July 15: Cyrus on PRI’s The World

Dear Friends,

I’ve been informed that my radio piece on the rise of the Pirate Party in Europe (including France, Switzerland, and yes, Estonia) is airing today.

It will be available on any of these stations (and their Internet streams):

NYC – 3 pm Eastern – WNYC – 820 AM – www.wnyc.org
Washington, DC – 8 pm Eastern – WAMU – 88.5 FM – www.wamu.org
Los Angeles – 12 pm Pacific – KPCC – 89.3 FM – www.kpcc.opg
Boston – 4 pm Eastern – WGBH – 89.7 FM – www.wgbh.org
San Francisco – 2 pm Pacific – KQED – 88.5 FM – www.kqed.org

You can also find it on The World’s site later in the day and on my site if you miss the broadcast.

Also, don’t forget about The World’s Tech Podcast, hosted by my boss, Clark Boyd. It comes out every Friday.

Lemme know if you hear it!

AFP: Finland ends Estonia’s reign in wife-carrying

AFP: Sat Jul 4, 3:46 pm ET:

HELSINKI (AFP) – Finland put an end to Estonia’s 11-year reign and took gold and bronze on Saturday at the annual Wife-Carrying World Championships held in Sonkajaervi, central Finland, organisers said.

Taisto Miettinen raced through a 250-metre (273-yard) course with two hurdles and a pool in 62 seconds, carrying Kristiina Haapanen on his back. The winners beat Estonia’s Alar Voogla and Kristi Viltrop by 0.1 seconds.

Miettinen has been attending the competition for a decade now and said he was pleased to finally win.

“A couple of times I have lost by 0.1 seconds and I have stumbled. Our win tastes now really good,” Miettinen said in a statement.

Although Estonia’s long chain of wins in wife-carrying was brought to an end, Voogla said he was happy with silver and added the cool and cloudy weather had an impact on their race.

“It was not our day, in the cool weather it was slightly difficult and the run did not go as planned,” he noted.

Finns Heikki Hannukainen and Heini Rauhamaa came in third and were some six seconds slower than the victors.

Sonkajaervi village, located some 490 kilometres (302 miles) north of Helsinki, has in the past 14 years made its entertaining wife-carrying competition known around the world and this year competitors came from eight countries including Australia, Ireland and Czech Republic.

The race was inspired by the legend of a local thug, Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainen, who lived in a forest and is said to have snatched food and sometimes ladies from villages in the region.

Why the Future of Online Media Just Might Be in Estonia

Everyone knows that the media (the Chronicle included) is going through some major changes. We’ve got newspapers folding (and not in the usual way) left and right. We’ve got ads that don’t quite translate into online revenue, and online journalism sites that can’t seem to charge money, or at least seem to largely exist in the non-profit model. NPR’s On The Media has been covering this nonstop. There have even been Congressional hearings about it.

But ok. The media is dying. There’s even a Twitter account with that exact name.

So what’s a newspaper do to? Micropayments? The public radio model? There’s plenty to choose from.

But what about the anti-Google approach: pulling content offline?

That’s exactly what Estonia’s biggest newspaper, Postimees, is doing. This EPIC 2014-esque model is particularly curious given that Estonia is such a wired country. Yes, you might know it better as e-Stonia. (You know, they invented Skype, perfected Internet voting and got cyberattacked back in 2007.)

Starting this Monday, Postimees will stop full publication of its articles online. Its rival, Eesti Päevaleht, is going to follow suit within the next few months.

Then, the plan seemingly is to put those articles behind a paywall.

But here’s where this plan might actually work where other online paywalls have failed: it’s happening simultaneously in a small, semi-exclusive, market. (Heck, if I was Estonian, maybe I might throw down my kroons for some of these articles.)

If something like this happened here, I might not like it, but honestly, if that were the easiest way to get my daily fix of journalism every day I just might do it. I’m a 27-year-old journalist who loves newspapers. Heck, I was a paperboy as a child for (defunct since 1998) The Evening Outlook in Santa Monica for a couple of years.

But the fact of the matter is that I’m going to get my news for free on way or the other, so long as its easier than paying for it. The Wall Street Journal charges for access — I wasn’t reading it anyway. Oh wait, but there’s a free (and legal) workaround. TimesSelect? There was a way around that, too. But iTunes proved that if you can make it easier to buy music than to pirate it, then that’s what people will do.

But ok, what if all my favorite papers like the Chronicle, The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times started, all at once, charging for their content. Maybe then I’d consider forking over some cash.

Now, Estonia is a small country with a small readership. The entire Estonian-speaking population worldwide is roughly one quarter the size of the Bay Area. We’ll find out soon enough if a product with a limited audience can succeed with this strategy.

Liveblogging the CCDCOE conference, Tallinn (Day 2 / June 18)

CCDCOE conference, June 18

Nart Villeneuve, “Tracking GhostNet”:

One of our staff has been working with Tibetian communnities for 10 years.

Art of investigation: raise more questions than answers. This is good, as we have limitations.

Data is hard to come by. Organizations are not generally willing to collect their data or provide you with samples of malicious files, you have to cultivate sources, and earn trust (within NGO community).

We hear a lot of news coverage, they’re often incomplete, with little to no data. (09h11 Tallinn time)

Sometimes there might be political events associated with the attacks.

We fully explore alternative explanations

We try to explore avenues that would try to explain why we’re seeing these types of attacks.

Read more“Liveblogging the CCDCOE conference, Tallinn (Day 2 / June 18)”

Liveblogging the CCDCOE conference, Tallinn (Day 1 / June 17)

CCDCOE conference, June 17

Kenneth Geers, American representative to CCDCOE:

– Even if you took a tank or a jet fighter, you could hardly count the number of processors on it.

– Next year US military will have more unmanned than manned aircraft

– It’s not just about vulnerability and exploit — but where does that meet national security? All presentations, have elements that speak to why nat’l security planners would find it interesting.

– This is the best city to host this event. Has to do with historical factors, and accomplishments that Estonia has been able to achieve.

– It’s not surprising that Skype and COE comes from Estonia. (08h40 Tallinn time)

– Mikko and Nart’s talks have been swapped for today/tmrw.

Jaak Aaviksoo, Estonian Minister of Defense:

– Everybody in this room believes that cyber conflicts are here to stay.

– SK military reported 2 days ago that they are suffering 95,000 attacks daily

– This week the Estonian and US presidents met in Washington and our mutual efforts to gain back lost ground

– Cyberattacks against Georgia were a sequel to an aggresive attack against Estonia in 2007

– Cybersecurity is a political issue and it does not need any more advetising. It’s time for action.

Read more“Liveblogging the CCDCOE conference, Tallinn (Day 1 / June 17)”

AFP: Estonia plans broadband for all by 2015: report

Estonia plans broadband for all by 2015: report (April 24, 2009, AFP):

TALLINN (AFP) — Estonia’s government and telecom companies operating there announced on Friday a 283 million euro (374 million dollar) project to provide access to broadband Internet for all by 2015, a report said.

“If the railway was developed in the 19th century and the electrical grid in the 20th century, then the 21st century is the era of developing communication networks,” Estonia’s Minister of Economy and Communications Juhan Parts [pictured] was quoted as saying by the Baltic News Service (BNS).

“The project makes it possible to quicken the economy and at the same time to create new jobs,” he said.

Dubbed the EstWin project, the plan calls for the creation of a 100 megabit broadband network with access for all households and businesses across Estonia by 2015 in a bid to aid the development of the country, especially its rural areas.

Plans call for a 6,640-kilometre network of fibre-optic cable to be created in the initial phase of the project.

All major Estonian telecom companies will be involved in the project which is to be co-funded by the European Union.

In other news:
Estonia’s ‘Eagle-cam’ helps snare wood thieves (April 16, 2009, AFP):

TALLINN (AFP) — Two thieves who stole wood in an Estonian forest were caught on a webcam set up to watch a family of eagles, wildlife rangers said Thursday.

Internet surfers contacted authorities Wednesday after hearing a sawing noise via the webcam perched near an eagle nest in Jogeva in central Estonia, Raivo Vadi, head of the local environmental inspectorate, told reporters.

Rangers went to the site and caught two men felling trees without a licence, he said.

Interview with Artur Talvik

I did an email interview with “Detsembrikuumus” producer Artur Talvik. (I’ve slightly edited his answers for clarity.)

What’s the source for the plot?

Different history books are the source of our plot. The problem for the Reds was that all their brains had recently stopped. In the beginning of the film, the newspaper boy shouts the headlines of the so called Trial of 149. Soviet Russia published a handbook some years later (maybe 1934) called “How To Make Armed Coup” or something like that. There must be basic analysis about what went wrong in Tallinn 1924. I haven’t read this book personally but it must exist also in english. Estonian historian Hain Rebas told me about that book.

What about the narrative for the characters? Are they real?

Tanel and Anna are fictional. Lawyer’s prototype is Jaan Anvelt. General Põdder was real hero of this night and something very similar happened to him. Anyway he finished drinking 4.45 and on his way to home he recognised that the coup started. general Unt is real and he controversial death in 1932 and also controversial behaving this night gave us opinion that he played strange play (maybe traitor, historians are arguing). Zinovjev is real and was the main organizer in Soviet Russia.

Did the battles in the streets of Tallinn really happen in that way? Did Põdder lead a group against the rebels? Was there really this showdown at Balti Jaam (Baltic Train Station)?

The battles are pretty similar. Althought the battle at the 5th police station wasn’t so big. The battle at the Ministry of Defense was probably similar, but the ministry wasn’t the Red headquarters and the counterattack by the guards started earlier. Something similar happened at Balti Jaam. The battle there was actually one of the biggest but we decided do not go back there because we tried to fallow Tanel’s moves. The battle at the military school barracks was probably historically the biggest. So this is very similar.

Põdder was drinking with his friends officers. Põdder knew that something will happen. So he and some of his friends stayed out drinking and they were also kind of patrolling. But they started to go home before coup started. Põdder bunched up improvised group of officers and started counterattack. This drunk independence war hero on the streets of early morning Tallinn wasn’t certainly in the plans of the Reds.

When did you first hear about this episode in Estonian history? Did you know about it before? Is it well-known amongst school children, etc?

I went to secondary school during the soviet time. The Soviets had their point of view about this coup and it was tought in school from reds point of view. So I actually knew. We were very critical in school against almost everything what was thought in history lessons. So I knew about it pretty well. I was very surprised when I started to promote the project that so few people knew about this night. Even if some knew that something happened, but they didn’t know what exactly. So i understood that our first step was to speak about this night as much as possible.

What was the most difficult thing about making this film? What was the most surprising?

December heat was extremely hard production. Permanent lack of money, extreme conditions, winter, filming in the middle of Tallinn, some days almost half of the old town was closed for traffic by us. Most of the filming was during the nights and exteriors. The worst weather conditions were during the shooting of Balti Jaam (it was shot in Tapa). There we had -15 degrees and strong wind. So this night most of the actors and extras got ill. But nobody from the basic crew. Suprised that I didn’t get a heart attack, and stayed cool.

How much of it was actually shot on the streets of Tallinn? Was it difficult to shoot there?

Tallinn old town is perfect location, but it is extremely hard to film there. You are not allowed to put even a nail into the walls without special permission. But we had explosions and shooting and also wide street shot. It means that we were suppose to clean all the streets from modern signs and other stuff. People who live close to our locations were not happy because we had noisy battle scenes during the nights. Poor them.

What is known about the actual Gen. Põdder?

Gen. Põdder is our hero. he was really beloved by the fighter of independence war. Very colorful person.

Why add the fictional characters of Anna and Tanel? Do you think the audience should know how much of the story is fictional and how much is real?

Anna and Tanel were important to show the everyday life. And some kind of love story also. It is very hard to say in some points what is real. Historians have different positions, People wo wrote about it have also different stories about the same event. So it is hard to say where is the reality until it’s not documentary. It’s a philosophical question.

What’s next for you?

Money First. A con comedy from early nineties. Jaak Kilmi will direct. Funny film.

Estonian News Roundup

1) Associated Press: Arnold Meri, a decorated Red Army veteran charged with genocide for deporting hundreds of his Estonian countrymen to Siberia in 1949, has died. He was 89.

Note: Justin’s got some more commentary on this.

2) Tallinn’s Airport has now been renamed for the late President Lennart Meri (cousin of the aforementioned Arnold Meri).

3) Estonian Air will begin flights from Amsterdam and Berlin’s Tegel (TXL) airport to Tallinn starting in June 2009.

4) I finally watched “Detsembrikuumus” (December Heat), the docu-drama about the failed December 1924 coup by Soviet agents against the nascent Estonian Republic. Former Prime Minister Mart Laar told me about this historical episode back in 2007 and how he was trying to get it made into a film. Big ups to the film’s producer, Artur Talvik, for sending me a screener, and to Kris Haamer for helping me get in touch with him.

I loved the film — I thought the shots of old Tallinn were great. The Estonian traitors though were portrayed as a bit one-dimensional — why did they turn their back on their new country? I did wonder though, how true to the actual history the story was. How much of it can be attributed to actual history and how much of it is inference? All in all, I truly enjoyed it.

Cyrus to speak at Conference on Cyber Warfare – June 17-19, 2009 (Tallinn)


I’ve just been invited to speak at the Conference on Cyber Warfare, sponsored by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn, Estonia. The topic of my talk will be “‘Web War One’ ? Really? Media Coverage of Cyberattacks.”

Wow, it’s such an honor to be asked to speak in front of the world’s cybersecurity community — many of whom I’ve interviewed in the past. And big ups to Kenneth Geers from the Center, whom I interviewed in this piece last year, for accepting my proposal and inviting me.

Plus, I get to go back to Tallinn in mid-summer! I can’t wait to see my Northern home again and to visit all of my favorite Estonian friends and colleagues.

I’m also considering visiting some other part of Estonia that I haven’t been to. Perhaps Pärnu? Kihnu? Saaremaa? Ruhnu? Or maybe brave the border and hit St. Petersburg?

I’m considering flying into Helsinki, then ferry to Tallinn, then Eurolines it over to good ol’ Petrograd, and then train it back up to Helsinki on the way out. (Who knew they were building a high-speed rail link between Helsinki and St. Petersburg? Too bad it won’t be open until 2010.)

Best flight I’ve been able to find (SFO-HEL) is about $1100 on Kayak.

Ok, Eestlased, got any other suggestions?

See you in Eestimaa!