propaganda

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“This is it. The big one. This is the first revolution that has been catapulted onto a global stage and transformed by social media,” says Clay Shirky, professor at New York University and author of the book Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. And what’s had the greatest impact? “It’s Twitter,” says Shirky.

So starts my piece in Crikey yesterday, We’re all wearing green for Iran now, apparently.

The article covers two main points.

One, this isn’t really the first time demonstrations have been organised or teargas reported via Twitter. Try Bangkok in October 2008. Try Chişinău in April 2009. And as Business Week pointed out, A Twitter revolution? Hardly.

Two, people are changing their avatars green to “support democracy in Iran” based on very little information. And as commenter Rena Zurawel claimed:

Whether it is a Rose Revolution in Georgia, or Orange Revolution in the Ukraine or a Green revolution in Iran — the source and inspiration is exactly the same: $70 million decided by the Congress to spend on so called “democratic changes in Iran”.

That last point intrigued me, so I poked around a bit.

I found this 2008 report from STRATFOR Global Intelligence: Geopolitical Diary: Iran, Psywar and the Hersh Article which is reproduced in full over the jump.

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Stilgherrian’s links for 08 April 2009 through 19 April 2009. Yes, I really do need to find a way to vet these and get them online more quickly. Still, here’s some Sunday reading for you.

Stilgherrian’s links for 30 March 2009 through 04 April 2009, gathered with the assistance of pumpkins and bees:

  • The Australian Sex Party: “The Australian Sex Party is a political response to the sexual needs of Australia in the 21st century. It is an attempt to restore the balance between sexual privacy and sexual publicity that has been severely distorted by morals campaigners and prudish politicians.”
  • Measuring the Information Society: The ICT Development Index 2009: Australia is ranked #14 based on figures from 2007. In 2003 it was at #13.
  • Ho Hum, Sweden Passes new anti File Sharing Legislation | Perceptric Forum: Tom Koltai’s analysis of that new Swedish law: It’ll make no difference long term.
  • As Sweden’s Internet anonymity fades, traffic plunges | Ars Technica: A new Swedish law that went into effect 1 April makes it possible for copyright holders to go to court and unmask a user based on an IP address. Sweden’s Internet traffic dropped 40% overnight.
  • Study: online sexual predators not like popular perception | Ars Technica: This survey rejects the idea that the Internet is an especially perilous place for minors, and finds that while the nature of online sex crimes against minors changed little between 2000 and 2006, the profile of the offenders has been shifting — and both differ markedly from the popular conception.
  • What Is Fail Whale?: The complete history of the Twitter’s error-bringing Fail Whale, along with all the art and craft it’s inspired to date.
  • Voda/Hutch merger rattles ACCC | ZDNet Australia: Australia’s competition watchdog tonight issued a strongly worded statement of concern that the proposed merger of mobile carriers Hutchison and Vodafone could lead to increased retail prices on mobile telephony and broadband services.
  • All the news that’s fit to tweet | guardian.co.uk: The Guardian has also announced a new 140-character commenting system. “You’ll never again need to wade through paragraphs of extended argument, looking for the point, or suffer the unbearable tedium of having to read multiple protracted, well-grounded perspectives on the blogs you love.”
  • Share This Lecture! | Viddler.com: Mark Pesce’s annual lecture for “Cyberworlds” class, Sydney University, 31 March 2009. About the significance of sharing across three domains: sharing media, sharing knowledge, and how these two inevitably lead to the sharing of power.
  • Twitter switch for Guardian, after 188 years of ink | The Guardian: One of the better April Fools’ Day pieces. I particularly like the extracts from the Twitterised news archive. 1927: “OMG first successful transatlantic air flight wow, pretty cool! Boring day otherwise *sigh*”
  • Flappers, wine, cocaine and revels (Pt II) | The Vapour Trail: A few hours after five Melbourne girls were arrested for vagrancy in late March 1928, the headline of Melbourne’s Truth broadcast their misdeeds: “White Girls with Negro Lovers. Flappers, Wine, Cocaine and Revels. Raid Discloses Wild Scene of Abandon”.
  • A Blacklist for Websites Backfires in Australia | TIME: Time‘s take on the leak of the Australian Internet censorship blacklist portrays it as a joke and a scandal. There are some factual errors in the story, but this looks like how it’ll end up being perceived internationally.

Stilgherrian’s links for 03 March 2009 through 07 March 2009, containing traces of nuts:

The Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace is on the Fairfax news sites today, telling the same old lies to support compulsory Internet filtering. Sigh.

Since Wallace promotes himself as a representative of good Christian values, I’ll allow that he may just be ignorant rather than a deliberate liar. Ignorance is no sin: it can be cured with knowledge. But he does use the familiar fraudulent propaganda techniques: misrepresenting his opponents; cherry-picking numbers; failing to explore the implications of those numbers; citing the same suspect Australia Institute report; and wrapping it up in the same old “protect the children” cant.

Those of us who’ve been covering this issue for more than a year now are getting sick of responding to the same easily-rebutted debating tricks. But, as I keep saying, politics is a marathon event. So if Jim’s rolling out the same material, we’ll point out the same flaws.

Again.

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Stilgherrian’s links for 20 January 2009 through 24 January 2009:

  • VPNOut: “VPNOut provides secure and anonymous VPN access that can break through firewalls.” And past censorship.
  • Apple’s 1987 Knowledge Navigator Video | YouTube: A remarkable “concept video” looking at how we might use computers and the Internet in “the future”, i.e. now.
  • EGovernment nets most callers: survey | PS News: A Department of Finance and Deregulation survey has found more Australians now contact the Government via the internet than they do by phone or in person.
  • Cursebird: What the f#@! is everyone swearing about?: Apparently on Twitter I swear “like a George Carlin Wannabe”. I’m ranked 355th in the world, putting me in the very top percentile. I wonder what the stats would look like for Australians only?
  • 7 Steps To Build A Startup From Scratch With No Money | YoungEntrepreneur.com Blog: What it says.
  • Dark Dungeons | Chick Publications: This book from a well-established evangelistic Christian publisher, points out the evils of role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons.
  • Obituary: Sir John Mortimer | guardian.co.uk: Geoffrey Robertson’s obituary of Sir John Mortimer, creator of fictional lawyer Rumpole of the Bailey and a decent lawyer in his own right. Apparently in his youth Mortimer “encountered with interest the bookshop-owning lesbians who had taken opium with Cocteau, and a prim, elderly lady who had, in her youth, urinated regularly upon pioneering sexologist Havelock Ellis.” Goodness me.
  • Schapelle Corby Tour: “My name is Eddie Hutauruk and I have been running tours in Bali for over 8 years. Schapelle Corby Tours is our latest venture, and is fully respectful of Schapelle and her situation… Schapelle Corby is a convicted Australian drug runner, and my tours allow people to see Schapelle in her cage at Kerobokan Prison in Bali. Tours can be arranged for most days of the week and pick-up is possible from most Bali hotels.” Very clever.
  • Folk Devils and Internet Safety | Daithí mac Sithigh’s blog on cyberlaw & media law: Another view on the report of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force which said, amongst other things, that the risks of bullying online are far more important that worrying about the rare instances of adults soliciting for sex.
  • A chat with Fake Stephen Conroy | ZDNet Australia: What is says. Rather amusing, I reckon. And no, I am not Fake Stephen Conroy. But I have my suspicions about who it really is…

Stilgherrian’s links for 12 January 2009 through 18 January 2009, gahered with care and moistened with love:

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[This article was first published in Crikey on Monday. I’ve also added the comment and additional material which were published yesterday.]

Hurrah! The War on Terror is over! Well, at least it seems we’re no longer afraid of terrorists, because when Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus warned that illegally copying DVDs costs the industry $1.7 billion, for a change terrorism didn’t get a mention.

Major distributors have been trying to scare us off illegal copying for years. Australia’s laws were “harmonised” under the US Free Trade Agreement so copyright infringement became a crime. Gloomy doom-music-laden messages play before every movie. Serious people tell us that “piracy funds terrorism”.

“The Abu Sayyaf — blamed for the worst terrorist attacks in the South-East Asian country — are likely behind the illegal copying of movies onto DVDs,” reckons Edu Manzano, chairman of the Philippines’ Optical Media Board.

“The Yakuza are behind them in Japan and the Hezbollah are involved in the Middle East,” though he admits they lack “documentary evidence”.

Bob Debus’ weekend media release omits the “piracy funds terrorism” trope, saying instead that it funds “a range of criminal activity like drug trafficking and money laundering”. (Hang on, isn’t money laundering self-funding?) But by the time the story hit the ABC the government’s current bogeyman had been added to the list: child pornography. Ooh err.

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My links for 01 June 2008 through 02 June 2008, gathered semi-automatically:

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