Sunday, October 10, 2010

My first tweetup

I've heard in the past the use of the word tweetup, one of my preferred definitions for it is the organized or impromptu gathering of Twitter users. I always thought about it as a bunch of kids coordinating via twitter where to hang out on a given night.

There is no doubt that many of the Social Networking tools that take advantage of the reach and ubiquity of the Internet have changed how we establish and develop new relationships and how we let others know more about us (in some cases much more than we want or think we are making public, thanks to lax privacy settings).

Many years ago I joined LinkedIn, I thought it was a good tool to keep all contacts in a single place and keep them updated, so if Joe goes to work for another company or moves to Mars I'll have (if he lets me) the latest contact info and updates about his whereabouts.

I don't remember exactly when I created my Facebook and Twitter accounts, but lets say it was more than two years ago, initially I didn't care to search for friends or old colleagues and classmates, it was until like a year later that I started to follow some folks in twitter and get annoyed by the constant updates, quizzes and stupid games in Facebook.

At the beginning I found that twitter was very disruptive, it took me a while (and I've been dealing with email since the early 80's) to control the habit to check email every few minutes and now I've got this little bird chirping every few seconds. But at some moment there was an inflection point, and that was when I installed the Seismic Twitter App on an Apple iPod touch. I was already using the iPod touch to keep an eye on email and as a last recourse ssh terminal, ohhh yes and to listen to music. But now with the twitter app I was able to read and send tweets when I was not at my desktop working, even on the road when I was able to get WiFi access (I'm not an SMS kind of guy and texting from a regular cellphone keypad is a pain in the neck), then I started following people and being followed.

I don't take twitter as a very serious communication channel, so I may once in a while tweet a brain fart, some ironic joke or acidic comment, but also share a good laugh with local and remote friends and family.

I'm not anti-social but in many situations I've to pass the shy-geek threshold to become social, my wife keeps telling me that I need to socialize more and get out of my cave (office) and meet new people.

One event that got me very excited and ready to get out of the cave is that on October 16 we'll have in San Antonio our first edition of TEDx, then I was exchanging few tweets and emails with Rob La Gesse (@kr8tr) who works at Rackspace which is one of the major sponsors for TEDx San Antonio. Rob mentioned that Robert Scoble (@Scobleizer) was going to be in town and that they were planning a tweetup for Friday night (October 8, 2010).

Being one of the most active technology bloggers and noise makers, I've been following Scobleizer for a while, I thought that may be interesting to meet this guy who happens to have over 143,000 followers in twitter and became sort of a tech social media celebrity.

Rob mentioned that also Rocky Barbanica (@RocmanUSA) who has been Robert's producer for long time was going to be at the tweetup and many other interesting people, both Robert and Rocky now work for Rob at Rackspace and they are the major driving force behind a project called Building 43. Rob's primary mission at Rackspace is to help customers and startup companies even if they are not Rackspace's customers, and seems that they give him a great deal of slack to do whatever he thinks must be done to follow that mission.

Then I received the invitation and discovered another service ( that I didn't have a clue it existed, and showing what other twitter users where planning to assist.

At this time my shy-geek threshold was blown away and I was more than ready to show up at the tweetup. I was feeling like in my old days of ham radio amateur operator going to a hamfest or radio club gathering.

I arrived few minutes earlier and Robert Scoble, Rocky, Bruce Hughes (@jbhughes), and few others were waiting for some snack food and sharing beers, soon after Rob arrived and we started talking, it was almost instantly that I realized that the "Helping Startups mission" was no BS, and my shyness was totally gone and started talking about what I've been doing and I'm doing now (which involves a very exciting startup project of which I'll write something in the near future), we talked about technology, company funding, beer, food, later Chip (@ChipLaFleur) arrived who just moved into San Antonio from Michigan, then others started to show up, like Jennifer Navarrete (@epodcaster) who is sort of Lady Podcasting in San Antonio, and a very avid Camp organizer.
Bruce, Chip & Jorge

For a moment I was teasing Matthew Egan (@ImageFreedom) about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), he does SEO Consulting and I always found those SPAM emails offering that type of service very annoying, but talking with him and also with Ryan Kelly (@pearanalytics) from Pear Analytics I realized that some of these folks take it very seriously and it is not only a question of having a better placement on search engines than having a better and more reliable website for your customers or followers.

Everything went so fast, it was not a very large group but the conversations were so interesting that time was flying much faster than I expected, and then I met Nan Palmero (@nanpalmero), what a great and energetic guy, and since he was born in Uruguay across the river from Buenos Aires where I was born we increased the transfer speed of the conversation switching between spanish and english, he  is one of the officers of TheBMPR another social media community oriented to business, media and public relations.

Didn't have much time to take more pictures, I think Jen took some, but couldn't resist to at least have one with the big guy that even when he is getting bombarded with updates from more than 23,000 people he is following, he can put aside his iPhone and have a great conversation with you.
Robert Scoble and Jorge Amodio
Thanks again Rob for the invitation and for making it happen, and even when tweetups normally don't need or have big sponsors, thanks Rackspace for let them make it happen. And obviously a big thanks to all that participated, it was a real pleasure to meet all of you and have a chance to socialize out of the cave.

It was a fantastic experience and now I'm looking forward to the next one.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Love and Tolerance

My beautiful wife wanted to share our feelings after learning from the news that another kid committed suicide because he was considered "different" and victim of constant bullying.

What's wrong with our society ?, why this has to happen ?

And don't blame the Internet. No doubt the advance in technology and communication services has enabled us to share (sometimes without our own knowledge) vasts arrays of information, but what is missing here is the role WE as parents have to play to transmit the correct values, morals and education to our kids, and teachers, counselors can't be missing from the equation.

As parents we ARE part of the solution, we CAN'T ignore or avoid the responsibility.

My son wrote a poem few years ago about how it feels being bullied ...


Saturday, August 7, 2010

IGP Blog :: US and Canadian Governments support Chinese-style censorship of DNS in ICANN

Following up my previous article about ICANN's GAC letter, here is a good article from Milton Mueller, member of the Non Commercial Stakeholder Group and author of the book "Ruling the Root: Internet governance and the taming of cyberspace".

IGP Blog :: US and Canadian Governments support Chinese-style censorship of DNS in ICANN

Milton in his article explains briefly why the tone and attitude reflected in GAC's letter is an outrage to free speech and another move to use ICANN as a regulator/controller by proxy.

I'm not sure that as Milton says, the main instigator behind this letter is the US Government, I'm pretty sure that there are many governments that have their level of anxiety growing to exert some control over the Internet.

Hard to say what is going to happen, but I'm sure that the next few ICANN's meetings will be interesting to watch. Get the popcorn ready !!!


Friday, August 6, 2010

ICANN's GAC has spoken

I have not been using much this blog to write about my incursions in the world of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names). Until now I've just been posting some comments on my facebook page and various email lists.

So, bare with me as I start using this space to post some comments, opinions and what is going on in the world of ICANN.

Two days ago, one of the structures of ICANN called the Governmental Advisory Committee or GAC (get used to this, ICANN is a vast sea of acronyms and jargon) sent a short letter about MoPo (Morality and Public Order)

Several people are starting to read the letter between the lines, trying to guess what the GAC is cooking behind walls.

One of the paragraphs of the GAC letter says:

"The GAC firmly believes that the absence of any controversial strings in the current universe of top level domains (TLDs) to date contributes directly to the security and stability of the domain name and addressing system (DNS) and the universal resolvability of the sytem."

Hmmm, controversial strings ???

they also say

"In this regard, the GAC believes that procedures to identify strings that could raise national, cultural, geographic, religious and/or linguistic sensitivities or objections are warranted so as to mitigate the risks of fragmenting the DNS that could result from the introduction of controversial strings."

What do you read there then ?

What are controversial strings, who defines what is or is not controversial ? and what GAC members are thinking about "fragmenting the DNS" if ICANN approves a string that they don't like ?

The last paragraph says

"The GAC therefore recommends that community-wide discussions be facilitated by ICANN in order to ensure that an effective objections procedure be developed that both recognizes the relevance of national laws and effectively addresses strings that raise national, cultural, yada, yada ..."

and ends with the cherry on the top

"These objections procedures should apply to all pending and future TLDs."

Pending ?

Do you know what is pending ?

.XXX :-)

So one can read here that GAC will most surely try to block moving forward with the agreement to add .XXX to the DNS root zone, this will be a show of power since the ICANN BoD (Board of Directors) may take the decision of ignoring the GAC advise and objections and move forward anyway.

Do you think the BoD will have the guts to do that ?


Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Stolen Signature

A plot for a new book from author Dan Brown

Inspired by the multiple articles and reports around the recent signing of the Domain Name System root zone and the incipient deployment of DNSSEC, which for many reporters and correspondents is the source for spin and numerous gaffes related to what was really done and what still needs to be done to have a fairly secure DNS.

Since many of these reports have a dose of science fiction, wrong or fabricated information adding to the confusion of the general public and casual Internet user, I decided to exploit my own creative inspiration for stupidity and posted some comments in Facebook about a suggested plot for a Dan Brown's book that could be called "The Stolen Signature"

The Plot:

A group of cyber terrorists kidnap and torture the seven templars of ICANN to obtain the smart cards holding portions of the magic key that protects the Internet Domain Names.

Meanwhile a group of VE, CU and NK Special Ops break into ICANN's east and west facilities and steal the HSMs (Hardware Security Modules), while Sigfried and Hans Hunter from KAOS take control over the K server in Budapest used to propagate a new fake DNS root zone and redirect all financial transactions and access to critical infrastructure control systems to a secret datacenter on the dark side of the moon built by the covert Chinese Space Domination Agency.

But they didn't take in account that Rod "Astroboy" Beckstrom had a secret DNS-CERT running on his backyard and after a period of Public Comment and Policy Development Process he was able to retain the outside consulting services of Prof. Langdon and Kaminsky the Wizard SecuGeek who established an ICANN Working Group that discovered that the entire operation of the cyberterrorists was developed using a pirate version of Microsoft Windows 12, that for backwards compatibility includes all the exploits of all previous versions of Windows, something that became a "feature parity" imposed by the evil twin brother of Mr. Ballmer.

Still thinking who could be a good female character. Somebody play by Angelina Jolie ??

OK, enough waste of time, going back to the grind ...


Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Next Billion Internet Users

On April 29, I had the chance to watch remotely some of the presentations and panels during the INET Washington DC Conference organized by the friends of the Internet Society Chapter in DC.

The main theme of the conference was "Internet 2020: The Next Billion Users".

The agenda was packed with interesting presentations and discussion panels that went beyond just the technologies associated with Internet and telecommunications in general. There was a lot of talking about policies, regulations, politics and a vast array of issues that have substantial influence in the evolution of the network and how fast it gets more users.

Lot of juicy information that was particularly useful for some personal research I started a while ago to collect references and raw data for a book that is still on the initial stages of evolving from an idea to a more structured work related to "The Internet of Things" (obviously the first idea that got discarded was to call the book "TITS").

Anyway, one of the topics that really caught my attention was an analysis about from where we should expect the next billion of users. One of the panelists made the comment that the majority of the users will not come from the industrialized or developed world, where penetration of Internet services has been high and constantly growing for the past 20 years.

It won't come from Africa either, where there is a huge potential for growth but many issues, particularly with infrastructure and an abstract view of "return of investment" driving growth. Yes China, India, and south Asia continue to be potential areas with large populations that could drive growth, but also have many issues that will condition how fast users are added in this region.

Then what is left among other areas that has the potential to contribute new users ?

Latin America.

While Latin America may not have the same population density as other regions and hardly by itself has enough people to contribute 1 billion new users, many argue that it has the higher potential for growth given that penetration of telecommunication services in a comparative basis is still low, and despite some issues here and there the economies kept growing, and the region had somehow a period of political stability for several years.

Without digging too much for data into the numerous and never ending reports from International Organizations, NGO's, Think Tanks, etc, etc, which can get you dizzy with numbers, I have to say that I generally agree with this statement, Latin America has a big potential for Internet growth.

But I'm a geek !!! so I need data, facts, and if in a graphic format, much better ... then I found a great resource from the abominable king of search or world domination new evil (aka Google, some people are starting to refer to Larry and Sergey as Pinky and the Brain and their quest to take over the world, who is who is up to you).

If you have not seen it yet, the tool from Google is the Public Data Explorer, I found that one of the available datasets is the number of Internet Users as part of a larger dataset of World Development Indicators from The World Bank. The actual data source is from the International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report and database.

Then using this dataset on the Public Data Explorer I first created a graph showing the growth of Internet users for over a period of almost twenty years starting in 1990 for a selected group of developed countries.

On the graph is easy to notice that from the early nineties when Internet left academia and have an explosive growth the curves show an exponential trend until around 2002 when the switched to more like a logarithmic trend or slightly linear trend. In the United States is clear that besides some rural or isolated areas, there has been an incredible penetration of services and the market has reached some level of maturity and saturation.

Now lets look at a selected group of countries from Latin America.

I was expecting to see a graph where Brazil had a predominant lead given its large population (~192M), but it really surprised me to see Mexico that has about half of Brazil's number (~106M) and on top of that seeing that the curve also switched from exponential and growth seems to have also reached some plateau. It makes me wonder if the actual data is correct and complete.

Anyway, as you can see from the graph there are several countries that still show exponential growth, but as Mexico others seem also to be slowing down like Peru, Chile, Argentina, and probably Venezuela. I didn't take the time yet to analyze telecom services penetration statistics and other statistics but I still believe that there is still there huge potential for growth. Then, what's going on ? Are there any particular roadblocks that are impeding growth ?

I didn't do much research yet but based on past experiences and some indicators it is clear for me that the lack of clear regulations and a real competitive market are hurting a lot. A common denominator in several Latin American countries is the monopolistic behavior of the big telcos, probably limited capital investment in infrastructure, slow rate of adoption and regulation that facilitates e-commerce, but the one that hurts the most is the lack of a long term plan based on a strategy that takes Internet as one of the fundamental resources to drive development and innovation across the board.

Perhaps it is time to take a closer look or ask Brazil what are they doing ?

After all I was just looking for this graph ...

Anyway, if you are interested in reading one of the many reports that provide this type of information here is a recent one from Development Sector of the ITU (ITU-D), Measuring the Information Society, 2010, abstract:

"The latest edition of Measuring the Information Society features the new ITU ICT Development Index (IDI) and the ICT Price Basket - two benchmarking tools to measure the Information Society. The IDI captures the level of advancement of ICTs in 159 countries worldwide and compares progress made between 2002 and 2008. It also measures the global digital divide and examines how it has developed in recent years. The report also features the latest ICT Price Basket, which combines 2009 fixed telephone, mobile cellular and fixed broadband tariffs for 161 economies into one measure and compares these across countries, and over time. The analytical report is complemented by a series of statistical tables providing country-level data for all indicators included in the Index."