Social learning with social media

February 11, 2011

This Prezi was used in an invited talk that presents some findings from my book chapter “Social Learning with Social Media: Expanding and Extending the Communication Studies Classroom” published in Teaching Arts and Science with the New Social Media (Emerald Publishing Group, 2011). In this chapter I look at how the techno-social affordances and uses of social media, specifically class blogs (WordPress) and microblogs (Twitter) together, can help achieve social learning. Strategies and best practices are explored to address how social media can be utilized by educators to accommodate the heterogeneity of digital learners, engage new styles of learning, and encourage civic engagement.

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‘Opening the social media ecosystem’ – transcripts of IR11 talk

October 21, 2010

11th Annual Conference of the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR), Chalmers University, Gothenburg, Sweden, October 20-23

[Slide 1]

Hello, Thank you for coming, my name is Robert Bodle.

My presentation is titled Opening the social media ecosystem: the tenuous nature of interoperability

among dominant social network sites, services, and devices  (article here)

This is a distillation of a longer paper that looks at Google, YouTube, Apple, Twitter, and Facebook’s use of APIs or Application programming interfaces to open up user data to achieve interoperability

[Slide 2]

This presentation specifically looks at the values, characteristics, and conditions of interoperability between Facebook and its third party developer ecosystem,

using Open APIs to provide new ways to share and participate, but also finding that FB uses Open APIs to achieve market dominance, undermining privacy, data security, contextual integrity, member autonomy and freedom.

Ultimately this work points to the need for a more sustainable basis for sharing online.

If anyone has ever played a social game on Facebook (including FB quizzes), cross-posted their Tweets to serve as status updates on Facebook, or merely “Liked” using FB’s Like button on websites outside of Facebook.com, they have utilized OpenAPIs

[Slide 3]

Open APIs can be considered the sex organs of interoperability, or software tools that enable 2 or more online sites and services to get with one another and exchange data . .

[Slide 4]

enabling one to access your FB account on CNN.com, for example.

[Slide 5]

Open APIs utilize what are known as “calls” or requests made to a social network to send and retrieve data routed through a third party server.

In this process graphic, using an example, we might want to “Like” a story on New York Times,

sending this request through NYTimes’ server, to FB, which would record our recommendation on our status updates.

As calls are routed through the third party server, user data is opened up to the third party, in this case newyorktimes.com.

[Slide 6]

[Slide 7]

Open APIs enable social network sites to interoperate with one another, allowing cross-posting or the syndication of messages across multiple platforms simultaneously.

[Slide 8]

They also enable social networks to interoperate with a host of third party developers, giving rise to a developer ecosystem that builds on top of the platform, in a relationship of mutual dependency, adding value and driving traffic to the platform by giving birth . . .

[Slide 9]

to a world of useful and interesting applications including mashups

[Slide 10]

widgets

[Slide 11]

social games

[Slide 12]

desktop and mobile applications such as TweetDeck

[Slide 13]

and social plug-ins or the “like button”

[Slide 14]

Interoperability was a guiding principle of the development of the Internet. One of the founders, Jon Postel, who was religious about interoperability and non discriminatory standardization, spent much time and effort making hacks to achieve interoperability among heterogeneous computer systems.

Interoperability was widely acknowledged to prevent vendor lock-in (or dependency on a single company to provide a product or service), drive innovation, drive competition, and reduce costs.

[Slide 15]

With the adoption of HTML programming language, and introduction of the Mosaic browser as a standard graphical user interface, interoperability became a dominant paradigm in the development of the World Wide Web.

Early Internet companies began tentatively opening their APIs to 3rd parties but limiting the number of calls made, and restricting the amount of data shared – the number of calls will become unlimited and access to data less and less restricted.

Far from a risky business strategy industry leader Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media, in 2002, urged online companies to embrace interoperability in order to achieve market lock-in and coolness.

FB will take O’Reilly up on this challenge to use interoperability to achieve market dominance, and going one further, by using Open APIs to exclude rivals – a common anti-competitive business practice. FB has refused interoperating with Google’s APIs for years, and yet rival search engine Bing enjoys full access to FB’s member information.

[Slide 16]

In contrast to rivals MySpace and Friendster, FB gradually pursued interoperability.

Looking back at the last five years a pattern emerges – with the release of each new API, member data become more portable, with more and more information gathered and open to more spaces online.

FB’s Developer API released in 2006 was the first related to a social network, and enabled a select group of third party programmers to create applications that were seamlessly integrated into Facebook, such as MyMusic, or iRead These applications had access to information that it could solicit, such as members taste in music and books, but also friends, profile information, photos and events

[Slide 17]

FB’s Platform API gave rise to an avalanche of social games and their viral adoption by members, who authorized full access to their profiles as a condition to play. However, it was discovered that even friends of players information was accessed contributing to what the Northern California Chapter of the ACLU dubbed the “App privacy gap.”

The Platform API also enable the development of widgets and mashups.

[Slide 18]

FB Connect API enabled members to logon to third-party sites with their FB identifications, opening up their activity streams to external sites.

[Slide 19]

FB Open Stream opened up member data to external desktop and mobile applications, introducing new categories of information that could be accessed so that these applications could achieve full functionality.

[Slide 20]

But with Open Graph, FB is able to advance on FB co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of the ‘Social Graph” or the ability to share one’s sum total of connections, preferences, and profile information with third-parties, instantaneously.

Open Graph is really a trifecta of connectivity apps, 1) Graph Protocol, 2) Graph API, and . . .

[Slide 21]

With 3) social plugins, or basically the Like button, FB is able to achieve what its most unpopular advertising service Beacon could not. Like Beacon, the recommendation feature allows the tracking of member preferences and recommendations for targeted advertising, but instead of working invisibly under the awareness of its members, this is now achieved on a voluntary basis.

[Slide 22]

Looking back at was was initially shared through Open APIs with a few developers to the present, from Developer to Open Graph, we see that a lot more member information is open to third parties.

This is entirely in keeping with the companies advertising-based revenue model, where the more FB and its partners know about its members, the better it can offer targeted and predictive advertising, and grow its business.

To get perspective on how FB feels about Apps doing this, Zuckerberg reasons that if over 500 million Facebook users can look up information on each other, “Why shouldn’t an application be able to do that to give you an awesome experience too?”

The obvious answer is that apps aren’t friends, advertisers aren’t friends, FB is not a friend.

[Slide 23]

As FB gradually opens up member data over time, it conceals the shady practice of soliciting and monetizing member participation for secondary purposes.

When members do not have knowledge of what information is being gathered and for what purposes, they lose the ability to anticipate the consequences and make informed decisions.

They lose their autonomy – the freedom from interference to make choices and decisions on their own behalf.

[Slide 24]

As online participation is sucked into FB’s gravitational pull through colonizing the Web with Like buttons, directing info-flows to the network, and commodifying participation changing social value into exchange value – attracting advertisers, through network effects – FB achieves lock-in, where people feel dependent on the social network to participate in the main currents of social life.

Which also prevents seeking alternative and noncommercial spaces and forms of sharing.

[Slide 25]

This is why I believe that we need a new model for sharing based on human-centric values and principles, including transparency, privacy, security, user control over their information, even the granular control of what’s shared through Open APIs, and finally not using interoperability to discriminate, even among rivals.

In this way we can move towards opening the social media ecosystem and help establish a more sustainable basis for sharing online.

Thank you.

[Slide 26]

Human Rights in the Digital Age: Course Reflections

June 30, 2010

I‘d like to  share my experience teaching a class I designed and taught this summer, Human Rights in the Digital Age, and discuss how the Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet (draft in progress by IRP experts) will be helpful in future education-advocacy efforts.

I. Format

II. Outcomes

III. Challenges

IV. Things I Would Do Differently

V. Role of the Charter in education/advocacy


I. Format:

The course was offered in an accelerated format taught at the undergraduate level (juniors and seniors, traditional and adult learners), at a small liberal arts college in the Midwest.

You can find syllabus, PowerPoints, and student work on the class wiki ( http://humanrightsindigitalage.pbworks.com/ ). Check out the student paper on HADOPI laws and the Digital Economy Act – “FOX Final.docx” under Research Papers link.

I used the terrific collection Human Rights in the Global Information Society (Jørgensen. Ed. 2006), complimented by newer essays, case studies and examples that highlight the worrying trend of the erosion of human rights online (ACTA, Hadopi, net neutrality challenges, state censorship, privacy violations, copyright culture, sexism, digital colonization, cultural imperialism), and the rising collective civil society efforts to confront these trends at every level.

I basically ran the class as a graduate seminar with panel discussions led by student groups of four providing chapter reviews that covered:

1) the significance of research (often stated as a problem or issue that needs to be addressed),

2) central themes or specific suggestions to address the issues raised

3) implication of results (possible limitations in the chapter, and suggestions for future research)

4) and finally, to pose a discussion question with the entire class as respondents.

So each week students read four chapters – analyzing one in depth – and answered each others’ prompts posted to the class wiki as comments.

I opened and closed classes with short lectures (2 x 20-25 min. per 3 hour class; access to my PowerPoints here: http://bit.ly/cMxHsa ).


II. Outcomes:

-students were very mobilized by the Human Rights framework of looking at the Internet and networked technologies. (The college also offers a service learning trip to the UN in NY every summer to study the Millennium Development Goals). Class was at full capacity – rare for Summer classes – with only one person dropping (18 students).

-students familiarized themselves with the relationships between ICTs and UDHRs, as well as the role of international and national law, regulation and policy

-students gained knowledge that ICTs both upheld and undermined certain rights for certain populations

-students gained an appreciation for the role of civil society and user rights in global information society

-students were encouraged to formulate and express their opinions, to take a stand but also to identify ways that they could go further in engaging these issues (e.g. at the level of advocacy, education, information literacy, awareness raising, and fighting back as users)

-some students were able to make local-global connections around ICT use and Human Rights. One student mentioned that at the College janitors/custodians were refused email accounts by their superior (hand-picked printed announcements were posted on a physical bulletin board). Having an email account provides information about the college, community events, school security issues, building maintenance, and service learning opportunities. Students identified withholding email accounts as a right to information issue, solidifying their resolve to pursue the cause.

-issues that students were particularly receptive to included: Freedom of Expression, Copyright and file sharing networks, Right to Information laws, Internet filtering, privacy on social networks, and defamation, libel, and slander issues including cyberbullying and sexting (though sexting also involves privacy and other rights).


III. Challenges:

Some of the challenges I faced in class fall under two categories, 1) US-Centric standpoints or bias 2) level of complexity (scale and scope) of the topic.

1) US Centric issues include:

-tensions between UN multilateralism vs. state autonomy or unilateralism

-issues of security trumping privacy and freedom of expression

-neoliberal capitalism as the only economic sphere of intelligibility (often raised in discussions of international development)

2) Complex issues that were difficult to cover in the time frame at the undergraduate level:

-the field of Internet Governance

-knowledge about the Internet and ICTs from a stratification or layers approach (basically how the Net works)

-lack of knowledge about theories of development

-lack of knowledge about the history of colonialism, imperialism, and the processes of globalization that contributes to many kinds of inequalities characterized by political, economic, and cultural dominance.

-local-global connections


IV. Things I would do differently:

-assign respondents to panel presentations instead of having the class to respond on a volunteer basis,

-more workshopping and less autonomous presentations,

-workshop UDHR’s relationship to ICTs more in the first class (I assumed too much here)

-provide a more basic introduction to what the Web is and how it works,

-go into more depth about how ICTs are governed, role of IGF, ICANN, intermediaries, ISPs

-provide more about the Political Economy of ICTs including issues of competition and cooperation, and market dominance)


V. How the HR Charter will help immeasurably in classes like this:

-it would be extremely helpful to have available a foundational document that already transposes human rights to the Internet, which can help accelerate comprehension about the relationships between ICTs and HRs

-the normative weight of the Charter would challenge students to reflect on their beliefs, which will help them form opinions through their engagement with strong arguments and unequivocally expressed opinions

-the Charter will help mainstream the interpretation of human rights online, which can help teach any class dealing with ICTs and ethics, human rights, international development, globalization, intercultural communication, political science and critical theory.


Ultimately, the Charter will empower me as an educator by providing a strong advocacy statement and powerful teaching tool (like the Jørgensen collection) that can help inform students about the the role ITCs can play in upholding human rights online and off.

Thank you in advance for any suggestions and/or comments, and I am really looking forward to the Charter.

-r


IGF organizational structure chart and social network visualizations by jclearningobjects.com

November 12, 2009

Picture 2 robertbodle.org/bodle/igf/figure1.html

robertbodle.org/bodle/igf/figure2.html

robertbodle.org/bodle/igf/figure3.html

-to help visualize relational ties used in creating social power within multistakeholder organizations.

Tracking the stratification of Internet and Internet Governance

October 27, 2009

Tracking the stratification of Internet and Internet Governance (just a quick exercise for my own research)

Picture 1

Top Ten Myths About Civil Society Participation in ICANN (condensed)

August 22, 2009

icann-star-wars

Full version here: The Public Voice

From The Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC)

Myth 1
“Civil Society won’t participate in ICANN under NCUC’s charter proposal.”
False. NCUC’s membership includes 143 noncommercial organizations and individuals. Since 2008 NCUC’s membership has increased by more 215% – largely in direct response to civil society’s support for the NCUC charter.

Myth 2
“More civil society groups will get involved if the Board intervenes.”
A complete illusion. Board imposition of its own charter and its refusal to listen to civil society groups will be interpreted as rejection of the many groups that commented and as discrimination against civil society participation. The appointment of representatives by the Board disenfranchises noncommercial groups and individuals.

Myth 3
The outpouring of civil society opposition can be dismissed as the product of a ‘letter writing campaign.’
An outrageous claim. Overwhelming civil society opposition to the SIC charter emerged not once, but twice. No policy or bylaw gives ICANN staff the authority to discount or ignore groups who have taken an interest in the GNSO reforms. ICANN’s attempt to discount critical comments by labeling them a “letter writing campaign” undermines future participation and confidence in ICANN public processes.

Myth 4
“Civil society is divided on the NCSG charter issue.”
Wrong. Board members who rely only on staff-provided information may believe civil society is divided, but Board members who have actually read the public comments can see the solidarity of civil society against what ICANN is trying to impose on them.

Myth 5
“Existing civil society groups are not representative or diverse enough.”
Untrue by any reasonable standard. The current civil society grouping, the Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC), now has 143 members including 73 noncommercial organizations and 70 individuals in 48 countries. This is an increase of more than 215% since the parity principle was established.[1] Noncommercial participation in ICANN is now more diverse than any other constituency, so it is completely unfair to level this charge at NCUC without applying it to others.

Myth 6
“ALAC prefers the ICANN staff drafted charter over the civil society drafted charter.”
False. In fact, the formal statement actually approved by ALAC said that many members of ALAC supported the NCUC proposal and that “the de-linking of Council seats from Constituencies is a very good move in the right direction.”

Myth 7
“The NCUC charter would give the same small group 6 votes instead of 3.”
False. For the past 8 months, NCUC has stated that it will dissolve when the NCSG is formed. It does not make sense to have a “Noncommercial Users Constituency” and a “Noncommercial Stakeholders Group,” as they are synonymous terms. Thus, NCUC leaders would not be in control of a new NCSG – a completely new leadership would be elected.

Myth 8
“NCUC will not share council seats with other noncommercial constituencies.”
Wrong.  Given the diversity and breadth of NCUC’s membership, many different constituencies with competing agendas are likely to form. The organic, bottom-up self-forming approach to constituency formation is much better than the board/staff approach – and more consistent with the BGC recommendations.

Myth 9
“The NCUC wants to take away the Board’s right to approve constituencies.”
False. NCUC’s proposal let the board approve or disapprove of new constituencies formed under its proposed charter.  Our proposal simply offered to apply some simple, objective criteria (e.g., number of applicants) to new constituency groupings and then make a recommendation to the Board.

Myth 10
“The purpose of a constituency is to have your very own GNSO Council Seat.”
False. Some claim GNSO Council seats must be hard-wired to specific constituencies because a constituency is meaningless without a guaranteed GNSO Council representative. However this interpretation fails to understand the role of constituencies in the new GNSO, which is to give a voice and a means of participation in the policy development process — not a guaranteed councilor who has little incentive to reach beyond her constituency and find consensus with other constituencies.

Glossary of ICANN Acronyms

ALAC – At-Large Advisory Committee
ICANN’s At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) is responsible for considering and providing advice on the activities of the ICANN, as they relate to the interests of individual Internet users (the “At-Large” community).

gTLD – Generic Top Level Domain
Most TLDs with three or more characters are referred to as “generic” TLDs, or “gTLDs”. They can be subdivided into two types, “sponsored” TLDs (sTLDs) and “unsponsored TLDs (uTLDs), as described in more detail below.

In the 1980s, seven gTLDs (.com, .edu, .gov, .int, .mil, .net, and .org) were created. Domain names may be registered in three of these (.com, .net, and .org) without restriction; the other four have limited purposes. Over the next twelve years, various discussions occurred concerning additional gTLDs, leading to the selection in November 2000 of seven new TLDs for introduction. These were introduced in 2001 and 2002. Four of the new TLDs (.biz, .info, .name, and .pro) are unsponsored. The other three new TLDs (.aero, .coop, and .museum) are sponsored.

GNSO – Generic Names Supporting Organization
The GNSO is responsible for developing policy recommendations to the ICANN Board that relate to generic top-level domains (gTLDs).
The GNSO is the body of 6 constituencies, as follows: the Commercial and Business constituency, the gTLD Registry constituency, the ISP constituency, the non-commercial constituency, the registrar’s constituency, and the IP constituency.
However, the GNSO is in the process of restructuring away from a framework of 6 constituencies to 4 stakeholder groups: Commercial, Noncommercial, Registrar, Registry. The Noncommercial and Commercial Stakeholder Groups together make up the “Non-contracting Parties House” in the new bi-cameral GNSO; and the Registrar and Registry Stakeholder Groups will together comprise the “Contracting Parties House” in the new GNSO structure (beginning Oct. 2009).

ICANN – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is an internationally organized, non-profit corporation that has responsibility for Internet Protocol (IP) address space allocation, protocol identifier assignment, generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD) Top-Level Domain name system management, and root server system management functions.

NCUC – Noncommercial Users Constituency
The Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC) is the home for noncommercial organizations and individuals in the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO). With real voting power in ICANN policy making and Board selection, it develops and supports positions that protect noncommercial communication and activity on the Internet. NCUC works to promote the public interest in ICANN policy and is the only noncommercial constituency in ICANN’s GSNO (there are 5 commercial constituencies). The NCUC is open to noncommercial organizations and individuals involved in education, community networking, public policy advocacy, development, promotion of the arts, digital rights, children’s welfare, religion, consumer protection, scientific research, human rights and many other areas. NCUC maintains a website at http://ncdnhc.org.

NCSG – Noncommercial Stakeholders Group
The GNSO is in the process of being restructured from “6 constituencies” to “4 stakeholder groups”, including a Noncommercial Stakeholders Group (NCSG) into which all noncommercial organizations and individuals will belong for policy development purposes, including members of the Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC). The NCSG and the Commercial Stakeholder Group (CSG) will together comprise the “Non-contracting Parties House” in the new bicameral GNSO structure beginning October 2009.

Cloud computing can reign in generativity, reducing its subversive potential

July 22, 2009

cloud-computing-kitchen-sinkZittrain OP-ED about a topic I’ve written about recently (waiting for editors to review), applies his generativity argument to reasons why we should worry about the cloud from a development perspective. Issues that we should worry about include privacy, lack of control over our data, and lack of functionality (preventing the freedom to innovate). However, third parties are not mentioned, which pose an increasing privacy risk on sites like Facebook with over 950,000 application developers accessing user data for secondary purposes (see: Facebook needs to improve privacy practices, investigation finds).

The chief worry is that our computing and content will exist in an environment controlled by a cabal of “gated cloud communities,” providing platforms that discriminate against developers, “hindering revolutionary software.” Zittrain’s recommendations for a better cloud environment include: 1) requiring companies, under fair practices law, to allow users to access and erase their digital dossiers 2) requiring companies to adopt more secure communication practices and password protections 3) demanding companies to keep their word about how users can use content sold and accessed online (in the cloud) 4) applying a regulatory requirement – governments or independent judiciaries to demand better safeguards for data held in the cloud 5) provide a “subtle set of incentives . . . tax breaks and liability relief”

Zittrain’s most emphatic point, again, is the generativity argument. Cloud computing environments that are controlled by “mighty incumbents” like Google, Apple, Facebook, are gated. That is, they prevent the freedom to develop applications for these sites and services, thereby control their uses, and reign in the radical potential of ICT innovation. When we fight against poor applications, wonder why there aren’t better ones that perhaps enable more interoperability and more syndication features, its due to a closed “cloud-computing infrastructure” that prevents it.

Image courtesy of http://infreemation.net/cloud-computing-linear-utility-or-complex-ecosystem/

Social media revolution coverage overview

July 11, 2009

image2aRecent appraisals of using social media for social change have been on an accelerated track. Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, etc are claimed to be either aiding or hurting democratic participation and free speech. The pattern of appraisal seems to start with hype, refutation, following with reasoned reassessment. For example, the hype – Thomas Friedman’s “The Virtual Mosque” NYTimes op/ed (June 16), refutation – Jeremy Scahill’s blog post and Tweets taking to task  Friedman’s piece (June 16), and the reassessment – Teharani’s piece in GlobalVoices. Sometimes this pattern can be observed over one person’s responses – i.e. Shirky’s initial excitement over social media as a social force, and his support of Twitter’s use in Iran’s post election demonstrations, and his reversal based on new data (see: Will Heaven’s piece in UK Telegraph). Teharani points out, as do others (Evegeny Morozov and Patronus Analytical), that there could be important limitations to social media use, as well as opportunities. To sum/crib Teharani:

1-Communication tool for reformists leaders Twitter and Facebook along with reformist websites such as Ghlamnews help communicate the decisions of reformist leaders and pass on the message.

2-Closing the gap between Iran and the world Iranian tweets reached thousands around the world and by following and re-tweeting people get involved.

3-Twitter does not organize demonstrations: Reformist leaders and their supporters make decisions to organize protests and they communicate it through different means.

4-Tweets can misinform people: either through reflex/impulse retweets or through malicious infiltration and disinformation (see Patronus Analytical for more on this).

5-Tweeting is recycling news and tips Information pool -most people tweet what they read on websites, and have also shared useful tips and information to help Iranians circumvent internet filtering and censorship.

6-Misunderstanding the sender: Sometimes tweet information form online sources without checking the facts, or without mentioning any references.

7-Activism and agendas: Most Iranians who tweet are activists supporting the protest movement and promoting a cause. Their information should be double-checked and not be accepted at face value.

Another important reassessment is Ted Friedman’s Tweeting the Dialectic of Technological Determinsm , which recognizes and responds to the unmistakeable US hype over Twitter’s social media revolution, attributing it to technological determinism or “a familiar American narrative of technological utopianism, in which hopes for social and political transformation become attached to the promise of new technologies.” Friedman gives a balanced view first looking at the benefits of cyber utopianism, which “momentarily transcend immediate pragmatic concerns” helping imagine new possibilities and a “radically different future.” But he also looks at the dangers of technological utopianism, which can “simply replace military utopianism as a self-serving imperial fantasy;” that democratic change cannot simply happen through military or technological means. The dialectic, then, is to “distinguish cybertopian hopes from the messier reality, without giving short shrift to either.” Well stated.


Ruling in US file-sharing case found insane and unconstitutional

June 20, 2009

riaaRaw Story article reports on Capitol Records v. Thomas-Rasset, the “first file-sharing case to go on trial,” where a Minnesota jury fines woman $1.92 million for sharing 24 songs – $80,000 per song! (Typically individuals targeted by the recording industry settle for around $3k according to BBC). The verdict has been described as “insane” by ZDNet and “unconstitutional” by EFF. Insane because the extremely high amount actually exceeds the $750-30,000 per infringement fine for “willful violation,” ( bound by Title 17, section 504), the evidence for willful violation is weak, the rejected ruling in the first trial was much less ($220k total). And unconstitutional for two reasons: 1) “grossly excessive” punitive damages “violate the Due Process clause of the U.S. Constitution” and 2) excessive damages suggest jury ruled in order to “send a message”  to other users, which violates recent Supreme Court rulings that “a jury may not award statutory damages for the express or implicit purpose of deterring other infringers who are not parties in the case before the court.”

Implications: ZDNet suggests this could bring down RIAA, Ray Beckerman’s blog Recording Industry vs. The People suggests this will make US justices system the laughing stock of the international community, and EFF suggests that claims of unconstitutionality will be presented to the judge in “post-trial” motions, who will hopefully find the case unconstitutional and dismiss it. (Nnot sure about this last point).

At the very least, this will freak many people out (the millions of file sharers out there), destroy the woman who was scapegoated by the recording industry, and perhaps demonstrate to law makers, regulators and the public that new laws, regulations, and user protections are desperately needed to stop future abuse by RIAA and pro-industry  juries coerced by powerful RIAA legal teams.

Filtering PC’s in China, and monitoring the filtering

June 17, 2009
_iceUrlFlag=1EFF reports “The Chinese Ministry of Industry and IT’s announcement that all PCs sold in China must include government-approved filtering software is a profoundly worrying development for online privacy and free speech in that country.”

The software called “Green Dam Youth Escort” would be able to “collect IM and email conversations, install keyloggers, relay microphone and webcam recordings. It could prevent or detect the use of web proxies (the primary method of Chinese citizens seeking an uncensored Internet), and scan for privacy-protecting software like Tor and PGP.”

“Herdict Web” – Berkman Center for Internet and Society’s  tool for “tracking global web (in)accessibility” is now available in Mandarin.

Not sure if this tool will be able to monitor the new filtering by PCs, but if Herdict Web itself is filtered, how will Chinese know what they are not getting access to?