Copyright gone wild

Were I lawyer, I think I might get involved in copyright. Enshrined in our constitution, copyright was created in the United States “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

It’s a beautifully written statement, describing the rationale and the parameters of copyright. “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts,” and “securing for a limited time.”

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Heading Home

As I left Dushanbe at 2:45 this morning local time, I still needed to find a few presents for folks back home. The shopping in Dushanbe is pretty much limited to staples for the population — food, housewares, etc. There are a few gift items, but not much.

So, at the airport I was relieved to see a small gift shop (and a rare refrigerated case where I could get a cold drink). Unfortunately for me, the gift pickings were still quite slim and the prices were exorbitant. (It seems the Tajikis have at least learned the capitalist lesson of a captive audience.) So, if you’re expecting a fine gift from Dushanbe, you might as well resign yourself to being disappointed.

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Rubbed Raw

Perhaps presaging today’s events, last night I found myself unable to fall asleep. Awake until 2 a.m., I passed the time reading David Remnick‘s The Bridge, a biography of Barack Obama. It’s quite interesting and makes me wonder what the young Obama would say about his presidency.

Never mind that for now, though. I finally drifted off to sleep only to awake several hours later with a rolling pain in my belly. After determining that my kidneys were still in tact, I rushed to the bathroom where I … well, no need for details here. Let’s just say Mr. Whipple doesn’t need to worry about anyone squeezing Tajiki TP.

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American Cornered

Today was my day at “American Corner,” where locals come to hear an American speak in his/her native tongue. I was asked to discuss social media and its role in creating a civil society, a topic I’m sure a great many American journalists would consider a contradiction in terms.

I began my talk by showing some examples of journalism in which engaging with readers improved the quality of the reporting. This included Sunlight’s live blog, our 180 degree project, projects I worked on at USA TODAY, and projects from the New York Times and other media organizations. The audience seemed suitably swayed that social media could be a tool for good and not just for teens or evil (as if there’s a difference).

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War in the streets

Yesterday I witnessed my first bribe.

It was in the early evening and my chaperone, Vadim, and I were returning from a lovely dinner at an outdoor cafe situated high in the hills overlooking little Dushanbe. As we wound our way back through the small city, Vadim was busy navigating the Byzantine network of roads leading back to my hotel. We took a left onto the main boulevard — a beautiful tree-lined street with a lush green canopy — when he suddenly pulled over and hopped out.

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