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~ Archive for international ~

Holiday giving : One Laptop per Child and Geek


In moments of respite, I have enjoyed the influx of new interest in OLPC from communities of all sorts this month as our Give 1 Get 1 program has rolled out.  The interest has grown steadily over the past 10 days, from individuals, families, schools and larger groups; and the program is now continuing through the end of the year.

I will try to capture some of the specific ideas and hopes of contributing groups next month, since what they want most of all is to make a difference and to find others doing the same; and since not everyone is keen on writing up their giving and mentoring ideas on a publicly-editable website… If you have questions of your own, or posts to share, you are welcome to include them here or there.  (If you are keen on posting here anything about the long now we are living, and missed my post from years back explaining how to do that, let me know and I can post for you or get you an account.)


Bloggership ; Wikimania volunteering


Two things:

Bloggership is going on right now; the web of scholarship, libel on blogs, and the predominance of blog discourse in shaping legal and other discussions.

And we’re having a pizza-laden Wikimania presentation today at 5pm at Berkman; come get a sneak peek of the new conference site and banners, and find out about the list of open tasks for the summer.

Wikimania Call for Participation, website


Wikimania 2006, August 4-6 2006, Cambridge MA :

Submit workshops, tutorials, and presentations for the 2nd annual Wikimedia Conference!  Present to hundreds of Wikimedians and collaboration enthusiasts from around the world   The earliest submission deadline is this Saturday;  See the full Call for Participation on the new conference website

It will be a fabulous event; not your usual conference.  Whether or not you have something to present, I hope you can join us. 



I was browsing for a quick quote, so it took me a while to realize I had discovered a bulletin board for serial transcription of English video….  incredible.

Wikipedia temp-blocked in Pakistan?


Wikipedia was reportedly temporarily blocked by three ISPs in Pakistan today.  I don’t quite understand what this court order is suporting such actions, or why they might have reversed the block so quickly (it’s unblocked now); and hope for a more detailed confirmation from someone in the know.

China’s still blocking WP.  Someone claimed that Burma is as well; is this so?  And has Iran ever blocked it?  Sadly, I don’t know the answer.  This last part should be fixed.  



I’ve been running into a bumper crop of Marxists recently.  So when I saw an ‘encyclopedia’ page about how society works leading off a section with “It should be clear that the dominant institution of our society is capitalism“, even though the page as a whole is clearly young and hastily written, I felt a familiar rant coming on.

First of all, society doesn’t have “a
dominant institution.  And institutions of family, of civil society and
the existence of government, are vastly more pervasive and dominant
than the various religious, economic, and legal institutions.

Second, I hate to see fundamental innovations get locked into
early implementations. “Capitalism” isn’t a single institution. 
Neither the set of general philosophies that have used that title, nor
the various implementations, are ideal or even consistent over time. 
(That’s true of many high-profile one-word abstractions.)  The writer
above goes on to say ‘capitalism rewards maximizing short-term profit’
— no, it doesn’t.  The pursuit and reward of short-term profits is one
of those other institutions built into the fabric of modern society.

Rant over, man, rant over.  Now
for balance I should indulge a rant about the inadequacy of ‘ideal’
markets, and the complacency of those who feel they are the only
framework needed to scale discussions, comparisons, and decision making
from two neighbors inconversation to a networked billion-person

`SMSI – beginning with a bang


First trial : see how many people can fit into 4,000 seats… the
opening session was quiet, packed, and not at all sensational. 
The audience was too large for them to carry out their desired
badge-check (getting thousands of people in and out of a two-door
badge-checking bottleneck in half an hour : difficult in New York with
a little planning; impossible in Tunis on a moment’s notice), so
despite not having found the place to pick up my pass, I was able to
stay for it.

presentation by Tunisia’s President Ben Ali would be replayed over the
course of the week, on national television, and on the TVs embedded in
buses to and from the Kram Palexpo hosting SMSI/WSIS, hundreds of
times. By the time I had been in Tunis four days, I was so used to the
inclusion of Ben Ali’s face in every publication and many
establishments, I no longer noticed it. 

The most sensational content was understated and between the lines;
presenters commenting on how ‘certain countries’ attending the summit
disrespect the rights of their citizens – particularly those who disagree with the administration; and on the
holding of strawman elections
in countries where political expression is censored.  Noone from
Tunisia responded to any of these comments, and it is the kind of
subject that one enters into with local residents at great social peril
(I feel certain that this is a social nuance exaggerated by proximity to
central Tunis).  I almost ended up at a gathering of the local
human rights group today, which would have been fascinating — if only
because I might have gotten sincere responses to simple questions about
life here.

How to hold really big fundraisers


Step 1 : Throw a party.

Step 2 : Make it really, really big.  10,000 people?  Almost there.

Step 3 : Don’t hold back.  Invite everyone;  make it a spectacle of an event. 

Step 4 : Only ask for 1/3 of the total cost of the event from the world
at large.  If this doesn’t come to a few million dollars, you’ve
done something wrong.

Step 5 : Put up a nice progress bar on your website to show people how well fundraising is going.

I guess it helps if you’re a major international body working towards the peaceful betterment of mankind. 

WSIS I reflections

Boston to host Wikimania 2006, after close contest



On Saturday, Boston was
chosen by an 11-person jury to be the host city for next summer’s Wikimedia
conference (aka Wikimania
).  The week-long event on global
collaboration and free knowledge is being sponsored primarily by HLS’s
Berkman Center for
Internet & Society
.   Over 50
speakers and 600 attendees from around the planet are expected to
attend – an energetic mix of Wikimedia contributors;
wiki maintainers and developers; academic researchers in law,
technology, and sociology; and librarians, educators, and

You can see part of last year’s program and
schedule on the old Wikimania
.  This year will be even more amazing; to help out, sign up on our volunteer page.

The decision followed a month-long bid
that culminated in a deadlocked jury and a week of
The two finalist bids, for Boston
and Toronto,
were both so strong that a jury vote earlier this month was
inconclusive.  After asking for more information from both
bids and from
the global Wikimedia community, a second vote this past weekend was
54 in favor of Boston,
with 2 abstentions.

The Toronto bid
included a generous offer of from the University of Toronto’s

Knowledge Media Design
, including free use of their new Bahen Centre for Information Technology,
and was supported by an impressive local team.  

The Boston bid is
supported by its own local team; by the Berkman
Center (offering space, funding
and enthusiasm); by the MIT Media
‘s electronic
group (offering to host part of the event); and by
many smaller local
of the Boston event in various ways.

Awesome Geomap integration with WP


Care of a German-Korean collaboration. You can add items to a map layer,
have resulting content stored in the db associated with WP articles,
and have tags show up on the map with the article’s name. Then you can
add/remove these items by layer…)

Click on the map to see the layered world-map itself.

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