ArtsWatch: Cities As Cultural Olympians
In recent news ...
On Aug. 1 Mayor of London Boris Johnson announced the release of "World Cities Culture Report 2012," which he commissioned, and hosted the inaugural World Cities Culture Summit. "In coming together as city leaders and policymakers we want to harness the full potential of culture, which makes our cities exciting and desirable places to live in and visit, but also makes a massive contribution to wider social and economic goals," said Johnson. Building on the groundbreaking 2008 report "London: A Cultural Audit" released under his predecessor, Ken Livingstone, the 12 partner cities — Berlin; Istanbul; Johannesburg; London; Mumbai, India; New York; Paris; São Paulo; Shanghai; Singapore; Sydney; and Tokyo — announced ambitious goals for the future, including formation of a World Cities Culture Forum, an annual summit, another comprehensive report in three years, and ongoing research and collaboration. Other cities are welcome to join this unique project that could help demonstrate to local governments the importance of support for arts education and performance. BOP Consulting's Paul Owens led the research team and said, "Culture is an under-researched and poorly understood factor in the social and economic success of world cities. The 'World Cities Culture Report' is the most comprehensive comparative study of its kind — a rich source of data and intelligence with the latest and best policy thinking about culture from across the globe. It will be a hugely valuable tool to policymakers as they devise future strategies for development and investment." It should be noted "record shops" and "large and small music venues" are listed as primary shapers of a city's character.
NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus spoke with news outlets on Aug. 2 about his network's 2012 Summer Olympics broadcasting and webcasting push. "No one has ever done this amount of simultaneous live [Internet] streaming before," he said. As a sign of the times, this hasn't stopped U.S. signal pirates from using virtual private networks to evade the legitimate streams' authentication and deceive BBC servers into treating their computers' requests as originating in London.
On July 30 the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Center launched an educational website and campaign called "IP Delivers." GIPC President/CEO David Hirschmann said, "The IP Delivers campaign will highlight the consumer and economic development benefits of a robust IP system for all economies."
The National Endowment for the Humanities announced a $1 million grant on July 26 to kick off the development of the Digital Public Library of America, a project that has been incubated for several years at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. NEH Chairman Jim Leach said, "We don't know precisely how a digital library will progress given the unpredictable imaginative capacity of users and the thorny issues of copyright. But we are confident that digital libraries are the logical extension of prior revolutions in the democratization of ideas." The funds are expected to establish the technological framework for DPLA, including integration with multiple existing national digital library efforts as well as with Europe's Europeana website. The Berkman Center's involvement will likely fight to protect the public usability of the digital library, steering a course that does not cater to copyright owners or major technology companies.
On July 26 Google announced the launch of its ultra-fast broadband Internet network, Google Fiber. Billed as 100 times faster than most conventional high-speed offerings, the search giant's foray into serving as an Internet service provider for connectivity is intended to break new ground, demonstrate what is possible and serve as a beacon for consumers, ISPs and even Google itself as it learns whatever unexpected lessons reveal themselves. The basic cost for installation is $300 with several plans available thereafter, including conventional broadband speeds for free. Neighborhoods in Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., are encouraged to pre-register a sufficient quantity of residents to get their place toward the front of the line, as installations begin after a six-week period. Google is also in negotiation to offer a cable-alternative plan with a wide range of video programming and additional content sources. Internet that operates at one gigabit per second still seems visionary for average consumers, but by the end of the year this aggressive effort will have brought it down to earth.
The Federal Communications Commission announced the resolution of a Net neutrality investigation of Verizon Wireless on July 31, accepting a consent decree along with the company's voluntary payment of $1.25 million to the U.S. Treasury. The licensing terms governing the C Block spectrum bought by Verizon for its 4G LTE network require it to allow customers unrestricted use of any devices or applications. Eleven applications that were available through Google's marketplace for Android apps have been removed because they enabled customers to tether additional data devices to their wireless Internet connection without going through Verizon's plan. The decree clarifies that the licensing terms must govern any debate about these kinds of apps. FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief P. Michele Ellison said, "This case was the first of its kind in enforcing the pro-consumer open access obligations of the C Block rules. It underscores the agency's commitment to guarantee consumers the benefits of an open wireless broadband platform." Although consumer advocates Free Press were justified in chalking this up as a win since their complaint helped drive the FCC toward an investigation, the resolution also illustrates the power of voluntary action on the part of ISPs.
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