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The last several weeks have been extremely frustrating for many activists, international organizations and general public. Several international summits have shown that the global governance system was significantly damaged by the global financial crisis. The crisis created uncertainty about the future and made governments of the world’s leading economies careful about their commitments. After the meeting of parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on 2-4 November 2009 in Barcelona it became clear that the conference of parties to be held in Copenhagen in December was not likely to result in any legally binding arrangement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. The World Summit on Food Security held on 16-18 November also did not result in any significant binding commitments. Meanwhile, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN reports that due to the global economic recession, the number of hungry people in the world will exceed one billion in 2009. In 2008, it was 850 million people. Only the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh in September 2009 can be seen as a success of international regulatory efforts, at least to some extent. G-8 was transformed into G-20. The general principles of the new global economic architecture were approved. One of such principles is tough regulation of financial markets. Read the rest of this entry »

Yesterday the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE) announced the topic of its 22nd Annual Meeting, which takes place June 24-26 2010 in Philadelphia. It reads as follows:

“Governance Across Borders: Coordination, Regulation and Contestation in the Global Economy”

In the Call for Papers and Sessions, the organizers describe the focus of the conference:

This year’s conference focuses on the development, dynamics, impact, and implications of emerging forms of transnational governance in the global economy – public, private, and hybrid.

So not only because this blog bears the same name as is this year’s conference theme, we greatly encourage submitting paper or session proposals at the conference website.

Besides, we are thankful for receiving the honor of being SASE’s “featured blog“.

Not so long ago I asked in this blog: “Is Google News Piracy?” when the European Publisher Council (EPC) as well as the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and many of their member organizations signed the “Hamburg Declaration on Intellectual Property Rights” (see list of signatories), which bemoans too little protection and compensation of online content.

Several months of lobbying from major media corporations such as the Axel Springer AG (publisher of the largest German boulevard paper “Bild“) or Burda and one federal election later, Germany seems to end up answering this question with “yes”. The new conservative German government plans to quickly introduce a new ancillary copyright bill, which shall protect publishers of being “expropriated” by new online news services, as Hubert Burda put it (German). According to Christoph Keese, chief lobbyist of Axel Springer, and Christoph Fiedler from VDZ, the umbrella organisation of German Magazine Publishers, this new legislation shall eventually lead to the formation of a new copyright collective for publishers and journalists (see the German video of a recent debate in Berlin).

As only little is known so far about the details in the upcoming bill, speculations regarding potential consequences of such an ancillary copyright spread. The Austrian IT-news portal futurezone, for example, paints the picture of upcoming “linking crimes” (“Link-Verbrechen”) and fears “worsenings for researchers, bloggers and journalists.” And while it seems pretty clear that publishing houses will profit most from the new ancillary copyright, the question “who pays the bill?” is still open for debate.

But the best summary of the current situation is again – for another example, see “Google Books and the Kindle Controversy” – provided by Scott Adam’s Dilbert, who needs only three small boxes to tell more than my entire description above did:

Dilbert.com

[update:]

Very interesting in this regard is a plenary session at the “Monaco Media Forum” featuring Arianna Huffington, founder of the news website Huffington Post, and Mathias Döpfner, CEO of the German Axel Springer AG:

Especially interesting is the part after about 17 minutes when Döpfner starts talking about “web communism”:

“I think this theory that only a free access to information is, I have to admit, one of the most absurd theories that I have heard. It is a very late ideological outcome of web communists.”

At this point Arianna Huffington jumps in with the question:

“Is Chris Anderson in the room?”

His book is called “Free. The Economics of Abundance and Why Zero Pricing Is Changing the Face of Business”. It is available for free online, as a PDF as well as an audio book (285MB).

(leonhard)

In spite of its regular portrayal as “anarchic”, “anything goes” was never true for Wikipedia. Beginning with the list of principles issued by its founder, Jimbo Wales, a continuously growing number of rules guides contributors to and hence development of Wikipedia. One of the most prominent rules is the aim of delivering a “Neutral Point of View” (NPOV). Other important rules deal with notability. While the NPOV is debated with regard to every single article, Wikipedia’s several “notability guidelines” try to resolve the question which information ought (not) to be included in the free online encyclopedia in the first place. Over the years, long lists of conventions have emerged for all kinds subjects. Regarding people, for example, the English Wikipedia lists in detail the notability criteria for members of different professional groups – ranging from Academics over Criminals and Diplomats to Entertainers (including actors, comedians, models, etc.).

But notability guidelines or, as they are called in the German Wikipedia “relevance criteria” (“Relevanzkriterien”), share the problem of all taxonomies, namely a certain degree of arbitrariness; an arbitrariness that makes them particularly prone to being criticized and challenged. In the English Wikipedia debates about notability even led to the formation of two antagonistic camps: The “Association of Deletionist Wikipedians” (ADW) sails under the banner of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and his famous quote:

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

The opposite camp assembles around the “Association of Inclusionist Wikipedians” (AIW), which goes even back to the old Romans for their motto:

“The motto of the AIW is Conservata veritate, which translates to, ‘with truth preserved.’ This motto reflects the inclusionist desire to change Wikipedia only when no knowledge would be lost as a result.”

While both “associations” exist since 2004 and their dispute seemed to be rather settled, recent controversies about “relevance” in the German Wikipedia demonstrate that and how such rules may still be re-negotiated: Read the rest of this entry »

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
November 2009
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