links for 2010-10-22

  • It’s a system begging for simplification. While DocumentCloud is making it easier to wrangle and make sense of public records, MuckRock wants to make FOIA requests similarly effortless.

    On its face MuckRock is a tool that allows journalists of all stripes (pro to amateur and in between) to make document requests easier. Think of it like Netflix: You tell MuckRock what you’re looking for and it provides suggestions, ultimately getting you what you’re looking for. But instead of Starship Troopers, you wind up with a nicely formatted request letter to your record agency of choice.

    But in keeping with the idea of transparency, MuckRock also provides an online tracking service to see the progress of requests, and acts as a repository for all the records collected through the site.

  • • In Vietnam, the Communist party wants to be your "friend" on the state-run version of Facebook, provided you are willing to share all personal details.

    • In Burma, political unrest can be silenced by cutting off the country from the internet.

    • In Thailand, website moderators can face decades in jail for a posted comment they did not even write, if the government deems it injurious tothe monarchy.

    While much is made of China's authoritarian attitudetowards internet access, a majority of south-east Asian governments have similar controls and , rather than relaxing restrictions on internet use, many are moving towards tighter regulation.

    The Guardian has spoken to five leading bloggers across the region about the present restrictions they face and future fears.

  • "Mobile companies Obopay and Benevity have partnered up to offer a text-to-donate platform that allows mobile phone users to donate to any charity of choice. While text-based donations are nothing new, what's significant about this partnership is the cause-agnostic nature of it–any registered non-profit or charity can sign on by simply choosing a keyword to represent them.
    Users start by texting the relevant keyword to the appropriate number, choose the charity, and the money is instantly donated and the tax receipts are issued immediately."
  • "showing how the term is becoming meaningless. More useful to focus on specific capabilities, rather than device classes. Then choice gets down to balance between capabilities, form factor, carrier preference — and, of course, initial and ongoing cost."
  • CNN: So it's essentially a cloud phone number?
    Waller: Well it's a number that gives you access to your own phone. So once you log in with your own number and a pin code you will get greeted with a menu. So it will say, "Hello, John. Your balance is $1. You have two missed calls. You've got one SMS message." And then we effectively set up a communication channel with the user, where we're asking them questions and then they're telling us what they want to do.
    CNN: How much does this cost?
    Waller: It costs the user anywhere from 10 to 20 cents to actually buy a phone number and then they're up and running. The call costs are the same as the existing prepaid tariffs that already exist on the prepaid network.

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