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Sunday, June 1

Scrapbook clips catch up

Scrapbook is the Firefox extension I use to quickly capture either a whole page or a text selection. It's not, yet, online - meaning that I can't access clips anywhere - but much more useful for my needs than

Accessibility, two new useful resources.

Why we posted epilepsy film to YouTube
Epilepsy charities condemned Russell Barth andChristine Lowe's YouTube seizure video as a "freak show". Not so, say the couple: the movie has saved lives.

Since posting this footage, we have had over 254,000 views (23 times more hits than the next-most-viewed clip), and have received dozens of emails from people asking for advice in reducing seizures, and hundreds of positive comments about our bravery and compassion.

This footage has been used in medical schools and presentations around the world, and a prison in New Mexico has even used it to help new guards recognize real seizures. Another man in Fort Worth, Texas emailed us to say that our video helped him save another person who had a seizure while at his place of work. Our video has saved lives.

What is it with charities and the web?

Wired's Wiki on how to set up an online pirate radio station.

From the US, UK egov read this and weep:
More than 400 government Web managers from across the country are meeting this week at the fifth annual Government Web Managers Conference, co-sponsored by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and the Federal Web Managers Council. This year's conference focuses on new collaborative technologies that allow agencies to work together to create and deliver better Web content for citizens. The Web Managers Best Practice Awards were presented as part of the conference on May 5, recognizing six exemplary federal Web sites.
From Public Sector Forums ( only):
The Cabinet Office is currently embroiled in a huge behind-the-scenes row with the Treasury who they are accusing of failing to sort out tax rules on VAT on shared services for the last two years. Although some public bodies are VAT-exempt, buying shared services incurs 17.5% VAT which they cannot recover. The Cabinet Office, along with many other departments, believes this is one of the two single biggest barriers to shared services, is wrecking business cases for shared services and costing the public sector more than £200 million per year in lost potential efficiency savings.
Others have reported how Gordon Brown talked up the Internet at a Scottish faith gathering. Here's how the Express reported it:
To many it is a talking shop or a playground for perverts. But for Gordon Brown the internet is a new force for global good.
Gordon Brown's speech to Google Zeitgeist:
Churchill once said that those who try to build the present in the image of the past will miss out entirely on the future. And he also warned about people who were facing change, resolved to be irresolute, he said, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, and all powerful for impotence - and that is a warning to all of us.

Chairman: So am I right in paraphrasing that that you expect the web to drive more responsibility and accountability to our elected leaders?

Prime Minister: Yes.

Chairman: And will we see a lot more 'coups de blogs' and 'coups de social networks'?
Prime Minister: 'Coups de blogs' and 'coups de texts', yes!
What was clear from his speech and answers to questions, though, was that although Downing Street will be webbie he doesn't understand how this isn't flowing down through Whitehall and local government. Now why is that?

Those new online maps from DEFRA showing noise in the UK managed to crash on their first day.

On FutureMajority a neat explanation of the ancient rules which stop the US Congress from doing anything on YouTube or social networks.
Franking Rules state that unless you're in the leadership you can't use anything outside the House/Senate firewall. So, YouTube is technically not ok (even though most members are pushing the envelope), no Facebook, or Myspace... nothing…
The article points out how far behind Downing Street the US is.

The Atlantic magazine on how Obama's use of the web has produced The Amazing Money Machine.
Whenever I think about the quarter billion dollars he has raised so far, the image that leaps to mind is Scrooge McDuck diving joyously into his piles of gold.
Picking up my Google Reader clip on being aware of sadists at the US border - Taking your laptop into the US? Be sure to hide all your data first, The Guardian reported.
They can take your computer and download its entire contents, or keep it for several days. Customs and Border Patrol has not published any rules regarding this practice, and I and others have written a letter to Congress urging it to investigate and regulate this practice.

But the US is not alone. British customs agents search laptops for pornography. And there are reports on the internet of this sort of thing happening at other borders, too. You might not like it, but it's a fact.
When the New York Times reported on the Pentagon's use of retired generals as 'experts' to push propaganda onto US TV networks, they did so from FOI releases of thousands of documents and audio. This huge archive was then put on dailykos for others to hunt through and it's turned up gem after gem, such as this one from audio of Donald Rumsfeld:
RUMSFELD: [Iraqi militias] know the center of gravity of the thing is here in the United States. It isn't out there. And they're designing their attacks to have maximum effect politically, to weaken the will of the American people. Doing a pretty good job. Hell of a lot more skillful at it than we are. Have a lot greater flexibility. They can lie. Don't have bureaucracy. They have media committees that they operate to manipulate the media. And they do it very skillfully. (mp3)
In the wake of the earthquake, Shanghailist carried the Chinese government's order for websites to 'go dark' for three days national morning:
To all propaganda departments, online propaganda units and foreign affairs offices, and to the various bureaus and websites in all cities and counties:

The State Council has gazetted May 19-21 as national days for mourning. In line with the spirit of the Central Foreign Affairs Office's emergency notice, the requirements are as follows ...

Ethical Corporation Magazine on how the exposure of Yahoo's complicity with Chinese censors has had a positive effect

Former Chinese dissident Harry Wu is administering the new Yahoo human rights fund. As John O’Reilly, a leading human rights commentator, said of the letter to Condeleeza Rice: “This is the first time a company has been so explicit in its condemnation of human rights violations and this, together with the establishment of the new fund, is pretty ground-breaking stuff.”
Same magazine has a feature on Olympics 2008: Beijing games – Sponsors enter rings of fire

Sponsoring companies have difficult choices. They have paid huge sums for rights to global marketing. Limiting that marketing to China seems like a safe last resort, but will undermine their investment. Meanwhile, the moment can be seized by their competitors back home.

Speaking up for human rights, as campaigners want, could now be very risky if the Chinese authorities took it as a “loss of face” and retaliated by making life in China difficult for the companies.
Africa is definitely going digital.
For veteran wildlife ranger Joseph Kimojino, the traditional tools of his trade -- binoculars, off-road jeep and a rifle -- have been supplemented by Twitter, Flickr and a blog.

A ranger in Kenya's acclaimed Mara Triangle wildlife park, Kimojino is a member of the Masai tribe. He first learned how to click a computer mouse in November. Now he blogs about the Mara Triangle and posts wild animal photos on Flickr nearly every day.

WhiteAfrican had more on startups in Nigeria and Techpreneurs in Kenya.

Marco Cantu reports on how Microsoft Blames Users for Vista Problems
An article covering "Five Misunderstood Features in Windows Vista" claims that all Vista problems are only perceived by users and blames their judgment of the OS. You can get upset, or have a good laugh.
Joe Lieberman tried to hustle Google into censoring YouTube, here's Google telling him to get lost.

Larry Page criticising a potential Microsoft takeover of Yahoo:
Now, if you put 90 percent of communications all in one company ... that's really a big risk, especially one (Microsoft) that has a history of doing bad stuff.
Scott Schmidt used Google AdWords to discover many Americans Searching for Hilary (it's 'Hillary'). He also discovred a method for Republicans to waste Obama's millions.
Search for either candidate and their own website is the sponsored link that returns - at a cost of somewhere near $3 each time someone clicks on the link, a fortune in click-through ad rates.
Slate details why although Microsoft's new 'cashback' scheme for boosting LiveSearch looks radical on the surface, underneath the hood it's actually all about the same old - limited and hence hardly useful for users - dealmaking.

Google search results can now be tweaked to provide top categories and in-site search. Yahoo has announced the general public availability of their SearchMonkey program. This is a program that has been in beta testing with limited partners. It allows the partner to provide Yahoo with structured data that provides advanced information about a web page. This information is then used by Yahoo to influence the presentation of organic search listing results for that page. This includes building apps into the search results.

From Bootstrapper (no, not a gay porn site) : 50+ Google Reader Productivity Hacks. Keyboard shortcuts, firefox add-ons and time-savers. Very useful.

The generation gap defined:
Ralph Nader showed up at the Google offices to talk about his presidential campaign. About 5 minutes in, he says the Internet has been a "disappointment," and then, "don't get me going on the Internet." He goes on to say that "it hasn't shown much by way of mobilizing, except on Internet issues..."
Here's a gem from Master Miliband's recent trip with Condi to Mountain View:

Finally, Rice and Miliband came out of the auditorium and walked over to the microphones at the edge of our grassy pen.

Miliband remarked that he was thankful that Secretary Rice rescued him from the chilliness of the United Kingdom for the warmth and sunshine of "Southern California."

"Northern California!" Rice corrected him. "Oh, sorry!" Miliband said. Scattered laughs.

In a damned radical move, Comedy Central said it will soon start streaming full episodes of The Daily Show, Colbert Report and South Park. As you might imagine, this raises some eyebrows with cable companies, in this case, Time Warner. “They can’t have it both ways. If they put content they ask cable companies to pay for online for free, they are making it less valuable and we should be expected to pay less for it.”

Great cover story in Prospect Magazine about the moral panic surrounding Gaming.
A generational rift has opened that is in many ways more profound than the equivalent shifts associated with radio or television: more alienating for those unfamiliar with new technologies, more immersive for those who are. How do lawmakers regulate something that is too fluid to be fully comprehended or controlled; how do teachers persuade students of the value of an education when what they learn at play often seems more relevant to their future than anything they hear in a classroom?

So far, the dire predictions many have made about the "death" of traditional narratives and imaginative thought at the hands of video games have at best equivocal evidence to support them. Television and cinema may be suffering, economically, at the hands of interactive media. But literacy standards and book sales have failed to nosedive, and both books and radio are happily expanding into an age that increasingly looks like it will be anything but lived on-screen. Young people still enjoy sport, going out and listening to music. They like playing games with their friends, and using the internet to keep in touch and arrange meetings rather than to isolate themselves. And most research—including a recent $1.5m study funded by the US government—suggests that even pre-teens are not in the habit of blurring game and real worlds. This finding chimes with an obvious truth: that a large proportion of "problem behaviours" in relation to any medium or substance exist for resolutely old-fashioned reasons—lack of education, parental attention, security, support and experience.
Unintentional laugh of the week, from an article about 'lifting the ban' on US soldiers in Afghanistan having sex:
According to Helixon's staff, 28 soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade have been punished for having sex in Afghanistan or for violating the no-entry rule in the past year. Those punishments ranged from letters of reprimand to field-grade Article 15s.

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