Talking censorship and more on ABC Download This Show

This week saw my third appearance on Marc Fennell’s program Download This Show on ABC Radio National. Great fun.

Cleaning up the web: Nearly three years since announcing the proposed mandatory internet filtering system Cleenfeed, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy’s scheme is dead. But what have they replaced it with and were we better off with Conroy’s old system? Meanwhile, we peek into the secret UN meeting that could radically change the way the net is governed, and take time out to ask whether games can truly change our minds and society.

The internet “filtering” stuff of course relates to the Interpol blacklist that I’ve written about for Crikey once or twice, and which was also the subject of this week’s Patch Monday podcast.

My fellow guest was digital arts evangelist Fee Plumley. The audio below is linked directly from the ABC’s website.


The audio is ©2012 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

[Photo: Waiting in ABC Studio 291, Coffs Harbour, the location from which I joined the program.]

Talking journalism and iPhone 5 on ABC Media Report

Yes, Apple released a new iPhone 5 this week. I wrote about it for Crikey. And I spoke about it on ABC Radio National’s Media Report yesterday, in the context of using smartphones for journalism.

Will the new iPhone improve citizen journalism? More broadly, can we use modern Android phones to produce quality journalism?


The tools I mentioned were:

  • CoveritLive for liveblogging.
  • WordPress for blogging more generally, though of course there are others.
  • Any number of tools for posting photos and other images, but I mentioned Flickr and Twitpic.
  • YouTube is the gorilla in the room for posting video, but there’s also services for live video streaming such as Ustream and Livestream. The latter even works as a video switching service in the cloud.

“You’re going to get phone calls after this, Richard, from plenty of people who say ‘No, no, no, use something else. You can get into kind of religious wars about this sort of thing, and it’ll all be out of date by November,” I said. Which is true, but I still might write an article talking about this in more detail some time.

The audio is of course ©2012 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and over at their website you can listen to the entire episode.

Talking about names on ABC Radio’s “Life Matters”

I had the very great pleasure last week of joining ABC Radio National’s Life Matters for a talkback about names, nicknames and pseudonyms — live via Skype from my hotel room in San Francisco.

“What’s in a name?” We have heard these famous words of Shakespeare’s many times, but have you ever considered just how much of our identities are wrapped up in our names?

It’s often the first thing we’re asked. It’s how we identify ourselves to others. But do you like the name you’ve been given? Are your parents to blame, do you think?

You have the ability to change it — would you? Have you? Have you taken your partner’s surname? Is your name hard to pronounce? Do you constantly correct people on how to say or spell it?

Maybe you have a nickname which has basically become your ‘real’ name? How did you get it? Do you use it to go online to chat or date anonymously? Or on social media?

I smile at the title of the session, because that was also used as the headline for my story for ABC’s The Drum last year.

Here’s the full hour of the program, embedded from the ABC website.


Obviously the audio is ©2012 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

[Photo: Live from San Francisco: me at my desk at the Omni San Francisco Hotel connecting to ABC Radio National in Australia via Skype.]

Talking regulating social media on ABC Radio National

On Thursday 9 August I had the very great pleasure of discussing the regulation of social media with the ABC’s Waleed Aly.

As I’ve been writing these catch-up posts today, I’ve become aware that there’s been quite a bit of media commentary on this topic lately. People are seeing Bad Things happening online and want to Make It Stop.

Even my own small media involvement has seen this topic come up, since the beginning of July, at Crikey, ABC Local Radio, Balls Radio and probably elsewhere. It almost makes me want to use Gerry Anderson’s special machine.

Actually it’s all been fun. But what makes this conversation stand out is that Mr Aly is a bloody intelligent bloke, witty and incisive all at once. As just one example, here’s the observation with which he ended the interview.

Anyone who wanted to have the power to read people’s minds, I think, has the internet and now realises that power might be something more of a curse.

While the conversation took as its starting-point the outrage over the discovery of a Facebook page full of offensive jokes about Aboriginal people, we also talk about Facebook’s inconsistency in enforcing their own rules, and I call for Stephen Fry’s program QI to be taken off television.

ABC Radio has posted their version of the audio at Regulating social media, where for some reason they fail to mention my involvement. Here’s mine.

Both versions start off with a brief interview with Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner, Helen Szoke. My interview starts at around 6 minutes 40 seconds.


The audio is of course ©2012 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Talking new internet domains on ABC RN Sunday Extra

The other day ICANN, the organisation responsible for overseeing the internet’s domain name system, published the list of all the planned new top level domains — including everything from four entities competing for get .pizza to a cancer research charity after .cancerresearch.

It certainly generated some media interest. One of said media interests was the presenter of ABC Radio National’s Sunday Extra, Jonathan Green, who asked me to explain what it was all about on Sunday morning.

Alas, with only around seven minutes left before the 0900 news, there was really only time to explain what the thing was about — and no time to discuss the various opinions strengths weaknesses and potential for dodginess it all entails.

The ABC has posted the audio on the Sunday Extra website, but here’s my version.


The audio is of course ©2012 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

I’ll post my own opinions on this another time, or perhaps not at all.

Weekly Wrap 104: Worms, smartphones and television

My week from Monday 28 May to Sunday 3 June 2012 was complex, busy and stressful, yet there were also some memorable highlights.

I won’t be telling you anything about the latter.

I will say that spending the night in six different locations in one week is probably stress-inducing.


  • Patch Monday episode 140, “Cybercrime: it’s just too easy”, the second of two episodes based on material recorded at the AusCERT 2012 information security conference. AusCERT general manager Graham Ingram explains why cybercrime is here to stay, and F-Secure chief research officer Mikko Hypponen details a complex transnational criminal operation that saw goods bought fraudulently in Denmark being resold in Moscow, as well giving his views on hacktivism and the level to which antivirus companies should cooperate with governments.


Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

  • On Thursday I attended the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone at the Sydney’s Capitol Theatre, where I was given food and drink — and later a review unit of said smartphone.
  • Even though I didn’t go paintballing with Eugene Kaspersky last week, I still got the media pack from Kaspersky Lab. The army-style khaki satchel contained: a t-shirt emblazoned with my callsign “Seagull 17”; a packet of Austcam “Paint, face, camouflage NSN 6850-66-130-0172”; blank dog tags attacked to a Kaspersky-branded USB memory key, containing the media kit of course; a Mars Bar 2-pack; and a can of V, that terribly dangerous drink that should be banned, which I gave away.

The Week Ahead

Monday, as always, is a busy day of media production as well as the discussion I’m leading in Katoomba, Surviving and thriving as a freelancer in a globalised market. And it’s a Full Moon, so that’ll help.

The rest of the week will be easier, in theory — at least as far as work goes — and I even hope to spend Friday with a friend and then head to Sydney as an early start to the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.

I’d originally intended to be in Sydney on Tuesday evening. Intel has a launch event for their 3rd Generation Core processor chips. But to be honest I find it difficult to excited by new widgets — they’re faster and better that the previous widgets, right? — so I think I’ll give it a miss. Plus at the start of a new month no-one has yet paid for last month’s work, so it’s hard to justify the expense — especially since I’ll be paying for accommodation away from Bunjaree Cottages for the long weekend.


Most of my day-to-day observations are on my high-volume Twitter stream, and random photos and other observations turn up on my Posterous stream (or they used to before my phone camera got a bit too scratched up) and via Instagram. The photos also appear on Flickr, where I eventually add geolocation data and tags. Yes, I should probably update this stock paragraph to match the current reality.

[Photo: Sydney’s Saturday night fashion. These young women were spotted alighting at Wynyard station, Sydney, around 11.30pm Saturday night. While I’m obviously no fashion guru, I think it’s fair to say that this look does not flatter them. What made it worse was that neither of the women were steady with their operation of those heels. As they walked down the platform there was considerable swaying and undulation. And it didn’t seem to be because they were drunk. Can someone explain to me when undergarments became acceptable Saturday night partywear? I want to say something about yellow and black being the colours of warning, but I’d better not.]