Democracy

  • Screenshot source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKggZezZf2M FBI says that Apple must help them, because nobody else can do it, to unlock the iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter. The complete story is quite more complex than this one-sentence summary, but there is **one part of it that, as far as I can see has received almost zero *attention so far ():if the only entity in a given country who can actually monitor someone’s “private data and conversations” is ONE corporation, then who actually holds police power in that country, and is actually ruling it, is that corporation, not the official government.
  • More than ten years ago I discovered John Naisbitt’s famous quote: “We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge.” This month I’ve discovered a wonderful piece by Neal Gabler that goes further: The Elusive Big Idea. This is a really short excerpt of the best points, but please read the whole piece and think seriously about it! (for the record, the fourth point below is one of the many reasons why I still prefer writing and reading to podcasts and videoclips)
  • About 25 years ago I read Isaac Asimov’s Foundation. For whatever reason, one of the things that impressed me the most was the passage in which Asimov portrays the power of (automatic?) mathematical analysis to discover the real meaning of some text (1): "There is a branch of human knowledge known as symbolic logic, which can be used to prune away all sorts of clogging deadwood that clutters up human language.
  • (this page is part of my Open Data, Open Society report. Please follow that link to reach the introduction and Table of Content, but don’t forget to check the notes to readers!) The transparency in government that is achievable by opening PSI data can reduce fraud and curb unnecessary spending: ”(in Canada) a $3.2 billion tax evasion fraud was exposed when financial data was made publicly available”. Other data can allow each voter to measure in objective ways the distance between citizens and their representatives by generating easy summaries of how they voted on a series of issues that he or she considers important.
  • Italy started the transition from analog to digital TV in mid 2009. Six months later, the transition is still ongoing and causing a lot of hassles, unplanned expenses and, above all, confusion. In a few months Italians found themselves in a situation where, to receive all the channels available through satellites and terrestrial digital TV providers, every TV should be equipped with nine (9!) extra digital decoders!. This mess prompted Italian Senator Vincenzo Vita to propose a law that would mandate that every TV show, be it free or “pay per view” should be viewable with the same decoder, regardless of the transmission channel (terrestrial digital, satellite and so on).
  • (this page is part of the Family Guide to Digital Freedom, 2007 edition and an example of the issues presented in my Digital Citizens Basics course. Please do read its introduction to know more about the Guide, especially if you mean to comment this page. Thanks) E-voting is coming, or has already arrived, in my Country. How can I understand if it’s implemented properly, without risks of abuse? What is the right way to e-vote?
  • (this page is part of the Family Guide to Digital Freedom, 2007 edition. Please do read that introduction to know more about the Guide, especially if you mean to comment this page. Thanks) (the first parter of this chapter is here) Why banalize voting? Even ignoring the practical problems, the whole concept of e-voting is quite depressing, really. In our culture, we still place much more importance in signatures on papers than in shiny computer monitors.
  • (this page is part of the Family Guide to Digital Freedom, 2007 edition. Please do read that introduction to know more about the Guide, especially if you mean to comment this page. Thanks) What are protocols and formats anyways? We have already mentioned protocols and file formats several times, saying how important it is that they are open. Now let’s look at them a bit more in detail, in order to understand what these things are and how, and above all why, they can be made open (or closed, for that matter).