Monthly Archives: February 2009

Civic and mainstream media dscussion in Boston

It looks like I am on announcement spree.  So, here is another one.  If you happen to be in the Boston area on March 16, you may want to check out this event (via Center for Future Civic Media):

We Report, We Decide: Civic Media’s Impact on Mainstream News

In recent years, civic media projects have increased in numbers around the world. Ordinary people armed with inexpensive production equipment are using the web to share news and information with others in their communities and beyond. What can mainstream media learn from these experiments in community news-gathering?

NeighborMedia, a civic media project at Cambridge Community Television, invites you to attend this special discussion. Veterans in the fields of print, television and Internet journalism will share their views and take questions from a live studio audience, of which we hope you can be a part.

The even will take place on Monday, March 16, 7pm, Cambridge Community Television, 675 Massachusetts Ave. If you want to go, you need to RSVP by Thursday, March 12, by emailing

More information is available here.

Promotion gone wrong?

Perhaps we got spoiled with Google showing ads relevant to our search, but it looks really weird when a search engine pushes irrelevant results as promoted websites.  Perhaps the degree of weirdness depends on the degree of irrelevance and I just encountered a really illuminating example.

Ynet (EN), is the leading Israeli online news source (WP entry) belonging to the largest Israeli newspaper, Yediot Ahronot (well, perhaps second largest at this point).  Just recently they’ve upgraded the website and added some neat features, but apparently didn’t do such a great job with search.

Yesterday, Veronica was searching for a followup article about a surfer who disappeared in the sea a few days earlier.  She entered the word “surfer” in Hebrew (can be also read as “surfing”), hit the search button, and got the following:

Promotion gone wrong

Leaving aside the fact that the default for search on Ynet is searching the web and not the website, the results are pretty amusing.  For those who cannot read Hebrew, the top result with a redish picture on its right is the promoted website.  It could be not as remarkable unless the promoted website would not be a sex website accompanied by a rather detailed of the content you may find there.

And I am asking, what does it have to do with a word “surfer”?  What is the logical explanation for a sex site being the top promoted result in this search?  Can anyone explain that to me, please?

CFP: Digital Divide mini-track at HICSS

Reposting a call for papers I first saw on eKarine. Hope some of you will find it relevant/useful:

Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-43)
January 5-8, 2010 Kauai

Digital Divide/s and Inclusion/s Mini-track

The mini-track calls for papers that study digital divide/s, inequalities and inclusions in different levels, methods and perspectives. Possible focus may be on international, national, local, sector, communal, and individual level. Both empirical and theoretical papers are invited. Potential contributions may be in the subjects, but are not limited to the following:

  • Conceptualization and theory of digital divide/s, digital spectrum and eInclusion
  • Indigenous communities and technologySocio-demographic factors– gender, age, education, income, ethnic diversity, race diversity, language diversity, religiosity
  • Social and governmental support – for example the use of supportive initiatives, policy and applications to bridge the gap, or how society and community impact eInclusion
  • Access and technology – infrastructure factors
  • Affordability
  • Use – skills, frequency and time, locus, autonomy of use, what do users do online and for what purpose
  • Accessibility focusing mainly in populations with special needs
  • Measurements indices
  • Comparative analysis of policy
  • Comparative cross-country or cross-region research
  • Country or region specific case studies

Contact Information for Mini-Track Chairs:

Karine Barzilai-Nahon [Primary Contact]
University of Washington
The Information School
Suite 370B Mary Gates Hall, Box 352840
Seattle, WA 98195-2840
Phone: (206) 685-6668
Fax: (206) 616-3152

Narcyz Roztocki
State University of New York at New Paltz
School of Business
75 S. Manheim Blvd.
New Paltz, NY 12561-2443
Phone: (845) 257-2935
Fax: (845) 257-2947

Important Deadlines:

  • Abstracts -Authors may contact Minitrack Chairs for guidance and indication of appropriate content at anytime.
  • June 15, 2009 – Authors submit full papers to the Peer Review System, following Author Instructions found on the HICSS web site. All papers will be submitted in double column publication format and limited to 10 pages including diagrams and references. Papers undergo a double-blind review.
  • August 15, 2009 – Acceptance/Rejection notices are sent to Authors via the Peer Review System.
  • September 19, 2009 – Authors submit Final Version of papers following submission instructions on the Peer Review System web site. At least one author of each paper must register by this date with specific plans to attend the conference to present the paper.

Instructions for Paper Submission:

  • HICSS papers must contain original material not previously published, or currently submitted elsewhere.
  • Do not submit the manuscript to more than one mini-track. If unsure which mini-track is appropriate, submit the abstract to the Track Chair for guidance.
  • Submit your full paper according to the detailed formatting and submission instructions found on the HICSS website. Note: All papers will be submitted in double column publication format and limited to 10 pages including diagrams and references. HICSS will conduct double-blind reviews of each submitted paper.

HICSS conferences are devoted to advances in the information, computer, and system sciences, and encompass developments in both theory and practice. Invited papers may be theoretical, conceptual, tutorial or descriptive in nature. Submissions undergo a double-blind peer referee process and those selected for presentation will be published in the Conference Proceedings. Submissions must not have been previously published.

For the latest information visit the HICSS web site at:

Reading blogs #13

So, this week we had some Facebook in the news, mobile banking as another aspect of the “digital divide”, new website from Obama administration and a number of other interesting things. Hope you will find this interesting and will also share your thoughts.

  • Recent news related
  • Interesting reports, numbers, and visualizations
  • Interesting thoughts, ideas, opinions, and discussions
  • Digital Divide
  • MICT regulation
  • MICT business
  • “New” media
  • MICT in politics
  • Simply Interesting, Fun, and Coll Stuff
  • Please read on and share your thoughts!

    Continue reading

    Economic peace?

    The phrase “economic peace” may not be the most popular phrase in the Middle East, since it was utilized for the election campaign of Likud.  However, economics seems to be a powerful element and things happen in spite of politics.

    I am writing this because I just learned from the Good Neighbors blog about a new initiative by Wharton (I assume MBA) students, called The initiatives seems to be a close replica of the Kiva, which I think one of the most innovative projects combining micro-finance with possibilities opened up by technological progress.  The main difference between Kiva and LendforPeace is the geographical focus.  In their own words: is a not-for-profit Internet platform that allows individuals like you to make small loans to specific micro-entrepreneurs in the Palestinian Territories.

    Our mission is to use micro-lending to promote economic opportunity and political stability in the Middle East.

    The website was officially launced at the beginning of this month with a grant from Clinton Foundation after a pilot set of loans ($5000) was successfully returned in about half a year (you can learn more about it on their blog).

    One of the “selling points” of the project is that it is established by two Jewish and two Palestinian students.  I presonally think that it would be even cooler if it these were two Israelis and two Palestinians in the team. Nevertheless I find these kinds of joint ventures encouraging.

    New Internet Policy Journal

    The Policy Studies Organization (PSO), the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), and Berkeley Electronic Press have established a new peer-reviewed academic journal dedicated to issues of Internet and Public Policy.  The new journal is called simply “Policy and Internet” and it has a number of big names on its editorial board, including one of my committee memebers, Prof. Milton Muller.

    Here is their first call for papers (PDF version here):

    The Oxford Internet Institute (OII), the Policy Studies Organization (PSO), and Berkeley Electronic Press are proud to announce Policy and Internet, the first major peer-reviewed multi-disciplinary journal investigating the implications of the Internet and associated technologies for public policy.

    The Internet is now embedded in social, economic and political life, bringing with it new practices, norms and structures. The societal shift enabled by the Internet enables new kinds of policy innovation and creativity: and raises new challenges and risks for policy-making and analysis. It requires rigorous empirical investigation, theoretical development and methodological innovation across academic disciplines. Policy and Internet will become the premier arena for advancing policy research and shaping the policy agenda in the digital era.

    Policy and Internet invites papers reporting world class research and scholarship on any aspect of the relationship between the Internet and public policy. The journal is fully multi-disciplinary in scope. Topics will range across policy sectors and regions of the world, including generalised, sectoral or country-specific policy effects.

    Find further details and make submissions at:

    I thought some of  you may be interested.

    What do Israeli students do online?

    Apparently February 17 is the national internet safety day in Israel.  Honoring this occasion, the Ministry of Education published results of a survey among school-age students about their use of the internet (HE). They surveyed 16,702 students from 234 schools, covering grades 5, 8, and 11.

    Here are some highlights:

    • 95% of the students have access to computer with an internet connection.
    • Most parents don’t really care what their kids are doing online or how much they spend there.  For example, 67% of the parents do not limit the time their kids can spend online, 53% do not express any interest about what they are doing there, and only 22% are using filtering software.
    • Most of the students are rather pragmatic in their use of the internet.  81% of the students are looking for any information online (not surprising, but interesting number), 77% are playing online games, 68% utilize the web for their studies, 66% use it to communicate with their peers, and 63% download music.
    • It also looks most of the students are rather thoughtful in their use of the internet. 72% explicitly stated that they are aware of the dangers of the internet and “consult or check” before giving away identifiable information (71% are using a screen name) and 14% of the students admitted that they are exposed to adult content.
    • Online ethics and copyright awareness are not as strong.  30% of the students are convinced that they can download anything they want from the internet and similar proportion of the students are convinced that they can download papers from the internet for class submission (this one is rather worrying result in my eyes).
    • Some results are not as clear.  For example, 40% of the students are convinces that internet is a free place where you can copy or use anything you want. I am not sure what exactly the Ministry people were trying to achieve in this question and how we should read it, but they presented it as a negative phenomenon.

    As I said, the report is released in the context of “internet safety day.” As such, it is framed so that we would appreciate the dangers children are exposed to online.  This is particularly evident in the emphasis on the fact that parents do not care much about what their kids are doing online and an explicit attempt to emphasize that significant percentage are exposed to adult content, as well as to suggest that the kids are not careful enough in online interactions.

    However, I think the results actually show that the Israeli youth are very thoughtful users of the Internet.  I have no tools to judge how many teenagers are exposed to adult content in the offline world, but 14% does not seem like a frightening figure (of course it is self reported, so the actual figure is probably higher).  At the same time, the main uses of the medium are mostly positive and most of the youths are careful about how they behave online and how they expose themselves to strangers.

    The Ministry of Education is taking credit for the positive trends (even though longitudinal data would help) and probably rightfully so .  I think it is an important argument in the discussions about internet filtering under the claim of protecting the kids.  First, we can see that the situation is not as horrible as some proponents of filtering suggest (unless, of course, looking for information online is considered negative/dangerous behavior in some communities).  Second, if the Ministry of Education is right that the current situation is a result of educational efforts, it shows that resources spent in that direction do bear fruit.

    Having said that, it is important to note that my entire discussion is based on a press release from the ministry. In other words, all the data above was selected and framed by the ministry to serve a purpose.  It would be of course much more useful if the ministry would publish the detailed report, including the instruments they’ve used and the responses they’ve got.  For example, it would be really interesting to see age difference in the attitudes and uses of the internet.  It would be also interesting to see how different socioeconomic groups interact with the medium.  Finally, as I have mentioned above, presenting longitudinal data (if it exists) would be very helpful. Do you think it is too much to ask for a complete report?  Or perhaps it is available somewhere out there and you could point me to it?

    Reading Blogs #11

    Following some feedback (or should I say complains) that I got about the length of these digests, I will try to keep them shorter from now on (not sure if it worked this time 🙂 and will try to post them weekly. Let see how that works out.

    In the meantime, this week we got:

  • Recent news related
  • Interesting reports, numbers, and visualizations
  • Interesting thoughts, ideas, opinions, and discussions
  • Digital Divide
  • MICT regulation
  • MICT business
  • “New” media
  • MICT and politics
  • Simply Interesting, Fun, and Coll Stuff
  • Comments and suggestions are welcome!

    Continue reading

    … and even harder…

    Now it looks like Gmail is getting folders (via VentureBeat).   They call them “multiple inboxes”, but, unless i am missing something, it is just a smarter way of working with folders – you can view a number of them open at the same time.  I was missing some combination of folders and labels in Gmail, so I think it is a positive development.  Combined with an option of working in an offline mode, it makes it more and more attractive.

    I wonder though, with the offline mode, is it now possible to backup Gmail the same way one could back-up an Outlook PST file?  Also, what about Google calendar?  Is there an offline mode of working with it too?  Coming soon?  Could be great!