From Tunis to Tahrir and Beyond

Vint Cerf warns if we don’t build better systems for data, “people will lose trust in the internet, in which case its utility will begin to dissipate.”

Cerf is Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist and a father of the internet (standards and technologies he co-created in the 70s still form the basis of the net today). He believes the internet itself is not a right, but rather an enabler of rights.

One such enabler, Google’s Project Loon, will connect the world’s most remote areas with broadband balloons traveling at the edge of space. If successful, it could help to circumvent bans imposed by authoritarian regimes, as seen during the Arab Spring.

“I harbor this hope as a technologist, that there will be tools available to let people make their conversations private on an end-to-end basis,” Cerf says. “To open up what would otherwise be a very closed environment.”

Smart Cities Need Smart Citizens

Fellow comms geek Alicja Peszkowska thinks data is as much a part of creating smart citizens as it is smart cities: “When you create a community, you create an environment where social change can happen.” Working with orgs like TechSoup and the National Gallery of Denmark, Peszkowska is at the front line of open data. “Transparency of political processes translates into civic participation,” she writes in her open data manifesto. “The more citizens understand, the more they engage.”

An Introduction to the Federated (Distributed) Social Network

Published on March 21, 2011 by Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Federated social networks (also known as distributed social networks) are a vital step toward fulfilling values often lacking in the existing social networking ecosystem: user-control, diversity of services, innovation and more. The best way for social networking to become safer, more flexible and more innovative is to distribute the ability and authority to the world’s users and developers, whose various needs and imaginations can do far more than what any single company could achieve. While there is still plenty of active development taking place on these software projects, the possibilities of these systems make them worth thinking about now.