Chile From Within

El Mercurio is in the Google Earth GIS (SIG) Mapping Business!

Posted in chile, Corruption, monopoly, Pinochet, technology by tomasdinges on November 19, 2007

Europa Technologies, TeleAtlas, DMapas/El Mercurio, NASA. Sound familiar maybe? For users of Google Earth (GE) these are the organizations that show up on the first page of the Google Earth global view. Rotate the globe and depending upon the image or frame the company responsible for that image changes. Sometimes instead of TeleAtlas, its Digital Globe, or Terrametrics, for example. Zoom into another level of closeness and one finds yourself in a world brought to you by a whole different level of companies or organizations.

Google Earth front Page
The globe in front of your eyes. All the geographical and cartographical richness that we depend upon, or fawn over for our travel fantasies, or fly with like when we dreamed we flew, roofers who make estimates for customers and business data, geo-tracking, for example, brought to you by these folks. They must be pretty important people to be involved with such an awe-inspiring and occassionally fearsome initiative as Google Earth.

What they all do, and how they do it, I’m not exactly sure. There is a Google Earth bulletin board you can seek out more information.

Europa Technologies, according to a bulletin board post by Warren Vick for Google Earth folks, is a “Supplier of places, airports, coastlines and borders data to GE.” In other places it is listed as “first level administrative border information.”

Terrametrics does, “pure uncompressed NASA source data lineage,” basically the global satellite imagery for Google Earth to a resolution of 15 meters per pixel.

DMapas/EL MERCURIO does, well, I don’t know…they provide “Map Data.” What is “Map Data” in Google Earth world? Wait, is this Grupo de Empresas El Mercurio? Is this the newspaper we love to hate for its control over the media environment in Chile getting into the GIS and mapping business? Is this the owner of La Segunda, Las Ultimas Noticias and almost all of the regional newspapers in Chile, the home of Hermogenes Perez de Arce, and Agustin Edwards. Is this the company of newspapers who were willing participants in the propaganda efforts of the conservative Chile before and after the coup by Pinochet?

Yes. What does it mean for the quality of information that DMapas is providing?

El Mercurio was famously known in the Sixties for having been the subject of a saying that is still regularly cited today. “El Mercurio miente.” The newspaper was known for documenting and speaking for the interests of the powerful and wealthy in Chile. Up to this day despite its presence in the Grupo de Diarios de las Americas, a prestigious association of 11 newspapers throughout Latin America (and Spain) it is still accused of having a conservative ideological drive to its coverage of news and politics. See its Wikipedia entry.

For good reason, people have credibility issues with El Mercurio. Is there a reason why we should question the legitimacy and quality of their mapping info, through their company, DMapas?

Will they engage in ommission, or commission, of places and names, doing something like cartographical revisionism. Is there a way to subvert google earth with ideology and control over content, like newspapers have historically been used. Is Web 2.0 subject to poisoning? See this recent Wall Street Journal article on activists using Google Earth for data mapping for an example of the positive uses of what I mean.

Below, a known malady in Chilean society. I’ve heard statistics that Chile is the number three consumer of Coca-Cola per capita in the world. This image below is found a few miles outside of the northernmost large city of Chile, Arica and was done in 1986 to commemorate 100 years of Coca-Cola. Ahhh, the liberty, the carbonation, the red and the white, the wave, the iconic imagery, the cocaine, the salt, the high fructose corn-syrup, the citric acid, the decadent rot, now rampant through Latin America, in my refrigerator and on my desk.

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Microsoft signs agreement of voluntary software and technology consulting collaboration with Chilean Government

Posted in Chile culture, Corruption, fuente abierta, microsoft, mierda, monopoly, open source, technology, Viva Chile by tomasdinges on August 6, 2007

And Chileans go crazy…well some of them. This is a clash of generations, of conceptions of democracy, of class and of course monopoly and emerging markets.

On first glance, the agreement, signed on May 9th, 2007, provides an official platform of voluntary cooperation between Microsoft Chile and the Chilean government to provide software licenses (in perpetuity), knowledge and training to areas of Chilean civil society ranging from internet tracking technology for cybercrime detectives to Municipal Governments to Small and Medium Businesses.

Bachelet as MicrosoftIt is interestingly enough the first time of seeing this sort of critical discussion, organization, anger, resentment and anti-imperialistic-like attitude from the normally “receptive” (sedated) Chilean public. But, it is not the first time that public policy, or decisions with potential impact on many, has been created and implemented by a few and behind the closed doors of the elitist democracy of Chile in the 1990’s and 2000’s. Transantiago, the country’s highway concessions and the Celulosa Arauco (President’s Lagos and Frei, respectively) express approval come to mind. The surprise is that it comes with populist Socialist president Michelle Bachelet who has shown sensitivity to citizen demands.

It was apparently signed with no previous consultation with the public and outed in Congress by documents acquired in June by Senator Alejandro Navarro, a controversial and increasingly celebrated (Las Tejas, August 30th) Senador “Discolo” who has had his finger on citizen’s issues, from former Chilean soldiers trapped in indentured servitude by military contractors in Iraq to environmental abuses to technology issues. But, he is also known for directly plagiarizing a Wikipedia entry on nanotechnology for a legal brief submitted to the Chilean Congress.

The implications of the agreement are being debated now in the Chilean blogosfera and in Chilean print. I wonder what “gobierno ciudadano” means now for the President Michelle Bachelet and the minister who signed the agreement, her Minister of Economy, Alejandro Ferreiro. Here is their press release trying to calm the waters of malinformation. Microsoft has actually had interviews with bloggers to clear things up, which has added greatly to the discussion.

I quote from El FrancoTirador’s, interview, a blog whose comment lists on these posts frequently have hundreds of comments.

3.2) ¿De quién fue la idea originalmente? (Whose idea was this originally?)

“Del Gobierno, que ya tenía planes de avanzar en la creación de una “identidad digital”, afirma Martín. “It was the Government’s, who had already been planning the creation of a “digital identity,” affirmed Martín Karich, chief of public relations for Microsoft Chile.

3.3) ¿Qué gana Microsoft ofreciendo este servicio? (What does Microsoft gain by offering this service?)

“Aunque a veces me trae problemas decirlo, lo que hacemos es expandir el mercado. Se crean más usuarios”, asinceró José Antonio Barriga. “Although on occasion it brings me problems upon saying it, what we do with this is expand the market. It creates more users,” stated Jose Antonio Barriga, National Director of Technology (Microsoft)

According to a read of the 9 page agreement, and official M’soft statements almost 3 months after the official signing, the decision to go with Microsoft does not obligate the Chilean government to go with Microsoft, but facilitates and encourages its usage. The Chilean government structure becomes the host for Microsoft and its various products and creates govt and industry (Msoft) collaborations. For example, there are 8 points in the agreement in which the Chilean government is to provide financing for tech initiatives co-sponsored with Msoft.

Bloggers in Chile have decried the decision as being made my 40 year olds who did not grow up with technology and thus do not understand the real implications of this Microsoft decision. El FrancoTirador (The Sniper, or Sharpshooter) put it like this, “How to explain to your folks that the agreement with Microsoft is bad for Chile” Others simply point to a total lack of open discussion or debate on the issue.

While it seems that this is a valid opportunity to make a big jump in improving software and gaining technological literacy across broad various sectors of society, I wonder if the Chilean government actually held intelligent deliberation on this topic. They are reported to have a open source policies in the works before this agreement.

But, did they seriously consider the legions of municipal and national governments big and small around the world which are evaluating and mostly “migrating” to open-source software, from Haryana, India to the national government of Brazil (go Lula!) to the United States Department of Transportation, which decided in March 2007 to “place a moratorium on all in-house computer upgrades to Microsoft’s new Windows Vista operating system, as well as Internet Explorer 7 and Office 2007,” according to internal documents secured by the tech online magazine Information Week?

El Diablo en Los Detalles cites a published opinion from the Que Pasa magazine in a more comprehensive discussion:

El Dr. Osorio insiste en que el acuerdo no implica que el Estado este obligado a usar productos Microsoft. Este punto hay que concederlo, porque nadie le está poniendo una pistola en la cabeza a nadie. Por supuesto (y esto el autor debe saberlo bien), el asunto es más sutil: si una pequeña municipalidad tiene que elegir una solución para un portal en la red, y el Gobierno esta promocionando un producto de Microsoft: ¿Esta seriamente el Dr. Osorio sugiriendo que la dicha Municipalidad no usará esa solución?. Lo mismo aplica a otros puntos del acuerdo.

The El Mercurio internet site and corresponding blog has an interesting discussion here.

Truth Happens, a tech blog of the open-source software house Redhat is monitoring the issue in English.

Movimiento Liberacion Digital is an organization angrily set up to monitor this agreement:

El Movimiento de Liberación Digital es un proyecto chileno, sin fines de lucro, que surge como respuesta a la incómoda sorpresa que significó descubrir el acuerdo firmado por el Ministerio de Economía de Chile junto a Microsoft Corporation el 9 de Mayo de 2007. Una iniciativa conjunta de un masivo grupo de internautas, que se sostiene en base a un esquema de trabajo colaborativo y voluntario, y que responde a la urgente necesidad de alertar, de informar, y denunciar aquellas decisiones que ponen en riesgo el desarrollo tecnológico de nuestro país…

…Nuestra misión es ser partícipes del proceso de toma de decisiones en materia de tecnología de Chile.

Global Voices Online has made their customary summary of some of the internet reactions, and has interesting commentary by Chileans.

Here is a brief look at the agreement:
El interés de Microsoft Corporation y Microsoft Chile, manifestado permanentemente a través de sus personeros, en el sentido de contribuir al desarrollo económico local a través de diversos programas sociales y herramientas tecnológicas que se ponen al servicio de la ciudadanía.

El Incremento de eficiencia que tienen las alianzas publico privadas como motor de generación de mejores oportunidades y alternativas en la búsqueda de soluciones tecnologías concretas a problemas en materias de inclusión digital, educación, Seguridad informática, Seguridad personal en la red y demás que se abordan en el presente acuerdo.

En consideración a lo anterior el Ministerio de Economía, por una parte y Microsoft Chile y Microsoft Corporation, por la Otra, han convenido el siguiente acuerdo de colaboración

For example:

c) Municipio Digital

c.1.- Microsoft se compromete a entregar el uso no exclusivo del código fuente de su solución de desarrollo de portales municipales y los aceleradores para la personalización de los mismos, para que los gobiernos locales puedan desarrollar portales que les permitan relacionarse con la Comunidad.

c.4.­ Microsoft conjuntamente con socios comerciales de desarrollo de aplicaciones, se compromete a desarrollar una serie de aplicaciones para modernizar tecnológicamente a los municipios, que incluyan aplicaciones financieros-contables, dirección de obras, tránsito, recaudaciones, salud y educación, Microsoft se compromete a contar con al menos dos soluciones y socios comerciales, de forma de tener alternativas de proveedores.

They cite The School of the Future, as an innovative example.

Duncan MacVicar, posted one of many great commentary on the El Mercurio site. My emphasis.

Respondiendo al comentario de Miguel Carrasco A.

Su comentario solo coloca una arrogante serie de siglas de cursillo rápido de e-business para ejecutivos, sin dar fundamento alguno, intentando insinuar que quienes se oponen a este acuerdo son solo gente ignorante.

Solo quisiera recordarle algunas cosas:

No subestime a nuestros jóvenes. Muchos de los que han alzado la voz son pioneros en la cultura digital, y por ende, saben como decisiones como esta afectarán el desarrollo tecnológico local, que debe ser abierto y dominado por las pymes.
– Microsoft no es la única compañia que es capaz de ofrecer plataformas de e-goverment. Noruega lo hace con software libre, Alemania también. En realidad, Brazil, toda Europa y Asia. (http://news.com.com/2100-1001-272299.html )
– Microsoft no merece ningún trato especial para obtener 15 millones de clientes sin licitación alguna. Esto fue un compadreo.

Y ya sabemos lo que viene contra el software libre: terror y desinformación, utilizando temas como la propiedad intelectual, impuestos, etc, para convencer a la gente que no entiende. En vez de generar tecnología local y fomentar la creatividad e investigación.

La decisión es una verguenza. Y la campaña desinformativa de la ACTI (que por coincidencia tiene en su directorio al Gerente de Microsoft) lo es aún más.

Posteado por:
Duncan Mac-Vicar P. (Julio 24, 2007 02:59 PM)

Commentary by Miguel Carrasco A.

A aquellos que están en contra de este acuerdo….saben algo de:
TIC’s..???
Sociedad de la Información..??
e-bussines…??
e-government..??
antes de dar una opinión sin fundamentos…..favor informarse un poco más….!!!

Posteado por:
Miguel Carrasco A (Julio 24, 2007 02:24 PM)