Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Do no evil (for the stock holders)

It is be coming clear that the original motto of "do no evil", which the Fortune Magazine reports Google takes very seriously, is not strictly supported with facts by the company. The repetition of the fallacious argument that it is better to give censored access to Google's magnificent search technology than no access at all fails for many reason, being one very important the fact that the user will be presented with false results that show as the existing information only a part of the actual information, resulting in users believing that they have something that they actually don't thanks to censorship that Google practices on its Google.cn. It can be argued that it is actually worse when a company that praises itself of doing no harm does it big (like in this case) because it gives some sense of legitimacy to those designing the policies. So, yes, Google is doing evil, and in big form! (so, it is time to change the "Ten things that Google has found to be true" to either 9 or changing the 6th by something like "you can do evil if it makes you a lot of money")
At least that is what US Representative Chris Smith seems to understand, what has led him to re-introduce his bill that "aims to promote free expression and a free flow of information on the Internet by preventing U.S. companies from aiding regimes who restrict access to the Internet." It is also time that the rest of the members of Congress and the White House support the initiative or shut up and stop talking about freedom, democracy and all the other things they say when they want to attack a country or government.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The power of blogs or millenary ambivalence?

The Times of London reports on the furor caused by a blog written by Rui Chenggang, "who sparked [a] nationwide controversy with his blog entry 'Why Starbucks needs to get out of the Forbidden City'" (the link though is nowhere to be found). Allegedly the blog received more than a half a million visits and it seems that the audience was divided between those supporting and those opposing the anchorman's idea of taking a Western company out of the forbidden city, but most of them agreeing with the post. It is important to note that there are many others coffee shops in the forbidden city, but the blogger and director/anchor for the China Central Television seems to think that only the foreign one is misplaced because "there should be a limit to protect [their] cultural traditions". It is also important to note, that the same person has usually taken steps bridge cultural differences and misunderstandings, which makes the affirmation even more strange, taking into account that it is in the same country where the cultural revolution tried to erase the same traditions. Still, the controversy shows that blogs, even in countries that tightly control Internet, are a very powerful medium with a reach some times difficult to measure.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

December WSIS Follow up meetings of Experts

After many delays (mainly caused by relocating from London to St Louis via California), I finally decided today to write the reports on the sessions that followed the one already reported on of Expert Meeting in support of the implementation and follow-up of WSIS: Using ICTs to achieve growth and development (Jointly organized by UNCTAD, OECD and ILO). However, as soon as I started and looked for the first link I realized that it was already late and that it was not necessary. The usefulness of a blog, when informing about and event, is the possibility of putting the word out quickly and before the official transcripts have been published; after that, it would only be a way to direct traffic to the blog without much informative value. So, if you want to know what happened in Geneva in that meeting, you can go directly to the UNCTAD website where they have the Report of the Meeting, the papers and presentations, and a list of documents in several languages. So, from now on, I will go back to write about daily things and thoughts related to IT, IP, policy and development...