Monthly Archives: August 2011

Assange transcript follow-up

I was generally pleased with the reaction I got last week when I published the full transcript of my interview with Julian Assange at the Chaos Communications Congress in 2009. The first surprise was that Wikileaks let their ~1m Twitter followers know about it, which I decided to interpret as a clue that the views Julian expressed during the interview – on the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, for example – might not have changed all that much in the intervening years.

Politico.com, The Washington Post and the International Business Times all published stories referencing the transcript, my thanks to Heather Brooke for pointing out the WaPo story, which I’d originally missed, when I saw her at the book’s launch party. Predictably, they all went for the NOTW angle. By contrast Jonathan Kent, a freelance journalist and broadcaster with several years reporting from the Far East under his belt, took objection to the perceived labelling of Raja Petra by Assange as a “real journalist” in this appropriately headstrong post.

I’m grateful to the Anonymous commenter who let me know that the interview was not the first time Assange had made his views on the NOTW hacking scandal clear, pointing to a blog post which pre-dates the interview by nearly 6 months and expresses the same ideas.

So far, I’ve had four requests for the audio, so releasing it is yet to become my top priority. But I probably will eventually. In the meantime, I’m going to concentrate on getting a few edited clips of the Cory Doctorow material that went into writing the book, clips that I prepared with the help of Nightjar studios last year, out in the wild. And I think it might be fun to publish the Daniel Domscheit-Berg interview from 2009, given that I think – as I wrote in the book – it provides an interesting contrast with the Assange material (I basically asked them both the same questions). My interest in releasing this material is two-fold. First, I want to encourage as many people as possible to read the book. But second, and perhaps just as important, I want to see what life this material can have it its own right if I release it in a way that lets others repurpose it.

Barefoot, the first few days

So the book launched last week. And so far, people seem to be liking it.

Dispatches from the tweetstream

On the launch day itself, ZDNet posted an excellent review written by ORG colleague Wendy M. Grossman. It’s great that the first review of the book was written by someone who so obviously got it. Wendy made all the connections I was hoping for, and then some. Here’s a taster:

Her four most important guides through this landscape are: Stewart Brand; Cory Doctorow, the science fiction writer, BoingBoing blogger and copyfighter; Phil Booth, the former executive director of No2ID; and, most of all, Rop Gonggrijp, one of four co-founders of the Dutch ISP XS4ALL.

These four guides by themselves are a grid of interconnections. Brand’s Whole Earth Catalogue is the inspirational ancestor of Doctorow’s BoingBoing. XS4ALL defied Scientology in one of the Net’s first free-speech battles, which defined today’s notice-and-takedown standard. The Open Rights Group (ORG) supported Booth’s opposition to the database state and fights electronic voting. Gonggrijp was one of the people who made the Dutch voting machines play chess. Each has his role in, and view of, the mix of counter-culture and computers that enticed Hogge at the outset, fuelled by the movie Easy Rider and the book Fierce Dancing.

Read the rest here.

The big surprise of the day was Terence Eden, who had converted my free html into an ePub version before lunch on the first day of launch, accompanied by another heart-warming endorsement:

I’ve only just started reading the book, but it’s clear that it’s been written in a very accessible way. You don’t need to be a hard-core techie to understand what’s going on.

Read more and get the ePub version here.

That evening, I headed into London to the Frontline Club for the launch party itself. The room was packed, and lots of fun people showed up. I sold clean out of the first print run, and ended up having to take orders from those disappointed not to get a copy. Bill Thompson, Phil Booth and I did some readings, with Bill doing an admirable impression of Julian Assange for his bit. Paul Clarke took an amazing set of photos, some of which I’ve reproduced below.

Sam Smith


Phil Booth does a reading


Padraig and Neil from Little Atoms


Isabel Hilton and the China Dialogue crowd


Me going nuclear


Cory Doctorow, Heather Brooke, Wendy M. Grossman and friend


Book signing and free hugs


Bill does his impression of Julian Assange

Too much information: week ending 29 July 2011

Malawi cracks down on media covering protests
The Committee to Protect Journalists reports on a media crackdown in Malawi in response to national anti-government protests in which as many as 18 people are reported to have died. Journalists have been arrested, the signals of private radio broadcasters have been switched off, and independent media websites have been experiencing massive sustained DDoS attacks.

Web surveillance sends chill through parts of Chinese economy
The New York Times reports that: “new regulations that require bars, restaurants, hotels and bookstores to install costly web monitoring software are prompting many businesses to cut internet access and sending a chill through the capital’s game-playing, web-grazing literati who have come to expect free wi-fi with their lattes and green tea”.

Italy blocks proxy servers
LINX reports that Italian ISPs have been forced by Italy’s cybercrime police unit to block access to proxyitalia.com, a legal proxy-server website, after authorities realised it could be used to access websites banned under Italy’s strict copyright enforcement regime.

Special: Online debate and the virtual public sphere
“The age of rage” is an in-depth feature by Tim Adams for the UK’s Observer newspaper which examines the effects anonymity and pack mentality have on online debate. Meanwhile “Tunnel vision”, a short comment piece for the Guardian’s Comment is Free, argues that the internet’s fragmentation of the public sphere can nurture and catalyse extremist viewpoints.
Age of rage | Tunnel vision

The politics of surveillance in Latin America
The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Katitza Rodriguez details how communication interception is being used as a political tool to identify, control and stifle dissent in Latin America.

(S)low impact research and the importance of open in maximising re-use
Cameron Neylon of the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council argues that new approaches to publishing and evaluating scientific research could increase the value of basic and low-impact research.

Marshall McLuhan speaks
This month marks the centenary of the birth of Marshall McLuhan, the media theorist who coined the phrases “the global village” and “the medium is the message”. This website celebrates McLuhan’s work, and includes a 20-minute video narrated by Tom Wolfe.

Tool: public domain calculator
The “public domain calculator” is a joint project of the Europeana Connect project and the Austrian National Library designed to be used to discern whether a particular work is in the public domain in a particular jurisdiction, an ostensibly simple task that turns out to be very complicated in practice thanks to disconnected and complex copyright laws across the world.

Visualisation: privacy maps
Nymity create useful maps detailing privacy laws around the world, and have just launched new maps for Asia Pacific and Latin America.

Video: A year in the life of the New York Times Homepage
This bewitching video plays images of the New York Times homepage as it has changed over the past year. Its creator, Phillip Mendonça-Vieira, writes: “Traditionally, the purpose of a newspaper’s front page was to entice the reader into delving further into the publication. As a consequence, they are roughly equivalent with whatever the editors thought were the most relevant news items of the day.”