Visiting Newcastle for DiG Festival

DiG Festival logo: click for official websiteThis coming Wednesday I’m catching the Shitkansen north from Sydney to Newcastle for the inaugural DiG Festival and Conference: digital plus interactive plus green technology.

I won’t repeat the event’s own website. You can read that for yourself. The key days are this coming Thursday 3 and Friday 4 October 2013.

But I will say that apart from the conference program itself, I’m interested in catching a few glimpses of the city. It’s been three years since I visited Newcastle to speak at the National Young Writers Festival, and four years since I looked around properly and wrote my Letter from Newcastle. So of nothing else, there’ll be an observational essay about that.

There’s a strong-looking conference thread about the future of online payments — could the fact that Commonwealth Bank is a major sponsor have something to do with that? — and I’ll be writing about that for Technology Spectator. It’ll be a nice follow-up to my recent piece about Westpac’s $2 billion invisible bank. And I’m sure I’ll be writing about other things for other outlets.

If you’re in Newcastle at the time, don’t forget to say hi. I plan to stick around until Saturday afternoon.

Talking about freelancing and globalisation in Katoomba

Monday night’s discussion about freelancing in a globalised marketplace went rather well, I think, so I’ve decided to post the full audio.

The event was organised by Publish! Blue Mountains, and as I said previously the title was “Surviving and thriving as a freelancer in a globalised market”.

Radical changes will hit a freelancer’s world over the next two years or so as we move to a globalised marketplace. Firstly there is the rapid rise of internet-enabled outsourcing through sites like Freelancer.com, allowing projects to be advertised globally and often awarded to the lowest bidder who may be in a country where $10 is a decent day’s wage.

Secondly, increasingly sophisticated and intelligent automated systems are now taking over many tasks that historically required human creative input. Just in the writing field alone, we already have US college sports coverage written completely by computer.

Where will this technology (and the marketplace driving it) take us? And what can we creatives do to ensure we’re not replaced by cut-price doppelgangers and robo-scribes?

Naturally things like Freelancer.com and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (named after the original chess-playing robot hoax) and even 99designs came up.

We also drifted into the idea that Australians are the most spoiled people on the planet and we’re too used to our expensive lifestyles. Yet we also recognised that the Australian character provides something that’s worth paying for. And I threw in the idea that we shouldn’t try to imitate Silicon Valley because that was a unique collision of US defence money with Californian counterculture.

Other things mentioned were Seth Godin’s book Linchpin (others recommended him, but truth be told I’m not a fan myself), and my rant about crowdsourcing.

While some of it sounded a tad depressing, I think it ended up being quite positive. Either way, it was fun.

Here’s the full audio, starting off with the voice of Publish! Blue Mountains chairman Steve Krinks.

Play

If you notice anything particularly fascinating while listening, do feel free to add it into the comments.

This audio is ©2012 Stilgherrian, since I recorded it and, heck, I led the discussion. But if you want to use this anywhere do feel free to ask because I’m usually quite generous in such matters.

On Monday evening you can listen to me in Katoomba

This coming Monday 4 June, I’m leading a discussion entitled Surviving and thriving as a freelancer in a globalised market for Publish! Blue Mountains, “a non-profit association of the region’s top creative and publishing professionals”.

The event is subtitled “How to avoid being outsourced to the lowest bidder (or worse still, a robot!)”

Radical changes will hit a freelancer’s world over the next two years or so as we move to a globalised marketplace. Firstly there is the rapid rise of internet-enabled outsourcing through sites like Freelancer.com, allowing projects to be advertised globally and often awarded to the lowest bidder who may be in a country where $10 is a decent day’s wage.

Secondly, increasingly sophisticated and intelligent automated systems are now taking over many tasks that historically required human creative input. Just in the writing field alone, we already have US college sports coverage written completely by computer.

Where will this technology (and the marketplace driving it) take us? And what can we creatives do to ensure we’re not replaced by cut-price doppelgangers and robo-scribes?

The discussion will be held at Clarendon Guesthouse, 68 Lurline St, Katoomba from 5.30 to 7.00pm. My guest speaker slot and the open discussion runs from from 5.45 to 6.30pm, with drinks and networking to follow. It’s free, but you should RSVP to connect@publishbluemountains.com.au. The bar will be open.

Google Rank and website basics: a practical example

Photograph of Dunlop Volley tennis show (black)

The shoe in the photograph is the Dunlop Volley Classic tennis shoe. A black one. If you’ve met me in the flesh, you may have noticed that it’s my default footwear. Comfortable. Practical. Cheap.

Thing is, the Volley website, which I’ll talk about shortly, exhibits everything but those attributes. Fail.

I don’t play tennis, or any sport for that matter. The thing about the Volley Classic, though, is that its rubber sole offers a firm grip on all sorts of surfaces. Even in the wet. Indeed, I’m told that people in certain SEKRIT professions like them because they’re perfect for scurrying across rooftops on dark, rainy nights.

And they’re black.

If you use a black felt-tip marker, you can colour in that white flash at the rear of the shoe so it’s completely black, and at night you’re totally invisible just like a ninja.

From the ankles down.

The reason I’m telling you all this is because this morning I bought a replacement pair of these truly awesome shoes. I’m sick of my chiropractor giving me grief about the holes in my current pair. Yesterday my usual supplier was out of stock, at least in size 11. But just now I bought new shoes — before 9am on a Sunday — without even getting out of bed.

It’s a lesson in the importance of making sure your website is properly indexed on Google, and that you concentrate on what really helps make a sale.

Continue reading “Google Rank and website basics: a practical example”

Links for 03 July 2008 through 04 July 2008

Stilgherrian’s links for 03 July 2008 through 04 July 2008, gathered with joy and mutton:

  • Draft Report | Garnaut Climate Change Review: The Draft Report describes the methodology for evaluating the costs and benefits of climate change mitigation; to the application of the science of climate change to Australia; to the international context, and to Australian mitigation policy.
  • Turing Test | xkcd: On the other hand, maybe the test is to make the examiner think that HE'S the computer!
  • Turing test | Wikipedia: "The Turing test is a proposal for a test of a machine's capability to demonstrate intelligence." What I love about the REAL Turing test is the subtlety of it… It's not faking a human, it's faking a human faking.
  • Manned Cloud by Jean-Marie Massaud | Dezeen: This just has to be the most beautiful design for an airship I've ever seen. Guys, build it soon!
  • The BBC and the future of broadcasting | Stephen Fry: Stephen Fry's speech on the future of public service broadcasting, and the BBC in particular.