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Berkman Buzz: May 20, 2011

May 20, 2011

A look at the past week's online Berkman conversations

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What's being discussed...take your pick or browse below.

* David Weinberger proposes new defaults for library privacy.
* Media Cloud, "The Russian Media Ecosystem and the Arab Spring"
* Doc Searls wonders aloud about mainstream media's hyperlinking practices.
* Dan Gillmor asks us to raise our linking standards.
* Citizen Media Law Project on the District's Anti-SLAPP Law.
* OpenNet Initiative looks into a case of centralized, automated filtering.
* StopBadware on the security benefits (and drawbacks) of centralized app stores.
* Weekly Global Voices: "Tunisia: Internet Censorship Makes a Comeback"

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The full buzz.

"Without library privacy, individuals might not engage in free and open inquiry for fear that their interactions with the library will be used against them. Library privacy thus establishes libraries as a sanctuary for thought, a safe place in which any idea can be explored. This in turn establishes the institution that sponsors the library — the town, the school, the government — as a believer in the value of free inquiry. This in turn establishes the notion of free, open, fearless inquiry as a social good deserving of support and protection. Thus, the value of library privacy scales seamlessly from the individual to the culture." From David Weinberger's blog post for Hyper-Public Rebooting Library Privacy in the Age of the Network

"It is no secret that the Arab Spring has shaken authoritarian governments not just in the Middle East, but around the world. China has engaged in a severe crackdown on dissent, including imprisoning well-known artist Ai Weiwei, and has also gone so far as to prohibit the sale of Jasmine. But what about Russia, which has left its Internet mostly open but is more similar to China in its repression of offline political action? ...the recent events in Egypt and Tunisia provide a great example of the appearance of an agenda item in the Russian blogosphere that is almost completely absent from official Russian government information channels. The Russian government, it seems, didn’t know what to say, or how to say it." From Bruce Etling's post for Media Cloud, The Russian Media Ecosystem and the Arab Spring

"On the whole, mainstream media have had a passive-aggressive approach to the Web ever since they were first challenged by it, in the mid-’90s. Even now, in 2011, they’re still trying to shove the Web’s genie back in the old ink bottle. They do it with paywalls, with schemes to drag your eyes past pages and pages of advertising, and (perhaps worst of all) by leaving out hyperlinks. Never mind that the hyperlink is a perfect way to practice one of journalism’s prime responsibilities: citing sources. Or, by another verb, attriibuting." From Doc Searls' blog post Why not link to sources?

"In a book a few years ago, I called the worldwide web a 'great autonomous linking machine' – a shoutout to the web's most essential characteristic: hyperlinks. Information creators use them to take people to new places. Information consumers use them to traverse the increasingly blurry boundaries of human knowledge. We all benefit." From Dan Gillmor's post on the Guardian, The web's weakest links

"We're pleased to announce that we have updated the CMLP Legal Guide on the District of Columbia's anti-SLAPP law to incorporate its brand new anti-SLAPP statute that came into effect on March 31, 2011. A SLAPP, or 'Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation,' is a lawsuit filed in retaliation for speaking out on a public issue or controversy. The new D.C. statute falls on the more protective end of the spectrum of anti-SLAPP laws..." From the CMLP blog post Legal Guide Updated With D.C.'s New Anti-SLAPP Law

"I investigated the issue and found out that the website tumblr.com and all blogs hosted by Tumblr are indeed blocked, but interestingly, the decision to block the site was actually made in Canada by the company that provides the filtering technology to the ISPs in Qatar (Qtel), UAE (du), Yemen (Yemennet), and Kuwait (Fasttelco). I checked how Netsweeper currently categorizes the Web site tumblr.com, and found out that it has been categorized/miscategorized as ‘Journals and Blogs’ and as ‘Pornography’. As a result, tumbr.com and all blogs hosted by the service became inaccessible for Internet users in the four countries because ISPs in these countries rely on Netsweeper technology to implement national Internet filtering." From Helmi Noman's blog post for ONI, When a Canadian company decides what citizens in the Middle East can access online

"The other day, the JoshMeister blogged about the Mac App Store and the effect of its approval delays in getting critical security updates to users. [...] As the app store model becomes more popular on both smartphones and PCs, it’s important to explore issues like this. What the JoshMeister doesn’t mention is that centralized app markets can also help encourage users to keep software updated. It’s much easier to have a single marketplace app, once per day or week, say 'here are all the apps that have updates, click to update them all' than to have to manage each app individually. If this encourages users to keep their apps up to date, that’s a positive thing for security." From Maxim Weinstein's blog post for StopBadware, The App Store giveth and the App Store taketh away

"Internet censorship is making a comeback in Tunisia, much to the annoyance of many cyber activists across the country. During the rule of ousted Tunisian president Zein El Abideen Ben Ali, the government exercised a harsh censorship policy by blocking all web pages and websites that criticized the regime, including websites such as those of Al Jazeera, Amnesty International, WikiLeaks, YouTube, Nawaat and DailyMotion, as well as dozens of Facebook pages. On January 13, 2011, Ben Ali addressed the Tunisian people and promised to put an end to Internet censorship, in an attempt to absorb the rage of the masses, especially the youth. Ben Ali kept his promise but it was too late for him to remain in power and, ever since mid-January, Internet users in Tunisia have started to enjoy an unprecedented uncensored web access. Recently, however, the Tunisian Agency of Internet censored four Facebook pages..., following a military order." From Afef Abrougui's blog post for Global Voices Online, Tunisia: Internet Censorship Makes a Comeback

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Compiled by Seth Young.

The Berkman Buzz is selected weekly from the posts of Berkman Center people and projects and sometimes from the Center's wider network.

Suggestions and feedback about the Buzz are always welcome and can be emailed to buzz@cyber.harvard.edu.

Last updated

May 20, 2011