China Tightens Electronic Censorship -

Submitted by Sam Moore on

Nytlogo153x23Looks like the Chinese government is pushing internet controls a lot harder - and perhaps testing to see how much Chinese citizens can tolerate. I'll bet several Middle East governments wish they had this level of control right about now. But the question of when this sort of thing ultimately backfires is a fascinating one. So far in China's case the answer may be, "Not soon, if ever".

A host of evidence over the past several weeks shows that Chinese authorities are more determined than ever to police cellphone calls, electronic messages, e-mail and access to the Internet in order to smother any hint of antigovernment sentiment. In the cat-and-mouse game that characterizes electronic communications here, analysts suggest that the cat is getting bigger, especially since revolts began to ricochet through the Middle East and North Africa, and homegrown efforts to organize protests in China began to circulate on the Internet about a month ago.

“The hard-liners have won the field, and now we are seeing exactly how they want to run the place,” said Russell Leigh Moses, a Beijing analyst of China’s leadership. “I think the gloves are coming off.”

NY Times piece

20 Examples of Great Facebook Pages | The Best Article Every day

Submitted by Sam Moore on

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BSPCN has a gallery of 20 interesting Facebook fan pages, with brief commentary.

Our experience - especially with Covered in Cathair and Kitten Associates- has been that a Facebook fan page can be a great way of keeping your community involved and engaged - much better than a forum or blog, though those are great too. CiCH's fan page has become a key location for Robin's readership, and the Kitten Associates page has been invaluable especially in fundraising for the fosters.

What's frustrating about the BSPCN post, though, is there's no detailed indication of how the fan page is used, how it relates to the brand's web site, any cross-communication with Twitter, etc. I'd also be interested to know who in the brand marketing organization is populating these pages. I imagine it's different for each brand...?

I'd love to see an in-depth look at one of these pages, the team behind it, the community, and the overall communications strategy.

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Although only 15.4% of respondents to an eMarketer survey felt that Facebook had a significant ROI, this number is growing. Now is the perfect opportunity for your business to take advantage of the opportunities that social media offers for getting found by prospects and interacting with prospective customers. While other companies struggle with whether or not to participate you can be out in the trenches gathering fans and gaining evangelists.

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BSPCN post

Chinese Jasmine Rallies | Exile Diary

Submitted by Sam Moore on

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In case you missed it, Chinese protesters have been calling for "Jasmine Revolution" for the last week, while Internet censors, predictably, try to stop the idea from spreading. See recent events in Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, Tunisia, etc. for comparison.

Thus far officers seem to have outnumbered protesters in some locations (photo left, above), while it's not clear that any of the rallies have been attended by more than security officers, journalists and the curious (above right, and here). Naturally, genuine protesters are shy under these circumstances. Some foreign journalists report being roughly handled.

Today, a manifesto was published at Exile Diary. Don't some of these questions apply here in the land of the free as well?

Every good and honest Chinese person, please think: So much public housing has been sold to individuals, so many state-owned enterprises and so much land have been sold, and nearly all state-owned property has been sold off. But where has all the money from these sales gone? It goes without saying that state-owned property belongs to the entire people. But what did the people get? Led by an authoritarian regime, the opaque process of privatization has made a small number of people rich, but what did the vast number of ordinary people get?

Every good and honest Chinese person, please think: When Japan, Korea, and Taiwan were in the process of industrializing, they were able to make the overwhelming majority of their people prosperous. Why is it that during China’s industrialization the ordinary people are becoming poorer? Why is it that in just the last few decades China has gone from being a country with the smallest gap between the rich and the poor to one with the largest? It is because the unfair system has made a small number of people incredibly wealthy, and the vast majority of people remain poor.

Meanwhile, Boxun seems to be either under attack or Slashdotted...

Exile Diary

Committee to Protect Journalists


Human Rights in China

VOA News

Libya's revolution headquarters | Al Jazeera English

Submitted by Sam Moore on

Screen shot 2011 02 27 at 12 22 19 PM

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Here's a fascinating look at how the Libyan opposition in Benghazi have been hacking their internet access and other means of communication, in spite of the regime's efforts to create a blackout across the country.

The top-floor internet centre began operating on Tuesday, explains Sanalla, a dual British and Libyan citizen who has spent the past four years studying medicine at Benghazi's Garyounis University.

Ahmed Sheikh, a 42-year-old computer engineer who works in civil aviation, rigged the room's internet system. A cable leads from a large satellite dish on the roof through a hole in the wall to a receiver, which then connects to wireless routers. Most of the laptops connect directly to the routers by Ethernet cables, though on Saturday afternoon, the connection was hampered by heavy wind, intermittent rain and cloudy skies.

"You're getting two kilobytes a second, it's worthless," Sanalla told one of the other men trying to upload videos to YouTube.

At another laptop, 26-year-old Ahmed Yacoub was setting up an Arabic-language Wordpress blog: "The Voice of the February 17 Revolution" – named after the “day of rage” when the protests in Libya began to turn into a violent uprising.

Yacoub, who studies media and programming at Garyounis, said he and other Libyans gained "courage and guidance" from the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia. Egyptians have been assisting the Libyan uprising, not only by ferrying aid across the liberated eastern border between the two countries, but by carrying media out of the internet blackout in Libya to upload in Egyptian border towns and by sharing tactical advice on how to confront a repressive government crackdown, Sanalla said.

Between the onset of heavy fighting on the 17th and the 21st, he said, protesters in Benghazi were suffering under a total internet blackout. Then Sheikh came and arranged his ad-hoc system. On Saturday, they had just arranged to make phone calls through the satellite connection and could now conduct Skype phone calls with the outside world. Sanalla had been reaching out to international media organisations such as CNN and the BBC using the program’s chat capability.

The crew in the room also administers the “Libyans” group on Facebook and tweets from the account "endtyranny01" – Sanalla's from when he wanted to remain anonymous.

Al Jazeera post

Wireless Power Lightens Up Cereal Boxes | Advertising Lab

Submitted by Sam Moore on

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From AdLab comes this news about eCoupled's wirelessly-powered on-package lightup graphics.


"eCoupled intelligent wireless power is so flexible it can actually be printed directly onto packaging. A low-cost enhancement to product packaging, printed coils allow real-time communication from the package to the store shelf, and then to the store’s inventory management system. Product quantities can be identified and tracked, expiration dates monitored, and new stock automatically ordered when supplies are low to help reduce lost sales."

Wait - weren't RFID tags supposed to make that problem go away?

via AdLab

Gizmodo post


Gadaffi’s Mass text messages | Smart Mobs

Submitted by Sam Moore on

Screen shot 2011 02 26 at 12 25 08 AMApparently the Libyan government is trying to get mass SMS messaging going:

Sources on the ground in #Libya: Mass text messages being sent to users in support of #Gaddafi. Those who forward the messages to others are promised phone credits

Twitter 25/02 11.15 ‘Reports from #Libya: Citizens of #Tripoli receiving texts offering 100 dinar credit if they send messages asking people to stay home today’ by @MAQAM.
9 minutes ago via Facebook

Another SMS from Libyana mobile phone provider. fatwa against watching Al Jazeera & other media channels #Libya #Tripoli #Benghazi via @flyingbirdies

It's not clear that this is having the intended effect, though, as messages asking people to act as if nothing happened only make sense if you're completely out of touch with the reality on the ground:

So the government is asking people to go back to work, but as I told you I don’t think that will be possible in weeks. There’s so much destruction in the city.


Google Tweaks Algorithm to Push Down Low-Quality Sites -

Submitted by Sam Moore on


Another move in the SEO wars... and perhaps a knock against eHow and so forth.

Google has updated their algorithm (which they do all the time) - this time, coming out and saying that they're targeting low-quality content farms, splogs, etc.:

“This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites — sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other Web sites or sites that are just not very useful,” Amit Singhal, a Google fellow, and Matt Cutts, who leads Google’s spam-fighting team, wrote in a company blog post. “At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites — sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”

NY Times

Website Magazine recommendation as to what to do next

Thuraya satellite telecom says jammed by Libya | Reuters

Submitted by Sam Moore on

Logo reuters media africaObviously Gaddafi well understands the key role of communications in empowering resistance to despotism. Now he's moved to block satellite and mobile service, though the jamming isn't all that effective.

And as we know, there are lots of technical service providers and others looking for eays to help Libyans get around the information blockade.

DUBAI, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Co's services are being jammed by Libya, the UAE-based firm's chief executive said on Thursday, as a revolt continued against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

"Unfortunately there is deliberate jamming by Libya ... which is illegal," CEO Samer Halawi told Al Arabiya television.

"Jamming started on Feb. 17 and it continues today. Our equipment is reducing the effects of the jamming so that we have coverage in 70 percent of Libya," Halawi said.

Reuters post

Indiana Official: "Use Live Ammunition" Against Wisconsin Protesters

Submitted by Sam Moore on

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Careful with that axe, Jeff...

An Indiana Deputy AG, Jeff Cox, has been fired for sending chilling messages via twitter and elsewhere, suggesting that riot police fire upon peaceful protesters at Wisconsin' state capitol building.

On Saturday night, when Mother Jones staffers tweeted a report that riot police might soon sweep demonstrators out of the Wisconsin capitol building—something that didn't end up happening—one Twitter user sent out a chilling public response: "Use live ammunition."

From my own Twitter account, I confronted the user, JCCentCom. He tweeted back that the demonstrators were "political enemies" and "thugs" who were "physically threatening legally elected officials." In response to such behavior, he said, "You're damned right I advocate deadly force." He later called me a "typical leftist," adding, "liberals hate police."

Only later did we realize that JCCentCom was a deputy attorney general for the state of Indiana.

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This isn't trivial - the union-busting effort against those who serve the public is spreading to other states.

The incident seems all the more troubling now that the public-sector union fight playing out in Wisconsin is now headed to other states—including Indiana, where GOP senators Tuesday passed a bill that would abolish collective bargaining for state teachers. (Indiana's Republican governor walked back his support of the measure Tuesday after taking stock of the opposition.)

Mother Jones article, with screen captures of Cox's blogs posts and tweets

Libyan city dubbed 'Free Benghazi' as anti-Gaddafi troops take control | World news |

Submitted by Sam Moore on

Benghazi tank anti Gaddaf 007

Looks like Gaddafi's strategy of making war on his own people is beginning to backfire. There's very clear evidence that the Libyan military is rejecting his rule, based on his use of mercenaries and his commands to use heavy weapons on civilians.

Soldiers brought rockets and heavy weapons which had been used in an assault on citizens in central Benghazi on Saturday as Gaddafi tried to keep control of the city. Doctors in Benghazi said that at least 230 people were killed, with a further 30 critically injured.

There was also the clearest confirmation yet that Gaddafi's regime used outside mercenaries to try to suppress the rebellion. Adjoining the police station a large crowd gathered in another courtyard. Upstairs, the Guardian saw a number of mercenaries, allegedly flown in the previous week, being interrogated by lawyers and army officials.

An air force officer, Major Rajib Faytouni, said he personally witnessed up to 4,000 mercenaries arrive on Libyan transport planes over a period of three days starting from 14 February. He said: "That's why we turned against the government. That and the fact there was an order to use planes to attack the people."

Guardian piece on Benghazi

Guardian's live updates on the whole Libyan situation

Al Jazeera's coverage