Digital Technologies for Deliberative Democracy

A project at Columbia’s Center on Organizational Innovation is looking at how technology has or hasn’t been used to enable participatory democracy in the rebuilding of the WTC:

“New digital technologies have figured critically in the process of deciding the future of Lower Manhattan after September 11th, not only supplying the infrastructure for soliciting public input but also opening new channels of communication between citizens, designers, advocacy groups, and decision-makers…”

“By compiling an archive of all the websites devoted to Lower Manhattan redevelopment issues and tracking changes in the form and structure of the websites over time, the project will examine how old and new advocacy groups are adapting to a political landscape in which new deliberative technologies may be challenging traditional mechanisms of citizen participation”….”Analysis of the website database will chart whether and how architects and urban planners are capitalizing on new digital technologies to involve residents more directly in design.”

There is a project outline available as PDF file.

Software patents in Europe

This news story reports the EU finally will decide to allow software patents in Europe. But it appears the patents will be limited to software that is attached to specific hardware or can be used to produce new things.

Seriously I think software patents will destroy more economic value than they can protect. Their primary effect is not to protect development investments but to rather limit growth of competitors.

I have an idea for a great user interface enhancement that I am sure will be part of any standard GUI one day. Who is willing to pay the patent fees and share the profit with me if it turns out to become reality?

The humanism of media ecology

Neil Postman – Media Ecology Association:

“As far as I can tell, the new media have made us into a nation of information junkies; that is to say, our 170-year efforts have turned information into a form of garbage. My own answer to the question concerning access to information is that, at least for now, the speed, volume, and variety of available information serve as a distraction and a moral deficit; we are deluded into thinking that the serious social problems of our time would be solved if only we had more information, and still more information.”

[via InfoDesign: To Surf The Community]

Isn’t that irony that Neil Postman’s messages are blogged here and displayed on web pages and books sold by Amazon? There’s is a hidden truth in this.

Neil Postman sounds as if he is suggesting a new abstinence. But what I think he is suggesting is not less information, but more good information.

It somehow indirectly reminds me of of Andrius Kulikauskas calling on the BlogTalk 1.0 conference: “I don’t need news! I need initiatives! When I have selected an initiative, then I need news! So what are we undertaking?”.

Pentagon: climate change will destroy us

Guardian Unlimited:

“You’ve got a President who says global warming is a hoax, and across the Potomac river you’ve got a Pentagon preparing for climate wars.”

And: Key findings of the Pentagon.

Reading the key findings I feel the Pentagon has hired some freaks that want to draw a scenario that would keep the defence spending up even if “war on terror” has been diminished.

Another link: Bush Administrations chronology of environmental destruction.

Landscapes of Capital

“This project is an ongoing attempt to write a multimedia web-based book dedicated to studying how corporate television commercials portray a world shaped and defined by global capitalism during the last years of the 20th century and the first years of the 21st. Drawing on a set of 800 TV commercials sponsored by corporate firms from 1996 to the present, we try to map conceptually the landscapes and narratives of Capital, Technology and Globalization as see in coprorate television ads.” [Z+Partners]

WMD and lies

This article by John W. Dean reads like the worst thing that could happen to the world is an impeachment of the president of the United States.

The article is titled “Is Lying About The Reason For War An Impeachable Offense?”

What a strange question is that? If there is something that seems to be a reason for impeachment then it’s lying about reasons for a war! But lying about your private sexual life maybe is much harder to take for the US public.

I remember headlines in Germany in the last days before the US attack on Iraq asking “Did diplomacy finally fail?”. USA didn’t even try to be diplomatic about the Iraq question. The only diplomatic activity was trying to blackmail other nations to join the “coalition”.