ICT Election Forum: what questions?

The Australian Computer Society (ACS) is once more holding a Federal Election Forum on ICT issues, with the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Stephen Conroy, his Coalition counterpart Tony Smith MP, and The Greens’ spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam.

As you can see from the photos, Australia’s political diversity is once more represented by a bunch of middle-aged men in dark suits.

When I wrote about the equivalent event in 2007, I noted that the Minster at the time, Liberal Senator Helen Coonan, looked rattled and scored a few own goals. Conroy, by comparison, was alert and scored some sharp political points. And Democrat leader Senator Lyn Allison — remember the Democrats? — was quietly confident.

Labor’s broadband promise was a Fibre to the Node network with a “guaranteed” minimum speed of 12Mb/sec to 98% of Australians, costing $4.7 billion. The Liberals were promising WiMaX through the OPEL consortium. From memory, mandatory internet censorship didn’t even get a mention, as both parties only added that little gem to their agendas after the official campaign period had started.

How times have changed…

This year’s moderator is Sky News political editor, David Speers. An odd choice, I must say. Sure, he has the profile and Sky News Business is the host broadcaster. But wouldn’t it have been better to have someone with a better technical knowledge of the portfolio, rather than a general political news reporter? My worry is that it’ll degenerate into political point-scoring rather than analysing competing policies.

So let’s help out Mr Speers. What are the issues this year, do you think? What questions should he ask?

I think we can take a question or two about internet censorship for granted. Please try to think beyond the obvious indignation du jour.

The Federal Election Forum is next Tuesday 10 August 2010 at the National Press Club in Canberra. The debate starts at 1pm Canberra time and will be broadcast on Sky News Business and possibly ABC News 24. [Update 3pm: The Forum will also be streamed live at YouTube’s Australia Votes channel.]

[Photo credits: Stephen Conroy via Wikimedia Commons. Tony Smith via Office of Tony Smith MP. Scott Ludlam via The Greens. This composite image is licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons CC-BY-SA-2.0 license.]

Links for 15 October 2009

Here are the web links I’ve found for 15 October 2009, posted almost automatically. Almost

Conroy’s political choices on Internet censorship

ZDNet Australia logo: click for story

A report from the Australian Computer Society’s Filtering and E-Security Task Force, the drab-named but quite readable Technical Observations on ISP Based Filtering of the Internet, is going to be a handy weapon in Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy’s battle over internet censorship.

Well, so I reckon.

In a backgrounder for ZDNet today, ACS filter report just what Conroy needs, I run through a quick history of Labor’s mandatory Internet filtering policy, and show how Conroy can use the report to kill the project or kill the criticism — depending on what he needs at the time politically.

Links for 19 November 2008 through 20 November 2008

Stilgherrian’s links for 19 November 2008 through 20 November 2008, gathered despite the rain:

The Digital Economy: just for big business?

Crikey logo

[This article was first published in Crikey on Wednesday, based on Senator Conroy’s keynote speech to the Digital Economy Forum. See below for updates.]

“The Rudd Government is focused on creating a platform for economic growth and is committed to leading and growing our digital economy,” generalised Senator Stephen Conroy as he opened the Digital Economy Forum in Melbourne [on Wednesday morning].

His keynote speech regurgitated budget promises, generously sprinkled with doubleplusgood words about “encouraging” figures and “driving innovation”.

Uh oh. A “Digital Economy Forum”? Already I’m seeing blokes in suits jostling for room at the trough of government largesse. So who’s at this all-day talkfest? Aha! The CEO of Fairfax Digital; reps from Cisco, Google and Intel; a past president of the Australian Computer Society, the CEO of the Australian Internet Industry Association (which overwhelmingly represents big players); the Research Director for Ovum (presumably representing their big clients)… all the usual suspects.

But if the government is truly committed to supporting innovation and economic growth, where’s the involvement from small business?

Continue reading “The Digital Economy: just for big business?”

Wednesday, in which I fail to learn about Web 2.0

Well if you were following my Twitter feed just now, you’d know that I abandoned the “Web 2.0” presentation put on for the ACS Web Technology SIG. 15 minutes in, I hadn’t heard anything I didn’t already know, and there was no sign that would change. Disappointed.

It unfolded like this:

  • I arrive just after Mr IBM started. Room of cubicle droids are astounded by a YouTube video of “Does it blend?” Much polite lolz. Apparently you can upload your own videos to YouTube.
  • We’re told there’s a trend away from the desktop. Gosh. Does that explains how I can Twitter from my phone? I notice there’s no pizza left. I don’t want pizza anyway.
  • Mr IBM introduces Runescape as an example of a virtual world, and then shows a static screenshot of IBM’s tennis presence in Second Life from the Australian Open. Why not actually demo SL?
  • Audience member asks what the most popular site is. Mr IBM says it’s hard to say, probably BigPond in Australia and hard to say globally. Audience member asks if he means “the web or Second Life”. SL, he says. Sheesh, if you don’t know for sure, just tell ’em it’s the furrysex dungeon and go for lolz, yeah?
  • I decide there’s no way I can raid the chocolate biscuits without drawing attention to myself, and I’m not learning anything new.
  • Pub.

The guy from IBM would be wrapping up and chatting with the crowd about now. I’ve already gone to the pub, had a beer and a “Thai” chicken salad, and posted this. That’s Web 2.0.