A Bunch of Links [en]

[fr] Pelote de liens.

Linkball time.

Now that you’re nice and depressed, let Kim Wilde lift your spirits with an impromptu performance on the train home the other night.

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Stuff to Read and Watch [en]

[fr] De la lecture... encore.

Another of these “linkball” posts. Maybe there’s a better way to do this (hell, there are heaps of better way to do this; whole startups exist just to do this; but I’m going old-school). Doesn’t really matter, does it?

Doctor 2.0? Meet Jay Parkinson. And listen to his TEDx talk.

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Amit Gupta Needs You, and Other South Asians Too (Join the Marrow Registry!) [en]

[fr] Amit Gupta, celui qui a démarré Jelly et Photojojo (entre autres), court le risque de mourir de leucémie aiguë s'il ne trouve pas un donneur de cellules souches du sang. La chance de trouver un donneur pour quelqu'un d'Asie du Sud est très faible -- c'est pourquoi l'entourage d'Amit (et tout internet s'y met) remue ciel et terre pour encourager un maximum de personnes du même groupe ethnique de s'enregistrer comme donneurs.

I should have blogged about this weeks ago. I’ve been anxiously watching the countdown of the time that was left to find a bone marrow donor for Amit Gupta.

I’ve been checking Facebook and Twitter in the hope that I would see good news announced.

The countdown now says 0.

Amit Gupta Needs You!

It doesn’t mean it’s too late, but it means that if there is no good enough donor amongst the people currently in the registry, Amit will have to take his chances with extra rounds of chemo (with possibly lasting damage) to survive the acute leukemia he was diagnosed with only mid-September.

If caucasians have a roughly 90% chance of finding a matching donor should they need one, chances are much slimmer if you’re South Asian (1 chance in 20’000 of finding an exact match). The reasons, it seems:

  • the huge variety of HLA profiles (a set of genes) amongst South Asians
  • a general reluctance to register and if matched, to donate (50% or more of South Asians back out once matched).

Heck, if the Ugly Indian can keep a street clean in Bangalore, can he not join a marrow registry and possibly save a life?

I have to say that when I first heard that Amit needed a marrow donation, I imagined the procedure was something like a spinal tap. It isn’t. The donor’s stem cells are usually taken from the blood stream directly, or if needed from the hip or pelvis, not the spine. All in all, the procedure is close to giving blood. Not a huge deal, to be honest.

Team Gupta’s next move, Clark tells Wired.com, is to make sure people are aware of how simple and painless the donation process is. Marrow is extracted from the arm and generally takes six hours or so. The procedure is about as invasive as donating blood — it just takes longer.

And to join the registry, all you need to do is send back a cheek swab. It’s really easy.

Here’s how to help if you live in India.

Even if you’re not a match for Amit, you might be a match for somebody else whose life depends upon a bone marrow donation.

As for me, well, there’s little chance I may be a match for Amit (obviously). I looked up the Swiss Marrow Registry to sign up, and was quite disappointed to see that my heart operation seemed to rule me out. I checked with them, though, and it’s on a case-by-case basis. In my case, there’s happily no reason to rule me out on the basis of the operation I had over 30 years ago.

So, who is this Amit? I don’t really know him, though I had a couple of e-mail exchanges with him when I started the eclau Jelly. Yup, he’s behind that. And he also started Photojojo, which you should definitely join if you’re into photography.

But this goes beyond Amit: it’s an issue for the whole South Asian community. If you are South Asian, in India or elsewhere, please do see what you can do to help.

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Another Linkball [en]

[fr] Une pile de liens.

This pile of links has been sitting so long waiting for me to finalize it that it’s in danger of becoming stale. So here we go.

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Outraged and Furious: First Encounter With a Full-Body Scanner (in the UK) [en]

[fr] Furax: je découvre qu'au Royaume-Uni aussi, il faut passer par un de ces scanners-qui-vous-déshabillent. Et je découvre ça coincée comme un rat dans une cage en verre dont la seule sortie passe par un de ces scanners. Et contrairement aux USA, pas d'autre option: c'est ça ou je ne vole pas.

I am furious and outraged like I have rarely been.

You’ve heard about the full-body scanners they’ve been using in the US, right? And the “enhanced pat-downs” you go through if you opt out of the scanners? Thought that was bad?

I did.

You probably already know — if you know me a bit — that all the security theatre around flying angers me no end. Somebody tries to smuggle explosives on plane in their shoes? Let’s make everyone take off their shoes. Liquid explosives? Great, let’s put restrictions on liquids in carry-on luggage. Explosive underwear? Even better, let’s ask everyone to get naked. You know.

I won’t get into the details of why this is a complete pile of horseshit, others like Bruce Schneier have done it (and are still doing it) way better than me.

Now, if you’ve been flying to or from the US, chances are that you’ve wondered what you thought about them. Do they invade your privacy? your intimacy? are the “enhanced” pat-downs you can choose instead something you’re willing to subject yourself to? are they as safe as we’re told?

And, like us all when we travel and have to jump through hoops, you’ve probably reached some kind of agreement with yourself about the price you were willing to pay (in terms of hassle or loss of freedom or invasion of privacy or possible unproven health risks) to benefit from the comforts of air travel.

Or, maybe, if you don’t have any intention of flying to the US in the near future, you’ve put off that particular decision until you really have to make it.

I know I did.

Actually, I have taken the US off my list of “places I’m going to fly to” — unless I have a very good reason to change my mind.

Yes, because of the bloody scanners.

I’d actually pretty much made up my mind that before going through the “enhanced security theatre”, I would rather get to the US by road, flying first to Canada. Or something like that. But having no immediate plans to go to the US, I didn’t give it that much thought.

Now, back to why I’m writing this in Manchester airport departure lounge, having used up a pack of hankies because I feel so outraged that I don’t know what to do with myself and can’t stop crying. (Writing is helping, though, so now I just look like a mess but I’m not dripping a puddle on the floor anymore.)

I’m on my way back home, having visited my grandparents as I regularly do. I know the security theatre drill: liquids separate, take out the laptop, make sure I don’t pack too many cables, finish my water before going through security, remove extra and potentially beeping clothing before going through the metal detectors, and prepare to be quickly frisked because the darn things are so sensitive that anything can set them off. (Except in Geneva airport, where I can safely go through with clothing that will beep anywhere else.)

Well, not this time.

This time I went through the detector, which beeped, and I ended up trapped like a rat in a glass room — only way out through a full-body scanner.

I wasn’t prepared for this.

I didn’t even know they were used outside the US, or for travelers going to tame places like Switzerland from the UK.

I had no clue I should also have been thinking about whether I wanted to continue going to the UK by air (actually: coming back from the UK), or if I preferred to switch to the Eurostar.

I called out to the guy who was making the people before me go through, expressed my surprise at finding the scanner there, and asked what the other option was. He told me there was no other option, that once I had been selected for search, it was that — or don’t fly.

I exclaimed that I hadn’t had time to think about this, and he told me to “take my time” — but that was before I’d realized they were not giving me any other options.

He quickly called his superior who stepped into the box with me and started telling me it was safe, necessary, would be quickly over, etc. I tried explaining why I didn’t want to go through but we were clearly in a “dialogue de sourds”, and I started getting pretty upset (understand: crying from anger — I tend to do that, it’s really annoying).

I don’t know how long I stayed stuck there (at least 10 minutes I’d say), but it was pretty clear that I had no other option but to go through — unless I wanted to give up on my flight (yeah, sure).

I gave in, told the guy I was furious, refused his offer to give me documentation, picked up my stuff (my shiny new MacBook Air had been lying in an open tray in front of everybody during all that time) and sat down to continue having my meltdown on my own.

So, what went so wrong here?

Clearly, the fact that I discovered the existence of full-body scanners in Manchester Airport while I was trapped like a rat in a glass cage and pretty much forced to go through one.

That put me in the unenviable situation of having only a few minutes to make a difficult “ethical” decision that I’d been putting off because I wasn’t expecting to have to face this kind of situation: do I cave in to security theatre and fly, or do I refuse, and pay the price by not being able to board my flight?

I hadn’t even decided, with the US scenario, if I preferred to go through the scanner or submit to an invasive pat-down.

Also, although the two security staff I interacted with were very kind and polite, it would probably have helped if the guy in the box had actually been able to hear what I had to say and sympathize (maybe that’s too strong a word).

Instead, he insisted on telling me I was wrong, that this was necessary, that it was for my safety, that it wasn’t dangerous and would only take a few seconds, that he could give me all sorts of documentation to explain this to me.

For somebody who has read a lot on the topic of airport security (even if I haven’t written that much about it, except for rants like this one when things get too frustrating), it really didn’t help to have him talk to me as if I was just a scared uninformed passenger. I mean, he even told me that they hadn’t had any problems coming out of Manchester (regarding security), and so that they must be doing something right. I hope all of my readers can spot the flawed logic there. It doesn’t mean anything.

Wishful thinking probably, but I think that faced with somebody who would have said “I agree, all this security is probably overkill, I’m unfortunately as stuck with regulations here as you are, and I’m really sorry you didn’t know about this beforehand” — it would have helped more than pressuring me by saying that if I wanted to fly I had to go through and that I was making a fuss for nothing.

Time to buy some of that scanner-proof underwear, methinks.

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10 Years Ago [en]

[fr] Il y a dix ans, le 9 septembre 2011.

10 years ago I was in Rishikesh with other Hindi students. The internet connection was really bad, and I saw a post on Dave Linabury’s blog about the attacks. I didn’t know whether to believe it or not.

I went down to the hotel rooms, a bit shaken, to see if the woman from our party with a radio could tell me anything. She was thinking it was a horrible hoax when I arrived, and it took us less than 10 words between the two of us to realize it was for real.

It was the evening in India. We huddled in a hotel room with a TV to follow the news. I remember thinking very hard (it would have been praying if I prayed) “I hope Bush doesn’t do something really stupid like invade Afghanistan”.

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Lift10 Politics: Greenpeace social media strategy and on-line campaigns (Claudia Sommer) [en]

Here are my running notes of the Lift conference in Geneva. This is Greenpeace social media strategy and on-line campaigns (Claudia Sommer), part of the Politics session. May contain errors, omissions, things that aren’t quite right, etc. I do my best but I’m just a human live-blogging machine.

Found other good posts about this session? Link to them in the comments.

Changes that have a huge impact on Greenpeace campaigning. (*steph-note: first talk in English for @csommer, she says!*)


Open campaigning. Direct communication with the people. In Germany, some environmental issues have been solved, but some huge ones remain. Need to push those in the spotlight. Need to create pressure on politics and create peer pressure. Get in touch with people who are already active and can mobilize others. Young people are motivated — it’s their future!

Lift10 Claudia Sommer

Greenpeace is present on many social networks and also have their own social network, Green Action.

Building a campaign community:

  • involve the public
  • go where people are active
  • young people are online
  • diverse range of internet users => diverse ideas

GreenaAction to provide a variety of solutions, push industry/politics to implement them, wide public support, and media independant counter-movement. (*steph-note: reminds me of conclusion of workshop this morning, brands need to become their own media*) The platform is completely independant, no advertising, no political parties involved, no companies. Open campaigning initially for Greenpeace, but now open to other environmental campaigns.

Visualise individual commitment, combine strength and wisdom of many, give power and protection (sometimes there are legal issues, it helps if Greenpeace has your back).

After 8 months, over 6K users, many below 25, 15-20% launching campaigns. Individuals, campaigners, and organisations like Bund, Campact…

How do people use GreenAction? Strong offline focus, mashup campaigns, activists actively in touch with each other and other communities, low number of ToS violations, participants involved in improving the platform.

Nestlé KitKat/Killer campaign. Twitter wall instead of Greenpeace banner on Nestle building.

Case study: Gorleben, nuclear waste. Political or geological decision? => access to source documentation from the seventies, so everybody can access and make their mind up.

Lift10 Claudia Sommer & Laurent Haug Q: what should Nestlé have done? *Claudia says it’s not for her to talk about ;-)* They had the wrong kind of attitude towards the customers. Would have been smart to talk to people when the campaign started, rather than just press release (people don’t care about press releases).

Q: concentrating too much on digital natives? Double strategy, online and off in parallel.

*steph-note: didn’t get all the questions, sorry!*

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Lift10 Politics: The Technological and Social Trends Impacting Politics (Rahaf Harfoush) [en]

Here are my running notes of the Lift conference in Geneva. This is The Technological and Social Trends Impacting Politics (Rahaf Harfoush), part of the Politics session. May contain errors, omissions, things that aren’t quite right, etc. I do my best but I’m just a human live-blogging machine.

Found other good posts about this session? Link to them in the comments.

Lift10 Rahaf Harfoush

Rahaf is a social media strategist. How are social networks changing the way we are implementing governments and political campaigns.

The past: 2008. Feels like decades in internet time. The Obama campaign was the first example of how much impact technology could have on a campaign. What did they do that was so different?

MyBO changed the way people organized. The candidates ability to outreach is not limited to the physical resources he has. Scaling. Millions of volunteers who are empowered to self-organize. Ability to reach every corner of America without the real financial ressources to do so.

2 Mio profiles, 35K volunteer groups (Dungeons&Dragons supporters for Obama!), 400K blog posts, 200K offline events.

Redefined the relationship between political candidates and supporters. Not only TV, news, but also Facebook, Myspace, YouTube, Twitter (*steph-note: imho that makes the candidate a more real and approachable human being*). The man behind the image. Once you feel you know him, you feel personally invested and motivated. Turn supporters into friends.

Change of fundraising strategy. Raised more than double of McCain.

Somebody made a comment about how she thought that community organisation couldn’t be that powerful. (*steph-note: missed who that was*)

September 2008 had raised $150 mio (two-thirds from online!) Total $750 mio.

Changed people’s perceptions of their possible political involvement. Not just for the people, but with the people.

The present (2010). What’s going on now? Breaking down walls (open data and transparency). The supportive community wasn’t just going to go away after the election!

The Sunlight Foundation. Data.gov. Recovery.gov. Government showing what they’re doing with the money.

Google Government Requests. 42 data requests for Switzerland, less than 10 removal requests.

Ushahidi.org (Swahili for testimony/witness). Report instances of fraud, abuse, harrassment, etc. Made open to the world something that was not normally spoken about.

Iran protests. Government tried to shut down communication and contain it. Shut down SMS, banned international websites, blocked international calls, confined journalists, raided broadcasters… The people used social media to get the word out. (*steph-note: I know I’ve read criticism about this interpretation of what happened, need to dig a bit more*) Green avatar campaign on Twitter. Killing of Neda Agha and subsequent viral YouTube video.

Future? Visions of utopian and dystopian worlds, of course.

Evolving digital activism. We the people. As people become more familiar with technology, for example the UnCaucus. Citizens looking for a new mayor. Rethinking the political process, job description. From voter to hiring manager. Need to find the right person for the job.

Onion rings and prime ministers in Canada. Outrage, Vote campaign. So unhappy that they said “onion ring can get more fans than him”. Group on Facebook! 176K fans, 31K for the actual Stephen Harper. Not huge numbers, but with more sophisticated tools, this kind of protest operation could reach much more people.

Canadians against proroguing Parliament. 200K members. Protests, etc. Self-organizing through FB.

As we’re interacting more and getting more involved, governments are starting to take notice and respond. Policies and regulations. Good way to understand the future: look at legislations being proposed.

The #FreeVenezuela hashtag got so much media attention that Chavez responded saying Twitter was a tool of terror, and considered banning it from the country. We’ll see more and more of this.

Mexico, Los Twitteros, social networks used by drug addicts etc, to pass information around. Used to break the law.

Cybernetic police force. Their job will be monitoring what is said and shared on social networks. Also consider banning Twitter.

Great firewall of China.

How are governments going to use the tools to further their geopolitical agenda?

Russia. All your tweets are belong to Putin.

New role of corporations: now the product of a company (Facebook, Gmail) has a huge impact on people’s lives, so you see corporations starting discussions with governments. Google victim of cyber-attack. Sino-Google relations. Company taking a bit of a political stand.

Final thoughts: we’re in a time of ongoing battles and creating precedents. We need to pay attention to what laws are being passed, where the opportunities and threats are. If we’re not careful, we’ll end up with legislation that severely limits people’s access/use of the internet around the world. What happens in one country impacts people in others. Risks of slacktivism. Don’t get used to just clicking a button to show your support or outrage. There is more to protesting and getting involved. We need to take care of both online and offline worlds.

Q: what happens when everybody starts using social media campaign techniques? did Obama benefit from being the first to do it? — Wouldn’t recommend replicating what the Obama campaign did because the internet moves so fast that these techniques become antiquated really fast. It’s about listening.

Q: lot of data online, government in Iran using Twitter to locate protesters… — Continuous battle between good and evil. Government bans one hashtag, another one appears, China blocks one site, another one pops up… There’s no turning back. Funny story: campus police trolling facebook and busting parties. They set up a fake party, the police came down, and everybody was quietly playing games.

We’re going to see more and more sites with political agendas.

Q: hijacking

Howard Dean tried, was the first, and failed. But if he hadn’t failed, Obama wouldn’t have been able to come along after and learn from his mistakes. *steph-note: would be nice to hear which ones*

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Mais si, je parle du volcan! [fr]

Le nuage de cendres vu d'internet [fr]

[en] I write a weekly column for Les Quotidiennes, which I republish here on CTTS for safekeeping.

Chroniques du monde connecté: cet article a été initialement publié dans Les Quotidiennes (voir l’original).

Il y a quelques jours, sur Facebook, j’aperçois au passage un mot d’une connaissance qui espère que son vol de Londres vers les Etats-Unis ne sera pas annulé. Je me demande (et lui demande) pourquoi, puis retourne vaquer à mes occupations numériques et professionnelles.

Un peu plus tard, j’ai ma réponse via les gens que je suis sur Twitter: c’est le fameux volcan Eyjafjöll et son nuage de cendres. Je mets en branle ma machine à extraire des informations d’internet (mes dix doigts, mon cerveau, un moteur de recherche et mon réseau).

A quoi ça ressemble, alors, un nuage de cendres vu d’internet? Tout d’abord, ça ressemble aux sites web des médias traditionnels: 24heures, la TSR, la RSR, la BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, Le Temps, le New York Times, le Guardian, Le Monde, Le Point, le Times… Très variables en richesse et fraîcheur d’informations, je dois dire. Mes préférés? la BBC en premier lieu, puis Al Jazeera, et 24 heures ainsi que la RSR pour un point de vue plus local.

Alors que dans le monde physique on achète “un journal”, on regarde “une chaîne de télé”, on écoute “une radio” — sur internet on va simplement lire ou regarder ce qui est intéressant. On pioche où on veut, quand on veut, comme on veut. On compare, on complète, on évalue, on se sert de fragments de la production des institutions médiatiques.

On fait une bête recherche sur Google, aussi.

On va bien sûr lire Wikipédia, halte incontournable en autant de langues qu’on peut se le permettre (anglais et français en ce qui me concerne). Pour un événement aussi majeur que l’éruption du volcan Eyjafjöll, Wikipédia est un excellent point de départ, proposant un survol tout de même assez détaillé et des liens vers des sources premières. Et contrairement à un article dans la presse traditionnelle, chaque page de Wikipédia vous donne accès au fameux onglet “discussion”, où vous pouvez prendre connaissance des débats éditoriaux qui sous-tendent la production de l’article.

Mais avant tout, un nuage de cendres vu d’internet, c’est Twitter. Twitter, c’est les gens que je suis, dont certains sont coincés à l’étranger ou chez eux par la paralysie de l’espace aérien. C’est les informations les plus fraîches ou les plus pertinentes qu’ils ont trouvées, et qu’ils retransmettent aux gens de leur réseau (ceux qui les suivent). Un travail d’édition formidable et collectif, donnant accès en temps réel aux sources premières disponibles sur le web. Une des grandes forces d’internet, je le répète souvent, c’est d’amoindrir (voire de réduire à néant) le rôle des intermédiaires établis, donnant accès direct aux informations de première main à qui veut bien cliquer sur quelques liens. Si on est un peu enquêteur dans l’âme et qu’on aime se faire une idée des choses par soi-même (oui, oui, le fameux esprit critique), c’est le paradis.

Twitter, ça m’amène partout: sur des articles des médias traditionnels que je n’avais pas encore vus ou pas trouvés par moi-même. Sur des récits de voyageurs bloqués ou en périple trans-européen. Sur des articles scientifiques, des images satellites ou des schémas du nuage, les sites des aéroports avec leurs annonces. Ça m’amène aussi sur Twitter (on boucle la boucle), où je découvre une opération pour rapatrier des britanniques coincés à Calais en traversant la Manche en zodiac — opération malheureusement écrabouillée en cours de route par les autorités françaises.

Un nuage de cendres sur Twitter, c’est aussi les divers hashtags en rapport avec l’éruption volcanique, des étiquettes que l’on appond à son tweet pour le marquer comme faisant partie d’une conversation qui dépasse son réseau. #ashtag (c’est un gag mais il a pris, “ash” signifiant cendre) pour la situation en général, #getmehome ou #roadsharing pour trouver d’autres voyageurs faisant le même trajet que vous et coordiner le transport, #putmeup si on est bloqué sans logement ou qu’on a une chambre d’amis à mettre à disposition. En faisant des recherches sur ces mots-clés, on a accès à encore plus de ressources que ce que notre réseau nous fournit directement.

Sur Facebook aussi, on s’organise, grâce par exemple à une page dédiée au nuage de cendre volcanique. Mais dans une telle situation, je crois que c’est vraiment Twitter qui brille, grâce à son caractère plus ouvert et public que Facebook.

Sur Twitter, vous trouverez un certain nombre de comptes soit créés pour l’occasion, soit aux premières loges pour fournir de précieuses informations au public. Voici ma petite sélection — sans grande surprise, l’anglais est la langue dominante.

  • @calaisrescue, l’opération zodiacs pour traverser la Manche
  • @metoffice, l’office météorologique britannique
  • @theashcloud, anthromorphisation sympathique et humoristique du grand nuage
  • @eurocontrol, l’organe de contrôle du traffic aérien européen
  • @ashalerts, des informations générales sur la situation
  • @ebookerschfr, des tas d’informations utiles de la part d’ebookers.ch (note: j’ai une relation de travail avec ces gens!)

Inutile de dire qu’on est dans un monde bien plus réactif que celui des “vieux médias”, même la radio. Après tout ça, un retour sur nos médias et services locaux me laisse un peu dépitée. Quand on regarde les pages “minute par minute” du Point ou de la BBC, leurs récits de voyageurs, la liste des aéroports fermés du New York Times, l’office météorologique britannique et eurocontrol qui utilisent leurs comptes Twitter comme des êtres humains pour intéragir avec le public et non comme des robots (comparez @metoffice avec @meteosuisse, ainsi que les informations sur leurs sites web — MétéoSuisse et Met Office), les compagnies d’aviation et les agences de voyage qui renseignent directement leurs clients grâce aux médias sociaux (regardez @KLM et @SwissAirLines pour vous faire une idée — les calls centres c’est bien mais moins réactif), on se dit qu’il y a encore du boulot sur le territoire numérique helvétique.

Je pourrais continuer, mais j’ai déjà assez abusé de votre patience avec cette chronique bien plus longue que d’habitude. J’espère vous avoir donné l’occasion d’entrevoir comment les gens connectés, dont je fais partie, suivent l’actualité et s’informent: c’est vers ça qu’on va.

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