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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. )
Links of interest for September 9th 2008 through September 10th 2008:
- Pirates become canon keepers [The Australian] – “Some commentators have suggested that it’s simply easier for studios to replace the entire score than to investigate music rights. In any case, an unannounced modern alteration is cultural vandalism, even if you don’t think the original work was any good. As a result the DVD is useless as a piece of cultural history and as a representation of an original work. With the internet full of sellers (often fans themselves) willing to provide the copies of this and other series taken from unedited broadcasts, the studio has taken a huge step towards legitimising piracy as a means of cultural preservation.” (A fantastic, if rather sarcastic, article by Kit MacFarlane arguing that piracy may be the only course open to preserve tv texts in the face of minor – and major – alterations made by studios and distributors on the way to dvd releases and more. )
- BATTLESTAR GALACTICA returns to iTunes…in HD [GALACTICA SITREP] – Battlestar Galactica and other NBC shows return to iTunes (US). If you’re logged into the US store right now you can get 4×03 (He That Believeth in Me) in HD for free (logged in to the US store, I say, not necessarily in the US!).
- Australia rated foot of developed world on school funding [PerthNow] – “Australia’s government spending on public education is the second lowest among developed nations, a new report has found. Turkey, Portugal, Mexico and Iceland all spend more money on public education institutions than Australia. … Federal Education Minister Julia Gillard says the new OECD Education at a Glance report highlights the need for the Rudd Government’s much-hyped “education revolution”.” (Yes, but WHEN is this much-vaunted education revolution actually going to start? It’s close to unforgivable that the once ‘clever country’ is so far behind in global terms.)
- Google Turns 20 (fiction) – “This month, September 2018, marks the 20th anniversary of Google as a business…” A provocative little piece of speculation fiction looking back from 2018 at the rise, and fall, of Google. A few ideas are a bit far-fetched (Windows Free?) but most are plausible; all beg interesting questions about current trends, from software design, to monopolistic practices, to (really) participatory culture!
- John McCain Gets BarackRoll’d [YouTube] – John McCain gets rickrolled by the all-singing, all-dancing Barack Obama show! LMAO!
Interesting links for July 4th 2008 through July 7th 2008:
- Iran: death penalty for “corrupt weblogs” [Boing Boing] – “New legislation has been proposed in Iran that could make blogging a crime punishable by death. … A translated English copy of the proposed legislation is here.”
- Watching you, watching YouTube [BBC NEWS | dot.life] – A thoughtful and cautionary response to the release of YouTube viewing data to Viacom. Also, see YouTube’s official response to user concerns about the ruling.
- The Top 100 Liberal Arts Professor Blogs [Online University Reviews] – Proof that many good academics write many good blogs (on many, many different subjects). I read about a dozen of these. [Via Chuck]
- Google must divulge YouTube log [BBC NEWS | Technology] – “Google must divulge the viewing habits of every user who has ever watched any video on YouTube, a US court has ruled. The ruling comes as part of Google’s legal battle with Viacom over allegations of copyright infringement.”
- Fox News: The return of yellow journalism and photoshop [Dennis Dunleavy] – Fox News photoshops images of their press critics. Dunleavy: “promulgating a use of technology that imperils journalistic standards and deceives its viewers.” [More.]
Interesting links for June 8th 2008 through June 11th 2008:
- Change Congress – NCMR keynote [Lessig Blog] – Lawrence Lessig’s keynote at the National Conference for Media Reform arguing for a mobilisation of talent to try and end (or, at least, decrease) the corruption in the US Congress.
- J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement [Harvard Magazine] – Rowling gives a really delightful and heartfelt commencement talk at Harvard, rather frankly talking about the importance and benefits of failure, hitting rock bottom, and working out what’s really important in life.
- 280 Slides – Create & Share Presentations Online – Nifty online version of powerpoint/keynote software. A lot more elaborate than Google Docs, but still a long way from Keynote or Powerpoint. A very good, simple and accessible way to do the basics. (I wonder when Google will try and buy this little startup?)
- Sex and the City: A Product-Placement Roundup [vanityfair.com] – The product placement in the Sex and the City movie makes the producers of the James Bond films look like amateurs!
The first big concern for 2008 is that the newly-elected Rudd Labor Government in Australia has introduced laws requiring across-the-board filtering of the internet by ISPs. While the plan may have some good intentions behind it, if implemented in the way currently envisaged it will almost certainly make the internet in Australia slower, make internet services more expensive and likely infringe on privacy and civil liberties of Australian net users (seriously, a PIN number of equivalent to log on to the internet – why not have just been honest and kept the Australian ID card?!).
For an overview of the changes, see Bookbuster; and for a good wrap-up of the increasingly negative media response, check out Peter Black’s solid overview here. Facebook users might want to join the Australian ISP filtering plan is stupid! or People against mandatory internet filters in Australia groups.
Update: As you might expect, the most sensible response thus far from an Australia politician to Labor’s internet censorship plan has been from Senator Andrew Bartlett:
As with every aspect of the measure, until the full details are known its impossible to judge. However, comments like Conroy’s make it much harder to be confident that the government is doing anything other than populist pandering, putting up a feel-good measure which will have no practical impact but create the illusion of doing something effective.