My new book, A Guide to the Internet for Human Rights Defenders is now available to buy on Amazon, or order in your local bookshop. Originally commissioned by Global Partners Digital in the run up to NETmundial, the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance held in Brazil last year, this new edition has been simplified and re-formatted for a more general audience.
A Guide to the Internet for Human Rights Defenders explains the history and workings of the internet, who governs it, and who has the power to affect our rights online. Written in a breezy, accessible style and with an extensive glossary of technical terms, this small volume will prove, I hope, to be an indispensable guide for students, business leaders and policymakers new to the world of internet governance and human rights.
Buy it here, or contact me if you’re interested in bulk orders direct from the publisher.
My review of Caitlin Moran’s book How to Build a Girl (out in the States this week) is up on BoingBoing:
Caitlin Moran’s How to Build a Girl is the story of Johanna Morrigan, poor, fat teenager from the economic backwater of 1990s Wolverhampton, and her transformation into legendary music critic and Lady Sex Adventurer, Dolly Wilde.
Thanks to a lot of hard graft at Wolverhampton’s public library, where she can read the specialist press and order any album she likes for 20p, Morrigan/Wilde finds herself anointed into the pre-Internet indie music elite as star reviewer for the Disc & Music Echo. Once there, she learns that the best way to stay on top is to write like a critic, not a fan (like “some weird angry old man, puncturing the ball of every band who kicked it over my fence”), and to stand at the back of concerts, scowling with the other writers, instead of dancing at the front.
Read the rest here.
This week, Global Partners have published the first in their series of “Travel Guides” to the digital world, Internet Policy and Governance for Human Rights Defenders which I authored under contract to them last year.
The aim of the guide is to entice human rights defenders from the Global South to participate in the discussions happening now around our rights online. But it should also serve as a useful introduction to the technologies that underpin the ‘net and the people who can affect our lives online, from governments to corporations, hackers, hacktivists and everything in between:
Global Partners write:
How the internet operates and is governed affects the rights of users – a new field from which human rights expertise is currently absent. Civil society groups at the table are fighting an unequal fight, and urgently need the strength and depth that the human rights community can bring. It is time for human rights defenders to familiarise themselves with the internet, and prepare to defend human rights online.
The beautiful typesetting and illustrations are by Tactical Studios. The volume is released Creative Commons and you can download a free .pdf version here.
The Arc blog have published my review of Jeremy Rifkin’s new book, “The Zero Marginal Cost Society”:
The trick to reading Jeremy Rifkin’s latest work is to treat it less like a book and more like a mystical text. That’s because Rifkin, a prolific writer and the management guru most likely to be found at an Occupy sit-in, has synthesised so many ideas within it that laboring over the contradictions seems like missing the point.
The clue is in the book’s multiple titles. Capitalism has been our bright sun for two centuries, but as the human journey continues, technological advance driven by capitalism’s (ultimately) self-destructive quest for efficiency will serve to reduce the marginal cost of producing everything to near-zero, and a new star, called “the commons” will begin to attract us to its orbit.
Read the full text here.
My review of Dave Eggers’ The Circle has just been posted up on the Arc blog:
In what has swiftly become a time-worn tradition, Dave Eggers’ techno-capitalist dystopia The Circle opens with a tour of the campus. And the campus of the Circle, Eggers’ post-Google/Facebook/Twitter hybrid, makes the last time we looked round the real-life Googleplex, watching Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in The Internship, feel like a tour of the offices of a public utility firm.
Which is, coincidentally, where Mae Holland, the novel’s protagonist, has just arrived from: she has been languishing amid burlap and her boss’s halitosis since graduating from $250,000-worth of liberal arts education…
Arc is the magazine of science fiction and the felt future edited by Simon Ings and published quarterly by the New Scientist. Issue 2.1 “Exit Strategies”, which includes contributions from CERN physicist Michael Doser and M. John Harrison, and stories by Jeff Noon, Kathleen Ann Goonan, and Tad Williams, is out now.
Update: This ended up being a really good interview, and I urge you to listen to it on the Little Atoms website.
I’m just about to head into London to interview Angela Saini, author of Geek Nation, for tonight’s episode of Little Atoms. If you’re in London you can tune in from 7pm to Resonance 104.4 FM to hear the interview, or you can listen live online here. A podcast of the interview will be made available on the Little Atoms website in the fullness of time. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes here.
I used to work with Angela at openDemocracy.net, and it’s been fantastic to watch her journalism career go from strength to strength since she left that esteemed organ. I caught up with her at the recent Little Atoms event “Which Way to techno-Utopia?”, where I was impressed by the engaging way she spoke about the work she did for the book travelling around India to discern whether, as a nation, it has what it takes to be the world’s next scientific super power. The book addresses a number of issues I find fascinating, like the way science and spiritualism mix more readily in India than they do in the West, the ideological/nationalistic nature of the debate around GMOs, and the potential of e-government to transform India’s notorious bureaucracy. I’m looking forward to talking about these issue in more depth with Angela, and Little Atoms godfather and co-host Neil Denny, tonight.
Tomorrow, I’m hoping to give a lightning talk at Book Hackday, an event being hosted at the Free Word Centre in London for hackers and writers to explore the next step in the evolution of the digital book. Tucked under my arm will be the third chapter of my book Barefoot Into Cyberspace, as well as an audio recording and transcript of the interview with Stewart Brand that contributed to the chapter. This is the first time any of this book has been published anywhere, so I’m getting a bit excited.
The chapter is called “Information wants to be free”, the observation made in 1984 at the Hacker Con in Marin County for which Brand will probably go down in history. I’ve chosen this chapter because I think it lends itself particularly well to being enriched by supplementary materials available online. The history of the development of the personal computer and the net is very well represented online: so many of the original materials which bear witness to this history are freely available, from a video of Douglas Engelbart’s 1968 Mother of All Demos to John Perry Barlow’s 1996 “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace“. I’ve highlighted the major references and material used in Chapter 3 in my delicious feed – hopefully the hackers at tomorrow’s event will be able to make use of this, too.
I’m licensing the chapter CC-BY-SA, in the hope that people will share it as widely as possible. You can download the pdf below via Scribd. You can also download the transcript (for now licensed CC-BY-SA-NC) of the interview with Brand, which I recorded in January last year. If you can, do please come to the event tomorrow, show some support, and get hacking. But if you can’t make it, mail me at becky DOT hogge AT gmail DOT com for a copy of the html files. And if you come up with anything interesting, please share it in the comments.