Last Thursday, I sat on a panel with Swiss Telecommunications Association President Peter Grütter, Swisscom CEO Carsten Schloter, and Green National Councilor Balthasar Glättli, on the subject of network neutrality, and whether legal protection therefor is necessary in Switzerland. Not surprisingly, the panel was of different opinions on this matter. Swisscom and the telecom industry group support self-regulation, making the very good point that laws change too slowly with respect to Internet technology too quickly to be effective; and Glättli making the equally good point that as several obvious violations of neutrality can already be observed in Switzerland, trusting the industry to regulate itself has so far had dubious results.
Coverage (in German) of the event can be found at computerworld.ch and the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, and if you’ve got 55 minutes to kill, video of the event itself (also in German) is available at the website of the Parliamentary Group on Digital Sustainability. Continue reading
The National Council of Switzerland1 is considering the addition of a guarantee of network neutrality into a forthcoming revision of Swiss telecommunications law. This is generally a Good Thing. We all like the Internet. This being Switzerland, we all like neutrality. So network neutrality must be great.
More seriously, the Internet has largely replaced the public switched telephone network and the postal system as the basic communications infrastructure of our society; just as with these systems, the “last mile” is a natural monopoly, so guaranteeing equal access to it is important. However, the results that legislation of network neutrality will lead to may vary widely based on how, precisely, it is defined. Continue reading
I’ve learned, after something happens in America, to wait a few days, first for the inaccuracies inherent in the twenty-four-hour news cycle to be spun out, then for the inaccuracies introduced by the inevitable political spin to cancel each other out, then for the inaccuracies introduced both by textual and cultural translation into the German-language media to at least settle down to a consistent-if-subtly-incorrect picture of what, exactly, it was that just happened, before I try to discuss it here in Switzerland. This is different in America, I explain, or that in the English-speaking world, we don’t have a word for whatever, Prohibition this, Puritans that, let’s not even talk about how the Second World War began in 1941, and so on.
I can’t explain this.
The Internet Society Switzerland Chapter’s inaugural national event was last night at the Käfigturm in Bern; in my talk, “The Open Internet under Threat” (which, as it turns out, was unwittingly inspired in part by a much earlier post on this blog; slides are here), I accomplished what I set out to do, I think — start a conversation about the present state of the Internet, and threats to its openness, to figure out where we ISOC people as politically-interested network geeks can make a difference. Balthasar Glättli’s talk on Internet politics in Switzerland, and the conversations that followed both talks, were eye-opening, ranging from the education of politicians on even the most basic technical realities of the Internet through framing Internet freedom issues for random people off the street to exactly how much regulation is necessary or desirable to guarantee the fundamental rights behind network neutrality. Thanks to ISOC, the sponsors, the organizers, and all who attended, for an interesting evening in Bern!
I’ll be giving a talk to the Internet Society (ISOC) Switzerland Chapter at a meeting in Bern, at 18:30 on Tuesday 27 November, entitled “The Open Internet under Threat”. After my talk, Green National Councillor Balthasar Glättli will speak on Internet-related topics in Swiss national politics, so it promises to be a really interesting evening for Internet geeks and policy wonks alike! Continue reading
I’m not voting in the 2012 Presidential election. From a pure-fandom point of view I suppose you could say I’m for Obama, and I’ll probably raise a glass to his victory should it come, but in the end that wasn’t compelling enough to jump though all the various hoops necessary to get an absentee ballot as an emigrant American. And the only thing I’m sure I want four more years of is life in Switzerland.
There are many, many reasons I love living in Zürich, but the weather, I think, is rather a deterrent. Call it the reverse Los Angeles effect. Eighth of April (happy Easter, everyone!), and it’s cold, grey, and snowing. It’s enough to drive even the flowers to drink.
The apparent secret to getting bagels that look like bagels: broil them slightly before boiling them, and add way more salt and a little sugar to the boiling water. Bonus: these actually taste like bagels, too…
Bagels, Wallisellen, 4 December 2011
It’s bad form to draw generalizations about a place and a people from a tiny little sample of experience. And my sample last week in Taipei, Taiwan, was particularly tiny: first, I was there for an IETF meeting which kept me inside the convention center for most of the week, which resembled nothing so much as every convention center I’ve ever been in. And the times I wasn’t kept in the convention center by work, I was kept inside otherwise by a persistent rain that wasn’t so much rain as simply dampness-as-atmosphere: I literally saw the sun for only fifteen minutes the entire week, and that while it was between the horizon and the cloud deck one morning. I stayed in bed.
That said, here are a few notes on observations that came to mind while I was there. Continue reading
Bagels boiling, Wallisellen, 7 November 2011
The problem with taking a week in New York and coming back to Zürich is that you miss the bagels. Bagels, however, are made by humans, and we are humans, so how hard can it be?
Turns out, quite. Basing our recipe on one we found on an American cookbook written in German (the author’s blurb assurs us that her husband is a real, actual American from Bedford, Pennsylvania, of all places), the results of our first attempt are shown here. Ariane gets most of the credit for these, she made the dough while I was still reading the Economist on the 751. I just did the photography, and formed a couple of rings.
Bagels finished, Wallisellen, 7 November 2011
What we got were a little too soft on the inside, a little too hard on the outside, and, while they were certainly among the best-tasting bread to come out of this kitchen, they weren’t really bagels. Things to try next time:
- tweak the recipe (the Internet has a lot of opinions on how to make bagels, because the Internet has a lot of opinions on everything; sadly, most of these are wrong.)
- boil longer (two minutes a side seems a bit short) with saltier water
- let them rise a bit less (because they fell quite a lot in the oven)
- buy bagels in New York like everyone else (the flight’s not free, but hey, the dollar’s cheap…)