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Mountain Life, with FogThe week of Monday 9 to Sunday 15 October 2017 was quite productive, as you’ll see. Read on!

Articles

The first of these articles is the final one related to the launch by foreign minister Julie Bishop of Australia’s first International Cyber Engagement Strategy. See last week’s wrap for the first two.

On Tuesday, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) released its 2017 Threat Report. The next day, at the national conference of the Australian Information Security Association (AISA), an Australian Defence Signals (ASD) officer told us more about an incident in that ACSC report.

Podcasts

None by me, but…

Media Appearances

Sydney Morning Herald front page, 12 Oct 2017Then the world decided to follow up my story on that Australian defence industry data breach.

It began in Australia and expanded from there, with stories in the Sydney Morning Herald (in the front page!); The Australian; ABC News; the Guardian; News.com.au; BuzzFeed; The Express in the UK; Voice of America; RT; Arab Times in Kuwait; via AAP to outlets including Sky News Australia; and via Reuters to others. If I tried to find them all, and link to them all, I’d be here all night.

I saw versions of the story in Chinese, Vietnamese, Greek, Indonesian. There were doubtless others. They’re just the ones I happened to see.

To quote ZDNet security editor Zack Whittaker in New York, it ran everywhere — and to be honest, that surprised me. I’ve covered cybersecurity, as we call it now, for a few years. This is a pretty ordinary event. It just happened to combine “mystery hacker”, with the controversial F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, with the authority of an ASD officer.

On Thursday, I did media appearances on ABC News24; ABC Radio’s The World Today; ABC TV’s 7.30; and Channel Ten’s The Project. On Friday, I appeared on BBC World’s Newsday.

I can’t possible list all of the follow-ups, but here’s a few that I’d like to mention:

The story also morphed as it was re-reported, sometimes drastically changing the meaning of the event. One publication, which I won’t name, even reported that the ASD had been hacked, at least until I contacted them. I hope to find the time to write up that evolution, but for now here’s a few tweets.

Corporate Largesse

  • On Wednesday, there was food and drink at the AISA National Conference, which was held at the Hyatt Regency Sydney. Hivint offered a beer. I accepted. It was nice. Telstra gave me a t-shirt.

The Week Ahead, and Further Ahead

I’ll play it by ear. At this stage, there’s nothing special through to the end of the year, so now is your chance to fix that.

[Photo: Mountain Life, with Fog, The entry road to the Carrington Hotel, Katoomba, photographed through the evening fog on 10 October 2017.]

Screenshot of Malcolm Roberts press conference, 4 August 2016

The 9pm Edict cover art version 2, 150 pixelsIt’s September, and that means that here in the Southern Hemisphere, Spring has sprung. In the United States, there’s a thing called Spring Break. But in Australia, things didn’t quite break. It was more of a bruise, though a pretty bad one.

In this podcast there’s talk of Mark Zuckerberg, crime, science, journalism, bruising, the Sydney Push, and more.

You can listen to the podcast below. But if you want all of the episodes, now and in the future, subscribe to the podcast feed, or subscribe automatically in iTunes, or go to SoundCloud or Spreaker.

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There’s a reason the list of most popular posts for 2015 was so disappointing. Take out the posts related to podcasts and crowdfunding, or were audio or video grabs from my media appearances, or were a Weekly Wrap, are you’re left with just two.

  1. It’s time to turn around the Revenue Ship, and fast, 5 April. This was a reflection on the need to get some revenue happening. I probably should have paid more attention.
  2. Algorithms and the Filter Bubble references for 2015, 11 September. These were the notes for my lecture at University of Technology Sydney.

Obviously all my interesting writing is now elsewhere, at the mastheads that pay for it. But this fact has gotten me thinking. More on these thoughts soon.

UTS logoThis morning I delivered version six of my now-regular guest lecture to media students at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), “Algorithms and the Filter Bubble”. Here are the references and further reading.

The links over the fold start off with some background material that sets out my worldview, and then things are in roughly the same order as presented in the lecture — with the order becoming less coherent further down the page. There’s more material linked here than I mentioned in the lecture itself. Enjoy.

A recording of the lecture will be made available in roughly one week on Wednesday 23 September on Friday 25 September, as the change in Prime Minister has triggered the demand for some of my commentary. This page may be updated with further links at that time.

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Michael Pezzullo, Secretary, Department of Immigration and Border ProtectionThe 9pm Edict cover art version 2, 150 pixelsA ship holding people prisoner is not a prison ship. Senator Bill Heffernan goes on record with a self-description. And there’s some lifestyle advice from QUT.

In this podcast, there’s talk of any number of things which should cause worry.

You can listen to the podcast below. But if you want all of the episodes, now and in the future, subscribe to the podcast feed, or subscribe automatically in iTunes, or go to SoundCloud.

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If you’d like to comment on this episode, please add your comment below, or Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

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I knew the first three months of 2015 had been bad for business — or at least my little patch of business — but I hadn’t realised it was this bad. Turns out it was my second-worst quarter in more than four years! Drastic action and ruthless decisions are required.

Yes, this is another of my occasional thinking-aloud reflections on my personal circumstances. If you don’t like this sort of thing, then stop reading now. Read this instead.

Still with me? Lovely.

Yesterday I updated my “media objects” chart, which counts how many things I’ve created for each media outlet, regardless of relative complexity or what income was generated. It serves as a handy proxy for revenue — because certain revenue figures are confidential.

Media objects produced monthly, 2011-2015: click to embiggen

It’s a depressing image. At best, Q1 of 2015 was no worse than Q1 of the previous year, but overall it’s still a picture of decline. Literally depressing, in fact, because I’ve left in a couple of health-related markers that I was using to analyse something else.

Back at the end of 2012, I’d tried to inject a little more strategy into the way I ran the business side of making media. This and other charts were some of the tools I created, last updated in February 2014. It’s fair to say that I haven’t really developed any kind of strategy out of the information in those charts, and this new chart illustrates the results from doing that nothing. Go me.

This chart doesn’t reflect certain positives, however. There’s now crowdsourced funding for The 9pm Edict podcast. I also do some minor work for the University of Technology Sydney, and I consult on some other media projects too. There’s also fragmentary revenue from the legacy clients of my IT business.

But I do need to raise my income levels back to something more like they were a few years ago. The next step is to do something about it. And that has been the nature of my ponderings across this Easter long weekend.

ABC logoRobot newsreading and journalism has very much become my thing — as evidenced by the fact that I spoke about it yet again on ABC Radio National Drive on 3 July.

Here’s the news stories that triggered presenter Waleed Aly’s interest:

American news agency Associated Press has joined the ranks of the LA Times and Forbes magazine by adding robots to its workforce.

AP says it will use robots to write its corporate earnings reports, giving finance reporters time to concentrate on more in-depth stories.

The news comes just a week after Japan unveiled its robot newsreader, the ‘Kodomoroid’.

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The audio is ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and it’s served here directly from the ABC website.

Corrupted Nerds 11 cover image: click for podcast pageIt was my very great pleasure to meet Bob Garfield the other day — former advertising man, veteran journalist and media commentator, and co-presenter on NPR’s On the Media and Slate’s Lexicon Valley.

We managed to find time for a coffee and a conversation, and the result forms the latest Corrupted Nerds podcast.

“For 300-plus years, it was great for the audience, they got free and subsidised content. It was great for advertisers ’cos they got audience. And it was great for media, ’cos they got filthy stinking rich,” Garfield said. But now, things are bleak. “Unless you are in gambling, search or porn, there’s just no money to be made.”

Garfield explains why, basically, we’re all fucked.

Subscribe to all Corrupted Nerds podcasts via RSS, iTunes and SoundCloud.

If you enjoyed this podcast, why not make a tip, or even subscribe? Every contribution helps me provide these podcasts for free.

FIVEaa logo“Facebook Messenger app has permission to spy on your phone,” screeched a headline on 9 News today. “The new Facebook Messenger app has permission to take pictures and videos without your confirmation and to call numbers without intervention, causing unexpected charges.”

This story caught the attention of 1395 FIVEaa Adelaide afternoon presenter Will Goodings. As you’ll hear, I talked him out of some of the scarier ideas, but did mention the issues of granularity in smartphone app permissions that I’ve written about before.

Here’s the full interview, plus a little end note about what we might do with Adelaide’s Festival Plaza. I present a modest proposal, as does a listener.

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The audio is ©2014 dmgRadio Australia.

[Update 5 April 2015: There is a more recent version of this lecture, presented in September 2014, but it has not been posted yet.]

Title card for "Algorithms and the Filter Bubble"On Monday 7 April, I delivered an updated version of my guest lecture to media students at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), “Algorithms and the Filter Bubble”. And here it is.

What’s it about? It’s about what we now call — this year at least — “big data” and how that’s changing how the media works, just like it’s changing every other part of society.

I cruise through what all this data is, where it’s coming from, who’s collecting it and where it’s going; what advertisers and media companies and others can do with this data; and some speculation about how this might unfold in the future.

There’s links to all the references over the fold, and you can follow along with the slides (PDF). The recording picks up immediately after I was introduced by the course coordinator, Dr Belinda Middleweek. A transcript may or may not follow at some point in the future.

Some people mentioned that last time it was difficult to follow some of the slides, as the PDF file didn’t show how the builds happened, so I may add a video slideshow version at some point too.

The audience was primarily first and second year students at the beginning of their media studies degrees.

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[If a transcript ever becomes available, this is where it will appear.]

What was left out at the end

I didn’t keep a close enough eye on the time, which is most unprofessional of me, so I had to drop a couple of things at the end of the lecture. So what did we miss?

My planned closing was to speculate a little more about the implications of all this technology — essentially the material covered in references 26 through 30 below.

When advertisers and newsmakers know all about you, including where you are and what you’re interested in, and when robots become so good that they’re able to tailor news and advertising precisely for your interests and current state of mind — what does that mean for political persuasion, and other kinds of persuasion?

Watch the videos of the robots from the US Naval Research Laboratory responding to everyday human speech. Consider Apple founder Steve Job’s comment that the iTunes Store gives you “freedom from pornography”. Consider than in a world of filter bubbles, some news outlets with a political agenda might want to give you “freedom from confusing thoughts”. After all, Apple has already blocked from their App Store an app that provided information on US military drone strikes.

Just where might this go? As I told the media students at the start of the lecture, they are the ones who will be creating this future for themselves and their descendants, not those of us in the second half of our lives.

Licensing and Re-Use

This work is made available under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. This presentation may be re-used for non-commercial purposes within the terms of the Creative Commons license. The non-commercial and share-alike conditions are required to adhere to the licensing of the imagery used. Please contact me if you require an alternative version. As a minimum, attribution should read: “Source: Stilgherrian.” Online versions must link the word Stilgherrian to the website at stilgherrian.com.

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