Conference ‘The Future of Democracy in the Balkans’ and my talk on Digital Divide

I have just returned from OSF/Chevening conference where I’ve talked on the higher education panel, as the University of Oxford Alumni, the only Internet scholar, and information management specialist, on bridging the digital divide in the super connected world.
Slides of my presentation are on my SlideShare and the podcast is at my account on SoundCloud with all descriptions, credits, and tags. The recorded talk covers three major concerns in Internet and social media and higher education, all applicable in other areas: literacies, knowledge gap, and notworking/not collaboration. Interaction, thoughts, and comments of the audience are not included. I talked pretty fast, since I wanted to give more space for discussion, thoughts, sharing. I hope you will understand what I was talking about.

Better on Facebook Than in the Streets

The new school year in Serbia is about to start, and local newspapers are filled with techno anti-utopian articles on the bad effects of the Internet and social networks. A survey on the use of Facebook by the youth in Serbia has been published recently, too, however, and its results suggest that things aren’t really that bad.

More about the usage of Facebook among Serbian youth in my Global Voices article.  Those who’ve asked me about the photo I’ve contributed in the featured text:  it was taken in the downtown of Belgrade, in the Internet cafe, and I use it for my slides, for conference talks.

Feel free to comment.

Update: now this article is available in Serbian, Polish, Italian and Spanish language. Thanks to GlobalVoices colleagues for translation.

I can’t get no satisfaction: why JAT airways sucks?

Yesterday I was updating my Dopplr profile and also being determined to buy some cheap air tickets for the summer and upcoming trips via JAT airways web site. This is not the first time of my epic fail, attempt to buy ticket online (last time was during Easter holidays but then I was thinking their server/site might be overloaded or something). So this time I wanted to buy a ticket Rome-Belgrade and as usual actions I was proceeding to a payment section, and after that I was waiting to proceed and get my code and e-ticket.

Alas, I got information from the screen that there is an issue in the processing of my reservation aka system error. Please try again and if the problem persists (which does), to contact them (JAT airways) for further information. So I went back to the front page of JAT airways site and dialed number of call center {+38111311 2123}  for reservations via my mobile phone. I emphasized I am calling from Rome, that I failed to buy ticket via their web site, also stressing out that their reservation system is not working and I showed my concern that the system (they call it Amadeus) has been eaten my monies from credit card. Then after 10 minutes of checking out the status – they confirmed that Miss Radovanovic tried to buy ticket (they even saw my seat number), but then they weren’t sure so they redirected me to new number {+381112010117} to colleagues in Internet payment section of JAT. Did I mention that the girl who was on the other side of the line asked me three times if I’m calling from Belgrade or Rome?
Anyways, a woman at Internet payment section told me with humble voice that she cannot give me the reason why their web site is not working as I was pissed by then and wanted explanation. She only guaranteed me that my monies from credit card are not withdrawn so I am safe, and if I want to pay my e-ticket reservation I need to call a call center  (again +38111311 2123), this time a guy named Aleksandar told me that this procedure will last a bit longer after I said I’m calling from abroad and from mobile. I thought what the heck, I just want my ticket and to finish with it. Then the procedure of everything I went through the web site started but via phone (name, address, time, date, passport no., etc), and when I was about to make a phone payment, this man asked me with suspicious tone in his voice if I have credit card (such nonsense question, I wouldn’t buy e-ticket if I don’t own it, right?), and after saying “yes” to all those hideous questions (If I am the owner of the card, where I am right now, what’s my mobile number, am I calling from where, etc.), I finally made it to get my confirmation of e-ticket to my inbox. My bank also confirmed the transaction via text message notification, but what really made me angry was the time and money (hey – all in all I’ve spent 20minutes calling JAT airways, Belgrade from my mobile in Rome) I’ve spent in action via phone instead on their malfunctioning web site. What’s behind – only people in JAT management know.

The worst thing is that this problem exists for years and they are not fixing it!!! Every time I go to their web site hoping that things have changed – I get confirmation on the spot that they didn’t change. And I am not the only one who did notice and protest about this issue. So today I was reading  BBC news that Serbia is set for visa-free  EU travel from 2010, which means that Serbian citizens want to travel without nuisance of waiting for visa’s which is good on one side and on the other- Serbian JAT airways web site is not working!  This is so hypocritical and paradoxical at the same time: giving them hope whilst many emerging and basic things in the country are not functioning regarding e-everything: e-banking, e-payments, e-government, e-administration, e- whatnot.
This is the notice and caution to ALL of you who are planning to visit JAT airways web site or in worst case to try to make reservation.

Disclaimer: I wrote this text as revolted and dissatisfied citizen of Republic of Serbia, who lives world wide and who is not being able to use the web services that are presented on JAT web site. I respect the efforts and the work of aviation crew of this company who is so far doing their work fairly good. This negative critique is addressed to JAT management and their customer service, the way of communication with customers, web site malfunctioning, false representing their services on web, and disrespect to their customers.  If you don’t change your policy and be brave and make a statement on the web site that your e-system for reservations, booking, contact is NOT working – you are misleading the people.

My text on Semantic Web and eResources

I was browsing these days academic online databases and realized that some of my old papers gone missing.  Actually I was looking for a specific one that I wrote in the beginning of 2002 after Semantic Web conference in Rome, being inspired and I gave a talk at the annual Scientific conference in Belgrade, in the autumn of 2002, and the paper was later published in Proceedings that are removed and don’t exist online. I was talking about Semantic Web fundamentals and I had a feeling I was talking science fiction in front of the audience, but every now and then someone ask me to read my writings on semantics, standards, metadata, ontologies.

Since this was my first text on semantic web and the electronic information online, I’ve digged around  to find it in open accesses repositories and found some traces – though in Serbian and though in Cyrillic.I know that many international people who do speak English would like to read it, especially my metadata colleagues and supervisor who adores ontologies. Well, my academic, research and practioner’s interests have moved on since 2002, and frankly speaking I’m not huge fan if i had to chose, but anyways, would be nice if someone translate this text from the official publication from the conference.

Don’t expect fireworks as this was first text on semantic web being published in Serbia or Yugoslavia then. Since I don’t have time at this moment to upload all of my talks, papers, presentations, {I need idea how to sort out all of my papers, talks, texts, publicaitons in general – here}, and the wiki I’ve created some time ago – I’ve abendoned, and other presentations are either on SlideShare or some wiki, here’s and abstract in English, and if there’s someone interested to translate the text from Serbian into English – please do write at danica [at] danicar [dot] org, or give just send me the feedback. It’s very interesting text with some primers for those who want to know about semantics.

SEMANTIC WEB AND ELECTRONIC INFORMATION RESOURCES
Danica Radovanović

Abstract

The usage of electronic resources depends on good possibilities of searching and concept of the Semantic Web can be convenient solution for information retrieval (IR). WWW (World Wide Web) enables, with help of the search engines and huge number of available (meta)information, data that can satisfy user information need, but only at some extent. At the same time, there are more and more research efforts to increase the efficiency for IR until one gets as much as relevant information on the Web. As one of the latest results of this W3C efforts, Semantic Web presents a group of organized technological standards, IT products, and information linked in such a way that can be easily indexed and semantically filtrated through process of classification on global level. Semantic Web and its principles make IR easier because it can be also observed as very useful and successful way of representing data on WWW or as a group of globally linked databases. The architecture of Semantic Web consists of three important IT standards: XML (eXtensible MarkUp Language), RDF (Resource Description Framework) and the ontologies. Semantic web is still under development and is not in common usage but it promises that it will radically improve the possibility of searching, sorting and classification of information.

Key words: Semantic Web, electronic information resources, information retrieval, information representation, Internet, standards

My lectures about Facebook at the School of Web Journalism

Two weeks ago I’ve finished with giving lectures on Social networks at the School of Web Journalism. This was my gig for the second generation of students who urged to learn more about Web 2.0: understanding it, writing, using, evaluating, communicating, reporting, exchanging information, helping in Cause, practicing activism in real life situations.

I have to say I’m really suprised that this second generation is very advanced and pro-active, innovative and creative and I really enjoyed working with them. Those who don’t know my approach in teaching (in this case of lecturing) – I practice non-linear and non-traditional but again very disciplinary, engaging and participatory practices.

The course I have created this time was Social networks and beyond. We’ve been working on the Facebook  for web journalists’ needs in everyday, practical work: from feeds (news and live feeds), publishing on Facebook through different modules (posted items, posted notes, etc.) through promotion, marketing and PR, to micro communities and forums within Facebook (groups and pages). More about this is also available on Slideshare. The next action was introduction to Facebook advertising for web journalists throught different methods and practices for different purposes (brand, person, blog, cause, event, organization, businesses, etc.). Afterwards, I wanted to see how they would create and coordinate a real life situation in the form of the Cause that reached the media audience outside this social network. More about this on Slideshare, and an overview on the Rising/Global Voices.

Net activism and the birth of the citizen journalism in Serbia

When Trebor Scholz asked on his Twitter stream if someone can recommend a good video on the history of B92, I realised not only that there’s no such representative video, but also that Youtube B92 account was suspended and the video was moved to Blip.tv. Anyway, I’ve exchanged some links and ideas with Trebor, browsing through the web history, the online pages and found some archive of B92 correspondences and BBS trays from the 90′s that could be useful for his class.

Then he asked me if I could be a guest speaker in the form of iChat lecture/conversation and record online video for the students, and I thought: well, why not? In general, I don’t like to go back to history events, especially back to the 90′s but then in the context of web activism I had professional urge to act and give the feedback. The outcome is the video I’ve recorded on the Seesmic for the students, where I was dwelling through the Internet history of b92 Opennet and BBS’s, forums, and how the citizens used online media to undermine the current regime, and all social, political, economic turbulences that have marked the 90′s. Initially planned 10 minutes of the video talk extended into 18 min of my scattered thoughts (was recording at 2 am European time, after the tweet-up, so I could deliver it before Wednesday’s class) and I realised there are lot of things to say not only about the online history of B92 but the birth of the citizen journalism in Serbia as the major point in social media in the 90′s.  In Trebor’s presentation – slides you can find out more about above said, the Social Media and War in Serbia, as a part of his Global Internet Activism series.

Tweet-up in Belgrade

This Monday, a small group of Twitter enthusiasts got together in the very downtown of Belgrade to meet, interact, chat (longer than 140 characters), and have fun.  Actually, last week I’ve asked on Twitter if anyone is interested to meet up, and then set up the date and time. I’ve managed a reservation near the Politika building, and people started to gather.  Few of us appeared since it was some national holiday and many people were off town, but it was definitely nice to meet some of the new Twitterers and talk about social media, issues on Web, micro-blogging and life. All of us are in the information technologies, either programming, marketing, blogging, journalism, online media and it was easy and interesting to communicate on some things from different points of view. Check out some of the photos of this cool Serbian Twitter crew.

Creative Commons birthday in Serbia, at University of Belgrade

Creative Commons, which produces licenses implemented in 50 different jurisdictions until now, including  Serbian project, on December 15th  celebrates its 6th Birthday around the world. Regarding this occasion, Creative Commons Serbia, Wikimedia Serbia and Free Software Network Serbia, organises at the Faculty of Mathematics, of the University of Belgrade (room 718, 4th floor) on Monday, December 15th at 6 p.m. – presentation and debate about free software and free scientific, education, artistic and media production to emphasise the importance of free licensing in information society. I’m inviting you tomorrow to join CC birthday world wide celebration, and embrace open source.

cc6

useful resources about Belgrade for foreign visitors – FVC

Despite the fact that ‘Belgrade and Beyond’ blog exists in other form {digital serendipities}, I am still writing  about interesting events and electronic resources on Belgrade, Serbia. For those of you who are not familiar and you happen to reside in Belgrade for some reason, this information may be valuable to you.

Belgrade Foreign Vistors Club (FVC) presents the online community for foreigners in Belgrade, created by  Jonathan Davis. Beside Belgrade FVC there is Belgrade Foreign Visitors Club Wiki, an online information resource for foreign residents and visitors to the city of Belgrade, where you can find high quality community edited information resources and guided directories with useful links.  Also, check out Belgrade FVC forum where you can interact with other members, Twitter feed, and there is Facebook group informing users with current events, reviews, recommendations. I hope you’ll find this information and links useful especially if you are planning a trip to Belgrade or maybe to move here.

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