... in internet

This blog has moved (again)

10 Jul 2021 | 180 words | internet

A quick note that i have moved this blog back to my own server. After 2 years or so as a ghost1 instance hosted somewhere in the clouds provided by Digital Ocean it is back on my own server (provisioned by tuxic.nl). I have rebuild the entire site as a set of static pages generated with Hugo.

Unfortunately this move means that the new version replaces the very first (wordpress based) iteration of this blog which was also hosted here but had a different url structure and now external links to the first version are broken. I have attempted to create redirects for the old urls but have failed to do so (something to do with escaping “?“s in the old urls), which gives me considerable grief in having just read Jonathan Zittrain’s excellent long read on the rotting Internet in the Atlantic.

  1. I still very much like what ghost is doing (and would probably use it again for other projects), but maintaining my own install in the cloud required way too much maintenance for a small personal side project. ↩︎

Towards a Shared Digital Europe

Today, we are launching a project that i have worked on for the last 6 months: A Vision for a Shared Digital Europe. I started working on this while i was still at Kennisland (where the idea was born) and i have continued this work after my departure from KL with Centrum Cyfrowe and the Commons Network. This vision is an attempt to set the stage for a different way about digital policy making in Europe.

With our vision we are proposing a uniquely European way that refuses to the the digital space as a marketplace alone and that sets out to identify a number of principles that can guide policy makers in developing alternatives for the status quo that go beyond an essentially defensive approach that relies on curtailing and regulating practices and operators that are considered to be problematic. In publishing our vision we hope to kick-start a conversation about what kind of digital environment we want for Europe:

Today we are launching a new vision for digital policy making in Europe: Our Vision for a Shared Digital Europe lays the foundation for a new frame for digital policy making in the EU. We propose an overarching policy framework that brings together varied issues and policy arenas, including copyright reform, platform regulation, privacy, data-protection and data governance, antitrust, media regulation or innovation policy.

Digitalisation has led much of our interaction, communication and economic activity to take place through data or over online intermediaries. What kind of space should this digital sphere be? We believe that seeing this space as a market place only does not do it justice. This space is in effect our society – a society that is experiencing a digital transformation. Therefore we cannot accept the digital sphere as a place where only market dynamics rule. Society is more than an interaction between market players, and people are more than entrepreneurs or consumers.

As supporters of the European project, we believe that Europe needs to establish its own rules for the digital space, which embody our values: strong public institutions, democratic governance, sovereignty of communities and people, diversity of European cultures, equality and justice. A space that is common to all of us, but at the same time diverse and decentralised.

Over the past five months we have worked with a broad group stakeholders on developing a frame that can replace the existing Digital Single Market frame that dominates discussions about digital policy making in the EU. We propose a new, society-centric vision that is intended to guide policymakers and civil society organisations involved with digital policymaking in the direction of a more equitable and democratic digital environment, where basic liberties and rights are protected, where strong public institutions function in the public interest, and where people have a say in how their digital environment functions - a Shared Digital Europe.

The Shared Digital Europe must be based on four principles that aim to ensure that the balance between private and public interests is safeguarded. We believe that a Shared Digital Europe must enable self-determination, cultivate the commons, decentralise infrastructure and empower public institutions.

Combine these four elements with a truly European set of values and a new strategy presents itself. **A strategy that policy makers and civil society actors can use to counter the current lack of democratic oversight in the digital space, the deteriorating online debate, the monopolisation of the digital sphere, the enclosure of knowledge and the means of knowledge production and the increasing violation of human rights in the digital space. **

**Most importantly our Vision for a Shared Digital Europe provides policy makers with an opportunity to work towards a truly European idea about how society should function in the digital age. **

Are you working on digital policies and want to learn more or join our effort? Or do you want us to come by and share and discuss our vision with you? Don’t hesitate to reach out to hello@shared-digital.eu

Berlin before the internet (part 2)

11 Nov 2014 | 165 words | 90s berlin history internet surveillance

From a Guardian piece about digital exiles in Berlin: Another reference to post fall-of-the-wall berlin as that strange place where the internet did not exist yet:

But then, it is the blink of an eye. It’s 25 years since the wall came down. And, in a strange historical collision, 25 years since the world wide web was invented. When I first came to Berlin, the internet didn’t exist and I was still some years away from sending my first email. In a historical time frame, the evolution of digital technology, its capabilities, the never-going-back cultural cataclysm that it’s precipitated, has all happened while most of us, a single generation, were working out what to have for dinner, or who to marry, or how to earn a living; a microscopic sliver of time that has changed not just the world at our fingertips but, we’ve discovered since Snowden, the secret world beyond our fingertips. What is known about us. Who we are. What our records say.

How pushing for more copyright is harming the Internet

31 Mar 2014 | 365 words | commons copyright internet

Over on his blog Mike Linksvayer has reviewed a new paper titled IP in a World Without Scarcity by Mark Lemley. Based on his review i will definitely read the paper (i am writing this just after take off on a 10 hour flight and i am cursing myself for not downloading the paper) and it seems that so should pretty much anyone who is working on IP (or as mike would prefer: commons) issues.

In hs review Mike takes a small detour in which he lists the ways of how the Internet has been damaged by the IP owners’ fight against the Internet:

  • Chilling effect on P2P research, result: more centralization;
  • Services police user content; expensive, barrier to entry, result: more centralization, near monopoly platforms;
  • Services cut rare and unfavorable deals with IP owners, result: same;
  • Innovative services fail to cut deals, or sustainable deals, with IP owners, result:
  • less innovation, more Internet as TV;
  • Monopoly abets monopoly; creates opportunities for bundling monopolies, result: threat to net neutrality;
  • Copyright-based censorship provides cover for all kinds of political censorship, result: political censors have additional justification, doing what Hollywood does;
  • All of above centralization and monopoly makes dominant entities a target for compromise, result: mass surveillance and non-state cybercrime abetted;
  • Our imagination and expectation of what the Internet makes possible is diminished, re sult: DRM TV and radio and silos organized for spying are seen as the norm, information organized for public benefit such as Wikipedia, unusual; this flipping of democratic hopes for the Internet, a partial AOL scenario, is collateral damage from the IP owners’ war on the Internet.

All of the points that Mike lists here, but especially the last one do a great job in explaining why we are currently facing a situation wherein our policymakers are incapable of imagining the Internet as something better than a pervasive content delivery platform. This is something that i had complained about a couple of weeks ago (in the context of European efforts to modernize copyright rules) and Mike does an excellent job at explaining how we ended up in this situation. thanks Mike! (also read the rest of Mike’s review, it is really worth it).

Breakfast with Joe Lieberman

29 Oct 2010 | 442 words | doha internet politics united states

On monday during my short trip to Qatar i had breakfast with Joe Lieberman1. to be precise ‘having breakfast’ is a bit of an exaggeration here, but i was sitting at the table next to the table where Senator Lieberman and seven of his aides were having breakfast.

Interestingly my table was within hearing distance and so i could pick up most of the conversation that was unfolding at the table next to mine. Conversation is a bit of a big word here. What was gong on at the other table was more of a briefing: a couple of (rather young) US diplomatic staffers gave the senator an introduction to Qatar and the he was asking a couple of rather simple questions in return.

What was interesting about of this was not so much the subject or the contents of the briefing but the way how these diplomatic staffers described the country of Qatar. Instead of describing specific qualities the country they almost exclusively described how certain aspects of the country compared to other countries in the region: instead of saying that Qatar has a relatively well developed set of banking regulations they would say that the banking regulations in Qatar are better developed than those in Saudi but less developed than those of the Emirates. This style of relaying information went on for the entire 20 minutes or so that i cold listen in to their conversation: Everything was presented in relation to other countries in the region (‘more liberal than Saudi Arabia’, ‘more oil reserves that the UAE’, ‘more stable than Bahrain’, etc.)

Now describing a country according it’s relative position within a region probably is an extremely accurate way of doing so. On the other hand it also assumes that the person you are briefing has a good understanding of the absolute characteristics of those other countries (‘i.e ho politically stabel is bahrain?) and it also strikes me as somewhat disrespectful (which is probably a bad idea if you are describing a country that owns your own Embassy in London) since it implies that the country in question does not possess any noteworthy characteristics by itself.

Update 28.1.2011: boing boing has a post what shutting off the internet looks like (in egypt) that contains this image.

  1. For those of you who forgot about him he was vice presidential candidate who together with the inventor of the Internetset us up with Bush Jr. and who instead of taking this as clue to stop (like gore did) tags along in US politics and comes up with really stupid proposals like the one for an internet kill switch once in a while). ↩︎

Google is broken

29 Feb 2008 | 40 words | technology internet

WTF? a link to encyclopedia britannica (that gives you a preview of 75 words of a 234 word article) with a higher page rank than the wikipedia article? guess googles algorithm does not work well in combination with bissextile days…

The ship, they claim, can no longer be sunk....

03 Dec 2007 | 67 words | copyright file sharing technology internet piracy

From a BBCnews article about the pirate bay:

“Nobody is crying that people who used to go around selling ice to people do not have a job anymore because of the fridge,” says Peter. “It would be stupid but it is the same thing.

“Technology has changed. You can’t go back, there’s no way to go back. And I don’t think there’s a will to go back.”

Activism as a Non-Tariff Barrier to International Trade?

11 Nov 2007 | 331 words | business internet trade india netherlands labor

Patrice has posted an extensvie piece to the nettime-l mailing list that describes a rather bizarre legal dispute between an Indian textile manufacturing company and two Dutch internet service providers (one of them being my own). It comes down to the Indian company arguing that hosting websites that criticize labor conditions in their manufacturing plants constitutes an ‘international criminal conspiracy’:

Now eight Dutch citizens, staff persons and directors of the [ISPs], are indicted and required to appear in person before court in India under a mendacious, but cleverly constructed ‘cascade’ of counts, starting with libel and diffamation, escalating into racism/xenophobia carried on by means of ‘cybercrime’, and culminating in an alleged “international criminal conspiracy”. The latter indictment constitutes an extraditable offense in the sense of international agreements on judicial co-operation between democratic, ‘rule of law’ states. The acting judge in Bangalore now needs only to sign an international arrest warrant for the real risk of deportation and delivery of these eight accused into an Indian remand jail to become effective. Though the Dutch minister of justice still would have the last word […]

Even better, it seems that the Government of India, is backing this rather ridiculous position and has discovered that such activism constitutes a Non-Tariff Trade Barrier:

This slightly out-of-control evolution of what would be in itself a fairly routinous incident in to-day’s globalised, highly competitive economy, might be taken as emblematic for the predicament into which the ongoing trend to lower procurement costs, outsource and delocalise industrial production has landed us. […] India’s minister of commerce, Shri Kamal Nath, has let it known that criticism of the modus operandi of the Indian textile export industry amounts to ‘hidden protectionism’ by parties unhappy with India’s competitive provess and resenting the consequent delocalisation of their own manufacturing base, theoretising a fresh form of NTBtIT (Non Tariff Barrier to International Trade in WTO-GATTese) in the same breath.

The entire text is available at the (slightly old fashioned) nettime-l mailing list archive.

Apparently NSFW

27 Oct 2007 | 20 words | berlin internet censorship

This website is (also) being blocked by the mindless web-content filter of the wireless network at einstein kaffee in Berlin.

Why xs4all (my ISP) rocks...

31 May 2007 | 289 words | bandwidth internet amsterdam

Upon coming home tonight, i found a large envelope from xs4all (my ISP) leaned against the door of my apartment. Felt like there was a t-shirt inside and sure enough there was. The included letter referred to my recent switch to a xs4all only subscription (ADSL without having to pay a fee to the former national telco KPN for a landline): Apparently there have been problems with the bandwidth of these connections (which i have not really noticed) as the majority of the people who have switched over to this new form of ADSL subscriptions are ‘heavy users’:

when starting to offer xs4all only we have connected relatively small groups of customers to one port. However we have discovered that this group of customers has generated so much traffic that the speed of the connections dropped during peak hours. In other words: our loyal xs4all subscribers are typical ‘heavy users’ that use every bit available to download :). [translations mine]

The letter goes on to describe that they have reduced the number of subscriber lines per port and that the speed issues should be resolved by now. they offer their excuses and go on to state:

… and secretly we are proud that our customers do not fit in the standard profile of our [downstream] network provider. To thank you for your active contribution [?? i did not even notice the whole thing] and in order to compensate you for your troubles we are sending you a unique t-shirt. It has been specially designed for this occasion and is produced in limited edition. we hope that you will wear this t-shirt with pride and that you will continue to download a lot with XS4ALL only.

I guess i will…

meanwhile... is the personal weblog of Paul Keller. I am currently policy director at Open Future and President of the COMMUNIA Association for the Public Domain. This weblog is largely inactive but contains an archive of posts (mixing both work and personal) going back to 2005.

I also maintain a collection of cards from African mediums (which is the reason for the domain name), a collection of photos on flickr and a website collecting my professional writings and appearances.

Other things that i have made online: