Who Decides ‘Analogue’ Citizenships?

Typically when asked ‘who is responsible for setting citizenship rules’ there are two general answers that fall out. On the one hand we might hear ‘the government is responsible for setting down citizenship regulations,’ and on the other we might hear ‘the people are responsible for establishing membership guidelines.’ The latter explicitly locates power in the hands of the people, whereas the former recognises legitimised political bureaucracies and machinations are responsible for citizenship. In this post, I want to briefly look at some of the processes and theoretical discussions surrounding citizenship and immigration, and in particular how they relate to ‘Fortress Europe’ and a recent British controversy surrounding citizenship tests.

The Boundaries of Citizenship

Western nation-states have developed around liberal conceptions of citizenship. As a consequence, citizenship is associated with a particular legal status that requires members to fulfill a set of legally enforceable requirements. These requirements can include holding a certain amount of money, it may involve active participation as a citizen (i.e. remaining active in communities that one is being naturalised by volunteering, being active in local politics, etc), or being born in a geographic area.

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When Does Legal Publicity Punish Citizens?

I use Facebook. I blog. I am a registered member of various online services, as well as several offline ones. Google, Facebook, several IT forums, credit card companies, my bank, and my employer (to name a few) can develop a fairly good picture of what I do and where I go on a regular basis. They can predict what I can, and likely will, do. While these issues are important, and I continue to write about them, for this post I want to attend to public documents. Specifically, I want to think about the implications of making legal decisions and court transcripts publicly accessible to anyone with an Internet connection.

Welcome to Law, Online

As mentioned I use Google. I also use a series of other search engines, as I’m sure many others do. Some are specialized for journal articles, others for books to borrow, yet others for books to buy, and so on. Sometimes, when I’m bored, I also search for law cases to read up on (yes, I realize that makes it sound like I have too much time on my hands. It’s for research purposes, really!). Members of the Canadian public can request access to judgments that have been made in a Canadian court; while it may cost the first person to request the transcript a few dollars, subsequent visitors will face negligible costs where costs are imposed at all. Digitized judgments are increasingly placed online for major search engines index and which members of the public can access them at any time. This is done in accordance with precedent – citizens have always been able to read transcripts of court cases by visiting the court where the judgment is kept, finding the documents, and sitting down and reading them. The digitization of such documents (the argument goes) is just a natural extension of past systems of public use.

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Three-Strike Copyright

To fully function as a student in today’s Western democracies means having access access to the Internet. In some cases this means students use Content Management Systems (CMSs) such as Drupal, Blackboard, or wikis (to name a few examples) to submit homework and participate in collaborate group assignments. CMSs are great because teachers can monitor the effectiveness of student’s group contributions and retain timestamps of when the student has turned in their work. Thus, when Sally doesn’t turn in her homework for a few weeks, and ‘clearly’ isn’t working with her group in the school-sanctioned CMS, the teacher can call home and talk with Sally’s parents about Sally’s poor performance.

At least, that’s the theory.

Three-Strike Copyright and Some Numbers

I’m not going to spend time talking about the digital divide (save to note that it’s real, and it penalises students in underprivileged environments by preventing them from acting as an equal in the digitized classroom), nor am I going to talk about the inherent privacy and security issues that arise as soon as teacher use digital management systems. No, I want to turn our attention across the Atlantic to Britain, where the British parliament will soon be considering legislation that would implement a three-strike copyright enforcement policy. France is in the process of implementing a similar law (with the expectation that it will be in place by summer 2008), which will turn ISPs into data police. Under these policies if a user (read: household) is caught infringing on copyright three times (they get two warnings) they can lose access to the ‘net following the third infringement.

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Techno-Trinkets: Firefox Bookmarks, Flash Books, and Redundent Data Storage

This is going to be the beginning of a semi-regular series where I’ll post some of the (what I find) interesting things that I’ve been playing with/working on. I expect that the its will tend to be somehow related to my work in IT, my work as a graduate student, and my persistent work in developing a redundant large storage system at home.

Bookmark Sync and Sort

I work on a lot of computers on a regular basis. I have a series of them at work, my laptop (which travels pretty well everywhere with me), and a few at home. You know, in addition to all the other computers I pass by on a regular basis. To date, the best bookmark synchroniser that I found was Foxmarks, but I wasn’t a terribly large fan of putting my data on another person’s server. In addition to that, when you send your data it isn’t encrypted (while https data will be encrypted using standard Firefox encryption, it still means that what you have bookmarked will be sent along whatever networks you happen to be operating on). Ultimately, those two matters meant that I wasn’t particularly comfortable with the Foxmarks solution.

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OpenID and You

People are doing more and more online. They use Flickr to upload and share their pictures, they blog using Blogger and Livejournal, and chat using AOL systems. In addition to doing more online, the more they do, the more passwords they (tend) to have to know. They also have to create a discrete user profile for each new environment. With OpenID, those hassles could be over!

What is OpenID

OpenID is an open source community project that is intended to act as a centralised user-space. It is describes as:

a lightweight method of identifying individuals that uses the same technology framework that is used to identify web sites … It eliminates the need for multiple usernames across different websites, simplifying your online experience. You get to choose the OpenID Provider that best meets your needs and most importantly that you trust. At the same time, your OpenID can stay with you, no matter which Provider you move to. And best of all, the OpenID technology is not proprietary and is completely free.(Source)

In essence, users will be able to carry their profiles and data with them, regardless of the service or content providers that they turn to. the major upshot, for consumers, is that it should mitigate some difficulties and hassles related to online lock-in. At the same time, it means that the different communities and spaces a person participates in will have access to that centralised knowledge basin, from which increasingly complex and rigorous digital portfolios can be developed.

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Shaping your Identity

It’s been a while since I’ve been updating this blog regularly – since I last wrote, I’ve completed my Master’s thesis, traveled to Brasil, sent out applications to Doctoral programs, found (temporary) full-time employment, and rested my brain a bit. Now, I feel rejuvenated, and ready to get back into the swing of things.

Setting the Stage

We are increasingly living in a hybrid world, one where our lives are being digitized. We eat food (analogue) but order it online (digital); we use our voices to talk with one another (analogue) using cell phones (digital); we read cooking recipes (analogue) from recipe websites (digital). In addition to what we actually do, what happens around us, and shapes how we are capable of interacting, often occurs within digital spaces – banking institutions are networked, government documents are send across departments by email, and major corporate executives that make (oftentimes) global decisions seem to have Blackberries surgically attached to themselves.

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