{ metropolis devoured }
a tribute to my san francisco

3/4 oz scotch whiskey
3/4 oz local politics
1/4 oz public policy
1/4 oz disaster preparedness
1/2 oz alamo square

Shake over neighborhood dives & venues, strain into a chilled cocktail dress, garnish with a sprig of gov 2.0, and serve.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bloggers rights here and abroad...

Afghanistan has no free media. No big surprise there, I hope. 25-year-old Nasim Fekrat of Afghan LORD champions the next best thing in Kabul: blogging. Yes, folks, blogging is good for more than just trash-talking gossip and exposing your crippled emotions to the world wide web. Some have thought above and beyond the personal blogging model and use online publishing tools to freely distribute useful ideas, scientific research, informed opinion, and independent news from the ground.

A blogger writing in a (re)developing country encounters many daily obstacles: electricity outages, lack of computers, lack of internet access, lack of transportation, government intimidation, you name it. That is Afghanistan. We are not surprised (although, with initiatives like Nasim's, we are hopeful).

Halfway around the world in New Hampshire, where - and please correct me if I missed something - freedom of expression on the Internet is still in effect, autism awareness blogger Kathleen Seidel faces intimidation tactics from a lawyer who doesn't like what she has to say. Following an in-depth exposé detailing the financial gains of the anti-vaccine attorney versus the impact of the cases he litigated on the medical community, Ms. Seidel was hit with a subpoena demanding 4 years worth of financial records, taxes, personal communications, research notes relevant to her blog, and other material listed here (pdf). Ms. Seidel won a self-drafted motion to quash the subpoena and the judge found the attorney's actions to be "an abuse of legal process, a waste of judicial resources and an unnecessary waste of the time and expense to the purported deponent", stating also that he has set a dangerous precident for the future silencing of bloggers.

In this case, the attorney thought he could get one past Ms. Seidel and intimidate her into silence. But while Ms. Seidel, armed with an extensive history in research as a professional librarian, was able to resolve the subpoena issue in her favor, many bloggers without the right resources would have simply acquiesced and deleted their statements (or online presence altogether) for fear of legal consequences.

Meanwhile in Kabul, Nasim says of his blogging workshops: "in order to build this country, we need to inform people", and Reporters without Borders supports his mission to enable citizens to share real, independent news.

We here in the States need to be more of an example.

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