Hi, please

Travalogue 3: Some Ideas

I’m contemplating a few ideas for my third travelogue and they pretty widely in terms of their content.

#1 White House Visitor Logs: Last year, Obama announced that each month, the WH would release its visitor logs to the public (visitors from the previous 90-120 days would be made available online). The full policy is available to review here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/VoluntaryDisclosure/. What are the implications of this? What does it mean for transparency? What kind of information is gained from this and for what purposes?

#2 Google Buzz. Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a complaint this week with Federal Trade Commission, urging the them to open an investigation into Google Buzz. I could find out more about the complaint, whether it has any merit and what will happen next. The only thing is I know we’ve talked about these issues before so wouldn’t want to go over them ad nauseam. But it could be a good way to get involved, talk to people, help them figure out how to turn it off, follow the EPIC complaint etc, see who else is joining them etc.

#3 Skype and Voice Over Internet Protocal (VoIP). Verizon just announced that it will soon allow its 90+ million customers to make free calls on Skype. Starting in March, subscribers with certain phones will be able to download a Skype application which allows them to call or instant message other Skype users for free. What’s behind this partnership? What’s Skype’s relationship with other telecommunications companies (I know its blocked in several case)? How was the FCC regulated this issue? What’s next?

If you have any thoughts about what would be most interesting and most relevant to this class, please let me know. Once I’ve picked a topic I can delve into explaining more of the implications of whichever issue I pick and how I plan to do the research. Thanks in advance for any comments.

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  1. HoniehLayla 14:26, Feb 18th, 10


    I like the Google Buzz idea. Since Mushon has already posted the top 10 reasons why to shut it off – maybe we should extend that idea into a petition of some sort and see how far it can go. Although EPIC has filed a complaint already, I would like to see what will happen next, and how Google will respond. I know they like to place it safe in their responses, but this MAY impact GOOGLE much differently than it has in the past.. possibly for the better or more possibly for the WORSE.

    I would like to know what type of groups of forming out there (peer to peer collaboration) to protest against this product.

  2. Alexandra 15:42, Feb 18th, 10

    I’m really interested in your White House idea, although I’m not sure whether it qualifies as a current event. I know some are disgruntled with the Obama administration but I still have hope! I guess I would wonder whether any special interest groups have pounced on this one the way Politifact did with campaign promises: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/

  3. ElzbthMllr 15:50, Feb 18th, 10

    Thanks for the feedback so soon! Here is an example that the Sunlight Foundation did on the WH visitor logs that shows how it’s kind of a current event? Maybe I’m stretching on that one though!


  4. Leslie 16:15, Feb 18th, 10

    Hey Elizabeth- I agree with Alex. The White House idea seems interesting. I’d love to hear more on that, why Obama decided to do this, how he thought it could help going towards the future, what it has (if anything) proven to do so far.

  5. Jimena 13:00, Feb 19th, 10

    Hi Elizabeth–
    I’m for the WH log, too. It would be interesting to see if this doesn’t cover up the fact that lobbying will actually happen outside the WH. As Michael Scherer writes in the article you link: “White House’s admirable decision to release its visitor records–at least until White House staff starts intentionally meeting with lobbyists off-site.”
    Is this really an effort to offer more transparency? Will this motivate reporters to investigate on further on lobbying going on beyond the WH?

    My second vote would go to the Buzz piece. I think Honieh’s idea of following a petition, etc, is really cool.

    You decide :)

  6. mushon 09:34, Feb 20th, 10

    I find both the WH Buzz and VoIP ideas compelling.
    WH – Jimena’s point is important. Is it a schedule of the building or the staff? And speaking of transparency, how are DC journalist supposed to make sense out of lists of names coming in the building? or is it more annotated? and if not what other investigative tools can they use?
    VoIP – What’s very interesting in this one is that while the telecom industry is very regulated, the Internet is not. This could provide a loophole for telecoms or a serious dillema for the FCC…

  7. Ryan 15:13, Feb 20th, 10

    Either way, the Google Buzz or the White House Voluntary Disclosure both deal with privacy issues so I think that they would both work equally well. However, the Google Buzz has been an even larger topic for debate from the controversy it already has drawn in addition to its relevance to new media.

  8. Juliette 19:47, Feb 20th, 10


    I really like the White House and Obama’s initiative. I would be indeed very interested in knowing what’s under this new measure.Is it just an announcement effect or we really going to gain relevant informations out of this logs?
    And most of all I would love to know who’s gonna manage this new measure concretely (for instance Obama is famous for not requiring the questions of journalits before being interviewed by them). How is the WH going to control those logs? I assume that there has to be someone from the WH staff who is going to look through the logs (at least in order to put them on line…) thus implying a choice among the log or even some censorship…

    Looking forward to your inquiry!

  9. ElzbthMllr 17:48, Feb 21st, 10

    Thanks to everyone for the feedback! I’m doing the White House visitor logs, will be posting my first posting shortly.