we want to take pictures.

Blogosphere: the emerging Media Ecosystem

Very original paper:
How Weblogs and Journalists work together to Report, Filter and Break the News

by John Hiler

Trying to understand the complex relationship between bloggers and journalists has become my own personal Waterloo.

I've taken a few stabs at it already, and learned a lot along the way. Lesson One: Blogs can do a tremendous job breaking news, and journalists are wise to start their own to tap that power. Lesson Two: Some rare bloggers become amateur journalists, a status which brings with it its own unique ethical challenges. Lesson Three: Most bloggers are more like Columnists than capital-J Journalists.

Blogosphere from Wikipedia

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Maintenance Use Only: {{subst:afd}} {{subst:afd2|pg=Blogosphere|text=}} {{subst:afd3|pg=Blogosphere}} log

Blogs im Dienst politischer Kommunikation

Weblogs und Wikis versus Info-Stände und Interviews? Der Einsatz neuer Medien für den Wahlkampf trägt zum einen der veränderten Mediennutzung in der Bevölkerung Rechnung und demonstriert zum anderen Modernität der Partei. Acht Thesen zum Erfolg von Weblogs bei deutschen Wahlen.

Haitham Sabbah is at les Blogs 2.0

How is blogging and citizen publishing changing the media landscape ?
14h-14h30 A global perspective : Asia, Africa, Middle-east getting together with blogging

Moderated by Ethan Zuckerman, Global Voices co-founder

* Neha Viswanathan, GV South Asia Editor
* Haitham Sabbah, GV Middle East Editor
* Isaac Mao, China

Saturday, November 12, 2005

ITU Internet Reports 2005: The Internet of Things

ITU Internet Reports 2005: The Internet of Things
is the seventh in the series of "ITU Internet Reports" originally launched in 1997 by the International Telecommunication Union. For previous titles in the series see ITU Internet Reports 2004: The Portable Internet , ITU Internet Reports 2003: Birth of Broadband, and ITU Internet Reports 2002: Internet for a Mobile Generation.

Friday, November 11, 2005

An Average Iraqi


Mad Canuck

Iraqi Bloggers Biography

New Voices in the Iraqi Blogosphere

As many of you have already noticed, the Iraqi Blogosphere has started to hum again with new voices. Baghdad Treasure and 24 Steps to Liberty have joined the conversation and come to the debates as working journalists inside Iraq.

Today 24 Steps to Liberty interrupts posting another entry from his journal kept during a visit to the United States earlier this year to sound off blogger-style about terrorism in Iraq and the Middle East.

These two new Iraqi blogger/journalists have also attempted something that only Salam Pax himself has done in the past, offering detailed criticism of Riverbend's views on the situation in Iraq. Like many others, they respect Riverbend's ideas, but just the same they are willing to debate those areas where they think she is less than truthful.

Baghdad Treasure's Critical Analysis of Riverbend's Latest Blog Entry.

In the comments page for Baghdad Treasure's blog entry linked above, 24 Steps to Liberty posted a detailed email that he had sent to Riverbend. Along with Baghdad Treasure's comments, it is well worth reading.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

وظائف في بي بي سي العربية

مطلوب صحفيون للعمل في بي بي سي العربية:

يعلن القسم العربي في بي بي سي العالمية عن وجود وظائف شاغرة للعمل في أقسام التحرير الإذاعي وصحافة الإنترنت.

يتطلب العمل في بي بي سي كواحدة من المؤسسات الإعلامية الرائدة في العالم القدرة على الكتابة، والبحث، وإعداد الأخبار والنصوص الإذاعية وموضوعات الإنترنت، إضافة للقدرة على التطور السريع وتعلم الإخراج وتقديم برامج إذاعية للجمهور العربي. ويتطلب هذا أحيانا إجراء حوارات، وكتابة تقارير صحفية من مواقع الأحداث.

ينبغي أن تكون لدى المتقدم لشغل الوظيفة خبرة لا تقل عن سنة واحدة في مجال العمل الإخباري باللغة العربية، والترجمة من الإنجليزية إلى العربية. كما يجب أن تكون لديه خبرة مباشرة وفهم عميق للأخبار ومجريات الأحداث السياسية والثقافية في الشرق الأوسط. كما ينبغي أن يتمتع بمهارات في استخدام الكمبيوتر وبصوت إذاعي وبقدرة على التواصل والفهم الدقيق للعربية والإنجليزية.

يرجى الإطلاع على الشروط، وتقديم طلبات التوظيف من خلال هذا الرابط، بعد تسجيل بياناتكم.

في الصفحة الإنجليزية ستجدون كافة التفاصيل عن كيفية التقدم وتسجيل بياناتكم لدى قسم التوظيف في بي بي سي. مع مراعاة أن الميعاد النهائي للتقدم هو 8 ديسمبر / كانون الأول 2005.

ارسل هذا الموضوع لصديق نسخة سهلة الطبع

إقرأ ايضا في نحن وموقعنا

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Internet Indicators 2005

Number of email accounts 138.045
Number of users 905.000
Number of domaines 4.523
Number of websites3.014
Number of subscribers 9.772

[via Jankari.org]

The Internet in Morocco

Number of Internet users: 3,8 millions (4,3 millions selon IAM)
Number of Intenet subscribers: 226.000
90% of Internet users get access from cybercafés
Number of domain adres: 1.800
Number of Cybercafés : 3.000
Number of websites: 3.500
Number of adresses e-mail: 250.000
[Via Jankari.org]

Best Political Blogs: DC Journalists Pick Their Favorites

At the height of the 2004 presidential campaign, ABC’s “The Note” was the hot political Web site for the chattering class. The New Yorker anointed it as a “must read

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Trois blogeurs arrêtés

Trois jeunes soupçonnés d'avoir appelé à l'émeute sur des blogs internet intitulés «Nike la France» ou «Sarkodead» ont été poursuivis en justice mardi.

French bloggers at odds over riots

French youths have been turning to weblogs to express their anger and frustration over the violence that has hit some of the country's poorest suburbs.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Wiki Way: Collaboration and Sharing on the Internet

The political wiki way:
The Wiki Way: Collaboration and Sharing on the Internet , Bo Leuf, Ward Cunningham

المدونين في الإذاعة

هنا تسجيل برنامج إذاعي ظهر فيه زملائنا في التدوين سردال و أسامة

France and the Politics of the Internet

A political party in France has resorted to Google ads to push support for an anti-rioting petition, the Morrison blog observes. It's strange that Google may be written into history books as a facilitator of political movements. Instead of general inventions like the printing press or the computer changing the face of history, our cultural milestones are owned by corporate entities that have a questionable image of political disinterest.

[via smart mobs]

Al-Arabiya and the digital Convergence

تقدم قناة العربية خدمة البث الحي عبر الإنترنت بجودة عالية جدا تتقارب مع جودة البث التلفزيوني، وفي حال عدم تحقق ذلك على شاشتكم فإن هذا يعود في الغالب لبطء سرعة اتصالكم بشبكة الإنترنت.

لأي ملاحظات يرجى الكتابة لموقع العربية.نت مباشرة، مع الشكر

[via Jankari.org]

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A new book on blogging: We Are Iran : The Persian Blogs

The book basically consists of hundreds of translated blog posts by Iranians on different subject matters which is then completed by informative background information about each topic that makes up different chapters of the book. In other words, you get blog quotes plus some useful contextualization.

We are waiting for a book on Arab blogging!

As rioting spreads, France maps tactics

The French government met in emergency session Sunday evening to confront youth rioting that worsened on its 10th night",the IHT reports.Later in the article it says,"in its early days,the rioting appeared to spread spontaneously,but law enforcement officials said it was also being abetted by exhortations on the Internet.Worse,said Patrick Hamon,the national police spokesman,"what we notice is that the bands of youths are,little by little, getting more organized" and are sending attack messages by mobile phone texts".

[via smart mobs]

Friday, November 04, 2005

US Congress votes to allow regulation of blogs for political content

After considering the issue for the past year, the United States Federal Election Commission (FEC) has [considered blogs to be covered by campaign finance laws), which constitutes an extension of speech regulation to the Web. The United States Congress considered a measure to block such a policy, but failed to assemble enough yes votes to do so.
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