Freedom House ~ Freedom On The Net 2014

freedom_houseFreedom on the Net 2014 – The fifth annual comprehensive study of internet freedom around the globe, covering developments in 65 countries that occurred between May 2013 and May 2014 –finds internet freedom around the world in decline for the fourth consecutive year, with 36 out of 65 countries assessed in the report experiencing a negative trajectory during the coverage period.

In a departure from the past, when most governments preferred a behind-the-scenes approach to internet control, countries rapidly adopted new laws that legitimize existing repression and effectively criminalize online dissent.

The past year also saw increased government pres­sure on independent news websites, which had previously been among the few uninhibited sources of information in many countries, in addition to more people detained or prosecuted for their digital activities than ever before.

Between May 2013 and May 2014, 41 countries passed or proposed legislation to penalize legitimate forms of speech online, increase government powers to control content, or expand government surveillance capabilities.

Since May 2013, arrests for online communications pertinent to politics and social issues were documented in 38 of the 65 countries, most notably in the Middle East and North Africa, where detentions occurred in 10 out of the 11 countries examined in the region.
Pressure on independent news websites, among the few unfettered sources of information in many countries, dramatically increased. Dozens of citizen journalists were attacked while reporting on conflict in Syria and antigovernment protests in Egypt, Turkey and Ukraine. Other governments stepped up licensing and regulation for web platforms.

Seehttps://www.freedomhouse.org/report

See also: The Economist ~ How protestors evade digital censorship

Government censorship in the face of unrest is nothing new. And as social media become an increasingly important tool in the protestor’s arsenal, some governments have responded by tightening their grip on the internet. So how do protestors evade digital censorship?

First, protesters are using new, or newer technology than that of the governments trying to muffle them. Hong Kong’ s protestors are using an app called “FireChat” to work around China’s control of the web. The application uses direct Bluetooth links between handsets in a crowd, meaning protestors can still communicate via messages and forums, even without a mobile network or access to other forms of social media.

Second, tech savvy protestors in Turkey used VPNs – Virtual Private Networks. These allow users to mask the address of their devices, meaning they seem to be wherever the VPN provider is. Now that the user appears to be located somewhere like Indianapolis instead of Istanbul, they can access Twitter and other banned sites when the government has blocked local access.

Another technology called Tor, goes a step further. Tor anonymises users by bouncing their traffic through a network of volunteer computers. In the days following the contested 2009 election in Iran, the number of people using Tor to protect their online identity surged. Originally funded by the US government, some people (like Edward Snowden) also use it to evade surveillance by the very government that helped launch it.

The web was built to be fault-tolerant – information is simply re-routed if the network is tampered with. As unrest unfolds around the world, people and social networks are upholding that same idea.

For more multimedia content from The Economist visit our website: http://econ.st/1xzDu0y

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Photo’s Lisette-Mejia – 14 Tiny Homes That’ll Make You Want To Move In ASAP

tinyhouses

Photo: Lisette-Mejia

ca.shine.yahoo.com. November 2014. You’ve seen models of small houses before, but wouldn’t it be nice to see tiny homes in action? Ahead, we’ve rounded up pictures with the #tinyhousemovement hashtag on Instagram. What is the tiny house movement, you ask? A trend where people live in teeny homes on wheels that measure anywhere from one square meter to 700 square feet – the whole point is that they’re affordable, movable, environmentally friendly, and most of all, perfect for living a simple life. As these photos prove, they’re pretty darn attractive, too.

See & enjoy: https://ca.shine.yahoo.com/photos/14-tiny-homes-thatll-want-slideshow/

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ISSA Proceedings 2006 ~ The Rules Of The Critical Discussion And The Development Of Critical Thinking

logo 2006The purpose of this paper is to discuss the concept of critical thinking as an operative concept that makes it possible to generate a strategy for developing critical abilities in the students and, in this way, to achieve one of the most important objectives of the Chilean Educational Reform.

It is evident that the concept of critical thinking is vague. Many authors have different perspectives about this concept and, to same extent, they contradict each other. My intention is not to intervene in this controversy, but to look for a solution in a different direction. This means using a methodology that allows us to determine some basic characteristics of the concept of critical thinking avoiding dealing with general conceptions of the concept. The main objectives are then to establish a list of the most important characteristics that allow the development of critical thinking among the students.

1. Conceptual analysis
What I am going to do is to analyze the concept of critical thinking in the same way that anyone would analyze concepts such as democracy, education, science, etc. I will make use of the technique of conceptual analysis as developed for John Wilson (1960, pp. 1-49). In Wilson’s conception, these concepts are called philosophical concepts, because even though we know how to use them in some contexts, we do not know the boundaries of each concept or, simply, such limits are open or don’t exist. We know, nevertheless, some typical cases that are central to the concept. This means that nobody that would use these concepts could ignore them as instances of such concepts. So we can use these instances in order to obtain some specific characteristics of the concept, and we can avoid the difficult task of defining the general concept of critical thinking.

In the case of critical thinking, one of the central instances is, of course, logical abilities, or more specifically, the ability to infer consequences from some principles or assertions. It would be strange to say of a student that cannot infer consequences in a correct way that he is a critical person. It is obvious that one of the main characteristics of a critical student is the ability to distinguish between correct arguments and fallacies or incorrect arguments. Therefore, Wilson’s methodology consists in dealing with specific instances of the concept, the central ones in the first place and, then, we continuing attempting to explore the limits of the concept analyzing the consequences that follow from each of these instances. What does logical ability imply? Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2006 ~ A Discussion Of Habermas’ Reading And Use Of Toulmin’s Model Of Argumentation

logo 2006Introduction
It will probably be useful to start with some contextualization of the discussion. Apart from a desire to better understand both Habermas and Toulmin, the starting point here is a research and teaching interest in applied ethics. Difficult epistemological problems are raised especially concerning environmental issues. We find ourselves in need of seeing excellent environmental practices adopted if possible by all the major players, whether it be companies or countries, while at the same time the decision makers are affected by risk assessment problems and uncertainties that require modal judgments, using probability or the like. As we will see, those issues are central to the discussion of Habermas’ reading and use of Toulmin.

Habermas contributed in an extraordinary way to normative thinking since the 1960s. He asserted the foundational nature of his theoretical work, especially in the period of the Diskursethik and his Theory of Communicative Action (beginning of the 1980s). Still quite recently, he presents himself as part of what he calls pragmatic Kantianism (Habermas, 2003, 2, p. 16). Throughout his work, he is looking for some rational validation of moral principles, and in a kantian manner he wants to arrive at this justification by means of a universalizing procedure, but according to him, this should proceed in considering first and foremost discourse practices. Any norm implies that some action is required, or forbidden; in considering the consequences, could all persons affected by the norm agree on it? (Habermas, 1983). We must remember also that he adopts a cognitivist perspective on moral issues, which means he does not want to let moral evaluation or prescription rely on emotion or on the will, but wishes to understand normative problems as susceptible of rational solutions. Those elements explain in part why he refers to the so-called Toulmin model, especially between 1972 and 1983: it refers to rationality, to argumentation and seems to permit universalization. In 1972, Habermas’ purpose is not to give a precise presentation. In fact, even in 1981, his use of Toulmin is rather rhetorical and selective. He is mobilizing Toulmin to serve his foundational project, which should not come as a surprise.

On the other side, it is also clear why Toulmin still has an enormous importance today in ethics, in particular (among other things) in decision making situations. Modals and rebuttals are of the foremost importance if we are to make decisions and judgments while taking into account context and possible exceptions. In the problem domain of environmental ethics, where risk issues and decision processes in quite uncertain situations are regularly required, this is even more the case. Those are difficult issues to treat and the available knowledge is far from the level of certainty most people would prefer for making decisions.

Here I will briefly recall some of Jürgen Habermas’ theoretical work, and limit the focus to the use by Habermas of Stephen Toulmin’s model of argumentation, especially in the article Wahrheitstheorien that is not translated in English yet.[i] The article will be looked at in detail.[ii] I will conclude by looking at the 1981 treatment and to what happens with the issue in later work (especially Habermas, 1983 and Habermas, 2003). Read more

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NARCIS – National Academic Research and Collaborations Information System ~ Urban Studies

narcisNARCIS: The gateway to scholarly information in the Netherlands. Urban Studies: 858 publications – 14 datasets – 172 research projects

NARCIS is the main national portal for those looking for information about researchers and their work. Besides researchers, NARCIS is also used by students, journalists and people working in educational and government institutions as well as the business sector.
NARCIS provides access to scientific information, including (open access) publications from the repositories of all the Dutch universities, KNAW, NWO and a number of research institutes, datasets from some data archives as well as descriptions of research projects, researchers and research institutes.

This means that NARCIS cannot be used as an entry point to access complete overviews of publications of researchers (yet). At the national level, however, there are plans to incorporate the publication data from the academic Metis systems in NARCIS. By doing so, it will become possible to create much more complete publication lists of researchers. In addition, NARCIS presents research news from, among others, Intermediair Nieuws, Science Guide and several universities.
In 2004, the development of NARCIS started as a cooperation project of KNAW Research Information, NWO, VSNU and METIS, as part of the development of services within the DARE programme of SURF foundation. This project resulted in the NARCIS portal, in which the DAREnet service was incorporated in January 2007.  NARCIS has been part of DANS since 2011.

Go to: http://www.narcis.nl/urban%20studies

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Bjarke Ingels Will Make You Believe In The Power Of Architecture

Architect Bjarke Ingels at WIRED by Design, 2014. In partnership with Skywalker Sound, Marin County, CA.

To learn more visit:http://video.wired.com/watch/bjarke-ingels

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