Net neutrality for journalists. Why it matters.

Net neutrality is an issue we should all be paying attention to.  Net neutrality is the proposal that all information on the internet should be free and open, and not subject to control by ISPs, government and content providers.  If the net were not neutral, networks could slow down access to some video sites, while speeding the performance of commercial partners.  Essentially, people in different countries, on different ISPs, get a different internet.

In his draft Bill of Rights in Cyberspace, Jeff Jarvis states:

All bits are created equal

This matters to all citizens of the internet.  But non-net neutrality could have implications for journalists and news media orgs.  If ISPs were allowed to operate in a non-neutral manner, then it’s no stretch to imagine Sky Broadband promoting Sky and News Corp sites over the BBC and commercial rivals.

The chair of the US Federal Communications Commision, effectively their Ofcom, Julis Genachowski, has expressed in far more eloquent words than my own why net neutrality is important, and why the web is under thread.


Net neutrality statement by Julius Genachowski, the FCC chair, on Dec. 21, 2010


Lord Chief Justice’s guidance on twitter and liveblogging in court

The lord chief justice today opened the way for the reporting of some court proceedings by journalists using Twitter, texting and email, but made clear it was unlikely to happen where such use of social mediacould influence witnesses.

Media organisations and journalists can apply for permission to use social media on a case-by-case basis, but Lord Judge said it may be necessary to bar its use by non-journalists to ensure the “proper adminstration of justice”, prevent distractions in court and limit the potential for interference with courts’ own recording equipment.

Is this the death knoll for shorthand?

Full text below.

Media Quotes of 2010 by @jonslattery

TheMediaBriefing have an excellent collection of quotes on the media compiled by freelance journalist Jon Slattery. Every Friday on his blog he picks out the best of the week, and these are his best of the year.  

My particular favourites are: 


Guardian’s Nick Davies at the City University debate on the News of the World and phone-hacking: “I should start off by apologising to the News of the World, in a way I feel sorry for them. It’s sheer fluke and bad luck that particular newspaper is the subject of all this attention. It’s just because one journalist [Royal correspondent] Clive Goodman got caught… All of us know very well that illegal activity was going on in most Fleet Street newsrooms.

followed by

Ex-News of the World journalist Paul McMullan also at the City University debate on phone-hacking: “I remember seeing an episode of Friends where somebody did it to Monica’s phone.


An adult discussion: opting out, not in, to internet porn

The government’s communications minister Ed Vaizey is to introduce plans to block all internet porn unless adults opt out. (Can’t link to the Sunday Times unfortunately)

The move, which is being backed by the NSPCC and a number of psychologists, would force internet service providers to block all pornographic material, unless specifically requested they don’t by the bill-paying adult.

The ISPs will understandably object to these plans; worldwide the internet serves up 420 million pages of porn a day, blocking the UK percentage of that will be a mammoth task.

Never mind the marital relations impact.  Without going into the wrongs and rights of porn, if a wife discovers the home’s internet connection can access porn, questions will be asked of her husband.

The motive behind the proposals is the mental health of children.  The Sunday Times magazine has an eight page report into the affects of porn on teenagers and the results are disturbing.

One teen “Tom”, who watched hardcore porn for 6 years before his first sexual experience recounts an unpleasant first experience with a girl.

We were both a bit drunk.  I was very excited and not very sensitive to the situation.  If I’m honest, I was a bit brusque, a bit rough… maybe even more than a bit.  It didn’t happen in the end, because we were walked in on, but i was incredibly close to taking her virginity in a really rough manner… like almost forcing her.

The article details some similarly disturbing stories.  The studies show that teen boys engage in “blunting” in that they can view hardcore porn with a sense of detachment, knowing it’s wrong and feeling ashamed afterwards. 

It’s a disturbing situation and one that need to be dealt with, but not by blocking porn, which any web savvy teen could get around.  Deal with it with parenting, with sex education, with open attitudes to what loving, consensual sex is.

If you want to have porn blocked, you should have the right to OPT IN. But opting out is crude ineffectual censorship.

#Delicious-ly disappointing

So Yahoo! may or may not be scrapping social bookmarking site Delicious. But it’s clearly not part of their plans anymore and will most likely sold on or released as open source. When it was leaked that Yahoo! were “sunsetting” Delicious, twitter went bezerk.  The type of people I saw most disappointed site was shutting down, were exactly the types of people I would have expected to use it.  

Over the last 12 months Delicious has become a core of my workflow.  Whether it blogging, researching articles or researching for my degree, it has a plentitude of uses.
I tag any page I think would be useful for the university newspaper “pluto” and I can easily access and share my tags with a link to . Similarly when researching the media of South Africa, a tag of “samedia”, made finding the sites later incredibly easy.

Unfortunately, it’s a site that isn’t easily monetised, especially with a community of free users.  The rival startup charges for signups and touts itself as the “anti-social bookmarking site”. It has a very clean interface (Delicious has become increasingly cluttered) but unfortunately it does not have the community of linksharers Delicious has.

Paul Bradshaw at the has produced a great roundup of alternative sites. Paul has creatively used crowdsourcing, in the form of a Google spreadsheet to get his twitter/blog followers to help root out which may be the best alternative.

But hopefully, if Yahoo sees sense, we may not need an alternative.

Chrome OS is for my mother and me

The announcement of Chrome OS and the release of the development hardware the Cr48 has been met with much derision. “Why would I use this? I can’t do this on it…” etc.

But there’s one person Chrome OS is perfect for, my mum. My Mum is 48 years old and only this year did I teach her how to email and browse the web. She runs a holiday cottage and needed to learn the skills for taking and tracking bookings.

I taught her GMail as her email client and Google Calendar to keep track of bookings. This cloud approach meant I could see bookings and emails when my mum was away and handle them for her.

This is all my Mum does. Browse the web, check her emails, use Google calendar. The rest of the operating system on her Mac mini is a hindrance and a confusion. She doesn’t need to or want to learn how to compose on Garageband, edit video in iMovie. She just wants the web.

I’m a heavy user of my Macbook Pro but today I tested myself. How do I use my computer? I gave myself a Chrome OS challenge. I modified Chrome so it went fullscreen, hid my dock and the Apple menu bar and I have lived inside the browser. Not once, all day, have I exited this view.

TweetDeck for Chrome more than adequately handles my communication needs. I have a pin for GMail, for Calendar and for Reader. I’m not a big listener of my music on my computer anyway, but I’m able to play the occasional song on YouTube. If there was a Spotify web interface, it’d kill iTunes for me.

I do use video and photo editing software on a semi-regular basis, and that’s when I’d need a full featured OS. Ideally I’d dual boot, mostly into the instant on Chrome OS, and fire up OS X for more heavy duty tasks.

People will continue to sneer, but I’m extremely excited by Chrome OS