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[ossig] In search of Public Truth online! - Building a case for ICT Software Freedom

In search of Public Truth online!
- Building a case for ICT Software Freedom
Fouad Riaz Bajwa
General Secretary FOSSFP http://www.fossfp.org
Author: "Copyrights & Copylefts - Building a case for ICT Software Freedom"

As the Shuttleworth Foundation's Go-Opensource Episode 2 Video states that
blogging is not dark and smelly, it's fresh and new and it's incredible and
magnificent. It's on the internet and has got journalists in a frill.
Usually people are used to getting news through newspapers, magazines,
television or radio broadcasts, and news publisher websites. Behind the
scenes, international journalists and editors are preparing news and links
for syndication of news stories and those stories go through a process of
editing and vetting before they appear on printed page or other forms of
mass media. But amidst this process, a relatively new phenomenon has
introduced the element of anarchy and self expression in to the world of
journalism and proponents say that it's changing the way we get our news.

Journalism for the People by the People
Blogging is journalism for the people and they can write whatever they want,
people have a voice now through blogging, they don't have to go through
large vetted articles made by someone else. Blogging gives people the
opportunity to write articles that they want, their own opinions and anyone
can comment on it, anyone can read it if they want, they can share it with
other people and can derive new information or knowledge from them thus
sharing the principles of freedom from the Free and Open Source Software

Where did Blogs come from?
The word blog is short for Weblog, and it can be about virtually anything,
from an online personal diary, travel story, cooking recipes to public
policy and political campaigns. A blog is to the world of online publishing
what Free and Open Source is to Software.

What do blog readers feel?
Readers can feel in the same way the writers are feeling through their
Blogs, you can virtually write and share the bare truth or be as funny as
you want and the best part of it is that people can actually participate
through posting comments and sharing their opinion, it gives nourishment to
the phenomenon of free speech and open public debate sometimes even
influencing public policy development and change.

Blogs and public participation?
The problems with television and paper based news is that you can only write
letters or drop a call to the editor and it is in his power to accept or
reject or choose what gets printed or is sent on air. Through Blogs, people
can actually participate in the news sharing their point of views and
getting the feel of news as it happens. Feedback has always been necessary
for human change and need fulfillment; it's a basic form of human self
expression indicating feelings and response towards opinions. 

Are all Blogs truth and nothing but the truth?
The sense of community and interactivity offered by Blogs gives birth to a
new form of transparency of information. If you're posting garbage and false
facts online, obviously readers will see directly through and have the
freedom of rejecting the Blogger's blog and searching out the facts from
other Blogs and online sources so the Blogger may immediately loose
credibility and interest of online readers. Successful Blogger are people
with a sense of responsibility of providing timely and accurately true
information so that they can enjoy public participation and sharing of
thoughts on account of their information. The whole concept of the blog
publishing ecosystem is to provide an environment where false information
doesn't see the light of day and nothing but the truth and open truth
reaches all corners of the globe.

A medium to extend or call for help?
Blogs extend new ways of sending voice to other parts of the world including
the bare facts of super imposed rules and discrimination. Blogs help send
the voice of human right violations and call for relief worldwide within
seconds or a short duration of the activity taking place. Blogs help lobby
and create adequate support from social actors' worldwide thus enabling help
that was otherwise not easy to mobilize in the past through tele or printed
mass media.

To Blog or not to Blog, what really is the question?
The biggest need for Blogs is to link to articles and related material that
are sharing similar points of views, may be against the views, or provide
further support as evidence to the thought provoking information at hand or
discussion. These links may from be from the legitimate media like video
clips from CNN and BBC showing the same footage but portraying different
points of view from American or European critics and analysts, the online
community may have a totally different point of view and may reference to
these footage materials building the case that why both CNN and BBC may not
be right or wrong. Having links pointing to the sources of what actually
initiated the whole discussion and comments gives credibility automatically
to the blogging activity.

Boring or Interesting Information
That depends on the context of the information being presented as well as
the fact that Bloggers tend to share their moods and problems while
initiating the discussions at hand. Some Bloggers may be sharing no news and
just their assignments and homework, some may be sharing online discussions
regarding improving public access to public infrastructure and some may be
discussing politics. Some Blogs may also be creating conflict with the
authorities in the target countries or region and may face bans like the
case of China where Blogs have actually been banned. Blogs may be personal
opinions or public opinions or just information for the common good or
information to pass time or information that actually provides humanitarian
good at large. The point of be boring and interesting goes back to reader
choice or the type of author of the blog and more or less, Blogs start
sharing information mostly between the authors friends and then grows
outwards to becoming recognized by a wider range of reader community. Once
again, the success of Blogs may be influenced by the vast majority of its
readership that may belong either to one region or may attract a global

Where does one draw the line between journalism or blogging
A blog does not imposter an editor like a piece of journalism,
revolutionizing online journalism, Blogs are a revolutionary form of online
publishing but may not necessarily be journalism, even though this may be
the stance of some journalists, there have been cases where online blogging
has evidently crossed the line in to global journalism like in the case of
Bloggers from the Iraq conflict have provided inside account of stories and
coverage of news from the conflict areas of what the Iraqi people and the
forces are facing.

You as your own editor
Its information lying online ready to be accessed by anyone or everyone,
everyone can be an editor, anyone can participate, everyone can share the
content on one blog with another by just linking to it or what the blogging
community calls as Blogrolling. The blogging phenomenon is building a spider
web of its own and the future may see just blog communities being accessed
for most of the information being offered for interested readers. An example
may be that someone may maintain a family blog that gives only a couple of
people the right to read, post or exchange links and they may be the authors
family relatives and friends thus the author may identify and control his
own readership, a trait normally found on the news desks where the editors
choose and edit news they deem fit for their readership, it actually shares
perceptions of a wider or confined space of choices.

Spicing up blogging with RSS
Is RSS a new aircraft or weapon technology, no its value addition to the way
we used to get our news and how we share news with others on the World Wide
Web. RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication helps readers get or distribute
the news they want by providing them customization of their own online news
websites and Blogs, so how about throwing printed paper news out and grab
your computers? 

Simplifying a really simple syndication technology
An RSS feed (feed is the term for defining information acquisition or
distribution) can be a standalone software program or a web browser plug-in,
it automatically updates news and blog websites that the reader subscribes
to without the reader having to login to them, if something is interest
catches the reader's eye , they immediately read it, share it, include it to
their own blog or even reference it in their research.

A source of new online income
Yes, Blogs and RSS technologies are transforming in to money making ventures
for people around the world. People actually get paid by companies today to
write articles to the company's blog network. Entrepreneurs are also
receiving angle money and venture capital funding to build and promote
Blogs. Blogs are now perceived as communities of learning and knowledge
networking, where information is in context, it becomes knowledge and
knowledge facilitates innovation and better delivery of services and
products. In fact the time is not far when most educational and business
resources will be available through Blogs and commercial business websites
will be made via blog and RSS technology.

Catching the FOSS Mullah red handed
If you want to catch the FOSS Mullah red handed, he has a blog titled
"Copyrights & Copylefts" that is in search of ICT Software Freedom. This
article is part of his research series about "Building a case for ICT
Software Freedom" and you can actively participate and comment on the FOSS
Mullah's blog. Of course, that happens to be me!

1. Shuttleworth Foundation "Go-Opensource" video episode 2
2. Copyrights & Copylefts - Building a case for ICT Software Freedom"
3. Word Press Blogs http://www.wordpress.com, http://www.wordpress.org
4. Typepad http://www.typepad.com
5. Drupal http://www.drupal.org
6. Blogspot http://www.blogger.com
7. Free Press http://www.freepress.net
8. FOSSFP http://www.fossfp.org
9. Free Software Foundation http://www.fsf.org
10. Open Source Initiative http://www.opensource.org
11. Association for Progressive Communications Blog http://blog.apc.org
12. APC Asia ICT Policy Meeting Blog http://www.apcasiaictpolicy.net

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