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Berkman Buzz: Week of December 15, 2008

December 19, 2008

BERKMAN BUZZ:  A look at the past week's online Berkman conversations.  If you'd like to receive this by email, just sign up here.

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*David Ardia shines a light on the release of Berkman's latest paper series, from Media Re:public
*Doc Searls wonders if jingoism is turning the net into a jigsaw puzzle
*Ethan Zuckerman listens to Chris Salzburg's insights on Global Voices
*Max Weinstein explains, when it comes to malware, sometimes being careful isn't enough
*On Radio Berkman, Steve Schultze outlines the problems with FCC-proposed free national wi-fi
*Digital Natives intern Sarah Zhang takes a look at student-run Open Courseware RipMixLearners
*On the Internet & Democracy blog, Estonia to take voting cellular

*Weekly Global Voices: "Iran: A Long and Painful Story of Jailed Bloggers"

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"After a year of study, countless meetings, and at least two conferences, a team of researchers at the Berkman Center have released a series of papers exploring the potential and challenges of the emerging networked digital media environment (note: I played a small role in this work).  If you are sitting there thinking that this is a BIG topic rife with thorny questions about the future of journalism, you're right.  Which is why the papers' authors conceived of the project as a conversation, facilitated by a series of papers that look at different facets of these issues..."
From David Ardia's blogpost, "News and Information as Digital Media Come of Age"


"Stephen Lewis has made a decades-long study of both the charms and absurdities of national and ethnic legacies. His most recent essay on the matter, Apple’s iTunes, NPR, Barriers to Giving, and the “Appliancing” of National Boundaries, unpacks the growing distance between the ideals of the Internet and the realities of dysfunctional nationalisms, and the failures of the former to transcend the latter. He begins by describing his frustrations at trying to obtain podcasts of This American Life while overseas..."
From Doc Searls' blogpost, "The Splinternet"


"The last two major projects I’ve worked on - Geekcorps and Global Voices - share an interesting trait. Both ended up becoming research projects for academics studying the changing nature of organizations in a digital age. Dr. Leo Hsu of New York University wrote an excellent dissertation, 'Hacking Development”' about Geekcorps’s novel approach to skill training. My friend and colleague Lokman Tsui is looking closely at Global Voices and community values, like tolerance, listening and hospitality. As a make-believe academic (i.e., someone who hangs out in academic contexts, writes the occasional paper but tries to avoid all that scholarly rigor stuff), I find that the scrutiny brought to bear by these friends often reveals truths that are difficult for me to see, either because I’m too close to the projects or because I lack the frame for the insights..."
From Ethan Zuckerman's blogpost, "Chris Salzburg on Global Voices, and the challenges and potential of community translation"


"The big news in the malware world this week was the spread of a new zero day exploit for Internet Explorer. Microsoft responded fairly quickly, releasing an emergency patch yesterday, but meanwhile, the bad guys were working quickly to hack websites so they could deliver password-stealing malware onto users’ vulnerable machines via drive-by download. To me, this highlights a trend that the security community has been seeing more lately: very rapid distribution of exploits for applications that haven’t been patched or that have just recently been patched. This is all enabled through the ability of malicious actors to quickly deploy the exploit code through the use of botnets, spam, and vulnerable websites..."
From Max Weinstein's blogpost for StopBadware, "When being careful isn't enough"

"A scheduled FCC vote on a free nationwide wireless internet, was derailed this week after outcry from the Bush administration, the ACLU, Congressional Democrats, and the digerati. What was it about the FCC’s proposal that raised the eyebrows of such a diverse group of opponents? David Weinberger interviews Stephen Schultze of the Berkman Center to find out more..."
From the Media Berkman blogpost, "Radio Berkman: A (Porn) Free Nationwide Internet?"

"I recently found out about the snazzily named RipMixLearners, a student-run Open Courseware Project out of the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. Unlike MIT’s OCW, the project is run from ground-up, with the initiative coming from the students rather than the institution. It’s really quite amazing what the students have been able to do and the impact that they’ve had. Aqeelah, one of the contributors to the site, gave some examples on the Sharing Nicely blog..."

From the Digital Natives Project blogpost, "Digital Learning: Sharing is Caring?"

"Estonia, the remarkably wired and internet savvy Baltic state, has just passed a law making voting in the 2011 national elections possible by cellphone. Special identification chips, freely available from the government, will allow cell phone voters to be properly vetted. Proponents of the law claim it will increase participation and reduce lines at voting precincts. It’s a clever idea, and if they can pull off the security, it heralds an interesting new direction for democratic participation..."
From the Internet & Democracy Project blogpost, "Estonia To Allow Cellular Voting"


"Iranian blogger and journalist, Omid Reza Mirsyafi, was sentenced [fa]to two and a half years of prison this week. He stands accused of insulting religious leaders, and engaging in propaganda against the Islamic Republic. Over the past 5 years, several bloggers in Iran have faced jail and persecution because of their blogs. Some were detained for a few days while others were condemned to several years. Simon Columbus, a researcher studying the cases of jailed bloggers around the world (article forthcoming), estimates, in an email to me, that the number of Iranian bloggers who have been arrested solely for their blogging activities comes to about 20. He has counted a total of 30 Iranian bloggers who have been jailed for political activity, which may not be directly linked to their blogs....'"
From Hamid Tehrani's blogpost for Global Voices, "Iran: A Long and Painful Story of Jailed Bloggers"

Last updated December 19, 2008