ICT Policy

ICT4Dev Reading List

Submitted by Jon on Thu, 05/28/2009 - 10:54

Here's a hastily-constructed Amazon store of some of the books and essays I've read which provide great insight and contrarian positions to modern development approaches, backed up with hard data, well-written, and sometimes painful reminders of the darker stories of US's history with international development:

Sometimes, I lie awake at night and worry about copyright. I then start worrying if this makes me irreconcilably weird.

I worry both for our American culture, as items have stopped falling into the public domain and becoming available to re-use and re-mix, or simply to re-present for free. If this doesn't seem like a problem, this video on a 6-second drumbeat will blow your mind - especially if you then read this story about an artist being sued for a 1 minute clip of silence making fun of John Cage's 4'33" of silence. The artist ended up settling out of court.

I worry more generally about international trade and development, as we inflict ever-tighter IP regulations on countries we give aid to or trade with - regulations which we scoffed and flouted during our own development.

We're no longer protecting innovation with these laws - we're protecting the first movers (often big, established businesses), and encouraging gaming the patent system to try and get the most generic and sweeping patent accepted.

Vista Loses 2007

Submitted by Jon on Tue, 12/18/2007 - 12:14

All I can say is ouch:

It's just that Vista isn't all that good. Many of the innovations the operating system was supposed to bring--like more efficient file and communications systems--got tossed overboard as Microsoft struggled to get the OS out the door, some three years after it was first promised. Despite its hefty hardware requirements, Vista is slower than XP. ... We have no doubt Vista will come to dominate the PC landscape, if only because it will become increasingly hard to buy a new machine that doesn't have it pre-installed. And that's disappointing in its own right.

PC world certainly gives a bleak outlook for Vista. Can I recommend people jump ship and consider Ubuntu Linux or Mac OSX?

Actually, the entire article on the top 15 tech disasters of 07 is enlightening, tho a few are there just to incite debate (the iPhone? Not a disaster). PCWorld seems to be of the opinion (which I share) that Facebook and the social networking crowd are getting long in the tooth and in need of some low-level, seachanging improvements:
We got it. Making connections between friends is cool. Sharing photos and videos, even cooler. But it's all so... 2006. Haven't you got anything new to show us?

Here's a safe bet: Two years from now, 90 percent of these networks will be gone and their founders will be back working at Starbucks. I'll have a double mocha frappucino, please.

Repeat after me

Submitted by Jon on Fri, 11/09/2007 - 10:26

"Buying falafel mix does not a terrorist make." The FBI might do well to write that in chalk 500 times, and hope that it sinks in, as they're wasting our money, their time, and invading our privacy while they're at it by trawling through credit card records to find people who shop at middle eastern markets and/or buy middle eastern style food from the larger chains. No, seriously:

JWZ on backups

Submitted by Jon on Fri, 10/12/2007 - 14:24

JWZ as usual offers good, if acerbic, advice; today on backups:

I am here to tell you about backups. It's very simple.

Option 1: Learn not to care about your data. Don't save any old email, use a film camera, and only listen to physical CDs and not MP3s. If you have no posessions, you have nothing to lose.

Put one of these drives in its enclosure on your desk. Name it something clever like "Backup". If you are using a Mac, the command you use to back up is this:

Geektopia achieved

Submitted by Jon on Mon, 04/23/2007 - 21:09

My geektopia has arrived:

The fridge has now become aware of its contents; and it is capable of establishing direct contact between you and their producers. Like you, the fridge is on the Internet and thus able to get hold of you – even on your mobile. It will let you know what you need to buy if you want to prepare a simmering beef stroganoff; also, it will alert you if you are out of chocolate-and-fruit flavoured ice cream.

But this is as much about security! In case a food producer detects a potential health hazard in a shipment, he can -- via the fridge -- send out a warning and withdraw the product in question.

Version 2.0 of the refrigerator has thus been equipped with a reader on its top shelf -- a reader capable of transmitting in a higher frequency to the RFID tags appended to the foodstuff.

The resonance frequency occurring in the reader on the shelf will build up a tension high enough to transmit a response back to the antenna and – as compared with the 14 centimetres of version 1.0 – the signal now has a range of 22 centimetres.

Ah, if I'd only patented that idea!

Guess the Country

Submitted by Jon on Tue, 01/16/2007 - 09:47

From Development Gateway:

X plans to offer 1.2 million of the country's poorest citizens a computer with broadband Internet access for a daily fee of €1 (US$1.28), to ensure that they have access to the increasing number of government services available online. The government has set ambitious targets for making public services available over the Internet, but is concerned that almost half the population still lacks regular access to the Internet.

Brazil maybe? Mexico? Possibly Bulgaria or even Korea? Nah, it's France.

Technology and the University

Submitted by Jon on Mon, 09/18/2006 - 22:48

More tangentially related tech info, my former employers, The University of Texas' Office of Technology Commercialization are hosting their next big conference to feature commercializable UT research. Last years had tech ranging from backpack-totatble HIV/AIDS field testing units to creepily-good evolutionarily-learning AI .

The Economics of Free

Submitted by Jon on Mon, 09/18/2006 - 22:46

While not strictly dev/ICT related, this blog is tracking the economic implications of Open Source, (focusing on the university software development context). Interesting stuff.

Net Neutrality

Submitted by Jon on Sat, 08/05/2006 - 15:53

Dan Kaminsky is working on a software testing tool to check to see if your ISP is giving equal quality to all your traffic, or if they are favoring certain types of traffic (VOIP over web pages, or throttling all bittorrent traffic to a crawl) or preferring certain sites (AOL over Google, based on who's paid more).

Choice in IP regulation a barrier to WTO entry?

Submitted by Jon on Sun, 06/04/2006 - 10:13

Russia's copyright law is different from ours. I imagine there's lots of differences in lots of laws, some of which may be distasteful or just odd to anyone but Russian citizens. This is part of being a sovereign nation, with a different set of institutions and a distinct history, you develop laws according to what you need in your society.'

Censored Net Access?

Submitted by Jon on Mon, 02/27/2006 - 21:12

With all this ire suddenly released against Google (have we been waiting for them to prove that they weren't perfect?) Yahoo (it's been a while since we got to tear into them), Microsoft (best punching bag evar, OMGLOL) and Cisco (a not-just-software company, for variety), why is everyone walking gingerly around the elephant in the room?

Filtering software providers. They're (drumroll) overwhelmingly American. To quote Boas:

Cultural eHegemony

Submitted by Jon on Fri, 02/24/2006 - 21:13

Der Spiegel, as picked up in YaleGlobal and Eldis's ICT-for-Dev RSS feed reports a (French) worry about "the homogenization and commercialization of culture that could result from the concentration of control in the hands of just a few [US --ed] companies," based on the idea, as said by Chirac, that "There is the threat that tomorrow, what is not available online will be invisible to the world." Chirac's response is a state-sponsored Eur

Glocal Internet Freedom

Submitted by Jon on Wed, 02/22/2006 - 21:15

I think it's abhorrent that China is even sending uniformed patrols to local libraries to enforce what citizens can and cannot read on the often-already-filtered government-supported public terminals.

Wait. Did I say China? I meant the US.

Pringles Cans on the Saudi Border

Submitted by Jon on Mon, 02/20/2006 - 21:14

In "Weaving the Authoritarian Web: Liberalization, Bureaucratization, and the Internet in Non-Democratic Regimes," Boas, details primarily Saudi and Chinese control on the Internet.

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