Visiting Perth for DigitalMe (and other diversions)

I’ll be in Perth on Friday 27 April to present at DigitalMe, one of a series of media140 events, the other two being DigitalBusiness on Thursday 26 and DigitalFamily on Saturday 28 April.

(These events are part of the City of Perth’s Innovation Month. It looks like there’s some good stuff happening, including the screening of some classic futuristic films.)

DigitalMe is a full day of activities that “takes the individual on a journey through the digital landscape of blogging, video, personal privacy, personal reputation, mobile web and social media helping to demystify the digital world and understand more about your personal digital footprint.”

My half-hour session at 2pm is “Destroying your world, tweet by tweet, like by like”:

Facebook, Twitter and social mobile applications encourage you to share your life. But what happens when you share too much? Every time you share, tweet, email or browse a website you leave a digital footprint that reveals far more than you may realise — or want. Find out what Facebook, Twitter and the secretive online advertising companies know about you and take control.

I covered some related themes in a piece for the Sydney Morning Herald a few weeks back.

DigitalMe is being held at Northbridge Piazza. It’s free, but you’ll need to register online.

I’m flying into Perth on Thursday 26 April around lunchtime and leaving on Sunday 29 April in the mid-afternoon. My schedule is fairly open so far, so other diversions are welcome.

media140’s Digital Anonymity panel

The audio of last Thursday’s media140+ panel discussion on Digital Anonymity is now online — and you have a choice of listening.

Panellists were (left to right in the photo) Jessica Hill from ABC Radio current affairs; me; lawyer David Stewart from Wrays; Karalee Evans, senior director & APAC digital strategist from PR firm Text 100; and moderator John Kerrison from Sky News Australia.

Note that I could have embedded playable audio directly into this web page, but why should I give Audioboo and CBS Interactive the ability to track visitors to my website, whether they play the audio or not?

Embedding may be convenient, but that convenience is paid for with the privacy of your website visitors.

[Photo: The media140+ panel discussion as photographed by Neerav Bhatt. Image turned to black and white by me, used under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license.]

Do we have a right to anonymity online?

The Media140 folks are running a panel discussion in Sydney this Thursday 24 November on Digital Anonymity: Do we have a right to anonymity online?

As Google and Facebook try by force to remove anonymity from the web, is privacy no longer seen as a fundamental right? Will it become a commodified product we will have to purchase? We take a look at the legal, social and media perspectives and ask the question is it really that important?

The moderator is John Kerrison from Sky News Business, and the panel includes Anne Hurley, the interim head of the Internet Industry Association Karalee Evans, senior director & APAC digital strategist, Text 100; Jessica Hill from ABC Radio current affairs; lawyer David Stewart from Wrays; and [coughs] me.

It’s at the Hotel Clarendon, 156 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills. 6.30pm for a 7pm start, $10m admission, and I’m told you’d better book.

Mr Kerrison seems to be taking it very seriously, with scenarios to discuss and all sorts of actual planning. We should be able to derail him pretty quickly, I should imagine.

[Update 22 November: Edited to reflect the change in line-up.]

Liveblogging X|Media|Lab’s Global Media Ideas, but why?

This Friday 18 June 2010 (i.e. tomorrow) I’m liveblogging from X|Media|Lab’s Global Media Ideas conference at the Sydney Opera House. And to be honest, I really don’t know why.

Well, I do know why. I was invited to. And I said yes. But my reticence, if that’s the right word, is based on two concerns:

  1. I’m starting to think that liveblogging is a wank.

    I’ve previously written that Twitter is useless for covering conferences and, yesterday, that Twitter is useless for political debates. Liveblogging isn’t much different. Just because technology enables something to be done doesn’t mean that it’s useful. Especially this instant-comment stuff.

    If the aim is to deliver the conference experience to people who can’t attend physically, then we’ve got streaming video or — gasp! — television.

    If the aim is to give people my thoughts about the event, then surely it’d be better for me to take notes and then, later, write something coherent. Not deliver a dribble of instant judgements on what’s being said. Such live streams always tend towards superficial quips, jokes and out-of-context sound bites.

  2. Haven’t we really had quite enough talking about “ideas”?

    This event is part of Vivid Sydney, “a festival of light, music and ideas”. Now don’t get me started on the “light” bit. My opinion of people who think that pointing coloured lights at city buildings is somehow the height of creativity can only be expressed using strings of Anglo-Saxon words and references to veterinary apparatus that are completely inappropriate at this hour of the day. Even for me. No, the “ideas” part is sufficiently rage-inducing.

    We’ve only just had TEDxSydney, “Ideas worth spreading”. I find the whole TED thing a bit of a wank. They’re an idea-junkie’s equivalent of a Tony Robbins seminar. Quick, high-energy presentations that get everyone’s adrenalin going, mixed with a burst of endorphins from having supposedly learnt something new. From being “inspired”. And then everyone goes back to being the same middle-class consumption-driven tool they were before, desperate to buy their iPad on Day One lest they somehow fall behind. Until the next chance to break out of their dull routine and, once more, be “inspired”.

    Maybe it’s time, especially in this whole “OMFG what’s happening to the media?” realm, to start moving beyond talking about “ideas” and get on with the “doing”. Or, even better, some “achieving”.

    As Thomas Edison said, Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.

    And you know what? Once we’ve achieved something, there’s no need to create a presentation in Keynote — never PowerPoint, oh no! — with big, bold Creative Commons-licensed photos and maybe three big words on screen in Helvetica, in yellow. No, we can just STFU and go and achieve something else.

None of this is meant to be critical of X|Media|Lab. In my experience, their conferences such as Media 2010 have been professionally-run events with a fascinating range of speakers. I’m flattered, I suppose, that they think my presence is of value.

However X|Media|Lab is a commercial operation serving a market that, clearly, is there to be served. Events like TEDx and Media 2010 and this one and Media140 Sydney last year are always sold out. X|Media|Lab makes money — good on ’em! Everyone has a feel-good time. But what do events like this really achieve?

Maybe I’m being too harsh. Maybe The Lab days on Saturday and Sunday are the meat of the event. (I’d link to the page about The Lab if the website actually let you link to individual content pages. Twats.) Sixteen “innovative Australian digital projects” get two days of mentoring from heavies in “the industry”. Good for them.

But I am concerned that the conference day, tomorrow, is billed as “No time-wasting boring panels, just densely-packed, information-rich, clear and helpful, set piece keynotes from digital media luminaries from all over the world.”

If I have one complaint about almost every conference I’ve ever attended, it’s that there’s never enough time for discussion. The discussions are where everyone learns. If it’s just going to be one-way communication, a “luminary” (ugh!) talking at people, then that can be achieved by putting a video on a website. We can skip the pretension of booking a venue at the Sydney Opera House.

Anyway, here is the liveblog page. Things will kick off around 9am tomorrow Sydney time. Just be aware of how I’m currently thinking about this event.

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.