Friday, October 3, 2008

Loose Ends - Skype and the Great Firewall of China, VON/Virgo Deal, Oz/Nokia Deal

I don't get paid to blog, so when I'm busy with consulting work, I fall behind on the news. There is always interesting stuff going on, and before the week is out, I wanted to quickly draw attention to three stories of note. These are all of interest to me, but it's way too late to post about them. So, for the laggards out there, here are three items you might want to explore further.

1. Skype - China/censorship/privacy - you get the idea. Wow, this is an interesting - but not altogether unsurprising story. Barely a month after the Beijing Olympics, here we go again, with the dark side of state-run media rearing its ugly head.

You don't have to look far for coverage of this story, or think too hard about how insidious all this is, but it's another reminder of how the Internet is impacting our lives. Ultimately, it may be a borderless technology, but as they say, the "great firewall of China" isn't quite onside yet.

I'd start first with Phil Wolff's posting on Skype Journal, then Om Malik, and I'm sure you'll find many others from there. I should also add this is not a new problem, and Skype is not alone in this morass - other IM platforms have had similar issues. RIM too, by the way.

Aside from the coverage you've already seen on this, I wanted to add some local coverage that I thought was really great. It ran in today's Globe & Mail, and talks about how a lab researcher here at the University of Toronto - Nart Villeneuve - uncovered some online trails that led him to all kinds of censorship and monitoring in China with Skype traffic. It's a great read, and am pretty sure will add valuable first-hand insight for anyone following this story. I should add that local colleague Jim Courtney - a regular Skype Journal contributor - picked up on this today, as have others like Om Malik.

I'll end on that triumphant note, as it's great to see some homegrown investigative work getting to the bottom of a truly international issue.

2. Virgo acquires VON. This is a much smaller scale story, but still of interest to many of us in the space. Several of us got wind of this news at the IT Expo a few weeks back, but it's just becoming official now. Andy Abramson had a good wrap on this the other day, and there's not a whole lot more to say about it right now.

Well, there is, but it's end of the week, and I'm kind of done now. That said, I wanted to at least acknowledge the story because it's evident from my recent conversations that most people don't know this has happened. Now you do.

3. Nokia acquires Oz Communications. Yet an even smaller story, but also of interest to me. Everyone knows Nokia and how they're doing lots of cool things with Ovi and just launched their iPhone killer. But most of you don't know Oz - a bit like saying you don't know Jack.

I've followed them for a while, and it's another great Canadian success story. So, add a notch for our win column, which is a nice way to end the week as the weather gets colder and my Red Sox look to keep winning.

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