Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

The Internet Governance Forum – third time lucky

I was at the United Nations in Geneva last week to watch what was happening to the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) as it prepares for its third outing, this December in Hyderabad, India.

Actually I was there for a different reason – an ICANN consultative meeting on the future of the organization the morning before the UN meeting – but it seemed daft to fly all that way and not check out the day of open discussions about the IGF. Plus I have a real soft spot for the IGF and the people that have worked extremely hard to make it a success.

I was a witness to the IGF’s creation, on paper, at the World Summit on the Information Society back in 2005, and then followed it all the way through various preparatory sessions as a reporter.

At the inaugural IGF in Athens, I was asked to be the conference’s “blogger-in-chief” – a position that, ironically enough, my current employer tried to veto. As a semi-official part of the IGF, I also got to see behind the scenes, and was impressed with the hard work, dedication and calm handling of what was an enormous and risky experiment. A lot of people at the time confessed to turning up just to see what would happen – spectators to what could have been the biggest diplomatic car crash for a decade. In the end, despite the odds, it shone through.

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Hey, ho, Delhi here we go

I’m writing this in that neverworld of an airport waiting for a slightly delayed plane.

And, of course, as it always is, that airport is Heathrow. I hate Heathrow. I’ve always hated Heathrow. Even as a kid, I remember the sensation of life ebbing away from you as you sit in uncomfortable chairs next to grumpy people, eat dreadful food and get annoyed with snooty staff. It’s Heathrow, it’s British Airways, it’s delayed, and I’m flying economy, seat 49J, which means no sleep, cramped legs, and an incredibly frustrating effort trying to do work on my laptop for the next nine hours.

Still, I’m on my way to the ICANN meeting in Delhi which should prove to be the usual mix of fun, exhaustion, confusion and interesting events. Plus I’ve never been to India before. What’s happening at the ICANN meeting? Well, plenty. Discussions on front-running, on domain tasting, on new gTLDs and IDNs. And the JPA. And the translation programme – which I have been working very hard on and should really help ICANN become an international organisation. And, you know, all the other sorts of issues that underpin the future evolution of the Internet and which I now concern myself with every day.

I have to say though that I felt an itch as a journalist to get stuck into the US elections yesterday. Shame I wasn’t in the country for Super Tuesday. Ah well, new gTLDs and IDNs are going to have a bigger impact on the world than the next US president. And I mean that too.

Too much bloody work

It’s been six weeks since I last posted here. That can’t be good. And I have a ton of stuff to get out of my mind through my fingers. The one-day trivia brain of Los Angelenos; the US presidential election process; the insane bureaucracy and mind-control of this peculiar and remarkable country. Plus, lots of pics – some with world famous stars of the screen. And the tale of trying to get hold of my possessions after 16 weeks now.

Why is this material still in my brain and not on the page? Because of work. Too much work. Far too much work. This job is a constant invitation to burn-out. I think it is the three international meetings a year that is what really makes the workload impossible: there is never more than a week in which you can get on with all those things that need quiet periods to get done. I thank god that the cycle ride home (along the beach – it’s nice, even in crap weather) is 35 minutes. It’s the one conscious hour of the day I can’t be at my laptop. Although I did take two phonecalls on my way in this morning. How long before I’m balancing the Dell on my handlebars, trying to pick up WiFi signals from the beach houses?

Still, I’m going to Delhi in a week’s time. It’ll mean 37 hours in economy there and back (I’ll be in London, Paris and Vienna briefly if anyone desperately wants to meet up), but I should have time to go see the Taj Mahal at some point. And I’ve always fancy seeing that and India. The urge to take off a month and travel the sub-continent is pretty intense, I have to say. Anyway, more work, then sleep, then more work…

Saturday night pub fight; Sunday morning huge change dawning

I am having a tough day today. A very painful goodbye at Oxford station, a long walk along the river, and now I am sat in my half-empty flat feeling hollow and a little lost.

My possessions are strewn about. They need to be divided into take-with, put in shipping container, and chucked away. I have nowhere to sit. My chairs are covered in boxes; the sofa’s is in pieces in a recycling skip; the bed I sold last night for £75 to a nice student who loaded it into a large people taxi and drove off. My Mazda was driven off the day before.

I keep feeling hungry but it’s only 11.50am and I know it’s not hunger but stomach knots as the depth of my move, my emigration sinks in. And I keep welling up. Occasionally one manages to break through and pulls with it a few drops down my face. They don’t have enough momentum to get past the cheek ridge so stop there and dry.

I’m hoping that by writing this post I am going to get some clarity, clear my head. I’d been staring vacantly out the window for 10 minutes trying to get a handle on things and failing. The answer my brain eventually came up with was: write. I am starting to feel better already.

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The participative web – follow my Web2.0 ramblings at the OECD meeting

For those interested in Internet things – and in this case the sexy side of the Internet, Facebook and all that stuff – there is an interesting conference due to start in two hours in Ottawa, Canada.

I know because I’m here and I’m on of two official bloggers. See can see the full agenda here, and the front page to the blog, which I will be updating all day can be found here.

The conference is basically bringing together experts from across the world to discuss what these latest Web2.0 technologies – which the OECD has placed under the banner “the participative web” – mean, what impact they will, what we should do and not do about the societal, business and political changes they invoke and so on. The reason why this is important is because the OECD is one of the full bodies in the world that the world’s most powerful governments listen to.

So check it out. Reply to my blog posts – if they’re pertinent I’ll read em out in the meeting.

The New Seven Wonders of the World

About nine months ago, I wrote a post about there being an effort by UNESCO to decide a new set of Seven Wonders of the World. Well, the results are in.

And, by popular vote, they are:

  • Chichén Itzá, Mexico
  • Christ Redeemer, Brazil
  • The Great Wall, China
  • Machu Picchu, Peru
  • Petra, Jordan
  • The Roman Colloseum, Italy
  • The Taj Mahal, India

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So much for Google translation

Three weeks ago, I added a translation module to this blog as an experiment with automated translation software.

The technology worked although thanks to some readers of different nationalities, it quickly became clear that the translations were not great – and in some cases barely comprehensible. Part of the reason is that I write in a very chatty fashion in English, complete with slang, odd sentence construction and often an idiosyncratic style. There’s no way a computer can accurately translate that sort of material. And it would seem that Google has decided not to bother at all.

Click on any of the flags on the right-hand column and I have just noticed you are informed that Google considers that your action “looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application” and that you may want to run a virus checker on your computer. There is no manual override. Google simply refuses to translate the page. So much for Google translation. I’m shifting to a different one that hopefully will be able to do the most basic job or telling a click on a website to a virus.

And people wonder why we shouldn’t get too caught up with Google software.

Decide the Sex.com tagline… but fast

The tagline for my book on the Sex.com saga has to be with the publishers on Thursday i.e. in two days.

We – meaning me and the publisher – are still undecided so here is your chance to have some fun and help me out. There are a list below of the sort of variations we came up with a few months ago – they are also on the poll on the right. So, please, vote but also please offer your suggestions and variations. And do so quick. A signed book and a beer to whoever nails it…

Suggestions so far:

  • One domain, Two Men, Twelve Years and the $65 million battle for the Dubious Jewel in the Internet’s Crown.
  • Two men, one prize, 12 years and counting…
  • The first great battle of the digital age
  • The feud for the internet’s most desired domain
  • The brutal battle for the Internet’s hottest property
  • The incredible story of the digital era’s most bitter feud
  • The $65 million battle for the most valuable word of the Internet age

Domain name cock-ups

Just seen this on a site called Easy Webber – a Top Ten guide to the worst domain names out there.

It’s basically smutty innuendo but also oddly amusing in one or two cases. For example, the number one slot goes to the website that aims to provide agent details for various famous people. Unfortunately Who Represents? decided to pitch up at http://www.whorepresents.com. There are, sadly, no presents available on the site.

I think possibly my favourite after that is an Italian Power Generator company at www.powergenitalia.com.

It reminds me of the early days of Internet filters when towns like Scunthorpe found that any mention of them had been wiped off the face of the Web. Anyway, some light-hearted Tuesday fun.

.xxx top-level domain back on the agenda

Well, Stuart Lawley won’t take no for any answer and .xxx has popped up on the ICANN agenda again, this time with such extraordinary controls and safeguards that it makes you wonder whether the business case is still there.

Contrary to common belief, the .xxx domain was never ruled out. In fact, because it had been officially approved by the ICANN Board before the US government, among others, went ballistic, the official line has always been that the contract drawn up wasn’t right.

And so ICM Registry has gone away and come back with yet more changes and yet more wording and concessions in a bid to get .xxx through. There is a lot in there and the wording is pretty uncompromising.

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