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2009 » January MikeFitz with overflow bit set…

Archive for January, 2009

Twitter? Seriously? Actually, Yeah!

Friday, January 30th, 2009

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You might have noticed I now have Twitter Updates in my sidebar.  Last year lots of folks who in all other respects I regarded as quite sensible, were banging on about this Twitter thing.  My thoughts on Twitter at that time, before I tried it:

  • What would I need that for?
  • Doesn’t Facebook do status updates?
  • If Facebook is blogging-lite then Twitter must be Facebook-lite. Just how low will all this go?  Smileys as status updates? :o

Then, in the quiet time between Christmas and New Year, I started playing with Twitter.  My new thoughts when I first started using Twitter:

  • If I follow everyone I know, won’t the chatter become deafening?
  • How will all this fit into the work-day world?
  • As a software developer who needs to be “in the zone” to be most productive, this is going to be way too distracting.
  • Who are all these SEO and Social Networking “experts” who are “following” me?
    I was starting to feel like the guy in Rob Cottingham’s cartoon.

Noise to Signal cartoon, Twitter

At that stage, Twitter wasn’t for me.  But then three things happened to change my mind.

1.  President Obama’s Inauguration
There must have been thousands of Twitterers in the crowd in the Mall for the inauguration.  As they updated their Twitter status, they included the #inaug09 hashtag.  Sitting at home here, watching a Twitter search for the #inaug09 hashtag, I could see all their updates flash by 10, maybe 20 times faster than I could read them all.  It gave a real sense of being there, in amongst all the excitement.

2.  A two-way conversation with the Twitterverse
One night, I twittered an idea.  Many of my followers, liked the idea and “re-tweeted” it, spreading the idea to their followers, and so on.  By being re-tweeted, the idea spread to an ever-widening circle of people I did not know.
Twitter screen capture showing re-tweets
The spread of an idea via Re-Tweeting (RT)

The idea was so popular that, for a short while, it was one of the most popular re-tweeted ideas on Twitter.
Message from ReTweetRadar
Message from ReTweetRadar

Eventually, this idea spread to people who didn’t readily agree with it - and this is the best part.  What followed was a robust two-way conversation with these folks, initially online, then via telephone and eventually in personal meetings.  The idea, and people’s positions towards it, was clarified by the use of Twitter.

3.  Twitter goes mainstream
This morning, my local ABC radio station @612brisbane announced that it is now on Twitter.  My major source of news is now on Twitter; I guess I’m now a fully-committed Twitterer, or a Tweep, or a Twit, whatever.  Follow me at @MikeFitzAU.

No Censorship after Australia Day

Friday, January 16th, 2009

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Yep, as Australia Day approaches, my three sons are organising their annual celebration of all that is good about our nation; mateship, a fair go for all, freedom and openness.  At the same time, I’m also reflecting on what type of Australia I want to leave for my children.  For the first Australia Day ever, I fear that my sons’ freedom and openness is under threat.

Australian Flag in the pool for Australia Day

Sundry Aussies in the pool!
Sundry Aussies in our pool on a previous Australia Day!

The Celebration

Australia Day has always been big at our place and this year, it’s even bigger.  #2Son will be back from Hong Kong and we might even be welcoming some brand new Aussie citizens.

The Threat

No, it’s not the world economic crisis; it’s not global terrorism; it’s something I thought I’d never see in my lifetime - the threat of censorship by our own Labor government.

Under the guise of “protecting children”, the Rudd government and particularly Senator Conroy have been working on a scheme to introduce mandatory ISP filtering of every internet connection in Australia.  It has become obvious that this plan will not protect children at all.  It is so flawed technically and legally that there is now fertile ground for conspiracy theories about censorship by stealth.  Either that, or Senator Conroy is ignoring or just doesn’t understand the advice he is being given.

  • The goverment’s own report from the ACMA1 has demonstrated how the proposed plan is ineffective and technically flawed.  Everyone in the IT industry (except, of course, the vendors of “filtering” products) can see what a wasteful and ineffective scheme this is.
  • And now a study by the prestigious Brooklyn Law School2 decries its lack of focus, transparency and accountability.
  • In an earlier post (Cancer and Colitis victims Condemn Conroy’s Censorship), I described how people like myself with particular medical conditions will be denied access to support from internet forums.
  • Earlier this week, Paul Syvret’s Courier-Mail article “Rudd’s web filter won’t work” described how … as a nation, as a vibrant and liberal democracy, we are in far more danger from a government that seeks to restrict basic freedoms and control our access to public domain material than from any net nasties.  Not the Australia I want for my children.

Parents like myself, Aussie parents everywhere must speak out against Senator Conroy’s plan to censor the internet.  If we do not, our children will inherit an Australia with an easily-manipulated and unaccountable censorship scheme in place; an Australia where my (and their) taxes are wasted on white elephants.

The Real Message

  • To all parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts of Australian children, I say “Senator Conroy’s plan is dangerous for children.  One of the proposed products will filter only 87% of unwanted websites.  This is like 87% of a pool fence; worse than no pool fence at all.  Don’t let your guard down.  If necessary, use the in-home filters which you can supervise.”
  • To the child protection groups who may be hitching their wagon to Senator Conroy’s train, I say “You are being taken for a ride.  Do not be responsible for creating an environment that places children at risk.”
  • To people looking for help with medical, social and human relationship problems, I say “Senator Conroy’s plan will block up to 1 in 12 of your legitimate websites.  If you want them unblocked, you will have to ask for it.  You will be dealing with technologists or bureaucrats, not people who understand your problem.”
  • To citizens concerned about child pornography, I say “Senator Conroy’s tens of millions of dollars will not get one paedophile one metre closer to a courtroom.  Spend the money on AFP detectives.”
  • To all Australian taxpayers, I say “Senator Conroy is wasting your taxes on something which only appears to be doing something.  Not only does it not work, it actually makes the Internet more dangerous for children.”

But the real message is this:

  • To Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, I say “when you get back to work after this Australia Day, call off Senator Conroy’s $44m+ censorship scheme.  Spend the money on the Australian Federal Police.  Secure our children’s freedom.
    Let there be No Censorship after Australia Day
    .

Do this now - before Australia Day

Get this “Censorship by Stealth” out in the open.  Talk to your family, your neighbours, shop assistants, taxi drivers about what sort of Australia you want for your children.

Mail or e-mail The Hon Kevin Rudd MP.  Tell him you want No Censorship after Australia Day.

Mail or e-mail Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy.  Tell him you don’t want your taxes wasted on this flawed censorship scheme.

Write to your local Member.  Write to each of the Senators for your state.  Tips: Be polite; Include your name and registered electoral address; Ask for an appointment to speak with them in person.  They might be in the electorate over the next two weeks.

Sign the GetUP! online petition.

———————

1. Australian Communications and Media Authority, Closed Environment Testing of ISP-Level Internet Content Filters - Report to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, June 2008. Available at http://www.acma.gov.au/WEB/STANDARD/pc=PC_311316

2. Bambauer, Derek E.,Filtering in Oz: Australia’s Foray into Internet Censorship (December 22, 2008). Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 125. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1319466. (Click the “Download” link above the abstract.)