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News seen on the web and about the web. From Monday to Friday at 8.20 am Paris time.

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Latest update : 2013-12-11

Internet honours Nelson Mandela’s legacy

Today on the net: the web celebrates Nelson Mandela’s legacy; eight top US tech firms call for government surveillance reforms, and a charity tries to improve the quality of life of those affected by cancer.

Internet honors Nelson Mandela’s legacy

Nelson Mandela, in hiding and aged 43 at the time, giving his first ever television interview on May 21 1961. The footage is available on YouTube and since the death of South Africa’s anti-apartheid hero, it has been viewed by thousands of web users.

There are many online documents perpetuating the former South African president’s legacy. “The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory” website holds a plethora of material documenting both his personal life and his fight for freedom and equality. Web users can see the desk calendars for example he kept during the prison years to help maintain a notion of time, and also some of the many letters he wrote throughout his life.

The database was created by Google and the Nelson Mandela Foundation which has also posted all manner of resources to its website to honour his memory and keep his legacy alive. There is a selection of some of his greatest quotes, and also a page which explains the meanings of some of the other names he was known by, like “madiba” for example which is the name of the clan of which he was a member.

The South African History Archive has uploaded a collection of campaign posters from its records, looking back over the political fight that carried him into office as South Africa’s first black president. 

USA: top tech firms call for government surveillance reforms

“We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer's revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide…The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favour of the state and away from the rights of the individual - rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. It's time for a change."

This is part of an open letter to Barack Obama and the US Congress, written by a coalition of leading technology firms: Aol, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Yahoo and Twitter. The document was posted to the purpose built “Reform Government Surveillance” site on Monday and sees the eight web giants urging the US to take urgent action to ensure greater disclosure and tighter controls of government surveillance.

The coalition has also drawn up a list of principles they would like the authorities to endorse and put into action to reform government surveillance which the group says is now out of control. They would like to see limitations on the government’s authority to collect users’ information for example or for intelligence agencies to be subjected to strong checks and balances, and companies to be allowed to be transparent about the nature of government demands for information.

The US authorities continue to argue that this type of surveillance, however controversial, is essential in combatting terrorism, so whether any of the coalition’s requests will be heeded remains to be seen. 

Paperhouses.co: architecture in open source

Not everyone can afford to hire an architect; and the site Paperhouses.co was designed with this in mind and offers downloadable plans drawn up by well-respected architecture companies. There are twelve or so models available so far, which according to their designers, can be adapted by future occupants to suit their needs and surroundings.

Now trending on social networks

It’s official, American writer Stephen King is now on Twitter. The author of “Christine”, “The Shining” and “It” to name but a few, made his debut on the microblogging site last Friday and he already has over 172,000 followers and counting. The master of horror has posted just a handful of tweets so far, joking that he doesn’t know what to write on the social network, which is quite something for one of the most prolific writers of his generation. 

Video of the day

The Mimi Foundation which works to improve the quality of life of people affected by cancer took twenty cancer patients for a fun make-over session, to try and help them forget about their illness, if only for a few moments. They were given somewhat wacky hairstyles and make up, but they did not get to see their transformation until it was complete. Their surprised faces when they were finally allowed to look in the mirror were caught on camera, making for some very moving images indeed…

By Electron Libre

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