Links for November 28th 2008 through December 1st 2008:

  • Survey: We luv Australian telly [TV Tonight] – The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has released the results of a Newspoll survey in its campaign for increased funding from the federal government. The survey conducted nationally for the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, found:
    – 64% of Australians think the government should regulate the minimum amount of Australian programmes shown on Free to Air.
    – 69% believe the government should regulate a minimum amount of Australian programming on the ABC.
    – 64% believe it is important Australian programs can be accessed through new media platforms.
    – 65% want increased funding for Australian children’s shows on the ABC.
    – 64% favour increased funding for more Australian drama programs on ABC.
    – 79% wanted more funds for Australian documentaries on ABC.
  • Children’s welfare groups slam net filters [The Age] – “Support for the Government’s plan to censor the internet has hit rock bottom, with even some children’s welfare groups now saying that that the mandatory filters, aimed squarely at protecting kids, are ineffective and a waste of money. Live trials of the filters, which will block “illegal” content for all Australian internet users and “inappropriate” adult content on an opt-in basis, are slated to begin by Christmas, despite harsh opposition from the Greens, Opposition, the internet industry, consumers and online rights groups. Holly Doel-Mackaway, adviser with Save the Children, the largest independent children’s rights agency in the world, said educating kids and parents was the way to empower young people to be safe internet users. She said the filter scheme was “fundamentally flawed” because it failed to tackle the problem at the source and would inadvertently block legitimate resources.” (So, is anyone, apart from the government, actually in favour, then??)
  • Seven forces Rafters fansite to shut [TV Tonight] – “The Seven Network has muscled in on a fan website packedtotherafters.com.au run by an 18 year old fan, after it deemed his site would cause confusion with the show’s official website. Seven’s own website is at the clunky address http://au.tv.yahoo.com/b/packed-to-the-rafters/ But now the network wants the webmaster, Michael, who started the site based on his love of the new Seven drama, to close down the site and hand over the domain. Michael says he was shocked when he read the email from Seven lawyers. “I couldn’t believe they required me to hand over the domain which mean shutting down the entire site,” he told TV Tonight. … But a disappointed Michael is complying with the request, saying he can’t afford to take Seven on legally.” (Ah, Channel 7, prosecuting your most ardent fans … how NOT to build a fan base for your shows.)
  • Google’s Gatekeepers [NYTimes.com] – A fascinating look inside Google’s legal operations, and how they strike the balance between respecting freedom of speech while responding to different political and legal systems around the world. (And how sometimes “don’t be evil” means you don’t exist – at least, that’s why there’s no YouTube in Turkey.)
  • Tweeting the terror: How social media reacted to Mumbai [CNN.com] – “The minute news broke of the terrorist attacks on Mumbai, India, social media sites like Twitter were inundated with a huge volume of messages. With more than 6 million members worldwide, an estimated 80 messages, or “tweets,” were being sent to Twitter.com via SMS every five seconds, providing eyewitness accounts and updates. Many Twitter users also sent pleas for blood donors to make their way to specific hospitals in Mumbai where doctors were faced with low stocks and rising casualties. Others sent information about helplines and contact numbers for those who had friends and relatives caught up in the attacks. Tweeters were also mobilized to help with transcribing a list of the dead and injured from hospitals, which were quickly posted online. As Twitter user “naomieve” wrote: “Mumbai is not a city under attack as much as it is a social media experiment in action.””
  • Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Gets Rickrolled [NewTeeVee] – Is this the [US] first nation-wide Rickroll? Never let it be said again that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is out of touch — this morning the Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends float surprised, well, the entire nation with Never Gonna Give You Up and the ACTUAL Rick Astley, for the first time (as far as I know) complicit in a live Rickroll.

Links of interest for November 10th 2008:

  • Filter advocates need to check their facts [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – An important article from Mark Newton that seeks to inject some solid information back into the conversation about proposed measures to filter the internet at large, at ISP level, in Australia. It remains a terrible idea, and the advocates for this notion seem completely ignorant of the technical realities of implementing it (not to mention the social ramifications of living in the censored country).
  • The Media Equation – How Obama Tapped Into Social Networks’ Power [NYTimes.com] – ““Thomas Jefferson used newspapers to win the presidency, F.D.R. used radio to change the way he governed, J.F.K. was the first president to understand television, and Howard Dean saw the value of the Web for raising money,” said Ranjit Mathoda, a lawyer and money manager who blogs at Mathoda.com. “But Senator Barack Obama understood that you could use the Web to lower the cost of building a political brand, create a sense of connection and engagement, and dispense with the command and control method of governing to allow people to self-organize to do the work.” All of the Obama supporters who traded their personal information for a ticket to a rally or an e-mail alert about the vice presidential choice, or opted in on Facebook or MyBarackObama can now be mass e-mailed at a cost of close to zero. And instead of the constant polling that has been a motor of presidential governance, an Obama White House can use the Web to measure voter attitudes.”
  • Text for free condoms during Schoolies Week [The Courier-Mail] – “School leavers will be able to send text messages to receive free condoms in an attempt to encourage safe sex practices during Schoolies celebrations. The TXT 4 Free Condomz sexual health campaign has been launched by health care group Marie Stopes International. Mobile phone users will be sent two free condoms in plain packaging when they text their name and address details to 19 SEXTXT. Marie Stopes International general manager Jill Michelson said the party atmosphere meant an increase in risky behaviour. “This initiative overcomes both the embarrassment and the cost issue of buying condoms, and does so using a medium and language that resonates with youth,” Ms Michelson said.” The website: http://www.sextxt.org.au/

Links of interest for October 27th 2008:

  • Telecommunications Today Report 6: Internet Activity and Content [ACMA, 22 October 2008] – A detailed look at Internet use in Australia (September 2008): “Age is a determining factor in the activities consumers choose to perform online. Email is the most common application across all age groups. Streaming videos and banking online feature in the top five activities of all age groups, and participating in auctions features in the top 10. Internet users aged between 16 and 24 years are the most likely group to use the internet for entertainment, while those aged between 25 and 34 also recorded a high level of use of social and entertainment applications. A high proportion of users over the age of 45 use the internet to submit forms or information to government websites; this activity is recorded in the top 10 of all three age group segment …” [View the full PDF.]
  • Net filters may block porn and gambling sites [The Age] – “Family First Senator Steve Fielding wants hardcore pornography and fetish material blocked under the Government’s plans to filter the internet, sparking renewed fears the censorship could be expanded well beyond “illegal material”. The Opposition said it would most likely block any attempts to introduce the controversial mandatory ISP filtering policy, so the Government would need the support of Senator Fielding as well as the Greens and Senator Nick Xenophon to pass the legislation. Industry sources said Senator Fielding’s sentiments validated ISPs’ concerns that the categories of blocked content could be broadened significantly at the whim of the Government, which is under pressure to appease vocal minorities.”
  • Bishop apologises after second plagiarism incident [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – “Deputy Opposition Leader [and former education minister!!] Julie Bishop has been forced to apologise after being embroiled in a second plagiarism row. A spokeswoman for Ms Bishop says the Opposition treasury spokeswoman submitted a chapter for a book about the future of the Liberal Party, that was actually written by her chief of staff, Murray Hansen. In the essay, Mr Hansen used material contained in a speech made by New Zealand businessman Roger Kerr several years ago. Mr Hansen says he forgot to provide footnotes to the publisher.” (I wonder how many of our students will be ‘forgetting to include the footnotes’ and calling it the Bishop defense, this semester? *sigh*)

Links of interest for October 23rd 2008 through October 24th 2008:

  • Musician defends Sony game song [BBC NEWS | World | Africa] – “The Malian musician whose song is being removed from a Sony video game because of concern it may offend Muslims has denied the music was blasphemous. Grammy award-winning Toumani Diabate said the song celebrated the Koran. “In my family there are only two things we know – the Koran and the kora [West African harp],” he told the BBC. The release of the much-anticipated LittleBigPlanet was delayed when it was found that a background music track included two phrases from the Koran. Copies of the game are being removed from shops around the world.” (I don’t know enough to comment on the religious implications, but I’m fascinated by the power and seriousness with which the politics of in-game music.)
  • Apple Goes McCain On Microsoft With Mocking Attack Ads [TechCrunch] – “The advertising war between Apple and Microsoft continues. Apple’s latest TV spots mock Microsoft’s $350 million ad campaign for Windows Vista, suggesting that some of that money would be better spent fixing Vista. The ad is funny (see above), but it does seem petty and elitist.” (See the ad.) I’m not sure this was a smart move by Apple – while they have the hearts and minds of a significant user base, the the demographic for whom ‘it just works out of the box’ is the main selling point probably don’t see themselves as ‘better’ than PC users; the elitism just might rub a few people the wrong way (that said, the critique seems fairly accurate!).
  • Our media freedom lags behind most other democracies [PerthNow] – “Australia trails other democracies in media freedom due to “outrageous” anti-terror laws and lack of protection for journalists’ sources, a report says. Australia is ranked 28th in the annual Press Freedom Index released this week by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders. Australia’s ranking is the same as last year’s and puts it behind New Zealand (ranked 7th), the United Kingdom (23), Canada (13) and Scandinavian countries. Iceland, Luxembourg and Norway were jointly named the nations with the most press freedom, while Eritrea was named as the country with the least media freedom. “
  • The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and the Meta-Silly Season in Politics: Agenda Setting in the Contemporary Media Environment by Jennifer Brundidge [Flow 8.10 October 16, 2008] – A look at the role of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report in discussing, reporting and debunking other reporting regarding the political process and, most notably, the 2008 US presidential election: “…the particular format by which The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are able to pose a challenge to mainstream media agendas and frames. By being “silly,” they are able to effectively challenge “silly season in politics.” Indeed, there is a good deal of evidence to suggest that through this process, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report play an important role in advancing the political sophistication of their audiences.”
  • Tigh/Roslin 2008: When Politics Turn Fictional by Emily Regan Wills [Flow 8.10, October 16, 2008] – Great article exploring the Tigh/Roslin parody by Battlestar Galactica fans regarding the McCain/Palin ticket. An excerpt: “… Battlestar Galactica is sufficiently complex, and sufficiently political, that it is possible to interpellate political positions for its characters. Fans know where Roslin falls on abortion policy: the plot of an episode revolved around her decision whether or not to make abortion illegal in the fleet, and included arguments based on religion, civil liberties, and population structure. Her general style of governance, her position on separation of church and state, even how she feels about wildlife conservation: it is plausible to deduce political positions for Roslin on each of these contemporary political questions. ” (There are a bunch of other great articles in the special issue of Flow about Sarah Palin, too. )