J. K. Rowlings Homepage 
Sunday, 24 .June, 2007, 03:41 - English Entries, Literature, Online/Blogs
I tried to read Harry Potter several times, but I never got into it. It is not the type of literature that fascinates me, which is a pity as my daughter loves the books and it would be nice to talk with her about them.

Nevertheless, by clicking around this evening, I came across the text version of homepage of J. K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books. I admire this page, honestly. It has the same appearance as most websites had 12 or 15 years ago.

Everything is plain text, there are no pictures, the navigation is very simple, no section (not even "news" or "diary") offer an RSS feed, there is no CSS or tables and the colors are yellow, cyan and blue on black background. All entries are short and entertaining to read, there is no unnecessary text and Rowling always keeps to the subject.

Again - I am honest about this. I like her page. And no: I do not want the whole internet to look like this (again), but it is a nice feeling to see a reminiscence to the days of limited bandwidth, ASCII layout and focus on the texutal content.
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Restricted access to flickr for users from Singapore, Germany, Korea and Hong Kong - flickr censorship discussion 
Thursday, 14 .June, 2007, 08:07 - English Entries, Online/Blogs, Politics
Flickr introduced a new service: they localized their site for different languages. Part of this service is, that pictures that are marked as "medium" or "restricted" will not be displayed anymore to users who indicate that they are from Germany, Singapore, Korea or Hong Kong.

That kicked off a huge debate about censorship and especially the Germans, regarding themselves as citizens of a free country in which people and arts are free, raise their voice.

It is not clear yet, why these restrictions have been applied. The flickr staff made a statement, that brought as much light to the discussion as a broken lamp during a Finnish Winters night. There are assumptions, that the restrictions in Germany apply due to a German law that forbids showing of so-called "Nazi-Symbols", i.e. symbols that are related to the third reich. Other people speculate that the German government might have had a say in that.

It is all speculation. It is not known why these restrictions are applied. Most likely flickr just wanted to be super-save and put the new mechanism there due to anticipatory obedience. One can understand that, but it could have been made clear from the beginning that this will happen and what are the reasons.

I would not go so far as to call this censorship - not yet. Give flickr a few more days to get themselves informed and to clear things up.

This discussion already hit German newspapers (at least heise and Spiegel), but it seems no English / American paper so far has woken up on this. This shows where the focus is.
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23 Online Services  
Monday, 11 .June, 2007, 02:47 - English Entries, Online/Blogs

I am currently working on a presentation on data- and telecommunication history and in the last part I dwell on all kinds of online services and give an overview of Web 2.0.

Whilst doing that work, I developed the desire to highlight those services that I really use on a daily basis - and out of which I also get the most benefit, be it in efficiency, entertainment or the feeling that I did something useful. So below you find my personal 23 favourite web applications. Whacky nerdy techy stuff - I know.

And yes - for most of the people who regularly spend too much of their office hours by browsing through the online parts of the local galaxy, the below list might be a bit boring. Sorry for that - maybe there are nevertheless some new things, such as the Hunger Site or LibraryThing.

In any way: Enjoy the summer, spend less time in front of the screen and don't try every link you find in a blog - it only costs time.


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Woha! She's online! 
Sunday, 03 .June, 2007, 16:34 - English Entries, Family, Friends, Online/Blogs

Children become people, Offspring become personalities, kids become permanently online. And so she did and it is my pleasure to welcome her online on flickr and at the German social network of localisten (profile only visible if you have an account and logged in).

Welcome Theresa! And may you bloom and blossom in reality and virtuality!

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Downplaying Europe 
Thursday, 29 .March, 2007, 12:30 - English Entries, Europe, Online/Blogs
"I have a gut feeling that the way many of us report the European Union rather downplays its impact outside its own borders" writes Mark Mardell in his article on European foreign policy. I can only recommend his weekly entries in his Europe Diary at the BBC Europe News page.
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