clive hamilton

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Since the most popular posts for 2009 were pretty disappointing, I reckon, here’s my personal selection of my thirteen best, more timeless posts for 2009. Happy reading!

[Update 29 December 2009: In case it isn't obvious, these are in order of writing through the year, not of merit or anything else.]

  1. Jim Wallace’s pro-censorship lies and distortions (26 January) It disgusts me that someone claiming to speak on behalf of “moral” Christianity deliberately distorts the evidence and misrepresents his opponents. It’s the most appalling hypocrisy. While this piece relates to specific events in the news, the explanation of his dirty tricks stands the test of time, methinks.
  2. “Clive Hamilton, you’re really starting to shit me!” (16 February) Wallace’s compatriot Clive Hamilton is equally guilty of dodgy rhetoric and straight-up misrepresentation. Again, some useful lessons about political messaging.
  3. Fisting Twitter and the birth of “trend fisting” (1 March) This was the most popular post too. Perhaps this is my true legacy from 2009?
  4. Pia Waugh: An interview for Ada Lovelace Day 2009 (24 March) This video interview was recorded before Pia started working for Senator Kate Lundy. An interesting backgrounder.
  5. Anzac Day 2009: Sacrifice (25 April) Anzac Day always brings out my reflective nature — though perhaps only I would start an Anzac piece with cat vomit.
  6. Look, about that damn topless gnome… (27 May) I’m annoyed that a tangential discussion about a $3.50 garden gnome soaked up so much time which should have been spent on the real purpose of Project TOTO. Nevertheless, it gave me a chance to make some points about independence and how organisations can get trapped in their own worldview.
  7. The Poverty Web (3 July) The only lengthy Project TOTO piece to be written while I was actually in Tanzania, and still perhaps the best — though more will emerge. Eventually.
  8. The really real revolutionary revolution of the Internet (23 July) I posit that things like the many Government 2.0 initiatives are still only nibbling around the edges.
  9. Conversations are not markets, people! (26 July) This one was popular. I’ve noticed that this year I’ve been increasingly concerned about the focus on markets and business at the neglect of other aspects of our society.
  10. Risk, Fear and Paranoia: Perspective, People! (27 September) Penny Sharpe MLC asked me to say something controversial at her NSW Sphere event on 4 September. Here it is. The full video and transcript of my somewhat rambling discussion of the challenges facing the Government 2.0 revolution.
  11. Letter from Newcastle (8 October) I wrote so very few “observational essays” in 2009. This is the best, I reckon.
  12. Media140: What do journos do better, exactly? (5 November) My presentation to Media140 Sydney was widely misunderstood. I was posing a question, a challenge, not saying that journalists have no purpose. What I was trying to say was that in a rapidly-changing media landscape, employee-journalists need to be able to answer this question.
  13. Virgin Blue’s mistake reveals countless selfish whingers (15 November) Apart from all my writing about Internet censorship, the other prominent theme does seem to be a certain dissatisfaction with selfishness and consumerism. What struck me most about the comments on this piece was that those who disagreed took it all so very personally.

One thing this list doesn’t reflect is that so much of my writing was elsewhere this year. My plan to do more paid media work and less geek-for-hire did actually unfold reasonably well.

I’ve been very happy with some of the pieces I wrote for Crikey, newmatilda.com, ZDNet.com.au and ABC Online, and the work I did on the podcasts A Series of Tubes and Patch Monday, and even the various radio and TV interviews that were linked to as the year progressed.

Most of the written material is linked from my Media Output page. I encourage you to explore — if only for your children’s sake.

You might also like to check out my personal favourites from 2008.

“Hating the Internet because of child pornography is a bit like hating the roads because of drug trafficking. If you had no roads there would be much less of it.” A great observation from a friend today.

Yes, “bad things” happen online, just as “bad things” happen anywhere. But when Clive Hamilton screeches about all the naughty things he’s found online, it looks to me like a deliberate attempt to press our emotional buttons and avoid rational debate. And he does it repeatedly.

The police don’t try to stop drug trafficking by putting a road block in everyone’s street and searching every vehicle. No, they use intelligence — in both senses of the word — to work out where best to deploy their finite resources for maximum results.

They also allocate their resources between conflicting demands so society as a whole is best protected. Their risk assessments tell them to worry more about the suspected rapists, serial killers or violent thugs in their community than some kid with a few grams of weed.

The people who actually understand child protection continually remind us that the greatest threats to children are the same as they always have been — abuse in their own home by family and close family friends, poverty, and bullying by their peers. Why oh why do we have to keep repeating that, Senator Conroy?

Photograph of Clive Hamilton

Well, he is! As part of The Australian‘s “super blog” on Senator Conroy’s Rabbit-Proof Firewall plans, Clive Hamilton has remixed his favourite old party piece. This time his rant is entitled Web doesn’t belong to net libertarians. Have a look. It’s a giggle.

OK, back? Cool.

Now I’ve dismantled most of Hamilton’s logical fallacies, baseless slurs and misinformation before, here and over at Crikey. Still, if Clive wants to sing the same old tune I’m happy to hum along one more time…

Clive, you started by saying, “Here is the kind of situation the Government’s proposed internet filter is aimed at,” and then provide a detailed description of an unsupervised schoolboy looking for porn.

Is it?

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Crikey logo

“The field trials of the Rudd government’s compulsory Internet filters, which were completed just before Christmas… no, they started before Christmas… no, that’s not right either… when do they start? Senator Conroy? Anyone? Can’t say? Fat kid on the far right? Okay, The Australian says they’re ‘imminent’. So another Christmas then.”

So starts my piece in Crikey today on… yes, you guessed it… the Rudd government’s plan for compulsory censorship of the Internet. There’s some interesting background on where this push for censorship comes from, and links to a new survey of one ISP’s customers — who don’t like the idea at all.

The article is not behind Crikey‘s paywall, so it’s free for all to read.

The Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace is on the Fairfax news sites today, telling the same old lies to support compulsory Internet filtering. Sigh.

Since Wallace promotes himself as a representative of good Christian values, I’ll allow that he may just be ignorant rather than a deliberate liar. Ignorance is no sin: it can be cured with knowledge. But he does use the familiar fraudulent propaganda techniques: misrepresenting his opponents; cherry-picking numbers; failing to explore the implications of those numbers; citing the same suspect Australia Institute report; and wrapping it up in the same old “protect the children” cant.

Those of us who’ve been covering this issue for more than a year now are getting sick of responding to the same easily-rebutted debating tricks. But, as I keep saying, politics is a marathon event. So if Jim’s rolling out the same material, we’ll point out the same flaws.

Again.

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Crikey logo

I’ve just written a piece for Crikey today about the hypocrisy of those folks in favour of Internet censorship. It begins:

Gloves-off time. The purveyors of pervasive internet censorship — handful that they are — have burned their goodwill. It’s time to call them out on their lies and demand to know why they’re not advocating the real solutions to child sexual abuse.

Bernadette McMenamin of ChildWise, you’ve crossed the line, defaming everyone who’s protested the government’s plans. “Most of these people are not fully aware of the facts and secondly, those who are aware are, in effect, advocating child pornography,” you said. How dare you!

Ms McMenamin, to really stop child abuse we need to spend our resources efficiently. Let’s run through it one more time. And let’s skip those hysterical, made-up “statistics” you still peddle. Child abuse is bad enough without heading into your paranoid fantasyland.

It continues in that vein. It’s not behind Crikey‘s paywall so it’s free to read.

Here are the web links I’ve found through to 10 December 2008, posted automatically.

  • #mumbai: three days as a Twitter journalist | News.com.au: The story of 21yo Aditya Sengupta, a Mumbai student who became part of the Twitter clearing house for news in the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks.
  • Adler, The Perverse Law of Child Pornography | The Columbia Law Review: “In our present culture of child abuse, is child pornography law the solution or the problem? My answer is that it is both. This reading pictures law and culture as unwitting partners. Both keep the sexualized child before us. Children and sex become inextricably linked, all while we proclaim the child’s innocence. The sexuality prohibited becomes the sexuality produced.” A challenging read.
  • Prospect reads: first rate, brave Economist article on Thailand at First Drafts | The Prospect magazine blog: This post reveals that The Economist‘s feature article on Thailand was written by Peter Collins, their southeast Asia chief, as his final act before moving back to London.
  • Thailand bans Economist | Straits Times: Needless to say, this week’s edition of The Economist is banned in Thailand, tho not “officially”. “This is one of those ‘cultural harmony’ bans, where the book distributors and stores take it on themselves not to distribute,” says free speech activist C J Hinke.
  • Thailand’s monarchy is part of the problem : The king and them | The Economist: Also from The Economist, a bold editorial calling for Thailand to abolish its “archaic” lèse-majesté law.
  • Thailand, its king and its crisis : A right royal mess | The Economist: The controversial cover story from The Economist this week, breaking the taboo on discussing the role of Thailand’s King in politics. It acknowledges that it’ll make Thais squirm, but it delivers one of the most incisive analyses I have yet seen. A must-read for anyone wanting to understand the Kingdom and the choices it faces.
  • Live Filtering Pilot Another Lab Test: DBCDE | How to Be A Systems Engineer: Can this be true? According to the DBCDE officer this guy spoke with, the Phase 2 trials of Australia’s Internet filtering still won’t be real. “This will be a closed network test and will not involve actual customers,” they said.
  • E-mail Etiquette 101 | Michael Hyatt: This is from mid-2007, and the hyphenated “e-mail” is a bit quaint. However these are all still valid points. I continue to be amazed at how poorly most businesses use basic tools like email.
  • Otto the octopus wrecks havoc | Telegraph: Octopuses are smart enough to get bored and start causing trouble.
  • Rolling Your Own Newsroom | O’Reilly Radar: Robert Passarella explains how he wired up a quick custom new page using Google Reader, Yahoo Pipes and some Typepad RSS widgets. The same thing could easily be dong using WordPress plugins or whatever.
  • World's Top Tourist Traps | ForbesTraveler.com: “Not all overcrowded, merchandise-swollen travel hot spots are created equal, and some deserve to be flagged as full-fledged tourist traps.”
  • Breaking news online: A short history and timeline | Teaching Online Journalism: A quick timeline of some major events in online journalism. I think it should include a lot more. Has anyone seen any more comprehensive lists?
  • Inside Story | Politics, Society and Culture: “Launched in October 2008 by Australian Policy Online, Inside Story combines high-quality journalism and analysis to bring readers a distinctive view of Australia and the world. Drawing on a network of writers, researchers and correspondents in Australia and overseas, Inside Story investigates the forces shaping contemporary politics, society and culture. Inside Story is edited at the Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University of Technology.”
  • Net porn: Whose rights matter most? | ABC News: Clive Hamilton has written another piece which tries to equate free speech with pornography, misrepresents the anti-filtering arguments, and deliberate overlooks that filtering won’t work — he even says he’s ignoring that discussion, claiming we should debate the morality of pornography before we look at whether filtering is possible. Full of intellectual dishonesty. Are these really the best arguments there are for comprehensive Internet censorship?
  • The Art of the Title Sequence: What is says: A website dedicated to the opening titles of films and TV programs. I stumbled across it because they’re currently highlighting Soylent Green.
  • A Penny for My Thoughts? | NYTimes.com: A Pasadena, California news site has outsourced all its local journalism to writers in India, who are paid $7.50 per 1000 words.
  • The Musical Compositions of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej: The King of Thailand is, amongst other things, an accomplished jazz musician, playing alto saxophone and writing. This is a selection of his work.
  • A piddling offence and much worse | www.smh.com.au: “Senator Stephen Conroy’s plotting and warring has added to Labor’s decline,” wrote Paul Sheehan in this revealing 2004 article. “His base certainly isn’t the electorate,” he writes. “His power comes from offstage, from the patronage of his mentor, Senator Robert Ray, and his years as a recruiter (his enemies call it branch-stacking), deal-maker and kneecapper for the Victorian Right. His reward was Senate preselection at the age of 31. Once in the Senate, Conroy could start knifing people under the protection of parliamentary privilege. He did not waste any time.”
  • Sharing Around the World | Facebook: This video showcases a Hackathon project that visualizes all the data Facebook receives.

Stilgherrian’s links for 23 November 2008 through 24 November 2008, gathered with spite and a little too much nasal mucosa:

  • Mapping the World’s Fastest Supercomputers | NYTimes.com: Nice map. Why are there no Australian computers here?
  • Journalists warned of two years of carnage ahead | The Australian: The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) report Life in the Clickstream: The Future of Journalism warns that the Western media industry faces "two years of carnage", squeezed by the global economic meltdown and the unravelling of traditional economic models. I supposedly have an essay in it.
  • Who Moved My Brain? Revaluing Time and Attention | SlideShare: A fascinating presentation from Merlin Mann of 43folders.com which has been updated with text so it works without the presenter being present. Much food for thought.
  • WordCamp Australia 2008 | WordCamp Association: Apparrently there's a WordCamp on in Sydney this weekend which I only just found out about.
  • Charles Fogden: An entire page about my great great grandfather Charles Fogden who in 1838, with is wife Sophia (nee Slater) their two baby girls, secured selection by Mr H Watson (South Australia’s colonisation commissioners’ agent at Chichester) as suitable assisted immigrants for the new province of South Australia. They left England on 12 September on board the 500-ton barque Prince George. About a thousand miles from Australia Mary Emma was tragically burned to death. She was buried at sea on the 8th December. The Prince George reached Holdfast Bay, Glenelg, at 11pm on 26 December 1838. The story includes bushrangers, fraud and a controversial marriage to a “coloured” man.
  • TheShipsList: Passengers, Ships, Shipwrecks: Ships’ passenger lists from the 1700s through 1900s, plus immigration reports, newspaper records, shipwreck information, ship pictures, ship descriptions, shipping-line fleet lists and more, as well as hundreds of passenger lists to Canada, USA, Australia and even some for South Africa.
  • Rudd will need a stiff upper lip | PerthNow: I never thought I'd agree with Glenn Milne on many things, but apart from any personal or ideological flaws he IS a canny political analyst. This piece on Internet censorship makes some good points. It even portrays EFA, which Senator Conroy and Clive Hamilton would have us believe is an “extreme libertarian” organisation, as “an independent industry watchdog”.
  • Can Labor implement “clean feed” without legislation? | Defending Scoundrels: Dale Clapperton has analysed the Australian government’s plan to censor the Internet from a legislative point of view. Currently to pass new laws the Rudd goverment needs either the support of the Liberal-National Coalition in the Senate, or the support of the Greens plus Family First Senator Steve Fielding plus independent Senator Nick Xenophon. Given The Greens’ opposition, and the Liberals’ stated opposition, Clapperton;s analysis shows that it probably couldn’t be done.
  • Australian Government Mandatory ISP Internet Filtering / Censorship Plan 2008 | Libertus.net: Irene Graham’s updated, concise and clearly-written guide to the Rudd government’s Internet censorship plans which clearly highlight the, erm, ambiguities and inaccuracies in Senator Stephen Conroy’s accounts. She links to references. Conroy just accuse you of supporting child pornography.
  • Seven Revolutions | Global Strategy Institute: “A project led by the Global Strategy Institute at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) to identify and analyze the key policy challenges that policymakers, business figures, and other leaders will face out to the year 2025. It is an effort to promote strategic thinking on the long-term trends that too few leaders take the time to consider.”
  • Societies worse off “when they have God on their side” | Times Online: “Religious belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today. According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.”
  • South Korea’s Madagascar land lease: it gets worse — much worse | Global Dashboard: South Korean company Daewoo has managed to lease half of Madagascar’s arable land for 99 years, and all Madagascar gets in return is an opportunity to work on the farms.
  • Minor Landscapes and the Geography of American Political Campaigns | BLDGBLOG: A delightful riff off one statistic: that there are now more World of Warcraft players in the US than farmers, yet mainstream political coverage insists on making sure we know what farmers think about an issue — but not WoW players. Of course some WoW players are farmers, and all demographics overlap. But what tags are relevant in choosing a political candidate? Are we looking at the right ones?
  • Mandatory ISP filtering mind map | Somebody Think Of The Children: This mind map is actually from Jay’s fingerpuppetmafia.com but the linkage was nicely arranged here. It’s a work in progress, so feel free to offer suggestions.
  • With a public intellectual like this, who needs barbarians? | Somebody Think Of The Children: Jon Seymour’s guest post rips apart Clive Hamilton’s Crikey article in far more detail than anyone else’s so far.
  • Fears over Australia’s £55m plan to censor the internet | The Guardian: A view from the UK: This summary for a British readership points out that Australia’s Internet censorship plan is mandatory and ill-defined. The lead is that it’s the usual “protect the children” appeal to emotion.
  • Live Piracy Map | ICC Computer Crime Services: A map showing all the piracy and armed robbery incidents reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre during 2008, updated as new reports come in. This is the real kind of piracy, about boarding ships, not copyright infringement.
  • The end of the story – as we know it | The Guardian: Another version of Jeff Jarvis’ notion that in online journalism the “article” is replaced as the unit of reportage by the “topic”.

Photograph of jet airliner tail with Qantas logo and Cnut of the Week title

I’m surprised. I thought that given Senator Conroy’s three-in-a-row victory as “Cnut of the week”, this week’s winner would be Clive Hamilton for his irrational rant in favour of Internet censorship in Crikey yesterday. But no.

Hamilton is certainly Cnutworthy, trying to hold back two strong tides of change: the change of the Internet, which will deliver whatever people want to send down its pipes, whether you try to block it or not; and the tide of rationality which increasingly renders shrill fear-mongering and name-calling irrelevant. But no.

The winner was Qantas for continuing to resist a tide of public opinion which clearly shows their reputation slipping thanks to unreliable service — which appears in turn to be the result of cuts to maintenance processes.

Last night’s episode of Stilgherrian Live is online for your viewing pleasure, though it’s not the same without the live chat.

But Clive Hamilton… Two hints, Clive.

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