Does freedom exist?

Freedom… Freedom… Repeat it one more time. Freedom… When you repeat any word a lot of times it is loosing its meaning and you start to think: does this word exist or not? Have you ever had such a feeling? I am sure you have.

            Every day, starting from the January of this, 2011, year, we hear the news about revolutions in Middle East and Northern Africa countries. All these revolutions were “based” in Internet. Let me take Egypt and Tunisas examples. In Egypt the revolution was started by Ghonim, a marketing manager for Google, who played a key role in organizing the January 25 protest by reaching out to Egyptian youths on Facebook. Shortly after that first protest, Ghonim was arrested in Cairo and imprisoned for 12 days. Due to his release, Ghonim has become a symbol for the Egyptian revolutionary movement, even though he has rejected this notion. “I’m not a hero. I was writing on a keyboard on the Internet and I wasn’t exposing my life to danger,” he said in an interview immediately after his release. Later, Ghonim told CNN that Facebook and the Internet were responsible for the revolt in Egypt. Here is a part of his interview: “I want to meet Mark Zuckerberg one day and thank him […] I’m talking on behalf of Egypt. […] This revolution started online. This revolution started on Facebook. This revolution started […] in June 2010 when hundreds of thousands of Egyptians started collaborating content. We would post a video on Facebook that would be shared by 60,000 people on their walls within a few hours. I’ve always said that if you want to liberate a society just give them the Internet. […]”

            In Tunisia one of the main organizers of revolutionary movement is an active Internet user. His nickname is Ali. Ali, who asked to stay anonymous because of fear to be arrested, estimated that he spends at least 18 hours per day in front of his computer running a Facebook page that has become one of the primary sources of information on the protests. Ali is a leader of SBZ News, a team of 15 cybersavvy activists who have been collecting dispatches, photos, and video from sources throughout the country, posting it on Facebook, and sending updates over Twitter. Actually, they are online journalists, because they are not only “making a revolution”, but also, they are the sources of last breaking news in Persian Peninsula for Tunisian people. Why? It is just because the government of Tunisia began blocking critical news sites and Facebook pages created by protesters. The government even phished passwords from Facebook and email accounts, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Reporters Without Borders reports that at least five bloggers have been arrested.

            How do people start the “online revolutions”? Mohammed Bouazizi, the Tunisian whose suicide sparked that country’s revolution became the start point, the inspiration of the social movements. After, large antigovernment demonstrations were in Jordan,Yemen, and Algeria. The news about his suicide was spread in the Internet and became the “national hero” of Tunisia.

            Currently the very popular issue for discussion is human rights and Internet, especially Liberation Technologies. “Lying at the intersection of social science, computer science, and engineering, the Program on Liberation Technology seeks to understand how information technology can be used to defend human rights, improve governance, empower the poor, promote economic development, and pursue a variety of other social goods” (CDDRL Stanford). And it is tightly connected to the revolutionary movements in theMiddle East. These countries wanted to have democracy, get rid of dictatorship and have social, political, economical freedom. According to Larry Diamond (Journal of Democracy. Liberation Technologies) Liberation Technology is any form of information and communication technology (ICT) that can expand political, social, and economic freedom. In the contemporary era, it means essentially the modern, interrelated forms of digital ICT—the computer, the Internet, the mobile phone, and countless innovative applications for them, including “new social media” such as Facebook and Twitter. The United States is a strong supporter of liberation technologies and civil society all over the world. Civil society activists and organizations work to improve the quality of people’s lives and protect their rights, hold leaders accountable to their constituents, shine light on abuses in both the public and private sectors, and advance the rule of law and social justice. They are key partners for progress.

                 Many people agree with this. But personally, I am more the supporter of Evgeny Morozov, I think that the democracy could not exist everywhere; moreover, it could not be reached through Liberation Technologies. First of all, Internet is not a base of improving the quality of people’s life, it is only a tool, which can be helpful, but still, developing countries never become socially, economically, and politically free just because US government try to imply civil society to these poor countries. Secondly, there is a possibility that The West is involved into the movements itself. Why? It is simple question. If you look at the fuel map, the countries ofPersianPeninsulahave really huge sources of oil and petroleum. In my opinion, all these actions are politically thought-out moves.

Every day we hear this word: “freedom”, it deeply exists in our consciousness, we know how to write this word, how to spell it, but does it really exist? Democracy is expanding stuff. Everyone understands it differently. Because, the West and the other world have different perception of the freedom, due to mentality, way of thinking, and lifestyle, it is impossible to imply Western model of democracy in theMiddle Eastcountries.

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BarCamp – a whole bunch of networks

BarCamp is an extraordinary kind of conference. Participants of BarCamp are extraordinary people who are keen on Internet. So, I took part in two sessions on April 17th, 2011 in the New Building of KIMEP. What was my first impression when I saw the participants of BarCamp? I should be honest, because I was amazed how many people are attending this event. That means in the Central Asia Internet bloggers, startuppers, and other net-geniuses are exist and moreover they are developing. Moreover they communicate with each other through such kinds of conferences. So, this was the first type of network which I have noticed. People who have one idea, one aim, one interest, they understand each other without any difficulties. They are separate society in which they are connected to each other by Internet. They are involved in network of Internet fans, so they are network themselves. They have common language which is non-understandable for people from outside, like me. Even their appearance differs. Thus, I will explain everything step by step.

First session that I participated in was Opera’s session. I was a little bit late, so when I entered the hall what my eyes immediately noticed was the hall mostly full of men; only couple of women participated, and most of the men were long haired guys with moustaches and they had rock style clothes. From the ancient centuries the clothing was important part of the human life. People distinguish each other by types of clothing. Paupers could not allow themselves expensive dresses, only aristocrats could wear bejeweled dresses made of silk and velvet. People who wear different types of clothes are members of different networks. They can find each other among others. So, is clothing one of the distinguishing marks of Internet fans? Maybe, because all these rock-guys were asking very clever questions about internet browser Opera Unite.

Now, let me explain one more kind of network which I came across on the Opera session. The representative of Opera Company again was a man with long hair, but without moustaches. He was introducing new Opera feature named Opera Unite. As I have understood, it is type of storage which allows users to store their information and data like photo, music, video, and so on online, and additionally gives a possibility to other users have an access to it. For example you have a friend who lives halfway around the world. You want to show him your photos, or he want to listen to your playlist, or… Actually, there are many actions which can be done. So, what are you going to do? There are some solutions. The first: download everything in social network like Facebook, or somewhere else; the second: archive data and send it by e-mail or Skype (and it will take quite a lot of time), or, the third way which is offered by Opera is Opera Unite. You can store your information there, and if you give your username and pathword to your friend, he also will have an access to your files. Is not it very comfortable? I think it is very useful kind of network. Opera Open Source – the way of rapid file share.

Another thing which was explained in this session was the opportunities for all Internet-users, who can create any programs or widgets for browser. I considered it as one more example of network, because this idea connects similar people with similar way of thinking. Personally I caught only tiny pieces of information while those guys’ speech was full of Internet terms (Internet-fans have own language). For instance, you created new widget for Opera. You send its encoding to Opera Company. They check it for errors, and if there are no errors, they run the widget. Again, using network you can create network yourself. So, the session ended and I moved to another one.

The second session was related to startuppers. Startupper is a person who starts his business online involving all features of Internet. The lecturer started presentation with words: “Each second can be a businessman and only each hundred can create really good idea.” But the main point of his presentation was that each company is a network in which every member is important and has own place. I will explain it in more details.

First of all, as he mentioned, mostly the founders of companies like Microsoft, Google, Dell, etc. are engineers, because they have another way of thinking that others. For example people who have entrepreneurial spirit are interested only on sale, but technicians are very stubborn guys, and they will continue developing their idea. That is why these companies are so successful. If companies were led by entrepreneurs, they would never have such popularity. We can say that great companies are also network, because their founders are involved in one network of people who graduated technological faculties and were nerds at their colleges and universities.

The second considered thing was an issue of investing. Each idea on the beginning of its way needs money. There are many people with great ideas but, unfortunately most of them have no possibility to translate their dreams into reality. I considered investing system as another example of network. Investor is a person or a company which is interested in the project, but from commercial side, however he is interested. Inventor and investor are connected to each other by one idea from opposite sides, and both of them depend on each other, someone more and someone less. But, as lecturer claimed, there is 3F system of investing: FOOLS, FRIENDS, FAMILY. FOOLS mean people who directly go to company or unfamiliar people and ask for investing, but it can be unstable, because inventor (startupper) mostly depends on the investor. So, he has no much liberty in his ideas. So, it is better to use FRIENDS or FAMILY system. Lecturer said: “The best investors are friends which are connected to each other by many other ties, except work”. Let me take Microsoft Corporation as an example. At college, Steven Ballmer and Bill Gates were friends. Ballmer arranged dates for Gates with girls, because Gates was nerd and kind of freak, and this became the basis of their friendship which grew up until the Microsoft Corporation. As they are called: Gates is the brain of Microsoft and Ballmer is its fists, and together they are stable team. As a comparison, lecturer took Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple Corporation. He is an individualist, he is leader, but he works alone. After he was kicked out of Apple, he was a head of Macintosh, than Pixar, and than again Apple. So, he has not got a team, a network of close relationship, that is why his position was not as stable as Microsoft’s. The conclusion of second 3F system is that friendship is the network which can be the best way of investing, because there are a lot of other things which unite people.

Overall, network has very-very-very extended definitions. But, what is the common thing is that network connects everything by different types of ties, relationships, and links. It connects people, corporations, companies, destinies, and teams, which cannot be calculated and counted. Network exists everywhere, even in places where we do not expect to come across them. Each of us is involved into hundreds and thousands of networks, which are enlarging day by day, and live without being involved into network means being isolated from the world, being isolated from the development.

Influence of Internet on the Marches of Immigrants

Internet is a power, and it seems to be true. Why? First of all it is really huge platform, where the ‘online’ activists of the marches can spread information and coordinate walkouts. For example Latino students of L.A. Unified School District used SMS and MySpace in order to communicate people who were interested in the march. So, it can be said that Internet can provide the possibility to enlarge the number of marchers.

Did Internet influence on the social movement in the Macarthur Park, on May 1st, 2007? According to Sasha Costanza-Chock’s article after the ‘riots of immigrants’ in the park there were a lot of information, especially information of Hispanic channels, newspapers, and other ‘autorepresentación’ (self-representation), like text, photos, videos, and audio. A lot of videos were done, and most of them were put on the Youtube. Actually, the video sites like Youtube are more popular than searching systems like Google, and so on.

Why? Look at their name: autorepresentación. They represent thmselves. Video news have more beefits for police. Watching the videos, police can find out the activists of different marches, and it is dngerous to put video containing information, which can be harmful for some individuals. So, be careful when you post on the Youtube, which can give your IP to the police.

“Dr. Strangelove or how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb”

“Dr. Strangelove or how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb” is anti-militarist dark comedy of Stanley Kubrick, which was released in 1964.

One of the characters is the ex-Nazi wheelchair-bound nuclear war expert, whose name is Dr. Strangelove. He has the uncontrollable hand and it seems that his hand has a Nazi mind of its own. Several times he calls the President Merkin Muffley as Mein Führer.

So, in my opinion the scene which was one of the most meaningful and includes the idea of the main character and part of morality of the film was the scene where Dr. Strangelove, who is actually disable, stands up, makes several steps, and finally shouts: “Mein Führer! I can walk!”

Why this scene seemed important to me? First of all let me remind the suggestion of Dr. Strangelove about the gather 200 000 of the best selected people in the ratio of ten young and pretty women per one strong, healthy, and clever man with abilities in the business and politics, and after decades to start new generation of people on the empty Earth. Here we can notice that even though Dr. Strangelove is ex-Nazi, anyway, his idea shows his fascist and eugenic position. As we know, in Nazi Germany, the idea of eugenics was very popular in the early decades of the XX century. In the postwar period, eugenics was hit on a par with Nazi crimes, such as racial hygiene, the Nazi experiments on human beings, and the destruction of “undesirable” social groups. So, there are two motifs that show his position. First one is his hand, which is living its own life because of alien hand syndrome. This hand raises and shows Nazi salute “Heil Hitler”. It is close connected to his eugenic ideas. The second motif is that twice during the film Dr. Strangelove calls the President as Mein Führer. I think these old habits demonstrate his real Nazi essence.

Both his idea about bunker and unconscious habits are the basis of the scene’s ideology. Just think, how could the person, who cannot walk, immediately stand up and make steps? Of course, it is impossible in the real life, but in the film it has special meaning. After the last H-bomb falls down on the Russian military base with Mayor Kong on it, and, according to plot of the movie, the Earth population will die in ten month, all presents in the War Room start to prepare for new life. General Turgidson starts to concern about Russians and how to prevent them from entering underground mines; Ambassador Sadesky goes away to activate the explosive device; and Dr. Strangelove, who magically stands up, says that he can walk. It was done in order to be one of those selected people, who will continue the human generation. So, we can see that every person always thinks egoistically, and first of all he does everything possible to save himself.

The movie is comedy, but it is dark comedy. In each joke there is a piece of truth, but every one will find his own morality. For me the main idea, the implied morality was that, even in the worst situations, like the world destruction, people continue to think about their future, concern about competitors; anyway, although there is a great danger, people usually compete with each other in order to survive, rather than communicate. I think the movie Dr. Strangelove… shows that everyone loves the life, whatever it is, on the earth or in mines, and it is the strange love of life, for which everyone will struggle.

Alfie, 1966

“Alfie” is a real life comedy of Lewis Gilbert with Michael Caine as main character, which makes you think about the purpose of Lovelace’s life. Released in 1966 this film became a sensation in the sexual revolution in Great Britain. Michael Caine showed the identity of a man who does not think about anything except of women and new love intrigues. He changes lovers, breaks their hearts, use poor women, and do not think about his future. But you will never be young. Someday there will be winkles on your face, and you will be a lonely man without family and without children. So, Alfie is this kind of man, who lives only in the present moment. But, all in all, after several years, he stay alone, without loving woman next to him, however, there were a lot of women, who were ready for everything for Alfie’s love.

The director work of Lewis Gilbert is really fascinating, especially the camera movements, which create interesting view of the picture. Here are the most interesting camera movements, effects, and editing.

First of all, one of the most significant effects of the movie is the effect of communication with the audience, or kind of stop-frame, when the character comments the action (however the main action does not stop, but Alfie is both commenting the action and taking a part in it). So, it was interesting to watch and hear, what Alfie says before the scenes when he is going to seduce women. Also, in these close and extreme close shots Alfie was looking straight to the camera, and it added the attractive effect of home video.

Another interesting shot was in the bathroom with mirror ceiling. Firstly, Michael Caine was shot normally (fulshot and midshot), but then camera straightly moved to the ceiling, and the main hero was reflected in the mirror. The upside-down effect is very interesting, it seems like overhead shot, however the camera is not over the actor, it is on the same position with the object, but the picture differentiates.

One more interesting scene is a fight in the bar. The camera was moving over the fighters, demonstrating the whole action and all the participants. Also, there was shaky handheld shot, when Alfie was escaping the bar, moving between fighters’ legs. Close shot of his face in the mess of legs is funny picture, but also emphasize on his coward nature. Use of different angles in the fight scene makes it comic and not very cruel.

Also, there was a scene, when Alfie and Lily are kissing, after the romantic boat trip on the river. It is midshot of them, and then camera tilts from Alfie and Lily, then on the tops of the trees ad the sky, and then the picture becomes blurred. Of course, the audience understands that at this moment there is a physical intimacy between the characters. Another scene, where the intimacy is meant, but not shown is that one when Alfie came to his another girlfriend, who works in the cloths shop. There is a long hanger with a series of jackets hanged on it. Alfie ad the girl are behind this hanger, camera tracks, only sound of kisses are heard and moving of coats are shown, but again it is evident, that they are “having fun”.

Concluding, it is not important to show the real intimacy scenes. It is better to hide it and due to special camera movements and sounds create an interesting effect, which actually attracts the audience. Additionally, different unusual effects will make the movie funny and memorable.

Dreams or reality? Read it…=)

Yesterday I saw a dream. It was the strangest dream in my life. I woke up in my own dream, and when I was going to leave my house I heard unearthly voice. It said: “You, yeah, you! I’m talking to YOU! Today you’ll meet 5 things, and what you have to do is: when you’ll see  the first thing just bury it, and continue your way. When you’ll see the second thing eat it. When you’ll see the third thing save it. When you’ll see the fourth thing help it. When you’ll see the fifth thing run away away.” Really strange, isn’t it?

Well, I left the house and was going to the work. Suudenly, I saw a busin. I remembered my dream and buried it. But it came back. I buried it one more time. It came back again. I repeated my actions several times, but all my afforts were unsuccessful. So, I gave uo and continued my way.

Suddenly in front of my vision the great mountine appeared. Again I remined my dream, but how can I eat the mountine?! It is IMPOSSIBLE. However while I was coming closer to it, the mountine was becoming smaller and smaller, and at the end it became an apple pie! Of course I ate it with pleasure.

The third “meeter” was a pigeon. It’s wing was broken and it said: “Please, help me, my wing is broken, and an eagle wants to eat me! I’m begging you!” I was really shocked! How it can speak?! But I took it and put it in my pocket.

After the pigeon, I saw the eagle. It was tired and said to me: “Man, you don’t understand what does it mean to be the mother! And my children want to eat. But I’m so tired, that I can’t fly. Give me back the pigeon, that is in your pocket, I’m begging you. Unless you do it, I and my children will die!” How could I gave a poor pigeon to the eagle and how could I leave the eagle and not to help her? I pulled a knife from my pocket, cut off the part of my “ham”, and gave it to the eagle.

Suddenly I smelled something awful. It was so disgusting that I strted to search what is smelling. And what did I see? Yeah, that was the mount of carrion. Of course, I ran away.

When I came to my work, I saw a very starnge old man. He was looking like Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings. He asked me: “Did you see 5 things? Do you want to know what do they mean? First thing is your good actions. Forget about them, don’t show people that you did something good. Your good actions will remind about your kindness themselves. The second thing was a hurt, insult. It seems to be really huge, but if you want to deal with it, it becomes smalles and reconcilation is always sweet. The third thing means that try to save if someone is in danger. Because one day you can be in danger, and just imagine, that nobody will help you! The fourth thing means, try to help people, if they ask. Especially if someone’s life depends on your help. The fifth thing is the gossips. Bad gossips are like bad smell, they spread very fast, so try to escape them.” He said it and vanished…

And… I woke up… Really strange dream…

Freedom or non-freedom???

All of us have different opinions about everything, and about Internet too. How many of you agree that Internet helps to develop democracy? And how many of you disagree with it? And which one of these opinions is true and which is false? I can say that there is no right answer. We cannot calculate, evaluate, and find out is Internet is helpful for democracy or not. It’s impossible, because this issue is double-faced coin. So, Evgeny Morozov and Clay Shirkey, in their speeches discuss this topic, and both of them have absolutely different opinions about Internet freedom. Let’s discuss it, dear friends!)

Evgeny Morozov considered himself as pessimist about Internet freedom, while Clay Shirkey seems to be supporter of Internet freedom idea. They are looking at one problem from different sides. I think, that its caused by their origin, I meen, Clay Shirkey is from the USA, where democracy reached its the most developed level. It is the country, which for more than 230 years has been propagading democracy. Shirkey is suure that Internet brings freedom, because he was behaved in the “atmosphere” of democracy.

Vice versa, Evgeny Morozov is from Belorus, one of the 15 countries, which were in the USSR. Actually, the USSR’s government was based on dictatorship. Everything was censored very strictly. Moreover, the media also was under the government. Soviet people believed in their ideology, and there was no democracy. So, Evgeny Morozov has grown up in such environment, that constructed his opinion about Internet freedom.

But, there is also the issue of mentality. Two different cultures, nations, histories, developments. So, of course they will differ. But, despite all their contradictions, both of the lecturers are right. The edge between internet freedom and democracy freedom is very thin; sometimes it could have positive consequences, but sometimes negative. All depends on YOUR perception!