All posts tagged politics

6 Posts

Your Kid’s a Weiner

Watch where you point your finger. Your kid has probably sent or received a sext today.

The accusations that led to Anthony Weiner’s resigning were upsetting insofar as this was a teachable moment. Instead it became a media circus. Why not have a larger discussion about the serious issues surrounding privacy and technology? Develop a better understanding of how these issues can negatively impact private companies, our children, and political careers.

Wikinomics of Leaks

The return on investment from open government data is starting to be shown by projects such as apps for democracy. What about the current WikiLeaks cablegate release of American diplomatic cables?

Eastern Europe’s New Communist Threats

My grandfather is the picture of a  90 year old soviet man. Injured by shrapnel from a grenade in the great patriotic war, yet he still jogs a few miles every morning. He lived through World War 2, the new economic policy, Stalin, the fall of the wall, and all the rest.

I had the chance to visit Riga, the city he lived in for all those years, along with my mom on her first trip back to Latvia since fleeing to the US as a refugee in the 70s. I would be able to understand my own roots, recounted to me through  the history and stories of family I have never known . Seeing through their eyes, I would also be able to experience the contrast between communist and European Latvia. But to contrast the staunch Reaganite-conservative politics that they share with so many others refugees like them in the US with those from a much different type of conservative in Europe, would be a real treat in seeing where the future might lead.

Chavez’s Twitter Army: 200 deep

Hugo Chavez on Twitter

“Twitter is terrorism,” Chavez loudly proclaimed in one of his famous radio addresses to the nation, as a bold response to Secretary Clinton’s recent Internet Freedom speech. A few weeks later, and he is now a rising star on the very same platform, known as @chavezcandanga, ie Chavez the devil or Chavez the strong-willed/fearless depending on interpretation. Already, he has 324,788 followers. He has even invited his friend Fidel Castro to join.

Why the sudden change of heart?

P2P doesn’t include the police

I’m on a train from the Hague to Amsterdam. Earlier today I described the place like going to Disney land, but for human rights, having never been before. The meetings went well and the city is beautiful, but it’s the train ride that got interesting.

Stilte! Silent Car in the Hague

Being on the phone, I didn’t notice getting onto the quiet car. The Dutch “stilte” didn’t help clarify, but “silence” should have been good enough. In the middle of my conversation, a rather polite older blonde Dutch woman came over and explained that this was the quiet car. I immediately hung up (sorry Em) and noticed two boisterous young black men behind me. She promptly explained the same to them.
Their initial response was “who are you” to which she replied that “it is the rules.” they laughed, saying “who’s rules. Not ours.” it quickly got worse and she threatened to call the police, walking off. Initially in English, they switched to Dutch where all I could identify were dirty words & the name “wilders”, the conservative leader vying to be the next prime minister and often associated with fascism. Here, this is a sure way to stifle debate, as it is basically calling her a racist.
After a few more minutes of their cursing, a man intervened in English, calmly explaining that there are silent cars and non-silent ones and that they happened along the wrong one, which was their mistake. He noted that the woman had a point. Another laugh and curse and they were gone.
How effective are the police as a middle man in the situation. They quickly told her that the ride was an hour to Amsterdam, and they would not go peacefully. But the system itself has a logic that defaults in peer to peer communication. The decision to make the car silent was, in theory, collectively decided and very much collectively enjoyed. Police involvement? As NWA stated decades ago and, they reiterated, “fuck the police.”
What if the woman threatened to take a picture of them and upload it to a “citizen watch” type site. The man would never have had the time to intervene and neither would the cops. Would it have gotten hairy or would they have backed down? Is there a third way.
Certainly as tools continue to demcratoze it’s important to consider that in socieites with divides, those get echoed online, as danah boyd notes. How can societies learn to develop better behaviors in tandem with new tools that offer new options for civil society. Particularly bridging tech, language, culture and age divides.

Circumvening censorship in Istanbul (once Constantinople)

Is Turkey on the verge of becoming a part of Europe? It’s a question worth considering and certainly one that was tangentially related to my conversations in Amsterdam. I was hired by a client to do a training there on technology for bloggers, artists, and activists working under difficult circumstances in a variety of countries. It was my pleasure to explore Istanbul and for such a noble cause.