It is official…Identity Society Meeting London Feb 19.

This is going to be a great follow on to BarCamp London happening on the weekend. (you have to scroll down to see the wiki content)

Monday, February 19th, 2007
Venue: BT Tower Restaurant, 34th Floor, 60 Cleveland Street, London W1
You are cordially invited to the Inaugural Identity Society Open Space event.
This event is for anyone who is interested in identity and its relevance to society. If you wish to attend please proceed to the Registration page. Please also feel free to spread the word to others! The wiki for the event can be found at IdentitySociety.org

  • 8:30 am registration with 9.00 start (with two breaks and a one-hour lunch)
  • Welcome and Open Space orientation
  • Key speakers describe the genesis of the Identity Society and identity Open Space collaboration experience to date
  • A discussion of topics for the break out sessions (which has already started in the identity society mailing list)
  • Concluding sessions will include one on “Organising the Identity Society”
  • The end of the open space is for announcements—and a sharing of the Open Space experience.
  • Closing at the BT Tower Venue 4.00pm
  • Everyone is invited for evening drinks (and possibly some food)

Initial discussion proposes that the “Identity Society” is not necessarily primarily a talking shop for the ins and outs of “identity technologies”, but might take a broader remit—of identity’s relevance to society as a whole—how we express our unique identity as individuals and collectives freely, but how we also want the benefits of cooperation and collaboration. This is of course in a context within which technology would have a vital place..

However, what Identity Society becomes is very much still up for grabs, and is down to all of us to decide. Which is hopefully what the Feb 19th meeting will help us begin to do.

We look forward to your contribution, in person or through the wiki.

Identity Event Dates

Last week we had three great events. Liberty 2.0, VRM and Mobile Identity.
The Spring program of Identity events has settled out.

February 7th will be a Identity Commons/Gang Dinner during the Week of RSA and the Open Mobile Alliance.

February 19th the folks in the UK are having and Identity Society gathering in London. It will be done with Open Space.

April 16-17 we will be doing and Identity Open Space in collaboration with Liberty Alliance before their meeting in Brussels.

May 14-16 will be Internet Identity Workshop in Mountainview will be the main meeting place for Identity Commons working groups.

Free Speach Threat was really about catching AstroTurf

It seems that catching astroturf was more the aim of section 220 of the bill that I blogged about a few days ago as threatening free speach. It turns out the blogosphere uproar was really lead by a conservative Astroturf.

Conservative direct-mail guru Richard Viguerie whipped the blogging community into a frenzied, and largely misdirected, opposition to the provision by trumpeting the section’s supposed threat to First Amendment rights, freedom, Mom and apple pie.

Section 220 was designed to shed light on so-called “Astroturf” campaigns – seemingly grassroots campaigns that are in fact funded and guided by lobbying or PR firms, usually on behalf of large corporate clients. It would have required lobbying firms or individuals who were retained for “paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying” to register with the US Congress, similar to the registration requirement currently in place for K Street lobbyists.

Because of clumsy wording that would have included an employer in the definition of a “client,” the requirement would have applied to anyone who, in the service of their employer, engaged in the stimulation of grassroots lobbying designed to influence more than 500 people, as long as the organization spent over $25,000 per quarter on the activity. Thus, anyone who was paid $25,000 per quarter to maintain a weblog with a readership of more than 500 people would have to register with Congress under section 220 if they spent all of their time encouraging the general public to contact an executive or legislative official over a matter of public policy’.

Thus, instead of putting pressure on the Senate to fix a well-intentioned – but poorly executed – proposal, ATA launched a scare campaign aimed at convincing the blogging community that the federal government was waiting in the wings to send its critics in the blogosphere to jail if they failed to register as grassroots lobbyists.

Identity MAGNET

I am heading over to the ITU-T Focus Group on Identity Management next month.

Lee Dryburgh is going to be there. I am looking forward to meeting him finally. We have been corresponding in IM for a while now. His talk follows mine at eTel.

He pointed to the MAGNET Project recently. I went there to check out what they are up to…

MAGNET – My personal Adaptive Global Network

MAGNET Beyond is a worldwide R&D project within Mobile and Wireless Systems and Platforms Beyond 3G. MAGNET Beyond will introduce new technologies, systems, and applications that are at the same time user-centric and secure. MAGNET Beyond will develop user-centric business model concepts for secure Personal Networks in multi-network, multi-device, and multi-user environments

MAGNET Beyond has 30 partners from 15 countries, among these Industrial Partners, Universities, and Research Centres.

Then I went deeper and found IST Projects listed with a cornucopia of creative acronyms and inspiring words. However what is less clear is what has happened to any of them in terms of actual technology and deployment that works for people.

Ambient Network

In the telecommunications world of future, there will be many different networks. To provide users with the services they want irrespective of their location, these networks have to cooperate. In a highly mobile environment, this network cooperation will have to be established ‘on the fly’. The Ambient Networks project is about making this fast network cooperation a reality.

Cruise NoE IST Project (CReating Ubiquitous Intelligent Sensing Environments)

The Network of Excellence (NoE) CRUISE intends to be a focal point in the planning and coordination of research on communication and application aspects of wireless sensor networking in Europe.

DAIDALOS - Designing Advanced network Interfaces for the Delivery and
Administration of Location independent, Optimised personal Services.
(((Doesn’t this sound like VRM)))

DAIDALOS is an EU Framework Programme 6 Integrated Project, currently in its second phase. Mobility has become a central aspect of the lives of European citizens in business, education, and leisure. The rapid technological and societal changes and the bewildering emergence of numerous new services has created a complex environment for network operators and a confusing situation for end users. The enhancement of existing technologies and development of new Beyond 3G systems will increase this complexity even more.

End to End Reconfigurability

The End-to-End Reconfigurability (E2R) project aims at realising the full benefits of the diversity within the radio eco-space, composed of wide range of systems such as cellular, fixed, wireless local area and broadcast. The key objective of the E2R project is to devise, develop, trial and showcase architectural design of reconfigurable devices and supporting system functions to offer an extensive set of operational choices to the users, application and service providers, operators, and regulators in the context of heterogeneous systems. Innovative research, development and proof of concept are to be pursued from an end-to-end perspective, stretching from user device through all system levels.

e-SENSE VISION – e-SENSE enables capturing of Ambient Intelligence for Beyond 3G Mobile Communication Systems through Wireless Sensor Networks.

Ambient Intelligence is a key component for future beyond 3G mobile and wireless communication systems. However, the enabling technology that provides systems with information to allow for Ambient Intelligence has been neglected and currently consists of many independent modes of input, mainly relying on active user interactions or specialised sensor systems gathering information.

The EYES project

is a three year (2002-2005) European research project (IST-2001-34734), on self-organizing and collaborative energy-efficient sensor networks. It address the convergence of distributed information processing, wireless communications, and mobile computing.

The vision of ubiquitous computing requires the development of devices and technologies, which can be pervasive without being intrusive. The basic components of such a smart environment will be small nodes with sensing and wireless communications capabilities, able to organize flexibly into a network for data collection and delivery.

HIDENETS (HIghly DEpendable ip-based NETworks and Services) is a specific targeted research project funded by the European Union under the Information Society Sixth Framework Programme. The project was started in January 2006 and have a duration of 3 years.

The aim of HIDENETS is to develop and analyze end-to-end resilience solutions for distributed applications and mobility-aware services in ubiquitous communication scenarios. Technical solutions will be developed for applications with critical dependability requirements in the context of selected use-cases of ad-hoc car-to-car communication with infrastructure service support.

MIMOSA – “Microsystems platform for MObile Services and Applications”

Make Ambient Intelligence a reality by developing a mobile-phone centric open
technology platform

RUNES – Reconfigurable Ubiquitous Networked Embedded Systems

Embedded systems are now ubiquitous. They can be found in a diverse range of appliances, from mobile phones to smoke alarms, from refrigerators to trucks. Enabling these systems to communicate opens up new areas of applications: smart buildings, industrial automation, healthcare, power distribution and host of others. Some of the applications will result in a more efficient, accurate or cost effective solution than previous ones. Others will be new, previously unimagined or impossible. We are in the middle of a major technological revolution that will affect many aspects of our lives, and Europe is well placed to be at the forefront of exploiting this technology.

Moving to this exciting new technique in system development necessitates a common language for all systems. Without this, we risk repeatedly ‘re-inventing the wheel’ at a high cost in money and effort, and we compromise the inter-operability of sensors between applications.

Simplicity – Secure, Internet-able, Mobile Platforms LeadIng CItizens Toward simplicitY.

The development of new ICT devices and network-based services has generated a bewildering array of configuration procedures, access technologies and protocols. For non-technical users, excessive complexity is an obstacle to take-up of these new technologies.

The Simplicity project has developed and evaluated tools, techniques and architectures to remove this complexity, enabling users to customize devices and services with minimal effort.

WINNER – Wireless World Initiative New Radio

is a consortium of 41 partners co-ordinated by Siemens working towards enhancing the performance of mobile communication systems. The improvements of radio transmission to be explored by WINNER are crucial for enabling new mobile services and applications anytime and anywhere.

Our challenge is to make mobile communication systems more adaptable to user needs.

There were these other links out to other projects:

Wireless World Research Forum
WWI – World Wireless Initiative
MOCCA – Mobile Cooperation and Coordination Action
Information Society Technologies

ECMA “Standards at Internet Speed”
ESTI – “Home of ICT Standardization”

Credit Checks by the Government ‘legal’

More privacy invasion by the Executive Branch:

Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday the Pentagon and CIA are not violating people’s rights by examining the banking and credit records of hundreds of Americans and others suspected of terrorism or espionage in the United States.

Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, the new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said his panel will be the judge of that.

National security letters permit the executive branch to seek records about people in terrorism and spy investigations without a judge’s approval or grand jury subpoena.

Security on the web a topic at Davos

This was from Ashok Vemuri – SVP and Head of the Banking and Capital Markets Business, Infosys Technologies on the Forum Blog.

Often, the informal conversations you have over coffee are far more valuable than the public forums and one of the more interesting themes that came up amongst those I spoke to today was security. I’ve attended several meetings since my arrival and been involved in a number of discussions with banking institutions and business executives about the threats they’re currently facing.

Phishing, phreaking and pharming are now everyday terms and the kind of attacks that are having a massive impact on customer confidence driving the demand for some kind of security governing body. There is a definite feeling amongst delegates that trust is slowly dissolving amongst customers who are getting increasingly disillusioned about the safety of their information with their bank.

I had several fascinating statistics thrown at me in conversation. Whilst three years ago 90 percent of hacker attacks were benign with little dollar impact, 90 percent of hacking nowadays is malicious designed to disrupt data or steal information. One of the newest concepts I heard about earlier was ‘data-kidnapping’ – where hackers break into business systems and block a company from using its data, effectively holding them to ransom.

This provoked fierce debate about accountability amongst many of my fellow delegates. If an online banking customer has his account details stolen and loses money, who is responsible? Is it the user for not keeping his identity secure or is it the bank whose security may have been compromised? Doubtless, this is set to be the biggest driver behind the calls for regulation and standards with banks crying out for guidance from a governing body.

It makes sense. If we have regulators for the Internet, telecommunications and accounting then surely we should have some standards in place for security? Someone to turn to so there is no doubt over where the responsibilities lie or what actions should be taken when a security breach happens.

This post proves 1) Open Space is a great way to do events. Even at this incredible event the coffee breaks rock. 2) The issues that the Identity community is seeking to address are front and center amongst world business and political elites.

I also think there is a problem with he thinking that we need to have a security ‘governing’ body. I hope that those thinking along these lines can get with the ‘internet’ paradigm and read the Accountable Net: Peer Production of Internet Governance White Paper (Crawford, Johnson, Palfry) and Article (by Esther Dyson)

The Abstract:

Three problems of online life – spam, informational privacy, and network security – lend themselves to the peer production of governance. Traditional sovereigns have tried and, to date, failed to address these three problems through the ordinary means of governance. The sovereign has a role to play in the solution to each of the three, but not as a monopoly and not necessarily in the first instance. A new form of order online, brought on by private action, is emerging in response to these problems. If properly understood and encouraged, this emerging order could lead to an accountable internet without an offsetting loss of those aspects of online life that we have found most attractive.

There has been a great deal of loose talk about the need for internet governance, particularly in the context most recently of the World Summit on the Information Society, but much less careful analysis of the question whether the online world really does pose special problems, or present special opportunities, for collective action. There has been a general discussion as to whether the internet, as a general rule, lends itself to governance by traditional sovereigns or if something in the net’s architecture resists such forms of control. We do not seek to re-open this debate, acknowledging at the outset the important role that traditional sovereigns have to play in most areas of decision-making and enforcement on the internet. Rather, we seek to look more closely at a series of particularly thorny issues that have proven especially challenging for policy makers seeking to impose governance by states. We seek the special problems — and corresponding opportunities – of online activity and assess the relative merits of various options for how to resolve them.

World Economic Forum and World Social Forum

I have friends who blog at both events this week. It should be interesting to watch them both unfold.

Halley Suite of (Halley’s Comment) is at the World Economic Forum and Karri Winn who I work with at Planetwork and writter on World Changing SF is at the World Social Forum.

I just checked out the Davos ‘forum Blog’ and it turns out Jim Fruchterman of Benetech is also going to be Blogging. I also have met Gillian from Witness at SVN related events.

“sousveillance” coming to NYC

Jamais Cascio picked up this tidbit from the State of the City address in NYC.

This year, we’ll begin a revolutionary innovation in crime-fighting: Equipping “911” call centers to receive digital images and videos New Yorkers send from cell phones and computers something no other city in the world is doing.

If you see a crime in progress or a dangerous building condition you’ll be able to transmit images to 911, or online to NYC.GOV. And we’ll start extending the same technology to 311 to allow New Yorkers to step forward and document non-emergency quality of life concerns holding City agencies accountable for correcting them quickly and efficiently.

Jamais has talked about the Participatory Panopticon we are creating with emerging digital tools. (I have talked about his before on my blog – tracking the torture taxi, Condi sousveillance)

This 911/311 use is “also an example of how a participatory panopticon society can be embraced by traditional channels of authority and social control.”

Google Data Privacy Called for:

Jamais blogs about this post from Fred House via Hawk Wings

I think I need a new Google product to drop into beta. That would be, let’s see, Google Data Privacy. GDP would allow me to review all of the information that Google retains on me across all services, from all devices, and from all sources. GDP would allow me to determine the maximum data retention period for each of my services. GDP would allow me to selectively opt out of cross-service data mining & correlation, even if it reduced the quality of the services I receive. GDP would allow me to correct any inaccurate data in my profile. And GDP would log and alert me when my data was queried by other services.

I want my Google Data Privacy.

Hey Marc where were you?

Marc Canter didn’t make it to the Liberty 2.0 event. His appearance in the audience would have made the whole day a lot more interesting. Talking in the back channel with some folks we observed that the audience there didn’t seem to be that many web 2.0 folks (but since folks didn’t introduce themselves it is hard to be sure). We did find one who came for dinner he has a company called ‘somewhere.com.’ I still think there is a gap between how ‘liberty talks’ and how ‘web 2.0 developers listen’.

Getting there was a bit of a pain. The upscale veryEURO Sofitel was super snobby when it came to getting a lift from the Airport via their airport shuttle. They would only transport registered “guests” people going to meetings there don’t count. So I was out $30 for the cab ride there. 15 of us choose to go out for dinner away from the hotel…mmm..so that was $600-700 we didn’t spend on them.

Because meetings should also mean meeting the criteria to guarantee success, Sofitel has fashioned a new business meeting experience in prestige hotel venues based on the exceptional and the exemplary: luxuriously fitted spaces, first-class cuisine tailored to your specifications, and dedicated staff. BUT NO RIDES FROM THE AIRPORT…

I have to get back there tomorrow for the VRM working meeting. Not sure how I will do that exactly. The next day it is the Mobile and Identity unconference that Doc is going to facilitate.

Looking ahead to Burning Man 2007

One of the personal highlights of last year was going to Burning Man with the Sustainabilaville Camp. The experience continues reverberate and deepen as I move about the world. I just got back from a big east coast trip and I went places that I never normally go because I don’t drive. The car based lifestyle that I witnessed going by on the highway and train tracks was kind of shocking to me. It brought into focus the strong contrast of Burning Man and the contrast of being in the desert and walking and biking around the playa.

I have been looking forward to going back to Burning Man this year since returning. On top of everything Burning Man was a very interesting ‘identity experience.’ I am going to be leading a camp based on model that my Seattle Sustainabilaville friends have perfected over several years. One of the reasons I am leading a camp is because I want to be supportive of members of the identity community being able to go. There is already one identity gang member signed up to go :)

I am currently working on getting together 10-15 people to be the founding organizational group. I hope to have it formed by the end of February.

The theme is the Green Man – one of my favorite archetypes – the masculine in relationship to nature a sort of a pair to the ‘mother earth’ archetype. So the Green Man is ‘manly’ and powerful yet has a deep connected relationship to the natural world. He “rises” in the spring and goes to rest in the winter.

Freedom of Speech Seriously Threatened.

Some highlights from this Blog speak for itself. (I didn’t have time to do all the linking from the quotes so click through to get them.

The U.S. Government wants to force bloggers and online grassroots activists to register and regularly report their activities to Congress in the latest astounding attack on the internet and the First Amendment.

Richard A. Viguerie, Chairman of GrassrootsFreedom.com, a website dedicated to fighting efforts to silence grassroots movements, states:

Section 220 of S. 1, the lobbying reform bill currently before the Senate, would require grassroots causes, even bloggers, who communicate to 500 or more members of the public on policy matters, to register and report quarterly to Congress the same as the big K Street lobbyists. Section 220 would amend existing lobbying reporting law by creating the most expansive intrusion on First Amendment rights ever. For the first time in history, critics of Congress will need to register and report with Congress itself.


During an appearance with his wife Barbara on Fox News last November, George Bush senior slammed Internet bloggers for creating an “adversarial and ugly climate.”

– The White House’s own recently de-classified strategy for “winning the war on terror” targets Internet conspiracy theories as a recruiting ground for terrorists and threatens to “diminish” their influence.

– The Pentagon recently announced its effort to infiltrate the Internet and propagandize for the war on terror.

– In a speech last month, Homeland Security director Michael Chertoff identified the web as a “terror training camp,” through which “disaffected people living in the United States” are developing “radical ideologies and potentially violent skills.” Chertoff pledged to dispatch Homeland Security agents to local police departments in order to aid in the apprehension of domestic terrorists who use the Internet as a political tool.

Make no mistake, the internet, one of the greatest outposts of free speech ever created is under constant attack by powerful people who cannot operate within a society where information flows freely and unhindered. All these moves mimic stories we hear every week out of State Controlled Communist China, where the internet is strictly regulated and virtually exists as its own entity away from the rest of the web.

Liberty Alliance opens Liberty 2.0 Day

This is the first time that I have seen Roger Sullivan since he became President of the Liberty Alliance. He introduced Liberty Alliance and shared their new definition of themselves.

Liberty Alliance is the only global body working on define and drive open technology standards, privacy and business guidelines for digital identity management.

He was very explicitly in recognizing that there were lots of people in the industry working on solving identity management problems.

He talked about what he saw Liberty doing and looking to do in the next year:

  • Exhibiting “Market Leadership” through demonstrating value in a particular space
  • Increasing Transparency - be recognixed for defining open standards.
  • Achieve good visability for members and non-members to activities early and often
  • Inclusiveness work effectively with other industry bodies and individuals to define and develop the market – other organizations unique and different
  • Reduce barriers to participation.

He spoke again about the need to work with other organizations working on identity and to work together so that the customers are not confused by articulating the commonalities and differences. I completely agree with this however I must point out the obvious – by naming openLiberty -openLiberty market confusion will result because of the similarity with the OpenID name. As someone who spends an enormous amount of her time communicating with to the people and companies in “the market” this just added yet another thing that I must explain to people. Sigh.

He closed by highlighting members of the board of Liberty and their companies. AOL, France Telecom, Ericsson, Fidelity, HP, NTT, Intel, Oracle, Sun, Novell.

They have a new website design that seems easier to navigate. I found this history timeline, backgrounder PDF, and a public community section.

openLiberty Announcement

THE “ANNOUNCEMENT” at the Liberty 2.0 meeting was for openLiberty.

It is a global Liberty Alliance Open Source Initiative to support open source developers building identity-based applications, addressing key industry requirements for increased security and privacy. It will support easier and faster application development and Interoperability with Liberty-based deployments worldwide.

“ID-WSF is currently the only realistic framework for securing Web services…”
Scott Cantor, Internet2

It will be a comprehensive portal – referencing and complementing other open source infinitives such as Bandit, Higgins, OpenID etc. It includes Forums, Wiki, discussions and a member-contributed downloadable code based on Liberty Federation and Liberty Web Services.

The Initial focus will be on ID-WSF WEb Services Consumer WSC libraries and SAMLE 2.0 functionality. Participate, leverage, contribute, Converge!

One question was asked about licensing – They will be using the Apache License and Contributor agreement.
Just for fun I googled Open Liberty and this Ice Skating club came up first. When I googled Open Liberty Alliance the portal list of Open Source projects came up.

Identity Gang Dinner at RSA

I am heading to RSA this year to cover the show for DIDW. Last year was my first dip into all out ‘security land.’ I was glad to hang out with Bob and Pam who helped me understand things there. It occurred to me that it might be fun to have an Identity Gang Dinner one night of the show. This will be both for folks on the list and those at RSA who might be interested in getting to know what we are up to.

Web of Compassionate Discretion – from my Bob Blakley interivew.

My interview with Bob Blakley from the RSA Conference last year has finally made it up on Stodid. It is a great interview and covers some key concepts that seem more important to remember then ever like The Web of Compassionate Discretion.

I am at MashupCamp3 in Boston facilitating and got together with Aldo to chat about identity. He brought a hard drive and I transfered this file from the device to his drive and he transformed to a readable format and edited it. We also recorded some advertisements for the Internet Identity Workshop in May 14-16.

Since I go to many many events these days. I hope that I can do a few more face-to-face interviews here and there to contribute to Stodid. Perhaps more ‘streeters’ with developers and others who might actually use the systems we are working on.
Hopefully now I can actually get my device to podcast workflow working but I am still not sure. Failing to navigate the ins and outs of podcast “literacy” w the reason for the long delay. The device I have is an Olympus recorder recommended to me by a friend for podcasting. The thing is that it has a format it recorded in WMA was one that I had no way to play on my machine. Even if I could play it I didn’t know how to edit it.

URL’s are cool.

Apparently some people think that I don’t like URL’s. I truly think they are great. I have since the first I heard about them. I am very excited that this model for doing SSO now exists. I think the model is very empowering truly (except for the domain name part) decentralized. I think it will be great for millions of web literate folks. Weather they have their own domain or if they just have a blog and use that URL. The way wiki travel is doing it to support interop between the different wiki travel sites is cool too.

I want to see this model flourish.

It is true that I am also not a technical person and I don’t think that they will work for ALL people (they will work for many millions of people). This is a Yes AND situation. The AND is I don’t think it will work for ‘everyone’ and particularly the user communities that I got inspired to try and build social networks for the Spiritual Activists. There are lots of web-literate folks on this list who can weave their way through domain naming and setting up stuff on their servers. I feel that part of my role is to speak up for those who are less technically savy and what could work for them in a ubiquitous identity layer. I would like to see the diversity of identifiers and ways of doing SSO flourish under OpenID. I really want a ubiquitous user-centric identity layer that can serve a diversity of people.
I had a conversation with a friend of mine yesterday. She is in her 50’s and we talked about the different things going on in our professional lives. I shared a little bit about what was happening in OpenID. I told her about this new way of doing SSO with URLs and that in the universe of possibilities there was also i-names. She said to me that she thought the URL thing would never work for her mother. That is who I care about…her mother. So went I say I like i-names and I think they will work as a way to for spiritual women over 45 to use these systems I really am just talking about those folks in a different part of the web. Who normally don’t have non-tehcnical allies on their side as these things are formed thinking about what might work for them in a ubiquitous identity layer.

Please don’t take what I say as against anything else that lives under the OpenID2 umbrella. I really love the fact everyone has found a way to cooperate despite their different angles. It gives me great optimism for the future of the web.

Corporations plan to contribute Open Source OpenID

This was a great to see from James McGovern:

In terms of my own planned 2007 contributions to open source, I will be commiting to contributing to the authorization specification as part of the OpenID community. The funny thing is that I will be going against my better judgement in that enterprises tend to desire to contribute to things that are measurable like implemented software as we really can’t do anything with ideas alone. Ideas need to be turned into software. What I fear the most is folks from Sun such as Pat Patterson, Sara Gates,Simon Phipps, Robin Wilton, Don Bowen and folks from Microsoft such as Kim Cameron and Jason Matusow openly supporting initiatives such as OpenID but not taking deliberate steps within their respective employers to actually implement the OpenID specification and any resulting authorization enhancements. I too am somewhat constrained in that the perception of anything that isn’t implemented will be perceived as an academic exercise that was a waste of time that will put the ability to contribute to open source projects in the future at risk…

XFN, Liberty 2.0 and OpenID UX

Eran Sandler has two great posts about identity and OpenID. One links to my post on “the network of Me.” He asks if we can do ‘creative things’ with XFN and identities. I personally don’t want my identifier in anyone else’s XFN file. I want to be asked by the person if I want my relationship with them expressed in a new context. All our relationships do not exist in all contexts….there is however often a lot of overlap between people with whom we share multiple contexts – making these relationships traverse contexts in a privacy protecting and non-annoying way is the challenge. I hope that people interested in how identities, social graphs and social portability will go to the Free Liberty 2.0 meeting on January 22 to learn more about their proposed open standard for this.

He also blogs eloquently about the still emerging challenge of UI and OpenID adoption.

I keep on seeing two distinct ways that are common in such sites/services (at least in the sites that I’ve visited).

The first, is to separate the OpenID handling to a different page. In that page the process of sign-in/up is actually the same. If this is your first time of signing in with your OpenID it will actually transform itself to a sign-up process and may ask you a couple of questions and may interact with your OpenID provider.

The second, OpenID is integrated only in the Sign-In screen. If you sign in with an OpenID for the first time you will actually get a sign-up process and you may be asked a few questions and have an interaction with your OpenID provider.

The best place, of course, is to have OpenID in both the Sign-In and Up screens, if a user that do have an OpenID reaches any one of these screen the scenario of signing in for the first time (or not for the first time) will work no matter when he is.

What do you think? How would use design these processes that will still fit to your site/service and still support in a clear and obvious way OpenID?

There is an emerging community that is focused on User Experience. I hope that Eran and others who care about this join up. We need all the UX brains we can get on this not easy to solve puzzle.

Why i-names? I think they work for my people.

There is a follow up post here on how URL’s are cool.

It is no secret that I happen to like i-names. They are an open standard that I think has a lot of promise to help people have more control of their identifiers on the web. I will start out with a story and go on to a few practical reasons why.

I first ‘got into’ identity it was 2004 and I was helping spread the word about the upcoming Planetwork conference – where we were going to demo a really early clugy version of i-names doing SSO between 3 systems AND talk about the Identity Commons and how it could evolve. I got my first ever VOIP phone call from Owen who was in Greece and he sent me all their documentation to date- so I could write a summary for the brochure and website. (Over the holidays I went through papers and found the folder where I had printed out all that old stuff it was fun to reflect back and realize how much had changed since then. ) I wrote a great one page summary and they liked it a lot – it was the best conscious articulation about what they were doing they had seen. This was a year after that Augmented Social Network White Paper was published – I had read it and absorbed it throughly and wanted to ‘build’ that vision for my community.

I don’t just abstractly care about this stuff. I want people and communities that I care about to have identity services that meet their needs and make them more effective in the world. In 2002 I founded a project to build such networking tools – we actually did do two prototypes in Drupal by 2005. We were early to market and those folks were not ready for what we were offering (I may turn my attention back to serving this community in 2007).

There was no other user-centric identity anything except for the i-names guys and Identity Commons who were working closely together. I got along with everyone and enjoyed their spirit and energy. So I joined - I started working for Owen Davis evangelizing for the ‘first’ Identity Commons. I will admit looking back I was perhaps ‘overly’ enthusiastic and a bit naive about where the technology was. I was having a conversation with a friend in the community saying…”you know thinking about it if I had known what I know now I am not sure I would have done that job”. His response was well “that is why the young kids get things done – they don’t know better.” I think he is right on this. I also must say I have no regrets about the path I have taken the last three years. Indeed I think I have found myself and a place in the world that I really make a difference.

The user-centric identity community has really grown and flourished in the past 2 years. Thanks to the energy and support of Doc, Phil Windley, Phil Becker, Eric Norlin, Kim Cameron, Brett McDowell and many others. It has been exciting to watch it evolve.

Johannes has been particularly instrumental in bringing the ‘web based identifier’ user-centric crowd to convergence. Like all technical communities people come at things from different angles. He is a deep sceptic about anything new. He has been patient and listened to Drummond and the other XRI guys and has come to see some real value in what they are putting forward here are two posts one on XRI resolution and the other on XDI. Phil Windly also a thoughtful voice in the space has written about how he has come to understand their offering. This is a post about attending Andy Dale’s XDI workshop. His post about i-names at IIW starts out “Over the last few years, I’ve been impressed by a new Internet naming convention called XRI, or eXtensible Resource Identifiers”.

The convergence of LID, OpenID and XRI/inames into one thing called Yadis – to reduce end user confusion is a really great thing (of course Sxip joined the party later and this too reduced confusion even more and is also a good thing). I think the choice to not continue with the ‘Yadis brand’ and go back under the OpenID brand is a good thing…it is a much nicer brand. It also means that the people coming to this need to get that OpenID now includes these other ‘threads’ in the ‘web based identifier’ way of doing things for end-users. I think this diversity is good. If you don’t want to use i-names don’t but let the diversity flourish.

On a more practical level why do I like i-names?

I think i-names are easier to get for the marginally internet literate:
It may be news to folks but there are some internet users who don’t know how to scroll. There are not a whole lot of super literate users – we hang out with a lot of them in silicon valley but normal people….they are not like us. I think there are a bunch of bloggers who are going to ‘get’ that the URL they have for their blog is something they can use to login to other blogs to comment etc. That is cool. I think it is going to be the majority of OpenID users in the next year. I also really think that it is going to be a lot easier for regular folks to ‘get’ i-names.

Domain names system usabilty sucks:
I think that the domain name system and the tools for normal people to work in it are atrocious. I can hardly get things to work right and I am reasonably tech literate. I don’t know how to do domain mapping so that identitywoman.net is the URL that you see when you look at the top of my blog – rather then the http://www.kaliyasblogs.net that you see cause I can only figure out how to forward it. I can’t figure out for the life of my how to transfer domains from one registrar to another or merge the 4 accounts I have on one registrar into one. IT IS TOTALLY NOT USER FRIENDLY. Maybe by some miracle the UI and architecture can be changed – you know I am not betting on it.

i-names are less confusing then URL’s:
So lets go back to the community that I got started with trying to serve. They are very social people they come together at groovy conferences and go on retreats at spiritual places. They are web mail and Yahoo group users. They need systems and tools that are truly empowering and meet them where they are at with web-literacy. I think i-names have a better chance of doing this then URL’s. For starters they will have to ‘get a URL’ then use it a bunch of different places – each of those places will have URL’s for their profile in that system. People have multiple URL’s and clearly not all of them are OpenID enabled. I would rather just give them all community i-names then they clearly understand this new ‘thing’ (it is not a URL and not an e-mail address) is what they use to login different places and manage identity services from (like profile management when that happens).

I can upgrade and not loose my name:
I like the fact that I could start out with a community name like @integrativeactivism*morningglory and use that on several sites around the web and then….decide you know i want a top level name just for me … so I go and get =morningglory and all the logins that I have under that other community name don’t break. The i-number under @integrativeactivism*monrningglory is mine and can be resolved to =morningglory.

Group membership and micro-app ecology:
I also like i-names because from my understanding there is a way to assert group membership by the issuance of an identifier that one has control over. This gives you the potential weave together networks of applications for different communities that you are in. For example the solstice planning group could all have i-names @integrativeactivism*solsticeplanning*morningglory Then the wiki they went to to organize could be not on the same platform but work non-the-less for the people in that group. I really want to see an ecology of mico-apps that can be woven together and manage access control in ways that work for “simple people.”

Simple workable tools for personal link management:
The example from Phil’s blog explains a lot about how it is simple and I think it will work for the spiritual woman over 45 who are part of those communities that I care that these systems work for.

Lately I’ve started to feel like i-names and XRIs are coming into their own. Not long ago, for example, my i-name registry, 2idi, started offering XRI forwarding services. That means that I can create XRIs from my i-name that resolve to other things on the Net. For example:

http://xri.net/=windley/(+index) forwards to my “index” page on the Web.
http://xri.net/=windley/(+contact) is my contact page
http://xri.net/=windley/(+blog) resolves to my blog
http://xri.net/=windley/(+call) points to me on Skype (i.e. Firefox will launch a call to me through Skype if you click on this.)
http://xri.net/=windley/(+feed) forwards to my RSS feed
http://xri.net/=windley/(+photos) points to my online photo collection

What’s the point? Easy: I own =windley, my i-name, for the next 50 years and I control the resolution. If my blog URL or my Skype handle changes, I can change how those XRIs resolve and you can still find me and all the service related to me. Plus, the XRIs above are (mostly) based on a standard semantics, so if I know your i-name, I can easily find your blog.

XRIs are more complicated than URLs, but I remember everyone screwing up their face when URLs were new too and somehow we got used to them. XRIs make up for their additional complexity in semantic mappings and flexibility.

I must also chime in and say that I agree with Marc Canter

I’m also getting tired of waiting for ‘attribute sharing’ working.

I hope we can get this next layer of tools working relatively quickly now that we have the authentication layer stuff figured out. I am hopeful that the open standards for Datasharing that are getting traction now in the nonprofit community. I spent most of the last two weeks working organizing and writing up note cards of quotes from the vast repository of papers I have on the Open Social Network. I have an outline of a paper that I hope to have a working draft released in the next few months. As for my ‘enthusiasm’ I really want this vision to materialize and I am more committed then ever to reality based thinking and action so it can happen.

Unfortunately the $100 laptop is closer to reality

I am writing about this because it is one of the things happening in the tech world that seems really nuts to do. There is an article about it moving closer to reality.

Why? Isn’t good to get kids wired up? Won’t it give them advantages? I think it is good in culturally appropriate ways bring networking tools to people in the third world. I don’t think plunking down laptops for 10 million of the ‘poorest kids’ by the end of 2007 is a good idea.

How hard that is should be one key measure of the project’s success. One Laptop plans to send a specialist to each school who will stay for a month helping teachers and students get started. But Negroponte believes that kids ultimately will learn the system by exploring it and then teaching each other.

By July or so, several million are expected to reach Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Nigeria, Libya, Pakistan, Thailand and the Palestinian territory. Negroponte said three more African countries might sign on in the next two weeks. The Inter-American Development Bank is trying to get the laptops to multiple Central American countries.

I am particularly erked by this project because it feels just like western attempts at so called development in the past. We gave the third world free grain in the 50’s and 60’s and in doing so we found a place for our excess supply but also ended up collapsing local markets – reducing their long run ability to feed themselves.

Then there was the green revolution that brought mechanized agriculture, fertilizers, hybrid seeds and debt to big agriculture.

How about large scale infrastructure projects those were really awful…the recycling of petro-dollars into the third world. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is a good place to read more about that stuff. I studied Political Economy and Human Rights in college – I wrote my thesis on the Lost Opportunity for Sustainable Development in Palestine. I know all to well the way ‘big projects’ happen and largely ‘TO’ people in the third world they are not initiated BY people in the third world by by western trained elites and the people who manipulate them. Negroponte seems to have the White Man’s Burden in spades. Why because he is bearing a computer is it any different then past efforts?

Look at Elena Norberg-Hodge’s work she first went to Ladakh (basically the part of Tibet that has always been in India) in 1975 trained as an anthropologist she documented the culture as the west ‘arrived’ Hs has a book and movie called Ancient Futures: Learning from LadakHe. The International Society for Ecology and Culture is her organization.

In Ladakh and elsewhere, modern education not only ignores local resources, but worse still, robs children of their self-esteem. Everything in school promotes the Western model and, as a direct consequence, makes children think of themselves and their traditions as inferior.

when you introduce this Western schooling, you’re turning whole cultures, whole peoples, into failures.

These quotes are from excerpts that you can read below.

He has this slide in his TED talk.

The basic principles:
1) Children are our most precious natural resource
2) The solution to poverty, peace, environment is education.
3) Teaching is one but not the only way to achieve learning

I think he is missing a critical part of this analysis that western education is disconnecting people from their cultures.

More from Helena:
In every corner of the world today, the process called ‘education’ is based on the same assumptions and the same Eurocentric model. The focus is on faraway facts and figures, on ‘universal’ knowledge. The books propagate information that is meant to be appropriate for the entire planet. But since only a kind of knowledge that is far removed from specific ecosystems and cultures can be universally applicable, what children learn is essentially synthetic, divorced from the living context.

He talked about how Steve Jobs had been to africa and seen early on how kids just swam in this new medium. This is no doubt true. That’s what kids do is get into things. The question is deeper…it is about cultural context meaning and relivancdy.

More from Helena:
For the young Ladakhis, especially the teenaged boys, who are looking for an identity and a role model, this image [of modernity] has a very powerful impact.He speaks in his talk about how this worked in Maine (the US state) where they legislated one laptop per child in 2002 and 3 years later have great results. Ok those are western kids using western machines. He says the time for pilot programs is out…we know this works (works for WHAT?) and that if countries don’t buy one for every kid in their whole country then they are not eligible for the program.

He says that there is one thing people have an issue with noting that people “really don’t like to criticize it because it is a humanitarian effort and to do so would be stupid.” The one thing that people had an issue with is that they

Brian has written about the project’s lack of environmental consideration in several posts….The Race To Cheap,

Without an e-waste program in place, however, it may be a terribly great addition to the progress of industrial technology in polluting the entire world with its heavy metal laden products.

How can the industrialzed west spread complex, resource heavy products into every remote reach of the world, with no responsibility for their end of life care? The people receiving them have no capacity to deal with them, by definition.

Electronics Everywhere, for Kids

At the same time, the Semiconductor Industry Association reports some dizzying figures for growth of semiconductor sales of all kinds worldwide (basically, electronic components). Put that together with the science that is showing subtle and powerfully ill effects of chemicals from electronics on pregnancy and small children, and we have got what I call, a health issue.

If I am so against the $100 laptop then how do I propose the network expand? I do like the last/first mile projects that I first learned about at a conference in Santa Barbara. They do “Hybrid Real-Time, Store-and-Forward WiFi Mesh”

Helena Norberg-Hodge text that the quotes above are drawn from.

From an essay the Pressure to Modernize:
Western-style education
No one can deny the value of real education—the widening and enrichment of knowledge. But today in the Third World, education
has become something quite different. It isolates children from their culture and from nature, training them instead to become narrow specialists in a Westernised urban environment. This process has been particularly striking in Ladakh, where modern schooling acts almost as a blindfold, preventing children from seeing the very context in which they live. They leave school unable to use their own resources, unable to function in their own world.

For generation after generation, Ladakhis grew up learning how to provide themselves with clothing and shelter; how to make shoes out of yak skin and robes from the wool of sheep; how to build houses out of mud and stone. Education was location-specific and nurtured an intimate relationship with the living world. It gave children an intuitive awareness that allowed them, as they grew older, to use resources in an effective and sustainable way.

None of that knowledge is provided in the modern school. Children are trained to become specialists in a technological, rather than an ecological, society. School is a place to forget traditional skills, and worse, to look down on them.

Western education first came to Ladakhi villages in the 1970s. Today there are about two hundred schools. The basic curriculum is a poor imitation of that taught in other parts of India, which itself is an imitation of British education. There is almost nothing Ladakhi about it.

Most of the skills Ladakhi children learn in school will never be of real use to them. In essence, they receive an inferior version of an education appropriate for a New Yorker. They learn from books written by people who have never set foot in Ladakh, who know nothing about growing barley at 12,000 feet or about making houses out of sun-dried bricks.

This situation is not unique to Ladakh. In every corner of the world today, the process called ‘education’ is based on the same assumptions and the same Eurocentric model. The focus is on faraway facts and figures, on ‘universal’ knowledge. The books propagate information that is meant to be appropriate for the entire planet. But since only a kind of knowledge that is far removed from specific ecosystems and cultures can be universally applicable, what children learn is essentially synthetic, divorced from the living context. If they go on to higher education, they may learn about building houses, but these houses will be of concrete and steel, the universal box. So too, if they study agriculture, they will learn about industrial farming: chemical fertilisers and pesticides, large machinery and hybrid seeds. The Western educational system is making us all poorer by teaching people around the world to use the same industrial resources, ignoring those of their own environment. In this way education is creating artificial scarcity and inducing competition.

In Ladakh and elsewhere, modern education not only ignores local resources, but worse still, robs children of their self-esteem. Everything in school promotes the Western model and, as a direct consequence, makes children think of themselves and their traditions as inferior.

A few years ago, Ladakhi schoolchildren were asked to imagine their
region in the year 2000. A little girl wrote, ‘Before 1974, Ladakh was not known to the world. People were uncivilised. There was a
smile on every face. They don’t need money. Whatever they had was enough for them.’ In another essay a child wrote, ‘They sing their own songs like they feel disgrace, but they sing English and Hindi songs with great interest… But in these days we find that maximum people and persons didn’t wear our own dress, like feeling disgrace.’

Education pulls people away from agriculture into the city, where they become dependent on the money economy. Traditionally there was no such thing as unemployment. But in the modern sector there is now intense competition for a very limited number of paying jobs, principally in the government. As a result, unemployment is already a serious problem.

Modern education has brought some obvious benefits, like improvement in the literacy rate. It has also enabled the Ladakhis to be more informed about the forces at play in the world outside. In so doing, however, it has divided Ladakhis from each other and the land and put them on the lowest rung of the global economic ladder.
from an interview in Context:
A family would not have $100 in traditional Ladakhi society, and yet people are not poor, because their basic needs are met. But for the young Ladakhis, especially the teenaged boys, who are looking for an identity and a role model, this image has a very powerful impact.

I think this at least partly explains why, if you travel around the world, you see that in almost every culture on this planet, teenaged boys are desperately trying to get blue jeans and cassette players and sunglasses, the symbols of modern life. More than anything, the drive is a psychological one. We need to be much more aware of our impact on other cultures. And often, because they’re not aware of that, the impact of westerners’ presence is a very destructive one. But there are ways that one can try to change that.

These are exerpts from an interview in 1992.

You’re very critical of modern education. You write that “it not only ignores local resources, but worse still, makes Ladakhi children think of themselves and their culture as inferior. They are robbed of their self-esteem.” How does modern education rob Ladakhi children of their self-esteem?
On many different levels. We need to keep in mind that this is true everywhere, and it is a good example of why I’m saying that it is appropriate and relevant around the world. Just recently I overheard a Ladakhi teacher saying to her Ladakhi students, “Our best poet is Wordsworth. Now let’s read some Somerset Maugham.” The same thing is happening in Bali, Africa, South America. The fact is that Wordsworth is not their poet. The distance between this English poet and Ladakh or Bhutan or Bali buries their own history and heritage. It’s become so shameful that it isn’t even visible. It’s making their heritage and their resources invisible. It also robs them of self-esteem. Everything that they represent–and this is particularly true of earth-based or indigenous culture–is seen as primitive and backward. It inevitably is within this spectrum that we have created of progress, meaning away from nature, away from spontaneity, away from the uniqueness of individuals, of a particular culture and place. All the time towards a type of monocultural standardization which is inherently eurocentric. Interestingly enough, it isn’t just education itself, that is the schooling. At the same time the media operate to produce the same impact. Your sense of identity is being formed by stereotyped, very distant media images. All around the world they are literally Barbie doll and Rambo for little children. That Barbie doll bears no resemblance to who I am as a Ladakhi. Barbie doll is not who anybody is. So these distanced models are destructive for everybody, even in the West. No one can live up to those models. Anorexia and bulimia and a whole range of very serious disorders are directly related to this. So this alienation, trying to remove you into another culture that is completely alien to who you are, creates a deep sense of self rejection and loss of self-worth and self-esteem. It’s just heartbreaking to watch it.
In addition, the way that Western education robs people of self esteem is that this whole process is so alien that most students fail. When I say most, I mean ninety-eight percent fail. That means that overnight, when you introduce this Western schooling, you’re turning whole cultures, whole peoples, into failures. The sense is that you are stupid, inadequate, backward. I have people in the villages in Ladakh now saying that they’re like “asses,” a Ladakhi expression that says you’re really stupid, because they don’t speak English. The whole world is being made to feel inferior if they don’t speak perfect English.
What are the implications of that?

The implications are profound. It’s the single most important message. The implications are that your whole relationship to the universe changes. You feel a type of union and communion with the rest of life and with others. I would go so far as to say that I think that our human nature needs that sense of interconnectedness, that it’s deep within us, and that it’s the only way to happiness and even the only way to real love and compassion for others.

Something we haven’t touched on enough with education was that we talked about how people’s self-esteem is lost, but more important, perhaps, their self-reliance is also destroyed through education. So we put children in schools, whether in Ladakh or Sumatra, and give them a poor imitation of the same education that a child in New York gets. That means that first of all, during your entire schooling, you are robbed of the knowledge of how to survive with your own resources. You’re not taught anything about how to grow barley in Ladakh at 12,000 feet, how to use yaks, how to make houses out of the mud that is available there. Not a word about any of the activities that you need to make yourselves self-reliant. Instead you’re studying Wordsworth, mathematics and Western history. So when you finally graduate from that school you do not know how to survive in your own environment based on your own resources. You do know how to survive as a clerk or a specialist in an urban center, but those jobs are very few and far between. It’s a prescription for unemployment, for larger and larger numbers. Also, interestingly enough, the more education you get, the further away it pulls you from your local resources and environment. So if you’ve just had some schooling, you might still stay on in your region. If you have more education, you’ve got to go to New Delhi. If you have even more education, it’s off to the West. This is the brain drain, which again is a direct consequence of policy and planning.

Thers don’t like them much either for good reasons.
Darren:

You think these mini-computers will “address the world’s education problems”? There’s the difference–I don’t. Computers haven’t addressed the education problems here in the US, where computers are much more ubiquitous than they ever will be in the bush of Africa or the forests of southern Asia or Brazil.

Jim Heynderickx:

I think back to Redmond O’Hanlon’s Into the Heard of Borneo, which raised interesting questions of how first world products and services could have radical effects on indigenous cultures, and how the societies themselves could be permanently transformed by the integration. The end result could be a community that is much less sustainable and independent in the long run, or one that dissappears entirely.

So, I have one reaction that makes me think hard about how this is different or the same as missionaries building churches and converting the populations to Christianity. Is what is being provided stronger and better than what is being displaced? In pilot programs, the argument is that the laptops leverage the kid’s ability to learn and to teach each other. The laptops are about learning about learning, problem-solving, programming, the Papert approach, etc.

From the comments:

The difference seems to be that the programs that work start with teacher training, a clear idea of what goals will be accomplished in what classes using what software, and a lot of curriculum thinking around the idea. The programs that doesn’t work involved handing every kid a laptop and expecting teachers and students to create miracles. The latter sounds a lot like this project.

Parranoid lists for the start of the year….

I decided to publish this because it was quite disturbing. The thing I don’t get is with all this ‘citizen journalism’ why isn’t more happening to address the freedoms that seem to be slipping way. I talked with a friend about this concern I had that not enough was ‘happening’ he said that perhaps there was more lawsuits and FOA requests going on then we know. I would feel better if there was a more organized effort to address the threats to basic american freedoms. Maybe this is what Reuniting America can do.

From ZMan….
Is the U.S. becoming a police state? Here are the top 10 signs that it may well be the case.

1. The Internet Clampdown
Attempts to regulate and filter internet content are intensifying lately, coming both from telecommunications corporations (who are gearing up to pass legislation transferring ownership and regulation of the internet to themselves), and the Pentagon (which issued an “Information Operations Roadmap” in 2003, signed by Donald Rumsfeld, which outlines tactics such as network attacks and acknowledges, without suggesting a remedy, that US propaganda planted in other countries has easily found its way to Americans via the internet). One obvious tactic clearing the way for stifling regulation of internet content is the growing media frenzy over child pornography and “internet predators,” which will surely lead to legislation that by far exceeds in its purview what is needed to fight such threats.

2. “The Long War”
This little piece of clumsy marketing died off quickly, but it gave away what many already suspected: the War on Terror will never end, nor is it meant to end. It is designed to be perpetual. As with the War on Drugs, it outlines a goal that can never be fully attained — as long as there are pissed off people and explosives. The Long War will eternally justify what are ostensibly temporary measures: suspension of civil liberties, military expansion, domestic spying, massive deficit spending and the like. This short-lived moniker told us all, “get used to it. Things aren’t going to change any time soon.”

3. The USA PATRIOT Act
Did anyone really think this was going to be temporary? Yes, this disgusting power grab gives the government the right to sneak into your house, look through all your stuff and not tell you about it for weeks on a rubber stamp warrant. Yes, they can look at your medical records and library selections. Yes, they can pass along any information they find without probable cause for purposes of prosecution. No, they’re not going to take it back, ever.

4. Prison Camps
This last January the Army Corps of Engineers gave Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root nearly $400 million to build detention centers in the United States, for the purpose of unspecified “new programs.” Of course, the obvious first guess would be that these new programs might involve rounding up Muslims or political dissenters — I mean, obviously detention facilities are there to hold somebody. I wish I had more to tell you about this, but it’s, you know… secret.

5. Touchscreen Voting Machines
Despite clear, copious evidence that these nefarious contraptions are built to be tampered with, they continue to spread and dominate the voting landscape, thanks to Bush’s “Help America Vote Act,” the exploitation of corrupt elections officials, and the general public’s enduring cluelessness.

Bush just suggested that his brother Jeb would make a good president. We really need to fix this problem soon.

6. Signing Statements
Bush has famously never vetoed a bill. This is because he prefers to simply nullify laws he doesn’t like with “signing statements.” Bush has issued over 700 such statements, twice as many as all previous presidents combined. A few examples of recently passed laws and their corresponding dismissals, courtesy of the Boston Globe:

–Dec. 30, 2005: US interrogators cannot torture prisoners or otherwise subject them to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

Bush’s signing statement: The president, as commander in chief, can waive the torture ban if he decides that harsh interrogation techniques will assist in preventing terrorist attacks.

–Dec. 30, 2005: When requested, scientific information ”prepared by government researchers and scientists shall be transmitted [to Congress] uncensored and without delay.”

Bush’s signing statement: The president can tell researchers to withhold any information from Congress if he decides its disclosure could impair foreign relations, national security, or the workings of the executive branch.

–Dec. 23, 2004: Forbids US troops in Colombia from participating in any combat against rebels, except in cases of self-defense. Caps the number of US troops allowed in Colombia at 800.

Bush’s signing statement: Only the president, as commander in chief, can place restrictions on the use of US armed forces, so the executive branch will construe the law ”as advisory in nature.”

Essentially, this administration is bypassing the judiciary and deciding for itself whether laws are constitutional or not. Somehow, I don’t see the new Supreme Court lineup having much of a problem with that, though. So no matter what laws congress passes, Bush will simply choose to ignore the ones he doesn’t care for. It’s much quieter than a veto, and can’t be overridden by a two-thirds majority. It’s also totally absurd.

7. Warrantless Wiretapping
Amazingly, the GOP sees this issue as a plus for them. How can this be? What are you, stupid? You find out the government is listening to the phone calls of US citizens, without even the weakest of judicial oversight and you think that’s okay? Come on — if you know anything about history, you know that no government can be trusted to handle something like this responsibly. One day they’re listening for Osama, and the next they’re listening in on Howard Dean.

8. Free Speech Zones
I know it’s old news, but… come on, are they fucking serious?

9. High-ranking Whistleblowers
Army Generals. Top-level CIA officials. NSA operatives. White House cabinet members. These are the kind of people that Republicans fantasize about being, and whose judgment they usually respect. But for some reason, when these people resign in protest and criticize the Bush administration en masse, they are cast as traitorous, anti-American publicity hounds. Ridiculous. The fact is, when people who kill, spy and deceive for a living tell you that the White House has gone too far, you had damn well better pay attention. We all know most of these people are staunch Republicans. If the entire military except for the two guys the Pentagon put in front of the press wants Rumsfeld out, why on earth wouldn’t you listen?

10. The CIA Shakeup
Was Porter Goss fired because he was resisting the efforts of Rumsfeld or Negroponte? No. These appointments all come from the same guys, and they wouldn’t be nominated if they weren’t on board all the way.

If Bush’s nominee for CIA chief, Air Force General Michael Hayden, is confirmed, that will put every spy program in Washington under military control. Hayden, who oversaw the NSA warrantless wiretapping program and is clearly down with the program. That program? To weaken and dismantle or at least neuter the CIA. Despite its best efforts to blame the CIA for “intelligence errors” leading to the Iraq war, the picture has clearly emerged — through extensive CIA leaks — that the White House’s analysis of Saddam’s destructive capacity was not shared by the Agency. This has proved to be a real pain in the ass for Bush and the gang.

Who’d have thought that career spooks would have moral qualms about deceiving the American people? And what is a president to do about it? Simple: make the critical agents leave, and fill their slots with Bush/Cheney loyalists. Then again, why not simply replace the entire organization? That is essentially what both Rumsfeld at the DoD and newly minted Director of National Intelligence John are doing — they want to move intelligence analysis into the hands of people that they can control, so the next time they lie about an “imminent threat” nobody’s going to tell. And the press is applauding the move as a “necessary reform.”

Remember the good old days, when the CIA were the bad guys?

US ‘screening’ European passengers.

From Slashdot:
British travelers using a credit card to purchase their ticket may now have their credit card and email accounts inspected by US authorities. This has been true since October, when the US and the EU agreed about what information the US could demand from airlines and how this information would be handled. But details of the agreement only recently came to light following a Freedom of Information request. The US says it will “encourage” US carriers to reciprocate to any requests by European governments. From the article:

: “[T]he Americans are entitled to 34 separate pieces of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data… Initially, such material could be inspected for seven days but a reduced number of US officials could view it for three and a half years. Should any record be inspected during this period, the file could remain open for eight years…’It is pretty horrendous, particularly when you couple it with our one-sided extradition arrangements with the US,’ said [a human rights activist]. ‘It is making the act of buying a ticket a gateway to a host of personal email and financial information. While there are safeguards, it appears you would have to go to a US court to assert your rights.'”