australia 2020

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Further to my appearance on Radio National’s Future Tense talking Telstra and corporate transparency, last week a little more of my recorded interview was used in their program on Participatory democracy, Web 2.0 and the Government 2.0 Taskforce.

My main point was that people will expect the Government 2.0 Taskforce to do a lot of things — especially given their massive brief — and yet they’ll be disbanded at the end of the year.

There are going to be expectations that there’ll be something really significant to put on the table by Christmas, and yet it’s all uncertain. The uncertainties in all this are incredible. We’re expecting this group of people to essentially solve all of the problems of government 2.0 and have this grand road map in just a few months. It’s an enormous bullet point list of stuff that they’ve got to achieve. And now that people are starting to look at it, they’re realising we’re only at the very early stages of people starting to agree on what the questions might mean, let alone what the answers might look at. And my gut feeling is people are starting to be a bit hesitant about ‘Hey, are we actually going to get something of value at the end of this, or is it just another of the Rudd government’s talkfests to make it look like we’ve got something happening but there’s no real end result?’ I mean the Australia 2020 Summit, did we ever get anything really concrete out of that?

Duncan Riley essentially agreed. But I found the response from Nicholas Gruen, who chairs the Taskforce, interesting.

Gruen says that unlike most government inquiries — and he’s been on eight — this time the recommendations aren’t the important thing. It’s more about educating everyone — including the public service and politicians.

Click through to the program for the full transcript or, for a limited time at least, to listen to the podcast.

Here are the web links I’ve found for 29 April 2009, posted with postalness.

  • Australia 2020: Government Response: A year after the event which seemed so important at the time, we finally have the government’s response.
  • Developments in internet filtering technologies and other measures for promoting online safety | ACMA: The second of ACMA’s three annual reports on “developments in internet filtering technologies and other safety initiatives to protect consumers, including minors, who access content on the internet”.
  • The Full Story: “The Full Story is a media and information release portal where individuals and organisations can post breaking news, publicity, information or their side of the story on issues of local or national importance — free, as it happens, unedited and in full.”
  • Internet-Age Writing Syllabus and Course Overview | McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: “Course Description: As print takes its place alongside smoke signals, cuneiform, and hollering, there has emerged a new literary age, one in which writers no longer need to feel encumbered by the paper cuts, reading, and excessive use of words traditionally associated with the writing trade. Writing for Nonreaders in the Postprint Era focuses on the creation of short-form prose that is not intended to be reproduced on pulp fibers.”
  • NBN Luddites will be proven wrong | BuddeBlog: Analyst Paul Budde with another thoughtful piece.
  • RedR Australia: This organisation provides training for people working in overseas aid and disaster relief, covering everything from logistics to personal protection. Yes, there is a reason this is being bookmarked, but it’s secret.
  • Swine flu: Twitter’s power to misinform | Net Effect: Once more, the usual human trait of passing on information which may or may not be true is blamed on Twitter, not on the humans. Fail.

Following established mainstream media tradition, my year-in-review pieces will start appearing well before Christmas. He’s a list of the most-read items on this website for (most of) 2008.

  1. Heath Ledger dead: jokes here please. It’s rather depressing to discover that my tasteless little experiment was this year’s highlight. Maybe I should’ve put advertising on this page.
  2. So this is human sexuality?
  3. How do you treat your staff? Like 37signals, or like this prick?
  4. Topic 9 to discuss Australia 2020 Summit’s government topic. This is actually spurious, as most hits are from link-following robots attempting to spam my blog at topic9.com.au (which has been since been abandoned).
  5. 67 Australian SAS captured airbase defended by 1000, though most of this traffic is to see the photo. The miltech fanboys are incapable of hosting their own photos, it seems, because most of their troll-filled forums don’t allow people to upload photos. Dark Ages.
  6. About Stilgherrian, which would seem to be a popular second page for people to visit once they’ve arrived here for other reasons.
  7. Corey Delaney, freedom fighter (for the right to party) — and increasingly I think Mr Corey Worthington Delaney is one of the true heroes of 2008. But not thereafter.
  8. Spaceport America, designed by Foster+Partners.
  9. Jason Calacanis and the Evil Cult of the Internet Start-up.
  10. Achtung! Die grosskapitalistischen Hühner kommen!

As with last year’s list, I’m somewhat disappointed with the results. I’ll therefore choose my own selection of “best” posts, just like I did last year.

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Crikey logo

[This article was first published in Crikey on 27 November, but I forgot that I hadn’t re-posted here.]

Evidence-based policy! National Broadband Network! Australia 2020 Summit! After 11 years of Howard’s opportunism and fear-mongering, Ruddish mantras sounded like… well, like “Fresh Thinking”.

But one year on, precisely none of the NBN has been built. The Summit produced nothing. The Cyber-Safety Plan is trialling (again) unworkable internet filters while Senator Conroy accuses everyone of being a pervert.

Tenders for the NBN only closed yesterday, and Telstra’s off-grid bid means we’re probably in for months of legal battles. Although the network is intended to cover 98% of households, David Kennedy from Ovum Research reckons it’ll take three years to reach the first 50% — that’s 2012.

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How clueless are Australia’s “best and brightest” about the Internet? “Completely”, it seems. The “governance” section of the Final Report of the Australia 2020 Summit mentions the Internet just twice seriously.

Here’s what our finest minds had to say…

The “circus” of question time doesn’t give a positive view of parliament or promote confidence in the system. The community should be able to contribute questions to parliament. This could be achieved by greater use of technology such as the internet.

… and…

Government doesn’t seem to be using the internet. It could be such a powerful forum but is currently under-used in the government context.

Yes, Dear Clever People, it could be, and it is. Glad you noticed.

So what else did they have to say about the most significant factor to affect civilisation in, oh, 300 years?

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For various reasons I didn’t have much time to write submissions yesterday. Yet I’ve said so much about still believing the Australia 2020 Summit to be important — despite plentiful shortcomings — that I felt obliged to write something. In 500 words or less. So I wrote from the heart…

What emerged were two pieces:

  1. For the governance topic: Managing continual, rapid change with a clear framework of values [PDF].
  2. For the topic on “the economy”, which is where discussions of broadband policy ended up: Broadband: It’s about symmetry, not speed [PDF].

I’m well aware that they don’t really provide a properly-researched, well-argued case. Nevertheless I hope that in some way they’ll help influence debate. Comments appreciated — perhaps over where the submissions themselves are blogged.

While there’s probably a thousand things I should be doing for my little business, at least part of today will focus on the Australia 2020 Summit because submissions close at 5pm today, AEST.

I find the process odd. While I well understand the need to prevent the summit delegates being overwhelmed, there’s a limit of 500 words on each submission — but also a ban on photographs and other images. Sometimes a diagram could explain things much more effectively, but no this time.

My main challenge, though, is going to be coming up with one clear message for my 500 words. There’s so many things which could be said…

I’ve started posting things over at Topic 9, the website I set up for my contributions to the Australia 2020 Summit and beyond. Illness prevented me going to BarCampSydney 3 on the weekend, so the question What can we do here? is still open. I’ve also posted a list of the delegates to the governance topic, and a summary of the starter questions in the topic area’s official background paper.

[Update 17 February 2010: The website at topic9.com.au has been killed. For the moment, I’ve linked to the pages at the Internet Archive.]

07 April 2008 by Stilgherrian | No comments

Thumbnail image of Australia 2020 Summit rejection letter

This morning I finally received a letter (pictured) telling me that I hadn’t been selected for the Australia 2020 Summit. Gosh. I’d already figured that out from not being on the published lists of those who were going.

Apart from the rather late arrival of the news and the traditional passive-voice bureaucratic writing style, there’s two interesting points about this letter.

  1. I left the “title” field of the nomination form blank, since I don’t use them. I think titles like “Mr”, “Miss”, “Mrs”, “Ms” etc are an archaic way of labelling people. Nevertheless they felt compelled to use “Mr/s”, even though I had filled in the gender field.
  2. The official website said that people who applied via email, like me, would receive an email reply. They can’t even follow their own published procedure.

I really am trying to find good-news stories about the Summit, I really am…

… is that if you want to do a New Thing, you have to choose an Old Thing to stop doing. Otherwise you run out of hours in the day. And that doesn’t work.

I’ve written before how I’m starting a business called Skank Media, and the new Topic 9 website is the first project out of the starting gate. Certainly since the beginning of this year I’ve been spending more time writing too: 133 posts in January 2008 compared with just 16 a year before. I’ve spent more time in dialogues online too, re-establishing links with my community.

What’s the Old Thing that’s stopped?

I’ve been getting less sleep, certainly. And less exercise. But I’ve also been doing less work for my “old” business, Prussia.Net — and therein lies a problem. Prussia.Net is what generates the income.

Oops.

Yes, cashflows are down. And because I wanted to change Prussia.Net itself, that change process takes more time of its own too. Some client projects are running terribly late. I even lost a wonderful long-term client a few weeks ago because I couldn’t dedicate enough time to their change process.

Big Oops.

So for me, today’s the day I start sorting out that chronological challenge. Here’s how I’ll proceed…

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