Radical Instrument

IT is changing the exercise of power. Radical Instrument is picking up the signals.

Posts Tagged ‘North Korea

Three for Tuesday

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Seen around the cyber-halls on a Tuesday afternoon:

1.  Courtesy of Slashdot and Spiegel Online:  SWIFT, which handles transfers between financial institutions, is moving its servers and database from the U.S. to Europe. The EU is likely to let the U.S. to continue to monitor SWIFT transactions for anti-terrorism purposes…at least for now. How likely would approval have been if this move had been made during the Bush years? Will a change of…well, tone on the part of the Obama Adminstration be enough to mollify opposition to activities that arguably encroach on European privacy measures?

2.  Over at Wired’s Dual Perspectives, Kim Zetter has an article that sort of makes the right point…that we need much improved definition around terms like “cyber war” and “cyber attack”…but then muddles that point with language like this:   “In a battle where the militarized zone exists solely in the ether(net) and where anyone can wield the cyber-equivalent of a 10-ton bomb, how do we fight, let alone find, the enemy?” To illustrate the point, there’s a reference to the infamous Homeland Security video from 2007 about the U.S. power grid, and a story from 1982 (!) about a logic bomb that literally detonated a Siberian pipeline. I’m not convinced that you get anywhere close to un-muddling terms like “cyber war” until we stop using military metaphors that don’t really mean much, viz. cyber-equivalent of a 10-ton bomb.

3.  Courtesy of North Korean Economy Watch:   somebody put KCNA on Twitter. Which means that Twitter might just be pure entertainment.

Written by Mark

July 28, 2009 at 2:04 pm

North Korea rolls out 3G…

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In the “can’t believe I missed this” file:  What You Must Read has a short post on the rollout of a 3G wireless network in North Korea. The best wall-to-wall coverage for this is over at North Korean Economy Watch. Price tag for the network is $400M. Some interesting comparisons:  a 3G build project in Quebec is tagged at $800M, while a T-Mobile project for San Francisco ran $322M.

Written by Mark

December 21, 2008 at 3:12 am

More on Web 2.0 and political organizing: a role for the Fourth Estate?

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I was really disturbed by this article in last week’s Washington Post, detailing the atrocities witnessed by an escapee from a North Korean concentration camp. There’s been a debate over on Slashdot over a Nobel Prize winner’s assertion that ICT could have prevented the rise of Hitler and World War II. The story about North Korean prison camps provides the depressing answer: probably not.

But why not? I’ve been racking my brains over the last few days trying to come up with ways by which any ordinary citizen’s use of ICT could be applied to expose, if not end, genocide and other atrocities that should be pushed into history’s dustbin.

I don’t have an answer (obviously). But I do have a thought.

Journalism is an industry in search of a business model, if it’s to survive as an industry at all. In my previous post, I pointed out some early post-Obama uses of social networking and collaboration technologies for political organizing – the point being that we’re going to see a great many campaigns to come, both issue-based and election-based, that will adopt the web strategy employed by the Obama campaign.

But anybody adopting such a strategy will need a development platform, even if it’s just a wiki and a domain. Here’s where digital journalism could (and maybe should) evolve: provide the development platforms that allow people to engage in the “story.” Take the North Korea story. Why is it merely a story? Where’s the use of geospatial data and satellite images to show the locations of all known North Korean concentration camps? Transcripts of related deliberations (if any) by appropriate U.S. Congressional committees and international organizations?

It strikes me that any media organization could provide a generic, even neutral platform – or even a set of modules – that subscribers could use to build out for whatever purpose necessary. Provide a wiki for a local issue that individuals on either side of the issue could port over and customize, for a fee. Writing a story on the markets? Provide relevant data as a spreadsheet or forecasting model. Sports? The platform’s already there … fantasy football, baseball, whatever.

The Fourth Estate originally emerged in the U.S. as a vehicle for political mobilization and organization (see Benson Bobrick’s “Angel in the Whirlwind” for wonderful historical perspective on this). In journalism’s modern quest for objectivity, the “vehicle,” now essentially code, has been left to political actors to figure out for themselves. Why not provide the tools – the code library – that political actors of any stripe could use to organize? Continue to deliver the story, but sell the means by which people could engage with (or against) the story.

I’d pay for it. There are still some atrocities in need of a dustbin.

Written by Mark

December 15, 2008 at 2:34 am