Category Archives: Weblogs

Free Burma!

free_burma_05.gif Well, I hadn’t been planning on posting more on the Myanmar or Burma situation, but within minutes of my posting yesterday, the Free Burma folks found my post and commented on it with a link back to their site.

I’ve got to admire their quick use of the Internet to amplify their activism. Their web pages say they only started Sunday. Looks like some of their supporters are actually astroturf web sites, but that just goes with the territory. Also, a lot of people can’t type in their own web addresses correctly. However, they’ve collected a dozen more supporters while I’ve been typing this.

So, how could I refuse to post again on their requested date, which happened to be today?


Simply Switched Off the Internet: Myanmar Junta v. Bloggers

Sanghas23.jpg When blogging is a revolutionary act:
Internet geeks share a common style, and Ko Latt and his four friends would not be out of place in cyber cafés across the world. They have the skinny arms and the long hair, the dark T-shirts and the jokey nicknames. But few such figures have ever taken the risks that they have in the past few weeks, or achieved so much in a noble and dangerous cause.

Since last month Ko Latt, 28, his friends Arca, Eye, Sun and Superman, and scores of others like them have been the third pillar of Burma’s Saffron Revolution. While the veteran democracy activists, and then the Buddhist monks, marched in their tens of thousands against the military regime, it is the country’s amateur bloggers and internet enthusiasts who have brought the images to the outside world.

Armed with small digital cameras, they have documented the spectacular growth of the demonstrations from crowds of a few hundred to as many as 100,000. On weblogs they have recorded in words and pictures the regime’s bloody crackdown, in a city where only a handful of foreign journalists work undercover. With downloaded software, they have dodged and weaved around the regime’s increasingly desperate attempts to thwart their work. Now the bloggers, too, have been crushed. Having failed to stop the cyber-dissidents broadcasting to the world, the authorities have simply switched off the internet.

Bloggers who risked all to reveal the junta’s brutal crackdown in Burma, by Kenneth Denby, The Times, 1 October 2007

Unfortunately for the bloggers, they all had to register with the government to be allowed to blog in the first place. If the junta falls, they’ll be heroes. If it survives, they’ll probably be dead.

This is not the first time. Continue reading

Outrage: Less and More

danrather0207.jpg We’ve been discussing Outrage Considered Useful. Alex remarked in a comment:

The term "Outrage" suggests that risk cannot or should not be discussed in a rational manner.

What I think Sandman is getting at is that often risk isn’t discussed in a rational manner, because managers’ (and security people’s) egos, fears, ambitions, etc. get in the way. In a perfect Platonic world perhaps things wouldn’t be that way, but in this one, people don’t operate by reason alone, even when  they think they are doing so.

Outrage x Hazard may be a means to express risk within the context of the organization, but I like probability of loss event x probable magnitude of loss better for quantitative analysis.

Indeed, quantitative analysis is good. However, once you’ve got that analysis, you still have to sell it to management. And there’s the rub: that last part is going to require dealing with emotion.

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Sentimental Education

Regarding Blogger Civility, I’d like to add that where there are real threats, of course the person threatened should complain, and if the threatener can be tracked down, there are already laws that apply. Also, some people think that technical subjects aren’t contentious enough to provoke threats; those people apparently haven’t yet gotten crazy rants from people who incorporate technology into their conspiracy theories, or who fear technology because it might help people oppose their favorite policies, or who don’t like technology because they’ve always been afraid of people who understand it, or who don’t like women/gays/blacks/whites/southerners/foreigners/whatever participating in it. And there are people who think the blogosphere is unusual in harboring threats; those people apparently don’t get out much. I wonder what sort of mail somebody like Condoleeza Rice or Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or John McCain gets?

Anyway, the idea of a blogger code of conduct reminds me of something else:

A technique to detect favorable and unfavorable opinions toward specific subjects (such as organizations and their products) within large numbers of documents offers enormous opportunities for various applications. It would provide powerful functionality for competitive analysis, marketing analysis, and detection of unfavorable rumors for risk management.

Overview, Sentiment Analysis, IBM Tokyo Research Lab, accessed 13 April 2007

Yet another artificial intelligence scheme; ho hum. Or is it?

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