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Creative Commons Roadshow: Perth, September 2 2010

Want to learn more about the Creative Commons? Want to hear about the latest development nationally and beyond? Want to hear from Perth folks who’ve been using the Creative Commons as part of education, the creative industries and even government? Then the Creative Commons Roadshow is for you and, for the first time in ages, the show’s coming to Perth.

Date: 2 September 2010.
Times: 10.00 am – 3.30 pm.
Venue: State Library of Western Australia, Alexander Library Building, Perth Cultural Centre, Perth

You can check out the program here; the exact speakers are still being finalised and will be added once the details are sorted, but I’ll definitely be talking about the Creative Commons in Education during the local champions segment from 1-2. If you’re interested, please come along: it’s a free event, all you need to do is register here (and please try and indicate your areas of interest, to the CC Team know which topics to focus on during the afternoon discussion groups).

I really enjoyed being part of the Building an Australasian Commons event that the Creative Commons Australia ran in Brisbane in 2008, but it’s even better to the CC team touring the country and I hope lots of Perth folks will come and hear how Creative Commons licensing and ideas can enrich your learning, sharing, creating and more!

Update: Here’s the program for the day …
CC Roadshow – Perth – Program

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On Privacy, Facebook & your Digital Footprints

Issues about privacy and Facebook have been in the news a great deal recently, but one of the implicit but less discussed issues is the notion of your digital footprint.  Your digital footpint simply means the unintended effects digital communication will have in the future since it’s simultaneously digital content (and thus potentially lasts forever).  Earlier this week I was interviewed by Jarrod Watt for ABC’s Heywire and you can listen to the what I said here.  If you prefer you go straight to the mp3 recording, or listen here …

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Digital Culture Links: March 9th 2010

Links for March 9th 2010:

  • Mapping the growth of the internet [BBC News] – Useful flash-powered world map from the BBC visually demonstrating the growth in internet use across the globe from 1998 to 2008. (Quite a lot of growth to be seen!)
  • Return of the natives by Slavoj Zizek [New Statesman] – Slavoj Zizek gets stuck into Avatar: “So where is Cameron’s film here? Nowhere: in Orissa, there are no noble princesses waiting for white heroes to seduce them and help their people, just the Maoists organising the starving farmers. The film enables us to practise a typical ideological division: sympathising with the idealised aborigines while rejecting their actual struggle. The same people who enjoy the film and admire its aboriginal rebels would in all probability turn away in horror from the Naxalites, dismissing them as murderous terrorists. The true avatar is thus Avatar itself – the film substituting for reality.”
  • Adventures in the Wild, Wild West: Media140 Perth [media140.org] – Official wrap-up post for Perth Media 140 (Feb 2010), including links to pretty much everyone involved and a snappy little video summarising some of the key themes (if you watch closely you can see what 10 seconds of my talking head looks like after presenting a talk in a room which is warmer that 40 degrees Celsius!).
  • Study: Ages of social network users [Royal Pingdom] – A really useful breakdown of social networking websites by age, including these stats:
    “* Bebo appeals to a much younger audience than the other sites with 44% of its users being aged 17 or less. For MySpace, this number is also large; 33%.
    * Classmates.com has the largest share of users being aged 65 or more, 8%, and 78% are 35 or older.
    * 64% of Twitter’s users are aged 35 or older.
    * 61% of Facebooks’s users are aged 35 or older. […]
    * The average social network user is 37 years old.
    * LinkedIn, with its business focus, has a predictably high average user age; 44.
    * The average Twitter user is 39 years old.
    * The average Facebook user is 38 years old.
    * The average MySpace user is 31 years old.
    * Bebo has by far the youngest users, as witnessed earlier, with an average age of 28.”
  • Twitter Hits 10 Billion Tweets [Mashable] – “It’s official: Twitter has surpassed 10 billion tweets. […] you can tell by the actual tweet ID numbers that we have crossed the magical threshold. The milestone shows that Twitter’s still growing at a rapid pace: it broke 1 billion tweets in November 2008 and 5 billion tweets just four months ago.”
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Thinking Beyond the Real & Now at Media 140 Perth

Today was Media 140 Perth, a one-day event exploring brands, marketing and communications in the real-time web.  Many of the speakers were more business and PR orientated, but I presented a short talk about the longevity of real-time online conversations (ie online conversations also = online content) and suggested some ways in which businesses using real-time conversations and platforms like Twitter might go about ensuring the people they’re inviting into the conversation are doing so in a fully informed manner.  Here are the slides:

(The slides probably don’t make much sense without my narration, but comments are of course welcome.  If you were there at the presentation, comments from you are welcome to, although I’m sure most of you will prefer Twitter.)

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The Future Newspaper … Isn’t?

Clay Shirky’s ‘Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable’ has been getting a fair amount of attention in the past few days and his central point is ringing true for most people: the traditional revenue model of the newspaper is so dead that it might just be time to admit that in many cases news will need to find (a) new platform(s) of choice.  It is worth noting, though, that Shirky is not downplaying the important role journalists have to play in our society; what he has resoundingly challenged is whether collecting their daily output on printed paper has much of a future.  Indeed, Shirky’s conclusion is worth noting:

Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism. For a century, the imperatives to strengthen journalism and to strengthen newspapers have been so tightly wound as to be indistinguishable. That’s been a fine accident to have, but when that accident stops, as it is stopping before our eyes, we’re going to need lots of other ways to strengthen journalism instead.

When we shift our attention from ’save newspapers’ to ’save society’, the imperative changes from ‘preserve the current institutions’ to ‘do whatever works.’ And what works today isn’t the same as what used to work.

I concur; the world at large needs good journalism, but many good journalists will need to find a new home and it’s likely a new medium, too.  On March 12, the New York Times posted this visualisation:

US Newspaper circulation

You’ll have to click and see the enlarged version to read the text, but the brown and beige circles show declining circulation numbers for US newspapers; blue circles show increases (there are very few blue dots).  The US is a country of brown and beige dots.  The fact that neither Shirky nor anyone else knows what should come next is an important tension.  For those currently making a living working for newspapers who are laying off staff, this is a really immediate tension and, to be honest, I’m glad I’m not in those shoes.  For society more broadly, the question of where we get our news, and whether we’re willing to pay anything for it – either personally or through an organisation we support, or even through government funding – is something we do need to consider. I have to say, I’m feeling more protective than ever of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and SBS and have no qualms whatsoever about some fraction of my taxes supporting both.  And sitting at a point of convergence of the best traditional journalism and web 2.0 platforms have to offer, I’m glad that people like Margaret Simons are finding new ways to keep the fourth estate alive and well.  (And to be fair, there is still a lot of quality journalism out there … it just too often gets buried behind the bleeding leads.) 

For Perth folks, the paucity of our current choice in newspapers has been obvious for a long time; we only have one and it has spent almost all credibility it ever had.  A new editor is on board now, but it’ll take a lot before The West holds any serious sway or has most people read it for anything other than the TV Guide and Saturday classifieds.  In a well timed move, Perth’s citizen journalism advocate, Brownen Clune, has just relaunched her own web presence, hitting the ground running a provocative post entitled ‘The Emperor’s New Media’ which argues that many journalists lack credibility, and the profession overall is in disrepute, leaving little wonder why so many folks don’t want to pay to read it anymore:

Can we be so quick to blame the business models of newspapers (selling advertisements) when people won’t miss the service (news) they are providing? For years journalists have been regarded alongside used-car salesmen as the least trustworthy profession and every journalist has certainly experienced the polite disdain from strangers when you tell them what you do.

There is something very wrong with the media and the quality of journalism has a lot to do with it. “News” has become so devalued that people are not willing to pay for it.

Bronwen’s post has attracted some spirited comments from Fairfax journo Nick Miller (continuing an older debate, really) who does remind us that Perth certainly hasn’t really developed much of an alternative model as yet (and Bronwen’s PerthNorg, which is valuable, relies a great deal on filtered content created by the mainstream newspapers).  But to return to Shirky’s point, we need more experiments, like PerthNorg, which are willing to try and find new ways to connect journalists of various types with audiences. 

In terms of the quality of journalism out there, there’s definitely appetite for more transparent reporting and for reporting that returns more clearly to the notion of the fourth estate; keeping the average citizen informed is, after all, the aim.  If nothing else, the fact that Jon Stewart and The Daily Show (a comedy show!) managed to get so many tongues wagging in the US recently when they went after CNBC’s ethics, and then Jim Cramer in particular when he took issue with Stewart’s criticism, shows that there is real desire for a more robust sense of the fourth estate (even if many people don’t recognise the term any more).  As The Washington Post put it:

Jon Stewart has amassed a passionate following over the years as a sharp-edged satirist, the man who punctures the balloons of the powerful with a caustic candor that reporters cannot muster. As public furor over the economic meltdown rises, the Comedy Central star has turned not just his humor but also his full-throated outrage against financial journalists who he says aided and abetted the likes of Bear Stearns, AIG and Citigroup — especially those who work for the nation’s top business news channel.  Stewart morphed into a populist avenging angel this week, demanding to know why CNBC and its most manic personality, Jim Cramer, failed to warn the public about the risky Wall Street conduct that triggered the financial crisis.

Okay, ‘avenging angel’ might be a bit over-the-top, but Stewart has, in my opinion, re-energised the question of journalistic ethics and, if nothing else, we can see responses like Fix CNBC http://fixcnbc.com/; while the sentiment is noble, perhaps, like, Fix the Newspapers, we need to hope for more?

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Annotated Digital Culture Links: December 22nd 2008

Links for December 18th 2008 through December 22nd 2008:

  • Better Than Free (Manifesto by Kevin Kelly) [ChangeThis] – “When copies are super abundant, they become worthless. When copies are super abundant, stuff which can’t be copied becomes scarce and valuable. When copies are free, you need to sell things which can not be copied. Well, what can’t be copied?” (A very timely and insightful look at what can be ‘sold’ in an era in which all media can, by and large, be obtained through various channels for free.)
  • Australian Internet Filter Will Target BitTorrent Traffic [TorrentFreak] – “Previously thought to be limited to HTTP and HTTPs web traffic, the touted Australian Internet filter will also target P2P traffic. In response to a comment posted by a user on his department’s blog, Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy has admitted that BitTorrent filtering will be attempted during upcoming trials.”
  • New Vision for Perth Community TV [TV Tonight] – “The Australian Communications and Media Authority has issued a community television trial licence in Perth for two years. The successful applicant, West TV Ltd, will provide an analogue television service, to be known as New Vision 31. New Vision 31 expects to commence broadcasting within the next six months.”
  • The creators behind JibJab [Ourmedia] – “…a 4-minute video interview with Evan and Gregg Spiridellis, the founders and creators of the wildly popular animation site JibJab.com, conducted at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, Calif. Gregg and Evan talk about how their business has evolved over the past nine years, what business models are working for them, and how their use of social media propels the site forward.”
  • Warner Music pulls videos from YouTube [Australian IT] – “Warner Music Group ordered YouTube on Saturday to remove all music videos by its artists from the popular online video-sharing site after contract negotiations broke down. The order could affect hundreds of thousands of videos clips, as it covers Warner Music’s recorded artists as well as the rights for songs published by its Warner/Chappell unit, which includes many artists not signed to Warner Music record labels. The talks fell apart early on Saturday because Warner wants a bigger share of the huge revenue potential of YouTube’s massive visitor traffic. There were no reports on what Warner was seeking.”
  • Australian couple served with legal documents via Facebook [Telegraph] – “In what may be a world first, lawyers from Canberra law firm Meyer Vandenberg persuaded a judge in the Australian Capital Territory’s Supreme Court to allow them to serve the documents over the internet after repeatedly failing to serve the papers in person. Lawyer Mark McCormack came up with the Facebook plan after it became clear that the couple did not want to be found.” (This sets a terrible precedent; how many dead social profiles do most people have that they never look at – that’s a pretty poor conduit for something as serious as legal notice!)
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Fairfax Vs PerthNorg … sort of, anyway!

As Axel and Mark have noted, Brisbane will get its turn to debate the The Future of Journalism this Saturday at a one-day symposium bringing journos, media makers, academics, students and more together to debate the issues. If only it wasn’t 3,500kms away … I’d love to be there, and I doubt the Future of Journalism roadshow will be stopping in Perth any time soon. That said, I’m delighted that Perth citizen journalist and citizen media advocate Bronwen Clune will be presenting on Saturday, bring a little perspective from the West coast. In anticipation of that even, I thought it worth pointing out that earlier this month, in the wake of the news Fairfax was axing more than 500 of their staff, Bronwen (who is the creator of PerthNorg) wrote a provocative post entitled ‘A Letter to Love-Stricken Fairfax Journalists’ which asked whether Fairfax was actually the best place for committed journalists today:

If you are one of the journalists standing in a picket line outside The Age and SMH, I have to ask – do you realise how pathetic you look? … David Kirk has made you an offer and is calling for volunteers before compulsory redundancies. Your relationship is clearly strained and here he is giving you a dignified out and you choose to beg him to take you back? Where is your backbone, your fire, your passion for news? Has Fairfax got you so wrapped around its finger that you think the only way you can be a good journalist is to stay with it? Guess what – people produce good news outside of news corporations everyday. And you can too. Take the divorce settlement and learn to stand on your own feet again. You are better off investing in a relationship with your audience – you’ll find it infinitely more rewarding.

Clearly Bronwen wasn’t pulling her punches, and in the heated discussion which ensued the full spectrum of opinions were heard, from those in total agreement to those who completely disagree (with the oft-heard but fair question: where is the business model for citizen journalism?). However, for my money, the most interesting thread was when Fairfax journalist Nick Miller joined in. Miller, also originally from Perth, didn’t bring a knee-jerk reaction, but instead pointed out that journalists are well aware of what’s happening in the industry, but they still need jobs! An excerpt from Nick’s argument:

I get it. You’re on the forefront of digital journalism. You reckon everyone else should be here. Um… they’re not. Yet. And we’re yet to see any proof that this medium can financially support the extent of investigative journalism that mainstream media currently supports. … I challenge you to go through Perthnorg and remove every link to, and every reference to, a story that originated or was sourced in a Fairfax or WAN or News Ltd report (or wire story, which are paid for by mainstream media). Then see what you’ve got left. A lot of gossip, sure. And gossip is often the start of a news story. But it’s not news.


I am passionate for news. And at Fairfax I have found an organisation that backs my quest for good investigative journalism with all the resources that that requires. Time, money, opportunity, logistical support, etc. The luxury of being able to say ”I didn’t file a thing today, but you should see what I’m working on”. I don’t see any online organisation in Australia that will support that kind of journalism – beyond simply giving it a place to be published. Therefore, I think it is the right thing to fight Fairfax in its attempt to reduce that support. I suggest the Norg concept is just as likely to be an online evolutionary dead end as Fairfax’s. We file for The Age online, too, after all. … The medium isn’t the issue. It’s the search for commercial support for the often highly uncommercial occupation of journalism.

While I agree that a lot of what appears on PerthNorg is more like a Digg-style take on other news sources, there is some original content in there (probably around the 10-15% mark, I’d estimate) but Nick does beg the big question of how any citizen journalism portal can support journalists financially (sure, there’s embedded advertising, but that’s more likely to pay the hosting bills and give a modest income to the site’s creator rather than anyone else creating content). Also noteworthy was the point made by another commentator that people employed by Fairfax Digital are not subject to the rights and conditions afforded even normal Fairfax Journalists, suggesting that even the digital portals for big media companies are becoming the cyber-sweatshops of the twenty-first century. There are, of course, a lot more issues at hand so I’m looking forward to hearing reports from the The Future of Journalism in Brisbane … I hope there are some optimistic answers about citizen journalism and mainstream media working together … and at least some people getting paid!

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The Sculptor (Can You Keep A Secret?)


The trailer for The Sculptor is online now, so you should go and watch it right now (or download it). In case The Sculptor is new to you, you should know a couple of things: first off, it’s the feature film debut for director Chris Kenworthy and scriptwriter Chantal Bourgault (a rather talented colleague of mine from Communication Studies).  Chris cut his teeth on innovative low-budget special effects heavy shorts such as The Dream Sequence so he should really been able to do some amazing things with a full feature budget!  The film is also the first Western Australian production (as far as I know) to be shot on the fantastic Red Cameras, giving it an even crisper look.  And given Chantal teaches scriptwriting and film production, I’m sure the story will take some classical narrative ideas and make them just that little bit more intriguing!

One other reason this film will be extremely important to the filmmaking landscape of Western Australia is that the production company, Skyview Films, is both practically and philosophically focused on funding and promoting internationally-competitive local productions.  As their mission statement attests, they aim:

    • To deliver high quality Australia feature films for the Australian & international markets.
    • Use of “high concept” scripts.
    • Use of “state-of-the-art” equipment and techniques.
    • To provide significant contributions to a sustainable feature film industry in Western Australia.
    • Three full length feature films programmed from 2007-2011.
    • Additional films scheduled beyond 2011.
    • Shareholder and board commitment to re-invest in additional films before investment dividends are paid.
    • Private equity funded company, including international shareholders.
    • Board of Directors paid solely from dividends.
    • Operations to provide meaningful investor and stakeholder returns, commercially and by fostering growth within the industry.
    • Prioritise the employment of local cast and crew with a Western Australian management team.
    • Provide innovative opportunities for new talent to obtain training in all facets of feature film making.

Skyview already has two more features in pre-production, which is a great sign both of their confidence in The Sculptor and their long-term commitment to local film production. Oh, and if you wondered what the film is actually about after that pretty but mainly impressionistic teaser, here’s the quick description:

A struggling artist dabbles in black magic to find success, but when he has everything he ever dreamed of, the demons come back to haunt his life, his work and his family.

And the tagline: Can you keep a secret? (Clearly I can’t, as I think this will be a very exciting debut feature you should all know about!)


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Perth’s Channel 31 Leave the Airwaves


In sad news for Community Television in Australia, and in Perth in particular, it seems that community broadcaster Access 31 has shut its doors in Western Australia. As TV Tonight reports:

Access 31, Perth’s community television station, has this afternoon gone off air. The closure follows ongoing financial difficulties for the volunteer-run station. Despite promises of government support and securing of a financial backer, today it closed its doors at 5pm. TV Tonight understands a number of staff have been resigning in recent weeks, leaving the place dangerously under-manned. … Sources say none of the independent program producers, who comprise the bulk of production, were informed ahead of time.

Oddly, though, despite the goodbye message currently being broadcast, the Access 31 website still makes it look like they’re open for business.

Update: There is a vitriolic article on PerthNorg today, suggesting the Board may have played a large role in Access 31’s demise.

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UWA Student News on Channel 31 THIS FRIDAY

With Perth’s community broadcaster, Access 31, alive for a while longer, it’s my great pleasure to announce that the eight best news projects from students in my Digital Media (Comm2203) unit this semester will be screening as a half an hour programme this Friday night (11 July, 2008) on channel 31 at 8pm. There are some very impressive segments in here, including several news stories which engage with critical issues for Perth right now, and about larger issues such as media and the upcoming Olympics. If you’re near a TV (and in Perth) this Friday at 8pm, please tune in and take a look!

For a sample of what’s going to be screened take a peak at this post.

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