Daily TIPs: Policing The Web, Geo-Engineering, Politics Online, & More

Conference Looks at Web’s Effect on Politics

A two-day conference in New York this week is looking at the interaction of the Web and the political process, reports Ars Technica. At the Personal Democracy Forum’s confab, researchers presented tools for mapping and modeling the blogosphere. One speaker suggested that online fundraising is not as important a use of the Internet as finding new ways to create civic institutions. And another noted that traditional media outlets are challenging bloggers with their own offerings during this campaign

Power Lines Are Bottleneck to Renewable Energy

Wind and solar power are all well and good, but unless there’s a way to transmit their electricity from, say, the middle of the Mojave Desert to a home in the Dallas suburbs, they won’t make much difference. Speakers at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum said there’s a real need to fund and build high-power transmission lines in the parts of the country where wind farms and solar installations would work best, which tend to be less inhabited, according to the Environmental News Network.

Community Policing is the Web’s Best Asset

If a small sample of Internet users were to allow their computers’ activities to be tracked anonymously, the open-source community could identify and deal with problems such as worms and pop-up ads, an expert argues. Writing in Technology Review, law professor and Internet author Jonathan Zittrain also sees too much proprietary software, with the ability to ban outside code, as a threat to openness online.

California Air Board to Tackle Global Warming

The California Air Resources Board is about to rise from obscurity when it issues what the San Francisco Chronicle calls the nation’s most ambitious plan to fight global warming. The paper says the board is likely to offer regulations that will encourage consumers to use more energy-efficient light bulbs and higher-mileage hybrid vehicles. There may also be new regulations on utilities and a carbon credit trading system.

Geo-Engineering May Be Better Approach to Warming

Alternative energy and conservation aren’t the only responses to climate change. Another approach policy makers should consider is geo-engineering, changing the Earth to control the environment, an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times suggests. Actions such as putting particles into the atmosphere to reflect more sunlight away from the planet could buy us time as we switch to alternative fuels, argues Samuel Thernstrom of the American Enterprise Institute.

Lack of Infrastructure Prevents Broadband Competition

Regulators want to encourage competition among different forms and providers of broadband. But a blogger at ZDNet argues that it’s not always easy to replace cable with DSL or FIOS. He uses his own suburban New Jersey community as an example of how suburbs often lack the infrastructure to support competition.

Defense Argues the Internet is for Porn

The legal concept of obscenity has always been fairly subjective; as Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once famously wrote, “I know it when I see it.” Now a measure of just how many see it may change the legal notion of whether something violates community standards, says the New York Times. The defense in an obscenity trial in Florida plans to introduce Google’s data of the relative popularity of search terms such as “orgy” as compared to “apple pie,” to show that a good portion of the community is perfectly happy with porn.

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