The US is Looking Better Everyday

Crossposted to We Are Cyborgs:

Remember the days when it was fashionable for US citizens to look to our neighbors to the north and wish our country was a bit more like theirs? The days when the Rove-Bush conservatism looked unending while Canada added gay marriage rights to its already enviable socialized health care system? Feels like just yesterday doesn’t it?

These days not only does the US have an Obama white house to boast about while liberal Canadians lament a thus far thwarted attempt to oust conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but recently Canadian policy makers came through with the sort of technologically backwards, consumer-unfriendly decision we typically fear from US lawmakers. In a battle over Internet Service Providers’ right to throttle bandwidth, a practice typically used to limit users’ ability to utilize P2P file sharing protocols like bittorrent, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission refused to prohibit the practice. This is a big deal, in essence they are saying that an ISP can dictate how you use the internet connection you pay for.

Recently in the United States Comcast was confronted for throttling bittorrent traffic and the FCC ruled that Comcast was in the wrong and must cease throttling torrent traffic. It’s nice to see our country headed in the right direction but it would be even nicer to see both countries doing so.


Change in Effect: Obama Gives First Presidential Interview to Al Arabiya

Lest this blogger be accused of publishing only negative stories, I want to put out a link to Obama’s interview with Arabic language news organization Al Arabiya. This was the first interview that Obama gave since become president – there is very little he could have done to signify greater respect towards the Arab world. It’s almost too much to suddenly have a President who does things the right way, but he nonetheless deserves kudos for following through on the use of public diplomacy.

The transcript itself is also a thing of beauty: Obama seems to understand its opposition to the US is based on our policies and our message. If we were to just change how we communicate our message, but that not our policies, as Bush attempted to do with high profile public diplomacy such as the debacles of Karen Hughes and Al Hurra, we won’t get anywhere with the Arab public. Obama said all the right things to demonstrate the seriousness of his commitment to engagement with the Arab world, and the reality that inevitable disagreements shouldn’t give way to conflict. He also stressed the importance of listening to the Arab world, and not just dictating terms, especially on the Palestinian-Israeli issue.

Transcript is here.

Also, see a smart take from Mark Lynch. I hope he one day goes on Al Jezerra, but this is a great start.

FWIW: I also think George Mitchell is a great choice.

Colbert/Lessig Get Remixed By Ludachrist

Free Culture author, founder of Creative Commons and public intellectual extraordinaire Lawrence Lessig was on The Colbert Report the other night, and said some incredibly sensible things about copyright. Although, I haven’t had a chance yet Remix, his latest book (and am somewhat skeptical of his turn towards fighting corruption), he is still an intellectual hero of mine and someone everyone interested in the future of the rights in the digital should have read. In this video, DJ Ludachrist remixes the interview into a virtual meta-orgasm of awesomeness. Check it out: