Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

A Transparent Dictatorship?

May 14, 2009

The Brazilian government has announced that it will be releasing classified documents pertaining to Brazil’s dictatorial government from 1964 to 1985. The Interamerican Court for Human Rights previously sentenced and condemned the Brazilian government for not releasing information about government action during this period. Brazil is now trying to make amends with the Interamerican community by releasing the documents.

Street Food that Tweets

May 13, 2009

The Fojol brothers of Merlindia, four guys (only two of which are brothers), dispense Indian street food on the fly from a psychedelic food truck. The key to their success? Twitter. Tweets telling their members where they happen to be parked at the time bring grazing customers. 

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Now, this doesn’t have anything to do specifically with democracy, but I think it shows great promise as a campaign tool (as Obama proved during his campaign.) Political organizers could contact their constituency 24/7 through twitter. However, it makes me wonder whether twitter (and especially the smartphones that allow its use) shows a further widening of the gap between organizers and low income communities. Twitter could just another weapon to add to an organizer’s arsenal, but organizers should make sure they are not alienating segments of the community by using unfamiliar/expensive technology. 

A Tweet from Space

May 8, 2009

NASA astronaut Mark Polansky is getting ready to tweet from the International Space Station this June. Polansky made a YouTube video encouraging people to subscribe to his YouTube account and post their questions to his Twitter page. The astronaut will be answering questions through NASA TV.

Google Public Data

May 2, 2009

The 2002 E-government act required government agencies to make data and information more electronically available. However, government websites, notoriously messy, confusing, and unorganized have not become more user-friendly. Take for instance, the epa website. Comparatively, it has become far more colorful and attractive than previous epa websites, but the multiple boxes, buttons, pictures, that crowd each page make navigation difficult. Google Public Data, google’s newest tool, makes it easier to find government information. There is however a catch, and that catch is similar to other problems with using the internet as a reliable source of information. A user can search for a piece of data in Google Public Data, and that data will pop up. However, there is no way for the user to tell if that data is accurate, or free of typos and other data entry errors. The data may also lack context.

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Along with the three Rs, it is now increasingly important that people are taught about data and the internet. I didn’t use the internet as a research tool during elementary school and middle school – I remember looking at encylopedias and going to the library. It’s not that people don’t use the library anymore, but many people will type a question into google and then take the information they receive back at face value. My sister, now 12 years old, uses the internet for answers to questions all the time. Now, I don’t know if this is already happening, but a new curriculum needs to be developed so that people become active consumers of the internet and data – with the ability to not only interpret data, but also to convey it in such a way that it is understandable to others, and to figure out when the patterns in the data seem inconsistent or incorrect.

Sweedish ISPs block new anti-piracy legislation

May 1, 2009

The Artcle: http://torrentfreak.com/swedish-isps-obstruct-new-anti-piracy-legislation-090427/

Summary:Swedish parliament passed the IPRED law, making it easier for copyright holders to go after illicit file-sharers . The law has only been in effect for one month and anti-piracy outfits are already facing problems using it, as ISPs take measures to protect their customers.

My Two Cents: The ISPs are standing up for the their customers’ privacy, which is refreshing. I wonder if that would have any chance in the U.S….

Curing Malaria in 140 Characters or Less

April 20, 2009

U.S. actor Ashton Kutcher recently challenged CNN to a Twitter race in an effort to raise awareness about the worldwide malaria epidemic. Kutcher pledged to donate 10,000 malaria nets to the non-profit organization Malaria No More on World Malaria Day (April 25th) if he beat CNN to 1 million Twitter subscribers. The actor received criticism for the publicity stint with many saying the nets do not truly help address the malaria epidemic. Kutcher narrowly beat CNN in the Twitter race and donate 10,000 nets, which was matched by CNN. Not to be outdone, Oprah donated 20,000 malaria nets as well.

Cybercrime Beware!

April 17, 2009

The international effort to patrol cyber crime is underway! The Middle East Times reports that France-based Interpol and U.S.-based Microsoft have teamed up to develop Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor (COFEE) software technology. The new software will be accessible to all international cyberterrorist units. Officials are hopeful that the new technology will help build an international force against cyberterrorism as well as streamline the detection process.