segunda-feira, julho 24, 2006
EU to fund embryonic stem cell research
The European Union on Monday agreed to allow funding for human embryonic stem cell experiments after member states compromised on the way the research is financed.
The decision comes a week after President George W. Bush angered the research community by vetoing an expansion in federal funding for stem cell science in the US.
Lord Sainsbury, Britain’s science minister, hailed the decision reached by a majority of EU countries as an opportunity for Europe to forge ahead. “Symbolically it is very significant,” he said. “In Europe we are moving forward on this front, whereas America has taken, as far as the federal government is concerned, a very negative position.”
Lord Sainsbury added that Monday’s agreement could lead to disillusioned US scientists moving to European countries.
Backers of research on human embryos say it could allow scientists to find cures for Parkinson’s, diabetes and heart failure. Opponents say the experiments destroy human life.
FT.com / World / International economy - EU to fund embryonic stem cell research
US blamed as trade talks end in acrimony
The world trade talks that were supposed to relieve poverty and improve economic growth collapsed into indefinite suspension on Monday, after nearly five years of protracted wrangling.
A last-ditch meeting in Geneva of the six core “Doha round” negotiators – India, Brazil, the US, EU Japan and Australia – broke up amid recriminations over irreconcilable differences about farm liberalisation. The US continued to argue for big cuts in farm import tariffs to open up markets for its farmers, a demand fiercely rejected by the European Union, Japan and India, who said America had first to go further in offering to cut agricultural subsidies.
The Doha round, which began in November 2001, will now enter indefinite suspension unless and until a consensus within the World Trade Organisation’s 149 member countries can be found to revive it.
The White House’s authority from the US Congress to negotiate trade deals expires next year. Most experts and officials think Congress unlikely to renew that authority, rendering any near-term agreement impossible.
The amount of work required to complete an agreement meant that the end of this month was in effect a deadline for a deal.Four of the six countries present rounded on the US as the culprit for the collapse in the talks, which started on Sunday and ended on Monday.
FT.com / World / International economy - US blamed as trade talks end in acrimony
Feinman is a primo example of an emerging archetype: the very public citizen. A publizen.
Though publizens are all ages and both sexes, they are predominantly young -- members of Generation Xtrovert. The recently released Pew Internet & American Life Project survey points out that more than half of the Internet's 12 million bloggers are under the age of 30.
In varying degrees, publizens grow up, fall in love, choose a college, drink too much, do good deeds, experiment with drugs and sex and kinky hairstyles, sit for tattoos, create art, enter 12-step programs, get hitched, give birth, go to work, file for divorce, die and do just about everything else in public. They build Web sites, produce blogs and star in reality television shows. They use new technologies to live in plain sight and newer technologies -- fancier phones, Web cams, digital video programs -- are being created so they can do just that.
Publizens welcome the klieg lights -- the glare, the heat, the exposure. British papers reported recently that Marie Osmond's teenage daughter Jessica put up a MySpace page revealing her sexual proclivities and listing Adolf Hitler as a hero. Young people have been kicked out of college for exhibiting pictures of themselves carousing.
People have given up on discretion. How else can you explain the unabashed Metro rider yakking about the most intimate details of her life on her cell phone? The endless erectile dysfunction advertisements on television? Why else would there be very personal videotapes online for all the world to see?
Tens of thousands of applicants have applied to live on camera in reality shows.
You wonder why there was no marching in the streets when it was revealed that the National Security Agency has been monitoring telephone calls. People are worn down by companies tracking their every move, they are convinced that giving out privileged information might help combat terrorism and, as more and more people become publizens, they just don't care if other people eavesdrop. Fact is, they know others are listening.
"It is less and less reasonable for people to expect privacy," says Tim Sparapani, legislative counsel for privacy rights at the American Civil Liberties Union, "when people are willy-nilly putting private information into a public sphere where millions if not billions of people have access to it." He believes that there are still zones of privacy many people hold dear, but that those zones may be shrinking. And he warns that both the government and private corporations have a deep interest in gathering that private information and using it for their own interests.
Sherry Turkle of the MIT Media Lab shares some of Sparapani's concerns. The new generation of publizens, she says, understands that e-mail isn't really private and that cell conversation can be overheard, but "is not politically mobilizable around the issue of government intrusions on privacy."
Recently, Turkle attended the Webbys, an awards ceremony for Web sites. "I found a troubling sensibility that I see as widespread in the culture today: 'Wiretap me, I don't care. Listen to me, my life is transparent, I'm not doing anything wrong.' "
There seems to be little understanding, she says, of "the importance of the principle of privacy as a protection against authoritarianism." Publizens often operate with no historical sense, she says.
Kevin Kelly, a founding editor of Wired magazine, says that privacy is an illusion. "We've always been very public as a species." he says. "The very notion of privacy is recent, and probably temporary. Big Brother is a type of paranoia and egoism, because in fact most lives are not worth watching. With technology we are only returning to the global village where everyone knows what everyone else is doing."
Cultural anthropologist Danah Boyd says living a public life can be a healthy undertaking. In this culture of fear, "it is critical for young people to have some exposure to public life, to strangers," she says. "You need this to grow up."
Publizens like Dave Feinman, Ingrid Wiese and Joseph Argabrite thrive on the responses to their public lives. The exterior life for many is as important as, if not more important than, the interior life.
See Me, Click Me
terça-feira, julho 18, 2006
The Graying of the Record Store
The turnout is old school at shops like Norman’s Sound and Vision. Younger shoppers are busy downloading.
The neighborhood record store was once a clubhouse for teenagers, a place to escape parents, burn allowances and absorb the latest trends in fashion as well as music. But these days it is fast becoming a temple of nostalgia for shoppers old enough to remember “Frampton Comes Alive!’’
In the era of iTunes and MySpace, the customer base that still thinks of recorded music as a physical commodity (that is, a CD), as opposed to a digital file to be downloaded, is shrinking and aging, further imperiling record stores already under pressure from mass-market discounters like Best Buy and Wal-Mart.
The bite that downloading has taken out of CD sales is well known — the compact disc market fell about 25 percent between 1999 and 2005, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, a trade organization. What that precipitous drop indicated by the figures doesn’t reveal is that this trend is turning many record stores into haunts for the gray-ponytail set. This is especially true of big-city stores that stock a wider range of music than the blockbuster acts.
“We don’t see the kids anymore,” said Thom Spennato, who owns Sound Track, a cozy store on busy Seventh Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn. “That 12-to-15-year-old market, that’s what’s missing the last couple of years.”
Without that generation of buyers, the future looks bleak. “My landlord asked me if I wanted another 10-year lease, and I said no,” Mr. Spennato said. “I have four years left, then I’m out.”
The Graying of the Record Store - New York Times
sexta-feira, julho 14, 2006
What Benkler sees is an emerging pattern in the way we use network technologies which he thinks is positive for democracy and innovation, but not without its downsides. He argues that the internet is making obvious an existing form of exchange - social sharing - and taking it from the periphery to the mainstream of the economy. Conventional economics can’t explain why volunteer-generated projects such as Wikipedia or open-source software, which are given away for free, have been so successful. He proposes his own theory of “social production” - “commons-based peer production” - to fill the gap.
It’s a counterpoint to the received wisdom that creating and exploiting intellectual property (patents and copyright) is the only way to do business in the 21st century. He points out that in 2003 IBM made twice as much money from providing open-source services as it did from intellectual property - despite the fact that between 1999 and 2004 it created more patents than any other US company. Benkler proposes that this is a pattern we will see repeated. The thesis is unsettling for those businesses, particularly entertainment ones, that have relied on controlling distribution of copyrighted material. He says not that they will disappear overnight but that social production is more than a fad. It is no surprise to Benkler that: “We find ourselves in the midst of a battle over the institutional ecology of the digital environment.”
There is, of course, something perverse about the fact that perhaps the best work yet about the fast-moving, enthusiast-driven internet has taken an academic 10 years to write and is printed on 528 pages of dead tree. But perhaps the interesting social production happens post-publication. The book is released under a Creative Commons licence so you can download it free from his website (www.benkler.org) and Benkler has given readers all manner of collaborative tools to discuss the book and take the ideas forward. You’ll want a hard copy to thumb through, though. This is an important book.
FT.com / Arts & weekend / Books - Net gains
segunda-feira, julho 10, 2006
The Myth of the New India
Since the early 1990's, when the Indian economy was liberalized, India has emerged as the world leader in information technology and business outsourcing, with an average growth of about 6 percent a year. Growing foreign investment and easy credit have fueled a consumer revolution in urban areas. With their Starbucks-style coffee bars, Blackberry-wielding young professionals, and shopping malls selling luxury brand names, large parts of Indian cities strive to resemble Manhattan.
Indian business tycoons are increasingly trying to control marquee names like Taittinger Champagne and the Carlyle Hotel in New York. "India Everywhere" was the slogan of the Indian business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this year.
But the increasingly common, business-centric view of India suppresses more facts than it reveals. Recent accounts of the alleged rise of India barely mention the fact that the country's $728 per capita gross domestic product is just slightly higher than that of sub-Saharan Africa and that, as the 2005 United Nations Human Development Report puts it, even if it sustains its current high growth rates, India will not catch up with high-income countries until 2106.
Nor is India rising very fast on the report's Human Development index, where it ranks 127, just two rungs above Myanmar and more than 70 below Cuba and Mexico. Despite a recent reduction in poverty levels, nearly 380 million Indians still live on less than a dollar a day.
Malnutrition affects half of all children in India, and there is little sign that they are being helped by the country's market reforms, which have focused on creating private wealth rather than expanding access to health care and education. Despite the country's growing economy, 2.5 million Indian children die annually, accounting for one out of every five child deaths worldwide; and facilities for primary education have collapsed in large parts of the country (the official literacy rate of 61 percent includes many who can barely write their names). In the countryside, where 70 percent of India's population lives, the government has reported that about 100,000 farmers committed suicide between 1993 and 2003.
Feeding on the resentment of those left behind by the urban-oriented economic growth, communist insurgencies (unrelated to India's parliamentary communist parties) have erupted in some of the most populous and poorest parts of north and central India. The Indian government no longer effectively controls many of the districts where communists battle landlords and police, imposing a harsh form of justice on a largely hapless rural population.
The potential for conflict — among castes as well as classes — also grows in urban areas, where India's cruel social and economic disparities are as evident as its new prosperity. The main reason for this is that India's economic growth has been largely jobless. Only 1.3 million out of a working population of 400 million are employed in the information technology and business processing industries that make up the so-called new economy.
The Myth of the New India - New York Times
sexta-feira, julho 07, 2006
Augusto Mateus: Ficámos numa espécie de terra de ninguém
Resolvendo o problema da legislação laboral resolve-se uma boa parte do problema português?
Obviamente que podemos melhorar, mas o nosso problema é de eficiência, de produtividade e de organização. Ficámos numa espécie de terra de ninguém. A Europa a 25 está claramente dividida entre um pelotão da frente, onde estão todos os 15 menos a Grécia e Portugal. Depois temos a Grécia e Portugal apanhados por alguns dos mais avançados dos novos membros e a caminho de ser apanhado pelos que estão menos avançados.
O que é que isso significa?
Do ponto de vista do território ficámos numa situação em que não estamos tão próximos dos mais desenvolvidos que possamos fazer as coisas que esses fazem nem tão afastados dos outros. Ao nível da competitividade micro, ficámos demasiado prisioneiros da produção, longe da concepção e longe da distribuição. Ficámos no meio das cadeias de valor, exactamente naquelas actividades que perderam mais valor. Portugal apresenta indicadores muito engraçados do ponto de vista da dinâmica da exportação em quantidade, mas apresenta indicadores muito pouco interessantes na dinâmica da exportação em valor.
Estamos na produção de baixo valor acrescentado.
Na série longa que nos traz desde a adesão até 2002/2003 - não fiz as conta para os últimos dois anos -, Portugal foi o país que mais fez expandir na Europa as sua exportações em quantidade, o que indica um eficiência de quantidade razoável. Mas passamos de primeiro para 14º - só a Grécia fica atrás de nós nos 15 -, quando fazemos as conta em valor significa que a nossa produtividade é muito insuficiente. Quando falamos de défice de produtividade em Portugal as pessoas ligam muito a esforço individual. É a legislação laboral, são os horários de trabalho, são as pontes, são feriados. Claro que podemos melhorar muito a esses níveis, mas o nosso problema é que o que fazemos não tem valor suficiente.
Como é que isso se inverte?
Temos tentado responder a isto com uma lógica que me parece também desequilibrada que é ir para montante e não para jusante. Quando se diz que fazemos coisas com pouco valor acrescentado pensa-se em pôr dinheiro na ciência e tecnologia. Não posso estar mais de acordo na necessidade de se pôr mais dinheiro na ciência e tecnologia, mas o nosso principal problema é no downstream. Temos de ser muito mais fortes a vender e estar preocupados com as nossas ligações internacionais e com a nossa capacidade de levar a certos mercados e sermos nós a distribuir certos produtos. Não interessa se fomos nós que os fizemos.
Semanario Económico :: Economía
terça-feira, julho 04, 2006
um museu de arte ou de etnologia?
O novo Museu do Quai Branly valoriza o aspecto estético das colecções etnográficas de uma forma até aqui nunca vista. É o fim do divórcio entre a abordagem antropológica e a perspectiva da história da arte?Fora com a arte primitiva, negra, tribal, selvagem ou "primeira". O último termo, quase só usado em França e mais recente, foi mesmo recusado para nomear o novo Museu do Quai Branly aberto a 23 de Junho em Paris, um projecto em que se envolveu pessoalmente o Presidente francês Jacques Chirac. A opção pelo nome identificar só o lugar onde o museu se situa esconde uma polémica que dura há dez anos e que passou também por discussões à volta da morte da própria etnologia (ou antropologia, uma vez que são sinónimos).
No seu discurso inaugural, Chirac disse que "esta nova instituição dedicada às outras culturas será para aqueles que a visitam uma incomparável experiência estética". É exactamente a ênfase na estética, no aspecto formal, na história da arte, que está no cento da discussão: é "um museu de arte ou de etnologia?", interrogou o L"Express.
Num mundo global, um dos novos desafios é, por exemplo, as identidades múltiplas, afirma Nélia Dias: "Nos museus de etnologia continua a pensar-se em termos de etnia. Por isso, questões como a autoria são irrelevantes. Os anos 80, com a antroplogia pós-moderna, ao questionar-se a autoridade do antropólogo, critica-se a tradição de recolha que põe de lado a dimensão individual e o processo criativo."
Pais de Brito concorda que a antropologia nunca soube interrogar verdadeiramente estes objectos: "Foram ficando ocultos e pouco problematizados nos museus ao mesmo tempo que eram valorizados no mercado da arte."
Um dos principais actores da construção do museu Quai Branly foi o marchand Jacques Kerchache - é dele o termo "artes primeiras" -, que em 1990 publicou no Libération o seu manifesto Para que as obras de arte do mundo inteiro nasçam livres e iguais...
segunda-feira, julho 03, 2006
File-sharing still thrives
Yet a year later, peer-to-peer, or P2P, sharing continues to thrive, with firms behind favorite applications such as eDonkey, LimeWire, Morpheus and Kazaa, among others, still in business.
Although the threat of litigation did force the operators of BearShare, WinMX and i2Hub to shut down, the number of people using file-sharing services has gone up.
The average number of simultaneous file-sharing users was about 9.7 million worldwide in May, with about 6.7 million from the United States, according to BigChampagne LLC, which tracks file-sharing activity. In the same period last year, BigChampagne tracked 8.6 million average users globally and 6.2 million in the United States.
ruling with helping to clarify the legal roadmap for copyright in the Internet Age and motivating some of the file-sharing operators to close down or go legit.
Without it, or the music companies' roughly 18,000 lawsuits filed against individual file-sharers since 2003, online piracy would be even worse, said Mitch Bainwol, chairman of the Washington-based group.
"We don't suggest that (unauthorized file-sharing) has been conquered, far from it," Bainwol said. "But it's not fundamentally decapitating the legal marketplace from growing in a pretty robust fashion."
Sales from music downloads, online subscription services and mobile phone ringtones have helped boost revenues and offset declines in CD sales for some labels.
File-sharing still thrives after ruling - Yahoo! News
Correio e Internet
O inquérito mostra ainda que quem utiliza Internet recebe em média mais uma encomenda por mês que os não utilizadores. A diferença para as cartas é de uma a mais para quem utiliza Internet.
O universo definido para este estudo, efectuado em Janeiro deste ano, foi o dos utilizadores de pelo menos um serviço postal em Portugal Continental e regiões autónomas da Madeira e dos Açores.
Giving It Away, Then and Now
Despite the similarities, Mr. Gates is approaching philanthropy in a fundamentally different way — call it Philanthropy 2.0. Just as Carnegie and Rockefeller were influenced by the vertically integrated, industrial economy they helped to create, Mr. Gates's philanthropic efforts are defined and affected by the less hierarchical, networked economy that he helped to create. With its small staff, strategy of creating partnerships and focus on research and development, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation more closely resembles a 21st-century software company than a 20th-century philanthropy.
"It's a conscious attempt to create a different style of foundation, a strategy of intervention and networks," said Lester M. Salamon, director of the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
Carnegie and Rockefeller were pioneers in bricks-and-mortar philanthropy. After Carnegie sold his steel company to J. P. Morgan in 1901, he plowed his nine-figure fortune into limestone. He built the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh and the Carnegie Institution in Washington and seeded the nation with more than 2,800 libraries. "His focus was to uplift humanity, and libraries for him were the best way to reach the broadest spectrum of the people," said Peter Krass, author of "Carnegie."
Libraries have also been a centerpiece of the Gates Foundation's work. But instead of building them, Mr. Gates is wiring them. Working with private-sector partners like Microsoft and Gateway, the Gates Foundation has helped provide computers and technology to 11,000 libraries.
John D. Rockefeller created educational institutions from scratch, building both the University of Chicago and Rockefeller University in New York — the first major institution devoted purely to medical research. But Mr. Gates has a taken different approach to education reform. "The Gates Foundation isn't building schools," said Peter J. Frumkin, professor of public affairs of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas and author of the forthcoming book "Strategic Giving: The Art and Science of Philanthropy."
"They're giving money to school systems and telling them to restructure, to reduce the size of their schools," Professor Frumkin said.
The Gates Foundation has given more than $100 million to New York City's public school system alone, to encourage the creation of smaller schools within existing school buildings. The foundation says its programs currently touch about 8 percent of the nation's public high schools.
THE networked approach to philanthropy recognizes that it's hard to make a huge impact on your own, no matter how much money you have. The Gates Foundation gave out $1.3 billion in 2005. With Mr. Buffett's pledges, it will be able to double its philanthropic output, to about $3 billion a year.
That sure sounds like a lot. But it represents only about 1 percent of annual charitable giving in the United States — which was $260.3 billion in 2005, according to Richard T. Jolly, chairman of Giving USA, based in Glenview, Ill. The Gates Foundation has $30 billion in total assets; the National Institutes of Health has an annual budget of $28.6 billion.So philanthropists who want to make a difference today must find strategic partners. Thanks in part to the process that Carnegie and Rockefeller helped to institutionalize, there's a huge base of like-minded organizations for the Gates Foundation to tap into.
Giving It Away, Then and Now - New York Times