March 2008

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Crikey has just published my article ABC Playback is a backwards step as a “Crikey essay”, no less. It combines the themes of my pieces about ABC Playback and the CBC BitTorrent trial.

31 March 2008 by Stilgherrian | 1 comment

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!

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My gut impression was that last night’s Earth Hour in Sydney was less about individual involvement this year, more about corporate sponsors ostentatiously turning off lights at head office. Agreed? There was little visible effect to be seen as my train approached the Sydney CBD just after the 8pm start time, and while walking past bars and restaurants in Surry Hills there was little difference apart from a few token candles at some eateries. Oxford Street looked pretty much as usual. Last year I had lengthy thoughts. This year I agree with the usually-irritating Helen Razer when she says A Blaze of Conceit Will Light up the World.

30 March 2008 by Stilgherrian | 3 comments

Following Norwegian broadcaster NRK’s highly-successful trial of using BitTorrent for program distribution, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has just released a prime-time episode of Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister onto the torrent globally.

According to the last100 report, the CBC’s media release was clear:

“The show will be completely free (and legal) for you to download, share & burn to your heart’s desire.”

In a follow-up post Inside story: the making of a legal TV ‘torrent’, freelance producer Interactive Producer for CBC Guinevere Orvis explains how they got the approvals sorted within the CBC.

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Photograph from series: werbung gegen realität

The package, according to my amateur knowledge of German, says: “Sea hake fillet in dill sauce with spinach leaf and carrot purée”. Sounds great, eh? The contents, alas…

This is one photo from a series of 100 called werbung gegen realität where the photographer has juxtaposed images from the packaging of processed food with what’s actually inside. This may be Germany, but I reckon it ain’t any different here in Australia. (Hat-tip to Boing Boing.)

OK, so the emo thing wasn’t the best headline of the week. This is: Man sentenced over wombat rape claim. “A New Zealand man has been sentenced to community service after telling police he had been raped by a wombat and the experience had caused him to start speaking ‘Australian’…” Hat-tip to The Road to Surfdom.

29 March 2008 by Stilgherrian | 2 comments

Screenshot from ABC Playback

On Thursday an email told me that I’m a beta tester for ABC Playback, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Internet TV trial. So here we go…

I’ll gloss over the geeky stuff because the massively-brained Simon Rumble has already done a technical reconnaissance. Just three key points there from me:

  1. It uses a Flash front end over XML program listings. Simon reckons it’ll be easy to hack up a Linux version for those who can’t use the official Windows and Mac interface. Or who want to avoid the pointless animations. Or who’d rather an easier-to-read high-contrast interface than trendy translucency.
  2. A 30-minute program is compressed to a mere 130MB, which seems a reasonable compromise between quality and bandwidth — at least for infotainment — given the ABC’s need to serve regional audiences out on the Information Super-goat-track.
  3. Did we really need to spend taxpayers’ money putting a clock in the top right of the screen? Computers already have clocks.

Technically it works just fine… but that’s not the real issue…

Disappointingly, ABC Playback seems more like the last gasp of old-style broadcast TV than a prelude to something new and wonderful.

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I’ve just discovered that ’Pong and I are going to the showing of Mardi Gras: The Slide Show tonight. Presumably like last year it’ll also be an awards night. Maybe like last year one of his photos will win an award. I guess he hopes there won’t be a repeat of The Rowdy Boys Incident. It’s at Midnight Shift nightclub on Oxford Street from 8pm — ho hum, Oxford Street on a Saturday night. I guess it can’t be avoided. And which twit scheduled a slide show during Earth Hour?

29 March 2008 by Stilgherrian | No comments

Twitter Tools, Tweaks and Theories is a great collection of observations about how Twitter works and how it can be built upon. I’ll be running through these over the next week or so and commenting. Or not.

29 March 2008 by Stilgherrian | No comments

Photograph of emo anti-violence protest in Mexico: María Meléndrez Parada

Attacks began on 7 March when, according to Wired, “several hundred people went on an emo-beating rampage in Querétaro, a town of 1.5 million about 160 miles north of Mexico City.”

The next week punks and rockabillys harassed emo kids in Mexico City, prompting police protection and a TV news story. Meanwhile the emos have organised anti-violence protests (pictured).

Hat-tip to Alex Willemyns for one of the oddest headlines — but this is for real.

The core issue is a clash between Mexico’s macho culture and emo‘s sexual ambiguity. Yep, it’s just good old-fashioned gay-bashing.

[O]nly in the past year have emos begun to make their presence felt in the streets. In response, many of the established so-called tribus urbanas like punks and metalheads are responding with violence…

[B]y some accounts, the emo subculture is identified with homosexuality in Mexico. As Mexico City youth worker Victor Mendoza told “At the core of this is the homophobic issue. The other arguments are just window dressing for that.”

Perhaps not so old-fashioned: we can drag a web 2.0 angle into this…

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