The IRGO unConference produced some stimulating discussion about the future of internet usage and the angles that researchers from various academic disciplines are taking towards it. I had to travel down to Otepoti on Monday morning, so unfortunately I missed the keynote address by Professor Greg Hearn (of QUT, where some of the Oz CC team are based), and the first few sessions.

I arrived in time to attend two of the afternoon panels. The first, Building Communities Online, was focussed mainly on how to make money out of online communities, whereas I would rather have heard more about how and why people gather in online communities and what useful purposes they serve beyond the financial. The second, about Mobile Internet, revealed that although kiwi users have a high level of internet adoption overall, we are behind in our adoption of mobile internet. This may be because of the availability of cabled services, and the (perceived) high cost of mobile services. Many developing countries have limited cable infrastructure, meaning cell phone use is more ubiquitous and mobile internet more intuitive.

The panel I put forward, Copy Rights, Copyleft, and the CreativeCommons, was the first session on Tuesday morning, and with no other panel up against it, we had good numbers, and an enthusiastic discussion. Thanks again to my fellow panelists; Pam McKinley, an arts teacher at Otago Polytech, and Alan Toy, a law lecturer at Otago University.

I showed the 2min video ‘Wanna Work Together’, which explains briefly how CC works, and answered some questions about the different license conditions. One or two baffling questions came up. For example, how are CC licenses are affected by different copyright durations across jurisdictions? If something is licensed under a NZ CC license, and goes into the public domain, can the license conditions still be enforced in the US, where a copyright last longer? I have to admit I think of a CC license as part of a conversation between artist and audience, and I haven’t thought much about enforcement. The next session, on Digital Content, followed on nicely.

One aspect of the unConference format was the ‘flashmeets’, spaces for spontaneous discussions arising out of the pre-arranged panels. I participated in one flashmeet where we explored the question of whether open source represents a break with the political economy of capitalism, or a reform within it. My observation is that libre/ open licensing (and the collaborative, participatory productions models that seem to go with it) attracts people who would support each of those options. One can find examples of both flat, post-capitalist management structures and the strict bearaucratic heirarchy of traditional corporates contributing to libre development, sometimes working on the same libre project. The participation of IBM and Novell in Linux development is one such example. Certainly free software also attracts anti-corporate advocates like myself, but an across-the-board adoption of libre licensing of software and media would not necessarily require or precipitate an anti-capitalist revolution, although it would be a social revolution of a sort. There was also some discussion of levels of female participation, which is apparently around 20% in open source development, but higher in proprietary development.

The programme concluded with a discussion on the potential for future unConferences, and a keynote by Brett Telfer from Telecom, who was quizzed about how Telecom is planning to add various new cable and wireless services to Telecom’s traditional landline, cell, and internet offerings.

Filed November 25th, 2009 under Uncategorized

Seems the whole geek world is in meet and greet mode. I just attended the IRGO unConference at Otago University, which was mostly attended by staff and post-grad students from Otago who are doing teaching and research on different aspects of information technology in their various disciplines. There were a few delegates from business and non-profits, including yours truly, and the organizers plan to hold another unConference in next year and promote much more widely.

 

Next up is KiwCon III, the mecca for kiwi hackers, taking place this weekend (28-29 Nov) in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. Apparently registrations are full up, but if your are desperately keen, it may be worth turning up on the opening day in case some of those registered don’t make it. Then, after the northern new year, hackers with a penchant for open source are invited to attend the Australasian linux conference, Linux.conf.au.  This event is only held in Aotearoa every third year, so if you can’t afford to fly to Oz, I’d recommend getting registered for this one asap.

 

I won’t be making it to KiwiCon, due to other committments, and I’m not sure at this tage whether I’ll be making the Linux conf either. I will attempt to get a write-up from an attendee or two.

Filed November 25th, 2009 under Uncategorized

It’s been quite some time since I’ve had time to add a post to Disintermedia. Patchy net access, and extreme business are part of the problem, but ultimately, society is to blame ;) I won’t be any less busy over the summer, and in just under a week I will be attending the NZ Digital Futures unConference, hosted by the Internet Research Group of Otago (IRGO). I have put forward a panel discussion on ‘Copy rights, copyleft, and CreativeCommons’, which will be at 10am on Tuesday morning. I’m on the panel as a member of the CreativeCommons Aotearoa/ NZ team, which will be interesting. I will need to make it clear that my own thoughts on copyright in the digital age are much more radical than those represented by CC as a project.

 

So I’m busy thinking about the future of digital communication and global community building, and what should arrive in my email but an article from the Telegraph about the UK government’s plan to force all communications providers to keep full records on all their customers, and hand them over to a plethora of government department with no search warrant needed. 

Filed November 18th, 2009 under Uncategorized
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