Tag Archives: information

Celebrate the freedom to read – Banned Books Week – Sep 30 – Oct 6

source: Banned Books Week

 

Everyday in America someone tries to ban a book. The American Library Association reports 326 challenges in 2011. A challenge is more than a person being annoyed with a book, it is a person telling the library they don’t want anyone else to read the book. That is censorship in its most basic form.

And these books are not always the most controversial ones – sometimes they are classics that have been on the shelf for years. Here are the most challenged books of 2011:

  1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series) by Lauren Myracle
  2. The Color of Earth (series) by Kim Dong Hwa
  3. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (series)
  4. My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy by Dori Hillestad Butler
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  6. Alice (series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  8. What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones
  9. Gossip Girl (series) by Cecily Von Ziegesar
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Celebrating Banned Books Week is about the freedom to read and that takes us beyond the printed paper. For the internet it means supporting free and open access to information – a fundamental right and need in countries all around the world.

So take a chance this week, read a banned book and support someone else’s right to do so.

A final word from David Brin on freedom of speech:

Freedom of speech is not a gift from on high. It was not declared by God. It is not holy, or even natural. No other human society ever practiced it. Even we, who are loony enough to consider it sacred, don’t practice it very well. Yet, although it runs against every tyrannical impulse of human nature… impulses to suppress whatever that loudmouth fool over there is saying… the fact is that we try to live by it. Not because free speech is holy, or natural, but because it works. Because it is pragmatic. Because it allows the rapid generation of a multitude of ideas, most of which are chaff, and then allows those notions to be criticized by other egotistical people, so that a fair percentage of the best ideas rise, and most garbage eventually sinks.

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Next Apple event for iPhone 5 set for September 12 – maybe also for iPad mini

iMore has learned that Apple is planning to debut the new iPhone at a special event on Wednesday, September 12, 2012, with the release date to follow 9 days later on Friday, September 21. This information comes from sources who have proven accurate in the past.

The iPad mini will be announced at the same September 12 event, as will the new iPod nano. We haven’t heard a release date for the iPad mini yet, but it could be the same as the iPhone 5. It seems likely the new iPod touch will make an appearance on September 12 as well, though we haven’t heard any specific information about that yet either.

Last year, the iPhone 4S was announced on Tuesday, October 4, 2011, and released 10 days later on October 14. The event included minor updates to the iPod line, notably a white iPod touch 4. This year, the iPad 3 was announced on Wednesday, March 7, 2012, and released 9 days later on March 16. The event included a 1080p Apple TV.

 

Source: iMore - Apple iPhone 5 and iPad mini event planned for September 12, iPhone 5 release date for September 21

 

And, one more rumor from 9to5 Mac about a new iPad:

Finally and probably most controversial, Apple will be updating its full sized iPad line with a thinner design less than a year after release. The new, new iPad design will be tweaked with a new back side mic and a less hot thinner design.

 

 

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Ai WeiWei reviews London’s opening ceremony for 2012 Olympics – criticizes Beijing’s

Brilliant. It was very, very well done. This was about Great Britain; it didn’t pretend it was trying to have global appeal. Because Great Britain has self-confidence, it doesn’t need a monumental Olympics. But for China that was the only imaginable kind of international event. Beijing’s Olympics were very grand – they were trying to throw a party for the world, but the hosts didn’t enjoy it. The government didn’t care about people’s feelings because it was trying to create an image.

In London, they really turned the ceremony into a party – they are proud of themselves and respect where they come from, from the industrial revolution to now. I never saw an event before that had such a density of information about events and stories and literature and music; about folktales and movies.

At the beginning it dealt with historical events – about the land and machinery and women’s rights – epically and poetically. The director really did a superb job in moving between those periods of history and today, and between reality and the movies. The section on the welfare state showed an achievement to be truly proud of. It clearly told you what the nation is about: children, nurses and a dream. A nation that has no music and no fairytales is a tragedy.

 

Keep reading: The Guardian - Olympic opening ceremony: Ai Weiwei’s review

 

 

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Simple summaries of the Affordable Care Act – aka Obamacare

A final summary of the major changes under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (aka Obamacare):

- Kids can continue to be covered by their parents’ health insurance until they’re 26.

- Insurers cannot impose an unreasonable premium increase without justification (generally anything less than 10% is ok).

- Insurers have to tell customers what they’re spending money on, (instead of just “administrative fee”, they have to be more specific) and those expenditures are required to follow the 80/20 rule:

- No more than 20% can be spent on administrative costs, minimum of 80% must go directly to patient care.

- A new website is made to give people insurance and health information – healthcare.gov

- Any new health plans must provide preventive care (mammograms, colonoscopies, etc.) without requiring any sort of co-pay or charge.

 

 

More from this series:

Google takes a big step towards becoming a (smart) encyclopedia – look out Wikipedia!

“We’re in the early phases of moving from being an information engine to a knowledge engine” – Google

That’s a quote from the video below where Google explains a new panel they are adding to search. Called the ‘knowledge graph’ it is basically a mini-encyclopedia. See the panels in the images below.

 

 

This is a big competitive move for Google. Not only are they taking on Facebook with Google+, Microsoft with Google Docs, and Apple with Android, now they have Wikipedia in their sights.

Of course, Wikipedia will still serve a huge purpose for in-depth information, but you can expect Wikipedia to experience a precipitous drop in page views once people are getting their basic information from these panels.

It also puts Google in an interesting position. While this is a natural improvement in search it also creates a conflict of interest for them. One of the many they are currently facing, some of which are in the courts facing anti-trust issues.

Will Google devalue Wikipedia in favor of their ‘knowledge graph’?

Or, lower its ranking if people begin using it less?

Hard to predict, but notice that in the images above Google clearly (intentionally?) shows Wikipedia as the top result. That may not keep.

 

Learn more:

How I Redefined “Man” For The World (Wikipedia’s Battle for Diversity – Part II)

Change the Ratio: Wikipedia (design by JESS3 + 1X57)

In my previous post, Cargo Cult Editing, I used the Wikipedia page for Kate Middleton’s wedding dress and the skirmish that took place over it, as an example of how viewpoint and perspective can impact the content of Wikipedia.

Now I’ll share my own personal Wikipedia battle…that I like to build up as an epic clash, when in reality it was tantamount to a 2-second spitball fight.

For more than two years, if you visited the Man page in Wikipedia, you would have found the following section outlining (7) characteristics of masculinity:

  1. Physical — virile, athletic, strong, brave. Unconcerned about appearance and aging;
  2. Functional — provider for family, defender of family from physical threat;
  3. Sexual — sexually aggressive, experienced. Single status acceptable;
  4. Emotional — unemotional, stoic, never crying;
  5. Intellectual — logical, intellectual, rational, objective, practical;
  6. Interpersonal — leader, dominating; disciplinarian; independent, free, individualistic; demanding;
  7. Other Personal Characteristics — success-oriented, ambitious, aggressive, proud, egotistical, moral, trustworthy; decisive, competitive, uninhibited, adventurous.

When I came across the page in May of 2010, I was a little surprised to read characteristics such as “unconcerned about appearance and aging” and “provider for family.”

In fact, almost all the qualities surprised me since they seemed so utterly out of date, and frankly, just not true. But then I looked at the source: 1974. 1974!

A lot had changed in the past 35 years, with tons of published evidence to refute almost every single one of the listed characteristics. And although we can have a great social discourse over what it means to be “masculine” – the debate belongs on the Masculinity page.

So I removed the section. And entered my first “edit war” in Wikipedia with a user by the name of Martin Hogbin who reverted my change within minutes.

Like any good Sun Tzu student, I was prepared for battle. Of course I could have gone a more diplomatic route by taking the disagreement to the discussion page, but in this case, the entry was just plain wrong. And I was willing to fight.

I had my arguments and sources ready and my backup Wikipedia editors (@robotchampion and @kirbstr) primed to to jump in on the discussion should I need them.

I reverted Martin’s reversion, waiting for a response. And then, just as fast as it had begun, it was over. My edit prevailed.

The point of this story is to show what happens, when a page as popular as the Man page (which receives ~30,000 views per month), has very little diversity in its editor base. What would a 16-year old girl think upon reading the above characteristics, or 16-year old boy? Do they equally apply to homosexual men, and men of various ethnicities, nationalities, ages, religions and vocations?

The answer is no. Is the Dalai Lama not “masculine” or any less of a “man” because he is not sexually aggressive or experienced?

Wikipedia needs more diversity, for the simple reasons of perspective and objectivity. When 1X57 did the Women Who Wiki workshop, I showed the attendees, mostly women with one male, the historical Man page with the above characteristics listed and asked them if they agreed with them. The answer was unilaterally no.

So did the thousands of viewers who visited the Man page not see what I saw? Or did they simply not know how to do anything about it?

Wikipedia is the #1 open knowledge resource and the 7th most popular website, in the world. It needs contributors of all genders, ages, and races to be the great public resource that it is.

In my next and final post, I’ll discuss how more people can get involved to improve diversity and become part of the great community that is Wikipedia.

TO BE CONTINUED…

How I Redefined "Man" For The World (Wikipedia's Battle for Diversity – Part II)

Change the Ratio: Wikipedia (design by JESS3 + 1X57)

In my previous post, Cargo Cult Editing, I used the Wikipedia page for Kate Middleton’s wedding dress and the skirmish that took place over it, as an example of how viewpoint and perspective can impact the content of Wikipedia.

Now I’ll share my own personal Wikipedia battle…that I like to build up as an epic clash, when in reality it was tantamount to a 2-second spitball fight.

For more than two years, if you visited the Man page in Wikipedia, you would have found the following section outlining (7) characteristics of masculinity:

  1. Physical — virile, athletic, strong, brave. Unconcerned about appearance and aging;
  2. Functional — provider for family, defender of family from physical threat;
  3. Sexual — sexually aggressive, experienced. Single status acceptable;
  4. Emotional — unemotional, stoic, never crying;
  5. Intellectual — logical, intellectual, rational, objective, practical;
  6. Interpersonal — leader, dominating; disciplinarian; independent, free, individualistic; demanding;
  7. Other Personal Characteristics — success-oriented, ambitious, aggressive, proud, egotistical, moral, trustworthy; decisive, competitive, uninhibited, adventurous.

When I came across the page in May of 2010, I was a little surprised to read characteristics such as “unconcerned about appearance and aging” and “provider for family.”

In fact, almost all the qualities surprised me since they seemed so utterly out of date, and frankly, just not true. But then I looked at the source: 1974. 1974!

A lot had changed in the past 35 years, with tons of published evidence to refute almost every single one of the listed characteristics. And although we can have a great social discourse over what it means to be “masculine” – the debate belongs on the Masculinity page.

So I removed the section. And entered my first “edit war” in Wikipedia with a user by the name of Martin Hogbin who reverted my change within minutes.

Like any good Sun Tzu student, I was prepared for battle. Of course I could have gone a more diplomatic route by taking the disagreement to the discussion page, but in this case, the entry was just plain wrong. And I was willing to fight.

I had my arguments and sources ready and my backup Wikipedia editors (@robotchampion and @kirbstr) primed to to jump in on the discussion should I need them.

I reverted Martin’s reversion, waiting for a response. And then, just as fast as it had begun, it was over. My edit prevailed.

The point of this story is to show what happens, when a page as popular as the Man page (which receives ~30,000 views per month), has very little diversity in its editor base. What would a 16-year old girl think upon reading the above characteristics, or 16-year old boy? Do they equally apply to homosexual men, and men of various ethnicities, nationalities, ages, religions and vocations?

The answer is no. Is the Dalai Lama not “masculine” or any less of a “man” because he is not sexually aggressive or experienced?

Wikipedia needs more diversity, for the simple reasons of perspective and objectivity. When 1X57 did the Women Who Wiki workshop, I showed the attendees, mostly women with one male, the historical Man page with the above characteristics listed and asked them if they agreed with them. The answer was unilaterally no.

So did the thousands of viewers who visited the Man page not see what I saw? Or did they simply not know how to do anything about it?

Wikipedia is the #1 open knowledge resource and the 7th most popular website, in the world. It needs contributors of all genders, ages, and races to be the great public resource that it is.

In my next and final post, I’ll discuss how more people can get involved to improve diversity and become part of the great community that is Wikipedia.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Reflections from the 1st Chief Information Officer of the USA

“Last Friday was my last day at the White House. As I begin my fellowship at Harvard University, I’d like to share my reflections on public service…”

So begins, Vivek’s 12-page summary of his time in the Obama administration (the full version can be found via Alex Howard’s GovFresh piece).

I’ve been a big fan of Vivek’s, since his days as the CTO of Washington, DC. When he was named the first Fed CIO, it was big news in the tech community, especially in DC.

He's always smiling.

Each and every move he made, we followed. You have to remember that during the Bush years the exciting news was that the White House press core “had a blogger” (not to mention Bush didn’t use email). Then Obama came into office full of blackberry, twitter, facebook, and web prowess.

Every geek in the nation was rooting for some gear to get into the White House. We wanted cell phones, laptops (Macbooks!), modern websites, social media, podcasts, etc.

In the midst of this Bush/Obama collision arrived Vivek, fresh off amazingly innovative programs in DC: real-time tracking of city projects, GIS for municipal services, and co-location of engineers in schools.

Then he hit the Federal bureaucracy.

On the first day “they handed me a stack of documents with $27 billion worth of technology projects…years behind schedule…millions over budget.”

“Those documents were what passed for real-time updates on the performance of IT projects. My neighbor’s ten-year-old could look up the latest stats of his favorite baseball player on his phone on the school bus, but I couldn’t get an update on how we were spending billions of taxpayer dollars while at my desk in the White House.”

That stack of documents became his fighting spirit. No IT professional could claim any cred if they worked off binders and printouts.

“…from a small, nondescript office in downtown Washington, we spent many long nights fueled by coffee, thinking big about how we could transform our Government through technology.”

“I was ready to embark on a technology revolution…that would crack down on wasteful spending; increase the efficiency and effectiveness of government; enable an open, transparent, and participatory democracy; advance the cybersecurity posture of the nation; and most importantly, improve delivery of citizen services.”

Yeah, he was on fire.

The original IT dashboard.

The first big step was to bring that same real-time tracking pioneered in DC to the Federal Government, which is a lot like going from a tricycle to a spaceship.

“The Federal Government is the largest purchaser of IT on the planet, with over $80 billion spent on over 12,000 systems every year…to shine a light on (that spending) we launched the federal IT Dashboard in June 2009.”

“The Dashboard is a website where people can monitor every IT project..as easily as they can monitor their personal investment portfolios. If a project is over budget, or behind schedule, the Dashboard tells you so – and shows a picture of the person in charge.”

You gotta love the picture of the person in charge. Imagine having your face next to a project that is $100 million over budget. In quick order they “saved $3 billion and cut the time to deliver projects in half.”

And then to show that good ideas have legs, they “open-sourced the IT Dashboard and released all of our training materials. Within hours, 38 states and multiple countries reached out to express interest in adopting it to improve transparency and accountability. It’s already been downloaded more than 2,500 times across the world.”

Within months we went from a President who doesn’t have email to open source code!

My favorite section from the piece is not the numbers and projects but the personal anecdotes that Vivek shares. It’s part of what, in my opinion, makes him such a great leader (and great person).

“I was born in New Delhi, India, and lived in Tanzania until I was eleven. I came to America in 1985…I couldn’t speak English when I first arrived. I recall my first days at school in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and seeing a couple of African American kids around my age. They reminded me of my friends in Tanzania, so I walked up to them and starting speaking in Swahili. I was promptly met by strange looks, so I started speaking even louder to make sure they understood me. I suspect they thought I was making fun of them because the next thing I knew, I was being beaten up. Not the warm welcome I was expecting.”

But back to the tech: we get to the biggest project of his tenure, cloud computing.

“With the economy facing the worst recession since the Great Depression, one program – Cash for Clunkers – provided rebates to people who traded in older cars for new, more fuel-efficient ones. But just three days after its launch, the system for processing these rebates collapsed.”

“One hot DC August night during the height of this mess, I emerged at 4 a.m. from the Department of Transportation after 14 straight hours working…to keep servers online and the site operational.

“When I was Director of Infrastructure Technology in Arlington County, I knew down to the street address where each of our data center facilities was located and what was in them. Yet when I asked how many data centers the Federal Government had, nobody could give me the answer.

“It took agencies eight months to produce an initial inventory of their data centers. All told, the number of Federal data centers has more than quadrupled since 1998, from 432 to more than 2000. Yet on average, they are only 27 percent utilized.

“That’s why the Federal Government is actively shutting down 800 data centers by 2015.”

As of now the Federal Government is moving full speed into the cloud.

Which, of course, brings up the security concerns. As more of our critical systems go online we face an increasing risk of cataclysm.

“From power plants to stock exchanges, hospitals to banks, our Nation’s critical infrastructure systems are increasingly wired and, as a result, increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks.”

Finally, the last of Vivek’s projects, transparency.

“In this approach we also need to be mindful, however, that security is used too often as an excuse to justify the Government operating in a closed, secretive, and opaque manner.

“We almost have an IT cartel that’s made up of a few companies that benefit from government spending because they understand the procurement process better than anyone else, not because they provide better technology.

His response was to re-create the Apps for Democracy program but in a bigger, more permanent way.

“…we threw open DC’s warehouse of public data so that everyone – constituents, policymakers, and businesses – could meet in a new digital public square. We started with 200 live data feeds – everything from government contracts to crime statistics to economic development. And to spur citizens to turn this data into applications that the government didn’t have the resources to create on its own, we launched the “Apps for Democracy” contest, offering prizes for the best applications based on the data we released.

“We ran Data.gov like a lean start-up. On day one, we launched with a Minimum Viable Product with only 47 datasets. Two years later, there are 389,907 datasets covering every government mission area, from health care to public safety.

“Data.gov has spawned a global movement – 21 nations, 29 states, 11 cities, and several international organizations have established open data platforms.

In many ways Vivek is not a traditional White House appointee. His projects were big but not flashy. They tackled the hardest problems big IT faces (spending, cloud, security, and openness) and did so in a lasting way. Each of these projects are now fundamental elements of the Federal Government, which is an awesome legacy.

Americans may not know his name or even understand his work, but in Vivek’s own words: “We saved billions in taxpayer dollars; we adopted game changing technologies; we strengthened the cybersecurity posture of the nation while making it more open, transparent, and participatory.”

A truly successful CIO.

Good luck to you, Vivek, in your new position:

“…my work at Harvard, focusing on how we can use information technology to solve our nation’s and the world’s most pressing problems.

And, good luck to your replacement, Steven VanRoekel, a former Microsoft executive and one-time assistant to Bill Gates.

 

Congratulations, @stevenvDC! The best man for the best tech job on the planet. Good luck–you’re going to rock it!less than a minute ago via HootSuite Favorite Retweet Reply