Tendências emergentes, factos e dados reveladores da evolução dos media, cultura, economia e sociedade. Impacto social, económico e cultural da tecnologia.


quinta-feira, março 31, 2005

Fear of technology

IT MAKES planes fall from the sky! It causes explosions at petrol stations! It gives you cancer! It helps terrorists! What is this terrible device? Why, the mobile phone of course, which is simultaneously the most successful digital device on the planet (1.7 billion users and counting) and the origin of all sorts of myths and scare stories.
On the face of it, there is a contradiction here: mobile phones are ubiquitous and indispensable, yet they have also given rise to a curious bundle of safety fears. But it is, in fact, quite normal for successful technologies to cause concern when they are first introduced. In the 19th century, people worried that telegraph wires were affecting the weather, or were a form of black magic. Trains were thought to cause nervous disorders. More recently, people have worried about the health effects of overhead power lines, microwave ovens and radiation from computer monitors—though years of research have failed to find evidence of harm. So the reaction to mobile phones is merely the latest example of a familiar pattern.
As new technologies emerge and the pattern repeats itself, two things are worth bearing in mind. The first is that even when a technology is perfectly safe, the nature of scientific proof makes it impossible to verify. It is only possible to look for evidence of harm, and if none is found, there either is no harm, or it is necessary to look for it in a different way. Evidence that mobile phones are dangerous could still emerge, but so far they would seem to be safe.


quarta-feira, março 30, 2005

O Modelo EBay aplicado aos serviços financeiros ?

"Zopa, which counts Benchmark Capital, the same firm that funded eBay, among its backers, is taking a variant of the auction site's business model and applying it to put people who want to lend in touch with credit-worthy people who want to borrow."

Wired News:

Study highlights global decline

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment was drawn up by 1,300 researchers from 95 nations over a period of four years.
It reports that humans have changed most ecosystems beyond recognition in a dramatically short space of time.
The way society has sourced its food, fresh water, timber, fibre and fuel over the past 50 years has seriously degraded the environment, the assessment (MA) concludes.
The current state of affairs is likely to be a road block to the Millennium Development Goals agreed to by world leaders at the United Nations in 2000, it says.
"Any progress achieved in addressing the goals of poverty and hunger eradication, improved health, and environmental protection is unlikely to be sustained if most of the ecosystem 'services' on which humanity relies continue to be degraded," the report states.
The MA is slightly different to all previous environmental reports in that it defines ecosystems in terms of the "services", or benefits, that people get from them - timber for building; clean air to breathe; fish for food; fibres to make clothes.
More land was converted to agriculture since 1945 than in the 18th and 19th Centuries combined. More than half of all the synthetic nitrogen fertilisers - first made in 1913 - ever used on the planet were deployed after 1985.
The MA authors say the pressure for resources has resulted in a substantial and largely irreversible loss in diversity of life on Earth, with some 10-30% of the mammal, bird and amphibian species currently threatened with extinction.
They report only four ecosystem "services" have been enhanced in the last 50 years: increases in crop, livestock and aquaculture production, and increased carbon sequestration for global climate regulation.
Two services - fisheries and fresh water - are now well beyond levels that can sustain current, much less future, demands. The experts warn these problems will substantially diminish the benefits for future generations.
The assessment runs to 2,500 pages and is intended to inform global policy initiatives. It says changes in consumption patterns, better education, new technologies and higher prices for exploiting ecosystems could all help slow the damage being done to the planet.
The MA has cost some $20m to put together. It was funded by the Global Environment Facility, the United Nations Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the World Bank and others.
"This report is essentially an audit of nature's economy, and the audit shows we've driven most of the accounts into the red," commented Jonathan Lash, the president of the World resources Institute.
"If you drive the economy into the red, ultimately there are significant consequences for our capacity to achieve our dreams in terms of poverty reduction and prosperity."


Video on demand has replaced Internet appliance and social networking as the buzzword concept among consumer start-ups

Video on demand has replaced Internet appliance and social networking as the buzzword concept among consumer start-ups. Some, such as EZTakes, hope to deliver movies to the home over broadband networks that can be burned to DVDs. Others, such as ObjectCube, are already delivering adult content in this manner. The company is specializing in adult content largely because major studios remain skittish about Internet downloads.
History says some of these companies may make it, while many will perish.
Brightcove's plan is to create an entertainment distribution portal for artists such as Brian Taylor, a self-taught graphic artist in Scotland who created the Rustboy cartoon. Warren Miller, who directs ski movies that get shown in municipal auditoriums, also fits the profile of a Brightcove director. Allaire didn't say that Taylor or Miller would participate in the service, but he showed off their films during a demonstration of the technology at the conference.
Directors will sell their sell their movies on Brightcove's site, which will also leverage community input to determine what to host there. Consumers will likely be able to buy single films or subscriptions to the films from directors on the site and then watch them on a TV or PC.
Is there a market for obscure content? While people differ in their opinions on that subject, Allaire asserts that at least there is a huge quantity of it. Brightcove, he acknowledges, will also have to patrol its site for movies of questionable taste and those that raise problematic legal issues. A home movie of someone chopping off a finger probably won't make it onto the site.
The emphasis on unknown artists is also a reflection of the difficulties involved in getting deals with studios and cable operators.
CNET News.com

terça-feira, março 29, 2005

Porn on mobiles rings up $400m

"In 2010 we estimate that expenditure on mobile adult content will represent just five per cent of total end-user spend on mobile content services," said analyst Nitesh Patel.
"We expect services that are built around sports, music and media to perform better, because they appeal to a wider audience of users," he added. In addition, there is value in offering news bulletins or a recently scored goal on a mobile screen.
Still, the $5bn in porn revenues by 2010 is $4bn more than Strategy Analytics had forecast until recently. It has upgraded its estimates, because adult entertainment businesses are aggressively building services, and customers are buying.
Playboy and rival Private Media Group have geared up their offerings, and many mobile phone makers are busy implementing strategies to make sure no subscribers aged under 18 years will be able to access X-rated services.
In addition, one in every two phones sold in 2005 had bright colour screens, which will rise to four out of five by 2010.
In the meantime, anecdotal evidence from countries that have a technological edge shows interest from consumers. South Korea's SK Telecom said in late 2003 that 23 per cent of the traffic over its higher-speed mobile network was adult content.

The European Commission this week adopted an opinion on the ethical aspects of ICT implants in the human body

"Efforts should be made to make sure that such ICT implants are not used to create a two-class society," the EC said. "Access to ICT implants for enhancement should only be for the purpose of bringing children or adults into the 'normal' range for the population... A second permissible purpose would be to improve health prospects, such as enhancing the immune system to be resistant to HIV, for example."
What, however, is not acceptable is using such implants to track individuals or to discover data about them.
"ICT implants due to their network capability could be misused in several ways for all kinds of social surveillance or manipulation... In some cases, the implantation of microchips with the potential for individual and social forms of control is already taking place.
"The EGE stresses the importance that not only the individual has the right to protect his or her own personal data but that society should take care that online and surveillance systems, where they are permitted, should not become systems of untenable restriction."

The EC, however, believes that using implants as surveillance tools is acceptable, as long as government has legislated for it first.


Metade dos internautas faz downloads

Segundo os dados do estudo Bareme Internet 2004, o estudo de base para o Netpanel, da Marktest, cerca de metade dos internautas costuma fazer downloads de músicas, livros técnicos, jogos, filmes ou software.

São mais de 1,3 milhões os portugueses com 15 e mais anos que costumam utilizar a internet e que fazem downloads. O tipo de produto mais frequentemente "descarregado" da internet é a música, referido por 36.3% dos internautas.

Os livros técnicos são o segundo tipo de downloads mais frequentes, prática comum a 14.3% dos internautas. O download de jogos e de filmes atinge valores próximos, de 13.4% e de 13.0%, respectivamente. Já o download de software tem menor penetração, de 6.1%.

segunda-feira, março 28, 2005

P2P chega à Telefonia ?

Digital troublemaker Jeff Pulver is at it again. This time, he's unleashed a way to use the Internet to let anyone use your phone to make a call.
And, conversely, you can place calls all over the world--often for free--by "borrowing" someone else's phone.
Bellster, as Pulver's new creation is called, smashes yet another telephone industry tradition. Until Bellster's release about a week ago, it was very difficult--if not impossible--to share a phone line with someone else without the phone company's consent. But now it's happening, thanks to voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, a burgeoning technology that lets Internet connections double as local phone lines. VoIP is the underlying plumbing in Bellster's system, which ultimately lets people call any type of phone.
Early concerns are the expense, possible law abuses and the limited number of potential users who have the required server savvy. Typically, commentators think highly of the idea but pan the cost and the required technical sophistication. "It is, unfortunately, not for mere mortals," Alec Saunders writes on his Web log. On Slashdot, a reader offers dialogue instead of traditional commentary: "RING. 'Hello?' 'Hi, is your server running?' 'Well, you'd better catch it!'"
Like most new technology, Bellster necessitates much assembly of expensive equipment, and the software has so far only managed to attract a few hundred users since its recent release.
The basic ingredients are a local landline or cell phone line, a personal computer loaded with phone software known as a soft phone, and a server storing software from an open-source PBX (private branch exchange) called Asterisk. A PBX is essential to direct phone traffic. Also required is a converter for connecting your phone line to the Internet.
Next, minutes of calling time are needed. Where do all these minutes come from? People donate them, largely from the package of unlimited calling they have. Initially, Bellster users can only make calls if they donate calls.
Once the pieces are in place, Bellster creates what Pulver calls a "telephone cooperative." The call begins on someone's computer using the soft phone. It's broken into bits of data that travel over the Internet to a Bellster member's computer in the vicinity of the call's destination. The call then jumps back onto the traditional phone network using the Bellster member's local or cell phone line, which completes the call.

CNET News.com

Amazon Knows Who You Are

some privacy advocates believe Amazon is getting dangerously close to becoming Big Brother with your credit card number.
"They are constantly finding new ways to exploit personal information," said Chris Hoofnagle of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, an Amazon nemesis since 2000 after the company changed its privacy policy to allow sharing of personal information with companies it buys or partners with.
For years, Amazon has collected detailed information about what its customers buy, considered buying, browsed for but never bought, recommended to others or even wished someone would buy them. It has built ever-more sophisticated tools to recommend more purchases, direct your searches toward products it thinks you're most likely to want, or even stop the forgetful among us from buying the same book we purchased five years ago.
For example, a customer who buys the movie Lost In Translation might also be prodded to buy 21 Grams or Kill Bill, Vol. 1 because others have made similar purchases. And customers who searched several times for a Laurie R. King mystery novel might find a book by her the next time they visit Amazon's home page.
More recently, the Seattle virtual retailer has launched a web search engine, called A9, that can remember everything you've ever searched for -- and the site reserves the right to share that information with its retailing arm.
Amazon also funds a website called 43 Things. It seeks to link people with similar goals, such as getting out of debt.
Technology that can accurately anticipate a customer's greatest desires is going to be crucial in the growing competition with internet-based upstarts and traditional retailers moving online, said analyst David Garrity with Caris and Co.
"One would argue that this is the basis on which a great relationship with a customer was founded," Garrity said. "If only our significant others were like this."

Wired News

Comércio entre China e países lusófonos cresce 63% em 2004

Nesse sentido, salientou que as trocas comerciais entre a China e os países lusófonos totalizaram 18 mil milhões de dólares em 2004, o que representa um aumento de 63% relativamente ao ano anterior, refere a Lusa.
Relativamente a Angola, o valor das transacções comerciais com a China no ano passado ascendeu a 4,9 mil milhões de dólares, o que representou um aumento de 108% em relação aos valores de 2003.

Agencia Financeira:

A New Approach to Managing Risk

Before Hurricane Hugo swept through Georgia and North and South Carolina in 1989, the insurance industry in the U.S. had never suffered a loss of more than $1 billion from a single disaster. Since then, numerous catastrophes have exceeded that figure. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 caused $15.5 billion in insured losses in southern Florida and Louisiana. Damages from the Northridge earthquake on the Western coast of the U.S. in January 1994 amounted to $12.5 billion.
Residential and commercial development along coastlines and areas that are prone to earthquakes and floods suggest that future insured losses will only grow -- a trend that emphasizes, as never before, the need to assess and manage risk on both a national and a global scale.
Big disasters, of course, continue to mean big losses. Worldwide, loss figures from natural disasters during the last decade exceeded $40 billion every year but one. In 2004, the economic losses from natural disasters totaled $120 billion with $14 billion directly attributable to the December 26th tsunami in the Indian Ocean.


domingo, março 27, 2005

Estudo Pew Internet & American Life Project - Tendências Downloading Música e Video - US

Currently, 21 percent of downloaders use networks such as Kazaa or Grokster for music or video, compared with the 58 percent who downloaded music from file-sharing networks in February 2004.
By contrast, other methods of swapping music are gaining ground. iPods, along with instant messaging, blogs and other sources, are becoming a popular music transfer tool. Eleven percent of former file sharers admitted to having downloaded songs from other people's iPods or other MP3 players in the past, compared with the 15 percent of downloaders who currently do.
However, the report hints that the number of peer-to-peer users could in fact be far higher: "Respondents may now be less likely to report peer-to-peer usage due to the stigma associated with the networks."
Broadband, it seems, is likely to encourage criminal behavior.
"These broadband users who have high-speed access at home and at work represent a leading edge of content consumers and content creators, and are among the most likely to have used peer-to-peer services," the report says.
Nevertheless, legal downloading is putting its pirate cousin in the shade, in terms of growth. The report found that 43 percent of downloaders have tried legal sites, compared with 24 percent in 2004.
A small percentage of Internet users have fallen out of love with the downloading scene as a whole and now no longer get their music from the Net at all. Eleven percent of all Internet users once got music online but don't any more, with 44 percent of those previously using Kazaa and illegal alternatives and another 25 percent having lost interest in legal sites like iTunes, according to the study.
"Among all former music and video downloaders, 28 percent volunteer that the main reason they stopped was because they were afraid to get in trouble or heard about the RIAA lawsuits," the report concludes.
Fifteen percent of ex-downloaders said they quit because they were getting too many viruses, pop-up ads and other PC problems as a result of their online music activity.

CNET News.com

Pew Internet & American Life Project

Guerra entre banca e ciber-criminosos

Last week’s attempted £220m electronic heist against Sumitomo bank was one of the most audacious high-tech crimes ever attempted in the City of London.
It highlighted a behind-the-scenes battle in which the financial services industry has been under sustained electronic attack from internet criminals for the past 18 months, said Graham Edwards, former security director at Abbey and banking industry IT security consultant.
By attacking the financial industry, organised crime groups are potentially posing a threat to the UK’s critical infrastructure, Edwards warned. "If you want to bring down a country’s infrastructure, attack its finance system," he said.
Banks are engaged in a daily struggle with criminal groups that are developing increasingly sophisticated programs to harvest passwords from internet banking customers, said Edwards.
"Criminal groups are developing sophisticated viruses and Trojans that do nothing but attack financial institutions," he said. "One Trojan carries screens that look like real bank sites. It monitors the user and opens up a fake site, or starts a key logger."
Another Trojan launches denial of service attacks against banks. Although it has had little success, more sophisticated Trojans will follow, Edwards warned.


sexta-feira, março 25, 2005

Rheingold sobre usos de telemóveis com câmara fotográfica

"Cameraphones enable an expanded field for chronicling and displaying self and viewpoint to others in a new kind of everyday visual storytelling," wrote Okabe, in a paper delivered at a conference in Korea at the end of 2004. Okabe's findings make a case that cameraphones represent a new opportunity to tell the story of our lives to ourselves as well as to others, and to share a sense of continuous, multisensory, social presence with people who are geographically distant. Tokyo youth have added a visual element to the flow of phone calls and text-messages among small groups of intimates that Okabe and colleagues have come to call "distributed co-presence."
The observed subjects did send images to one another, but that was only part of a suite of uses that have emerged -- all of them everyday, personal, informal slices of life. Okabe noted a number of different uses included "personal archiving" (saving images for one's own use, as a memory of a day or special moment, a "self-authoring practice"), "intimate sharing" (showing a mini-slideshow of one's day or one's hour in person to a friend), peer-to-peer news and online picture sharing. Whether their subjects snapped images of books they wanted to obtain later, a mundane picture of a street or nature scene while walking alone or with a friend or special-occasion photo like a graduation that is used as a good luck amulet, these actions are all about point of view. "These are not random photos," Okabe concludes, "but rather are highly personal viewpoints on everyday life that are archived on the small screen." Remember what designer Scott Jenson had to say about that?

TheFeature :: Cameraphones as Personal Storytelling Media

terça-feira, março 22, 2005

El Gobierno destinará 100 millones de euros a financiar ordenadores para familias

Cada crédito tendrá un límite máximo en torno a los 1000 euros y serán concedidos por entidades que puedan incluir esta financiación entre sus líneas de actuación.
El préstamo va destinado a familias con hijos que cursen estudios de educación primaria, secundaria o universitaria que adquieran un ordenador portátil con conectividad de banda ancha y lector de tarjeta criptográfica para firma electrónica, acompañado de formación en el uso de las tecnologías de la información.
El Ministerio de Industria transferirá la dotación presupuestaria correspondiente a cada entidad para que ésta conceda los préstamos.
Las entidades devolverán esta cantidad al Ministerio de Industria en un periodo de siete años con dos de carencia.

El Mundo

Francia competirá con Google mediante un plan para colocar libros en la Red

El presidente francés, Jacques Chirac, ha anunciado que la Biblioteca Nacional de Francia va a elaborar un plan para poner las obras literarias europeas en Internet, una iniciativa que rivaliza en cierta forma con un proyecto similar del popular buscador 'on line' Google. Parece que todo es debido a una cierta rivalidad entre las lenguas ingles y francesa, y su influencia en la Red.
El Mundo

Scientific Scaremongering

Supervolcano is the BBC’s latest doomsday docudrama, about a supposed eruption in Yellowstone Park that leads to global catastrophe. Introduced as “a true story that hasn’t happened yet” (which sounds like what we used to call fiction), Supervolcano was watched by 7.3 million people. More than four million then turned over for the follow-up documentary about “the science behind the drama”, a remarkable eruption of public concern for a quiet Monday evening.
What is the point of “raising awareness” about an apocalyptic disaster that we have no reason to suppose is about to occur, and could not prevent if it were? Yet the scientists of the Geological Society rushed out a report to coincide with the docudrama, announcing that such an eruption will happen, and could “threaten the fabric of civilisation”.
The Enlightenment values of scientific inquiry and rationalism were supposed to free humanity from superstition. In our high-tech dark age, however, it often seems that science is used to reinforce irrational fears. This is no way to live in what ought to be the best century so far to be alive.
Some say that the supervolcano eruption is 40,000 years “overdue”. Which means that humanity could have wasted its time worrying about such an eruption since the good old days in the caves.
The Times - Opinion - Mick Hume

segunda-feira, março 21, 2005

Sobre a respeitabilidade da Banca...

Milan prosecutors have started legal actions against four of the world's largest financial institutions as part of investigations into the collapse of Parmalat.
The accusations of misleading the market, which move criminal trials in Milan a step closer, were sent on Thursday to Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and UBS. Nextra, the asset management arm of Italy's Banca Intesa, was also accused, as were a number of individuals linked to some of the banks.
The accusations, which were expected, signal the end of the investigations by Milan prosecutors, but they must request a judge in Milan to bring charges.


a mesma alucinação e motivação... penso.

Quando Arafat morreu em Paris, Mourinho estava no Chelsea, a América em Bagdad. A Turquia às portas da Europa e a Nokia na China

Parte 3 Fernando Ilharco PUBLICO.PT

quarta-feira, março 16, 2005

Creative Commons

"No Meaning No" was released under an innovative new licensing scheme called Creative Commons that some say may be better suited to the electronic age than the hands-off mind-set that has made copyright such a bad word among the digerati.
So far, more than 10 million other creations -- ranging from the movie "Outfoxed" and songs by the Beastie Boys to the British Broadcasting Corp.'s news footage and the tech support books published under the O'Reilly label -- have been distributed using these licenses. The idea has even won the support of Hilary Rosen, formerly of the Recording Industry Association of America (news - web sites), and Jack Valenti, the past head of the Motion Picture Association of America, who became known for their aggressive pursuit of people who share free, unauthorized copies via the Internet.
Interest in Creative Commons licenses comes as artists, authors and traditional media companies begin to warm to the idea of the Internet as friend instead of foe and race to capitalize on technologies such as file-sharing and digital copying.
Apple Computer Inc. gave many reason to be optimistic. Music lovers who once spent hours scouring the Internet for free, pirated copies of songs are now showing they are willing to pay for online music; the company says it is selling 1.25 million songs, at 99 cents a track, each day.

The way Lessig sees it, art has always been about stealing, recycling and mixing: Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin were said to borrow from each other's brushwork. The 1990s hit "Clueless" with Alicia Silverstone was a modern-day adaptation of Jane Austen's "Emma."
Technology has given the world an unprecedented ability to digitize works, copy them, take them apart and put them back together again. But Lessig said he worries that the extension of copyright laws is keeping many works out of the public domain, hampering creativity. When the Constitution was written, copyrights covered 14 years, extendable to 28 years. Now, with the passage of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, these rights last until an author's death plus 70 years.
Lessig's goal with Creative Commons was to create a body of digital work, which he calls "artifacts of culture," for the public domain, accessible to all.
In the year since the licenses were unveiled, a steady stream of works beyond popular music and videos has joined the Creative Commons public domain archive: material for more than 500 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (news - web sites) classes, audio of every U.S. Supreme Court (news - web sites) argument since 1950 from the Public Library of Science, the archives for Flickr's photo-sharing site, and Cory Doctorow's futuristic novel "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom."

Yahoo! News

Digital Music Player Sales to Grow 57 Pct

Sales of portable digital music players are set to grow 57 percent this year after more than doubling in 2004, results of a global survey showed on Tuesday.
Over the next five years, shipments of MP3 music players will expand to 132 million units in 2009 from 36.8 million in 2004, market research group iSuppli said.
It warned companies not to try to squeeze too many features into their products. The so-called 'Swiss Army Knife' approach has not succeeded in the MP3 market. Simple, elegant products that perform a few functions with easy-to-use interfaces have sold well in the marketplace, while the do-everything approach has failed.
Yahoo! News

segunda-feira, março 14, 2005

Skype-Out hits 1m Users

P2P voice over internet protocol start-up Skype has announced that more than 1m users have used its Skype-Out service, Skype's first premium service offering global calling to PSTN numbers for local rates.
Skype has some 29m registered users and adds around 155,000 new users per day. On average, 2m people are simultaneously using Skype to connect others, for a total of some 6bn minutes since launch.
Digital Media Europe: News

Utilização de Blogs e Wikis no contexto educacional...

First the Internet turned colleges upside down, extending classrooms and changing the way people learned. Next came Napster and other file-sharing tools, then Web logs. Now blogs are morphing into the next big thing on campus: wikis.
The wiki, which got its name from the Hawaiian word for "quick," is the scrappy little brother to the blog, an interactive Web page that can be changed by anyone who stumbles upon it. While blogs let people publish their thoughts online, wikis take things a step further, creating freewheeling, collaborative communities: Students can edit one another's work, bounce ideas around or link to infinite other Web sites.
Students in sophomore Craig Kessler's English class got hooked, and he said they became closer and more engaged than in any class he has taken. When the semester ended this winter, students asked the professor, David Lipscomb: Could they keep writing the blog?
Lipscomb quickly found he had to put limits on the posts -- some students wrote so much that he could hardly keep up. Most professors who use blogs and wikis said they set ground rules early on and act quickly to stamp out problems.
As the technology goes mainstream, universities will have to think about libel and intellectual property issues, Kirschenbaum said.
Now there are wikis here and there cooked up by whiz-kid professors and students, but he thinks schools soon will build frameworks. Georgetown's Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship hopes to offer faculty wikis-made-easy technology by the fall semester.
What else is ahead? Maybe wikis to go. At American University this fall, students posted updates from political events to "moblogs" with their mobile phones. Jones predicts that kind of thing will happen more, as gizmos make it easier to write and send photos and videos from anywhere.
Milad Doueihi, a communications and contemporary society instructor at Johns Hopkins, said that this summer, students will be able to listen to his lectures anytime: He will broadcast them on the class wiki using his iPod -- a technology called -- what else? -- podcasting.

Blogging Clicks With Colleges (washingtonpost.com)

Hackers Target U.S. Power Grid

Patrick H. Wood III, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, warned top electric company officials in a private meeting in January that they need to focus more heavily on cyber-security. Wood also has raised the issue at several public appearances. Officials will not say whether new intelligence points to a potential terrorist strike, but Wood stepped up his campaign after officials at the Energy Department's Idaho National Laboratory showed him how a skilled hacker could cause serious problems.

Wood declined to comment on specifics of what he saw. But an official at the lab, Ken Watts, said the simulation showed how someone could hack into a utility's Internet-based business management system, then into a system that controls utility operations. Once inside, lab workers simulated cutting off the supply of oil to a turbine generating electricity and destroying the equipment.

Describing his reaction to the demonstration, Wood said: "I wished I'd had a diaper on."

Many electric industry representatives have said they are concerned about cyber-security and have been taking steps to make sure their systems are protected. But Wood and others in the industry said the companies' computer security is uneven.

"A sophisticated hacker, which is probably a group of hackers . . . could probably get into each of the three U.S. North American power [networks] and could probably bring sections of it down if they knew how to do it," said Richard A. Clarke, a former counterterrorism chief in the Clinton and Bush administrations.


If the world was run like eBay

terça-feira, março 08, 2005

Internet Played Bigger Role in U.S. Politics in '04

Roughly 75 million Americans used the Internet to connect to politics in 2004. They sought election news, exchanged political e-mail, made campaign contributions and blogged, according to a post-election study conducted by The Pew Internet & American Life Project. This figure equals roughly 37 percent of the adult population, and 61 percent of American Internet users.

The number of online political news consumers, meanwhile, increased dramatically compared to 2000, growing from 18 percent of the U.S. population in 2000 to 29 percent in 2004.

"The last election was a breakout for the Internet," said Lee Rainie, director of The Pew Internet & American Life Project. "Every aspect of online politics grew quantitatively and many were wholly new, from the flood of online campaign contributions to the rise of bloggers, from Meetups to streaming JibJab."

The study, which surveyed 2,200 American adults between November 4 and November 22, found 52 percent of Internet users, or approximately 63 million people, went online to get news or information about the 2004 elections. Pew also found the number of people who turned to the Internet as their primary source of presidential election news increased from 11 percent in 2000 to 18 percent in 2004.

Internet Played Bigger Role in U.S. Politics in '04

mobile social-software services

Dodgeball and England's Playtxt are two examples of mobile social-software services, otherwise known by the catchy acronym, MoSoSos.

And Tomas and McGunigle are the kind of enthusiastic users who MoSoSos hope will evangelize for them and build their services by word of mouth.

MoSoSos are the mobile equivalents of online social networks like Friendster and LinkedIn. They help users find old friends, or potential new ones, on the go.

Typically, users set up a profile listing interests, hobbies and romantic availability. They also state what kind of people they'd like to meet. Because the service is tied to a mobile device, it knows when people with similar interests are near each other.

Not surprisingly, MoSoSos are ideal for hooking up young, active professionals tied to their mobile phones or laptops, and they're starting to take off. Here are some of the leading players:
Wired News: MoSoSos Not So So-So

Blogs Persas

One estimate puts the numbers of bloggers inside Iran at 46,000, and Derakhshan says there may be as many as 75,000 active Persian-language blogs worldwide.

"During the last two or three years, Iranian blogging has flourished," says Hadi Ghaemi, a native Iranian who now works for Human Rights Watch in New York City.

"In fact, blogging has become the main medium for information, new, analysis and exchange of information for Iranians, both inside and outside the country."

Derakhshan wanted to build on that trend. Just a few months ago, he launched a podcast called Radio Hoder. He's currently offering both a Persian and English version.

Podcasting takes its name from the Apple iPod.

A podcast is a radio programme that can be downloaded, and listened to directly on a computer or an MP3 player.

The programmes can be made by anyone with some basic recording equipment, a computer with editing software, and some server space to host the MP3 files.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Persian blogging round the globe

segunda-feira, março 07, 2005

China: Whose Patent Is It, Anyway?

The issue of intellectual property theft has been a fixture on the trade agenda between the United States and China for years, with visiting American officials routinely stopping at the famous Silk Market in Beijing to highlight the sale there, like all over China, of cheap knockoffs of toys, clothing, software and DVD's.
The Chinese government has recently razed the market, but the counterfeit activity has been moving relentlessly upscale, with General Motors, Cisco, Sony and Pfizer, just to name the most high-profile companies, complaining that their designs or formulas for everything from cars and PlayStations to routers and Viagra, have been violated.
"Until recently, when China began putting intellectual property laws in place, for the past 40 years, all patents were owned by the government, and could be shared by any company that was willing to use them," said Paul Gao, a Shanghai-based expert on consumer electronics and automotives at McKinsey & Company. "The Chinese government actually encouraged this, and that has left a deep impression on companies that intellectual property is there for anyone to use it."
Experts say the practice of copycat production is also fueled by the fierce competition among Chinese companies and provinces to join the global economy. "With the extreme fragmentation of industry, you see a lot of subscale players that are trying to survive in the market on their own," Mr. Gao added. "They don't have the budget for research and development or the scale to compete. If they pay a licensing fee, they consider they are essentially imposing a death penalty on themselves."
Lawyers who represent Western companies embroiled in intellectual property disputes in China, however, point to major loopholes in Chinese law and in the country's trademark and patent system as parts of the problem. Many Chinese patents, for example, are granted without any examination of their originality, making it easy for local companies to claim others' innovations as their own.
While foreign experts also point to progress in the country's courts and especially in the richer provinces along the country's east coast, they say that local and provincial governments, eager to bolster their economies, sometimes subsidize patent filings for local companies and provide pointers to them on how to beat foreign claims of infringement. Even the Shanghai government speaks of building a "great wall of patents" to protect local companies.
"Once upon a time, the counterfeiters in China ran away when you came after them," said Xiang Wang, a lawyer specializing in intellectual property rights at White & Case in Shanghai. "Today, they don't run away. Indeed, they stay put and they sue us. More and more Chinese companies are taking a so-called legal approach, taking advantage of serious weakness in the Chinese legal system."
One of the most problematic areas, experts say, are joint ventures between foreign and Chinese companies, which are legion. When the joint venture dissolves, or sometimes even while it remains active, the Chinese party makes use of the technology or manufacturing processes illegally. A perennially told war story in business circles here involves the foreign factory owner who makes a wrong turn while driving to his plant only to discover an exact copy of his factory on the other side of the mountain.
Although this story might be apocryphal, Mr. Wang said he saw cases all the time that are not so different in their details. "We have a client in the power business who found that one of his key employees had quit and joined a competitor, revealing confidential information to him straight away, and filing patents of these materials which were literal copies of the original technology," he said. "When our client warned he would sue over patent infringement, the Chinese company said it was also planning to sue. 'And by the way,' they asked, 'what patent are you talking about? This is our patent now.' "
The New York Times


Matt O'Connor isn't your normal political campaigner. As founder and mastermind of Fathers 4 Justice, over the past two years he has pioneered a direct-action, media-friendly brand of protest. Demanding rights for estranged fathers to see their kids, his activists have stormed family courts, thrown purple powder at the prime minister, and scaled the walls of Buckingham Palace dressed as Batman and Robin. The latest came yesterday, when three superheroes clambered on to a ledge of the Foreign Office.
So as an organisation, Fathers 4 Justice is just a body of subscribers, a scattering of support groups, a handful of activists, and a master designer. In terms of membership base, there is little to distinguish it from another organisation that works in this area, Families Need Fathers, which highlights the same issues and also charges a £30 fee.

Fathers 4 Justice owes its status less to political goals or members, than its ability to grab the headlines. 'It's an ad hoc organisation, but you still have to create a credible social image', says O'Connor, justifying the £1000 spent on a 50-foot wide PVC banner. A survey by Reputation Intelligence in September 2004 showed how, since mid-2003, Fathers 4 Justice has received an increasing number of article mentions in the national press. The storming of the High Court in June 2003 contributed to around 30 mentions for that month; after climbing Tower Bridge there were nearly 100 mentions; while the purple flour attack on the prime minister in May 2004 topped 400 (1). Throughout this period Families Need Fathers was barely referred to. And it's not just the UK press - O'Connor says that the New York Times has been trailing him for an upcoming front-page feature.

Making an impact is about having the right media skills. The US direct action group, the Ruckus Society, offers consultancy and training groups to help you make a ruckus, whatever your chosen cause. Similarly, O'Connor gives advice to his activist rivals. He criticised the hunting lobby's invasion of the House of Commons: 'what did they do, gesticulate? What a wasted opportunity. You want to do something with a bit of panache'. And he thought that the anti-war demo was old-skool. 'A demonstration isn't worth a wank; it was a waste of time. What you needed was something far more dramatic. They should have caused civil disobedience, shut a road, closed a railway, caused economic damage.'
It's doubtful whether many people are aware of Fathers 4 Justice's policy aims. The media analysis found that 31 per cent of articles mentioning the organisation focused on policy, compared to 61 per cent for Greenpeace and 81 per cent for Liberty. Most people probably recognise them as they would a famous brand: just as Nike is a tick, Fathers 4 Justice are the ones in the superhero outfits.

However, there are some real issues behind the campaign. Broken families are a messy battleground, with few social guidelines as to what is expected from the different parties. We witness the painful plight of 'McDonald's dads', those men who sit in McDonald's on a Saturday afternoon, desperately trying to connect with kids who no longer know them. O'Connor's tale of his dealing at the hands of the family courts is horrendous; in a series of hearings, which cost him several thousand pounds, he watched his contact time being repeatedly slashed. The family courts are a disgrace, a secretive bureaucratic institution that apportions children between mother and father.
As an individual, Matt O'Connor is a driven, personable guy, who has had a hell of a time at the hands of the family courts. But far from building a new political movement, he provides a case study of how it's possible for individuals to make headlines in a disengaged age. No messy meetings, marches, or petitions are required. Just a good head for a stunt, and a good eye for an image.

spiked-politics | Article | Fathers 4 Justice: Design-a-movement

Media e Superioridade Moral

On the CNN network, across the globe, a commercial presently runs. It is made by Christiane Amanpour, the world’s highest-paid reporter, and it is about Christiane Amanpour. She is promoting herself - as a foreign correspondent who is brave, investigative and caring. Foreign reporting is tough, Amanpour tells us, in a piece of self-flattery astounding even by the standards of the broadcast media. You need nerve and guts and mental fortitude just to keep going.
This kind of stuff confirms one of journalism’s most treacherous trends. That is, moral superiority: its steely determination to take the moral high ground and deny it to everyone else, especially the political class - except to the wretched of the earth, on whom it bestows the benediction of its sympathy and attention, and to whom it attributes a moral purity which Christian tradition made the prerequisite of the poor.

As The Atlantic Monthly correspondent Robert Kaplan points out in a recent article in Policy Review, Christian tradition has a lot to do with it. “The medieval age,” he writes, “was tyrannised by a demand for spiritual perfection, making it hard to accomplish anything practical... today, the global media make demands on generals and civilian politicians that require a category of perfectionism with which medieval authorities would have been familiar... and, as the editorial tastes of the tabloids morph into those of the mainstream media, the pace of character destruction quickens.”

Push the religious parallel a little further: most churches, certainly at the peak of their power, were apt to detect in a small sin the revelation of a large inner corruption. So the media - especially in countries where politicians and business people are more or less honest, and so the pickings on the dunghills of corruption are meagre - find in small transgressions implicit or explicit proof of turpitude or diseased practices, or just enjoy the glow of satisfaction which often comes from revealing sin.

The transgressions are often real. When the British media ended the career of David Blunkett, the home secretary, they did so after slavering for weeks over the details of an affair - but did in the end find grubby transgressions. When the French media ended the career of Herve Gaymard, the finance minister, last week, they did discover that he had rented a costly apartment at taxpayers’ expense - prompting him to issue a series of lies and self-pitying fables that sealed his fate.

Are not their resignations a sign of the success of the media in acting as our moral guardians? Up to a point. It’s reassuring to know that those who wield power can be cut down if abuses are revealed. But the media do that only because they constitute another very large power, able to dictate the rules of the game.

The danger of this is twofold. First, these corporations are entertainment businesses, and news is increasingly a branch of the entertainment industry: the vast resources put in to exposing small crimes is in the much-loved, time-honoured tradition of pulling down the mighty. News organisations dictate the terms of moral failure but are themselves above judgment, because they have no responsibility for the consequences of the courses they advise.

The consequences of their power, however, are becoming clearer. One such small consequence is that a good reporter like Amanpour can allow herself to undergo a transfiguration into a global saviour. Superman, in his day job, was the reporter Clark Kent, but he was a comic strip hero and he had the decency to change clothes before claiming super-hero status. Now, the news media believe they can make a reporter into Superwoman, not by a transformation, but a confirmation.

FT.com / Arts & Weekend - Saviour on camera two

Phone Company Settles in Blocking of Internet Calls

The Federal Communications Commission announced yesterday that a North Carolina-based telephone company agreed to pay $15,000 and to stop blocking the ability of consumers to use voice-over-Internet calling services instead of regular phone lines.

In the first action of its kind, the FCC settled with Madison River Communications Corp., which operates several rural phone companies throughout the Southeast and Midwest.

Calling based on voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) increasingly is being used by businesses and consumers as a substitute for traditional phone service. Although VoIP requires high-speed Internet access, its major providers offer unlimited local, long-distance, and even some international calling for as little as $20 a month.

Vonage Holdings Corp., one of the nation's leading Internet phone companies, had complained that as many as 200 customers had their service blocked by a Madison River subsidiary that provided its phone customers with Internet access.

For those customers who had disconnected their traditional phone lines and were relying solely on Vonage, the blocking meant they had no ability to make calls, even to emergency 911 services.

"The industry must adhere to certain consumer protection norms if the Internet is to remain an open platform for innovation," FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell said in a statement.


EPIC 2014 - fascinante visão animada do futuro dos media

America was shocked. An eight-minute flash movie produced for the Web predict that the year 2014 will be the end of the Fourth Estate as we knew it. Two online reporters wrote the argument for the Poynter Institute & News University in Tampa Bay, in Florida. The movie got quite surprising a meteoric popularity around the web. Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson argue that the 1989 invention of the World Wide Web opened a new era, with music of Aaron McLeran. The sons of Tim Berners-Lee creation in the last 15 years - Amazon.com, Yahoo!, Google, TiVo, the blog revolution, and various other web-related innovations - will end the news media business as we knew it in the 20 Century. Sloan and Thompson talk about a new kind of media platform - EPIC, that goes for Evolving Personalized Information Construct. The main thesis: the change of the centre of gravity of where common people get their news.


EPIC 2014

domingo, março 06, 2005

Futurologia como ciência e o lugar do futuro no actual discurso politico...

Futurology may not be dead yet - the World Future Society, a kind of industry association, boasts 16,500 members in 80 countries (most of them in the US) and companies are still keen to predict the immediate future of their own markets - but full-throttle futurology is certainly no longer with us.

One plausible reason is the regularity with which the predictions of futurologists failed to materialise. A special millennium survey conducted by the British women’s magazine Bella in 2000 found that Britons were disappointed with how the future had turned out. At the age of 15, half of those surveyed had been led to believe that moon travel would now be routine, and one in 10 thought that taking a trip to Jupiter or Mars would be just another package holiday. Nearly one in five believed they would be doing the daily commute by flying car. More than a third had counted on scientists discovering a cure for cancer. For the vast majority, the brave new world promised by the futurologists in the 1950s and 1960s had been a fib of spectacular proportions.

But the failure of futurology’s predictions should not on its own have been enough to shake it so badly. The discipline has, after all, been failing to make its predictions come true for centuries. In the past, glorious failures simply sent its practitioners back to the drawing board. What is on the defensive now is not so much the discipline of futurology itself as future-thinking, the creative evaluation of possibilities for improving the human condition. And in place of future-thinking, many of the forecasters have changed tack and are propagandising about the myriad ways in which the human race might wipe itself out.
If the demise of futurology cannot be explained by the failure of its predictions, then perhaps a more profound insight into its decline can be gleaned from its relationship to political thought. Remember that politics, too, has depended for its existence for most of the modern period on a contest between competing, rosy visions of the future.

Spurred on by the technological optimism during the postwar period, politicians were fond of promising the masses unlimited goods and wealth in return for hard work in the here and now. In 1956, in his book The Future of Socialism, the Labour party intellectual Tony Crosland assured the British working classes that they were heading for cheap foreign holidays and a life of consumer plenty. Likewise, in his famous Great Society address, delivered in 1964, Lyndon Johnson promised to use the US’s growing wealth to provide “abundance and liberty for all” within the following 50 years.

Cut loose from those ideological moorings, however, the politics of the future take on a very different role. Almost invisibly, and in the course of just two decades, governments in Europe and North America have shifted from promising us good things over the rainbow to protecting us from future dangers. They no longer motivate us with the promise of jam tomorrow, because few of us would believe them if they did. Instead, they are prone to arguing that contemporary society is characterised by an accelerating pace of change; that we are hurtling into a dangerous future at an unparalleled speed.

This idea has been repeated so regularly by politicians and futurologists that it has become one of the cliches of our time. If things are moving so fast and the future is so unpredictable, runs this reasoning, then there is very little that politicians can do.

But the notion that we are experiencing a rate of social change comparable to that which separated depression-era Britain from the affluence of the postwar generation is simply absurd. Many of the advances in biotechnology or reproductive sciences that raise public concern are still at the laboratory stage and may never materialise. Beyond all the hype about the internet - and the real benefits it brings - its impact on our lives scarcely rivals the invention of the colour TV or the simple washing machine.

Our failure to find inspiration in a robust vision of the future today is evidence of a profound political conservatism. Amid a mood of public cynicism about their promises and motivations, most politicians have retreated to the safe ground of promising not very much.

FT.com / Arts & Weekend - Didnt see that coming, did you?

quinta-feira, março 03, 2005

Mobile phones get facial recognition

quarta-feira, março 02, 2005

The World’s Top Ten Wireless Services

Analysts have picked their top performers in the mobile space - and turned up some surprise winners across the world of wireless.

While cutting edge 3G content and service providers get the nod in the The World’s Top Ten Wireless Services report from research firm Analysys, the top spot goes to an old-school voice service.
The top 10 were:

1. Bundled voice tariffs, Sprint PCS, USA
2. ThreePay prepaid tariffs, 3, UK
3. Mobile TV and video, 3, UK
4. SMS, O2, Ireland
5. FOMA 3G service bundle, NTT DoCoMo, Japan
6. Vodafone live! service bundle, Vodafone, Western Europe
7. TM3 integrated 2.5G/3G/PWLAN, T-Mobile, Germany
8. Ringtone downloads, Xing, Japan
9. Games downloads, IN-FUSIO, worldwide
10. Genion HomeZone tariff, O2, Germany


terça-feira, março 01, 2005

Un estudio asegura que el 43,3% de los que nunca votan lo haría por móvil

En las jornadas, organizadas por las Juventudes Socialistas sobre 'Las nuevas Tecnologías aplicadas a la Participación Ciudadana: Calidad Democrática', se ha conocido el avance de un estudio que está elaborando la Fundación Trece Rosas según el cual, aparte de ese 38,8% de ciudadanos que votaría si pudiera hacerlo virtualmente, hay un 33,2% que no votaría en ningún caso y otro 16,6% "se lo replantearía".

De los que afirmaron que sí votarían con otros sistemas de votación, la mayoría son mujeres, y, por edades, casi la mitad son jóvenes de entre 18 y 35 años.

Igualmente, un 43,8% de ese porcentaje que no participa asegura que lo haría si pudiera hacerlo con el teléfono móvil, algo más de los que prefieren el ordenador personal —el 32,5%—, u otros sistemas digitales interactivos, el 23,7%.

El Mundo