Dear Humane Society International,

Today, I received an action alert from you, through my membership of Care2. It’s great to hear your contributing to the fight against Japanese whaling, but I was somewhat taken back by your approach. You’re asking me to "Help Humane Society International lead the opposition on Japan’s Whale Hunt!". Pardon?

Humane Society's message

Having worked at a desk next to the international anti-whaling campaign team of 2006-2007 of "another organisation", your name wasn’t at the top of my list of anti-whaling campaigns. Frankly, it wasn’t at my list at all, and I’m sorry to say, I didn’t even know Humane Society International existed.

So I wanted to find out a bit more about your campaign. But…

Inspiration and hope?

As I am not from the US, I have no vote in the elections there. But as a world citizen, I am experiencing the choices made. I’m ambivalent about each trip I make to the US: going through the crazy bureaucracy at the border is a perfect way of demonstrating how much the US government likes to invade into my life.

The contrast with the people I meet once inside the country could not be bigger: many of them are passionate about making the world a better place, and equally feel their own government as the main obstacle in realising that. So with their elections this year, I’m trying to make sense of the candidates.

Designing sociality for Nabuur

Nabuur has been pioneering online volunteering since 2001, and is currently redesigning their organisation: how to put "web 2.0" into the DNA of everything that’s happening? And how to engineer that, rather than try and hope it works?

So I spent the day with Nabuur team members, who invited René Jansen to facilitate drilling down to the core of their activities. René is one of the authors of "The Realm of Sociality: Notes on the design of social software", a paper which won the Best Paper Award 2007 at the “International Conference on Information Systems” in Montreal, last December, and (to me, at least) introduces the concept of "sociality" as the centre of the design process.

First “XS4ALL Professor” in cyber securtity and privacy appointed

Ruling the Root: Internet Governance and the Taming of CyberspaceTalk about corporate social responsibility: Dutch internet provider XS4ALL has always been at the frontline when it comes to protecting the rights of internet users. And now I read in their newsletter that they’re sponsoring Syracuse University School of Information Studies professor Milton Mueller as the first "XS4ALL professor" at Delft University of Technology (press release in Dutch), for three years, focusing on security and privacy of internet users, especially mobile users.

Starting 2008

The new year is here, and the holidays are nearly over again. I managed to find some time to finally do some real upgrade work on my website, so it all feels like my own website again. Mainly completing the move from Typo3 to Drupal, and looking at some more content to add in the coming weeks: plugging in a few more external sources of content, and making some materials available as "books".

Over the holidays, I looked at some old notes, flipping through my notebook. It was surprising to read some thoughts of "last century" (around 1999), on online discussions and online collaboration, and realise that several ideas and hopes of then are still waiting to be implemented. Somehow it feels 2008 could be the year in which a lot of that might happen: a year of convergence. Some technology notes to look back on at the end of 2008 perhaps.

Private initiatives for international development should organise

Lau Schulpen of CIDIN at the Radboud University in Nijmegen researched the effectiveness of Dutch "private initiatives" working in international development. Last week, his first findings were published, and created a little storm in the Dutch development sector (see e.g. the Dutch Trouw newspaper, copied by most other papers). I’m just returning from a presentation of his results, followed by a debate with Henny Helmich of NCDO, and Robert Wiggers of Wilde Ganzen: two organisations who fund a lot actvities of private initiatives. My take-away: private initiatives need a branch organisation, a kind of union.