World Press Freedom Day
Today is World Press Freedom Day, a time to reflect not just on what are traditionally thought of as press freedoms, but also on ordinary citizen’s ability to share and access information via our digital networks.
[S]ecuring the safety of journalists continues to be a challenge due to an upward trend in the killings of journalists, media workers, and social media producers. In 2012 alone, UNESCO’s Director-General condemned the killings of 121 journalists, almost double the annual figures of 2011 and 2010. In addition, there continues to be widespread harassment, intimidation, arbitrary arrest and online attacks on journalists in many parts of the world. To compound the problem, the rate of impunity for crimes against journalists, media workers and social media producers remains extremely high.
Responding to this overall context of press freedom, WPFD 2013 focuses on the theme of “Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media” and puts the spotlight in particular on the issues of safety of journalists, combating impunity for crimes against freedom of expression, and securing a free and open Internet as the precondition for safety online.
Reporters Without Borders’ annual World Press Freedom Index is a good place to explore how press freedoms work — or don’t work — globally. At the top of the list are Finland, Norway and the Netherlands. Down at the bottom are the same three that that were there a year ago: Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea.
Freedom House reports that the percentage of the world’s population “living in societies with a fully free press has fallen to its lowest level in over a decade”:
At first glance, it might seem counterintuitive that media freedom is on the decline. After all, in a world in which news is being produced by a broader range of professionals – as well as citizen journalists and bloggers – information is flowing at faster rates than ever before. And with news being transmitted through a greater variety of mediums – including newspapers, radio, television, the internet, mobile phones, flash drives, and social media – one might expect the level of media freedom worldwide to be improving, not worsening.
As noted, press freedom doesn’t just affect professional journalists, but ordinary citizens committing acts of journalism, activists documenting abuses and members of civil society. Take, for instance, four men in Saudi Arabia interrogated over their attempts to launch a human rights organization. The charge against them, according to Amnesty International: ”founding and publicizing an unlicensed organization as well as launching websites without authorization.”
Related, Part 01: Al Arabiya, Iran, Syria ranked among world’s worst countries for press freedom.
Related, Part 02: UNESCO, Pressing for Freedom: 20 years of World Press Freedom Day (PDF).
Images: World Press Freedom Map (top), via Reporters Without Borders. Crime and Unpunishment: Why Journalists Fear for Their Safety (bottom), via UNESCO. Select to embiggen.
Another convention print! I wanted to do a Harley Quinn to go with the Poison Ivy I did.
Here, have a TARDIS post.
A Boy and His Atom
IBM researchers have created the world’s smallest movie, a 90-second stop motion animation made by moving a few dozen carbon atoms with a scanning tunneling microscope.
The video is viewable once you magnify it 100 million times, and would take 1,000 frames laid side by side to equal the width of a human hair.
Via the BBC:
The new movie, titled A Boy and His Atom, instead uses the STM, an IBM invention which garnered the scientists behind it the 1986 Nobel prize in physics.
The device works by passing an electrically charged, phenomenally sharp metal needle across the surface of a sample. As the tip nears features on the surface, the charge can “jump the gap” in a quantum physics effect called tunnelling.
The 242 frames of the 90-second movie are essentially maps of this “tunnelling current” with a given arrangement of atoms. It depicts a boy playing with a “ball” made of a single atom, dancing, and jumping on a trampoline…
…The effort, detailed in a number of YouTube videos, took four scientists two weeks of 18-hour days to pull off.
It underlines the growing ability of scientists to manipulate matter on the atomic level, which IBM scientists hope to use to create future data storage solutions.
IBM reports that while it currently takes about a million atoms to store a bit of data on computer devices, they have successfully reduced that number down to 12 with what they call atomic-scale magnetic memory. Meaning, the future of computing devices is about to get very, very small.
For example, “Being able to increase the data density of devices means more storage in a smaller space: specifically, storage that is 100 times denser than today’s hard disk drives, 150 times more dense than solid-state memory. An entire music and movie collection could fit on a charm-sized pendant around your neck.”