Archive for the 'Law' Category

theorycast 59 & 60 :: Michelle Thorne’s walkabout with Creative Commons Singapore

Singapore Tour for Michelle Thorne of Creative Commons - 01
Big Trouble in Little Chinatown…

As a fan and community manager for Creative Commons Singapore, Ivan Chew took a day off to bring CC Project Manager (International) Michelle Thorne (@thornet & blog) on a tour of Singapore’s Chinatown. I tagged along to learn about recent developments and challenges for Creative Commons in the international space.

Singapore Tour for Michelle Thorne of Creative Commons - 03

On an overcast Monday morning (12th Oct), we started the day with a relaxing Chinese tea drinking session at D’Art Tea Station on 63 Temple Street, Singapore 058608 (Tel: 62258308). Not only did store assistant Ms Cheong educate us on the intricacies of Chinese tea drinking, but we managed to use it as a springboard for critical discussion into how tea drinking seems to run counterculture to contemporary consumerism (i.e. slowing down, minimalism, tradition vs. efficiency). Watch the hour long video below to see what I mean…

theorycast.59 :: Tea-drinking with Creative Commons Singapore

Next, we met up with Chung Nian, who serves as the Legal Project Lead for CC Singapore. We discussed the intricacies of CC adoption in Singapore, and shared ideas on how we could make CC more relevant to Singaporeans.

Singapore Tour for Michelle Thorne of Creative Commons - 10

An exciting idea was to offer localized starter kits which catered to different genres of creators. For instance, I could volunteer to produce an Educator’s CC starter kit, which might include online videos, project ideas and Powerpoints which instructors could readily use in their classes to teach students about Creative Commons.

Singapore Tour for Michelle Thorne of Creative Commons - 14

After all the talk (and tea), it wasn’t long before we were starving. We paid a visit to People’s Park food center for lunch, then rounded it off with Bubble Tea at Koi Cafe, which lets us stipulate how much sugar we wanted in our drink. Michelle apparently loves Bubble Tea, which is pretty unusual for a caucasian from my experience.

Singapore Tour for Michelle Thorne of Creative Commons - 17

Our last stop was the new Popular bookstore franchise called [prologue] at Orchard Ion. Over coffee, we took turns to interview one another. I like the idea of passing the video camera around… it’s reciprocal and balances control of the discussion among participants.

theorycast.60 :: Roundtable with Creative Commons Singapore

In this roundtable discussion, we each shared how we first encountered Creative Commons, how we’re involved with CC, and what CC meant to each of us.

Singapore Tour for Michelle Thorne of Creative Commons - 06

The day ended with the appearance of Michelle’s boyfriend, Peter Bihr (@thewavingcat & blog), who was himself a web strategist based in Berlin. I wish we all had more time to learn more about one another, but it was bittersweet while it lasted. I hope to encounter both Michelle and Peter sometime in the near future. Thanks Ivan Chew for making this one of the most spectacular Mondays for me ever ;)

Fun Fact: Thorne claims to be the inventor of Nutellachino, a dessert combining Nutella and cappuccino powder.

Remaindered Photos: See slideshow of extra photos from our Chinatown tour.

Pro-Choice: Interviews with Planned Parenthood Advocates

Last Saturday, I was invited to talk about online campaign strategies at the 7th Annual Planned Parenthood Advocacy Conference in Rochester, NY.

Being an all-women event, I was given a glimpse into a world rarely witnessed by men. Curiosity took the better of me, as I interviewed everyone from student advocates to regional leaders in the planned parenthood community.

Who are these pro-choice advocates? What motivates them to work with such gusto? How do they organize themselves to take social and political action? These are but some of the questions I sought to answer.

Big thanks to Amy White and Tessa Walker for giving me the opportunity to share and learn from women who are fighting for greater rights over their own physical bodies.

Louis Suarez-Potts: On Escaping the Orgy of Consumerism

Louis Suarez-Potts @ UB

Louis Suarez-Potts’s “The what, why and how (not to mention who) of Open Source — and why it is important” was held at UB North Campus, Clemens 120 on Jan 29th, 2pm. Here’s the event description:

The Digital Humanities Initiative at Buffalo is pleased to announce a lecture by Louis Suárez-Potts, who holds a PhD in English from Berkeley and who is now the community manager at Sun Microsystems for the open source project This promises to be a fascinating presentation from someone who understands both the scholarly concerns of humanists and the rapidly growing prominence of open source approaches to computing.

I got a chance to chat with Louis after the talk, where he stated how monetary-based transactions strips away the emotional aspect of innovation, as opposed to the “love thy neighbor” approach (aka gift economy) which thrives on sharing and transparency of ideas. He agreed with me that the communal innovation approach would be more sustainable on the long run since the user/producer (see Axel Brun’s Produser concept) community could (theoretically) directly address its own needs more effectively than a corporation would.

Louis noted that “[t]he issue is that if you pay somebody money, they do X for that money. If you inspire them to gain value that goes beyond the monetary value ascribed to X, they do that thing, X, plus all that goes beyond and that cannot be easily monetized; an economist would call it an intangible. […] What it comes down to: Open source works regardless of the motivator; and motivators beyond price work even in closed source environments. What counts, then, is engaging people so that the value of their actions and role goes beyond price.”

Now here’s the 40min pre-recorded live stream I shared for folks who couldn’t attend, including the backchannel chat log as well as my raw notes from louis’s talk…
Continue reading ‘Louis Suarez-Potts: On Escaping the Orgy of Consumerism’

How Obama could set the stage for Participatory Governance

UB Students watching inauguration
UB Students watching inaugurationUB Students watching inauguration
UB students watching the inauguration at the Capen Undergraduate Library

While the world watches the inauguration of our 44th U.S. president, Barack Obama, those of us fortunate enough to have Internet access were able to express our thoughts alongside numerous live video streams including,, Hulu and Joost.

Of particular note was the CNN/Facebook collaboration on their own shared viewing experience. Since both CNN and Facebook were relatively more mainstream than say twitter, more viewers were ready to participate. Live - Facebook
Watch video sample taken by Dusenyao

According to Mashable, CNN served 13.9 million live video streams globally since 6am. More than 200,000 status updates were made at a rate of 3,000 users per minute, through the Facebook integration on Meanwhile, Twitter sees 4 times no. of tweets per minute over the course of the inauguration, peaking when Obama was sworn in as 44th President.

But it doesn’t end there. On a more intense level, we’re seeing a lot more involvement from the citizen journalism perspective, at times such coverage is given equal representation alongside mainstream production. Bottom-up, coordinated a special Inauguration 2009 page which aggregated about 122 live videos from around 35 mobile producers today. Top-down, we see how CNN has the “Your View of History” map showing both iReporters and CNN coverage around DC: - Your View of History

From the era of participatory media (i.e. blogs, twitter), have we been primed to take on the more focused task of nation building through participatory governance?

The practice of crowdsourcing has been transitioning from one industry to another. Major corporations such as Dell and Starbucks have been turning to consumers for new ideas. News media agencies such as CNN and Fox News have been soliciting unique coverage from citizen reporters.

Now, virtually moving presence from to, the Obama transition team has been setting the pace for citizen participation on government ideas and policies. The most obvious improvement is accessibility for the new White House web site, which is 100% HTML/CSS valid (hat tip Vantan), and now features an official blog with RSS feed which you can easily subscribe to:

The White House Blog
Here’s a before and after screenshot of the web site

While it remains to be seen how citizen participation could be ideally solicited, another front would be to allow open access to government data which could in turn be made more useful by talented individuals among us, as seen in the BART poster I saw in San Francisco:

Build your own BART apps Developer Tools

Barrack Obama, from the elections all the way to his presidency, has been the most connected president to date. As a reminder, his promise on the issue of technology includes 1) Protecting the openness of the internet, 2) Deploying a modern communications infrastructure (reducing digital divide), 3) Improve America’s competitiveness (investing in scientific innovations).

Eh Sai! I’m personally enthusiastic at how America turns out from our era of networked democracy, since this would set the stage for other nations (such as Singapore) to follow. Congratulations America, the world is watching and learning! For fellow Americans, ReadWriteWeb has seven tips to help Obama restore America.

UPDATE 1: CNN is soliciting for photographs of the inauguration to piece together a Photosynth called “The Moment“. FYI, Photosynth is a Microsoft technology that creates 3D spaces from anyone’s 2D photos, giving you the near ability to experience slice of time as if you’re actually there.

UPDATE 2: Megan Taylor of MediaShift has written a more comprehensive piece, “Innovation in Inauguration Coverage

UPDATE 3: Lance Miller wrote about the “pluggable government” and notes how citizens learn to wrangle. By wrangle, he mentions Bruce Sterling’s vision: “Wranglers are the class of people willing to hassle with Spimes. And it is a hassle. An enormous hassle. But its a fruitful hassle. It is the work of progress. Handled correctly, it can undo the harm of the past and enhance what is to come.” — When Blobjects Rule the Earth/SIGGRAPH, Los Angeles, August 2004

Just spoke with Steve Mann – world’s first cyborg

Interview: Steve Mann - CyberGlogger

This video chat was conducted via Steve Mann’s Eyetap wearable video device, Skype as well as the standard cellphone. I’ll have a full video of this interesting discussion once I make the necessary edits (it was a lenghty discussion after all!).

Just moments ago, I remotely communicated with the original cyborg (or glogger as he prefers), Steve Mann.

As a professor at the University of Toronto, Mann, together with Professor Ian Kerr, have written extensively on surveillance, sousveillance, and equiveillance. “Sousveillance”, a term coined by Mann, creates a new dialog for cyborg technologies, as well as related personal information gathering technologies like camera phones.

Steve Mann's "Wearable Computer" / "Reality Mediator"

We touched on the ethical, legal, as well as cultural metaphors which gloggers like ourselves could employ to rationalize the need for such making memories (post-terminology for recordings). Thanks to the advent of camera cellphones, Mann noted about how our society was naturally reaching the middle ground of equiveillance.

Stay tuned for the full interview video in time to come. Meantime, here are some behind-the-scene photos and video.

AIMS Report: Engaging New Media (Dec 2008) [Participatory Governance]

Engaging New Media (AIMS Report Dec 2008)

UPDATE: Coleman, our media socialists spokesperson, has provided our official press response to this latest AIMS report. In essence, “We appreciate that AIMS has taken our feedback and added it to their recommendations”. Besides our earlier AIMS submission, here’s our FAQ for further information.

Participatory governance in Singapore is finally reaching a new milestone, thanks to a newly released report from the Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society (AIMS).

Pooling together the expertise of new media practitioners, academics, industry players, regulators as well as members of the public , this first AIMS report is the product of 18 months of research into the impact of new media on our society, as well as suggestions on how to manage them.

You can download the PDF report from the AIMS web site. If I weren’t writing my dissertation, I’d give a review of the report, so for now I’ll just whet your appetite by sharing the report’s table of contents:

p 2—3 Foreword
p 5—9 Introduction
p 11—25 Executive Summary

p 27—49
Chapter 1 E-Engagement
Trends in New Media
Why Engage Online?
Embarking on E-Engagement
Barriers to E-Engagement
Reasons for E-Engagement
Risk Assessment
Public Feedback
Recommendations Following Public Feedback

p 51—78
Chapter 2 Online Political Content
Review of Light-touch Policy
Online Election Advertising in Other Countries
Proposed Recommendations in the Consultation Paper
Public Feedback
Recommendations Following Public Feedback

p 80—107
Chapter 3 Protection of Minors
Risks to Minors
How are these Risks Managed?
The Key Lies in Education
What is Being Done in Singapore
Proposed Recommendations in the Consultation Paper
Public Feedback
AIMS’ Views
Recommendations Following Public Feedback

p 109—116
Chapter 4 Intermediary Immunity for Online Defamation
Essential Ingredients of Law of Defamation
Application of Law of Defamation to the Internet
Concerns Expressed to AIMS
Singapore’s Legal Position
Conferring Immunity to Intermediaries
Public Feedback
AIMS’ Views
Recommendations Following Public Feedback

p 118—215
Annex A: Composition of AIMS
Annex B: Stakeholders Consulted Before Consultation Paper Release
Annex C: Findings from AIMS Study on “Singaporeans and the New Media”
Annex D: Feedback Received during Engagement Exercise

p 217—224 Bibliography and References

The clever bit about Obama’s iPhone app…

Via arigreenberg:

I just learned about the new Obama / Biden iPhone application from Nate Westheimer. This app is impressive and another great example of how in tune the Obama campaign is with technology and social media tools. One of the features is the “Call Friends” tool which sorts all of your contacts by state starting with swing states. Very smart.

You can download the application from the iTunes store here. Enjoy.

I also read somewhere that McCain’s app will be released on VHS. I’m j/k.

Playing the Wallstreet Bailout Game, by Rep. “Marcy” Kaptur

So you’ve probably heard of the U.S. government’s incredible $700 billion bailout plan…

If not, my buddy Chris Barr pointed out a neat play-by-play of this year’s biggest financial mess. Indeed, this massive bailout has made many of us realize the socialistic impression it signals for America.

While we get lost in the confusion of political bureaucracy, in comes democratic representative “Marcy” Kaptur with an arousing congress address which she dubs as the “Let’s Play Wallstreet Bailout“. While we won’t know for sure if the bailout plan will work, Rep. Marcy effectively deconstructs what makes this $700 billion bailout so wrong, then sets up a step-by-step plan to get it sorted right. And she clocks it all in under five minutes.

It’s people like Marcy who inspire me to help humanize the game of politics (and to do so, passionately). If you dig her style, take a look at her transcript now available online.

Beyond the Govt / Citizen Dichotomy: Our Response to AIMS


UPDATE 1: Now republished on the AIMS blog thanks to Yvonne.

UPDATE 2: Contributor Coleman Yee provides a quick FAQ on our AIMS response.

Free public servants to engage online (TODAY, 20th Sept 2008) UPDATE 3: TODAY newspaper journalist, Alicia Wong, features our e-engagement response paper, after it was kindly mentioned by AIMS chairman Cheong Yip Seng as having “thoughtful, considerate ideas” at a public forum yesterday.

How do we give Political Freedom on the Internet (ZaoBao, 21st Sept 2008) Rules for political films still a hot potato (Straits Times, 20th Sept 2008) UPDATE 4: More media mentions this week, including the Straits Times: “Rules for political films still a hot potato” (20th Sept) and ZaoBao: “How do we give Political Freedom on the Internet” (21st Sept). The latter Chinese news article was kindly (and surprisingly) well-translated by Adri of

I’m both glad and amazed that this is finally out!

A few of us decided to give our response to the recent AIMS Consultation Paper advising the Singaporean government on engaging citizens through new media.

The paper below reflects our shared interest in the development of our government’s e-engagement practices. As a collective response from friends in the civil service, academic as well as creative industry, the paper was wonderfully produced on a wiki over a period of one week.

A unique aspect of this paper is the bi-partisan approach we’ve taken in order to be mindful of the various social agencies possibly involved under the e-engagement policy. Notable research findings and case studies are presented to illustrate the viability of our recommendations. Our full response paper to AIMS is available right after the jump…

Continue reading ‘Beyond the Govt / Citizen Dichotomy: Our Response to AIMS’

Interview with ex-Singabloodypore writer: Jonathan Chong

One of the most compelling reasons why I blog is so that I get to meet interesting people like Jonathan Chong. While in Buffalo for a mutual friend’s wedding, we met up over dinner where I forced had him share his experience as an ex-writer for the infamous Singapore socio-political (or dissident) blog, Singabloodypore.

Lots of interesting stories from the blogging hey-days were traded, including the tale of how Steven McDermott’s “infantile bloggers” meme came about. Thanks to Qik live viewer Alphoso for asking about Obama, where Jon shared that he actually sat next to him on his recent Newark flight in the plane next to Obama’s on the same runway (Ed: Erm yeah…).

Off video, I talked to Jon on my view that despite healthy political discussions and the liberalization of online political content in Singapore, I still worry for our younger generation’s political apathy:

Will it take another generation before Singaporeans can fully come to terms with engaging our government freely without fear?

As you’ll see from these student responses, I do believe that this “fear” is really turning into a chief excuse (or mental reflex) for many not to participate in active citizenry. Perhaps it’s the price, the spillover effect if you must, of a mono-party government and its highly efficient political control after all these years.