Announcing “The 9pm Election”

Photograph of TV showing Kevin Rudd announcing the election date

Today Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that the federal election will be on 7 September 2013. Tonight I announce that I intend to produce five episodes of The 9pm Election.

They’ll bear some passing resemblance to previous episodes of The 9pm Edict, such the episode from when the last election was called.

It is my intention to post a new episode each Friday night at 9pm AEST. Provided you cough up some money, that is, and I’ll be telling you more about that over the next 72 hours.

[Update 8 August 2013: I’ve had a busy week. The first episode will appear this weekend, probably Saturday night but maybe only Sunday. Like you care. Meanwhile, listen to Corrupted Nerds.]

I’ve recorded an announcement, which you can listen to below. But if you want all of the episodes, now and in the future, subscribe to the podcast feed, or even subscribe automatically in iTunes.

Play

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

[Credits: News excerpt from ABC TV. 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.]

Weekly Wrap 159: Solstice, silence and sound

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stilgherrian/9112287422/My week Monday 17 to Sunday 23 June 2013 was marked by the Winter Solstice, as (almost) illustrated above, a certain amount of radio silence, and much sound.

The Winter Solstice was something that, in the past, I’d celebrate regularly in a private ceremony similar to Sunreturn. I’d sometimes write reflective pieces about that, as I did in 2005, 2008 and 2009. And yet nothing along those lines has appeared for four years. I think that’s significant, and that will now change — although I won’t elaborate on that.

Nor will I elaborate on the fact that I haven’t uttered a word on Twitter in more than a week, and generally left messages pile up unless they really were urgent, except to note that sometimes a little quiet is beneficial. Most of the world could handle a bit of STFU now and then, actually. Maybe I’ll elaborate on that little observation at some point. Or not.

Actually, I’ve written previously about how (faux) urgency in poisonous — and in looking up the link to that post just then, I discovered this observation about Kevin Rudd’s management style. It’s not just Rudd who needs to think about that stuff.

And the sound? You’ll find out at 2132 AEST tonight. There is a clue: “CN”.

Articles

Media Appearances

None.

Corporate Largesse

  • On Wednesday I attended a media roundtable hosted by Websense at Establishment in Sydney. A rather elaborate morning tea was served.
  • Also on Wednesday I attended the launch of IBM’s Truth Behind the Trends whitepaper at Arras Restaurant in Sydney, which doesn’t seem to have its own website. Still, I photographed the menu, the butter and my entrée, but not the main course. You’ll cope.
  • Since Saturday 8 June I’ve been using Vodafone’s new 4G network while in Sydney, and their existing 3G network while in the Blue Mountains, with a Samsung Galaxy S4 handset that they’ve loaned me. I’ll be writing about my experiences some time this coming week.

The Week Ahead

I’ll simply note that there’s plenty to write, and plenty to do in this last week of the financial year. And then there’s a new financial year, which brings possibilities…

There will be tweets and suchlike starting again from 1100 AEST today.

[Photo: Pas de Deux, a cloud and a crane photographed shortly after the moment of Winter Solstice in Sydney, Australia on Friday afternoon. Sadly the contrast is pretty bad, ‘cos it was just a quick snapshot and I didn’t have time to play with the exposure.]

So how should I cover Budget 2013?

Crikey logoI’ve commented on Australia’s federal Budget for Crikey every May since Labor took power in 2007. This year will be no exception — but how will I top last year’s rant?

Why do politicians and their groupies always go on about the budget “sending a message”? Can’t they just use Twitter, email and the phone like we all do? But there is indeed a message in the budget: the government has no real vision for transforming Australia, and isn’t particularly interested in developing one with us.

I talked about the $240.3 million allocated to new IT systems for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS); $43.7 million for upgrades at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC); adding a further $233.7 million to the $477 million already spent on the National e-Health Initiative; $198 million for an “aged-care gateway”; $17 million to “enhance” the MySchool website; and so on. And then I concluded:

Why, in a cashed-up nation that is, or was, renowned for its eagerness to develop and adopt new technologies, is all this stuff just mouse nibblings at the edges, buried under the dull plod of business as usual? Sometimes I just want to cry.

To see how I approached the topic in previous years, check out the summary I wrote last year.

So once more I’ll be up early local time — I’m currently in San Jose — to knock out something before or perhaps in between conference sessions. Are there any particular angles you think I should look out for?

[Update 25 May 2013: Crikey decided they didn’t need my input after all. Rather than waste my notes, today I wrote Australia’s Budget 2013 keeps us stuck in the past.]

So how should I cover Budget 2012?

I’ve commented on the Budget for Crikey every May since Labor took power in 2007. This year will be no exception. But what will I say?

In 2008 I criticised Rudd’s slow digital revolution.

Dig into Budget Paper No. 2 and there’s a frustrating lack of detail and commitment.

Of $4.7b promised for the National Broadband Network [this was the original 12Mbps fibre to the node policy], only 0.16% has been committed: $2.1m this financial year and $5.2m next for “establishment and implementation”. The remaining 99.84% — you know, actually building the thing — is all “nfp”. Not for publication. We’ll get back to you…

The rest? All. Too. Slow. And. Vague.

In 2009 I complained that the machinery of Australian government is as outdated as the steam locomotive and the electric telegraph in The Budget? How quaint! They’re just made-up, you know.

Here we imagine that once a year we can produce a Big List of Numbers that’ll cover everything our “modern” nation-state will need to deal with for the next 365 days.

We proclaim it Good or Bad for this or that self-interested sector of the community on the basis of a quick glance, a gut reaction, and the need to create a narrative that’ll attract an audience or justify a pre-existing political zealotry.

We pretend to believe numbers like “$20 million over four years” when only a tiny part of that might be committed in the coming financial year and the rest, still to be confirmed in the next Budget, is therefore nothing but wishful thinking.

The reality, of course, is that the world moves faster than this. We experience a sudden global financial crisis, and must immediately tighten our belts by … um … giving away $900 cash to everyone.

In 2010 I complained of More NBN vagueness, border control and cyber-safety re-allocation. It’s not a bad read, but I’ll leave you to click through to that one.

And by 2011 I was clearly over the whole thing, writing Ritual shenanigans, but hey, this is government.

Riddle me this. What is the actual point of the federal budget process and all the lock-up shenanigans that go with it when the biggest bucket of money related to the technology sector by far, that National Broadband Network thing, isn’t even on the books?

What is the point when the way that NBN money is being spent – and is it $26 billion or $36 billion or $43 billion or that $50 billion scare-number that Malcolm Turnbull pulled out of some random orifice and keeps repeating unchallenged? – it is all SEKRIT thanks to those magic words “commercial confidentiality”…

What is the point of this annual ritual – built on the assumption that we can publish a set of numbers in May that will, in this complex and rapidly changing world, still be meaningful six months down the track – when the government has to respond to changing circumstances? Such as urgently building a fibre-to-the-premises network? Or responding to a global financial crisis? Or starting a land war in Asia? Or handing to every taxpayer $900 because, um, oh, shut up stop asking questions and buy a new TV.

I went on about “$20 million in suck-up-to-Tasmania funding” and “Labor’s half-arsed internet ‘filtering’ policy” and “loud-mouthed entrepreneur Ruslan Kogan” and noted:

Just be aware that all of this could be changed in an instant, budget process or not, if a minister gets on a plane with the Ranga-in-Chief with a few numbers scribbled on the back of an envelope.

So, what the fuck will I end up writing once the budget papers drop onto government websites tonight? Especially given that my shoulder is “out” and I won’t be able to get it fixed until tomorrow afternoon — my birthday! — and I’m scoffing codeine? Suggestions please!