Tuesday, November 29, 2005
posted by @netwurker at 6:57 am
*Microsoft: Linux is anti-commercial*

Ingrid Marson


November 25, 2005, 17:30 GMT

Microsoft asked for references to free software to be removed from a document presented at last week's UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) conference, the software giant admitted on Friday.

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is unhappy that the document was changed and claims that even though it was on the panel discussing the document, it was not made aware of Microsoft's changes.

The document, known as the Vienna Conclusions, discusses issues around IT and creativity. The original draft of the document discussed how the free software model is changing the way people do business.

"Increasingly, revenue is generated not by selling content and digital works, as they can be freely distributed at almost no cost, but by offering services on top of them. The success of the free software model is one example," stated the original document, according to the FSFE.

But the final version of the document contains no reference to free software. "Increasingly, revenue is generated by offering services on top of contents," states the final version of the document.

Thomas Lutz, the manager of public affairs at Microsoft Austria, asked for this section to be deleted as "it contains only a one-sided perspective on the ICT industry."

"The rationale for this is, that the aim of free software is not to enable a healthy business on software but rather to make it even impossible to make any income on software as a commercial product," he added.

Lutz' comments were posted on a conference blog, but Georg Greve, the president of FSFE, who was involved in drafting that section of the document, claims that no-one on his panel was aware of the blog until last week.

Greve criticised Lutz' comments as "Microsoft propaganda".

"This is so obviously stupid and nonsensical that it seems pointless to comment on it: Just another monopolist trying to uphold their monopoly by preventing freedom of markets - which is what Free Software really aims at," he said, on his blog.

But on Friday Lutz denied that the panel was unaware of these changes and confirmed that his blog postings are accurate.

"The Vienna Conclusions document was created through a democratic feedback process as requested by the committee and stated on the committee blog. Each and every participant of the conference was invited to publish contributions, share feedback and offer changes which facilitated discussion and an open exchange of positions," he told ZDNet UK. "All of our change requests were approved by the committee."

This is not the only change to the document that Microsoft brought about. In a later section of the same document, Lutz asked that a reference to the open source operating system Linux be removed as "this is only one particular - anti-commercial - specificity of the open source landscape."

Microsoft appears to have been stepping up its fight against Linux recently, with comments about open source 'dorks' and claims that Africa does not need free software.

This story was printed from ZDNet UK, located at http://news.zdnet.co.uk/
Story URL: http://news.zdnet.co.uk/software/linuxunix/0,39020390,39238443,00.htm
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
posted by @netwurker at 7:55 pm
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 22:48:00 -0500 (EST)
From: moderator@portside.org
Reply-To: portside@portside.org
To: portside@lists.portside.org
Subject: Darwin exhibition frightening off corporate sponsors

The Darwin exhibition frightening off corporate sponsors

By Nicholas Wapshott in New York

(Filed: 20/11/2005)

An exhibition celebrating the life of Charles Darwin has
failed to find a corporate sponsor because American
companies are anxious not to take sides in the heated
debate between scientists and fundamentalist Christians
over the theory of evolution.

The entire $3 million (£1.7 million) cost of Darwin,
which opened at the American Museum of Natural History
in New York yesterday, is instead being borne by wealthy
individuals and private charitable donations.

The failure of American companies to back what until
recently would have been considered a mainstream
educational exhibition reflects the growing influence of
fundamentalist Christians, who are among President
George W Bush's most vocal supporters, over all walks of
life in the United States.

While the Darwin exhibition has been unable to find a
business backer - unlike previous exhibitions at the
museum - the Creationist Museum near Cincinatti, Ohio,
which takes literally the Bible's account of creation,
has recently raised $7 million in donations.

The outbreak of corporate cold feet has shocked New
York's intellectuals. "It is a disgrace that large
companies should shy away from such an important
scientific exhibition," said a trustee of another
prominent museum in the city, who was told of the
exhibition's funding problem by a trustee of the AMNH.

"They tried to find corporate sponsors, but everyone
backed off."

Creationism is increasingly widely backed in America. A
CBS News poll last month found that 51 per cent of
Americans reject the theory of evolution, believing
instead that God created humans in their present form.
Another poll in August found that 38 per cent of
Americans think that creationism should be taught in
schools, instead of evolution.

In Dover, Pennsylvania, last week, a jury began
considering a case brought by parents against a school
board that insisted that "intelligent design," which
argues that a supernatural force populated the earth, be
taught alongside evolution in science classes.

The AMNH is coy about its failure to find corporate
money to mount the exhibition, which will tour the US
before moving to London's Natural History Museum in 2009
to mark the bicentenary of Darwin's birth.

Asked which companies had refused to give money, Gary
Zarr, the museum's marketing director, said he would
have to ask those concerned before he could identify

Steve Reichl, a press officer for the AMNH, said a list
of forthcoming exhibitions was sent to potential
sponsors and none wanted to back the Darwin exhibition.
He declined to reveal which companies, or how many, had
been approached.

The Bank of America previously sponsored a similar
exhibition on Leonardo da Vinci and the financial
services provider TIAA-CREF funded an Albert Einstein

A prominent Metropolitan Museum donor said: "You can
understand why the Museum of Natural History might not
want to admit such a thing.

"They are concerned about finding corporate funding for
exhibitions in the future."

The museum will have to depend more heavily upon the
profits of its Darwin-related merchandise to finance the
cost of staging the exhibition, including a 12-inch
Darwin doll, Darwin finger puppets and, for a $950, a
replica of the vessel Beagle, made in China and
assembled in Vietnam.

Niles Eldredge, the exhibition's curator, confirmed that
the exhibition was intended to redress the balance in
the battle between scientists and creationist Christians
being fought across the country.

"This is for the schoolchildren of America," he said.
"This is the evidence of evolution."

portside (the left side in nautical parlance) is a news,
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For answers to frequently asked questions:
Sunday, November 20, 2005
posted by @netwurker at 7:55 am
On my way to Zurich I just met a colleague at the airport. We both fly
routinely. "I can't do it anymore." he said. "All this air travel is just too
much downtime for me." I moved onward passing through airport lobbies in New
York City, London, and finally my Swiss destination. In these inbetween spaces
I was persistently confronted with big, fat back-lid ads. And they were all
about time. T-Mobile's slogan is "Upgrade your downtime." The airline Jetblue
draws attention to their wireless hotspots at John F. Kennedy with the
commanding "downtime-download." The mantra of the British Vodaphone is "The
power of now!" BT shows a jolly business man fly-jumping through what looks
like a landscape of Powerpoint charts: "The digital network economy. Where
business is done." In JFK, Sprint, the American cell phone tycoon, set up
yellow placards in the size of a house that say "yes to making just about any
place a work place." It made me stop. I was buffled. How dare they be so in my
face about what I perceive as the agony of immaterial labor?

Before moving to San Francisco I never heard terms like "quality time" or
"downtime." In East Germany, for me, time was just time indiscriminately. For a
wide variety of reasons there are many that pledge allegiance to everything
not-networked, offline, and non-digital. Who can blame them? Post-Fordist work
conditions turn the super-mobile manager into a networked lap dog. At six in
the morning those waiting in the airport gate area pull out their laptops.
Sneaking over their shoulders I see spread sheets. The networked early morning
work day starts with coffee and a cheese-and-egg-pizzas. Downtime now is
download time. Life is work. There is not enough time to rest, cook, reflect,
or walk in the woods. The insidious penetration of the Internet into our every
grain is hard to deny. Workers become part-of-the-solution-nodes rather than
full-time employees. Health insurance can be done away with. Wages in the
immaterial networked realm don't have to bear resemblance to the work that was
done. And, who ever mentioned pensions? Also Unions get whacked when the work
force is geographically pieced together. Then there is all that sense of place
stuff that Lucy Lippard was so adament about. But the uprooted lifestyle seems
like peanuts compared to what is happening now, -- the horror, the horror.
Passing through these airports, the net started to feel like an itch that we
can't scratch.

Much of the discussion about networking is focused entirely on business. Howard
Rheingold's essay "Technologies of Cooperation" is magnificent and inspired,
imho, but it is written in large part to help out the amazon-dot-coms of this
world. Doug Rushkoff comments on his blog that he hopes for the ideas in his
latest book to help businesses (and well, also a few others). Fair enough.
What's wrong with that you may ask? Well, let's just say that there is an
utilitarian impetus that rarifies play and experiment at least if they don't
link up with business interests sooner rather than later. Let's just say that I
hope for people with insight into network technologies and their human uses to
also take on projects that do not support those who already have plenty. Why
help eBay to make even more money? Who really needs our help?

Some cultural workers have much in common with managerial networked types. Brian
Holmes points to that. It's not just the rock stars of what Richard Florida
calls the creative class who sit on planes next to the smiley jet set manager.
Artists become entrepreneur of themselves. Self-worth is quantified in frequent
flyer miles and numbers of invitations. But the opportunistic, ego-tripping art
enterpriser is not all there is. Cultural practioners travel and perform their
ideas all over the world. They are gift-givers with all the problematic
hierarchies that this creates. On good days they enact their ideas with
passion, inspiration and substance. The Brooklyn-based artist Martha Rosler
documented her more than frequent passing through airports in many series of
photographs and critical writing. She describes her motivation for these works
related to her occupation. And in new media as much as in photography, the
international scenes are closely knit. Travel is a substantial part of the
lives of cultural producers. I can't point to the travelling managerial
networkers "over there." They are so distant and conveniently different from
me. I don't have all the ethical and political rightenousness on my side. I am
part of the picture. The network beast lives also inside me.

We move through space. "We" are all those cultural producers who fly thousands
of miles to talk to different audiences or present their artwork. We are quite
the experts when it comes to travel. We know it all. Airport, home, gallery,
and lecture hall are equally familiar venues for us. We have it down. We know
how to block off obnoxiously loud fellow travelers. We recognize how to remain
friendly (most of the time)- with borderline-abusive security personnel. We
inhale every magazine article about tricks of air travel. Our bodies are
transported through the air. We are just resting. Covered with masks, our eyes
are closed. We enter a think space. We know what to do about the lack of
humidity on planes. The increased elevation at take-off jazzes us up. We know
when to stretch and which way to rotate our ankles. We developed a continuity
of purpose that makes it secondary where our bodies are located. The scenarios
through we move don't distract us so much anymore.

We repurpose trains, and airport lobbies into offices. The person next to us
becomes unwillingly involved. We pull ourselves out of the public into the
private networked space. We shift through the walkways of airports, drive in
taxis and trains. Networked devices keep us always anchored, always in touch,
consistently connected to myriads of social networks. But the flickering
screens to which we are hooked is not just the bluetooth lifeline to the boss.
We have all those with whom we share our lives in reach nearly at all times. We
cannot feel the warmth of their face, we cannot touch. But in our "downtime" we
can talk or exchange text messages. And doing so may prevent us from talking to
the stranger right next to us.

We "grow" network tentacles (like air roots) that allow us to be always on.
There is the perpetual, invisible link between our body and the nearest cell
phone tower. We are always plugged in, interlinked at all times. In the city,
at the moment when the subway train comes out of a tunnel to go over a bridge
dozens of people who endured at least 15 minutes of out-of-reach time pull out
their devices to feel reassured that they did not miss something. The
technology is not plated into us. It is miniaturized. The only piece of
hardware that Lev Manovich mentions on his blog, for example, is the "I-Go," a
universal connecting plug for all kinds of devices. It allows him to leave the
cable clutter at home. Our nano-sized multi purpose-devices are not what
counts. What matters is the linkage that they establish. The wireless Internet
signals casually picked up by our laptops facilitate exploitation. We have to
look hard to see the emancipatory nature of socio-technical networks. But it's
on the edges of network culture where the sun sparkles. It's not in the center
of pesky business culture.

But network technologies cannot be reduced to instruments of oppression and
casualized labor that squeeze every last drop of genuine energy and creativity
out of the worker. Cooperation-enhancing technologies are not by default
networked assembly lines. The Treo is not the beast. Laptops are not merely
locative Wall Street furniture. Cell phones are not the pervasive enemy. Groups
of protesters at the Republican convention used them to escape police tactics.
But at the same token networked technologies are also not inherently linked to
a deviant life style or oppositional cultural practice. Technologies define us.
We are conditioned to relate to them in predefined ways. Using technologies
changes what we know and how we know it. But we do have a say in this. We can
shape the technologies that we are using. Networked technologies do not have
to stand for servitude. We can imagine human uses. We can support emerging
alternative socio-technical networks by reflecting on technologies without
utopia-glazed eyes. Critiquing the vicious nature of networked, neoliberal
managers is vitally important. But don't stop there. Don't leave the discourse
about human uses of cooperation-enhancing tools and networking to them (or to
them inside of us.)


You can read this text (with images) on my blog at:
Thursday, November 17, 2005
posted by @netwurker at 7:09 am
November 15, 2005

Edmund Cardoni 716-812-9237
Gregg Bordowitz 312-420-6092
Lucia Sommer 716-359-3061

Slow Pace

Buffalo, NY ­ November 15, 2005 ­ Artist and
University of Buffalo professor Steven Kurtz has been
released from pretrial supervision following a motion
by his pretrial supervisor Zenaida Piotrowicz to the
federal court of Western New York. Though Kurtz's
case has not yet gone to trial and motions for its
dismissal are still pending, the beleaguered artist
has been on "probation" for sixteen months: reporting
regularly to a probation officer, subject to random
house searches and drug tests, and limited in his
ability to travel.

Almost eighteen months have passed since Kurtz awoke
to find that his wife of twenty years had died of
heart failure in the night. When police came to
investigate the death, they saw lab equipment that
Kurtz used in his internationally known art practice
and to teach his courses at UB. They contacted the
FBI, which detained Kurtz for bioterrorism the
following day, and began an investigation into his
activities that involved the Joint Terrorism Task
Force, the Department of Homeland Security, and
numerous other federal and international law
enforcement agencies, at an estimated cost to
taxpayers in the millions of dollars. After the
lengthy investigation, Kurtz was indicted, not for
"terrorism," but on "mail and wire fraud" charges ­
which still carry a maximum sentence of twenty years ­
and placed in pretrial supervision with the federal
Office of Probation and Pretrial Supervision.

::Pretrial supervisor requests release, prosecution
attempts to block::

Sixteen months later, arguing that after such a long
term of supervision there was no hint of criminality
or risk of flight, Kurtz's pretrial supervisor Zenaida
Piotrowicz motioned the federal court to release Kurtz
from supervision. Magistrate Judge Kenneth Schroeder
agreed with this assessment and issued an order to
release Kurtz on his own recognizance to await trial.

US Department of Justice prosecutor William Hochul
vigorously attempted to block Kurtz's release. In
spite of his protestations to the court and to Kurtz's
supervisor, the release order was issued.

Kurtz's Defense Committee has stated that this attempt
to block his supervisor's motion for Kurtz' release is
yet more evidence that Kurtz is being treated as an
exception and with extreme prejudice by the Department
of Justice, and that his case is an attempt to
intimidate and gag artists and scholars who, like
Kurtz, are critical of current social, economic, and
political policy. Other facts they site as evidence of
prejudice are:

1) The Department of Justice is completely outside its
own guidelines for prosecution. The Kurtz case meets
none of the standards outlined in 9-43.100 Prosecution
Policy Relating to Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud. This
alleged infraction regarding $256 worth of harmless
bacteria, according to the guidelines, should be
pursued by state agencies, and not the Department of
Justice. State agencies in NY and PA have declined to
take action. The alleged victims, American Type
Culture Collection and the University of Pittsburgh,
have also declined to take any action, either criminal
or civil.

2) The interpretation of mail and wire fraud law the
prosecutor has taken is so extreme as to make
incorrectly filling in and mailing a warranty card to
a manufacturer grounds for federal criminal
prosecution. Last July, at a hearing on the case,
Judge Magistrate Kenneth Schroeder said that such an
interpretation would be opening a "Pandora's box."

3) The Department of Justice has never before tried to
prosecute the alleged breaking of a material transfer
agreement as federal mail fraud. Kurtz is the lone
exception. The substances Kurtz allegedly received are
benign and are not regulated by any law or agency
(EPA, FDA, etc.). William Hochul explicitly admitted
this fact in the Kurtz hearing last July. Moreover,
they are legal for any citizen to buy and possess, and
pose no danger to the public.

Kurtz is currently awaiting a ruling on motions to
dismiss the case filed by his attorney Paul Cambria.


For more information, please contact the CAE Defense
Fund care of Edmund Cardoni (716-812-9237), Gregg
Bordowitz (312-420-6092) or Lucia Sommer
(716-359-3061), or email us at

Additional information is available at
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
posted by @netwurker at 7:12 am
From: hsimmons [mailto:hsimmons@yorku.ca]
Sent: Tuesday, November 08, 2005 8:54 AM
Subject: Paris unrest

The riots in France are similar to but also different from urban riots
that took place in the U.S.

Similarities: Watts and the Rodney King riots were both triggered (but
no caused) by confrontation between police and ghetto residents. Same in
France. Lots of similarities between socio-economic situation of
rioters in U.S. and France: urban, unemployed, disaffected youth turning
against everything that smacked of authority. The depth of hatred of
authority is, I think, dramatically illustrated by attacks on fire
personnel. What other than sheer detestation of anyone wearing a
uniform that symbolizes government authority can explain attacking those
who have come to put out fires that might threaten one's own life, those
of relatives or friends, or could destroy local infrastructure? Rioters
identified by race and colour in both countries, with the added factor
of religion (Islam) as a descriptive factor in case of French rioters.

Differences: Reports I have seen have made no mention of looting in the
case of the French riots whereas there was widespread looting in Watts
and Los Angeles. Is that the case, and if so, why the difference?

Religion: Reports that a tear gas grenade was thrown at, or into a
mosque inflamed (literally) the rioters. From what I can make out
religion played no role at all in U.S. urban riots, except that
preachers called for calm.

In U.S. case both government and private sector promised attempts to
improve conditions in ghettos. In France, government has emphasized
restoration of order above all else.

In France, Sarkozy is supposed to have commented that riots now call in
to question French model of immigration. No such remarks could be
possible in the U.S. case.

In France, the government is now in a very dangerous spot. If it talks
about socio-economic measures as a way to improve conditions in les
banlieues, it risks further alienating the twenty percent who voted for
Le Pen in the last election as well as losing a lot of support from
centre-right supporters who want the government to get tough.. On the
other hand, by imposing a curfew and taking a tough line, it follows Le
Pen's suggestion that a state of emergency be declared, and it boosts
the far right case that immigration policy is a failure (even though
most rioters are probably French citizens). In U.S. there was, and is,
no party (except perhaps for Pat Buchanan's grouplet) on the extreme
right to which the major parties had to, or now, must pander.

Harvey Simmons
posted by @netwurker at 7:10 am
From: Nelcya Delano ë [mailto:nelcya.delanoe@wanadoo.fr]
Sent: Tuesday, November 08, 2005 3:01 AM
Subject: Paris Unrest

Very good question!
No, it's not just the US press, it's French press + political personnel
etc... and "les gens", who seem incapable of accepting these second or third
genreration adults and children for what they are: French citizens... It
really is part of the problem, though unemployment is major of course. Add
macho culture, gang culture, and total alienation with/from anything
institutional,(for a long series of historical, sociolgical and material
reasons). Add terrible housing and living conditions...
Add 30 years of government withdrawal from all these neighbourhoods, (post
offices, health centers, crèches, even commissariat de police). Last summer,
most subsidies for summer camps, schools, workshops, trips, parties,
week-ends in the country or by the sea were cut.
A friend of mine, who works in an Avignon banlieue and had a workshop where
he taught mime, acting and clowning explained that all these activities had
been scrapped by the Mairie was "a time bomb"': it was summer time, it was
hot and those kids, adolescents were left to themselves while the Theatre
festival was booming next door, with 30€ tickets .
Political parties and unions have deserted and or lost contact and or no
longer have enough funds themselves. This morning on the radios, most
commentators were regretting the Communisst party ex role as a social
activist and controller!...
The riots began during les vacances de la Toussaint...

Nelcya Delanoë
US History Professor
Paris-X, Nanterre