Sunday, January 27, 2008

Directions and Implications of Advanced Computing Symposium Conferenceon Online Deliberation (DIAC-2008/OD2008)

Twenty-one years since the first DIAC Symposium!

Tools for Participation: Collaboration, Deliberation, and Decision Support

Directions and Implications of Advanced Computing Symposium Conference on Online Deliberation (DIAC-2008/OD2008)

Sponsored by Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility and UC Berkeley School of Information

Partners: National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD)

University of California, Berkeley
June 26 - 29, 2008

At the dawn of the 21st century humankind faces challenges of profound proportions. The ability of people around the world to discuss, work,
make decisions, and take action collaboratively is one of the most important capabilities for addressing these challenges.

Researchers, scholars, activists, advocates, artists, educators, technologists, designers, students, policy-makers, entrepreneurs,
journalists and citizens are rising to these challenges in many ways,including, devising new communication technologies that build on the
opportunities afforded by the Internet and other new (as well as old) media. The interactions between technological and social systems are of
special and central importance in this area.

DIAC-08 combines CPSR's 11th DIAC symposium with the third Conference on Online Deliberation. The joint conference is intended to provide a
platform and a forum for highlighting socio-technological opportunities, challenges, and pitfalls in the area of community and civic action.
Technology enhanced community action ranges from informal communities of practice to democratic governance of formal organizations to large
social movements.

We are especially interested in technology development that is already being tested or fielded. We are also interested in theoretical and other
intellectual work that helps build understanding and support for future efforts. In addition to exploring social technology, we must at the same
time understand and advance the social context of technology, including its design, access, use, policy and evaluation, as well as intellectual
frameworks and perspectives that inform technological as well as social innovation including requirements, case studies, critique and
self-reflection, and infrastructures for future work.

Our areas of focus include but are not limited to: deliberative and collaborative systems, e-democracy and e-participation, mobilization and
organization, negotiation, consultation, sustainability, community support systems, open source models, human rights, ecological awareness,
conflict resolution, justice, transparency systems, media and civic journalism, media literacy, power research, citizen science, economic
development and opportunity, peace and reconciliation, infrastructure development, policy, education, community networks, research and
development for civil society, social software, virtual communities and civic intelligence.

We are currently interested in the following types of submissions: research paper and exploratory paper presentations (both of which will
be peer reviewed), technology demonstrations, workshops and poster sessions. We are currently seeking co-sponsors who can help provide
various types of assistance. We are also seeking donations and other support (including volunteer labor) to help make this event successful.

The DIAC symposia have resulted in six book publications (in addition to the proceedings). Although we don't have specific plans at this time, we
are hoping to publish our seventh book based on this event.

Guidelines for papers and other submissions

All submissions must be made via the conference submission system on the DIAC-08 web site. Submissions should be written in English and foreign
speakers are encouraged to have their submissions reviewed for language prior to submission. Submissions should be formatted for "US Letter"
size using 11 point Times-Roman font. Research papers should be a maximum of 10 pages. Accepted research papers should be revised
according to reviewer comments and resubmitted by the deadline. Workshop proposals (two pages) should include motivation, objectives, expected
outcomes, intended audience, process (including specific description of how people will be engaged during the workshop). Taking a cue from PDC
2008, we are also interested in exploratory papers (4 pages), that reflect novel concepts, works-in-progress, reflections, manifestos or
other ideas and issues that aren't currently suitable for a research paper.

Important Dates

January 1, 2007 Submission system available January 15, 2007 Early
registration begins February 15, 2008 Research paper submissions due
March 15, 2008 Demonstration, workshop proposals due April 1, 2008
Notices of research paper acceptances April 15, 2008 Poster proposals
due May 1, 2008 Late registration begins May 15, 2008 Completed research
papers due June 26 - June 29, 2008 DIAC-2008/OD2008

Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility

CPSR is a public-interest alliance of people concerned about the impact of information and communications technology on society. By sponsoring
international, national, and local projects and events, CPSR serves as a catalyst for in-depth discussion and effective action in key areas.

UC Berkeley School of Information

Providing the world with innovative information solutions and leadership, the UC Berkeley School of Information conducts research,
provides policy counsel, and trains information professionals in five areas of concentration including information design and architecture,
information assurance, social studies of information, human-computer interaction, and information economics and policy.

Conference Chair
Douglas Schuler

Program Chairs
Todd Davies, Jerome Feldman, and Douglas Schuler

Related Conferences

We also recommend the Participatory Design Conference which will be held in Bloomington, Indiana, USA. September 30, 2008 - October 4, 2008. See The theme of this 10th PDC is "Experiences and Challenges" and it is an excellent opportunity to reassess the
achievements of the PD movement and to consider its future

Friday, January 25, 2008

Murdoch changes mind on online fees

RUPERT MURDOCH has done an about-face on his plans to scrap fees for The Wall Street Journal online, deciding to keep charging readers amid fears a recession in the United States will hit advertising demand.

His turnabout came just weeks after News Corp finished its $US5.6 billion ($6.3 billion) acquisition of Dow Jones, the publisher of the Journal. Earlier this month the company offered the finance paper's editorials and opinion columns on the internet free.

"We're sort of dividing it up," Mr Murdoch told a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday. "Those things that you can get more or less as a commodity on different sites about finance, that will certainly be free." But the "really special things will still be a subscription service, and sorry to tell you, probably more expensive", he said.

Only two months ago, Mr Murdoch said the site, which has about 1 million subscribers, would be made free to boost user numbers to up to 15 million and "attract very large sums of advertising". Brushing off concerns the site would lose $US60 million in annual subscription fees, he said on another occasion that "if the site is good, you'll get much more".

But with talk of a recession, the advertising outlook is more uncertain. Advertising spending is closely tied to the health of the economy. Morgan Stanley this week cut its price targets for shares of Time Warner, the world's largest media company, and CBS, the biggest US broadcaster, saying the downturn would hurt advertising spending this year and next.

"It's all about protecting revenues," said Mark McDonnell, an analyst at BBY. At News, "they may have done the maths and said we're going to lose an x amount of money" by scrapping the charges, he said.

Mr Murdoch may also have come to the conclusion Journal customers would willingly pay for the depth of specialised content on the site, media analysts said.

Instead of giving up fixed subscription fees and become hostage to the volatile advertising market, News Corp has settled on a hybrid model - and plans to ask its subscribers to fork out even more: fees will rise to $US119 a year, from $US99, the Journal said.

Mr Murdoch's original comments, and The New York Times's move last year to drop online charges in favour of boosting advertising dollars, had sparked a debate on whether subscription-based journalism on the internet was feasible, putting pressure on Fairfax Media's site to follow suit.

Two months ago simplified its pricing model, but rebuffed suggestions it should offer free content to increase its readership and ad revenues.

with agencies

Thursday, January 24, 2008

PIWA-Information Society Prize 2008 Haayo Prizes

Within the framework of its objective to strengthen journalist capacity on ICTs of the its "Haayo-Mediactic" (*
<> - *see below) project funded by the Open Society Institute West Africa (OSIWA), the Panos Institute West Africa (PIWA) is
launching a media production contest on ICTs. The contest is open to all  print and broadcast media journalists from West and Central Africa.
Journalists who wish to take part in this contest are required to     submit an article or an audio programme on the theme: « ICTs and     elections" ». Deadline to apply: March 15^th 2008.


* *

*1-1- Theme of the 2008 edition*

Journalists who wish to take part in this contest should submit an article or a radio programme on the keynote theme:

 *« ICTs and elections in Africa »*

The article or radio programme should focus specifically on one of the following issues:
-  the use of Internet during campaigns (« cybercampaigns", public
debate using Internet) ;
-  impact of Internet on campaigns and elections;
-  mobile telephony and elections ;
-  ICTs and elections' transparency (electoral file, voter card, data
transmission security, statistics);

-  ICT theme in election candidates' programmes.

*1-2 Modalities*


Journalists who wish to take part in this contest should send one or two articles or radio productions presenting an outlook on the issues
mentioned above. This outlook should be based on the presentation and analysis of situations, activities or projects in one or several
countries in West and Central Africa. Experiences of others African regions or continents can also be compared to West and African experiences.


Articles and radio productions previously published/broadcast (*at most 6 months ago*) can be submitted (except those that already won awards in
other competitions or those submitted to or produced for the Panos Institute West Africa).


*The articles should contain between 6, 000 and 9, 000 letters*.

*The radio production should be between five and ten minutes long and saved in mp3 or ogg format*. It should be processed and put together and
should not just be a simple report. Applicants should submit their productions to Panos Institute West Africa in digital format (CD, USB
key, electronic mail - no floppy disk) no later than 15 March 2008.

 Articles or radio productions can be submitted in French or in English.

*2. PRIZE*


PIWA will award three prizes to the best productions (written media or radio) in the contest.


*-** For Print Media:*

A cash prize of FCFA 1, 000, 000 will be awarded to the journalist with the best production;


*-** For Radio:*

A cash prize of FCFA 500, 000 will be awarded to the journalist with the best radio production. He or she will also be invited to a prize-giving
ceremony that will take place in Dakar, mid-2008, during a side event of a regional workshop organized by PIWA (date to be precised);


*-** Special Prize:*

A cash prize of FCFA 300, 000 will be awarded to the journalist with the most promising production (either for print media or radio).


The reference currency is CFA Franc. Prizes will be paid in CFA or converted in the local currency of recipients.

* *

* *



All applications should include the following:


- One or two articles in French or in English on one of the topics proposed;

- *OR* one or two radio productions in French or English between 5 and 10 minutes long


- A letter signed by the journalist to attest that

-         she/he is truly the author of the article(s) or radio production(s) sent;

-         the article or radio production was not awarded in other contests;


Please include adequate references if your article or radio production was previously published/broadcast.

- A detailed CV that shows, if need be, a list of previous articles or radio productions on ICTs (mentioning the newspaper/website where they
were published, the date of publication, etc.);

- A document attesting that the candidate is actually a journalist in a press organ.

 An acknowledgement of receipt will be sent accordingly, via e-mail and within 48 hours, to applicants whose files have been received.

* *

* *


 A panel of judges, made up of journalists and media and ICT experts, will assess the quality of the articles and radio productions.

Main selection criteria are specifically as follows:

-  originality of the subject / experience presented;

-  quality of analysis and line of argumentation;

-  quality of the article or radio production

-  adherence to norms/formats (6,000 to 9,000 letters for the articles, 5 to 10 minutes for the radio productions).

 *All applications must be sent by electronic mail to the two electronic addresses provided below*.

They may also be sent by post or deposited at the Panos Institute West Africa office in Dakar at the address provided below.

  *5. DATES*
 All applications should arrive at Panos Institute West Africa no later than *March 15^th 2008*.

Hence, it is strongly recommended to couple any dispatch by post mail with a submission via electronic mail to the email addresses provided

The results will be published on *31 March 2008* on the Panos Institute West Africa website; email notifications will be sent to all applicants.
A prize-giving ceremony will take place in Dakar, mid-2008, during a side event of a regional workshop organized by PIWA (date to be
precised). Only the broadcast media winner will invited to that ceremony.


* *


* *

*6-1 Publication rights on the articles*


PIWA will not return submitted productions to their authors. The authors accord PIWA the right to publish, for non-commercial purposes, the
productions received.The journalists whose productions are going to be published will be informed. They will still have copyrights on these productions.

* *

*6-2 Reservation clause on the awarding of prizes*


PIWA reserves the right not to award prizes if the articles submitted are not up to an appreciable quality, or if the number of responses
received is too low.

The decisions made by the panel of judges and PIWA are supreme and beyond all possible dispute. All participants in this contest implicitly
accept the rules presented in this document.

* *

* *



It is mandatory to send applications to the *two email addresses* below:

 Email: <> *AND* <>

The subject of your mail should be "PIWA media contest on ICT".

Applications may also, in addition, be sent by post mail to the following address:


Programme TIC

Concours « Prix IPAO - Sociétés de l'information »

6, rue Calmette

BP 21 132 Dakar Ponty

Dakar - Sénégal
If you wish to send your applications by post mail, please be sure to send it by the end of February (because of postal delays). In any case,
_only applications received by 15 March will be judged_.


For more information on this contest or if you are facing any problem for attached pieces or delivery, please contact Judith Lenti <> or Ken Lohento <> .

Tel: +221 33 849 16 66

 For more information on the first edition of the "PIWA-Information Society" Prize, please check .


*About the Haayo Project*

Haayo-Mediatic is an experimental joint project of the Panos Institute West Africa and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

The objectives of this project are the following:

- to bring into limelight issues around "media and ICTs" in West Africa,

- to bring into limelight innovative use of ICTs at grassroots' level;

- enhance the sharing of good practices and experiences in the media and
the ICT sectors;

- to consolidate the works of media reporting in the ICT sector in West

- to consolidate the role of the media as enablers of good governance
for the advent of open and developed societies in West Africa.

* *

*For more information, please check <>*


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Teaching online newswriting

Commentary: Understanding search engine optimization and the need to work quickly can help journalists write more effectively for the Web.

By Robert Niles

The best online newswriting differs from print newswriting; and journalism students can, and should, learn those differences. This week, I talked with my graduate online journalism class at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism about the differences in form and style between online and traditional print newswriting.

Since so much news on the Web is simply repurposed from print newspaper and magazines, one might question the need to teach online as a distinct writing skill. But just because too many news organizations fail to take full advantage of the medium's opportunities does not mean those opportunities do not exist. Online publishing offers at least four unique writing formats for journalism, and savvy online reporters ought to learn how to use write in ways that enmesh their work within the robust context of the World Wide Web. And... to do so swiftly, to remain viable in the far more competitive online publishing market. To that end, I wrapped up the class with a competitive exercise that took my students by surprise.

I don't use textbooks in my classes (college students have enough expenses as it is), opting instead to direct students to readings available free online. To prepare for this week's class, I asked my students to read Mindy McAdams' guide to online newswriting, as well as OJR's wiki on the topic. I would recommend both resources to any journalist eager to improve his/her online writing skills.

Outside the traditional print-derived story format, online journalists write in blogs, wikis and discussion forums. They are also often called upon to write heads, decks and short article summaries that fuel RSS feeds and e-mail newsletters.

Unique online writing formats

Blogs offers the closest comparison to print newswriting, particularly the column form. Not all blogs need be first-person opinion, indeed, the best blogs, like the best columns, are built upon strong original reporting. But a great blog offers a distinct voice that grabs the reader's attention and draws them into the piece. Blog writers must draw upon their personal life experiences and sharp observation skills to put their reporting into a context that their readers will understand quickly and intuitively. And, oh yeah, it helps immensely if those bloggers can do this in minutes and several times a day.

Wikis are the ultimate in online "writing by committee." The natural comparison to the print world here lies with the copy desk, revising and clarifying the work of others. Of course, wikis should not derivative, and require writers who can blend fresh information seamlessly into the existing article. Of all formats of online writing, this might be the toughest to do well. I continue to suggest that newsrooms should make more aggressive use of wikis to bring new readers up to speed on news stories, and to draw more search engine traffic into their websites.

Discussion boards have stymied newspaper websites for years, but allowed solo web publishers to build immense audiences online. The best discussion leaders take the skills of a great interviewer and apply them to their online communities, writing with a style that acknowledges and builds upon previous comments, sustaining the momentum of threads and eliciting knowledgeable responses. Smart, personal and well-informed words help these writers make their readers feel that they cannot possibly spend even single day away from the conversation.

Feed writing takes the traditional print skill of headline writing into a new medium, where the primary goal is not communication within a defined number of spaces on a page, but writing heads and decks that elicit clicks, forwards and "Diggs" from as many readers as possible. A print headline strives to get people to keep reading the article underneath, but a feed headline faces a tougher challenge: to get the reader to click through to an article from an RSS feed or e-mail, or, better yet, to motivate the reader to forward that link to others via e-mail, instant message and/or social bookmarks.

What are some the specific skills that online writers can employ to distinguish their work in these formats? As my class suggested, traditional qualities of great newswriting still apply: active voice, clear construction and careful vocabulary. But what else?

Writing for search engines... and reaching your readers

I suggested that my students first focus on single task unknown to print journalists: search engine optimization. I am aware that the suggestion that journalists write to please algorithms at the Googleplex will infuriate some journalism pros. But when you write a piece to score highly in search engine result pages, you craft a piece that serves its readers, as well.

To place well in search engine results, an article must be sharply focused to the keywords that readers are likely to use in an effort to find the piece. To write such articles, I asked my students to put themselves in the position of their potential readers (never a bad idea for a writer!), then envision what one or two words and phrases a reader would use to search for their piece.

This forces the writer to (a) figure out just what exactly their piece is about and (b) narrow that topic to one or two key ideas. It's a great way to clarify before writing a piece. Then, I asked the students to make sure that they used their keyword or phrase in the headline and lead paragraph of their piece, then several more times in the remaining copy, to stay on focus and keep the piece from wandering.

If the story's moving into another direction, then you need another article. Hyperlink them for context, as necessary.

And that's the second stage in writing well for online. Hyperlinking is essential, both to make full use of the deep context and background available on the Web [see my commentary from last September], and to enmesh their work within the Web, increasing its chances to be moved up into the top pages for search engine results. In addition to keyword relevancy, an article needs inbound links from other websites to rank well in search engine results.

To increase an article's chances for search engine (and therefore, readership) success, I told the class that they should one day learn how to configure their online publishing tool to ensure that each article appears under a single, distinct URL, so that their pieces get the full search engine benefit of all inbound links to it, without duplicate content penalties. But, I assured them, that's a "how-to" topic for a later day.

The speed quiz

We wrapped up the class with an exercise that, I think, drives home the challenge for online journalists to write well, and quickly.

I gave each student a section from a recent Los Angeles Times newspaper and told them to pick the three most important stories within that section, then to write a head and deck for each story, as they would if they were crafting an RSS feed or e-mail newsletter. They would be graded on news judgment, use of keywords, active voice and economy of language. Each head/deck combo would be worth 13 points, on a 50-point scale.

That made for 39 points. The other 11? Well, there are 11 students in my class, and the final points would be awarded on Borda Count scale. The first student to send their summaries to my e-mail in box gets 11 points, the next 10, on down to the last student to complete the assignment, who would get just one point.

Most students gasped when I told them this, but their competitiveness soon kicked in. I warned them: if you rush to get your piece out first, and make an error of fact or spelling, you'll end up with fewer points than if you proof-read your piece and turned it in last. And from past years giving this same assignment, I've found that many of the faster writers getting lower grades than their slower classmates.

A "teaching moment," indeed.

From Online Journalism Review,
Annenberg School of Journalism, University of Southern California

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

2008 Computer Assisted Reporting (CAR) Conference

2008 CAR Conference

Feb. 28 - March 2, Houston

Join IRE and NICAR in Houston for four days of panels and three days of hands-on training that will focus all the talk about Web 2.0 into practical applications and cutting-edge techniques.

One track of panels will show how mash-ups, wikis, interactive databases on the Web and other applications can help build and present investigative and in-depth stories. The top practitioners in the country and the world will be in Houston to lead this exciting track.

There also will be panels at which beat reporters can learn about databases for their areas of interests and how to analyze those databases to produce high-impact stories on a regular basis. Other sessions will address the interest and needs of editors ‑ who need to know how to ask the right questions and bulletproof CAR stories ‑ and of broadcast journalists who work under heavy deadline pressure. Join a discussion about visual techniques ‑ from charts to maps to social network analysis ‑ that journalists can use to analyze and present data for stories.

And, of course, there will be the nonstop hands-on training featuring the best teachers in CAR. They will lead sessions for all levels, beginner to advanced, on smart Web searches, spreadsheets, database managers, mapping, statistics and even more advanced programming. Check out the expected speakers list (and watch for new additions).


Monday, January 14, 2008

BBC Free Online Broadcast & New Media Courses

Are you interested in skills development, check out BBC Free Online Broadcast & New Media Courses at

Courses are available in the following areas :

1. Television
2. Broadcast Technology
3. Health and Safety
4. Radio
5. Journalism
6. Broadcast Management

According the BBC Training and Development website "These online modules and guides are free for you to use. They were originally designed for BBC staff and in publishing them here we have not made many editorial changes to them.This is because they are primarily aimed at anyone who is working for, with or alongside the BBC, so the modules still contain some specific references to BBC procedures, methods and services."

Do you know about any free online courses for journalists, add it as comments

Review of websites making money from journalism in the New Media Age reviews websites that are attempting to make money from journalism in the new media age. That may be a mainstream organization launching a new media spin-off, an internet startup looking to make millions, a non-profit news venture, or an entrepreneur setting up a solo project. In short, if they're trying to make money from journalism - or launching a journalism project - we'll cover it.

You may notice some experiments of our own with enterprise (yes, those hideous Google Ads). Any (likely minimal) revenue from these will go towards upkeep and, where possible, paying contributors.

Go to

for more details

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

How to: set up video for newspaper websites on a budget

In a three part article took a look at how to set up video for newspaper website on a budget
took a looks at :
-computer required for video production(memory, connectivity and disk space)  
-camera including options of using your mobile phone as a camera
- editing ( Windows Movie Maker and iMovie)
- Accesories ( Gorillapod and Maplin)
- Issues

took a look at :
- Camera ( There are two things to consider when you buy a camcorder. What does it record on to and how are you going to get it on to your computer?)DVD, Tapes, SD card, HDD,
- Editing ( Premiere Elments and Final Cut Express)
- Accessories
- Issues
took a look at :
- choice of camera
- editing
- accessories (tripod, sound and light)
- conclusion

Monday, January 07, 2008

Wiki Citizens Taking on a New Area: Searching

When Jimmy Wales co-founded Wikipedia in 2001 and called the site, which carried only a few articles then, a free encyclopedia, not many people took him seriously.

Nowadays, with more than two million articles in English alone, Wikipedia is an important, if not always reliable, digital reference for millions of Internet users.

Mr. Wales expects his new Internet search engine, Wikia Search, an early version of which is being made available to the public Monday at, to follow a similar trajectory.

"We want to make it really clear that when people arrive and do searches, they should not expect to find a Google killer," Mr. Wales said. Instead, people who use the Wikia search engine should understand that they are part of the early stages of a project to build a "Google-quality search engine," Mr. Wales said.

Like Wikipedia, Mr. Wales plans to rely on a "wiki" model, a voluntary collaboration of people, to fine-tune the Wikia search engine. When it starts up Monday, the service will rank pages based on a relatively simple algorithm. Users will be allowed and encouraged to rate search results for quality and relevance. Wikia will gradually incorporate that feedback in its rankings of Web pages to deliver increasingly useful answers to people's questions.

Like other search engines and sites that rely on the so-called "wisdom of crowds," the Wikia search engine is likely to be susceptible to people who try to game the system, by, for example, seeking to advance the ranking of their own site. Mr. Wales said Wikia would attempt to "block them, ban them, delete their stuff," just as other wiki projects do.

Wikia, a for-profit company independent of the Wikiamedia Foundation which runs Wikipedia, plans to make money selling ads. The company, which also runs wiki sites on thousands of topics, has received $14 million, $10 million of that from Amazon.

For Mr. Wales, a founder of Wikia, the project is as much a business as a cause. As more people rely on search engines, companies like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have become the gatekeepers of the world's information, Mr. Wales said. Yet little is known about how they select certain sites over others, he added.

"I think it is unhealthy for the citizens of the world that so much of our information is controlled by such a small number of players, behind closed doors," he said. "We really have no ability to understand and influence that process."

The Wikia search engine will be an open-source project, whose programming code and data will be available to anyone, he said.

Dozens of companies have tried to offer alternatives to the big search engines. None has managed to attract a sizable audience so far.

"We are only going to know after a certain period of time the power that Wikia can or cannot deliver," said Gary Price, head of online information at, the No. 4 search engine behind Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. Wikia faces many tests, among them manipulation, he said, calling it "a real concern for Wikia."

Friday, January 04, 2008

One laptop project loses partner

Intel has pulled out of a project to put cheap laptops in the hands of children in the developing world.

Citing "philosophical" differences, Intel has withdrawn its funding and technical help from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project.

OLPC aimed to boost learning in poorer nations via a custom-built laptop intended to cost no more than $100.

Intel's withdrawal is a blow to OLPC which has found few nations willing to buy large numbers of laptops.

Machine code

Intel joined the OLPC in July 2007 and was widely expected to work on a version of the project's laptop that used an Intel chip. Many expected this machine to be unveiled at the CES technology fair which opens in Las Vegas on 5 January.

The first versions of the OLPC or XO laptop were powered by a chip made by Intel's arch-rival AMD.

OLPC was always going to face an uphill battle when confronted with a mighty corporation like Intel
Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC technology correspondent

The green and white XO machine was designed specifically for children, was made rugged to cope with conditions in developing nations and could be kept powered using a hand crank.

Intel spokesman Chuck Molly said it had taken the decision to resign from the OLPC board and end its involvement because the organisation had asked it to stop backing rival low-cost laptops.

On the OLPC board with Intel are 11 other companies including Google and Red Hat.

The chip maker has been promoting its own cheap laptop, the Classmate, in many of the same places as the OLPC.

"OLPC had asked Intel to end our support for non-OLPC platforms, including the Classmate PC, and to focus on the OLPC platform exclusively," said Mr Mulloy . "At the end of the day, we decided we couldn't accommodate that request."

He added that the use of AMD chips in the first XO laptops had not influenced its decision.

So far the OLPC has yet to comment on the split.

Prior to Intel's involvement, OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte criticised the chip firm for what he called its attempts to undermine the project's work.

He said Intel was selling its Classmate at a loss to make the XO laptop less attractive.

While Dr Negroponte's initial aim was for a laptop costing only $100, the final versions that have been trialled in Nigeria and Uruguay cost $188 (£95).

Costs were supposed to be kept low by governments ordering the XO laptop in shipments of one million, but large orders for the XO laptop have, so far, not materialised.

In a bid to boost the numbers of laptops available, OLPC ran a "Give One, Get One" programme in the US from 12 November to 31 December.

This allowed members of the public to buy two XO machines - one for themselves and one for a OLPC project elsewhere.

OLPC said the success of this had helped it to launch programmes in Haiti, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Mongolia, and Afghanistan.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Technologies on the rise in 2008

Toshiba prototype headgear
Predicting technology trends can be a difficult business
A number of technologies have exploded throughout 2007, from Facebook and the iPhone to the Nintendo Wii.

But what will be making the headlines over the next 12 months?

Here the BBC News website gives its predictions for five technologies that could become big in 2008.


Google HQ
Could the online and offline worlds meet in 2008?

One of the biggest drawbacks of web applications is that they can only be used when there is an internet connection.

Although mobile working is becoming increasingly common, ubiquitous connectivity is still a long way off.

But there are tools that are beginning to blur the online and offline worlds.

Over the last 12 months a number of technologies that could have a significant impact on the way people use the web.

Search giant Google announced its Gears application whilst Adobe launched Air and Microsoft released Silverlight.

All the technologies have the ability to take rich web content and make some of it available offline.

For example Adobe has shown off an Ebay desktop application built using Air that would allow users to do much of the legwork required in setting up auctions offline.

The next time the user connects to the internet the listing would be posted to the website.

Silverlight offers the reverse - the ability to build desktop applications and allow them to run in a web browser.

Google Gears does not allow the creation of new applications but does allow web applications to be taken offline.

For example, the developers of the free online office package Zoho use Gears to allow users to use their applications in a similar way to a normal desktop office program.

2008 should see more examples of applications built with or using one of the three tools to make a truly seamless computing experience.


Asus eee
The Asus eee is setting the trend for UMPCs

Various devices have tried to fill the role between a PDA and a full-blown laptop over the years, but none has taken off.

But 2008 could be the year when the Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPCs) finally have their day.

The first devices were launched in 2006, but they have never gone mass market - partly because of a combination of high prices and poor battery life.

But towards the end of 2007 a series of new products started to hit shelves.

The most talked about was the Asus EEE, a sub-£200 laptop about the size of a hardback book.

The Taiwanese manufacturer has predicted it will sell five million of the tiny machines in 2008.

The low-cost laptop runs open source Linux software and weighs less than one kilogram.

To cut down on weight it does away with a hard drive in favour of just 4GB of flash memory.

Whilst the storage is small, its use of flash highlights another trend of 2008.

Flash memory has been gradually increasing in power. For example, electronics giant Samsung recently showed off chips that could be used to make 128GB memory cards.

As a result the technology is now starting to challenge hard drives as the storage of choice on laptops.

Apple is even rumoured to be launching ultra-thin Macbooks using flash in 2008.


TV remote control

Internet TV has been hampered in the past because broadband speeds were not fast enough to deliver a reliable service.

But today more than half of all UK homes have a broadband connection, at an average speed of four megabits a second (Mbps), according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

And speeds are increasing. Next year, ADSL2+ comes online, promising broadband speeds of up to 24Mbps.

As a result, more and more internet protocol television services are being launched.

Alongside established services from BT vision and Virgin Media, other operators are getting in on the business.

Following the launch of a successful service in the Czech Republic, mobile phone operator O2 plans to launch a UK service in 2008.

Others such as Orange are expected to follow suit.

The BBC will also be pushing its iPlayer in 2008, a service that allows people to catch up on the corporation's output over the web. Whilst in November, the BBC partnered with rivals ITV and Channel 4 to launch a joint on-demand service.

Existing firms are also predicting rapid growth through 2008.

Mary Turner, the chief executive of Tiscali UK said in December that its service is currently signing up 250 people each day and expects to have 50,000 users by the end of the year

It is aiming for 200,000 by the end of 2008.


Wimax aerial

Wimax is a wireless technology that can deliver high speed broadband over long distances.

It is already big in the US with companies such as Sprint and Intel backing the technology.

Some areas of the developed world, such as Abuja in Nigeria, are also trialling the technology.

But, according to analyst Mike Roberts of research firm Informa Media and Telecoms, it has never taken off in Europe. But, he said, that could all change in 2008.

"Next year could be the first year that we see some of the major deployments of Wimax in Europe," he said.

Milton Keynes has just launched what it claims if the first commercial Wimax service in the UK.

The aim, according to a spokesperson was to "make Milton Keynes the first WiMax-powered wireless internet city."

According to Mr Roberts others could follow suit particularly if a big player such as BT was "able to get its hands on the right spectrum".


Skype screengrab
Skype is the best-known provider of traditional VoIP services

VoIP is a technology that allows users to make cheap phone calls over the internet.

Although some firms such as Jajah and Truphone have offered VoIP on mobiles the technology is still relatively nascent.

However, 2008 could be the year the technology takes off.

Towards the end of 2007, network operator 3 launched a Skype phone that allows users to make calls using the service, already popular for making calls from PCs.

Handset-maker Nokia also offers four phones with the ability to use the technology.

"We plan to add VoIP enabled devices to the existing range," said Mark Squires of the firm.

But even with the backing of a heavyweight such as Nokia, not everyone is convinced that 2008 will be the year of mobile VoIP.

"Mobile VoIP is still at a very early stage," said Mike Roberts of analysts Informa Media and Telecoms. "It's very disruptive but it will be a slow burn, to my mind,"


Happy year 2008 to all our readers