Active Citizens

  • (this is a translation of my Italian post of 2012 on the same issue. I’ve done it because the problem, and the need to solve it as imagined below, are still there)

    The airport of Fiumicino offers a good example of the real, and really serious digital divide that afflicts many Italians. That divide is not the lack of broadband connectivity, smartphone or computers: it is the lack of knowledge and capability of using those tools for doing something that is actually, really useful for themselves. In the Fiumicino’s case, this can be seen by connecting three facts.

  • On November 4th, 2016, I was invited to attend the Conference by the Pontifical Lateran University on “Core Values - The Transmission of Values in Digital Age”. I was very happy to go, because I’ve been studying the relations between Catholicism and (open) digital technologies for more than ten years now (see links below). I have listed in a separate post the most interesting things I was happy to hear at the Core Values conference.
  • By now, you probably already know that Yahoo scanned customer emails for U.S. intelligence”, and if you haven’t you can read all the details in the previous link, or in many other places. Here, I only want to point out one thing, mainly but not only to software geeks, and to any organizations whose goal include promoting privacy: this whole Yahoo story is just one more perfect example that one of the most urgent things to do in the digital sphere is to give everybody their very own, personal email server, at the smallest possible cost.
  • It’s always fun, and useful, when two or more news, that somehow go against each other, are published in the same day. Last Friday we had: From the UK: Internet of Things is Driving the [Global Market of Homes and Buildings] to New Heights… the residential market is expected to be the subject of the battle between utilities, telcos, technology companies and others From Denmark: a survey found support for digital smart city services [but also] concern about abuse of personal information: 45 percent said they would be unwilling to supply the data to make such services possible… 28 percent of respondents were “very concerned” about data misuse So, who is right?
  • Some months ago, TechCrunch reported that, on High-Tech cruise ships like the Quantum Of The Sea, “Wi-Fi is fast and it’s everywhere” for one specific reason that I really don’t like .“The real goal here is to offer… constant connectivity for always-on passengers – namely the kids of older passengers. While Mom and Mom enjoy a fine tipple on the fo’c’s’le, kids can keep texting. It’s a sad compromise but one necessary to keep nervous gadget lovers happy on vacation.
  • As some of you may already know, these days I also work in the H2020 research project “Digital DIY”, a world of which 3D printing is only the most fashionable part, but not the biggest, nor the most important. Among other things, right now we’d need to know something that is pretty hard to discover without _local (meaning: yours!) _assistance, because it is “hidden” behind many different languages and layers of burocratic structures and inertia:which european local administrations, as well as schools, small/medium business associations, and other organizations that are NOT makerspaces, fablabs or similar, are already OFFICIALLY promoting Open Hardware, 3D printing and other “digital Do-it-yourself” activities, in ANY way, including but not limited to: training, sponsoring meetings, changing local regulations, offering spaces…?
  • I had (at least) three big reasons to be at the fOSSa 2015 conference, a couple of weeks ago. Two already covered elsewhere and one, “Citizen Cloud: Towards a more decentralized internet?”, that deserves its own separate post. Before getting to that, however, let me quickly remind the first two reasons: first, I and Wouter Tebbens had to present a great research project we of the Free Knowledge Institute are working on, that is Digital Do-It-Yourself (DiDIY).
  • Almost ten years ago, I wrote about Free Software’s surprising sympathy with Catholic doctrine, noting that, albeit certain statements sound _“as if they could have been written by Richard M. Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), in fact, they come from the Vatican Report “Ethics in Internet” (EiI)“._ In 2013, I greatly expanded that same thesis in “Catholic Social Doctrine And the Openness Revolution: Natural Travel Companions?” Today, I’ve just discovered that the June 2015 newsletter on Faith, Economy and Ecology of the Maryknoll Office for global concerns:
  • Last week I was asked this question: “If relatively secure financial transactions can exist, relatively secure voting can exist on the internet, can it not?” My answer? No. Because…(please note that here I only have in mind online voting for actual political/administrative elections. In all other cases, e.g. to vote who should win some reality show, I care much less about the whole issue) Financial transactions are “relatively secure” only because if they go wrong someone surely notices it, often immediately, and comes asking for a refund or repetition.
  • A couple of weeks ago I was invited at the first National Open Government Partnership Forum in Skopje, Macedonia, for the panel titled “OGP-related Initiatives at the Local Level - Comparative Perspectives”. Here’s a short trip report, complete of link to my slides. The Forum included a good summary of the OGP/Open Data landscape, from which I’d like to quote, in no particular order (*) some remarks and statements I’ve found more interesting for me and (as far as I can tell, of course!