The Economist magazine held up in “post-war” Sri Lanka?

Victory’s Rotten Fruits appears in the print edition of the most recent Economist.

This is an email I got this morning from a friend and subscriber to the mag in SL.

This week’s Economist has apparently (as per Vijitha Yapa – to whom I pay a bloody 11,000 bucks for the magazine) been “held up” at Customs. This is the 4th issue that has been held up…reckon this is the reason? Are we moving (already moved?) towards a state where we are going to be cut off from the world in terms of information (much like the Chinese chaps’ paranoia on websites????)

The manic inanity of Customs Officials, obviously in fear of or instructed by higher authorities to censor opinion inconvenient to the incumbents in power shows disturbing signs of growing. Last year, only public outcry and the threat of legal action was able to secure the release of a book by a respected academic, also held up at Customs for no discernible reason along with other publications. Prof. Rohan Samarajiva from Lirneasia writing on this issue last year may have nailed it,

Copies have not been confiscated. They are just reading them page by page, every copy, not knowing that they are identical copies. Poor customs officials. My heart goes out to them.

The free flow of ideas in post-war Sri Lanka is shaping up quite nicely don’t you think?

Update – 15 June 2009

Gawker pointed to this blog post on its home page and through a story featured on the website today.

Gawker on censoring the Economist in Sri Lanka

Click above for large image or click here for the Gawker story as a PDF.

The pitfalls and future of social networking

An  article in The Economist highlights the pitfalls of social networking platforms and technologies today and their possible evolution in the future.

“We will look back to 2008 and think it archaic and quaint that we had to go to a destination like Facebook or LinkedIn to be social,” says Charlene Li at Forrester Research, a consultancy. Future social networks, she thinks, “will be like air. They will be anywhere and everywhere we need and want them to be.” No more logging on to Facebook just to see the “news feed” of updates from your friends; instead it will come straight to your e-mail inbox, RSS reader or instant messenger. No need to upload photos to Facebook to show them to friends, since those with privacy permissions in your electronic address book can automatically get them.

The problem with today’s social networks is that they are often closed to the outside web. The big networks have decided to be “open” toward independent programmers, to encourage them to write fun new software for them. But they are reluctant to become equally open towards their users, because the networks’ lofty valuations depend on maximising their page views—so they maintain a tight grip on their users’ information, to ensure that they keep coming back. As a result, avid internet users often maintain separate accounts on several social networks, instant-messaging services, photo-sharing and blogging sites, and usually cannot even send simple messages from one to the other. They must invite the same friends to each service separately. It is a drag.

Dataportability seems to be a key initiative in addressing the information silos of social networks as they stand today noted above. See their fascinating video here or from below.