democracy

You are currently browsing articles tagged democracy.

As in previous years, the list of most popular posts for 2013 was disappointing, so I’ve hand-curated this list of seven stories for you to consider instead.

As usual, this does not include the material I wrote elsewhere, for ZDNet Australia, Technology Spectator, CSO Online, Crikey, ABC The Drum and the rest. That’s all listed on my Media Output page, although I’ll probably highlight a few articles of enduring interest some time in the next few days.

  1. See this, folks? It’s a picture of democracy, being my defence of the Daily Telegraph’s right to conduct whatever party-political campaigning they like. Even if you don’t like it, the newspaper does still have freedom of political speech.
  2. Microsoft has banned me from covering TechEd, which I still consider to have been an ill-thought move on their part.
  3. My guest lecture in March to first-year journalism and media studies students at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) on Algorithms and the Filter Bubble, plus the updated versions from August, Take 2A and Take 2B. All three are available as audio files, plus the accompanying slides.
  4. Why people who say “train station” sound stupid, being my first foray into computational linguistics.
  5. My fish are dead: the black dog ate them (an explanation?), being an announcement and discussion about my encounter with severe depression this year — something which still has a significant impact on my life.
  6. Six Pigeons for Jeffrey, being my personal photographic tribute to this fascinating Australian artist.
  7. Hillary’s mangoes, no NSA involved, which is more about the daft reactions to Edward Snowden’s revelations of the NSA’s surveillance operations.

If you’d like to compare this with previous years, try these:

Cover art for Corrupted Nerds episode 8: click for podcast pageI’ve just posted the first full-length podcast of material recorded on my Melbourne trip, this one being a chat with Dr Vanessa Teague about electronic voting.

Now I’ve always thought that the whole idea of electronic voting is a bit dodgy. You get a little bit of convenience, sure, but you get a whole lot more attack surface for the bad guys to hit — especially if you open up that whole can of worms of internet voting — and you make it almost impossible for anyone but a specialist digital forensics team to confirm that everything was legitimate.

I was willing to have my mind changed, but in fact the opposite happened. I now think more than ever that electronic voting opens up all manner of avenues for attack that would never have been possible before, with little benefit for most people. And it’d cost a squillion.

“There isn’t a secure solution for voting over the internet. There isn’t a good way of authenticating voters, that is, making sure that the person at the other end of the connection is the eligible voter they say they are. There isn’t an easy, usable way of helping voters to make sure that the vote they send is the vote they wanted, even if their PC is infected with malware or administered by somebody who wants to vote differently,” Teague said.

“And although there are some techniques for providing evidence that encrypted votes have been properly decrypted and tallied, it’s hard to scale those techniques to large Australian elections.”

As I said in September, give me my trusty pencil of democracy.

This was also my first podcast with a specific commercial sponsor.

Corrupted Nerds is available via iTunes and now SoundCloud.

Screenshot of email, reading: "Hi mate, There will be drinks. Cheers."“They say, it’s all in content. I say, it’s all in the pitch,” said the PR operative — who shall remain nameless — who sent me the email you may see in the screenshot.

“Hi mate, There will be drinks. Cheers,” was all they needed to add to the generic invitation to grab my attention — though in my defence, the invitation was to an event that was well within my realms of interest, and I probably would’ve gone anyway.

I’m more than happy to attend relevant events even when there aren’t drinks. I also go to events that I’m not necessarily personally interested in, but which I know I’ll be able to turn into saleable media objects.

But it was that little personal touch that caused me to spend that extra moment to read the whole thing and agree, yes, this was something I wanted to go to.

That personal touch wasn’t really about a shared like of alcohol, though the unnamed PR operative and I agree that when we meet for drinks we’re just two people sharing a drink and confidences stay confidential.

It’s more that they knew my work, and knew that I’d get value out of this event — and because they do this sparingly, it stands out from the dozens and dozens of of PR emails I receive every day.

So here’s my week Monday 9 to Sunday 15 September 2013. I may or may not explain why this post is so late tomorrow.

Articles

Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

None.

The Week Ahead

We’re already well into it, obviously. But to catch up quickly, the Tokyo trip was scratched and instead I’m now in Sydney Wednesday through Friday. On Wednesday I’ve got errands, a lunchtime briefing by IBM and then a meeting over at Randwick, and the rest is still being mapped out.

I’ll pick up the Twitter feed tomorrow.

Sunday Telegraph from cover: click to embiggenThere’s plenty of feels clogging the intertubes this morning about the front page of Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph (pictured). “AUSTRALIA NEEDS TONY,” it says. Oh this is so terrible! It’s a threat to democracy, whaaa whaaa whaaaaaa!

No, kids, look at it more closely. This is a picture of democracy. Suck it up.

Or, if you don’t like it, stop your whining, get off your arse, and do something about it.

Sure, the Murdoch newspapers’ ability to endorse a particular candidate on their front pages, effectively plastering a party-political poster onto newsagents and breakfast tables across the nation, gives that candidate a huge advantage.

Sure, if you don’t want that candidate to win, then this is a bit of a blow to your dreams.

But how about thinking through the implications of what you’re actually suggesting before you spend the whole day whining about how “undemocratic” this is?

For a start, why do you imagine that this, Murdoch’s alleged influence, is why Labor can’t win? Have you not considered that Labor itself has some sort of role to play in the process? By all accounts, they’ve been playing a pretty shit game. But that’s not really what we’re talking about here.

As Mark Newton tweeted a short time ago, your argument seems to be “All we need to do is reduce Murdoch’s influence and ALP will win.” That’s (a) antidemocratic, and (b) magical thinking.

“Let’s adjust media censorship laws specifically to improve the chances of my favourite candidate winning, because democracy,” he said.

You seem to be assuming that, despite the hundreds or thousands of people involved in the production of these newspapers and other media operations, they represent solely the opinion of one man, and him alone. You seem to discount the happy participation of all the others.

And even if it were solely Murdoch’s opinion, you seem to be wanting to remove his right to free speech because his opinion is different from yours, and you’re jealous because more people read his opinion that yours.

Diddums.

Do you really think that expressing opinions is some zero-sum game? That because Murdoch, or anyone else, has loudly expressed their opinion, that you’re somehow silenced? Then you’re an idiot. Stop whining, start influencing. And don’t whinge that Murdoch has so much power that it’s unfair and you can’t catch up, because I’m pretty sure Murdoch didn’t create his media empire by whining.

Sure, he had a head start, inheriting a ratty little provincial afternoon tabloid called The News. But you’ve got the internet at your fingertips, you can start organising, and try to counter the opinion you don’t like — because persuading and organising is precisely what politics is about, and in a democracy anyone can play.

Oh? That’s all too hard? Waaa! That’ll take ages. Waaa waaa waaaaaa! You just want to rub your tummy and have the Magic Democracy Fairy appear in a burst of sparkly how-to-vote cards and fix it all for you?

OK, let’s do that. Let’s have the Magic Democracy Fairy take away Murdoch’s influence. “Poof!”, it goes. Now what? Who’s next down the line? Take away their freedom of speech too? And the next? And the next one after that?

In terms of someone’s perceived influence being greater than yours, just how small must the margin be before you’ll allow them their freedom to express a view different from your own? Clearly-stated policies, or GTFO.

[Note to the hard of thinking: If you think this is somehow written in support of Tony Abbott, you really are an arsehat.]

Screenshot of Australian Electoral Commission voter registration form: click to embiggenI’d congratulate the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) on their new online voter registration tool, but they’ve made the usual arsehat mistake of assuming everyone’s name consists of at least two words.

This error is doubly stupid, because it means they didn’t test their data entry validation code by running it against the existing database of voters. Oops.

As I wrote in 2011, there’s more than 13,000 Australians with a single-word name, and I know for a fact that at least one of them is already on the electoral roll.

Anyway, apart from looking at the full screenshot, you can read Josh Taylor’s story about this thing, or try the tool for yourself.

Stilgherrian’s links for 09 May 2009 through 17 May 2009, gathered intermittently and jumbled together at random:

OK, so I didn’t make the 1000 “best and brightest” going to the Australia 2020 Summit. Nevertheless I’m still very interested in Topic 9, “the future of Australian governance: renewed democracy, a more open government (including the role of the media), the structure of the Federation and the rights and responsibilities of citizens.” What should I do?

There’s still the possibility of getting media accreditation, or perhaps connecting to the themes of the event in some other way. Here’s a brain-dump of my thoughts on this sunny Sunday morning… comments appreciated!

Read the rest of this entry »

Done! I’ve just emailed my application for the Australia 2020 Summit. Here’s my “100 words or less on why you (or your nominee) should participate”:

Australia’s democracy, created in the age of steam trains and the telegraph, must grasp the social media and online collaboration tools already transforming our world. Not tentatively, but with bold confidence.

I know these tools and their technology — and their flaws. Practical knowledge, untainted by the need to prop up old-media empires or sell products.

Armed with a high-powered “BS Detector”, I take a forensic approach to analysing complex issues — synthesizing and explaining practical solutions in clear, unambiguous language.

My passions are aroused by issues of integrity, human rights, truth, tolerance and transparency.

As I’ve mentioned before, my referees were Adam Salzer are Zern Liew. Nice to have one at each end of the alphabet, eh?

The more I look through my writing, the more I see the themes of this summit session running through so many articles.

Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve just registered the Internet domain topic9.com.au, where I’ll set up a blog to discuss topic number 9 of the Australia 2020 Summit: “The future of Australian governance: renewed democracy, a more open government (including the role of the media), the structure of the Federation and the rights and responsibilities of citizens.”

I won’t have time to do anything with it until (probably) tomorrow evening. Meanwhile, can you suggest people who might be interesting contributors?

Ah, I love the smell of democracy in the morning! But since we’ll be overloaded with election news today, I’ll avoid politics in today’s Weekly Poll. Instead, the scalping of a cat’s tail.

The other day Artemis, one of our cats, was run over by a car. Or at least the fur on her tail was, and a 20cm section was effectively scalped, exposing the flesh beneath the skin. Yummy.

I have a photo. It’s fairly gross. A TV newsreader might preface it with “Some viewers may find this image disturbing.”

Now I have no qualms about publishing good Anglo-Saxon swear words. We can hear them any day on a bus, so I reckon being coy and writing “f*ck” and “c*nt” is stupid. I mean, we all know what these words are, so adding an asterisk doesn’t change the received meaning. But I did hesitate before posting this photo.

So, should I publish it? Go to the website to vote!

Should I publish the disturbing photo of the damaged cat's tail?

  • Definitely! (40%, 6 Votes)
  • Yes, but only with a warning and having to click through to see it. (40%, 6 Votes)
  • No. (20%, 3 Votes)
  • Don't know. (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 15

Loading ... Loading ...

Last week’s results: After a year of phoney campaigning and a long, 6-week election campaign, it looks like most voters are indeed very glad today’s election day and we can all move on.

« Older entries