Archive for myspace

Further restrictions on soldiers’ Internet usage

Starting today, the Department of Defense will begin blocking soldiers from accessing some of the most popular websites on the Internet, including YouTube and MySpace.

The increasing use of such sites compromises the security of the DoD’s unclassified Internet known as NIPRNET, according to a newsletter put out by the Commander of US Forces in Korea. The newsletter also warns soldiers to be alert against identity theft and the sharing of sensitive information.

The website blocking comes less than two weeks after the military imposed new restrictions on soldiers’ blogging.

The May 11 “Bell Sends” newsletter from Commander B.B. Bell describing the new restrictions says,

To maximize the availability of DoD network resources for official government usage, the Commander, JTF-GNO, [Joint Task Force, Global Network Operations] with the approval of the Department of Defense, will block worldwide access to the following internet sites beginning on or about 14 May 2007:,,,,,,,,, ifilm,com,,,”

(You can see the full newsletter from this website here or from the original military website here. From what I gather, this journalist broke the story.)

The banned websites all promote online interaction based on the sharing of photos, videos, music, musical tastes, or personal information. Some, like MySpace offer the opportunity for soldiers to blog their experiences. The Pentagon operates a channel on YouTube.

Last year, the then-Republican House of Representatives passed legislation that would bar access to such sites for minors using government-funded Internet access, for example in schools or libraries. The “Deleting Online Predators Act” (DOPA) died in the Senate.

The bill would have forced libraries and schools to bar minors from accessing any websites or chatrooms where they “may easily access or be presented with obscene or indecent material; may easily be subject to unlawful sexual advances, unlawful requests for sexual favors, or repeated offensive comments of a sexual nature from adults; or may easily access other material that is harmful to minors.”

I’m with Seth Johnson and the Dynamic Platform Standards
on this one, that you can’t block such sites and still honestly call it the Internet.


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NCMR Blog Aggregator and Chatroom at the new AMC site

Free Press asked everyone to tag their blog posts, podcasts, photos, and video with NCMR2007 for people to follow along. You can see the results at Technorati.

We’re using the new Allied Media Conference site (still being tweaked) to offer a slightly more focused NCMR blog aggregator.

We’re also hosting an NCMR chatroom for the duration of the conference. Here’s the one for today. You can use it as a guest or register for the site.
When the site’s done, all users will be able to set up aggregators and chatrooms, plus some other nifty things. Thanks, Steve for hooking it up!

(Come hear Steve talk about the importance of not relying on sites like YouTube and flickr tomorrow, Saturday, at 9:00 am in the Chickasaw/Mississippi room when we discuss “Owning Our Own Media Infrastructure.”)

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Shout outs… and what I’ve learned about blogging

Two of the bloggers I respect the most, Browfemipower and Nubian from blac(k)ademic, both of whom participated in the 2006 Allied Media Conference, have both moved their blogspot blogs to their own, self-hosted sites. That’s awesome.

It affirms a piece of advice I’ve shared with a couple of friends who recently started blogging: omnicrisis, and Zapagringo: start out with an independent url. It only costs $9 from, which offers free redirects. That way, when you’re ready to leave your mass-host behind, you will already have a separate identity. And you won’t be advertising your host as much in the meantime.

I haven’t been blogging for very long, though I have been supporting online journalism for quite a while through Indymedia (global, US, and NYC) and such. Before this blog, I was a writer for RNCwatch and (thanks to Mike Burke) but those were issue blogs, which is kind of different than finding a personal voice. Nevertheless, I’ve learned a few things and the first is that you share what you know as soon as possible because if you hold onto your knowledge it will just become outdated.

In addition to those two points – independent urls and say it now – here are some other things I was told or learned myself:

  1. your voice is more unique than you think (Steve)
  2. self-promotion (it is America, after all)
    – syndication (as through Indyblogs, NYC IMC, Philly IMC, and Philly Future)
    – linking: give and ye shall receive (remember to link to your own previous posts)
    – commenting: same thing; comments on a blog are like testimonials on Friendster
    – email. Some people send out a first notice to all of their contacts right away. I would wait until you’ve been at it for a while. Then send out a link to a particularly hot post and let people find the other good stuff on your site. If there is a person or group/listserv you want to read a particular article, send it out just to them.
  3. regular readers will use RSS readers, so make sure your feed(s) are easy to find
  4. post at least once a week (Sascha); don’t be afraid to take a break, but then get back into it
  5. work on multiple posts at the same time, save drafts
  6. if you finish a post after noon, save it and publish it in the morning
  7. you already write more than you think; turn your IM chats or your email exchanges or your drunken rants into posts
  8. do something to stand out and stay on target (Jed)
  9. having an independent host is easier than you think (Steve)
  10. having a platform of any kind obligates you to speak out on the most pressing issues of the day
  11. don’t be afraid to say something that’s been said, especially if you were the one who said it; repetition is the lifeblood of blogging (but give credit with links, especially if you were the one who said it)
  12. the digitization of the public sphere is the new jim crow (Antwuan, Brownfemipower)

Building on that last point, it’s important to support other people finding their own voice and platform. If all you see around you is dudes starting up blogs, you gotta do something about that. Don’t censor yourself. As I used to say when people complained that too much of Indymedia’s content was from the US, don’t push for less of the content you don’t want, push for more of the content you do want. In the scheme of things, we’re all still censored compared to corporate media and wealthy people.

On the other hand, some people might actually have something better or just different to do, even if they’re good writers, like Kat and Hannah. (I love it when they do post, though.) If blogging doesn’t float your boat or serve your long-term interests, I understand why you wouldn’t bother. So don’t push anyone too hard to do it.

But when someone does get started, give whatever support you can. I don’t get much traffic (maybe 50 visitors a day on average and 35-40 feeds), but every bit helps. So here are some more shoutouts:

  • Becca writing about her life and her work at ILSR, including our collaborations on municipal wireless
  • Kate, from whom I have already learned so much about Irish American politics
  • and blixx, sharing his DJ sets, recipes, and thoughts on the wars

I think all three of them started using WordPress on my recommendation and I stand behind that. I’ve used Typepad, though not as an owner or administrator. Blogspot blogs all look the same to me, with the white on black. I like WordPress. It’s the newest, seems to promote popular control of the platform (if not open source in general), and has a very friendly interface. It’s easy to find your syndication feed, and they even make it easy to have feeds for different categories. I’ve encountered some bugs, but mostly all the functions are smooth.

I saw presentations from Blogspot, Typepad, and WordPress at the Webzine 2005 conference, all of whom gave me Indymedia flashbacks by saying they wanted to make it possible for the whole world to publish to the Internet. There are also Friendster, MySpace, and LiveJournal blogs, but those platforms all seem to want to be bigger than the sum of its users.

I got the best vibe from Matt‘s presentation (Matt is the lead developer of WordPress) and they were offering beta access to their then-new hosted service, so I signed up. I didn’t do much with it until the National Summit for Community Wireless, when Steve gave me some encouragement and I realized I knew some things about Philly’s plans that no one else knew and that this very specific community was interested in.

It’s been fun to write more, especially with the encouragement of friends like Ibrahim, Chris, Hannah and especially Kat. Thanks!!!

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A much-needed Party of Pirates

Here’s a fun thing to cheer up your Monday: a new political party is in formation in the United States. The Pirate Party of the United States is part of an international response to the crackdown on the sharing of intellectual and creative products.

I wrote about this issue briefly in June, but the main catalyst for the Pirate Party was the US-MPAA-backed Swedish raid on the file-sharing site The Pirate Bay back in the spring. Support for piracy and filesharing was already very high in Sweden – the Pirate Party already existed there – but this gave it a huge boost.

Apparently, the barriers to entry for a political party are very low in Sweden and the Pirate Party seems to be on the verge of actually capturing seats in the parliament, which could give it some leverage in shaping the government there.

They’ve also inspired allies to launch parties in Belgium, France, and Italy. There is also an international pro-piracy lobby.

The situation is very different in the US, of course, where third parties are relegated to the margins. It makes one question if that is the best way to build a movement around this issue here. On the other hand, one can imagine how this issue could energize young people here the way it does in Sweden.

The Bush administration is moving in the opposite direction, towards a more repressive online environment. Congress recently ratified the Convention on Cybercrime, a really bad treaty that basically requires the US to enforce other countries’ Internet laws. They’re on the verge of passing DOPA, the Deleting Online Predators Act, which would ban social networking sites (as defined by the FCC) in schools and libraries. These changes are in addition to the corporate-sponsored closing of the Internet that we know of as the loss of net neutrality.

The Pirate Party is focused on copyright reform, privacy, and net neutrality. This has the potential to be a very popular and radical undertaking if they can articulate their message in a plain and compelling way. It’s not easy and I don’t have any reason to assume that they will be able to do this, but I find an issue-based party more compelling than, for example, the Green Party, which just wants to be more progressive in general than the Democrats. I think issue-based third parties have historically had more impact on US politics, too.

Defending the Internet might just be enough to get this party off the ground – at least in Second Life.

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Social Networks in the House (of Representatives)

The Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet has scheduled a hearing on H.R. 5319, the “Deleting Online Predators Act” for Tuesday, July 11, 2006 at 10:00 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

DOPA would force libraries and schools to bar minors from accessing social networking sites MySpace and Facebook, as well as any chatrooms where they “may easily access or be presented with obscene or indecent material; may easily be subject to unlawful sexual advances, unlawful requests for sexual favors, or repeated offensive comments of a sexual nature from adults; or may easily access other material that is harmful to minors.”

First term Philly-area Representative Mike Fitzpatrick is sponsoring the bill, which is a part of House Republicans’ so-called “Suburban Caucus Agenda.” From what I hear, the bill doesn’t have much chance of passage, but you never know when something is linked to kiddie porn.

Youth organizations like Mobilizing America’s Youth, which has organized a Save Our Social Networks campaign, have been campaigning against the bill. They rightly criticize the overly-broad language of the bill and its shoot-the-middle-man approach to enforcement.

Kari Lydersen wrote a great article for the New Standard that sums up all of the issues.

The exciting thing is to hear all of these youth political organizations arguing that a communications medium should be governed by its users. My hope is that they continue from this battle to other campaigns for community-defined media, including defending the open internet.

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