Links for this week

Every week, I help compile a short mailout of interesting stories for the Open Society Institute’s Information Program, which aims to update their colleagues in the Soros network and friends further afield about the news, opinions and events the Program team have their eye on. Since the mailout is released Creative Commons, and usually contains a really excellent spectrum of information society issues, I also share the links on this blog.

Can India stop ACTA?
Michael Geist analyses the news that India may form a coalition of developing economies against the controversial anti-counterfeiting treaty currently being negotiated by the world’s richest nations.

Pakistan lifts ban on Facebook
The UK’s Guardian newspaper reports that Pakistan has lifted a two-week ban on Facebook, following controversy surrounding “blasphemous” depictions of the prophet Muhammad. Pakistan has stated that it plans to continue blocking individual pages on Facebook.

Leading scientist warns against patenting synthetic life
Professor Sir John Sulston has warned that efforts to patent the first synthetic life form would give its creator, Craig Venter, a monopoly over too wide a range of genetic engineering techniques.

Medvedev views Internet as Russia’s route to direct democracy
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has publicly suggested that the internet will transfer Russia from a representative to a direct democracy: “I am absolutely confident that there will come an epoch of return from representative democracy to direct democracy with the help of the internet”, he said.

Research shows young people do care about privacy online
New research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project shows that more than two thirds of American social networking users ages 18-29 have changed the privacy settings to limit what they share with others.

Publish What You Spend
A former aid monitoring coordinator for Transparency International Georgia lifts the lid on secret NGO budgets: “Secrecy and charity make for strange bedfellows. Those who spend the public’s money in the name of the poor have a duty to make themselves accountable to rich and poor alike by publicly explaining how this money is being spent.”

Cutting through the hype: citizen reporting vs election monitoring
Responding to hype surrounding the growing use of mobile phones to report incidents during elections, draw a much-needed line in the sand between citizen reporting and systematic election monitoring.

7 Things You Should Know About OER
This Educause Learning Initiative factsheet is a good introduction to open educational resources, what they are and why they matter.

Sage Bionetworks conference: data and health
A video recording of Dr. Stephen Friend’s introduction to April’s Sage Bionetworks Congress on radically accelerating disease treatment discovery through the use of large, open datasets.

Digital Activism Decoded
This recently published book promises to aid understanding of the mechanics underlying digital activism: “This new field, its dynamics, practices, misconceptions, and possible futures are presented together for the first time”. The book is available for free download.