Globalization

Globalization is a socio-economic trend characterized by increasingly transparent and open financial markets, reductions in trade restrictions, and intensified cross-border movements of; information, capital, products, services, jobs, and people. The Internet is the first and only globally scalable mass communications vehicle to successfully support many-to-many, one-to-many, and one-to-one communications simultaneously. The global diffusion of the Internet has created unintended consequences among which are the emergence of new types of distributed communities and the acceleration of the rate of Globalization. We can choose how to react to Globalization but we cannot stop it.

Internet Censorship vs Freedom of Expression

Zachary Sniderman on Mashable published an interesting article titled, Just How Open Is Your Internet?. I thought the featured map looked a little bit fishy – Mongolia has less internet censorship than Sweden? Really? What does that mean? It seemed to me that there might be something missing from the account. To his credit Mr Sniderman does note

…it raises some inherent problems with defining “censorship.” For example, screening out child pornography and illegal file sharing technically registers as “censorship” even though most people wouldn’t consider that a human rights offense.

Even accounting for his concerns it still looked a bit odd to me.

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Ontology Review 2: The International System of Units (SI). US Resistance to Adoption of the Metric System

The International System of Units (SI) [72 page pdf Brochure] is maintained by the Bureau International des Poids et Measures at it’s headquarters in Sevres near Paris, France. The Metric System as it is often known has a long history; supposedly invented in 1670 by Gabriel Mouton, a French clergyman, It was adopted by France in 1795 and by the United States in 1866. The system gained international status with the signing of The Convention of the Meter in Paris on 20th May 1875. The U.S. was one of the original seventeen signatory nations and is the only industrialized nation that still does not use the system.

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Visualizing the Shrinking World

A corollary of the statement “Time is Money” is that things that cause time to be consumed are money as well – distance is related to time through velocity and information is related to time in the same way through bandwidth. Velocity is a crucial factor in determining the cost of exchanging physical goods and bandwidth is similarly crucial in determining in the cost of exchanging information. In both cases speed costs. The changing relationships between time, distance, information, and money are at the heart of today’s globalization trends.

The cost of a 3-minute transatlantic phone call is an interesting metric since it fixes distance and the amount of information. The graph above comes from a presentation on Globalization by the World Bank. It clearly shows that the cost of a 3-minute call between New York and London has been decaying exponentially over 6 decades. In fact this metric has a half-life of about a decade.

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Economics and the Internet’s Large-Scale Topology

Distribution of the Internet around the world. (Top) Worldwide router density map obtained using NetGeo tool to identify the geographical location of 228,265 routers mapped out by the extensive router level mapping effort of Govindan and Tangmunarunkit. (Bottom) Population density map based on the CIESIN’s population data. Both maps are shown using a box resolution of 1 degree by 1 degree. The bar next to each map gives the range of values encoded by the color code, indicating that the highest population density within this resolution is of the order 10**7 people/box, while the highest router density is of the order of 10**4 routers/box. Note that while in economically developed nations there are visibly strong correlations between population and router density, in the rest of the world Internet access is sparse, limited to urban areas characterized by population density peaks.

This graph and the explanation above are taken from Modeling the Internet’s Large-Scale Topology by Soon-Hyung Yook, Hawoong Jeong, Albert-Laszlo Barabasi. Department of Physics, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA.

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UN Commission on Human Rights Loses All Credibility

On 24 July 2003 Reporters Without Borders was suspended from the United Nations Human Rights Commission for one year. For details of why this injustice happened see my previous entry Farce at the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Reporters Without Borders have published a press release and a report on the commission’s accelerating decline, entitled UN Commission on Human Rights Loses all Credibility. Wheeling and dealing, incompetence and non-action.

The results of the vote on the suspension of the consultative status of Reporters without borders :

In favour (27): Azerbaijan, Benin, Bhutan, Brazil, Burundi, China, Congo, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Iran, Jamaica, Kenya, Libya, Malaysia, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

Against (23): Andorra, Australia, Chile, El Salvador, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Peru, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and United States.

Abstentions (4): Argentina, Ecuador, Japan, and Senegal.

Taken from the Reports without Borders press release

It seems Argentina, Ecuador, Japan and Senegal were too spineless to even have an opinion! The report by Reporters Without Borders makes clear that the noble idea of the United Nations Human Rights Commission is far from it’s ignominious reality.

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Comparing National Economies and Corporations – Just how bad was Enron ?

Obviously it can’t be done! It’s like comparing apples and oranges. Corporate revenue and Gross National Income GNI don’t measure the same thing. Double counting is the least of your problems. But plotting them on the same graph is interesting! It gives you a very approximate graph of financial influence for Nations and Corporations. The most recent freely available data is for 2001. So I merged the data from the World Bank and the Fortune Global 100 and then plotted it. And what did I find. Wow, the Enron debacle has to be the largest crime ever! Check this out…

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Farce at the United Nations Human Rights Commission

When the new Libyan president of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, Najat Al-Hajjaji, made her inaugural speech at the opening of the 59th session of the Commission in Geneva on 17th March 2003 she was interrupted by six activists from Reporters Without Borders who threw leaflets into the meeting room. (Reporters Without Borders are also known as Reporters san Frontieres or just RSF)

As a result the pressure group may have its UN consultative status suspended. The way this harsh punishment has been decided and the process that led to this decision is farcical and sets a precedent that should not be allowed to stand.

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Redrawing the Pentagon’s new Map

In 1999 Ryan McCormack and I wrote a marketing piece on Globalization for Sapient Corporation. Aimed primarily at raising awareness of the issues involved in building global Internet systems it also touched on national market analysis and selection. I was reminded of this diagram showing income and connectivity for every country in the world from that piece while reading various articles on US Foreign Policy recently. These articles included this piece called the Pentagons new Map by Dr Thomas P.M. Barnett a US military Strategist on Globalization and US Foreign Policy and this more >jaundiced view from the Washington Monthly.

Basically I think Dr Barnett is on to something when he claims that “disconnectedness defines danger”.

Show me where globalization is thick with network connectivity, financial transactions, liberal media flows, and collective security, and I will show you regions featuring stable governments, rising standards of living, and more deaths by suicide than murder. These parts of the world I call the Functioning Core, or Core. But show me where globalization is thinning or just plain absent, and I will show you regions plagued by politically repressive regimes, widespread poverty and disease, routine mass murder, and “most important” the chronic conflicts that incubate the next generation of global terrorists. These parts of the world I call the Non-Integrating Gap, or Gap.

Having said I think Dr Barnett is on to something I don’t think his conclusions are correct! He makes three mistakes;

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The Mobile Lounges at Dulles International Airport

Recently, I have been traveling to Washington D.C. via Washington Dulles International Airport and have begun to appreciate the fine architecture of the airport. Built between 1958 and 1966 by the engineering firm of Amman and Whitney the terminal building, control tower, and service buildings were designed by Architect Eero Saarinen who claimed it was “the best thing I have ever done.”

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A Solution for Managing Timezones, Times, and Dates in International Internet Systems

The measurement and management of time is something most people give little thought to. But when designing Internet based systems time presentation, manipulation and management can rapidly become a major headache. Just when you think youve got it nailed some other unanticipated problem arises. The regular failure of systems designers to get this right is a classic example of the principle of inappropriate parsimony.

The world is a sphere that rotates on its axis once every 24 hours and takes 365 days to rotate around the sun, more or less. Its very simple. But, the more or less part is vitally important. The world is not actually a sphere it is an oblate spheroid. It does not rotate every 24 hours it takes a ever-so-slightly longer than that and its getting slower, it wobbles on its axis which by the way is inclined to the plane of its rotation around the Sun. And as we all know it takes about a 1/4 of a day longer than a year to rotate around the Sun, more or less, and this time period is also increasing. Add to this the vagaries of international politics, national pride and public safety and you have a pretty complex system. All these factors affect the measurement and management of time. Given this complexity its not difficult to see why system designers try to simplify the conceptual model of the real world on which they base their solutions. However, this is the wrong thing to simplify. The solution can and should be simplified but the conceptual model on which it is based must be high fidelity not an approximation.

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