28. October 2008 · Comments Off on Content filtering with NO Opt Out and government deciding what’s in · Categories: Broadband, E-business, government filtering, Internet filtering, Internet safety, Issues, My personal learning journey, Research, Social networking, Technologies · Tags: , , , ,
Don't filter me

Don't filter me

“I’m not exaggerating when I say that this model involves more technical interference in the internet infrastructure than what is attempted in Iran, one of the most repressive and regressive censorship regimes in the world.” Colin Jacobs, chair of the online users’ lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia, as quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald, 24 October 2008.

Nope, this isn’t a post about China or a dictatorship (at least, not an official one) that’s the subject of this blog post.  It’s the Australian government’s short on detail long on self-righteous rhetoric approach to “protecting our children”.

I don’t know why suddenly everyone is shocked.  Internet filtering at the ISP level has reared its ugly head on both sides of the Australian Parliament.  The latest effort was in March 2006 when then-Labour-leader Kim Beazley pounded his fist in righteous indignation “for the sake of the children”. Of course that led to the then Howard-government’s disastrous filter for every home mail-out that then year 10 student Tom Wood cracked in less time than it takes to watch an episode of that soft-core porn TV fav “Big Brother”.

In January, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy resurrected the cause and attempted to stifle debate on the issues, as I blogged in the post “Disagree and you are an anti-Australian pervert.”

Things seemed to go quiet until April with the government introducing amendments to the Telecommunications act that would reportedly “force all telecommunications providers to facilitate lawful data interception across fixed and mobile telephone systems, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Instant Messaging (IM) and chat room discussions”

Now it’s on again — time to educate yourself and choose a side.

This Thursday 30 October, the Hon. Stephen Conroy will be intereviewed on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) radio national’s Media Report program – 8:30am AEDT, repeated 8pm.  His interview will immediately be followed by one with respected futurist, educator and programmer Mark Pesce. Hopefully the audio and transcript will be up on the Media Report site not long after.

If you’d like to do some homework in advance, WA Greens Senator Scott Ludlam’s web site provides a transcript of a conversation he had with Mr. Conroy in an estimates hearing — http://scott-ludlam.greensmps.org.au/content/transcript/cybersafety-net-filtering

Read up, listen in and take a stance.  Mr. Conroy says it’s early days yet – so we all have time to feed into this debate.

Finally, despite the fact I am not a Greens supporter, I have to say how blown away I was by Senator Ludlam’s blog and the Green’s site.  It’s the antithesis of Senator Conroy’s deadly boring web 1.0 pixel ghetto and proves who is in touch with how the internet is used and who gets “briefings”.

Photo: b-may CC (by)

Photo: b-may CC (by)

Flickr launched a new interface last week.  I hate it.  iGoogle changed the tabs from the top to the side.  I really hate it.  MS Office completely rearranged the menus in Word.  I really, really hate it.  God people — quit rearranging my stuff without my knowledge or permission!


My tech has become smaller, more personal, more intimate.  I put stickers on my laptop to make it more mine, photos on my desktop. I move the content of my iGoogle around, I have a choice of browsers and use several different ones, I use multiple email programs and (at home) office suites. I feel – or felt – in control.  And then you go and “improve” the interface of something — thereby rearranging MY STUFF and make me feel less attached and in control of it.

If you want to re-build my loyalty and trust –

1) When you upgrade your interface, prepare me in advance.  I pay money to some of you.

2) Give me options to re-arrange things to suit ME.  Why can’t I choose how to group tools and menus in my office applications? Why shouldn’t I be able to run my tabs across the top of my iGoogle — I’m stuck with two small monitors at work and need all the screen width I can get!

3) Don’t plaster ads all over everything without warning and when you do introduce ads, keep them relevant to the content.  I know that everyone has to make a buck, but keep in mind it might have repercussions for me professionally if I recommend a favourite site and there is inappropriate material. Are you listening Teacher Tube? My CEO was NOT impressed that his video about internet filtering had a dating advert underneath it.

4) Explain the differences between the new and the old version to me thanks.  MS Office 2007 is a HUGE departure and if we had a swear jar at work for under the breath swearing caused by MS Office 2007 menu changes — our next Christmas party would be in the Greek Islands.

5) Give me a way of controlling newly introduced features.  Hey Twitter — love you heaps and love the 2008 election bar — because I’m AMERICAN.  5.7 billion other folks on the planet are NOT AMERICAN and dozens of them hate the bloody thing.

Your turn folks.  What software program or web site has re-arranged your stuff and what should they have done differently?

We talk a lot about breaking down barriers online and offline, of building muticultural understanding and smashing stereotypes.  The “N” word draws more gasps and condemnation than the “C” word.  Clubs that ban people because of the colour of their skin (at least overtly) would be shut down.  Governments are spending a load of money to help us all understand each others’ cultures and work towards social inclusion. So in all this open-mindedness — why is chauvinism still thriving?

I’ve been aware of chauvinism my whole life.  Growing up in a small town in a conservative state in the 70s, I saw the neat little societal roles I was taught in my formative years give way to other options and (I thought) new ways of thinking.

But there is so much that hasn’t changed.  Case in point — a new porno by the attention seeking Larry Flynt of Hustler that features a Sarah Palin look-alike and has the trademark classy title “Nailin’ Paylin”.  Don’t get me wrong here — I am not a fan of the Alaska governor.  But it really irks me that because she’s a woman who is relatively young, good looking and successful, a notorious mysoginist like Flynt has to beat her back down by portraying her as a whore.  Look, I realise a porno featuring Joe Biden or John McCain probably isn’t going to be as popular and Flynt has always been in the business of producing rubbish that demeans women but sheesh.

This was going through my head when I heard a promo on the ABC for an adventure program.  It talked about what “real men” do.   You look at superheroes, video games, action figures — the female ones are always sexualised.  The beer commercials featuring “man cans” and those poxy VB (Victoria Bitter) ads and those dreadful Solo lemonade ads.  Scantily clad women at motor car races. All good fun, eh?

Now replace “a man’s drink” with “a white man’s drink”.   Replace “man cans” with a narrow-minded, stereotypical physical characteristic of another race.  Replace a show about “what real men do” with “what the superior race does”.  Put non-white people in demeaning outfits and feature them as subservient to the race car drivers. Hmmm — not so funny or as much fun.

I think all of those examples are symptoms of a bigger disease.  And until we put a stop to it, our society and the lives of our children – female AND male – are going to continute to suffer for it.

Graham Wegner’s recent post about “Redefining Conference Professional Respect” sparked up a blaze for me this morning.

Waiting for time to pass - CC (b) Orange42 Flickr

Waiting for time to pass - CC (by) Orange42 Flickr

In his post, he mentions complaints he read about a recent conference.  It seems some attendees thought that others who used the free wireless available to blog and tweet during keynotes were somehow rude.

I started writing a response because the obvious irony of people attending a conference on how to integrate ICTs into education and learning who object to the use of laptops, PDAs and mobile phones to text during a presentation made me snort and shake my head.

Then an image arose — of empty vessels who should passively wait to be filled — and of the image here of a bored student who is just sitting there, waiting for time to pass.  And it made me angry because isn’t that what we’ve been trying to break through?

Here was what I was going to post as a comment — until it got so long and I got so fired up I figured it was worth a blog post:

I question the value of lining us all up in chairs facing forward to listen to someone talk over slides — especially at a conference where the concepts of collaboration and new ways of teaching and learning are supposed to be the focus.

How much more engaging would it be to be pointed at a pre-recorded presentation to watch in advance of the day — then come prepared to actively discuss, debate and evaluate the concepts presented?

That way, the wireless connection is not a way of spewing out the highlights but to use to research and collaborate during the live discussion?

We wonder why people new to the concepts of collaboration and decentralised knowledge have problems incorporating them into their teaching and then we provide conferences and PD sessions that are still structured with one font of all knowledge in front of a “class” of empty vessels waiting to be filled.

Can we PLEASE start practicing what we preach?  Is there a conference coming up in the near future where the organisers and keynote speakers are willing to send out the materials in advance to allow people to become conference PARTICIPANTS rather than conference ATTENDEES?

06. October 2008 · Comments Off on Walmart tech understanding FAIL could wipe out your music collection · Categories: E-business, Technology-related blogs

I can only guess that this is a money-saving move from the bean counters at Walmart — if it is, they’ll soon have fewer beans to jiggle around…

Walmart has decided to pull the plug on their music DRM server — so anyone who bought music prior to February 2008 has a couple of days left until they can NO LONGER PLAY THEIR BOUGHT AND PAID FOR MP3s.

In a letter (that I did not receive) to those trusting suckers who did the right thing and paid for their music, Walmart suggests we burn our MP3s to CD.  But we CAN’T BURN THEM AS MP3s.  Oh no.  We have to burn them as traditional music CDs.  Ones we WON’T BE ABLE TO RIP BACK.

ATTENTION CLUELESS WALMARTIANS: I haven’t played a music CD in 3 years and guess what??? My MP3 player (my mobile phone) DOESN’T HAVE A CD PLAYER.

Here’s the thing: give me the option to replace what I’ve purchased with the new non-DRM format or CHEERFULLY REFUND MY BLOODY MONEY. Technology has moved on from CDs.

I will move on from buying music from you and hope that millions of others follow suit if you don’t make this right.