Electronic voting software code was left unprotected by a contractor, then accessed and republished, according to Wired News E-Vote Software Leaked Online. A company spokesman for Sequoia Voting Systems stated that the disclosure of its code did not compromise the security of the system itself.
The recent history of such leaks involving Diebold software suggests that the disclosure may yield more benefit than harm, by opening once-secret proprietary code to independent security analysis. (Read more ... )
An unrelated disclosure of Diebold software in January led to software analysis of it at Johns Hopkins and Rice. Their report of security flaws (PDF) includes their recognition that "the integrity of the election process is fundamental to the integrity of democracy itself. And, unsurprisingly, history is littered with examples of elections being manipulated in order to
influence their outcome."
The analysts noted that despite warnings about security concerns with new computerized voting systems, "neither source code nor the results of any third-party certification analyses have been available for the general population to study, because vendors claim that secrecy is a necessary requirement to keep their systems secure."
The report detailed technical standards against which they evaluated the revealed software, and, in its abstract stated that "this voting system is far below even the most minimal security standards applicable in other contexts," and emphasized "the fallacy of the closed-source argument for such a critical system." Only once the code became accessible for independent tests were the security flaws disclosed.
These issues echo the cautions of security experts such as Bruce Schneier, author of Secrets and Lies.
This critical report led to an audit by the State of Maryland, which proceeded with installation of the system after encryption and digital rights management tools recommended in a SAIC report (PDF) were incorporated into the Diebold system and the state e-voting process.
The Chronicle reports that Three More Colleges Receive Cease-and-Desist Letters From Maker of Voting Machines. Diebold contends that students have put stolen, copyrighted internal memos on college-hosted websites, in violation of the Digital Milleneum Copyright Act, others allege that publication is "fair use," because they evidence Diebold knowledge of defects in its electronic voting machine technology used in many states. A student-run Swarthmore website tracks the controversy over the publication of the memos and a "civil disobedience" response. (Read more ... )
An AP story carried at SiliconValley.com reports that the materials were first put online in August, after a hacker took them from a Diebold website, but only became general knowledge after Diebold threatened legal action against the colleges hosting the student sites.
Ernest Miller is also following the controvery and commenting in his "The Importance of " blog. He noted that the civil disobedience moves (and the controversial files) have now migrated onto the P2P networks.
LawMeme, at Yale Law, has picked up the story as well.
These may not be the Pentagon Papers, but is there a broader-than-usual "fair use" exception for revealing evidence of fraud or misrepresentation concerning a system of material importance to the processes of government?
Could a private party successfully maintain a civil copyright infringement action against a whistle-blower who took documents to law enforcement or the Washington Post?
What about revealing concealed (and copyrighted) evidence of terrorist acts? Is that fair use?
Diebold may be trying to make some law here, or just clumsily trying to shoot its way out of an embarrassment. Either way, it could be seen as a rather self-destructive tactic, once the story becomes big enough that state and federal authorities are forced to investigate.
The situation also beautifully illustrates the defense mechanisms of a self-organized network with access to global communications systems.
Comments and Trackback, please ...
The book's positions and findings could be translated to any large organization with an important role to play in a world and economy characterized by rapid change and conflict. Ray Ozzie says: "This book is truly a must-read for anyone interested in decentralization and the social and organizational relevance of shifting power to the edge, whether in a commercial or a defense context. * * * A debt of gratitude goes to John Stenbit and Lin Wells for catalyzing the creation of this tremendously timely, useful and relevant piece of work." (Read more ... )
This book is published and made available in full, free, online by The Command and Control Research Program (CCRP) within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (NII), United States Department of Defense.
From page 2 of the Introduction : "Agility will prove to be the most important single characteristic of military forces in the 21st century. The road to agility is paved with information. This volume focuses on how Information Age technology will allow basic changes in how military forces are organized, trained, and employed to generate the agility needed to defeat (some might say prevent or dissolve) asymmetric threats."
The Introduction continues to assert that the DOD is focused on developing Network Centric Warfare and/or Network Centric Operations (NCW/NCO). The authors make the point that disruptive, rather than adaptative changes are necessary:
"The path to NCO is forked. One road, often called “modernization,” is the straightest and most clearly signed. Traveling this road is clearly within the comfort zone of the institution (DoD) and most of its members. Unfortunately, this road will lead us only to incremental improvements and, ultimately, to a dead end. The improvements attained, however impressive, will fall short, not only of the potential of network-centricity, but more importantly, they will not enable us to meet the mission challenges of the 21st century. This is the road that many seem to have embarked upon, despite a high-level commitment to transformation. The other, less traveled road (actually it may appear more as a path) leads to a disruptive transformation of command and control (C2) that is central to all military organizations and processes, the first since the early to mid-19th century.( fn 10) This transformation must focus on C2, where information is translated into actionable knowledge. Without a transformation of C2, it is far less likely that we will be able to meet the challenges that lie ahead. A transformation of C2 provides us with the best opportunity to achieve the one organizational characteristic that is sure to stand us in good stead for the foreseeable future–agility."
The authors see an essential element of this transformation to be moving "power to the edge," the central theme of this book.
From page 5: "Power to the edge is about changing the way individuals, organizations, and systems relate to one another and work. Power to the edge involves the empowerment of individuals at the edge of an organization (where the organization interacts with its operating environment to have an impact or effect on that environment) or, in the case of systems, edge devices. Empowerment involves expanding access to information and the elimination of unnecessary constraints. For example, empowerment involves providing access to available information and expertise and the elimination of procedural constraints previously needed to deconflict elements of the force in the absence of quality information."
"Moving power to the edge implies adoption of an edge organization, with greatly enhanced peer-to-peer interactions. Edge organizations also move senior personnel into roles that place them at the edge. They often reduce the need for middle managers whose role is to manage constraints and control measures. Command and control become unbundled."
From Page 17: "The emergence of the internet as a self-organising community, its subsequent co-option by business interests, the resulting collapse of the dot.com pyramid and the more recent self-conscious revival of interactive media’s most participatory forums, serve as a case study in the politics of renaissance. The battle for control over new and little understood communication technologies has rendered transparent many of the agendas implicit in our political and cultural narratives. Meanwhile, the technologies themselves empower individuals to take part in the creation of new narratives. Thus, in an era when crass perversions of populism, and exaggerated calls for national security, threaten the very premises of representational democracy and free discourse, interactive technologies offer us a ray of hope for a renewed spirit of genuine civic engagement."
Crawford Kilian, a writer and teacher at Capilano College in Vancouver, uses a public weblog to coach and support his students. His weblog, Legal Technicalities, supports his course for legal secretaries.
Combining humor, coaching and links to useful resources, he's opening up the value of his course and his experience to the world as well as expanding his student's resource choices. Crawford Kilian reports "interests in fiction, journalism, Webwriting, education, the environment, and social issues in general -- especially the society of the Internet," and has more information about himself at his personal page.
California's Privacy Protection Office has issued guidelines on compliance with the July law requiring notice to consumers of security breach involving personal information. This implements California Civil Code Sections 1798.29 and 1798.82 to 1798.84 enacted as S.B. 1386. Recommended Practices (Read more ...)
In addition to directives as to who, what, when and how to make notification, the guide includes suggestions for best practices for:
Seven practical tips, with an active stack of comments by users, in Yoz Grahame's Cheerleader: Seven quick tips for a spam-free blog
Sen. Norm Coleman (R. Minn.) answered online questions on the file sharing issue, courtesy of the Washington Post, today. He was against both music piracy and RIAA's tactics. He also shared a bit about his 10 years as a roadie for Jethro Tull and Savoy Brown in the 1970's, or, as he put it, "a long time ago in a universe far, far away. "
Sen. Coleman: "I don't think you are going to change the behavior of 60 million consumers by ... threatening a few individuals with lawsuits."
Thanks to beSpacific
Early press reports that the "Vonage" VOIP decision may conflict with the "Brand X" cable modem decision appear to miss the fact that both consistently interpreted the language of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
When Vonage and Brand X were decided earlier this month, press reports by CNET suggested the two cases were in conflict. See Unintended Consequences: Fed Court Bars PUC Regulation of VOIP Provider. Reading both decisions indicates otherwise.
In Brand X Internet Services v. Federal Communications Commission, No. 02-70518, ____ F.3d _____ (9th Cir. 2003) the Court addressed several cases consolidated before it. The controversies arose from the FCC's decision to classify Internet services provided by cable companies exclusively as an interstate "information service" under the definitions in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, 47 U.S.C. §§151-615 ("the Telecommunications Act"). The FCC's decision was embodied in a March 2002 Declaratory Ruling that conflicted with a prior decision by the Ninth Circuit in AT&T v. City of Portland, 216 F.3d 871 (9th Cir. 2000). In Portland, the Court had decided that cable modem service was not a "cable service" under the meaning of such in the Telecommunications Act, and contained both information service and telecommunications service components.
The Court of Appeals reviewed the FCC's interpretation under the standard set forth by the Supreme Court in Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984), and concluded that the FCC ruling had to be set aside. In doing so, the Court reviewed its holdings in Portland, emphasizing that cable modem service included two distinct elements: 1) the "pipeline" (cable broadband) and 2) the Internet service transmitted over that pipeline. The Court reaffirmed its decision in 2000 that the transmittal element (the "pipeline") constitutes a telecommunications service, despite its combined offering with the Internet service.
In Vonage Holdings Corp. v. Minnesota Public Utilities Comm., Civ.No. 03-5287 (October 16, 2003), (full text courtesy of Netsuds.com) the District Court for the District of Minnesota considered the attempt of the Minnesota PUC to regulate Vonage, a provider of Voice Over Internet Protocol ("VOIP") service. Even though Vonage users required broadband service for it to function as expected, Vonage provided no broadband transmission service. Its users were dependent upon obtaining broadband services from some other provider.
The Court found that without a transmission element, the Vonage service qualified as an "information service" subject to federal regulation and not a "telecommunications service." "Vonage's services are closely tied to the provision of telecommunications services as defined by Congress, the courts and the FCC, but this Court finds that Vonage uses telecommunications services, rather than provides them."
Noting that the FCC had elected to regulate the information service sector with "a vacuum," the District Court found that the federal regulation had pre-empted the potential state authority. "What Vonage provides is essentially the enhanced functionality on top of the underlying network," said the Court, "which the FCC has explained should be left alone."
"VoIP services necessarily are information services," said the Court, "and state regulation over VoIP services is not permissible because of the recognizable congressional intent to leave the Internet and information services largely unregulated."
The Vonage court distinquished an earlier FCC tenative opinion that "phone to phone" VOIP services that used a gateway within the network "bear the characteristics of 'telecommunications services'" that may be subject to state authority. It based its distinction on a finding that Vonage provided only "computer to computer" and "computer to phone" or "phone to computer" service, not "phone to phone" service.
The Court noted "the attractiveness of the MPUC's simplistic 'quacks like a duck' argument, essentially holding that because Vonage's customers make phone calls, Vonage's services must be telecommunications services. However, this simplifies the issue to the detriment of an accurate understanding of this complex question."
The Court issued a permanent injunction against state imposition of telecommunications service requirements on Vonage.
Netsuds.com is hosting a Telecom Policy Summit & Reception in Minnesota on October 22 and provides links to original documents of that and other states.
Comments and Trackback, please.
Three Internet law courses this fall at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. Class abstracts and links to reading online.
CNET news reports that U.S. District Judge Michael J. Davis has issued a 22-page opinion (full text courtesy of Netsuds.com) in the Vonage case, supporting his permanent injunction against the Minnesota PUC regulating the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) service. See News: Judge gives details on landmark VoIP ruling. Classifying VOIP providers as "information service providers" rather than "telecommunications providers," the Judge is said to have barred state regulation that might interfere with federal policy to encourage future development. California and other states are also attempting to regulate VOIP providers, and will be watching the decision closely.
The ruling is said to conflict with a Ninth Circuit decision on cable broadband providers, entered two weeks ago in Brand X Internet Ser. v. FCC, which the FCC Chairman Michael Powell says he will appeal.
(Read more ... )
Meanwhile, upstart Skype (from the people who brought you Kazaa) is offering a free "peer-to-peer" version of VOIP to compete with Vonage and other for-pay service providers. See Thompson, "To Whom May I Direct Your Free Call?" (NYT, October 12, 2003)
Minnesota PUC's Briefing Papers on the Vonage Case (August 2003)
Netsuds.com is hosting a Telecom Policy Summit & Reception in Minnesota on October 22 and provides links to original documents of that and other states.
Open Thread: What do you think?
Now online, The Atlantic College-Admissions Survey. A special feature based on interviews of high school guidance counselors and college admissions officers, it looks at trends affecting students. Explores the college-admissions system with articles and survey analysis by James Fallows, V. V. Ganeshananthan, Nicholas Confessore, Don Peck and Jay Mathews.
Who needs live TV in the courtroom when there are bloggers on scene? Thanks to beSpacific.com for the pointer to the minute-by-minute blog of John Allen Muhammad trial updates. Kerry Sipe, online news coordinator for The Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot, is covering the ongoing Virginia Beach trial of the alleged DC/Virginia sniper. 24 postings on October 16 between 9:37 AM and 5:34 PM followed the questioning of each juror and decisions on their selection or release.
Open thread ... what do you think?
This is an open thread, requesting your comment (input below) on
designing an undergrad course on "Law and the Internet".
What would you want to see included,
as most important to a legal studies or business major?
Assume prior completion of at least 9 to 12 credit hours
in legal studies/business law, including equivalent of:
Going past the obvious basics (e.g. ACLU v. Reno, Bensusan/Zippo, ECPA, ESIGN, COPPA and DMCA) what would be important elements to cover in a 3 credit elective seminar course for candidates for B.A., B.S. or M.B.A.?
Comment below or TrackBack, please?
Avoiding the high cost and publication delays of traditional scientific journals is the goal of The Public Library of Science with their new online journal PLoS Biology: Open-Access Journal. Soon to follow will be another open-access journal called "Public Library of Science Medicine". "Our goal, however, is not simply to provide a free online journal," say the publishers, "Our goal is to create a potent scientific and public resource. As more open-access articles become available, we and many others will be working to develop new tools for integrating, interlinking, organizing, searching, and annotating this expanding collection of information. We invite the community to share these tools as they become available on our site, as well as to propose tools, links, and techniques that would make this treasury of scientific information more useful." "PLOS Biology - We're Open" (Read more ... )
In an introductory editorial, the editors address the innovator's dilemma faced by those confronting the high-cost model of traditional academic publishing:
"The opposition of most established journals to open access has left it to new journals like PLoS Biology and BioMed Central's Journal of Biology to lead the way. These new journals face a double challenge. First, we are introducing an unfamiliar model—open-access publication. Second, any new journal, even one with the stringent standards and the extraordinary editorial team of PLoS Biology, must begin without the established “brand name” of the older journals, which, like a designer logo, elevates the perceived status of the articles that bear it. With all that is at stake in the choice of a journal in which to publish—career advancement, grant support, attracting good students and fellows—scientists who believe in the principle of open access and wish to support it are confronted with a difficult dilemma. We applaud the courage and pioneering spirit of the authors who have chosen to send to a fledgling journal the outstanding articles you will read in the premiere issues of PLoS Biology. In the end, it's the contributions of these authors that will make PLoS Biology a success." Editorial: Message from the Founders - Why PLoS Became a Publisher
Among the articles in the Table of Contents of the initial issue are:
Nine full-scale Research Articles and over a dozen shorter submissions, including Synopses, Primers, one in a "Journal Club" section for students' submissions.
A sample of topics:
An excerpt from "Neuroscience Networks"
"Scientific publication, as we have known it in print, is slow and expensive, with access limited to those with either the funds to purchase an individual subscription or the proximity to a library with an institutional subscription. Data-sharing also means open-access publishing so that data, whether from mapping efforts or from hypothesis-driven experiments, become available quickly and freely to the scientific community. As we emerge from the “decade of the brain,” we are entering a decade for which data-sharing will be the currency for progress in neuroscience. Efforts driven by collaboration, coordination, and computation should yield the data, tools, and resources that neuroscientists will need in the coming decades. We hope that new electronic publications with open access will accelerate this change and provide the vehicle for disseminating the most exciting discoveries in neuroscience in a rapid, respected, and ready format."
A nonprofit scientific publishing organization, PLOS is made possible by a $9 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and in-kind support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. It plans to provide scientists with quality, peer-reviewed and edited journals for their important work and to make the contents available for others to read, distribute, or use in research. Its material is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution License.
SunnComm Technologies will not sue a Princeton grad student for issuing a Princeton University Computer Science Technical Report TR-679-03 that discloses a security flaw in SunnComm's software intended to block music piracy, according to the The Chronicle of Higher Education's Daily news for 10/13/2003. The company's stock lost value after the report of the student's disclosure, and it had threatened to sue under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). According to the Chronicle, the company's CEO said that "We feel that bringing legal action for damages against researchers in a higher-learning environment may contribute to a chilling effect on the type of research that faculty, staff, and students elect to pursue." (Read more ... )
SunnComm chooses wisely when it steps back. The unbiased peer review of new security technologies is essential to the development of sound applications. Further, the United States Supreme Court has repeatedly protected academic freedom of universities under the First Amendment. Barring some overriding state interest or protectible property right, that freedom should include the right to study and publish factual information and opinion regarding the results of research by their students and faculty.
See eLawyer Blog: Reading: Schneier, Secrets & Lies (Digital Security in a Networked World), in which Schneier's strongly urges avoiding new or proprietary cryptography in favor of technologies and code algorithms that have been made public, analyzed and peer-tested for years by professionals.
See also Unintended Consequences: "Four Essential Freedoms" of a University Based in First Amendment, as re-affirmed in the June decisions regarding the University of Michigan.
In 1957, Justice Felix Frankfurter set an anchor for academic freedom in the U.S., drawing from language of South African educators then fighting their nation's ban on education of whites and non-whites in the same university:
". . . It is the business of a university to provide that atmosphere which is most conducive to speculation, experiment and creation. It is an atmosphere in which there prevail `the four essential freedoms' of a university - to determine for itself on academic grounds who may teach, what may be taught, how it shall be taught, and who may be admitted to study." Sweezy v. New Hampshire 354 U.S. 234 (1957).
In an October 11 address James Wright, President of Dartmouth College, tied Frankfurter's opinion to the history of constitutional protection of academic freedom, dating from a famous 1819 decision of the Supreme Court to two decisions just this year. His audience, the Dartmouth Lawyers Association, were not strangers to the topic. Nearly two centuries ago, Dartmouth was one of the first battlegrounds for academic freedom of universities from state interference. (Read more ... )
That battle arose over an attempt by the State of New Hampshire to take control of Dartmouth, a privately funded corporation created by a royal charter in 1769 and at the time religiously affiliated. Motivated by desires to change the curriculum of the college, the state legislature enacted legislation that changed the institution's name and changed the Board of Trustees so as to grant full control to the Governor of New Hampshire.
In its suit to block the statute, Dartmouth was represented by Daniel Webster (Class of 1802), who engaged in "one of the greatest lawyers' battles in our history." The Court overturned the statute as violative of the Contract Clause of the Constitution in the Dartmouth College Case, 17 U.S. 518 (1819).
Frankfurter's later opinion in Sweezy became an element of the Court's decision in Univ. of California. v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978). In Bakke, Justice Powell quoted J. Frankfurter's elicitation of the "four essential freedoms" in his opinion rejecting the use of race to exclude some applicants from a special set-aside program for medical school admission.
Powell pointed also to Keyishian v. Board of Regents, 385 U.S. 589 (1967) in which the Court based academic freedom in the Constitution, saying: "Our Nation is deeply committed to safeguarding academic freedom which is of transcendent value to all of us and not merely to the teachers concerned. That freedom is therefore a special concern of the First Amendment .[438 U.S. 265, 312]
The Court also recognized limits on such freedom, saying: "Although a university must have wide discretion in making the sensitive judgments as to who should be admitted, constitutional limitations protecting individual rights may not be disregarded." [438 U.S. 265, 314] "The diversity that furthers a compelling state interest encompasses a far broader array of qualifications and characteristics of which racial or ethnic origin is but a single though important element." [438 U.S. 265, 315]
In 2003, Bakke became the standard by which the Court evaluated the University of Michigan's freedom to decide "who may be admitted to study." In Grutter v. Bollinger (No. 02-241, June 23, 2003), the Court affirmed the process used by the Law School at the University, distinquishing it from a process of granting diversity "bonuses" used by the same university for other school admissions:
"Here, the Law School engages in a highly individualized, holistic review of each applicant's file, giving serious consideration to all the ways an applicant might contribute to a diverse educational environment. The Law School affords this individualized consideration to applicants of all races. There is no policy, either de jure or de facto, of automatic acceptance or rejection based on any single 'soft' variable. Unlike the program at issue in Gratz v. Bollinger, ante, the Law School awards no mechanical, predetermined diversity 'bonuses' based on race or ethnicity."
In the Gratz opinion (No. 02-516, June 23, 2003), issued the same day, the Court found that the University's undergraduate admissions policy, "which automatically distributes 20 points, or one-fifth of the points needed to guarantee admission, to every single 'underrepresented minority' applicant solely because of race, is not narrowly tailored to achieve the interest in educational diversity that respondents claim justifies their program."
In his address to the Dartmouth Lawyers Association, President Wright expressed his approval of the Court's decision. As part of its efforts to achieve a widely diverse student body, said President Wright, Dartmouth has for decades used the flexible, individualized admissions process approved by the recent Supreme Court decisions.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that U.Mass. (Amherst) and U.Ohio have adopted more individualized selection processes to achieve diversity in student body selection. Mechanistic policies providing formula advantages for minority applicants have been under question since the June Supreme Court decisions involving University of Michigan. See The Chronicle: Daily news: 10/10/2003 -- 01 (Read more ... )
The Chronicle's June report on the decisions includes links to the full texts of both Grutter v. Bollinger (the law-school case) and Gratz v. Bollinger (the undergraduate case) and background material on the controversy.
San Francisco Chronicle profiles increased pro bono work by lawyers with more time on their hands due to soft economy and downsizing. Non-governmental organizations benefit from free help from business lawyers. See Lawyers turn to pro bono work / Nonprofits get more free help in lean times
In "Pushing Peer-to-Peer," Garfinkel describes pros and cons of "P2P" architectures, without bogging down in the music file sharing debate, saying, in part:
"Peer-to-peer is pretty powerful stuff. What we’ve seen so far—the copyright infringement systems—is really just the beginning. Peer-to-peer could overcome many of the fundamental problems that are facing the Internet today—problems of centralized control, vulnerable servers, and the difficulty that most organizations have scaling. On the other hand, peer-to-peer could also make the Internet’s security problems worse, by allowing hackers to create large-scale attack networks. "
See: Pushing Peer-to-Peer (October, 2003)
Simson Garfinkel is the author of 12 books on information technology and its impact.
Denied a necessary license to publish, the Zimbabwe Daily News is moving its web base to South Africa, from where it will continue to publish online, while appealing its license denial. Several of its reporters were arrested last month for working without accredation, says the Zimbabwe Standard. See: allAfrica.com: Zimbabwe: ANZ Launches SA Based Website. Source: Zimbabwe Standard.
In "The Board Member's Guide to Strategic Planning: A Practical Approach to Strengthening NonProfit Organizations" (1997), Fisher Howe provides a short, practical guide to strategic planning for members of the board of a nonprofit organization. He maintains that strategic planning is inherently a function of the board, not management and staff, and requires a systematic approach. In this book, he describes his recommended process and provides examples from boards on which he has served. (Read more ... )
Howe makes several main points:
1. Strategic planning's main purpose is not to produce a report, but to stimulate strategic thinking.
2. The board, not management, must own the process and outcomes.
3. The board must take responsibility for planning, even if it delegates functions.
4. Support for planning may fall to the staff, but it must not dominate the discussion.
5. A steering committee will be valuable to prepare for the work of the actual planning team.
6. Marshalling views of constituents is useful but should not overwhelm the planning process or team.
7. Effective planning requires special meetings, preferably off-site.
8. Outside consultants or facilitators can make a big difference.
9. The team must limit itself to a limited number (3 to 7) issues, and focus first on ends, then on means to achieve those ends.
10. A planning team's report should set out the organization's mission, vision, purpose and priorities, as modified or affirmed by the planning process.
11. The more formal and comprehensive strategic plan should be based on the planning report and be presented for board approval.
12. Staff should prepare operational plans, with the details of the programs to implement the strategic plan.
Mr. Howe is a professional consultant to non-profit organizations, has served as a trustee to many, and is the author of several books on board service and fund raising.
Source: "The Board Member's Guide to Strategic Planning: A Practical Approach to Strengthening NonProfit Organizations" (1997),
"Using the Internet to enable developing country universities to meet the challenges of globalization through collaborative virtual programmes"
First Monday brings us a peer-reviewed article by Derek W. Keats, Maria Beebe, and Gunnar Kullenberg titled: Using the Internet to enable developing country universities to meet the challenges of globalization through collaborative virtual programmes (Read More ... )
The abstract describes the paper's claim to include: "if used wisely, information technology has the power to help create powerful and synergistic educational partnerships at local, regional and global scale. Such new and large-scale partnerships, only possible because of the existence of the Internet, have the potential to allow educational institutions to respond positively to globalization and help promote development if enough partnerships can be created and sustained. This paper explores two emerging educational partnerships, NetTel@Africa and the International Ocean Institute Virtual University (IOIVU), in terms of the lessons for how technology can be used to respond to the challenges and opportunities of globalization, and to allow institutions in developing countries to achieve results that could not be achieved by either institution acting alone.
The description of the two case studies includes useful diagrams of the organizational structures that enable resources and funders in the developed world to support educational programs in the underdeveloped world, with the aid of the Internet.
Jon Udell's Internet Groupware for Scientific Collaboration (Software Carpentry
Project, June 2000) discusses pros and cons of various types of online collaborative tools. Jon's claim is summarized: "the Internet empowers today's working scientist in ways only dreamed of even a decade ago. Yet our use of it often remains rooted in pre-Web idioms and habits -- partly because we don't fully exploit today's Internet communication tools, but mainly because we're still missing key tools and infrastructure. " His observations are applicable to other group activities and professions. (Read more ... )
He discusses particular applications as used for:
* Event Coordination
* Group Discussion
* Broadcasting and Monitoring News
* Scientific Publishing
He addresses disadvantages of mailing lists, including those with web-based archives, such as Yahoo Groups (successor to the EGroups mentioned in the paper).
Alternatives he discusses include:
* NNTP (Net News Transfer Protocol) servers and clients, ("underappreciated" and able to be secured)
* Quicktopic (its "instant discussion is ad-hoc, lightweight and disposable, yet more focused, more centralized, and more accessible than a mailing list.")
* Roundup ("powerful because it leverages, and adds value to, existing tools and habits")
* WikiWiki (Hawaiian for "fast") tools ("prefers hypertextual structure to thread structure" -- "Some groups find Wikis baffling; others take naturally to them")
Broadcasting and Monitoring News
Udell addresses the increasing problem of information overload, and the practice of weblogging that contributes to it (quoting one blogger: "There was once a hope that the weblog could become a powerful tool for reaching out and connecting with the world. Instead, it has become a powerful tool for self-gratification and self-absorption.")
"But underlying the weblogging movement are two technological trends," says Udell, "--- RSS headline syndication, and pushbutton Web publishing -- that lay the groundwork for better ways to publicize, and monitor, the activities of professional groups."
Udell provides an extremely informative review of the development of the XML-based RSS vocabulary and the client tools that use it, including Dave Winer's channel-authoring tool called Manila and O'Reilly Network's "open wire service," called Meerkat. He notes that: "All this adds up to a new kind of information ecology inhabited by RSS authors, sites that syndicate RSS content, and services that aggregate, select, refine, and republish RSS content." These same tools enable simplified Web publishing.
Udell summarizes the challenges and opportunities in this segment: "Information overload is a severe problem, and there isn't a single best solution. Weblogs syndicated on the RSS network are no more inherently immune to signal degradation than the Usenet was. XML, in and of itself, doesn't change anything either. What is new, and hopeful, is the notion of a standard format for content syndication. That standard is enabling a new class of information-refinement tools. These tools in turn enable people to search, select, annotate, and reorganize the Web's chaotic flow more easily and more effectively than is otherwise possible."
Udell discusses the need for improved tools to present math and SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics on the Web to fully utilize it for scientific publishing, with hopeful references to variations of XML in continuing development.
Udell ends his report with two final messages:
"First, we're closer to the two-way Web than we realize. Services such as TimeDance, QuickTopic, Manila, and Meerkat are already making it easier than ever to create and use shared information spaces."
"Second, the roadmap to the future is coming more sharply into focus. * * * The emerging consensus around XML, as a universal way both to interconnect services and to represent many different kinds of information, is the key to a next-generation Web that may finally start to deliver on the collaborative vision of the original."
See the full report at: Internet Groupware for Scientific Collaboration
Please, contribute your Comments and Trackback on Udell's paper and this topic.
A white paper, Perseus - The Blogging Iceberg, reports on a statistical survey of blog characteristics, demographics and growth. Among the findings:
- 5 MM blogs estimated by year end 2003
- 66.0% of surveyed blogs (2.7 MM) permanently or temporarily abandoned
- 1 MM "one day wonder" blogs without 2nd postings
- fewer than 50,000 were updated daily
- over 50% of bloggers are under age 20
A quote: "the typical blog is written by a teenage girl who uses it twice a month to update her friends and classmates on happenings in her life."
Babak Rahimi's claim, in "Cyberdissent: The Internet in Revolutionary Iran," is that in Iran over the last decade, the Internet has provided a creative way for political dissidents to challenge state authority, despite official efforts in recent years to curtail Internet use for such purposes. In addition to reviewing recent history of online dissent and conservative censorship in Iran, he also points to scholarly studies indicating that (despite Rahimi's hopefulness) authoritarian regimes may be effective in controlling the Internet. (Read more ... )
Rahimi describes an Iran that encouraged the use of the Internet from 1993, with most of Iran's domestic access through the academic institutions, and a population heavily skewed to the young, with significant growth in the number of university students (especially women). This produces a large community of educated Iranians, most unemployed, returning to their home communities and seeking means of expression. Rahimi cites figures for 1,500 Internet cafes in Iran, based on data at the World Bank Development Indicator.
For an example of how the Internet and the Web have connected rural villages, Rahimi points to the website of the Village of Shahkooh, (a delightful site, from which many US web designers could learn).
Rahimi cites reports of the BBC and Payvand News to the effect that some 20,000 websites and weblogs have enabled free and anonymous expression by young Iranians, especially women. These online communities have been able to bypass the cultural and political pressures regarding speech, appearance and mingling of genders that are applied offline.
Rahimi reviews the rise of the "May 23rd" reformist movement with potential to develop a democratic state for the Islamic Republic, countered by a conservative judiciary and clerical segment. There has evolved, says Rahimi, a tension between two spheres of political authority, the elected Majlis or parliament and presidency, and an appointed clerical office of Valayat-e Faqih.
Despite increasing instances of reformist writers, including senior clerics, using the Internet as an outlet for their political discontent, conservative elements in the Iranian judiciary have taken steps to block sites that they see as objectionable. These efforts began in 1997, and resulted in the blocking or closure of a number of popular sites that supported reformist viewpoints and the jailing of journalists and closure of certain traditional media sources. For a description of these activities through 2001, see A.W. Samii, "Sisyphus' Newstand: The Iranian Press Under Khatami". 5 Middle East Review of International Affairs 3 (2001).
These efforts intensified in March 2003 after the beginning of the war in Iraq. Rahimi reports (as of the paper's release in September of 2003) 100 websites blocked and 15,000 more expected to be banned, and arrests of journalists, including the April 2003 arrest of Sina Motallebi, a journalist behind a prominent weblog formerly available at www.rooznegar.com. Rahimi says that "the conservatives appear to be engaging in censorship methods similar to those that are being used in Cuba."
See Boas and Kalathil, "The Internet and State Control in Authoritarian Regimes: China, Cuba and Counter-Revolution," (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Working Papers) in which the authors present the theory that authoritarian regimes may be able to effectively control and profit from the Internet.
Despite Boas and Kalathil's concerns, Rahimi concludes with a note that regulating the Internet will be "an extremely difficult task for the conservative authorities," and that "any attempt to stop the proliferation of modern technology is ultimately bound to fail.".
Rahimi's paper, "Cyberdissent: The Internet in Revolutionary Iran," originally published in Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal (VOL. 7 No. 3 - September 2003), was first mentioned here at: Unintended Consequences: BloggerCon: Dissent in Iran as "Revolutionary" Application of Blogs
During BloggerCon, Day 2, Eugene Volokh moderated a session on "Weblogs and Law" during which he talked about ... the law of weblogging. He also commented on the motivations of lawyers to blog. Economically, its not directly worthwhile ... its rare that a weblog generates enough traffic to cover the bandwidth cost, even if the views were monetized. So why do lawyers blog, when their time is scarce and expensive? Prof. Volokh explains that many law blogs are actually "Prof Blogs" written by professors or folks with a professorial behavior pattern that is not economically motivated. See (Profbloggers at the Volokh Conspiracy.
Real revolutionary blogging in Iran was compared to innovative use of blogs in U.S. Presidential politics during BloggerCon03's second day panel on Weblogs in Presidential Politics (monitored via RealAudio webcast of Room 202). Someone in the discussion recalled a comment on Day One that blogs like Howard Dean's are "revolutionizing." He compared that to real revolutionary blogging, using the example of a political blogger in Iran who was arrested in April for the content of his blog, triggering a grassroots support movement from the blogosphere. There are a number of news articles contemporaneous with the arrest, of which the USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review has one example. There is also a scholarly paper addressing the issue. See Babak Rahimi, Cyberdissent: The Internet in Revolutionary Iran. The piece is from Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal (VOL. 7 No. 3 - September 2003).
Abstract: This paper argues that the internet, as an advancing new means of communication, has played an important role in the ongoing struggle for democracy in Iran. While outlining its history in Iran amidst an ambiguous state response to its rapid development since 1993, the paper also attempts to show how the internet has opened a new virtual space for political dissent. The paper claims that the internet is an innovative method for resistance in that it essentially defies control and supervision of speech by authoritarian rule seeking to undermine resistance.
Please, via Comment or Trackback, are you aware of other scholarly papers on uses of blogs or similar "peer-to-peer" Internet tools for political dissent in jurisdictions comparable to that of Iran?
Saturday, in Cambridge, a BloggerCon03 panel discussed the use of blogs in presidential campaigns. All were Democrats (Republicans were invited, but did not appear). One was from the DNC and three were from separate presidential campaigns. Heath Row blogged the conversation. See Heath Row's Media Diet Heath closed his report with a question answered by Matt Gross of the Howard Dean campaign:
Question: When your candidate wins, what happens to the blog?
Gross: It becomes the White House blog.
Saturday's session of BloggerCon at Harvard Law was covered live by abundant bloggers. Doc Searles noted that the segment on blogs in journalism focused on the theme of "The Web as a writers medium," which he extrapolated into "The Web as a reader's medium." See Go ahead. Look it up. I agree, but note that this insight directly contradicts many "commercial" web designers' advice: keep written content short, because "people don't read more than a few words of text on the Web." Maybe that's true for people who still think of the Web as "TV on their PC," and may be practical advice for people trying to sell fungible consumer goods.
(Read more ... )
Serious bloggers know that a valuable segment of Web users do read longer pieces, particularly if they enable them to dig deeper. Doc points to the ability to link, which makes the Web actionable by readers, as one key to the Web's superiority to paper media for those who want to explore a topic fully.
During the afternoon's session on Blogs in Presidential Politics, the huge public response to the Dean for President blog ("Blog for America") was a topic of much discussion and begrudging "respect" from its competitors represented there. Besides the stunning amount of campaign donations received in small average amounts, Dean's blog manager reported that over 2200 comments per hour come in to that blog - that's user-posted comments, not page views.
One panelist commented that the use of a campaign blog with unfiltered user comments was beneficial primarily for the "buzz" and sense of community that resulted. Moderator Dave Winer expressed some concern about that: he seemed troubled that a medium with such potential for education and thoughtful debate about policy issues might be used just to generate "buzz."
Dan Bricklin was shooting digital photos of the conference participants and loading them up through the day, and Kevin Marks was feeding live cam from the front row as well. All in all, an exciting day, with a high adrenile and idealism quotient. I had to turn around and drive back to Hartford, and was sorry to miss the 'tails party and dinners with speakers.
A BloggerCon "Local Feed" has been aggregating those who are blogging the conference, which continues today (Sunday, 10/5). Visit that site to get an idea of the many excellent commentators that are writing about the conference and its pre- and after-parties and meals. It also illustrates a question: Assuming no human can read and absorb all of those comments, how does one find the few commentators on which one decides to rely to follow such an event? Not just this event, but any one that has a high interest quotient?
Though this use of the medium may lack infrastructure barriers to entry, the very volume of "free" supply of writing (good and less good) does itself raise a barrier ... not to entry by the writers, but to selection and absorbtion by the readers. Does the overload of free goods in the commons raise a challenge for consumers? How does one find and distinquish "free crap" (as my 17-year old refers to the remaining unsold stuff dragged to the curb the morning after a tag sale) from the "public service information" goods that are of true value? Will a writer's need to develop reputation and inclusion in a circle of trusted sources impose a new barrier to entry?
A hearing that addressed consequences of the struggle between peer-to-peer networks and the entertainment industry was held 9/30 by the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. Material on the site of the Committee on Governmental Affairs includes hearing statements from three U.S. Senators, representatives of the recording industry, of the file-sharing industry, and two disinterested experts. Thanks to beSpacific for this item.