Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Back in the saddle (or one foot in the stirrups at least)

So, this blog is kind of reactivated, but not really. I started it back in March 2010 as a requirement for a course I was doing as part of my Masters of Media Practice. Now I'm doing another course for my Masters, where contributing to a student blog on online journalism is a requirement for assessment. I'm using this old blogger account to contribute to that, so I don't have to set up another one.

Blogging is being taught in this course as an entry point to online journalism, which I think is an excellent idea. In a nutshell, maintaining a blog teaches you a lot about the front-end and back-end of online content production.

But the idea of maintaining a blog of my own has no personal appeal. For starters, I write all day at work about stuff that I'm interested in and passionate about (thank god), so doing the same in my free time feels a bit redundant, especially when there is so much else to do in our short but rich little lives.

Secondly, the effort level is just way too high, especially when micro-blogging on Twitter is so much more succinct and immediate. And I run Twitter through RockMelt, so it is built into the edge of the browser and I don't even need to open a new tab to participate. Facebook functionality is also built in to RockMelt, so I have all the Facebook feeds I want to keep up with in the browser edge too, as well as some news sites etc. - between Facebook posts and tweets, I'm doing more than enough 'web logging'...

I'm part of the team that manages my work's Facebook and Twitter pages too, and I probably spend more time managing those pages than I do my own. Either way, FB and Twitter are where to find me, not here.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Internet filter double bill!

From the 'Open Internet for Australia' Facebook page today:

On ABC1 this evening both Four Corners and Q&A will focus on the Australian Government’s policy to introduce mandatory ISP-level Internet filtering.

On Four Corners, reporter Quentin McDermott will examine the filter in a story called "Access Denied":

A story that reveals how an apparently well meaning attempt by government to protect children from video nasties on the net turned into a policy that critics say promotes censorship and reduces personal freedom.

This follows a story today on the SMH about the true political motivations for the MISP filter:

Government tries to net votes in Howard’s domain:

The Rudd government’s internet filter has always been a kind of policy duck - flapping on the surface, quacking all the right things but with lots more happening underneath in the murky waters. It seems like a repeat of just the kind of expensive and more than likely ineffective policy that will create controversy in the future for the Rudd government. However obvious to the rest of us, it looks like Labor may have not got the memo. Reports are that Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is only delaying the fight over the filter until after the election where it might be in a better position to spin it their way and have no electoral repercussions. But with the obvious problems with the policy ahead, wouldn’t it just be better to ‘‘do an ETS’’ and cut their losses?

I asked this question in class a few weeks ago - if the research shows that the filter will clearly not do what the Government intends to set it up for, then what is the real reason they're pushing to set it up? Far from accepting any conspiracy theories about censorship and control, I've always suspected that it is simple politics. The MISP filter was seen as a relatively easy win with the electorate, especially when you frame the question as, "do you want to restrict access to child pornography?". But its not about winning points with the electorate, its about shoring up support with within the Labor factions and Family First.

Now its off the agenda till after the election, so the Government clearly misjudged the public reaction. Thanks to widespread media coverage on the inherent flaws of the MISP, coupled with the activism of protest movements such as Electronic Frontiers Australia and the Pirate Party, its fair to say that the general public have moved beyond the Government's black and white positioning of the proposal.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Rudd retreats on web filter legislation

Looks like the MISP is on the back burner (how many back burners does Rudd have? Clearly he owns a Big Stove) till after the election:

Monday, April 26, 2010

Some interesting articles from the ARIN6902 Diigo site

Couple of things my fellow students have posted on Diigo recently that relate to the protest movements and ISP filter themes of this blog.

Firstly, some US stats on filtering software:

Next, an article from the OZ about our Government's 10th place ranking with Google for requesting content removal:

And finally, an article on Lifehacker listing 10 ways to access blocked content:

happy surfing...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Larvatus Prodeo writes for EFA

Great Larvatus Prodeo post over the weekend, written for Electronic Frontiers Australia about the internet filter. Quite long, but here is a key quote:

“The Internet ... is part of that secular movement towards the democratisation of social relations; and of knowledge. It’s precisely because the Internet affords so much promise for those who wish to decide their destinies in common, to learn, to form an informed judgement and habit of thought that its freedom from state interference is so important at the level of principle.”

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hackers: not just geeks, but activists

Thanks to Elizabeth Gan for posting this article from the Toronto Star on the ARIN6902 Diigo list. It's about 'white hat' hackers who are helping to make the online world a better place. Of relevance in this article to my little blog about protest movements against internet censorship, is the work of Nart Villeneuve from the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab:

Nart Villeneuve, the chief research officer of Citizen Lab, is a self-taught coding expert. As an undergrad, he used his white hat skills to research Internet censorship by the Saudi Arabian and Chinese governments.

“I didn’t think you could make a living detecting Internet censorship,” Villeneuve says. He’s since unearthed two major cyber espionage rings and continues to study how governments monitor their citizens.


On Nart's site, he posts some very interesting articles about internet censorship, well worth a further read, especially his posts tagged 'censorship circumvention'

Meanwhile the Citizen Lab site covers the lab's broader work on "advanced research and development at the intersection of digital media, global security, and human rights".

Monday, April 12, 2010

US ambassador critical of Conroy's internet filters

Follow up article to Ambassador Bleich's appearance on Q&A last night, where he said the "internet has to be free" and that there were other means of combating nasty content such as child pornography. "We have been able to accomplish the goals that Australia has described, which is to capture and prosecute child pornographers ... without having to use internet filters" Surely a strong American stance against the MISP means no MISP...?