Wednesday, February 28, 2007

will the colombo market fall today following global markets?

record breaking colombo stock market took the yesterday's terrorist attack on foreign diplomats on its stride as usual (all share index falling by a mere 0.5% and milanka price index half of that). investors have a good idea about what matters in the fight against terrorism, and have long factored in possible ltte terrorist attacks and government's present course of action. they know that yesterday's incident does not change anything much as far as economy is concerned, except for some international publicity (bad), and another clear reminder to foreigners of ltte's brutality (good).

on the other hand yesterday's (27th) big falls in the big international markets could have some effect in sri lankan market. for those who do not know, first the chinese market and then the american market ( last night in sri lankan time) went through sell offs ( due to various reasons including falling chinese market, bad news on the u.s. economy, computer glitches due to high volumes. etc). dow fell about 3.5 %. today morning the east asian markets are falling because dow fell.

question is whether sri lankan one will fall? in spite of sri lanka's high integration with international trade, sri lankan stocks have not shown much correlation with world markets in the past, due probably to the fact that about 75 % of the market is driven by local investors. so it may be that there won’t be much effect. it may even rise if investors consider yesterdays small fall here as a buying opportunity as they have done in the past.

it wouldn't be a bad thing to have a moderate correction after all the record breaking imo.

anyway let us see what happens today.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

plucked from thin air - sanjana hattotuwa's stats

"lies, damned lies, and statistics" reportedly exclaimed benjamin disraeli twice prime minister of united kingdom at the height of empire, and author (i liked his novel coningsby when i was in my teens for some reason).

i was reminded of the saying after reading the following.

groundviews admin wrote on february 12, 2007 @ 12:21 pm
"Groundviews gets around 47 unique visitors a day. The highest number of unique visitors to date was 261 on 1st February"
this was said when i pointed out that pageviews (claimed to be over 500+ by sanjana hattotuwa on februaray 8th) and unique visitors at any blog were not the same thing.

sanjana hattotuwa wrote on 21.02.2007 (you have to click on history link to see the date)
"I don’t have the stats for Moju, but what Groundviews does have is around 40 return visitors (and around 300+ unique visitors) who visit the site daily"
while it may be theoretically possible that unique visitors went up by around 600%+ in 9 days, i doubt it.

it seems that like his excuses for censorship (in addition to ever changing earlier ones detailed here, see this comment posted on my blog with several more subjective ones), his peacenik justifications for appeasement of terrorists, his assessments of sri lankan political situation, etc. he would simply invent the statistics and 'facts' out of thin air (given he has no facts or even statistics, he probably has no choice).

no wonder, he always fails to give verifiable evidence for any one of his contentions and prefers concealment, deletion, and censorship (esp. when validity of his allegations are questioned) to transparency and openness. all this is symptomatic of general peacenik mindset, though others are probably more intelligent and better at avoiding these kinds of indefensible situations.

why am i publishing this?

well sanjana hattotuwa wrote on february 2, 2007 @ 7:25 am addressing me
" continue to visit and comment, perhaps realising that your tedious rhetoric invariably gains more visibility in a site that attracts more visitors in a week than your blog does in a year."
he expressed similar sentiments when he tried to "cover up his naked censorship using fig leaf of some troll's expletives".

my reply where i explained that i have not entered any sort of blog popularity contest (esp. given my self admitted boring, long, and non capitalized posts), was also censored. you may read it here. fact is, to my genuine surprise, i do seem to get more unique visitors than groundviews but since i do not intend to open the logs i will not boast about unverifiable statistics.

but will sanjana hattotuwa open the stats at groundviews and let us know whether his boasting was based in lies, damned lies, or statistics? or will he live in his self constructed imaginary world made of thin air?


btw i did answer indi's specific question to me in the above linked post about online rudeness in a comment -
"given what happened ( which can be proved with evidence ) i would say the same to the ppl concerned on or offline. evidence of gross 'civility' of sanjana is there for anyone to see in cache sites even after he deleted moju."
it was not published (along with several other comments elsewhere). i also submitted another non published comment when my answer was not published -
"what is the point in asking a question if you do not publish the answer (as you didn't)? some 'civility' huh? :-)"
however since he, unlike groundviews did not make (as far as i know) any public claims about "citizen journalism" etc. and as i have said i consider blogs to be private property completely at owner's discretion, i do not have any problems with his actions. this note is here merely to make it clear that i did in fact answer the question asked.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

mahinda buffalo the big brother?

it seems that assorted peaceniks have developed the notion that mahinda buffalo is similar to the big brother in orwell's '1984'. read any of their recent articles and posts anywhere. given some of their erroneous references it is doubtful they have ever read the novel but let us assume they know what a totalitarian leader is like. to read them we are in propaganda filled, warmongering, genocidal, repressive, authoritarian, one party state run by a leader, whose opponents regularly disappear.

is it really true that current president is a totalitarian monster? are we living in totalitarian state? are we being subjected to one sided propaganda? are we being brain washed through 'newspeak' and ‘doublethink’? does the war exist mainly to keep us silenced? is it true that ltte is ready for a peace that guarantees freedom, human rights, justice and democracy at anytime and is merely fighting for liberation of tamils? were all the terror attacks figments of our imagination, concocted by the mcns, or work of those who want the war to continue? are journalists and opponents who give dissenting views killed, 'disappeared', and arrested? is there no difference between buffalo and kim jong-il?

i am certainly no fan of buffalo (you may search for words 'buffalo and 'mahinda' in above search box and see for yourself) but i have to disagree, and unlike most of them i will give my reasons as to why i don't think this government is anywhere near big brotherish

censorship and propaganda

unfortunately for the peacenik's notions, a person just have to walk to any newspaper seller's stand to read most damaging allegations against the president, made by opposition, former ministers, peaceniks etc. same goes for any media. even pure terrorist propaganda from tamilnet, jbs jeyaraj, or even straight from the pussies, are given national coverage. state media is certainly extremely biased against the opponents of the regime and probably censors opponents, but then some of the private media (such as sunday leader, sirasa/mtv) does the exact opposite. most media outlets stand somewhere in between. that is as it should be in a capitalist democracy.

someone might argue that the use of state media for pro government activities is unethical. agreed. i would be extremely happy if they were privatized. anyway it is a question about abuse of public property and corruption. an abuse btw which politicians of both sides including peaceniks have amply used when they are in power or were friendly to those in power. it does not prove we are in a totalitarian state.

government engaging in propaganda (or spin) itself is not a symptom of a totalitarian state but part of democracy. just look at any democracy. it may be distasteful but if lasantha wickremanayake ( who is an active participant in political decisions btw. only people who do not know what goes on think he is a mere editor ) uses his newspaper to print 'slanders' against government ( not to mention the slanders against the military by dbs jeyaraj) he should expect 'slanders' in return. is that anymore undemocratic than attack ads in american television or a british tabloid any day? imo no. as far as one sided propaganda goes ranil wickremasinghe's government in 2001-2003 was certainly more near it than the present one. then the control of media reached almost singaporeans levels, still way too short of totalitarianism

peaceniks also assume that general public is stupid and uninformed. this is one of their most common mistakes. that is also why they disdain democracy, unsurprisingly since most of them are former marxists and have so far failed miserably to connect with public. another related mistake is their overestimation of power of media. sri lankans are very adept at reading between the lines and seeing through the slanders, allegations, bias, and propaganda, more than most other people. in the unlikely event someone miss any of that there are enough people to point those out. most here have lived under one sided media environments ( though again never near totalitarianism) in seventies and late eighties, but they were able to get to the truth then and they are able to get to the truth now, cutting through the mass of words spun by both pro and anti government hacks.

deaths and disappearances

there is no doubt that some disappearances are taking place. all evidence however indicate that most are due to fighting between terrorists and former terrorists, with some criminals mingled in. while government should look into it and suppress the terrorist activity there is no evidence whatsoever for a conspiracy to kill and disappear its opponents. surprisingly number of disappearances (and the number put forward by peacenik include all disappearances) are very low compared to other countries (even ones at peace). after the recent child lost and found cases in united states i was surprised to read that annual child disappearances there alone ran into tens of thousands. similar proportion here would mean thousands in colombo not the less than hundred.

the credibility of data provided by the self appointed politically motivated 'observers' is highly questionable. in one case recently they gave publicity about the disappearance of a student from a leading school. who unfortunately for the said credibility reappeared, having left home for various private reasons. free media movement too decided to further lower their non existing credibility by protesting against the alleged 'abduction' of left wing ltte affiliated terrorists who posed as journalists. all they had to do was to make some official inquiries from the legitimate authorities instead they decided that eggs look better on their faces. these are the people who make claims about totalitarianism.

reality of war

even among peaceniks only the extreme nut cases will be stupid or naive enough to claim that terror attacks were planted by government to create a war mentality suitable for introduction of totalitarianism. in fact as i have pointed out many times government and military went out of its way to show restraint in the face of provocative attacks from december 2005 to april 2006. for those who had eyes (yes i know peaceniks prefer to cover them when big pussy is connected) there was no doubt who was really planning for a war in 2005 (as i said then) by enforcing the election boycott. nor is it possible to deny unless they are in total denial the very real attacks in east, closing of mavil aru, on jaffna forward defense lines, attacks on infrastructure, civilians, and vips, killing of tamils opposed to terrorists etc. in all cases loss to the government (physiologically and physically) was or would have been far greater than any advantage. most prominent peaceniks are known to keep a guilty silence about those incidents if some idiots want to believe such conspiracy theories let them because they are real idiots and will not matter anyway.

less stupid peaceniks are reduced to accepting the reality of terror attacks carried out by ltte. so they are forced to justify the ltte and condemn the government, by claiming ltte as freedom fighters, provider of security to tamils and above all as representative of tamils. anybody who can seriously claim that ltte advanced the tamil cause should look at their present state of suffering. in fact while ltte was ruining them supposedly in their behalf, other minorities who were worse off or equally discriminated against were gaining significant victories through democracy .( one example from tamils in the hill county ( so called indian tamils) will do, over one million people gained citizenship in a country of 20 million). what actual tamils think of ltte's ability to provide security can be judged from the number of people who have moved to government controlled areas from ltte controlled areas. their claim to be sole representative is purely based on killing other tamils leaders.

to claim that buffalo's war against terrorism is a repressive nationalist genocidal campaign directed against tamils after all those facts, is in fact a statement of support for the terrorists and their killing and oppression of tamils. peaceniks are doing exactly that.

evidence and motivation of peaceniks

so unless they can come up with real evidence to back up their claims most people in sri lanka (including myself) are not likely to agree with peaceniks claims about buffalo.

fact is peaceniks have demonstrated a total oblivion to the real 'big brother' in sri lanka who really do exercise a stalinist control on those still under hum: prabahakaran. peaceniks' primary motivation in their actions is dictated by their dependence (sometimes actively cooperative dependence) on ltte to create situations (per example internally displaced persons in camps) that can be exploited to obtain donors funds for their ngos. anything bad for ltte is bad for them. and buffalo (probably advised by some who have more sense) has been coming down hard on ltte ( though much less hard than some other democratic countries have come down on other terrorists) using a pragmatic strategy suited to the resources of the country as he was democratically mandated to do , hence peceaniks' vociferous allegations of totalitarianism

their all too ready equating of mahinda with premadasa ( their own disconnectedness is demonstrated by their belief that such a comparison is injurious, completely misunderstanding the public evaluation of president premadasa) indicates a secondary motivation; their own pseudo elitist insecurity from the realization that people from outside their cocooned colombo circle have gained political power. anyone with sense would have realized long ago that after 1948, 1956 and above all 1977, this was inevitable and long accomplished. as i said they are slow to come to grips with reality.

in the end peaceniks claims about "mahinda the big brother" cannot be backed up with evidence. such claims only demonstrate merely the expression of the above mentioned motivations of the peaceniks and their resulting resentment at any increase in the self assertion of ordinary democratic sri lankans. that self assertion will continue long after buffalo has gone, so they are attacking the wrong target, but then they can only attack the right one, the ordinary sri lankan who value democracy, human rights, justice and freedom only through proxy; the terrorists


one peacenik at groundviews found a billboard with words 'big brother' with an image of sri lankan president with indian prime minister ( another country that is under threat from terrorists) ironically relevant. admins there found the following two comments by me worthy of censorship (i will as i said publish the periodic fuller list of censored comments later).

well it takes a certain kind person to imagine the similarities between leaders of two democratic countries with orwell's big brother. congratulations on your active imagination.
my previous censored comment on this thread was not at all ironic, when i congratulated the author on his/her imagination for imagining two leaders of democracies as similar to orwell's big brother. it was sincere. i really do value imagination highly. honest!
far be it for me to assume that moderators here have so low taste as to ever touch their palate with irony( or allow their reader's palates to be spoiled by it either, given their err ....sisterly concern), even if they allow posts that contain words like 'delicious irony'.
btw i live in sri lanka and agree with just mal in on this. (ameen you cannot dismiss a rational argument bc other person is not in the same place.there may be a slight validity in your contention if everyone in that place agrees with you, but if anything most ppl in sri lanka will disagree with you.).

as far as i can see there is evidence ( as opposed to imagination ) for only one real 'stalinist' or 'big brotherish' regime in sri lanka and it is in kilinochchi. as just mal says some of its supporters do find the present government's actions 'tough' even though it is in fact doing what other democratic countries are doing ( imo far less) in same situation.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

fear of commercialization

recent valentines day brought out the usual claims of excessive commercialization, consumerism, or whatever you may call it, in society. some regretted that 'love' was being exploited by businessmen to make profits, some said that st. valentine was forgotten (they obviously have no idea who or what the real saint was and stood for, anymore than almost everybody else) in this 'orgy', some said media was manipulating and corrupting young people to the detriment of their spiritual and moral 'well being' etc. etc. some of this even spilled on to the sri lankan valentines day blog posts (btw acharau continues to innovate, good). all this is nothing new; there are very similar 'moral' outbursts at christmas, wesak, new year, or at almost any other religious festival. nor are they limited to sri lanka or india, they are a global phenomenon.

people who subscribe to these views should first check the history of these festivals, they will then learn that almost all religious festivals predates the religion. (as i have remarked earlier btw) most were celebrations of two solstices, the two equinoxes, or phases of the moon. in fact in ancient times when the direct observations of the sun and the moon were the determining factors of timing, most of these festivals were probably held on the same day worldwide whatever the religion. that is why even after the introduction of more 'sophisticated' calendars and fixing of the day ( as with christmas, the descendant of understandably very similar roman winter solstice festival, the saturnalia, which itself probably descended from earlier festivals, on december 25th) they still tend bunch up on certain times of the year. it is not by chance that easter and 'sinhala- tamil' new year seem to clash almost every other year, or that this year's chinese new year and mahasivarathri fell so close together.

these global days and few other days of local significance (such as the onset of monsoons, the start of the nile flooding, or whatever) were celebrated as festivals because they marked the change of seasons and thus were intimately connected with the agriculture. they were celebrated to express joys of a good harvest, and hopes and fears about the coming one, death of the old plants and the growth of news ones etc. only later did theologies and philosophies of varying sophistication develop to explain and spin them into religions. if festivals are now evolving into expressions of joys, fears, and hopes, of modern life that is but natural progression.

what would be more in tune with modern society, the christ in a shepherd's hut or a paid santa in a shopping mall?

everyone can decide that as they wish. but there is no doubt about how most people do in fact decide. commercialization is after all nothing but pandering to the customers' desires expressed through the exchange of cash. that paid santa, that red rose, box of chocolate, or whatever will not be there if what they represent are not acceptable to most people. anybody who disputes this have to believe that millions (or billions) of people are led into making bad or silly decisions by media and that they themselves know better than all those others. talk about humility and modestly! for my part, i know enough of people to know that while not everyone is equal almost everyone is better than others in something at sometime.

of course having a big ego is not a crime, as long as they do not impose that ego on others by force. so all those who fear commercialization, are free to express their opinions as long as they do not try to control others supposed misguided behavior through laws and regulations (iow by force). let everyone behave as they wish as long as they allow others the same freedom (as the basic libertarian principle says. follow the links in there to find out more about libertarianism).

unfortunately some people try to impose their own beliefs on others 'by force'. these authoritarians who think they know what is good for others try to force others into complying with their own decisions instead for allowing others to make their own decisions. they hate free choice, free will, and free expression. that is why they fear consumerism and capitalism (freedom to make economic choices), despise democracy (freedom to make political choices), and try to suppress freedom of expression through censorship.

they should do well to learn is that when it come freedoms it is going to be an all or nothing affair. unless they are going to completely suppress all human feelings in everyone, turning them into zombies in the case of those directly under control and cowards of all others (as big pussy, kim jong-il, and their ilk are trying) they are destined to fail (as big pussy and north korean regime will find out eventually). there will always be people who value freedoms above everything (even peace) and as long as such people exist, authoritarians will fail in the end, as countless examples of history have amply demonstrated.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

how does one say "i love you" in...?

how does one say those most difficult, most effortless, most pleasurable, most maddening ... and above all most inadequate words in another language?

if you really want to know, check this section of alt.romance usenet newsgroup faq.

have a great day!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

groundviews 'justifying' censorship

groundviews had made an attempt to justify their censorship in a post entitled “hey groundviews, keep that censorship button on mate” today (february 8th) making use of some 'caustic' comments submitted by one 'ryan' (who seem to have played right into their hand by submitting such comments). they predictably fail to give any of my censored comments (which you can read here) for the purposes of such justification, because they are probably not, as you may judge, 'caustic' enough.

whether all the censored comments were 'caustic', irrelevant to the issue being discussed, spam, abusive, personal attacks, or ignored the posting guidelines, and thus justified censorship may be judged by reading them. those comments were just mine. i have no doubt that others too were censored and they were not in the least 'caustic'.

fact is groundviews engages in censorship of comments that argue against, question, differently interpret, point out errors, or raise concerns about some of their posts. most of such posts (indeed the most of their posts) advocate or imply a particular point of view that peace can be obtained by appeasement of terrorists, or peace is worth any cost (i.e. peacenik position). that point of view also happens to be the point of view of ngos and some foreigners funding it (see previous post for some details).

as to be expected from any kind censorship, the groundviews' implementation is also highly subjective and arbitrary.

as i have said before, blogs being private property, blog owners are completely free to do what they like in them, but if they make certain claims about their blog through media, it is but right to point out the difference between those claims and reality. again see previous post about the claims made on behalf of groundviews, by sanjana hattotuwa in particular.

below i give the comment i left on their thread. whether they will publish it or not is their choice (it is on moderation queue at the time of writing). anyway as i said before i will periodically publish comments that are actually censored by them separately .

"fact is groundviews engages in censorship of even relevant comments with a different point of view. anybody may judge for themselves by reading several of my comments that they censored. 'curiously' they never give those as examples for justifying censorship here, choosing ones from one 'ryan'. who btw by posting such comments plays rights into their hands.

as with all censorship this one is also highly arbitrary and subjective.

as for who really engaged in posting of spoof and scurrilous comments in moju and against whom, please read that blog ( if you can find it in an internet cache). and judge for yourself. read the thread on 'call for immediate action on trincomalee situation' in particular and esp the admin's and sanjana hattotuwa's responses to such comments."
you may read more about their moju antics here and here. a google cache of the moju post i referred to in the comment can be read here.

sri lanka: a land like no other blog has also written a post dealing with the above referred groundviews post concentrating on the privacy concerns. read

this post is in kottu popular list partially through the idiotic repeated clicking by someone unknown to me, probably under the mistaken impression that it will be a good way to discredit me and make me stop blogging .

more details and ip addresses of those who engage in this activity can be found here ( see the update below the post). all future ip addreses and any further details of anyone who engage in this will be published until they get tired of clicking.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

some thoughts on kottu and future of sri lankan blogosphere

in this post i will first make some observations about sri lankan blog aggregators (kottu in particular) and then make some speculations about how imo sri lankan blogosphere and more specifically its aggregators will evolve in the future. some of it may be considered criticism but hopefully the administrators concerned may show the same tolerance (which i have appreciated before) they have so far demonstrated, if they read this post at all.

before going further i would like of express my appreciation of the service kottu provided/provides and my recognition of the time and money its administrators have expended on it without probably getting any direct benefit (financially speaking). as such what they prefer to do with kottu is completely up to them. following are mere observations and speculations, they and anybody else may make whatever they want to about them.

some personal observations about current kottu features

while visiting kottu i was surprised see my last post published on saturday (3rd) morning listed as one of the 10 most popular posts ( measured presumably by the number of clicks on it) on monday (5th) morning when it was no longer even on the main kottu main page. even more surprisingly it began to go up the rankings. same was observed about two of my posts last week. this popular posts listing in kottu was added while i was taking a few months break except for few almost token posts, so this was the first time i saw it working. only way i could explain this anomaly (since my logs did not indicate that visitors were coming through kuttu page 2 or lower) was by assuming that kottu is including the clicks made on the popular list itself when compiling the list. to make sure before writing this i clicked on my own post several (about 8) times on monday night. while numbers did not change immediately, in the morning i was able to confirm that increase in number of hits in the popular list roughly (though not exactly) matched my clicks plus the number of other visitors to my blog through kottu that night.

imo this sort of self referencing popularity (increase in popularity because of inclusion in the popular list) is not the correct way to go about this.

secondly any popularity list where the turnover is high (as with blog posts) must have a rolling time period during which this popularity is measured. for instance the number of clicks for last 24 hours, 48 hours, seven days, or whatever (imo higher the turnover shorter the period should be). if it's last seven days, monday's list should count the clicks from same time last monday, tuesday's from last tuesday, etc. this however implies that posts in the list should go down gradually as well as going up gradually (if you think about it you will understand why this should be so). instead posts seem to go up and then disappear suddenly. this may indicate an existence of a time limit on the posts, not on the clicks (old posts are taken off after a time no matter how many clicks they receive during the current period).

again imo this is not the correct methodology. primacy should be given to the measure of popularity (actual clicks) even if they are made on old posts, when measuring popularity. however this wrong method may have been the result of above error (if clicks on the items on the list itself are counted those items will tend to stay there forever unless taken off). so if they want to fix this they should fix both together.

third observation i have to make is about the number of blogs that are not included in the kottu blogroll. if you search the location of blogspot bloggers matching "sri lanka"(lk) you will find that most of the listed bloggers are in fact not in kottu. and this is only blogspot. most of such non inclusions do not in fact have active blogs or have cut and paste jobs, but many do have active genuine blogs. there are some blogs of long standing and of roughly the same quality as most blogs in the kottu blogroll (such as Ŀĭ₣є †øŧдĿĿY Rø€K§ и’ §U€K§, jenna, life and beyond, people defined! to take just four in my reader, if you click through the links in them you will find more and more blogs) that are not on kottu. my reader has about 300 sri lankan blogs while kottu has 200 odd. so unless they have asked to be excluded (which i doubt everyone did) kuttu is in a way failing in its purpose.

of course as i said the kottu administrators may have others things to do than go in search of blogs and may prefer the bloggers to come to them requesting inclusion. while understandable this may mean increasing marginalization of kottu itself from the sri lankan blogosphere. see below for some speculations as to what is required.

as i have observed before average kottu blogger tend not to represent real sri lanka. this is inevitable since most early bloggers and the administrators themselves come from what i would call the colombo based english speaking pseudo elite. "pseudo" because their "class" have lost or are losing positions of privilege in sri lankan political and commercial spheres and will lose their position at the top of social hierarchy once the new people who came in to existence ( due to various economic and political changes since 1948, 1956 and esp. 1978 ) learn not to ape them. conscious and unconscious expression of insecurity created by this loss of power is one of the factors that make some of the present bloggers interesting to read, at least imo.

interesting as they may be, to retain their vitality and relevance sri lankan blog aggregators will have to include the increasing numbers of other bloggers from other social classes, as economic growth ( which is after all is going at a very healthy 7.5% ) and spread of internet connectivity introduce ever larger numbers of sri lankans to the blogging. whether current kottu administrators' methods of operation and mindset (in spite of their demonstrated tolerance) can cope with this is an open question. hence the speculations below

all this may have contributed to the relative lessoning of so called kottu effect ( never quite justified if seriously meant as a form of slashdot effect) meaning the increase in traffic once a blog post is in the kottu main page. for instance, at one time about 75 % of my traffic came from kottu. nowadays barely one third (though the absolute number of visitors from there have increased, it is the proportion i am talking about here) comes from kottu even on the days of the post publication. given the number hits in popular list there, other blogs probably get similar numbers. most traffic here comes from search engines and from visitors without any referring page (meaning probably some sort of feed reader, or bookmarks). such visitors tend to be retuning visitors. others come through that most welcome (to me) method, links in others' blog posts (two recent links coming from sri lanka: a land like no other, and pissu balla critics) where they refer to posts in this blog in agreement or disagreement. this indicates that while kottu remains popular it has not kept up with the increase in sri lankan web surfers. its own stats confirm that its traffic has plateaued during last year or so.

as for other sri lankan aggregators, zsiri is a kottu clone with further exclusions, not a real recipe for future success as i will speculate below. achcharu do show more promise in that it seems to be in a constant state of being upgraded with new functionality like tags etc. however they all seem to be minor improvement not the more radical functionality required imo. and it doesn't help that achcharu at present seem to freeze the browser for few seconds while being loaded. perhaps the only site that does this to my firefox, at present.

i think that is about it when it comes to personal observations about kottu, except for the minor one about the current look. i liked the very unique (and very sri lankan) old look; current one imo is very generic. but then who am i to comment about looks, given the look of this blog.

speculations about the future

any future and inclusive blog aggregator will have to handle thousands of blogs and hundreds of posts a day. that means something like the current main page in kottu will be pretty useless since readers will not want to read or even skim through all the posts or even their headings to find what they want.

instead such a blog aggregator should be able to display a custom made page with blogs that are of interest to each particular user. users should have the ability to customize and select the blogs they want to monitor. but this functionality is already available in feed readers and in such places as my yahoo. what would make the sl blog aggregator unique will be its ability to select and suggest new sri lanka related blogs and posts from the hundreds/thousands published that may be of interest to the particular user along with that user's usual blog roll. once it has that ability it will also be able to offer more precise sri lanka related blog search capability than the ones offered by internetwide blog search engines.

all this will require creation of algorithms that can recognize, categorize, and rank, sri lankan blogs and their posts according to subject and preferences of users in the same way as google ranks search results and amazon suggest books to buyers. these algorithms, like the google's, will evaluate users' actions, linkings, tags, etc to do these things. other methods used in social networking sites may also be made use of here.

manual selection and ranking by administrators (except perhaps as an editor's picks section) should be avoided since it would be impracticable and more error prone than one based on users' preferences and algorithms. after all internet has time and time again shown that flexibly structured, broader based, users generated, methods of organizing and presenting information have triumphed over hierarchically structured, tightly controlled, methods of organizing and presenting information. world wide web's flexible hyperlinks won over gopherspace's menus, (in early nineties when i started to use internet people used gopher with its search engines like veronica as much as www. now it is almost extinct), machine indexed search engines (and later ones that ranked results using algorithms based on user links like google) won over human selected search engines like early yahoo directory. only people who have a predilection for control of information and not the benefit of the user will prefer a human selected method over user and algorithm selected method ( no wonder that same people prefer censorship)

such methods can also be extended to posts made in non text media like pics, videos, pod casts etc.

to summarize, a future sri lankan blog aggregator will offer, customized ways to monitor sri lanka related blog posts, interesting blog suggestions, and better search functions, to users, so that they can derive the greatest benefit with least inconvenience from the expected increase in sri lankan blogs

such an aggregator will cost a great deal more to maintain than current kottu, and probably will have to be run on a more business like basis. whether we have reached the point where such an aggregator can earn enough money cover its costs is an open question, that can only be answered by trying. imo there is no doubt that such a point will be reached eventually. so the question is whether anybody is willing to try.



someone (or two) has been repeatedly clicking on the kottu links for this (17 times altogether) and previous post (12 times) today. probably partially as a result, previous post has reached the top of the kottu popular list with ( with 133 hits). this post has at this time 77 hits in kottu. i am bemused as to what the motivation can be. whatever the reason i would really appreciate if they would leave off doing that and post a comment here giving the reasons.

these took place from (1)
14:45:42 to 14:47:10 from an ip address in brisbane australia and (2) from17:23:17 to 17:28:18 from an ip address in uk

update 2
since then further 30 clicks were made to this post from kottu pop. list by the (2) above. i really hope they will stop. - 22.40 02/08/07
( i have edited out the ip addresses which i published earlier as per a request from someone who thinks her pc was used for this by someone who had the use of it)

i will publish the ip addresses and any other details of future repeated clicking from kottu.

3/, , Telstrainternet3, Sydney, Australia clicked 30 times from 18:56:58 to 19:17:22 on 02/09/07 to the next post.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

citizen journalism or trampling on citizens; examples of censorship at groundviews blog

this is going to be a very long and boring post even more so than my usual posts, since it will detail (and i mean detail) the censorship taking place at groundview blog. it is also meant to serve as a reference for future. so be warned.

when groundviews blog was launched by the ngos infoshare and centre for policy alternatives (cpa), several articles and posts were published in several media outlets online and offline claiming the virtues and benefits of citizen journalism it was supposed feature. daily mirror article and post on madrid11 blog are good examples). similar sentiments were expressed in faq (rather misleadingly so called), and site guidelines pages at groundviews.

these articles and pages included the following quotations
" Often, this new age of citizen journalism lacks the grammar of age-old diplomacy and socio-political norms - the conversation is raw, visceral, impatient, irreverent, pithy, provocative. In Sri Lanka, it is a conversation that's largely still in English, and also limited to urban centres.
The potential of citizen journalism, however, is its ability to provide a forum for all citizens - male and female, of all ethnicities, castes, classes and religions - to express themselves freely, society will better accommodate ideas and measures that engender peace."
"An open and participatory space

Anyone, from anywhere in Sri Lanka, with access to an internet-connected computer, can submit their thoughts in Sinhala, Tamil or English to the website. Groundviews is also a tool to report on Sri Lanka's democratic deficit, the culture of impunity and the flagrant violations of human rights through simple, compelling stories that seek to humanise the ongoing violence.

Different perspectives lead to a fuller understanding of why we are once again at war"

"Other submissions explore the many contradictions between the words and deeds of the government, the LTTE and other armed groups; flesh out issues related to the economy; and celebrate community-level dispute resolution mechanisms, which are flourishing in some parts of the country."

"Groundviews is already an arena for the thrust and parry of debate that is sorely lacking in mainstream media, and is crumbling in mainstream polity and society."

"We welcome submissions of a personal nature, pithy, provocative, bear witness to the denial of justice and human rights violations and essentially humanizes and critiques conflict & peace through alternative cultural, social, economic and political perspectives
in reality these claims have turned out to be misleading statements because if my experience is to go by, large portion of comments were censored.

almost all of these articles (in fact i think all of them) were written by sanjana hattotuwa head of ict and peacebuilding of infoshare. he also held several positions and is now a senior researcher at peacenik ngo cpa. (some of the articles curiously lacked any mention of these connections). infoshare and sanjana hattotuwa played a major part in establishing the now defunct moju blog. their spoofing antics there aimed at me for exposing the cpa's bias and plagiarism in a so called fact finding mission to trinco are detailed here ( if moju links do not work now you may find the pages through various internet cache sites such as google cache). infoshare and cpa is/was (as you can see here in documents unearthed by norwegians against terrorism) at least partly funded by the same norweigian money that funded the terrorist front tamil rehabilitation organization. tellingly groundviews only mention canadian international development agency (cida) and ausaid as donars

why grondviews censorship should be commented on and exposed

here i would like to explain my attitude to blog censorship. i consider each blog the private property of blog owner and as such they are free to delete anything that appears there if they want to. i would not be making this post if this censorship took place in a private blog (say in any one of the large number of cross linking, i suppose for search engine optimization purposes, blogs maintained by sanjana hattotuwa). but as the above quotations make clear groundviews pretended to be different. censorship there should be exposed precisely because its founders made and still make the above claims while censoring comments such as the ones below.

groundview has comment moderation so all comments are passed by admin before they are published. it also has a submission guideline policy. poster can observe whether the comments are still pending moderation through the wordpress back end accessible to registered users. i consider a comment censored when it is not published after a reasonable time has elapsed, other comments posted later have been published, and pending moderation queue is empty.

my comments
since my return to blogging last week i registered at groundviews and posted several comments. most of my comments (though not all) took the form of pointing out of factual and other errors in the posts in the groundviews. some were expressions of opinions relevant to the post concerned.

soon i began to notice some of my comments were being censored ( in fact i believe none of my first few comment were published). while i do not have copies of early comments i posted, i tried to keep a copy of later comments. i give below some of the comments that were censored, with a link to the relevant post, and a short explanation if required. you may judge for yourself whether they were relevant to the post, spam, abusive, personal attacks, or ignored the posting guidelines.

all censorship is arbitrary
you may even ask (as i still do) why these particular comments were censored while other comments posted by me were published. only explanation i can give to this puzzle is that all censorship everywhere is highly arbitrary and subjective by nature. here the inconsistency may have depended on particular admins on duty, their prejudices, their dislike (or otherwise) of the particular poster and subject.

excuses offered
it is enlightening to study the explanations and excuses given by the groundviews admin when asked about the censorship. these evolved from,

1/ complete denial that censorship is taking place
"Your claims of censorship are unwarranted and baseless."

2/ that it was the due to normal delay in moderation
"This means that a comment, once posted by you, may take a while to appear, depending on how often the moderator checks the comment queue."
in fact in this particular case the comment was not published even after 12 hours, two comments by others submitted much later were published in two separate occasions( one of the comments being a reply to the other) and moderation queue indicated there was no comment awaiting moderation.

3/ that they were censored because i was too impatient for them to be published and submitted the same comment three times.
"They jumped the queue because it is not stated anywhere on this blog that comments appear in the order in which they are posted / submitted. The reason we used your last comments (out of the 3 similar ones we received) was that your impatience to see them online was a clear indication of your inability to comprehend the Guidelines to which we have referred to earlier"
in other words i was censored because i pointed out i was censored.
btw in none of the cases have i posted the same comment more than once, though i posted a similar comment with different text once, after assuring myself through above mentioned methods that the earlier comment was censored.

4/ finally in a comment by sanjana hattotuwa i was accused of posting comments there to get greater exposure to my views.
" you continue to visit and comment, perhaps realising that your tedious rhetoric invariably gains more visibility in a site that attracts more visitors in a week than your blog does in a year."
i certainly post comments in lot of other blogs to express my views about the views expressed there. for instance it is most effective to challenge the falseness fmm's claim of internet blocking in the place where that claim was published (with additions), rather than here. on the other hand most of my posts here are my own opinions.
btw i am not in some sort of a blog popularity contest and any comparison between visitors to this blog which is silent for months at a time (though never dead) with visitors to a group blog like groundview that has several posts a day is ridiculous. i am quite satisfied, even surprised, with the fairly good ranking of this blog from objective sources like search engines.

finally the censored comments (let the reading citizens judge)

poll: is the international community partial to the ltte?
"there is no such thing called 'the' international community. they are individual countries or groups of countries with their own interests. they, as is correct, will decide which side to back according to their selfish interests.
sooner we realize that and use them for our interests the better."
minister of what?????
"so you agree that this was a logical move in the real world of politics, that by giving lot of ministries to lot of ppl ( who thereby are able project an image of dispensers of patronage ) the government is strengthened. "
cutting off telecoms in sri lanka redux…
censorship of the following comment was the reason why excuses 1, 2, and 3 were put forward by admin when challenged. they published a similar comment with my questions about censorship 12 hours after the original was submitted. as i said above i did not submit the second comment until 12 hours have passed, two comments by others submitted much later were published, and after making sure that moderation queue was empty.

"this post is extremely unclear
what exactly is meant by blocking internet access in the statement?
are you saying that all slt land telephones do not work in jaffna? ( given that adsl was not deployed there anyway,) if telephones worked dial up connections should work. or is this only referring to leased lines etc.
if all land telephones don't work why does this concentrates only on internet access?

as for mobiles, the statement itself says "a number of citizens in Jaffna and journalists" were "contacted through mobile phones".

given the facts in the post itself, one can hardly come to the conclusion that "600,000 people today in Jaffna are denied the right to communicate with their fellow citizens and the rest of the world". unfounded exaggerations do not result in credibility. "

one or two further comments challenging the claims made by fmm in reply and by an admin pasted tamilnet report, (btw not one respectable media outlet backed the false claim of internet blocking ) giving details of telephone ranges that in fact worked, were also censored. so was the following comment

"to summarize, following were observable about the fmm statement and the post here

1/ there wasn't any any large scale (or even small scale) blocking of slt telephones in jaffna as claimed by fmm. a simple check of dialing jaffna number and asking them to dial back will verify this, even for numbers later put forward by fmm

2/ there wasn't any 'internet blocking', in fact what fmm meant by this term is still a mystery. since internet in jaffna means dial up, jaffna users using slt lines had only to dial up any isp to connect as usual. (same as anybody else using dial up in sri lanka).

3/ slt is not the only isp in jaffna as claimed by fmm. if a phone has a dial tone the user can connect to any isp.

4/ slt deny allegations of any blocking of telephones or internet, as anyone can verify by calling slt. fmm is reduced to hiding behind an unverifiable 'unofficial' confirmation.

5/ no other respectable media outlet local or foreign has independently reported about such a block as claimed by fmm even though it was supposedly 3 days old. may be the fact that there was no such block has a lot to do with such non reporting.

6/ fmm forgets to note that mobiles, other fixed lines etc in jaffna were working perfectly as well during those three days.

7/ to claim "basic communications facilities to the Jaffna Peninsula have been blocked" as fmm did, just bc ltte propagandists claimed so, without checking facts is a deliberate falsehood unworthy of any self respecting journalist.

8/ poster's claim that "Either way, 600,000 people today in Jaffna are denied the right to communicate with their fellow citizens and the rest of the world" is a worse falsehood."
jaffna prices at mpcs now higher than when taxed
"anchor and nespray at the same price? both then and now? that is definitely false data by someone who has not shopped anywhere

as that fact makes clear, problem with this post is the unreliability of the prices given. "
denial and polarisation
i submitted a rather lengthy comment in reply to lengthy reply by sanjana to my comment in this thread. in light of its length i will post it as a comment to this post rather than here. in addition to substantive and relevant part of the comment which i addressed first unlike him, i replied to his rather irrelevant references to my blog etc. concluding with " lets hope this part of the comment is not used as grounds for not publishing this comment here since it is a direct result of your own references to my blog and motivation." but it was not published. it seems such irrelevance is allowed only to sanjana.

as i said they are free to censor but since they made the above claims about their blog, their censorship will be documented and published for the scrutiny of anyone interested.

if censoring continues in the future i will periodically post a summary of censored comments. if anyone else is subjected to censorship at groundviews, they can post a comment here or email me with the details so that i can include them in future posts.