Archive for February, 2009

Negroponte talks about the OLPC again. His hardware vision for educational purposes inspired the netbooks. I remember that at the UN World Summit for the Information Society in Geneva Negroponte’s vision was the only substantial concept in an ocean of world transformation strategies and humanity discussions of dictators. Oh, and I found the presentation of BBC’s Nik Gowing very inspiring who stressed how the availability of cheap digital recording equipment changes power relations and transforms TV journalism. The BBC was closer to imagine that a few years later there would be Saddam execution cell phone videos posted on the net than other stations.

Now Negroponte  announced a next generation of OLPCs that would be based on an open hardware principle. Negroponte regrets that not all of their concepts were copied. The OLPC seems to be mostly a showcase and now that the netbook generation takes off, Negroponte has to cut staff. The OLPC packages bleeding edge technologies like freifunk software for a pragmatic objective in a way that “sells” to the media and foundations. Wireless-mesh is one of the OLPC technologies that are not mainstreamed yet.

Last year Benjamin Henrion and I thought about a project called “One Pen per Child” (OPPC)”. It is a parody of Negroponte’s original One Laptop Per Child vision which clashes with the reality on the ground. Nothing came out of it but a facebook cause for the OPPC later the year. You can join it. It was great fun for us and we hope it inspires people as did Negroponte’s showcase.

Read Full Post »


Viviane Reding
Member of the European Commission responsible for Information
Society and Media
Freedom of speech: ICT must help, not hinder

Event on the idea of an EU “GOFA” (US Global Online Freedom
Act) EP Plenary Session, Strasbourg, 3 February 2009

Honourable Members of the European Parliament,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all I would like to congratulate Mr Maaten and the co-presenters of this initiative of the European Parliament concerning a possible “Global Online Freedom Act” for the European Union. I very much welcome the fact that members of the Parliament presenting this initiative come from all the main political parties. This gives a strong signal to the rest of the world: the signal that the European Union places the freedom of expression on the Internet high on its agenda.

As you rightly remind us in the paper you made public in July last year many authoritarian states block the access to websites, filter search engines results and intimidate internet users. While it is the duty of every government to ensure that the media respect legitimate rules pursuing objectives of public interest such as the protection of minors, restriction of free speech must be exceptional and legitimate. The principle must be freedom of speech. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are fundamental human rights, and free flow of information on the Internet is protected in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees freedom to “receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers”.

Over the last ten years, the internet has become an unprecedented opportunity for individuals everywhere to share information and exchange views. In developed economies, many of us avail ourselves of blogs and photo sharing services to inform the world simply about our favourite movies and recipes or to show some holiday pictures. But for others, living in authoritarian countries, the Internet is primarily the most important vehicle to express and share political views which are minority views in their own country, or which oppose the political regime. The use of the Internet by dissidents in Burma last year provided us all with an example of how important a lifeline the Internet can be for the repressed and the censored. At a time where it is very easy to upload recordings made on a mobile phone and have them available via the Internet in seconds – in other words at a time where everybody can become a news reporter – the internet has become a real instrument of international policy, either as a force to help democracy or, for authoritarian regimes, as a problem – examples go from the attempt by the Chinese Government in 2004 to block news on the outbreak of SARS to the attempts by the Burmese authorities last year to hide the number of victims of the cyclone and their incapacity to cope with the situation without international solidarity.

Against this background, members of the US Congress, together with human rights organisations such as reporters without borders launched the idea of a “Global Online Freedom Act”. The US State Department and the Department of Justice reacted in a cautious way, explaining in particular that the definition of “Internetrestricting country” Congress wants to establish could result in some democratic countries – including in Western Europe – to be subject to the restrictions foreseen in the draft bill. In addition they expressed concerns that the bill would put US businesses in an environment of conflicts of law and could trigger reciprocity and may have the exact opposite effect of its intended goal, encouraging freedom ofexpression. US companies called by Congress to act and develop a Code of conduct setting out minimum corporate standards related to Internet freedom have been very reluctant as well. However, at the end of October last year, a group of US-based companies, universities, think-tanks and human rights organisation
announced the Global Network Initiative (GNI). The GNI principles state that “participating companies will respect and protect the freedom of expression rights of their users when confronted with government demands, laws and regulations to suppress freedom of expression, remove content or otherwise limit access to information and ideas in a manner inconsistent with internationally recognized laws and standards.” How will these principles be implemented? The GNI members commit themselves to (I quote again) “implement these Principles wherever they have operational control. When they do not have operational control, participatingcompanies will use best efforts to ensure that business partners, investments, suppliers, distributors and other relevant related parties follow these Principles”.
Obviously, one has to see how the implementation will work. But this seems to me a promising step forward.

So, what do we do in Europe?

The European Union has become a major player on the world stage and is a major trade partner for many countries in the world. This implies that we conclude agreements, and that we have bilateral or multilateral meetings with our partners. I believe that every one of these opportunities must be used by the European Commission and by the EU Presidency to promote freedom of speech and fight against censorship. In addition, we must ensure that nothing in the agreements we negotiate with third countries, including its bilateral trade agreement, could be used to constrain or limit in any way the freedom of speech.

As regards a European Code of conduct or a European initiative such as the GNI, I would like to remind you that the European Commission, on my initiative, called for such a Code in its Communication of April 2006 following-up the conclusions of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). I quote again: “the Commission follows closely the ongoing debate in the US on ways to bar companies (Internet access and Internet service providers, providers of Internet technologies) from helping repressive regimes to restrict the free flow of information on the Internet.
The Commission encourages the companies concerned to work on a code of conduct on this crucial issue, in close cooperation with NGOs”. After almost three years, no initiative has been taken by our companies. Even if, indubitably – and unfortunately for Europe’s economy – we don’t have big European search engines present worldwide, there are European providers of internet related technologies and I expect from these companies to finally take an initiative. I am ready to give a helping hand to kick it off.

Should the EU have a specific legislation on internet freedom? I am not convinced so far that hard law is the best way to deal with the challenge. The instruments you are referring to in your paper of July 2008 are quite heavy: export control procedure, civil and criminal penalties against businesses, creation of a specific EU body controlling European companies of the internet sector having business abroad, etc. I believe that we should not put European companies in an invidious position where their choice appears to be to break the law or leave the market to more unscrupulous operators. Rather, our goal should be to find ways to allow operators and service providers to respect human rights without doing either.
Coming back to your July paper, I find other suggestions such as devoting EU money to the R&D on anti-censorship software tools quite interesting and I propose that you meet with my team and my services to follow-up on this.

Ladies and gentlemen,
The relationship between freedom of expression and the need to protect other values of society such as security and privacy is not a novelty of the Internet. But indeed, the borderless nature of the Internet and easiness of publishing for a
worldwide audience may however add complexity and raise new questions. I am convinced that the pursuit of ensuring freedom of expression should not be seen as competing with the goal to improve online security and guarantee privacy. Those goals are not mutually exclusive, but do, I believe, in fact reinforce each other.

When debating those issues, I think that it is also indispensable to emphasise that there is already a significant degree of international consensus on the basic principles. In 2005, the World Summit on the Information Society provided an
important milestone by achieving the commitment to the freedom to seek, receive, impart and use information on the Internet and via other ICT technologies.

In its 2006 post WSIS Communication, the Commission also announced its intention to be vigilant regarding any attempts to call into question the neutral character of the Internet – a key element in maintaining a free and open approach to Internet-based communications.

Indeed, the architectural principles that underlie the Internet we have today, namely the principles of openness, inter-operability and neutrality do not only create an environment that enables innovation in services and applications, more importantly they allow for an environment where users can express themselves freely without discrimination by their service provider. Therefore, those basic design principles need to be preserved.

In the meanwhile, the silver bullet to ensure respect for freedom of expression online in a satisfactory manner remains yet to be found. I find it, however, reassuring that this issue has not disappeared from international discussions and that the European Parliament gives it such high priority.

At the global level, one forum which serves as a useful platform for exchanges on this issue is certainly the Internet Governance Forum.

As you are aware the Commission supports the Internet Governance Forum as a platform for non-binding exchanges among Internet stakeholders on all Internet Governance related issues. In this context, I would stress that the lack of binding negotiated documents should not be considered as a weakness of the process. It is in fact one of its major strengths which is increasingly recognised because it allows for a much freer exchange between participants.

One of the topics which has been constantly on the agenda of the forum is openness. At the Hyderabad IGF in December 2008 this issue was addressed under the aspect of “fostering security, privacy and openness”. As already mentioned, I believe that those three goals should not be perceived as excluding each other. I would welcome it if the IGF would continue to provide a platform for exchanges on this very important issue.

The discussions in the IGF could indeed also serve as input for policy deliberations on the question how to guarantee freedom of expression on the Internet, but at the same time address challenges that the Internet brings about when it comes to illegal or harmful content.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you very much for your attention.

Read Full Post »


VMworld : A Virtualization conference in Cannes 24-26 February

Read Full Post »

Shiva Rajaraman likes to talk with us today about one of their most engaging ad formats. The Youtubeinvideoad. I know the youtubeinvideoad must be simple but I don’t fully get the explanaition from the youtube ad geek. ‘Keep it short and simple’ does not apply when the service to be sold is simple.

Read Full Post »

A new version of the German V-Model XT was released: 1.3. It is a management process for software development. The V-model is a great tool for you to make your software development projects look bigger and thus forces you to require a lot of professionals for predefined roles. A brilliant tool for you to justify project costs when your client is the public sector.

V-Modell XT Version 1.3 veröffentlicht

Das V-Modell XT ist ein Vorgehensmodell zum Planen und Durchführen von Systementwicklungsprojekten.
Am 1. Februar 2009 wurde die Version 1.3 des V-Modell XT veröffentlicht. Inhaltlich hat sich das V-Modell XT gegenüber der vorherigen Version nur wenig verändert. Grundlegend überarbeitet wurden in der neuen Version jedoch das Metamodell sowie die Werkzeuge zur Unterstützung der Anwender des V-Modell XT.

Source: CIO Bund newsletter (former KBSt newsletter)

One of the most bizarre aspects of the V-Model XT is a world map used for the illustration of the management proecess:welt

In Sarah Palin’s Alaska for instance the business administration of the project management is located. Contracts are made in South Saharian Africa. The organisational process management model is taken care of in Greenland and East Coast USA is responsible for Quality Assurance.

Crazy Germans in a crazy world.

The V-Model XT document is released under an Apache 2.0 license.

Read Full Post »


NLNet announces a kind of browsershots equivalent for word processors, officeshots:

The Dutch government program “Netherlands in Open Connection” and
OpenDoc Society have announced they are collaborating on an online
document factory to compare office suite applications. The free
webservice Officeshots.org should be available by the end of February
2009. Users will be able to online compare the output quality of a large
number of office suites as well as web-based productivity applications.

The idea behind is a website that displays you how your office file is rendered under different office applications.

Read Full Post »

In the European Parliament many languages are in use, this is French, Pascal Paridans from the IT services explains that the Parliament is working to make its procedures ODF conformant, to accept documents encoded in this ISO standard format for document exchange.

Concernant la soumission de document ODF par nos députés. Le Parlement européen a toujours choisi une approche pragmatique qui consiste à toujours privilégier la satisfaction des besoins métiers. Il y a peu nous avons été contacté par M. Cappato [an Italian ALDE member of Parliament], pour permettre la soumission de document au format ODF. Nous devons reconnaître que lorsque M. Cappato nous a contacté, la configuration standard sous tendant les applications de la plénière, ne permettait pas d’accepter des formats du type ODF.
Cette difficulté est à présent levée et tout député qui souhaite soumettre un document en format ODF peut le faire.

Pour être complet sur ce domaine. Il est vrai que des améliorations sont encore à prévoir notamment afin de permettre aux députés de communiquer en format ODF aussi bien à la réception qu’à l’expédition vers les citoyens européens.

Nous avons conscience de ce besoin. Nous allons donc inscrire la validation et la mise en production d’une solution permettant le traitement des fichiers ODF au niveau du poste de travail standard des députés. Ceci leur permettra de communiquer plus librement avec les citoyens européens et sur base de standards ouverts.

Read Full Post »

A program to view email boxes?

Mail Viewer is a standalone, portable software program for Microsoft Windows operating systems that can display a wide variety of formats used by Microsoft in its interface. It can read and display .idx, .mbx and .dbx message databases used in Microsoft Outlook Express 4,5 and 6 as well as Windows Vista Mail and Windows Live mail message databases.

Looks like an answer to an increasing retrival problem and format hell. How to store (or backup) mail communication data in an interoperable way?

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts