Culture

  • By now, you probably have already heard that many italian Public Administrations, at all levels, are full of debts. What you probably do not know yet, is one consequence of one of these situation that may have negative consequences for you even if you run a non italian business, or are a travel blogger. One of the less known and most absurd sides of italian copyright law is that “basically that you are not allowed to walk around in Italy, take a picture of some historical building and put it on your website without asking prior permission to the government”.
  • Yesterday I explained a few things about e-books that were missing from the article Weighing the environmental costs: buy an eReader, or a shelf of books?. One of the Conversation readers commented the original article with several misleading or irrelevant statements, which I criticized as you can read in the first part of this post. All I got was more of the same: two more comments, both missing the point and showing little understanding of what file formats are and how e-books and all other digital documents interact with hardware devices.
  • In September 2011 Versha Sharma, speaking of her Harry Potter Love Affair, explained how much she loves Harry Potter. Within one week from the launch of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (that is, 12 years ago) she had bought and finished all the first four books of the series. Immediately after, she joined all sorts of online fansites, spending “countless nights” to read fan fiction. That, until September 2011 when, she writes:Like millions of other fans suffering from post-Potter depression, I'm sad it's over -- sad we have no new material (except [Pottermore](http://www.
  • 67 years ago Primo Levi was deported to Auschwitz. 64 years ago he published a book about that experience titled If this is a man. 24 years ago Primo Levi died. Today Primo Levi reminded me of the absurdity of certain laws and wastes of public money, and how the technology could help culture. Today I met a high school student who, having to read If this is a man to write a report, borrowed in the closest Public Library the copy that you see in these photos.
  • Last month Corriere della Sera, one of the major Italian newspapers, asked several novelists and other writers if and how the age of ebooks is changing fiction and the general approach to creation of literature. It was an interesting read, because it contained both pearls of wisdom and things that are either irrelevant or simply wrong, but all said by the same “gurus”. Italian writer Alberto Bevilacqua never imagined any of his books in electronic format, also because he can’t fathom “how its cover could be, or where I could write a dedication”.
  • Todd Woody has written an interesting piece for the Grist magazine about the “iPad’s potential as a green machine”. In “iPadding into the future” Todd explains why and how, besides being very good for the environment, reading newspapers and magazines on an iPad also is a much more pleasurable experience than reading their paper versions. Todd then concludes that this isn’t going to happen until a digital (i.e. “/immaterial”) subscription costs five times more than the print subscription.
  • The organizers of the first Linux presentation in an Italian shopping center asked me to prepare a short list of questions to hand out to all the visitors of that shopping center. They specifically asked for short, very simple questions that would fit in one page and help everybody, especially people with no interest at all in software as such, to get a quick idea of some basic issues, and possibly engage in a discussion.
  • (this page is a part of the essay I wrote for the Open Government Book. For copyright info, see the introduction) Index Why Open Digital Standards Matter in Government: Introduction The Digital Age Explained Standards and the Problems with Digital Technology Why Has Digital Gone Bad So Often? The Huge Positive Potential of Digital Technologies Free and Open Standards and Software: The Digital Basis of Open Government
  • (this page is a part of the essay I wrote for the Open Government Book. For copyright info, see the introduction) Index Why Open Digital Standards Matter in Government: Introduction The Digital Age Explained Standards and the Problems with Digital Technology Why Has Digital Gone Bad So Often? The Huge Positive Potential of Digital Technologies Free and Open Standards and Software: The Digital Basis of Open Government
  • File formats are the rules that define the meaning of all the sequences of bits that you can find inside a computer file. If the format of a file isn’t really open, that is completely known and useable by everybody without paying fees or asking some permit, that file will surely readable without errors only with one or very few software programs and only until those programs exist. Therefore, their authors will be able to ask whatever price they want for every new version of their program(s), especially if citizens are trained in public schools to know (only) those same programs.