geeks & global justice

Photo of Kate by tris on Flickr

Check out Kate Milberry’s blog: Geeks & Global Justice: Researching tech activism in the global justice movement.   Her latest post is about net neutrality in Canada.

Kate describes herself:

I am a social justice activist, doctoral student, and mama living and working in Vancouver, BC. I go to school at Simon Fraser University, and I work under the American philosopher of technology, Andrew Feenberg. In a nutshell, I’m interested in figuring out ways to make a better world. Right now, I’m studying how activists in the global justice movement appropriate technology to achieve their social justice goals. Tech activism has (at least) three simultaneous outcomes: it democratizes technology, it develops democratic practice and it produces an alternative vision of society.

I enjoy her style of accessible and fiesty writing, as well as her perspectives on technology, open source software, open access publishing and feminism.   I also respect that she’s not cloistered academic pretending to objectively study activism.   She’s in the community living her politics and sharing her ideas with folks.   I like that she’s planing on sharing her PhD thesis on a wiki and inviting people to edit, change, or correct her work.

free culture game

Free Culture is an interesting Creative Commons licensed, game by Molleindustria where you fight to keep information in the commons.A   Occasionally the evil copyright pac-man like mechanical villain swoops around the outside and gobbles up information. They describe this game as “a game about the struggle between free culture and copyright. Create and defend the common knowledge from the vectorial class. Liberate the passive consumers from the domain of the market.”

According to some commenters on the Creative Commons blog, it is possible to win. I am not that patient.A   I found the same play too repetitive, but maybe that’s the point.A   It’s a long, repetitive slog to keep information freely accessible for everyone.

I like the statement describing who Molleindustria is:

Molleindustria is an italian team of artists, designers and programmers that aims at starting a serious discussion about social and political implications of videogames. This will involve media activists, net-artists, habitual players and critics and detractors of videogames. We chose to start with online gaming in order to sidestep mainstream distribution channels and to overcome our lack of means. Using simple but sharp games we hope to give a starting point for a new generation of critical game developers and, above all, to experiment with practices that can be easily emulated and virally diffused.

This game is safe for work, but some of their other games, are likely not appropriate to play at work.

Thanks Jen Crothers for the tip!

What the heck is ‘information policy’ anyways?

People often ask, “so…what kind of stuff does the information policy committee do?”   I still stumble through an answer.

Um…the IPC is a British Columbia Library Association committee that is concerned with all kinds of um…information policy issues, like copyright, access to information, open access scholarship, intellectual property, privacy, RFID, open source software, trade treaties, net neutrality and media democracy.

Many people have said that they feel intimidated to get involved because while they are interested in some of these issues, they feel like they don’t know a whole lot about any of these issues.   And we use a lot of acronyms.   If you are interested, please get in touch with Jeff Davis at   We would like you to get involved, speak up on the listserv, come to a meeting, a salon, or the upcoming conference.

And if someone’s throwing around acronyms you don’t understand, ask them to explain.   Chances are there are other folks who have no idea what the jargon means either.   I will try to curb my use of TLAs.

Click on the thumbnail for a larger image:

Dear VANOC†¦

Photo by Ian Muttoo

 Dear VANOC,

This trademark stuff is getting completely redonculous.   First, there was the broad and unnecessary legislation protecting the Olympic brand and trademarked words like 2010, winter and Olympics.   I can’t believe that this was passed into law!

Then there was the Denman St. Olympia Pizza debacle, where you bullied a pizza shop that had had the same name and signage for the last 15 years, long before Vancouver even had an Olympic twinkle in its eye.

Now, you have trademarked part of the national anthem of Canada.   I read today that you trademarked “With glowing hearts” from the English version and “Des plus brillants exploits”from the French, before announcing that these would be slogans that you will use to brand keychains, ads, and who knows what else.

It’s thoughtful and kinda sweet that you will allow Canadians to sing our anthem on the medal podium, in schools and at special events without suing us for infringing on your trademark.



BC government too slow in repsonding to information requests

According to the CBC site

Government ministries are regularly failing to meet their own time limit of 30 business days to respond to information requests, Loukidelis said in Victoria.   The average response time reached 51 business days for general information, Loukidelis said.

While it is good news that fewer requests are being denied outright, it’s pretty poor that the government can’t meet it’s own timelines.

Open Source fonts

A friend told me about Ellen Lupton’s design books and website.   I immediately requested 6 of her books through the public library. I’m especially excited to read Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students and D.I.Y.: Design It Yourself.

The free font manifesto on Lupton’s site caught my eye.   There are some handsome fonts with names like Linux Libertine, Freefont, and Ubuntu.   The manifesto sets out that a free font is has been licensed to be free and can be altered to form a new font (sound familiar?) and has been made available beyond a group of friends or buyers of a software package or operating system.   There is a short discussion on if all fonts should be free.   The manifesto points out that typeface design in a profession and business and that if all fonts were free these people would be out of a job.   The manifesto continues:

Most typefaces created in the free font movement are designed to serve relatively small or underserved linguistic communities. They have an explicit social purpose, and they are intended to offer the world not a luxurious outpouring of typographic variation but rather the basics for maintaining literacy and communication within a society.  

Are you a copyright criminal?

Here’s some of the proposed penalties included in Bill C-61, the bill that contains proposed changes to Canadian copyright law:

  • $500 per downloaded song
  • No Fair Use rights for remix culture
  • $20,000 for uploading content (like on Youtube)

If you too are a copyright criminal take your picture with this photo plate and upload it to the Open Source Cinema site. You could also include the photo with a letter to your MP saying this bill sucks.

Wiki on how P2P is great

Photo credit: teemow on Flickr

Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic has set up a wiki listing legitimate uses of peer to peer file sharing.

Cory Doctorow   on Boing Boing writes:

Alarmed that Bell Canada is throttling and degrading P2P traffic, David Fewer and some of his friends have created a wiki to list “all of the legitimate things that P2P can and is doing. Kind of a one stop shop for evidence of how this technology has the capacity to change the world.” The idea is that this can be used in regulatory proceedings and other policy fora to establish the legitimacy of P2P. They want your input!