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So Much for Arriving in Tunis Today....

Right now I should be posting this from Tunis, but I'm not. Last night, my Air France flight from Boston turned around after 30 minutes, citing "mechanical issues," which they wouldn't explain until we reached the ground. This, of course, made people worry if we'd actually reach Boston, but landing was just fine. The tarmac, though, was filled with ambulances and fire trucks flashing their lights, so clearly they thought there was a major problem with the flight. The pilot then said that they'd detected smoke in the cabin and turned around as a precaution. Next thing we knew, firemen in oxygen tanks were going up and down the aisles with smoke detectors.

The firemen wanted to search more extensively, so we were asked to deboard the plane. We spent the next three hours waiting for them to sort out the situation, at which point they officially cancelled our flight. While I waited at the baggage claim with fellow WSIS delegate Avri Doria, I called the airline to figure out how I'd get to Tunis. They've rebooked me on an 8pm flight tonight that gets into Paris 8am Sunday. Unfortunately, because thousands and thousands of delegates are all trying to get to Tunis, the next flight with an open seat isn't until 9:15pm. So I'm stuck in Paris for more than 12 hours. Now I just need to decide if I'm going to sit at the airport or go into town and take pictures of people rioting. :-/ -andy

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Tunis: WSIS and WSA, part 1
Monday evening I will travel to Tunis. The second leg to the UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) will be held there. It is highly questionable whether anything important will be reached. The UN put out a press release saying: "The second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, taking place in Tunis next week, will bring together political, business and civil society leaders to take action to bridge the digital divide, so that the benefits of the information society can be shared by all.
The Tunis phase is the Summit of solutions", said Yoshio Utsumi, the Secretary-General of the Summit and Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations agency in charge of the event. "It aims at transforming the digital divide into digital opportunities for promoting peace, sustainable development, democracy, transparency and good governance."
Summit of Solutions sounds omninous; I think the last Live Aid will prove more effective than the second leg of the WSIS.

The Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs summed up the most important issues on the agenda in Tunis:
a. Internet governance;
b. freedom of speech in the new Information Society;
c. brodging the digital gap.

Ad a. Governance of Internet is presently still with the US. In practice the US governs through ICANN the root zone file, the domain names and IP-addresses. India, China and Brasil have objected to this dominance and proposed to make Internet governance multi-lateral; it should be put under a intergovernmental body. This opposition did the European Union change in its attitude. The Union now strives after internationalisation of Internet governance.

Ad b. Freedom of speech. It is interesting to see that the second leg of the WSIS is held in Tunesia, a country known for repressive tolerance and censorship. But I guess that during this week the Tunesian censors will be having a break and go to Monastir or other resorts.

Ad c. Digital Divide
In the first leg, held in Genf (Geneva) the Digital Divide was also a theme. President Sukusekou of Mali proposed to set up a UN fund. This suggestion did not make it. A private fund was set up by the city of Genf (Geneva) and Milano. But the coffers are full of promises of governments and companies and little money has been collected.

Yet 12.000 people from 175 countries will come to Tunis with high hopes and expectations. By next week we will know, whether WSIS has become the Summit of Solutions.

Linking to the theme of Digital Divide, is the World Summit Award (WSA), a best-practice competition in the digital world, especially e-Culture, e-Business, e-Government, e-Entertainment, e-Learning, e-Science, e-Health and e-Inclusion. The best-practice competition was set up to counterbalance the many political speeches and documents, full of references to the new future. WSA shows 40 products and services and 25 special mentions, representing the width of the present Information Society.

WSA has a booth at Kram PalExpo in Tunis, a Gaal will be given on the fi
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The internet, soul of the information society

By Segun Oruame

There's so much confusing talk about the information society and the role nations should play in the emerging 'knowledge economy'.

One thing seems clear though: most developing countries want mutilateral control of the internet, to reflect common ownership of what must surely be considered the 'soul' of the information society.

Some in the US appear determined to model the internet on the industrial revolution - where the factories that were the 'soul' of industrial society were championed and dominated by the West.

For example, last month an editorial in the New York Times said that EU proposals for an international 'model of cooperation' of internet governance was akin to asking the US "to depend on the kindness of strangers in maintaining the basic infrastructure that underpins our national security and economy"

Meanwhile, in the Washington Post, Kofi Annan defends the need for change, pointing out that "developing countries feel left out of internet governance structures".

I agree with Kofi. While the internet has indeed been pioneered by the West, there are now active players all over the world. Isn't it right that we should all be heirs to this common information wealth?

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The Myth of Multitasking
The Myth of Multitasking Originally uploaded by Tim Morgan. I totally agree... [Via: 43Folders]...
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Internet Connection Problems...
The WSIS starts in a few days, and Tunisia has been preparing to show how successful it can and will be at hosting such big and important events. But, unfortunately, big events like this come with a downside for the internet users of Tunisia. 2 years ago when Tunisia hosted the ICANN meetings; A big share of the national bandwidth was allocated to the hotel the meetings were being held at, as well as the hotels the guests were staying at. This at a time when those places weren't even covered by broadband connections yet. That left the rest of...
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