31. August 2007 · Comments Off on Free hugs day – courtesy of the read/write web? · Categories: Events


Okay, I know there are those of you who will shudder at the saccharine nature of this, but if you can set aside your more cynical side for a moment and look at the mechanics, you might just be wowed.

It started with a YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr3x_RRJdd4 about a young man who came back to Australia from the UK after a major life trauma in 2006, and felt the way to heal himself would be to give away free hugs. His idea was infectious and after being temporarily shut down by authorities due to a lack of public liability insurance, the man rallied a host of supporters who gathered 10,000 signatures on a petition to allow it all to go ahead. The video has had more than 17 million views to date and received more than 36 thousand comments since being posted in September 2006.

Now there are Free Hug Days all over the world. I noticed on FaceBook there are several groups related to it – one is organising a day for September 10th http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=2412896548

People are making their own videos, sharing their own stories, organising events and rallies — it’s crossed into traditional media with the originator of the movement being interviewed on Australian and American TV (Oprah!) and back again as web sites are built and Groups are formed in online communities. The official web site http://www.freehugscampaign.org/

Do you think this could have happened before self publishing/the read write web was possible? Do you think the ability to contribute one’s own digital story — be it a comment, photo, video, song, group, whatever medium — helps people to feel more a part of a movement or historical event than just being on the receiving end of information?

29. August 2007 · Comments Off on Ink and paper warning after woman ‘held captive’ · Categories: Issues

Okay, so that wasn’t the headline that I saw in the RSS feed from the ABC.  Their story started with the following: “Police are warning internet users to be careful when they form relationships in cyberspace, after arresting a man who allegedly held a Perth woman captive after meeting her online.”

Umm – what if they’d corresponded as penpals?  Then my heading would work, wouldn’t it?  Or what it they’d met in a bar?  Would the police warn us away from bars? Or what if they’d met at work? Or in a coffee shop? Or in line at the police station?

Come ON here — don’t blame technology for an error or three in discernment.  Online or offline – if you make an error of judgement in relation to strangers, you are engaging in risky behaviour.  Thankfully the woman and her daughter in this story got a happy ending.

27. August 2007 · 3 comments · Categories: Issues

Okay so what’s the rule here – is it more than one syllable and drop the last vowel?

A new word is quickly making the rounds — I first read it in a Washington Post blog post from Friday — followed a link in a comment by Erik Schark (sorry sweet pea, you didn’t leave your web site URL) claiming the word originated at Podcamp Pittsburgh http://www.podcamppittsburgh.com/ five days earlier — and now there’s an official home page and t-shirt available – http://www.bacn2.com/

By the way – BACN refers to email that’s not quite SPAM, you opted into it — but it still clutters up your inbox and isn’t exactly welcomed or important.

Sheesh! A week ago it was a yummy breakfast food with an O (as in Oh boy! BACON!) and now it’s semi-unwanted electronic messages with no O.  What are wanted messages now – HAM?  No second syllable vowel to remove from that — hmmm….

25. August 2007 · 1 comment · Categories: Issues

This quote from a Japanese grandmother who loves computers and the internet, is from an article on the ABC news site “Japanese grannies go high tech” http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/08/13/2003066.htm

Members of the “Computer Grannies Society” (founded in 1997) exchange photos and music, share their own creative endeavours and got funding to set up a training day for other senior citizens.  On that day, there were touch panel computers to make it easy for non-typists to use them and plenty of instructors on hand. 

With our increasingly ageing population, a growing sense of isolation due to a number of sociological factors and a decrease in mobility for older people due to lack of public transport or declining health – perhaps we need to fly some Japanese grannies around to get us on the right track.

I’ve been carrying on a conversation with a representative of my bank regarding the overdraw fee that the now appropriately monikerd NAB charges. 

I asked a simple question – how did you arrive at a figure of $50?  The series of replies I got boiled down to – some of it covers costs, the rest is a deterrent – because we can — we aren’t going to tell you which percentage of the $50 covers our costs and which we pocket as pure profit because we don’t have to.

 However, at the bottom of the emails he sends to me is the following disclaimer:

Except where this email indicates otherwise, views expressed in this email are those of the sender and not of National Australia Bank Ltd.

So, I’ve asked him to clarify whether his replies are those of the bank or his own so that I know where I stand. 

 Can’t wait to see if I get an answer or not…