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 Friday, May 26, 2006

Winners of the Prix Ars Electronica 2006, one of the most important awards for creativity and pioneering spirit in the field of digital media, have been announced. The competition called for entries in 7 categories, including a youth competition and a grant for young creative talent:

  • Digital Communities

  • Computer Animation / Visual Effects

  • Digital Music

  • Interactive Art

  • Net Vision

  • u19 – freestyle computing

  • [the next idea] Art and Technology Grant

The 2006 winner for the Digital Communities category was "canal*ACCESSIBLE". Canal Accessible was chosen because it addresses the accessibility or inaccessibility inherent in the topographical surroundings of people who have difficulty walking. The city of Barcelona was taken as an example:  handicapped individuals document the problems they encounter on their way through the city by using images and, in a few cases, sound recordings. This material is posted to the website, and the places at which each one was created are specified on a city map. These locations can then be accessed using a built-in “find” function. ITU's Lara Srivastava was Jury Member for the Digital Communities category, which explores the promotion of the social use of ICTs and the creation of common public goods, the sharing of knowledge, and the narrowing of the digital divide. This category was introduced to the Prix in 2004 by Jury Member Andreas Hirsch and Howard Rheingold. The other Jury members were: Steven Clift (Chairman, e-democracy.org) and Peter Kuthan (Founder, Tonga Online).

The prizes will be awarded at the annual Ars Electronica Festival (31 August - 5 September 2006). More information about the winners can be found here.

Friday, May 26, 2006 11:41:04 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Continued Transition of the Technical Coordination and Management of the Internet Domain Name and Addressing System

SUMMARY: The United States Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) seeks comment on the continuation of the transition of the technical coordination and management of the Internet domain name and addressing system (Internet DNS) to the private sector. In June 1998, the Department issued a statement of policy on the privatization of the Internet DNS, which among other things articulated four primary functions for global Internet DNS coordination and management, the need to have these functions performed by the private sector and four principles to guide the transition to private sector management of the Internet DNS. On June 30, 2005, NTIA released the U.S. Principles on the Internet’s Domain Name and Addressing System further elaborating on these issues. The Department of Commerce seeks comment regarding the progress of this transition and announces a public meeting to be held on July 26, 2006, to discuss issues associated with this transition.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 4:18:10 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, May 23, 2006

On 1-2 June 2006 the ITU Strategy and Policy Unit (SPU) in collaboration with London Business School (LBS) will hold a joint conference on the measurement of ICTs and the macro-, micro- and meso-impact of ICTs in the Information Society.

The conference will explore the impact of ICTs in industry, firms, growth and productivity. What is the real meaning of the digital divide? Can investment in ICTs help to reduce the productivity gap? Are countries really at a disadvantage through falling behind in take-up of ICTs?

For more details on this event please click here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 6:02:48 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, May 22, 2006

This brochure summarizes the results of a workshop on Tomorrow’s Networks Today, held in Saint Vincent (Aosta), Italy from 7 to 8 October 2005. It was prepared by Cristina Bueti and Marco Obiso on the basis of specially prepared case studies, input documents and contributions to the workshop. The enclosed CD-Rom contains the background materials and documents of the workshop as well as a wide range of background resources related to tomorrow’s networks.

More information can be found here.

Click here to buy the brochure.

Monday, May 22, 2006 4:52:02 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

ITU has just released its new statistics on global broadband penetration per 100 inhabitants as of 1 January 2006. Iceland has taken over as this year's leader from Korea with Netherlands, Denmark and Hong Kong, China rounding out the top five.

Monday, May 22, 2006 1:12:02 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The US Department of Commerce has announced that it intends to renew the IANA contract for up to 5 years with ICANN. Also see this Washington Post article and the official presolicitation notice.

Monday, May 22, 2006 11:26:07 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The April MessageLabs Intelligence Report includes analysis of the threat landscape during the first quarter of 2006. Overall, threat levels remained largely stable with previous months, with the U.S. continuing to play the role as the largest source of malware, spam and phishing attacks, hosting 18.1 percent of the world’s compromised (zombie) computers in the first quarter of 2006 (down from a high of 44 percent in Q2 05).

More information can be found here.

Monday, May 22, 2006 11:22:20 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Take Back the Net is an initiative of The Institute for Spam and Internet Public Policy (ISIPP). ISIPP is committed to helping to rid the Internet of spam and other illegal activities, and to helping people to secure their computers. Thanks to Suresh Ramasubramanian for the pointer.

Monday, May 22, 2006 11:13:41 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Use the Internet at home and you have a 1-in-3 chance of suffering computer damage, financial loss, or both because of a computer virus or spyware that sneaks onto your computer. That's one of the unsettling conclusions from the 2005 Consumer Reports State of the Net survey of online consumers.

More information can be found here.

Monday, May 22, 2006 9:29:46 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, May 19, 2006

On 17 May, World Information Society Day, ITU together with other partners (including UNCTAD and the KADO) launched a new series of reports entitled World Information Society Report. The summary of the report is available on the website at www.itu.int/wisr. The report itself will be published in June 2006.

The partners involved have created the Digital Opportunity Index (DOI) to measure digital opportunity for 180 economies. It is a composite index created from a set of eleven internationally agreed core ICT indicators (established by the Partnership on Measurement of the Information Society). The DOI has a flexible and versatile structure, based on three categories: opportunity, infrastructure and utilization.  This classification is intended to help policy-makers in determining where countries are strong and weak in order to focus attention on priority areas. The top ten economies for Digital Opportunity are shown below on the left with Korea and Japan leading the rankings. The top major gainers in the DOI during the period 2001-2005 is shown on the right with India and China leading with the most gains. The rankings of all measured economies is shown on page 17 of the World Information Society Report summary.

  

Friday, May 19, 2006 2:59:07 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, May 18, 2006

Bruce Schneier's Schneier on Security points to an article explaining the steps that someone has taken to deal with identity theft.

Thursday, May 18, 2006 10:01:54 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

In a press release today, ITU announced a global opinion survey to assess trust of online transactions and awareness of cybersecurity measures. The survey was conducted by ITU in conjunction with World Telecommunication Day, celebrated on 17 May to commemorate the founding of ITU in 1865. The theme chosen this year — Promoting Global Cybersecurity — aims to highlight the serious challenges of ensuring the safety and security of networked information and communication systems.

The announcement of the results of the survey coincides with the launch of an ITU Cybersecurity Gateway portal. The portal is a global online reference source of national cybersecurity initiatives and websites around the world and provides an integrated platform for sharing cybersecurity related information and resources. Presenting information tailored to four specific audiences: citizens, businesses, governments, and international organizations, the portal also provides information resources on topical cybersecurity concerns such as spam, spyware, phishing, scams and frauds, worms and viruses, denial of service attacks, etc.

With thousands of links to relevant materials, ITU intends to constantly update the portal with information on cybersecurity initiatives and resources gathered from contributors around the globe. For example, a number of countries are now ramping up national critical information infrastructure protection (CIIP) programmes and sharing information on these initiatives through the portal can assist both developed and developing economies in promoting global cybersecurity.

These efforts highlight work being carried out as follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Action line C5 dealing with "Building confidence and security in the use of ICT", for which ITU is the facilitator/moderator.

Update: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has made the following statement in conjunction with World Telecommunication Day giving his perspectives on promoting global cybersecurity.

Thursday, May 18, 2006 9:52:04 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

17 May 2006 On 17 May, World Information Society Day, ITU together with other partners (including UNCTAD and the KADO) launched a new series of reports entitled World Information Society Reports. It is intended to be an annual report, tracking progress in implementing the outcomes from the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). The reports will include a new benchmarking tool, the Digital Opportunity Index, which is a composite index for measurement of the information society, endorsed by the Tunis Phase of the WSIS. The summary of the report is available on the website at www.itu.int/wisr. The report itself will be published in June 2006.

Thursday, May 18, 2006 11:46:46 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Filipino telecoms watchdog, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), says it will revoke the mobile licence of any operator found guilty of breaking its guidelines on unsolicited broadcast messaging via SMS. The amended rules and regulations also require content providers – alleged to have sent out spam promos to subscribers – to register with the NTC.

This will serve as the basis of an application with the Department of Trade and Industry that grants permits to allow companies to advertise promos. Mobile phone operators and content providers risk being blacklisted if found guilty of violating the agency’s rules.

More information can be found here.

The Draft Amendement to the Rules and Regulations on Broadcast Messaging Service is available here.

Thursday, May 18, 2006 9:20:12 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, May 17, 2006

UN Press Release: The United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today established an Advisory Group to assist him in convening the Internet Governance Forum, a new forum for a multi-stakeholder dialogue on Internet governance.  The Group includes 46 members from Government, the private sector and civil society, including the academic and technical communities, who represent all regions of the world (see list below).  It is chaired by Nitin Desai, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), who may also select special advisers to assist him.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 9:56:38 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on RFID, with a view to developing a coherent RFID Policy for Europe. In order to prepare for the consultation, the Commission is organizing a series of workshops (5) between March and June 2006, in which experts and stakeholders from all over Europe and the world come together to debate the key issues.

ITU's Lara Srivastava spoke at the first workshop (6-7 March 2006), and also at the third workshop in the series held 16-17 May 2006 on "RFID Security, Data Protection & Privacy, Health and Safety Issues" (see the presentation here). The Policy Framework Paper written by the Commission in advance of the meeting highlighted the vision of the ITU's 2006 Internet Report on "The Internet of Things" released in November 2005.

Two more workshops are planned in early June, after which the Commission will open up the debate for a wider on-line public consultation, resulting in a Communication on RFID to be issued later this year.

For more information, including webcasts, see the European Commission RFID Consultation Website.

 

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 4:53:53 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Bill St. Arnaud on the Canarie mailing list points to an interesting paper entitled The Ongoing Evolution from Packet Based Networks to Hybrid Networks in Research & Education Networks (Word). The paper references a number of the standardization activities on optical transport networks taking place in the ITU-T's Study Group 15.

Abstract:

The ongoing evolution from packet based networks to hybrid networks in Research & Education (R&E) networks, or what are the fundamental reasons behind this fundamental paradygm shift and the resulting growing gap between commercial and R&E Internet networks?

As exemplified by the Internet2 HOPI initiative, the new GEANT2 backbone, the GLIF  initiative and projects such as Dragon and Ultralight, National Research and Education Network (NREN) infrastructures are undergoing several very fundamental evolutions moving from conventional Packet based Internet networks to Hybrid networks while also moving from commercial Telecom Operator networks to Customer Empowered, dark fiber based, networks.

By hybrid networks, we mean the combination of conventional packet based Internet networks coupled with the capability to dynamically establish high speed End-to-end circuits, i.e. Bandwidth on Demand (BoD), also referred to sometimes as "lambda Grids",

This paper is attempting to explain the fundamental reasons behind this very significant paradygm shift and to assess its likely impact on National R&E, while also giving a very brief overview on what next generation Optical Transport Networks (OTN) may look like in a few years time with the advent of Ethernet over SONET/SDH (EoS), Generic Framing Procedures (GFP), Virtual Concatenation (VCAT) and Link Capacity Adjustment Scheme (LCAS).

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 11:22:20 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The World Information Society Day ceremony is being webcast live (audio and video) in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish by ITU's internet broadcasting service. The related press release is available here.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 10:10:17 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

17 May 2006 A global opinion survey to assess trust of online transactions and awareness of cybersecurity measures was conducted by ITU in conjunction with World Telecommunication Day, celebrated on 17 May to commemorate the founding of ITU in 1865. The theme chosen this year - Promoting Global Cybersecurity - aims to highlight the serious challenges of ensuring the safety and security of networked information and communication systems.

The announcement of the results of the survey coincides with the launch of an ITU Cybersecurity Gateway portal. These efforts also highlight work being carried out as follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Action line C5 dealing with "Building confidence and security in the use of ICT", for which ITU is the facilitator/moderator.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 9:59:38 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) and Extensible Access Control Markup Language (XACML) authored by OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) have been consented as internationally recognised ITU-T Recommendations. The announcement is the first result of the formal relationship between the standardization sector of ITU and OASIS.

The standards (ITU-T Recommendations X.1141 (SAML) and X.1142 (XACML)) address the concern of how to allow safe single sign-on, a system that enables a user to authenticate once and gain access to the resources of multiple software systems. While solutions existed in this space, all were proprietary, and therefore not addressing the problem on a global level.

SAML and XACML are designed to control access to devices and applications on a network. The need for standards in this area has become more of an issue as business networks increasingly use the public Internet.

SAML addresses authentication and provides a mechanism for transferring authentication and authorization decisions between cooperating entities, XACML leverages this information to determine access to resources by focusing on the mechanism for arriving at those authorization decisions.

An additional feature of SAML is that it allows organizations to communicate information without any change to their own internal security architectures.

[via ITU-T Newslog]
Thursday, May 11, 2006 11:07:57 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Cooperative Domain Service (CoDoNS) by Venugopalan Ramasubramanian and Emin Gün Sirer.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006 4:53:29 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, May 09, 2006

ITU Press Release: First World Information Society Day focuses on WSIS implementation & ITU World Information Society Award presented to President Wade of Senegal and Professor Yunus of Bangladesh

Geneva, 9 May 2006 — The first World Information Society Day will be commemorated on 17 May 2006 to mark the inception of the International Telecommunication Union in 1865, over 140 years ago.

On this important occasion, the first ITU World Information Society Award will be presented to two distinguished and eminent personalities whose outstanding personal contributions have furthered the cause of building a more inclusive and equitable Information Society and helped close the digital divide. The inaugural ITU Award will be given to President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal and Professor Muhammad Yunus, Managing Director of Grameen Bank, Bangladesh.

The award ceremony will begin at 11h00 on 17 May 2006 at the International Conference Centre Geneva (CICG). There will be an opportunity after the ceremony for the laureates to meet the press.

For more information, see here.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006 11:58:52 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Workshop: Optimization Technologies for Low-Bandwidth Networks, ICTP Workshop, Trieste, Italy, 9 - 20 October 2006:

Bandwidth in developing countries can be so expensive that some universities cannot afford speeds equivalent to the average Western household with ADSL connection. The reasons for this situation include: Internet access available only via satellite connections and lack of communications infrastructure in many remote areas. Bandwidth and computing equipment are expensive as a result of weak currencies, high transport costs, small budgets and high tariffs. Universities cannot afford a decent link, or in some cases still do not see its value or are unaware of existing alternatives. By applying optimization techniques based on Open Source technologies, effectiveness of available connections can be highly improved.

The Workshop will provide information and practical training on how to gain the maximum benefit from existing connections to the Internet, exposing participants to the latest techniques to optimise the use of low-bandwidth network connections.

The Workshop will consist of theoretical lectures, laboratory hands-on sessions and demos. Linux will be used as primary O.S. Case Studies by Participants are also welcome, describing their computing and networking environment and connectivity related problems, issues on content delivery, etc.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006 10:21:33 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mobile Industry Outlook 2006, a new 180-page report from Informa Telecoms & Media answers the most significant questions facing today's mobile operators, equipment vendors and handset vendors as they seek to plan their strategy in 2006.

The report is available here.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006 10:20:59 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Now underway is the ITU/UNESCO Global Symposium on Promoting the Multilingual Internet which is a follow-up to Phase 2 of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). The Tunis Agenda for the Information Society, adopted at the Tunis Phase of WSIS, highlights the importance of multilingualism for bridging the digital divide. It identifies ITU as taking the lead role in the implementation of information and communication infrastructure (WSIS Tunis Agenda Action Line C2), ITU/UNESCO for access to information and knowledge (WSIS Tunis Agenda Action Line C3), and UNESCO for cultural diversity and identity, linguistic diversity and local content (WSIS Tunis Agenda Action Line C8).

The event is being audiocast live in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. The programme is available here and contains links to all the presentations and speaker biographies.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006 9:59:55 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, May 05, 2006

3 Italia has launched Walk TV, the first digital TV mobile broadcast using DVB-H technology in Europe. Programming will initially consist of channels from state broadcaster RAI, Mediaset and News Corp unit Sky Italia. And in June, the TV services will expand to include 3 Italia's own La3-branded channels, and World Cup soccer action, for which 3 Italia has bought the DVB-H Italian territory rights.

The 3 Italia DVB-H service reaches 65% of Italy's population and customers will need specific handsets to access the content.

More information can be found here.

Friday, May 05, 2006 8:58:25 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Singapore’s mobile users – 99.8% of Singapore’s population, according to the Infocomm Development Authority’s (IDA) February 2006 stats – will have more protection against mobile spam in the future. IDA has put its foot down on this issue, warning of “swift enforcement” of penalties should mobile operators continue to fail to resolve mobile spam issues satisfactorily.

A strong warning letter was sent to SingTel, StarHub and M1, the three mobile operators in Singapore. In addition, IDA decided to make an example of errant content operator mTouche in the highly publicized mTouche spam case. Between 30th January to 5th February this year, 300,000 mobile end users were billed S$1 for unsolicited SMSes sent by mTouche through the three telcos.

More information can be found here.

Friday, May 05, 2006 11:26:40 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

China has introduced regulations that make it illegal to run an email server without a licence. The new rules, which came into force two weeks ago, mean that most companies running their own email servers in China are now breaking the law. The new email licensing clause is just a small part of a new anti-spam law formulated by China's Ministry of Information Industry (MII).

The impact on corporate email servers, which are commonly used by companies with more than a handful of employees, appears to have gone unnoticed until now. However, Singapore-based technology consultant, James Seng, who first drew attention to the new email licence requirement, believes the inclusion of the prohibition on mail servers is no accident.

More information can be found here.

Friday, May 05, 2006 11:21:35 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

NetWizard's Blog points to the publishing of RFCs for authentication proposals Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and Sender-ID:

Friday, May 05, 2006 9:09:07 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A new mobile phone payment system has been launched in has been launched in the U.K. and Germany. LUUP (called LUUPAY in Germany) allows consumers to use their mobile phone like a wallet to shop with retailers or send and receive money on a person-to-person basis - with cash, debit/credit card and bank account functions built-in. 

Friday, May 05, 2006 9:00:16 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, May 04, 2006

The "Survey on Industry Measures taken to comply with National Measures implementing Provisions of the Regulatory Framework for Electronic Communications relating to the Security of Services" conducted by the Technical Department of ENISA, Section Security Policies is available here.

Thursday, May 04, 2006 1:33:00 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The US Federal Communications Commission today adopted a Second Report and Order and Memorandum Opinion and Order (Order) that addresses several issues regarding implementation of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), enacted in 1994. Among other things, the Order affirms that the CALEA compliance deadline for facilities-based broadband Internet access and interconnected VoIP services will be May 14, 2007, as established by the First Report and Order in this proceeding. The Order concludes that this deadline gives providers of these services sufficient time to develop compliance solutions, and notes that standards developments for these services are already well underway. Further details and background are available in the FCC news release and statement by individual FCC commissioners:

Thursday, May 04, 2006 12:05:23 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

At a recent Study Group 17 (SG17) meeting in Korea, SG17 gave final approval to a Question on Internationalized Domain Names (IDN) that provides direction and focus to ongoing work.

The news comes as ITU makes final preparations for the Global Symposium on Promoting the Multilingual Internet, it is convening together with UNESCO, 9-11 May 2006.

ITU-T was mandated to work on IDN at the 2004 World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly in Brazil. IDN will contribute to easier and greater use of the Internet in those countries where the native or official languages are not represented in ASCII characters.

Andrzej Bartosiewicz, representing Poland and acting as Rapporteur for IDNs said: “We have received a number of contributions in this area and have been impressed with the level of interest and the productive nature of discussions. There are a number of organizations working in the field and I believe coordination will be an important focus of any work. The upcoming workshop will be a particularly useful tool for facilitating networking between experts in the field and furthering the study in general.”

Bartosiewicz said that a webpage will be published shortly with news on ITU-T study in the area, as well as related events and technical documents. An official 'circular letter' will be sent sent to Member States he said, requesting information about their experiences on the use of IDN. Given the response to this communication SG 17 will be able to better assess the current situation and needs.

[via the ITU-T Newslog]

Thursday, May 04, 2006 10:49:55 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, May 03, 2006

ITWeek has an article What makes IPTV such a big deal? that focuses on the recent establishment of the ITU-T IPTV Focus Group.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006 9:19:17 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

"As the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) prepares to celebrate this year's World Telecommunication Day, Nigerian experts on information communications technology, mobile telecommunication firms and industry regulators will converge in Abuja to brainstorm on the strides the nation had taken in the sector over the last couple of years and take stock on the level at which the government and the citizenry have embraced the new technologies as a tool for economic and social development."

"In keeping with the theme of this year's celebration - 'Promoting Global Cybersecurity'- an international symposium has been scheduled to held (in Abuja) where issues such as internet governance, financing of ICT development and universal access to the information superhighway will be discussed."

"Experts and technocrats will also compare notes on the theories and realities of Information Communication Technology in terms of achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Nigeria. The symposium is also expected to explore avenues of strengthening bilateral and multilateral development and economic cooperation for ICT expansion in Nigeria."

For the full story featured in This Day Online  and shared through All Africa.com, click here.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006 7:27:20 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom by Yochai Benkler, Yale University Press.

Information, knowledge, and culture are central to human freedom and human development. How they are produced and exchanged in our society critically affects the way we see the state of the world as it is and might be; who decides these questions; and how we, as societies and polities, come to understand what can and ought to be done. For more than 150 years, modern complex democracies have depended in large measure on an industrial information economy for these basic functions. In the past decade and a half, we have begun to see a radical change in the organization of information production. Enabled by technological change, we are beginning to see a series of economic, social, and cultural adaptations that make possible a radical transformation of how we make the information environment we occupy as autonomous individuals, citizens, and members of cultural and social groups. It seems passé today to speak of "the Internet revolution." In some academic circles, it is positively naïve. But it should not be. The change brought about by the networked information environment is deep. It is structural. It goes to the very foundations of how liberal markets and liberal democracies have coevolved for almost two centuries.

A series of changes in the technologies, economic organization, and social practices of production in this environment has created new opportunities for how we make and exchange information, knowledge, and culture. These changes have increased the role of nonmarket and nonproprietary production, both by individuals alone and by cooperative efforts in a wide range of loosely or tightly woven collaborations. These newly emerging practices have seen remarkable success in areas as diverse as software development and investigative reporting, avant-garde video and multiplayer online games. Together, they hint at the emergence of a new information environment, one in which individuals are free to take a more active role than was possible in the industrial information economy of the twentieth century. This new freedom holds great practical promise: as a dimension of individual freedom; as a platform for better democratic participation; as a medium to foster a more critical and self-reflective culture; and, in an increasingly information dependent global economy, as a mechanism to achieve improvements in human development everywhere.

The rise of greater scope for individual and cooperative nonmarket production of information and culture, however, threatens the incumbents of the industrial information economy. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, we find ourselves in the midst of a battle over the institutional ecology of the digital environment. A wide range of laws and institutions—from broad areas like telecommunications, copyright, or international trade regulation, to minutiae like the rules for registering domain names or whether digital television receivers will be required by law to recognize a particular code—are being tugged and warped in efforts to tilt the playing field toward one way of doing things or the other. How these battles turn out over the next decade or so will likely have a significant effect on how we come to know what is going on in the world we occupy, and to what extent and in what forms we will be able—as autonomous individuals, as citizens, and as participants in cultures and communities—to affect how we and others see the world as it is and as it might be.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006 11:55:26 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |