It seems like ACTA negotiators have finally gone one step in the direction of transparency. After a week of negotiations in Wellington (NZ), they announced on Friday that the draft treaty would be made public next Wednesday. Or maybe they just learned their lesson after repeated leaks.
As you might expect, the negotiating parties are a western club (US, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the EU and Switzerland) with a few ‘like-minded’ friends (Singapore, South Korea, Mexico, Morocco).
ACTA has faced a storm of criticism from internet users. Here is a little summary of the main issues at stake:
If you think librarians are old-fashioned people dressed in checkered shirts, I tell you: they’re not. At least not those attending the 11th InetBib Conference.
I entered an auditorium populated by people sitting with computers on their laps, listening, thinking and twittering about the future of libraries. Encouraged by an atmosphere of open discussion and criticism, participants would, from time to time, raise their voice and challenge the presenter’s views.
For the session I attended this morning, the organizers invited five people to give five-minute presentations on technological trends that might influence the future of libraries. “Let’s look into the crystal ball,” Patrick Danowski, the moderator, said. Fittingly, his introductory talk was entitled “Library Trend Watch”.
Dr. Rudolf Mumenthaler from ETH Library, talked about the future of e-readers. He argued that only multifunctional tablets such as iPad will become popular, with classic e-book readers remaining a niche product. It is the libraries’ job to provide their users with electronic content, on which they could cooperate with publishers.
Christian Hauschke from the University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Hannover, talked about Linked Open Data. He called on libraries to open access to their bibliographical information and follow the four principles of linked data.
Andreas Kahl introduced us to Google Wave, an open-source collaboration tool currently under development. Wave would allow librarians to log themselves into the work process of students and make suggestions like: Have you considered this source? At the same time, Google Wave allows users to delegate certain processes to the machine, such as including biographical references.
Actually, we do not necessarily associate the 1980s with rampant greed, a growing economic gap, poverty, unfettered capitalism, a roll-back of the welfare state and the looming threat of nuclear extinction.
Rather, we think of 80s rock: big hair; Dirty Dancing; a booming stock market; pegged jeans; neon colors; Money for Nothing – all, baby, Hurts So Good!
The New York Times recently commented on Hillary Clinton’s voluminous hairstyle, suspiciously resembling the big bumpy hair donned by women in the (presumably conservative) 80s. And that coming from a Democrat! (But then again, Obama these days is often compared to Ronald Reagan – a Democrat version of the Reagan phenomenon, that is.)
The Tories skillfully responded to the Labour ad, playing on the 1980s nostalgia. They released a slightly modified version of the Labour poster portraying Mr Cameron as Gene Hunt from the BBC’s popular Ashes To Ashes series. Come’on, the 80s weren’t that Bad after all!
So the moral of this campaign flop is: if you want to invoke bad memories of conservative politics in Britain, don’t use the culturally rather successful 1980s to make your point.
I hope Labour has learned its lesson; otherwise, it will turn out to be a very Cruel Summerfor Gordon Brown’s party.
Their campaign slogan is “Vote for Change.” But in terms of foreign policy, if David Cameron’s Conservative Party maintain their opinion poll lead over Labour and go on to take office after the British general election on 6 May, change is likely to be conspicuous mostly by its absence. As The Economistpointed out last week, with the notable exception of Britain’s relations with the EU, “foreign policy is distinguished by the broad agreement it commands in Westminster […]. For the time being, politics, to a degree that some find heartening and others worryingly complacent, still stops at the water’s edge.”
Take Afghanistan, a war that bleeds popular support with every British fatality (281 now since 2001) but one that neither the Conservatives nor the Liberal Democrats – the UK’s third largest party (and possible kingmakers if voting ends in a stalemated ‘hung’ parliament) – offer to end Britain’s military involvement with any time soon. Indeed, and quite apart from any security fallout, a hasty withdrawal would deal a serious blow to the UK’s longstanding ‘special relationship’ with the US, which the Conservatives are (uncontroversially) committed to upholding.