Bernard Keane on Conroy vs Lundy

[Update 1.30pm: Prime Minister Gillard has just announced her cabinet changes and Senator Conroy remains where he is. If you listen to the interview you’ll realise why.]

Now that Julia Gillard is Prime Minister, could or should Senator Kate Lundy replace Senator Stephen Conroy as Minister for Broadband, Communication and the Digital Economy?

Delimiter‘s Renai LeMai has previously suggested that Lundy would make a better communications minister, and last Thursday he asked the question again. Gizmodo Australia is even actively campaigning for the change.

ZDnet.com.au‘s David Braue also reckons Gillard can save the comms ministry by involving Lundy — although he doesn’t go as far as calling for Conroy to be sacked, instead suggesting he become the Minister for the National Broadband Network.

In this week’s Patch Monday podcast, to be posted this morning, I chat with Crikey‘s Canberra correspondent Bernard Keane (pictured) about the possibility.

The #nocleanfeed anti-censorship campaigners might think a change in PM is reason enough to lobby for a change in communications minister, but Keane is not so sure. We cover that in the Patch Monday conversation.

Once we got talking, we also chatted about the historical context. A previous communications minister, Senator Richard Alston, was twice voted “global village idiot”, for instance. And we went into the political issues in more depth than appropriate for Patch Monday‘s technology industry focus. So, here’s the full conversation.

Play

I always record much more material than ends up in articles or podcasts, so I’m toying with the idea of posting all of my raw interviews here. Whaddyareckon?

Just in case I take that path, I’m creating a category of posts called Conversations, and you can subscribe to the RSS feed.

The 9pm Edict #2

The 9pm Edict

Labor Party dissent over internet censorship goes public. Shock horror: modern vigilantes use Facebook. And the interim Premier of New South Wales says a precedent is not actually a precedent.

Ladies and Gentlemen, despite the appalling service of the #badoptus network, here is episode 2 of The 9pm Edict. Finally.

You can listen to this episode below. But if you want them all, subscribe to the podcast feed, or even subscribe automatically in iTunes.

Play

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.

[Credits: The 9pm Edict theme by mansardian, Edict fanfare by neonaeon, all from The Freesound Project. Photograph of Stilgherrian taken 29 March 2009 by misswired, used by permission.]

Fine posts for 2009

Since the most popular posts for 2009 were pretty disappointing, I reckon, here’s my personal selection of my thirteen best, more timeless posts for 2009. Happy reading!

[Update 29 December 2009: In case it isn’t obvious, these are in order of writing through the year, not of merit or anything else.]

  1. Jim Wallace’s pro-censorship lies and distortions (26 January) It disgusts me that someone claiming to speak on behalf of “moral” Christianity deliberately distorts the evidence and misrepresents his opponents. It’s the most appalling hypocrisy. While this piece relates to specific events in the news, the explanation of his dirty tricks stands the test of time, methinks.
  2. “Clive Hamilton, you’re really starting to shit me!” (16 February) Wallace’s compatriot Clive Hamilton is equally guilty of dodgy rhetoric and straight-up misrepresentation. Again, some useful lessons about political messaging.
  3. Fisting Twitter and the birth of “trend fisting” (1 March) This was the most popular post too. Perhaps this is my true legacy from 2009?
  4. Pia Waugh: An interview for Ada Lovelace Day 2009 (24 March) This video interview was recorded before Pia started working for Senator Kate Lundy. An interesting backgrounder.
  5. Anzac Day 2009: Sacrifice (25 April) Anzac Day always brings out my reflective nature — though perhaps only I would start an Anzac piece with cat vomit.
  6. Look, about that damn topless gnome… (27 May) I’m annoyed that a tangential discussion about a $3.50 garden gnome soaked up so much time which should have been spent on the real purpose of Project TOTO. Nevertheless, it gave me a chance to make some points about independence and how organisations can get trapped in their own worldview.
  7. The Poverty Web (3 July) The only lengthy Project TOTO piece to be written while I was actually in Tanzania, and still perhaps the best — though more will emerge. Eventually.
  8. The really real revolutionary revolution of the Internet (23 July) I posit that things like the many Government 2.0 initiatives are still only nibbling around the edges.
  9. Conversations are not markets, people! (26 July) This one was popular. I’ve noticed that this year I’ve been increasingly concerned about the focus on markets and business at the neglect of other aspects of our society.
  10. Risk, Fear and Paranoia: Perspective, People! (27 September) Penny Sharpe MLC asked me to say something controversial at her NSW Sphere event on 4 September. Here it is. The full video and transcript of my somewhat rambling discussion of the challenges facing the Government 2.0 revolution.
  11. Letter from Newcastle (8 October) I wrote so very few “observational essays” in 2009. This is the best, I reckon.
  12. Media140: What do journos do better, exactly? (5 November) My presentation to Media140 Sydney was widely misunderstood. I was posing a question, a challenge, not saying that journalists have no purpose. What I was trying to say was that in a rapidly-changing media landscape, employee-journalists need to be able to answer this question.
  13. Virgin Blue’s mistake reveals countless selfish whingers (15 November) Apart from all my writing about Internet censorship, the other prominent theme does seem to be a certain dissatisfaction with selfishness and consumerism. What struck me most about the comments on this piece was that those who disagreed took it all so very personally.

One thing this list doesn’t reflect is that so much of my writing was elsewhere this year. My plan to do more paid media work and less geek-for-hire did actually unfold reasonably well.

I’ve been very happy with some of the pieces I wrote for Crikey, newmatilda.com, ZDNet.com.au and ABC Online, and the work I did on the podcasts A Series of Tubes and Patch Monday, and even the various radio and TV interviews that were linked to as the year progressed.

Most of the written material is linked from my Media Output page. I encourage you to explore — if only for your children’s sake.

You might also like to check out my personal favourites from 2008.

NSW Sphere: Government 2.0 for NSW

I should’ve written more about this earlier, but today I’m speaking at NSW Sphere, a discussion event on Government 2.0 organised by Penny Sharpe MLC.

It’s being run along the style of Senator Kate Lundy’s Public Sphere events, and interest is so high that all places are booked out.

As I write this, some early-bird participants are watching the movie Us Now, and I’m figuring out exactly what I’ll say in my 10-minute presentation, Risk, Fear, Paranoia: Perspective, People!

You can participate live wherever you are, and I’ll post my presentation and thoughts later. The Twitter hashtag is #nswsphere.

Links for 16 August 2009 through 26 August 2009

Stilgherrian’s links for 16 August 2009 through 26 August 2009:

  • Academic Earth: “Video lectures from the world’s top scholars”, it says. Provided they’re American. The universities included so far are Berkeley, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, UCLA and Yale.
  • [Air-L] Trivial tweeting: Another viewpoint on the “Twitter is pointless babble” rubbish, this time from Cornelius Puschmann, PhD, in the Department of English Language and Linguistics at the University of Düsseldorf.
  • Power of Information | UK Cabinet Office: The February 2009 report from the UK government’s taskforce on Government 2.0.
  • My #blogpostfriday post | Scripting News: Dave Winer is worried about the cloud. “We pour so much passion into dynamic web apps hosted by companies we know very little about. We do it without retaining a copy of our data. We have no idea how much it costs them to keep hosting what we create, so even if they’re public companies, it’s very hard to form an opinion of how likely they are to continue hosting our work.”
  • 8129.0 – Business Use of Information Technology, 2007-08 | Australian Bureau of Statistics: Detailed indicators on the incidence of use of information technology in Australian business, as collected by the 2007-08 Business Characteristics Survey (BCS).
  • The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction | Wikipedia: Someone — I forget who — told me to read this 1935 essay by German cultural critic Walter Benjamin. It’s been influential in the fields of cultural studies and media theory. It was produced, Benjamin wrote, in the effort to describe a theory of art that would be “useful for the formulation of revolutionary demands in the politics of art&”. “In the absence of any traditional, ritualistic value, art in the age of mechanical reproduction would inherently be based on the practice of politics. It is the most frequently cited of Benjamin’s essays”, says Wikipedia. Sounds like I should indeed read it.
  • How Tim O’Reilly Aims to Change Government | ReadWriteWeb: Tim O’Reilly posits “government as platform”, where the government would supply raw digital data and other forms of support for private sector innovators to build on top of. That’s the writer’s version. Does this fit with the Rudd government’s idea of the government as an enabler, as outlined in their Digital Economy Future Directions paper?
  • CHART OF THE DAY: Smartphone Sales To Beat PC Sales By 2011 | Silican Valley Insider: This is based on worldwide sales figures, and it makes sense. The Third World could really use a low-power, rugged smartphone at a sensible price, rather than a laptop or even a netbook to lug around.
  • News Corp pushing to create an online news consortium | latimes.com: By “consortium” they mean “cartel”, right? “Chief Digital Officer Jonathan Miller has positioned News Corp as a logical leader in the effort to start collecting fees from online readers because of its success with the Wall Street Journal Online, which boasts more than 1 million paying subscribers. He is believed to have met with major news publishers including New York Times Co, Washington Post Co, Hearst Corp and Tribune Co, publisher of the Los Angeles Times.”
  • Us Now : watch the film: “In a world in which information is like air, what happens to power?” This entire film can be watched online.
  • Morons with mobiles sour the tweet life | theage.com.au: Jacqui Bunting writes some of the dumbest words about Twitter which have ever been written. Note to editors: Anyone who starts from the premise that Twitter is meant to be a “commentary on life” needs to be taken out the back and slapped around a bit. It’s 2009. Please catch up.
  • The Conversation | Now That I Have Your Attention: The creator of Father Ted and The IT Crowd, Graham Linehan, also has a few words on Pear Analytics’ cod research on Twitter. He makes the point that for the first time we’re truly having a global conversation.
  • Pointless babble | The New Adventures of Stephen Fry: The redoubtable Stephen Fry rips into that Pear Analytics research on Twitter, with more brevity and wit than I did the other day. Well said, Sir!
  • Top 100 Aussie Web Startups – August 09 | TechNation Australia: The latest league table of Australian web businesses, for those who like to have winners and losers in clearly-defined categories.
  • Benjamin Franklin’s daily schedule | Flickr: Proof that you don’t need the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology to be boringly anal-retentive about your scheduling.
  • Bruce Schneier: Facebook should compete on privacy, not hide it away | The Guardian: Another thought-provoking essay by Bruce Schneier.
  • Hype Cycle Book | Gartner: Mastering the Hype Cycle is the book explaining Gartner’s regular Hype Cycle reports.
  • How It All Ends | YouTube: A follow-up to the video The Most Terrifying Video You’ll Ever See, which presented a risk analysis showing that we cannot afford to ignore the potential risk of climate change, even if it all turns out to be wrong. This version skips over the main argument and addresses the potential objections.
  • Climate change cage match | Crikey: A delightful comment from a Crikey reader, Stephen Morris, who likens the tactics of climate change denialist Tamas Calderwood to the mating habits of the Satin Bowerbird, which is totally obsessed by the colour blue. “It will actively search through a wide variety of brightly coloured objects that might suitably decorate its bower, but the only colour that interests it and it wants to collect are those coloured blue. Tamas in his scientific objectivity (and unfortunately often his logic) is very Satin bowerbird like. It doesn’t matter what large amounts of available data says about global warming, the only titbits of data of interest to Tamas, are those that can be seen to indicate cooling. Once a data set loses its blueness (or coolness), it seems interest in it is lost and other blue data sets are sought.”
  • Senator Lundy describes her Public Sphere initiative | Net Traveller: A ten minute video in which Senator Kate Lundy describes her Public Sphere initiative, made for students at ANU studying Information Technology in Electronic Commerce COMP3410.
  • AP contradiction: Move forward but restore | Pursuing the Complete Community Connection: Steve Buttry points out the problem with Associated Press’ content protection plan: How can you “move forward” and “restore the past” at the same time?