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October 1, 2009

Sub-Saharan Africa: Generally an open Net

A new report from the Open Net Initiative (in which the Berkman Center is a participant) says that among Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Nigeria, only Ethiopia does any substantial amount of blocking of sites:

Filtering in Ethiopia was found to be substantial in regard to both political and conflict/security sites. Ethiopian authorities have also blocked two major blogging platforms, Blogger and Nazret, suggesting political bloggers are the prime targets of censure.

The full report is here.

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June 13, 2008

Open up Google Docs?

I’ve found myself using Google Docs more and more. It’s about a Bronze Age word processor at this point, but it makes collaborating easy, I like being able to get at my work from anywhere (even when offline), and the continuous backup and versioning is comforting.

But, not only is Docs way under-featured and butt ugly, Google is fixing it up really slowly.

What would Google have to do to enable The Community to enhance it?

We presumably (i.e., I don’t know what I’m talking about) could write an enhanced system that uses Google Docs for storage, but that slaps a new UI on it and adds features. In fact, maybe this is something that Adobe’s beautiful Air-based word processor, Buzzword, should be (or is?) looking at.

Even better: Google could make Google Docs as amenable to add-ons as Firefox is. Of course, I have no idea how hard that would be, and what the possibilities of terminally screwing up your docs might be.

At the very least, while Google Docs is getting better at allowing us to redefine existing HTML elements, to create new classes, and even to create new elements (albeit without giving us a UI to use these classes or elements, other than entering into HTML editing mode), letting us attach CSS style sheets seems like an obvious and non-destructive improvement.

But, IDKWITA (I don’t know what I’m talking about … and why isn’t that a standard Web acronym?), so there may be obvious technical issues mooting all of the above. But I’m sure that won’t mute you from telling me what I’m missing.

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Marco Barulli at Clipperz (a password manager) blogs about what it would take to get more freedom and privacy from the providers of Web apps. He has a three-part solution…

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