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Curated by Kenneth Weene
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How an Internet Mapping Glitch Turned a Random Kansas Farm Into a Digital Hell

How an Internet Mapping Glitch Turned a Random Kansas Farm Into a Digital Hell | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Why people living on a farm in the geographical center of the United States were repeatedly accused of crimes they did not commit.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
There is obviously a great short story here. Meanwhile, for those who are computer nerds, this tells you something about the limitations of technology. 
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'As I Had Read In A Comment On Facebook—' Diane Rehm Responds To Sanders Furor

'As I Had Read In A Comment On Facebook—' Diane Rehm Responds To Sanders Furor | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
After an interview in which she incorrectly stated the presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was a dual-Israeli-US citizen, NPR's Diane Rehm told TPM she made "a mistake" and got the information from Facebook.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

I listened to part of this interview and was very impressed with Senator Sanders. What struck me most was his ability to say things clearly. Saying "That's some of the nonsense that goes on in the Internet," to a major NPR radio host is an example of his straightforward approach. I don't know if he can win, but I know that he is elevating the process by his participation.

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Common People's Music

Common People's Music | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
A quick look at some of the great radio available via the Internet. And guess who made the list. We at It Matters Radio are really delighted.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Monica, Kerry, Punky, and I are really happy to have made the list.
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The Business Behind the High-Speed Fatwa

The Business Behind the High-Speed Fatwa | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi created a stir last week when he issued a fatwa declaring that high-speed and mobile internet is immoral and contravenes Islamic law. In a press conference just day later, President Hassan Rouhani sought to make light of the cleric’s decree, joking that “if we want to download an article we must sit for hours and sometimes we fall sleep.” The president also presented his own plans for high-speed internet as a sealed decision, invoking Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s remarks about the imperatives of scientific progress. 

Shirazi, who happens to also be a Holocaust-denier, falls squarely in the camp of establishment ayatollahs whose rulings and rhetoric bolster the most conservative vision of the Islamic Republic, and is prone to giving rulings that are useful to the hardline agenda of the movement. 

His edict provided hardliners a new front on which to attack Rouhani’s government and there was even talk that Minister of Communications and Technology, Mahmoud Vaezi, should be impeached. Rouhani’s foes accuse the government of trying to bypass the Supreme Council for Cyberspace, a body that defines how the internet must be used or offered, but Vaezi has denied this charge and argued that existing regulations would not be altered by internet at a higher speed.

 

The Real Issue

But the hardliners are not really troubled about the speed of the Internet, their true concerns originate elsewhere. 

The context extends back to the autumn of 2011, when billboards went up across Tehran and the nearby city of Karaj with the slogan “Your Life in Your Hands”. The ads belonged to RighTel, a new internet and SIM card provider. RighTel corporation was formed in 2007 and a year later received a permit to provide Iranians with high-speed internet. It began aggressively advertising its presence on the market and its services for video calls became hugely popular.

At the outset, criticism of Rightel, even from the hardline media, was limited to technical issues –  limited coverage, high prices and slow speed. But slowly the tenor of the criticism began to shift. In January 2013 Cyber Police officials declared that video calls posed a grave threat to the sanctity of the family and were in violation of Sharia, as they permitted unrelated men and women to communicate with one another.

In November 2012 Fars News Agency reported that RighTel could not air its commercials on the state-run TV because the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) “believes that it has a monopoly on broadcasting video. Therefore it considers that RighTel, by providing the ability to communicate both voice and video at high speed is violating IRIB’s privileges.”

RighTel issued statements and tried to convince its opponents that it observed both Islamic concerns and existing regulations, but it was too late.

 



 

Techno-phone Ayatollahs

The ayatollahs entered the fray and issued fatwas on the forbidden nature of communication between unrelated men and women through video phones. The arguments then found their way to the floor of the parliament and to the Supreme Council for Cyberspace.

In February 2013 the government banned RighTel products from schools and the company announced that it would only sell its SIM cards to people over 18.

At that time Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi issued a fatwa on communicating through video phones which said “There is no doubt that it corrupts more than it does good. It would be just another source of corruption in our society which unfortunately is suffering from many corruptions.”  Ayatollah Alavi Gorgani, who is no friend of the Supreme Leader, agreed by saying that providing video phones “whether by the government or by the private sector is wrong and is against Sharia laws.”

These edicts fuelled the notion that high-speed and mobile internet was abetting social corruption, and some hardline media began accusing providers of working with prostitution gangs. In April 2013 the Supreme Council for Cyberspace banned RighTel from offering video phone services altogether. According to Rouhani’s Minister of Communication this ban is still in effect and no company is allowed to provide services for video phones.

In June of 2013 RighTel sought to receive a “cultural permit” (or “cultural justification”) for its video service from the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution. It offered a nine-month contract for about $10 million for a joint project with the Qom seminary, the Ministry of Communications and two universities. In September 2013 the Minister of Communications announced that the draft of the “justification” was ready and was under review. In February 2014 the Deputy Minister of Communications declared that pending total supervision and control the RighTel service could resume.

But the new edict by Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi has brought this project to a halt, with Vaezi announcing that no new firm can offer video phone services.

Mashregh News, a site which presents itself as a vanguard in the cultural war against the West, wrote that until all legal and technical steps are taken to control the content of the internet, high-speed “is against national interests and is treasonous.”

 

The Business 

We must not forget that this cultural and ideological fight has a commercial side as well. Besides the opposition of IRIB, the entry of new providers into the marketplace ended the monopoly of RighTel. It is quite possible that various firms are involved behind the scenes, in order to prevent competitors from benefiting by offering video phone services.

A high-speed internet capable of supporting both video and voice would make a loser of another contender: the Telecommunication Company of Iran, a firm established in 1971 under the Shah as a state-owned corporation that the Islamic Republic only privatized in 2007. In October 2009 Mobin Trust Consortium purchased 51 percent of the company for $8 billion. Two of the three companies that make up this consortium belong to the Revolutionary Guards and third one belongs to Setad (or the Headquarters for Executing the Orders of the Imam), a multi-sector business conglomerate supervised by Ayatollah Khamenei. It is to be expected that they are worried about losing profits in the marketplace.

The quarrel has a political aspect as well. The Supreme Council for Cyberspace was formed in March 2012 by directive from Khamenei to control Iran’s cyber policies. In the past year Rouhani’s government has tried to side-step the oversight of this intruding body. The confrontation between the two came to a head when Rouhani forbid the implementation of the Council’s decision to filter WhatsApp Messenger, a software and subscription service that allows smartphones to use the internet for sending and receiving text messages, audio, video and location information. The Council reacted angrily, fearful that it was losing its authority under Rouhani. 

With all these concerns involved in the fray, what is clear that the dispute over high-speed internet is overlayed by both political and business interests. Ayatollah Shirazi’s fatwa only hints at all that is involved. 
Kenneth Weene's insight:

Two things are clear to me: First, nothing is more dangerous to a monolithic government (civil or theocratic) that unfettered, individual access to high speed Internet. Heck if for no other reason than their ability to read my posts. Second, there is nothing more essential in the modern world to the success of bureaucratic institutions (government, e.g. military, or private businesses) than the availability of high speed Internet, i.e. the failure of the American V.A.. This may be become a very interesting issue in Iraq. My bet is on improved Internet service. And if I were the American foreign service, I might be making overtures to provide any assistance towards that end we could. Of course, they may be better off going to some other country for assistance. Anybody for an Indian-Iranian axis?

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How 'Netflix and chill' became internet slang for having sex

How 'Netflix and chill' became internet slang for having sex | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
It's every teen's favorite euphemism.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

And with this story out, with the adults notified, the phrase will die away and be replaced. After all isn't the whole idea of talking dirty while sounding clean a crucial part of adolescence? So as I round third, just fly me to the moon. Now, what was in that note I sent Janice in eighth grade, something about coming by to look at my Dad's "National Geographics". Mrs. Garfield thought it was great even if I was passing notes. Of course what did a geography teacher know?

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Why America's Internet Is So Shitty and Slow

Why America's Internet Is So Shitty and Slow | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
You may have heard that the internet is winning: net neutrality was saved, broadband was redefined to encourage higher speeds, and the dreaded Comcast-Time Warner Cable megamerger potentially thwarted. But the harsh reality is that America's internet is still fundamentally broken, and there's no easy fix.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

It is important that the actual infrastructure of the Internet be properly developed and managed. That requires either government ownership or a far better solution, true capitalism. The problem is that true capitalism requires government supervision so that an oligopoly doesn't take us all down a dark path to their profits. Here is an informative essay on the current state of things.

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Why everyone started naming their kids Madison instead of Jennifer

Why everyone started naming their kids Madison instead of Jennifer | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Why we wear skinny jeans and call our beaus "bae"
Kenneth Weene's insight:

Some fascinating insight into how social groups and especially the greater social network we call the Internet work. There is a process by which a term or name becomes dominant. Let's see if you and I can use that process by telling people there's a "perfect" new book, Broody New Englander." Maybe we can get that title on everybody's screen. Let's try.

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This Is What Happens When Kids Grow Up On Unlimited Access To Pornography

This Is What Happens When Kids Grow Up On Unlimited Access To Pornography | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it

Things that matter. Pass 'em on. An excellent presentation about the effects of Internet porn.

Kenneth Weene's insight:

This is an outstanding discussion of Internet pornography as an addiction. The key takeaway for many young men will be that getting hooked on Internet porn leads not only to "emotional" symptoms but also to possible "performance" problems. I suggest that every man who likes to peek take some time to listen to this. And parents, you might try suggesting it to your sons. (By the way, most boys start looking at porn on the Internet by age 10.)

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Sharla Shults's curator insight, March 10, 2013 3:33 PM

Access to Internet pornography is way too easy and not only are young boys getting hooked but they in turn entice other boys even younger than themselves. Often times this leads to molestation which promotes scarring a child can carry with him the rest of his life. It's not limited just to the boys, either!