Hasan Elahi, professor, artist and US citizen one day was questioned at Detroit Airport on his return home trip, as he was suspected of being a terrorist, of course by mistake. He was released but he had to go thought out a lot of interviews with FBI officials and a lot of stuff that we only watch movies.
Hasan was concerned that this can happen again, any time when he goes on some trip abroad. So, to avoid that he started to share his travel plans with FBI. This was quite complicated so instead of calling them, he started to email them his trip plans. From all this spawned a whole project, which started with automatized website created in 2002.Tthat basically tracked his life and grew so much that today practically every detail is there.
So, we can now say that his encounter with FBI resulted with real life project. This project is reason why Hasan will be with us on Blog Open 2011. Let`s read what he has to say about all.
BO: Probably you answered this question many times before – how did it start?
HASAN: It all started on June 19, 2002 when I was returning from an exhibition in Dakar, Senegal where I was questioned by the FBI in Detroit. I was asked where I was, who I met with, why I was there, etc.. I was also asked about a storage unit that I had and asked what the contents were. The FBI agent received an erroneous report that I had explosives in there. I think anyone that speaks to me for more than a few seconds realizes I’m no terrorist threat. He let me go and I ended up on my plane home (at that time) back to Tampa saying that the local office would get back in touch with me at a later date and we’d get this cleared up.
BO: How do you consider you future trip in Serbia? Do you have any specific expectation or it s just another trip?
HASAN: In December 2001, I went on a short trip to Ljubljana, Sarajevo, and Belgrade. The differences between the three cities were amazing and all three countries were very much in transition in very different ways. I haven’t been to the region since then and quite a bit has happened in the last ten years. I’ve never been to Novi Sad before, but this trip is a great opportunity to see the changes in Belgrade.
BO: You are keeping your life by discovering your privacy. Is it threatened? What your family and friends think about this?
HASAN: As much of my life is out there publicly, I live an incredibly anonymous and private life. There’s so much information about me out there that it all becomes noise at a certain point… and the noise is growing daily, so I don’t feel threatened at all. When I first started this project, my friends and family were concerned, but now many of my friends share way more information about themselves online than I do.
BO: Do you ever get bored uploading all this information about yourself?
HASAN: Putting my life on display has become as commonplace as checking my email, voicemail, or my Facebook page. It is something that I have internalized to the point where I don’t even know I’m doing it. But I’m not the only one doing this.
BO: How long will it last? Are you planning to quit?
HASAN: When I first started this project back in late 2003, people thought I was crazy when I said I wanted to create this device that would let everyone know where I was at all times and what I was doing. Not even 8 years later, we have over 750 million people on Facebook doing roughly the same thing each time they update their status. To put that in perspective, if Facebook was a country, it would be the world’s third most populous country after China and India. I’m not the only one doing this anymore.
Rickard Rick Falkvinge is a Swedish entrepreneur known as the founder and first party leader of the Swedish Pirate Party and campaigner for next – generation civil liberties and sensible information policy.
He is currently a political evangelist with the party, spreading the ideas across the world. His party became the largest in the below-30 demographic in the 2009 European Elections. Since beginning he went through a lot to keep party alive. When not doing politics or exploring technical subjects in detail, his passions are cooking, sampling a scotch whisky, or riding a fast motorcycle.
This year Rick is coming to talk about how bloggers can change the world, but before you come to BlogOpen 2011 we do some interviewing with him in order to reveal some of his thoughts.
BO : How do you comment the “Berlin success” of the Pirate party?
Rick : While it was a fantastic feeling to be there, it was expected that the German Pirate Party would have a major success soon. They have been growing steadily and predictably over the past few years. We see a lot of parallels to when the Swedish Pirate Party succeeded in the European Elections in 2009. and became the largest party for people under 30, getting a full 25% of those votes.
The party exists in some 50 countries, growing everywhere. Overall, we are communicating ideas and learning from failures and successes alike much, much faster than any generation before us.
BO: Do you expect it to be repeated in other countries? It depends on what?
Rick : Absolutely. I expect Pirate Parties to be represented in many, if not most, European parliaments within a decade. We see how important these issues are to the younger generation.
Politicians of the old school tend to regard the Internet solely as a law enforcement issue or a trade or industry issue. The younger generation sees it as a civil liberties issue, which is one of our basic points. As the younger generation feels increasingly disenfranchised by the older politicians who don’t live much of their lives online, I expect this to reflect in the election results.
BO : How do you understand support you have in (part) of the online community?
Rick : I think it was very well reflected in social news reporting. The success of the Pirate Party in Berlin was on the front page of Digg, on the front page of Slashdot and twice in parallel on the front page of Reddit. No other political party comes anywhere close to this kind of social online worldwide presence.
Also, we come from the online community. Just like the Greens enjoyed large support among biologists and field researchers, which is where they come from, it is no surprise that we have a large support in the communities where we were born. After all, it is there that the issues are most thorougly understood.
BO : What would be the impact on creators, copyright owners, if your ideas about free sharing are to be implemented in local and general law practice?
Rick : First, these are two different questions. The creators are distinctly different from the middlemen who generally are the copyright monopoly beneficiaries (the “copyright owners”).
The creators are doing better than ever. The average income for musicians have risen 114% since the advent of file sharing, according to a Norwegian study. Swedish and UK studies show similar numbers. It’s the parasitic middlemen that are no longer needed that are in trouble — as for the actual creators, file sharing has been the greatest transfer of wealth from executives to artists since the start of recorded music.
As for the parasitic middlemen, the monopoly beneficiaries, they are no longer needed. Nobody needs producers and transporters of silly round pieces of plastic any more. On a functioning market, they would therefore disappear. However, the copyright monopoly presents significant resistance to this happening. We can’t therefore speak of a functioning market.
The record industry likes to cry blood and claim the music industry is dying. However, it is the record industry that is dying, which is excellent for artists. The music industry is doing just fine.
The creators are much better off when a parasitic middleman who has taken 90-95 percent of the cut out is out of the picture.
Second, the question assumes that our ideas would change the world if written into law. Our ideas already reflect reality. 250 million Europeans share culture and knowledge outside of, and in violation of, the copyright monopoly. Updating the law to reflect reality would not change a thing except make 250 million Europeans not criminal. Those who make money today, will make money tomorrow. We want to change the map, not reality.
Third, the instance somebody goes from plinking their guitar in their kitchen to wanting to make money off of it, they are no longer an artist but an entrepreneur. The same rules apply to them as to every other entrepreneur on the planet: they need to offer something which somebody else is prepared to pay for. If they can do that, they don’t need any laws to prop up their business. If they cannot do that, no conceivable law is going to save their business. We don’t have special laws for different kind of entrepreneurs: there are no special laws for bricklayers, not for electricians, and not for record label executives, that guarantee some sort of profit. There is no such right for any business.
In particular, the objective of any business is to make money, given the current constraints of technology and society. No business gets to dismantle citizen’s rights — even if, repeat, EVEN if they can’t make money otherwise.
Fourth, the copyright monopoly is no natural right. It is a monopoly, awarded under the assumption that culture would not be created if the monopoly isn’t awarded, with the public as the only stakeholder. With the rapid growth of Creative Commons, where literally millions of artists and creators are rejecting their already-awarded monopoly, this assumption is in dire need of revisiting as it appears to be plainly wrong.
BO :What about writers, should they look for a steady job, as they would not earn anything for what they are doing?
Rick : This exact question was asked in 1849, as the British Parliament considered public libraries. The publishers claimed, that if anybody could read any book without paying for it, it would be impossible to make a living as an author. As a result, nobody would write books anymore. Parliament ignored them, considering public access to culture and knowledge to be more important than publishers being paid for everybody to have their own copy of a book, and the first public library opened in the UK in 1850. (Publishers actually called for a ban on people lending books to one another, calling it theft.)
Anyway, as we all know, no books have indeed been written after 1850. Either that, or the assumption that it is impossible to make money if people can read books for free is plain wrong. (The small pennies that are awarded in some countries from library loans came much later, in the 1930s.)
Making money off of creative work has always been hard. For every creator that can make a living off of it, there are dozens who make some money on the side, and thousands that make nothing at all. In economic terms, there is a huge oversupply. But this is not going to change because of more efficient distribution methods and an obsoletion of a middleman structure. If anything, it opens opportunities for a larger income just because of the dismantlement of those parasitic middlemen.
That said, the vast majority of creators have always needed a day job, and I can’t see that changing in the foreseeable future. The key difference is that this vast majority has become visible, where before you needed a middleman to be visible to the public, and so all the millions of struggling creators weren’t considered creators at all.
BO : You have interesting and different subject for BlogOpen. So, how can bloggers go deeper and reveal more?
Rick : Since a few decades back, professional journalism has spent less and less reporter time per article. Today, there is barely time to check facts at all for the large majority of reporters. Bloggers, on the other hand, represent the new class of digging reporters, and they have no shortage of time to dig into a topic that intrigues them.
This is the one thing that really has changed with the net. With everybody being given a voice, lies are not standing unchallenged. Politicians are used to being able to getting the last word just by claiming seniority — but today, it takes less than 30 seconds for a 14-year-old to call them on a lie.
I will say much more about how this changes politics fundamentally in my presentation, and how it shifts power from the few to the many.
Natasha Friis Saxberg is an entrepreneur, speaker and author and has been working within technology since 1996. Natasha is the founder of Gignal – a Social Media Billboard (follow Blogopen on Gignal), Co-founder of NordicMeetup – connecting the Nordic startup scene and a mentor at the successful incubator programs – Startupbootcamp and Seedcamp.
Natasha is affiliated at the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, where she combines her practical experience with the Institutes scientific work.
She is coming to Blog Open to talk about Digital behavior.
BO: You are coming to talk about why people behave in a certain way in online world. What do you think is the clear difference between online and offline behavior?
Natasha: Online tools support our basic needs. Our behavior changes in the digital sphere because the opportunities for individuals, groups, societies and businesses are amplified in a digital connected world. The major difference is the multiplicity, the scale and the massive ocean of knowledge we can access, share and create. We evolve to cultivate the digital potential, in the way we obtain data through real-time streams, in the way we connect with strangers around the world because we share an interest, in the numbers of people we are connected to and therefore must overview and maintain.
BO: We all talk a lot about putting our life on display; there are different opinions about this. With evangelists and active users (cyber optimists) things are very clear. Which arguments can we use to persuade cyber skeptics?
Natasha: We are all very different, if you are an extrovert in an offline world, sharing your life and feelings with a lot of people, you are probably more lightly to do the same online – and vice versa. But to enlighten the skeptics that either don’t find value in our arguments, or are from a different time where sharing private information was an intimate act, to them we have to present the hidden values by going deeper. It is proved that your network is bigger if you are online and on a social network, than if you connect only offline. In that lies a opportunity for people who are either lonely, that doesn’t fit into their present circles and for the introverts that can skip the distraction of body language and focus on the online message. But the two worlds must be connected to have an ideal effect on humans.
BO: What about Nordic online scene? Is it different from rest of Europe?
Natasha: We are all small nations with narrow languages, so we are used to being open to the outside world, to avoid isolation. Most Northern Europeans master English very well, which makes it easy for us to connect globally. Every Nordic country is very different culturally, so there isn’t a generic answer, but many.
BO: Do you see some new trends, as start up mentor?
Natasha: Europe is becoming much more vibrant and connected in the various start-up communities, and we are increasing our collaboration though different incubator – thus local programs. This will make us even more productive in the future – especially if the money follows from the investor ecosystem, which is the weakest link in the chain at this point. There is still a big opportunity in connecting corporate money to the web start-up environment, to solve a part of the problem.
In regards to digital trends, there are many different directions hereunder, streams, interface integration, the cloud, audio, mobile services, and augmented reality as a layer connecting our physical and online world.
BO: You are affiliated at the Danish institute for Futures Studies.
Natasha: The Danish Institute for Futures Studies works on future scenarios based on research within sociology, anthropology, finance and business. I represent the digital area as a practitioner, connecting our real-time present to the future scenarios. If we don’t relate to the future in the present, opportunities will be missed hereunder demographic, financial and global changes.