a smile…

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"The smile…is used by humans to hide the truth….But sadness, like understanding, comes early in life for some. It is part of intelligence."

I had a chat with a friend, who gave me the quote from a book she is reading now. Is that really true? Are we using the smile to cover up the truth? Some people turn to the smiles when they stressed, because they do not know what to say or do. They just smile. (A quite funny reaction actually when you look at it objectively and not being in the situation.)

Anyhow, I would like to say that we in common smile way too little. A smile is normally better than a grumpy face. (There are situations where smiling just is not the thing to do. ) We tend to get so tied up into what we do that we forget to enyoy life. Open up and suck the impressions in!

Personally, I just love the walk from my apartment at University Avenue up to my office at Campus. The sun, the squirrels playing around in the park, the cactus park or even the friendly chat about life itself via MSN.

I think we should go for lighting up the room with a smile. Spread the feeling that life is not as bad after all, and nothing is as powerful as a happy face… At least skip the sad or grumpy face, I guess.

I will smile. Life is good.

Is there a need for an open-source news media platform?

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Campware is an organization that is an initiative of the Media Development Loan Fund, Inc., a New York-registered public charity organization. Personally I will contribute to that organization by developing an open source platform, for independent news media organizations with support by the Reuters Foundation. The idea is to create an online newsroom, which can be used by journalists and other communicators in emerging democracies.

That sounds like a great plan, but is there really a need for such a platform and is such a platform really a good business?

I am a 29 year old guy borned and raised in Sweden, a neat wonderful little place in northern Europe. I have been fed with information about everything since I made my stumbling steps in this world (and probably even before that). Ever since kindergarden I have been taught how to behave towards my fellow human beings, and to treat other people with respect regardless of skin, ethnicity, cultural background religion. As I grew and started school, we read about in principal everything that has happened in history without anything being censored.

When I started the university the IT-boom began and I got my own internet connection and thought it was so cool I usually spent hours in front of the computer browsing the web for all sorts of information. I can honestly say that I can read whatever I want to. Basically, spending nine years of my time at university level followed by PhD studies has made a full-feathered, full-blooded academic guy. I have become who I am because I’d lived in a country where that is possible, and more importantly because I know I have the right to do so.

Now consider some boy or girl in a developing country, emerging democracy, state run by a dictator or even just a troubled area. By troubled area I mainly mean occupied territorium. What kind of information will that boy or girl see? Who will provide that to them? What difference between that information and the information I can see, hear or read is there?

The most common answer to that question is to say that the main source of information that reaches that boy or girl is filtered, censored and even wrong. But can I honestly say that the information I read in Sweden is not? I answer that question no.

So what is the big difference?

Well as I see it, the most important characteristics of any democracy is the freedom of speech. If the information "spoken" is right or wrong is not of the highest relevance. The main issue is really to provide enough sources so that there really are multiple sources, because what is "right" information? Who is the one to say that anything is the truth? What is the basis for such a comment? If somebody say to me that the earth is flat, I can present that person with numerous scientific arguments that he or she is wrong, but I can never force him to admit that I am right.

Why? Because of the right to have an opinion. This discussion might seem a bit far out, and a bit too philosophical, but a big issue for the areas I mentioned previously is that the sources of news coverage are very scarce and limited. Then you can easily force an opinion on people. For instance look at Iran that spend billions of dollars on filtering the web for information that the regime does not feel is inline with what the people should hear or is the word of the devil. If you just see one kind of information, that will become the truth. The same is of course true in those areas where the number of free nationalwide newspapers are very few.

So what will an open-source newsmedia platform do then? I discussed this with a close friend. Think of two possible sights to build a house. One that is commonly hit my storms, earthquakes, landslides and thunderstorms, and one that is neat, flat and robust. Which one would you pick to build your house? Everyone will always answer the second one. The same situation is acctually true for investors in troubled areas. There are very few people wanting to invest in an area where your investment (that is your house) is unsafe and can be destroyed in a flash.

The open-source newsmedia platform will work the same way as hiring the right construction firm to make the sight clean, secure it from landslides, and make the house earthquake and storm safe. Such efforts will cost and by releasing the software under an open-source licence, one can however assure that money will not be an issue.

I have spent most of this blog entry trying to describe the need for an open-source news media platform. This is a very complex issue and this blog entry should be considered as an attempt to encapsulate some of the parts of it. The details of how to make this a sustainable solution will be covered by upcoming blog entries.

what happens to the media in the future?

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By accident I stombled across a post inside a forum about the upcoming Google Net, which will create enormous possibilities for Google to develop new services and gain control over their costs. The discussion may be old, but open my eyes to this new problem.

The development of new services by Google has been discussed several times, and especially the customization of them. In order for Google to customize the services you have to control and supervise the traffic between the client and server. This is nothing unique for Google, but they have a world leading position in this techonlogy. Especially Gmail have been discussed in terms of privacy, as Google scan both incoming and outgoing emails to be able to present the user with the right ads at the right time.

The problem is really not the scanning itself but that it can be misused. Hacking of the service is very unlike as the syetem by Google is very much robust, but the implications of a customized site for the user can/and to some extent will be filtered/censored. The users will loose their own possibility to have control of what they read and when. A fundamental right in a democratic society is thereby lost.

However, the user will benefit from the filtering as the content will be structured, filtered and explained in the "right" language, as all possible sources are used to create your story. The benefits are therefore enormous and thus the road to pick is to not obvious.

The Poynter Institute and Robin Sloan och Matt Thompson have created a Flash movie covering the problem described with filtered and user customized media content. Matt Thompson describes the background to the film.

Two versions of the film exist and are found uinder the links below:
EPIC (second version)

See it! It changed my view of new technology!

the clock is ticking….

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the clock has started to tick… there is now only two and a half week left until I will get on the airplane taking me to San Fransisco. The time there will be awesome… I will soon present the project at which I will work on in detail here, but until then you can browse the links rdvp and campware in the menu to the left to get an idea of what it is all about.