October Retrospective

Missed some of the discussion on the zine? We pick out the best articles and stories on the zine from October.

October meant more than the transition to winter at the zine. It was also a month of celebrations. Ruth Coustick puts a light on Banned Books Week, which “celebrates the freedom to read”. She explores the different censorship on books and censorship of internet practiced in the UK.

The other event celebrated in October was Adace Lovelace Day. Milena Popova explains its origins and meaning celebrated on October 16th. She explores the reason why Adace Lovelace is such a figure for women in the digital world and asks you who are your digital rights heroines.

Staying on the subject of past personalities that influence today’s digital world, The Doors of Probability, an article by Wendy Grossman, explains what a 1700s mathematician such as Thomas Bayes has to do with modern search engines and how Mike Lynch was influenced by him.

In Social Media Prosecutions: grossly offensive to some, Matt Bradley goes back on Azhar Ahmed's case and the events that followed his post on Facebook. He compares it to other similar cases and questions whether the right to free speech is being violated.

On the same note, in Washing Dirty Linen at Home, Paola Ycaza also takes us back to notions and values of freedom of speech. She explains why there is a double standard in terms of the Ecuadorian government granting Julian Assange asylum. She also gives a series of examples showing the Ecuador government's treatment towards its own media and the paradox in trying to present itself as a freedom of speech defender to the international community.

Moving on to copyrights issues, Richard O’Dwyer’s mother, Julia O’Dwyer, gives us some background as to why the US are demanding the extradition of her son. She explains why these reasons do not apply to Richard’s case, but also gives a clear picture of why England, represented by Theresa May in this case, might have difficulties prohibiting the extradition.

Copyrights and licences laws are tackled next by Ruth Coustick in Block-bursting my eardrums. Fed up with the repetitive horror-like music in her local Blockbuster, she takes it upon herself to ask questions that surely others have asked themselves and discovers why Blockbuster’s music choice is limited.


Editor’s pick you might have missed:

Finding the Gorilla, Wendy Grossman explains the idea developed at the Singular Summit that “a really smart machine can think like an animal”.

Lie to me, Wendy Grossman relates to us the infamous suggestion made by Adam Smith to lie online for identity protection.

Building a digital library, Rachel Coldicutt, Director at Caper, describes her rather successful attempt to scan their entire book collection.

Coming up in the next month:

Back to hacktivism: religious enthusiasts hacked the French Euromillions site.

We’ll explore whether The Pan-African Intellectual Property Organisation (PAIPO) is a form of digital neo-colonialism.

Stephanie de Vanssay gives zine an exclusive interview on integrating the net and social media to the French education system.

Image: no time CC-BY-NC Flickr: Tim Johnson

September Retrospective

Missed some of the discussion on the zine? The Editor looks back on September's articles on the zine and brings together the education and technology theme of the last month.

In September ORGzine, inspired by August’s Turing festival, focused on themes of education and technology.

 Picking up on the issues surrounding use of technology in schools Wendy Grossman looked at the use of surveillance technology on pupils, including CCTV cameras in changing rooms and obligatory carrying of RFID chip cards in ‘What did you learn in school today’. Owen from NUT Cymru looked at Welsh Government plans for increased use of technology in schools. Whilst it might seem to encourage engagement, an iPad for everyone or Bring your own Device policies are irrelevant plans for schools struggling to pay for pencils.

Continuing with the education theme, the Department for Education consultation on automatic online blocking of ‘adult content’ came to an end. ORGzine featured two parents who concluded that education, and involvement with their children, will always be more effective for online safety than trusting to ISP filters.

Katherine Norman, Health Information: For Adult’s Only, discovered that half of midwifery sites and a random selection of parenting ones were blocked by Three on her phone. This censoring shows that, on the one hand, Three have decided that health and breast-feeding are somehow dangerous and, on the other, their blocks are ineffectual because they only caught a selection of the content.

Ryan Cartwright notes that as a Christian parent people might expect that he stand in favour of the Government proposals and Premier Radio’s petition for blocking at a network level , but as an IT professional he is well aware of its weaknesses and gave ORGzine five reasons why internet blocking will not protect our children.

On a rather different note the publishing industry has faced a series of revelations about sock puppet reviews, authors praising themselves and slating ‘rivals’ under pseudonyms. Ian Clark looked at what this behaviour means for the value of anonymity online in Sock Puppets: A Necessary Evil.

Editor pick you may have missed:

Brighton Mini Maker Faire Natalia Buckley, one of the organisers of the Brighton Mini Maker Faire, celebrates and reviews the creative event.

Looking for a Job Goes Orwellian Consent.me.uk explains the massive privacy impact of these new rules for jobseekers.

Remembering the Moon Wendy Grossman took an interesting look at the way technology developments have played out in so many different ways to those predicted


Coming up in the next month:

Celebrating Ada Lovelace Day and women in STEM

What is CleanIT and what is wrong with it?

An explanation of the Azhar Ahmed case


Ruth Coustick is the ORG zine's editor.

Image: no time CC-BY-NC Flickr: Tim Johnson

August Retrospective

Missed some of the discussion on the zine? We pick out the best articles and stories on the zine from August.

August was a month of holidays and several of us at ORG spent time in Edinburgh, not London in the last month. Personally that was off to the Fringe for sunshine and theatre. However ORG was also well-represented at Turing Festival, Edinburgh's technology festival. Our own Jim Killock spoke, as well as a host of other big and new names. Milena Popova covered the weekend for the zine, picking out in particular some of the technology and education talks and the three key things she learned.

Earlier in the month I was excited to publish my interview with Jai Ranganathan, the co-founder of crowd funding platform 'SciFund Challenge'. His system does for research what Kickstarter does for the Arts. Plus they have a unique angle on crowdsourcing. The run all their projects as group waves with the scientists supporting each other rather than operating in a vacuum of individuality. He was a strong speaker who enthused about what SciFund is achieving.

Another key article for August was by Graham Armstrong - on whether hacktivism is a genuine form of protest. In particular he addressed whether, by taking sites down, hackers are enacting a form of censorship, or is it just an attention-grabbing gimmick like a Spiderman costume on top of a tower? Hacking constantly came up in the news this month: in particular the back and forth between Pro-Assange DDoS t take-downs of government websites and Cambridge University and Antileaks attacking Russia Today and Wikileaks - the question of legitimacy is still very relevant.


Editor picks you may have missed:

Wiped Out - How journalist Matt Honan had his Google, Twitter and AppleID all stolen and data destroyed

How the Police should (or not) use Twitter - Habib Kadiri makes some suggestions as to what the police should be doing when they spot abuse on Twitter.

Fandom: Open Culture Vs. Closed Platforms- The Organisation for Transformative on how the commercialisation of the internet has galvanized fandom and why what they do is important.

Coming up in the next month:

The problems with Universal Jobmatch

The terror of visiting Blockbuster

RIPA and devolution


Image: no time CC-BY-NC Flickr: Tim Johnson

July Retrospective

Missed some of the discussion on the zine? We look back at the last month of stories and features on the ORGzine.

July is over and we are into full-on Olympics time, holidays and hopefully, endless sunshine: August. It is time to look back over the last month on the zine and bring together some of the debates and point you towards the great articles you may have missed.

One of the highlights on the zine was Rebecca Smart's excellent post on DRM-free books. As the CEO of Osprey, a small specialist publishing company, she was in a unique position to challenge some of industry's rhetoric on this issue. Her article 'Bring Back the Magic' is a reminder that there are many different voices in the discussion and that celebrating the magic of reading should be at the heart of it all.

We also had a number of informative articles that looked at some of the policy areas for ORG, and other news in the digital field, and presented them in clear informative ways. In particular Paul Keller offered an excellent explanation of 'The Orphan or Hostage Works Proble'm. Similarly, Saskia Walzel explained the position of Wi-Fi providers, businesses and public bodies providing internet access under the new draft Initial Obligations Code. Although the consultation is now over her article is a a clear guide for those who may be affected.

As Editor of the zine I am concerned with representing our supporters voices in the zine and demonstrating that there are many groups effected by digital rights. This is why I was particularly excited by Milena Popova's article 'When World's Collide on feminism vs. digital rights. She talked about the moments when these two areas come into clash: the  Anita Sarkeesian case, the troll clause in the Defamation Bill, Not in the Kitchen Anymore. Milena Popova explains how these two causes can collide - and how and why the challenges that are created must be met.

Editor picks you may have missed:

-Milena looked back at the enforcement of cookie law and looked at who is doing it well or not

-Interview with Jane Park on the School of Open

-Wendy Grossman in 'In the country of the free': a quick point-by-point rebuttal on an anti-copyright reform piece.

Coming up in the next month:

-Digital solidarity for the Arab female athletes at the Olympics

-Access to genealogy research

-Open Access: Gold or Green

Image: no time CC-BY-NC Flickr: Tim Johnson

June Retrospective

Missed some of the discussion on the zine? We look back at the last month of stories and features on the ORGzine.

The ORGzine is introducing a new monthly feature where we have a look over the last month on the zine and offer a summary of the discussion we have hosted. It offers an opportunity to look back at what you may have missed, and see how the articles  relate  to each other. Plus, as this is the first one, I am sneaking in a couple of pieces from the end of May.

We saw an increase of articles by campaigners touching on digital rights issues which affect those outside the usual dialogue. Dan Pescod of RNIB and the European Blind Union guest-posted for us about how DRM and copyright rules can cause a 'book famine' by preventing the format-shifting. necessary to make ebooks accessible for blind and partially-sighted people. He is advocating a European wide exemption to copyright laws to answer this issue.

Jenny Thomas of CRIN (Child Rights International Network) and Milena Popova discussed the digital rights of children. Jenny described how restrictions on children's access to information, on the grounds of 'protection', prevents them from making informed choices and can fuel discrimination. She also explained that blocks on the internet, "also serve to deny children age-appropriate information about issues such as sex education, sexuality and drug use." Her arguments are particularly relevant as the government has recently launched a consultation on parental internet controls (which you can respond to!). Yet later in the month, Milena Popova found herself using that very cry 'Think of the Children' when Facebook proposed a junior version of its site. Her response was based on privacy problems, not porn panic: what attitude would Facebook normalise when it comes to identity? Both pieces raise some key points about the way we think about children accessing the internet.

Talking of privacy, Paul Bernal wrote a very thorough piece on the Right to be Forgotten. He explained what the term means and what it is trying to solve. He raised the point that the 'Right to Delete' would ultimately be more appropriate. In response to the issues of control over our data he discussed, we featured a series of digital businesses who have created tools which they believe solve issues of online privacy. Runa Sandvik, Tor, explained that the free sites we use, like YouTube and Gmail, are paid for "through the monetization of your personal information". The Tor project lets you circumvent this by browsing the web anonymously. Peter Cranstone wrote from a different angle, arguing that some data should be shared in order to receive high quality web services and his solution involves storing data on your own device, using an X-header and greater transparency. We have more lined up on this debate and would welcome your thoughts.


Editor picks you may have missed:

The Olympics Organising Committee Runs Rings around Transparency

How to use the Curator's Code

A License to Print Money


So what's coming up?

In the next month there will be articles on the language of the digital rights activism, an explanation of draft EU legislation on orphan works and a publisher's response to DRM. Plus, interviews with Creative Commons' School of Open and the Sci Fund Challenge.


Ruth Coustick is the ORG zine's Editor.

Image: no time CC-BY-NC Flickr: Tim Johnson

Developers, designers: Lend ORGZine your skills!

As you're aware, ORGZine needs a site revamp! No, not the vamp with the teeth and blood... A Redesign, a Remodelling, shall we say?

But what we really need is the knowledge of web heads who know their stuff about all the coding and layout planning that goes on behind the scenes. And the whizzy prettifying styles of a gifted designer, who knows how to make a site all that more pleasing to the eye.

So, if you're interested and have hands-on expertise of HTML, CSS and the like, or are handy with creative suites such as Illustrator and InDesign, please contact us. Email Nishma (nishma@openrightsgroup.org) or Habib (orgzine.editor@openrightsgroup.org) for more information.

Image: CC BY-ND 2.0 @Flickr.com: USDAgov

ORGZine is hiring!

Imagine a NEW Zine. Imagine where it could go, what we could do. Imagine you could be the creator, the genius behind the scenes.

You can.

We're organising a revamp of our informative and entertaining online magazine — ORGZine — which aims to provide readers with news, analysis and features about digital rights issues.

You would be an excellent communicator and would help dream up a new layout/design to encourage an open arts/tech culture, and bring digital rights to forefront of online publishing and blogging.

Skills required:

  • Excellent proof-reading skills
  • Interest and some experience in blogging, journalism, and/or news writing
  • Interest in issues relating to digital rights (including free speech,
  • data protection, privacy, open data, etc.
  • Some interest in culture, arts and tech.
  • Be able to work independently
  • Have some interest/experience in video editing
  • Be creative and enthusiastic about online publishing

The position is (currently) voluntary, but aimed to help you gain skills and confidence. You will be in charge of the Zine itself and will be able to implement changes, discuss development, and to recruit volunteers.

The position is for three or four days a week for three months (subject to paid employment). We publish stories daily. You will be working from our office and from home. You will need to have access to a computer and the internet, and be able to come into the office a couple of times a week.

To Apply:
Please send Nishma (volunteer[at]openrightsgroup.org) a copy of your CV, a brief letter explaining why you are interested in the position and some samples of your writing (links or attachments) by Monday 18th July 2011

Image: CC-AT Flickr: ejacobhansen

Art is democratic

As ORGZine's celebration of all things bookish draws to a end, it's important to remember why we value books, libraries, knowledge and information

At last year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival, I had the privilege of going along to a talk by Jeanette Winterson, who candidly told the story of her greatest love affair – with books.

Growing up in Lancashire, in a house where there were only six books—all about the Bible—Winterson would often escape to Accrington’s local library. She spoke of how she started at ‘A’—Austen—and slowly began to work her way through.

It gave her access to a whole new realm of imagination, experience and emotion. They became her only friends, her best friends – “perhaps they still are,” she added seriously. She would bring them home, read them late at night under the covers, and hide them under her bed, away from her mother’s evangelical eyes.

And when Mrs Winterson discovered her daughter’s despicable clandestine habit, she gathered up the books in her arms, flung them out the window, marched out into the yard, poured paraffin over the pile, and set them alight.

Winterson’s aghast horror at her mother’s hysterical act of arson, should be matched by our horror at proposals to shut hundreds of public libraries.

Philip Pullman’s incredibly emotive speech to defend public libraries says it all. Libraries—for teenagers like Winterson, and indeed adults—are not only havens of solace and knowledge, but also portals to the wider world. In shutting them down, we are denying people access to vital books and resources – particularly those who have the least access to begin with.

It disproportionately affects people who may not have internet at home, or enough knowledge about how the internet works, or what books are out there. It affects families who are not able to buy their kids Kindles for Christmas, or send them to public schools with well-stocked libraries. It affects people whose cannot always afford a trip to the theatre, or tickets to events at literary festivals. It affects researchers and academics and students and artists and musicians and pensioners and the poor. It affects children who may, one day, grow to be any of these things. It affects the most vulnerable people in society.

This is a grave atrocity. Winterson’s resounding words were, “Art is democratic” – it is for everyone. Shutting public libraries would be to restrict access to the privileged. And it would mean we're a step closer to a dreaded cultural wasteland.

But—as the argument goes—when funds are limited, and alternative, often cheaper, options in digitisation are becoming available, there is a need to think dynamically. 

Book Week at ORGZine was an effort to reconcile books with the increasingly digitised world, in an era where profit-margins take precedence.

As this week and the last (there was too much to say to have it all out in just a week!) at ORGZine has shown, there are many passionate voices out there, responding to the challenges at hand with excellent and viable solutions. Please join us in the debate, and help to keep art and knowledge open and accessible to everyone.

- Iman Qureshi, Editor, ORGZine

Image: CC-AT Flickr: Margaret Stranks

ORGZine launches Book Week!

We love books here at ORG towers, and so we're very excited to be launching our book week. We'll be covering all issues bookish on ORG Zine

ORG friend, the award-winning writer and technophile Hari Kunzru, is helping us to get things rolling. The Zine has an interview with Hari plus some kind words of support in a video message. We also have 25 signed copies of Hari's novel "My Revolutions" for anybody who joins ORG to become a regular supporter.

Also this week, the Zine will be examining the changing role of libraries, how technology may change the publishing process, a series of book reviews, an excerpt from Evgeny Morozov's excellent The Net Delusion and much more.

Enjoy book week, let us know what you think and become a supporter to help ORG keep defending our digital rights.

[New supporters donating £5/month or more by direct debit and who join between 31st January and 7th February will be eligible for the Hari Kunzru book draw.]

Image: CC-AT Flickr: horiavarlan (Horia Varlan)

Happy Data Privacy Day!

Please enter your: email address, password, street name, contact telephone number, emergency contact details, post code, home address, work address, insurance details, health records, dietary requirements, religious affiliations, gender, security code, answer to security question, bank details…

There’s no limit to the amount of information that is stored about us somewhere in cyberspace. From everything we have ever bought online, to details of our bank accounts and home addresses – absolutely everything is out there somewhere.

Cross this with details of the information stored on travel cards, and the numbers dialled or received on your phone – anyone with access to this information can know just about everything there is to know about you. And anyone with an ounce of creativity will know exactly how to exploit it.

No, this is not a conspiracy theory, and when people treat issues of data privacy lightly, they are making a grave error.

Whilst technology has empowered and improved our lives in many ways, it is not without its risks. We need to be able to protect our information from being misused. We need to look at how technology affects our lives, be aware of the dangers and how to protect ourselves from them. That’s what Data Privacy Day is all about.

But, as the website states, it’s also an “international celebration of the dignity of the individual expressed through personal information.”

This is a dignity that we need to uphold at all costs, so do get involved

Image: CC-AT Flickr: takomabibelot

Featured Article

Schmidt Happens

Wendy M. Grossman responds to "loopy" statements made by Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt in regards to censorship and encryption.

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