Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Google's Project 10 to the 100

As part of their 10th anniversary celebrations, Google has launched a new initiative called Project 10 to the 100 - a unique way of soliciting the great undiscovered ideas out there. They have $10 million to spend on five ideas and have received over 100,000 submissions, some by video.

The categories are Community, Opportunity, Energy, Environment, Health, Education, Shelter and Everything else. Once Google select up to five ideas for funding, they will begin an RFP process to identify the organisation(s) and proposals to implement the selected ideas.

It is not clear how this fits with's programs but what a great way to celebrate your 10th anniversary - better than the usual corporate publication, party or video. Submissions have closed but you can still vote for the best idea.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

PM Kevin Rudd's Australia 2020 Summit

This just in from the PM's Office, how you can get involved in the 2020 Summit...PM Kevin Rudd will convene an Australia 2020 Summit to bring together some of the best brains from across the country to tackle the long term challenges confronting Australia’s future.

The Summit website has now been launched. For all the details, including how you might participate, visit:

SMH's Horin alarmist on migrants & volunteering

The SMH article by Adele Horin ‘Fewer volunteers in migrant suburbs’ (11 Feb) on a study by Ernest Healy at Monash University contains too narrow a focus on volunteering and is alarmist in its conclusion that ethnic diversity can hasten a withdrawal from "collective life."

The Healy study doesn’t capture the informal nature of help provided by migrants to friends, neighbours and their immediate community. Also, Horin fails to describe any general withdrawal or breakdown in society. Therefore Horin’s statement that the findings “challenge the notion that ethnic diversity leads to a stronger, more cohesive society” is flawed and alarmist.

I think we are doing ok with our ethnic diversity. The Dept of Immigration & Multicultural Affairs tells us “Since 1945 more than six million people have settled in Australia and in 60 years of post-war migration Australia's population has jumped from 6 million to approximately 20 million.

43 per cent of Australians were either born overseas or have at least one parent who was born overseas
Overseas born Australians come from nearly 200 countries
Some Australians have been here thousands of years
We speak over 200 languages, including Indigenous languages.”

Enough of the fear, let’s have more resources to make multiculturalism work better…and get more people volunteering.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Truth and reconciliation for Soeharto necessary for Indonesian prosperity

Former Indonesian President Soeharto is being kept alive by technology, reportedly so that he can secure a last minute pardon which would enable his children and their children to enjoy the spoils of Soeharto's New Order plunder of billions.

One lively discussion I have been having as part of general musings around "what should be done with Soeharto" has been over on Lowy's The Interpreter. The issue is soeharto's responsibility for Indonesia's version of the Killing Fields, the massacres started in October 1965 that saw probably around 500,000 people murdered mainly in Java and Bali. I could go into depth on my view of what happened but in the interests of holding your attention, skip past the next paragraph.

Or keep reading for a little 1965 there was an extremely dodgy and failed (or did it?) coup that was supposedly aimed at Soekarno and blamed on the Communist Party (PKI) who had been in a struggle with various other factions in Indonesia. The army steps in, Soeharto assumes control, and payback killings and jailings are instigated against the PKI, left wingers, Chinese and just about anyone who could have threatened Soeharto's consolidation of political and economic power. Soeharto then used the fear of communism and the PKI as a political tool during his 32 year reign, including against those who were deproved of land as part of "development projects", such as the Kedung Ombo dam. Any descendant of a former PKI member has his/her ID card stamped and is never able to get a job in government and pretty much anywhere else. Lost you yet?

Ok, let's just say that I reckon Soeharto didn't order every individual killing but he directed them and then used the killings to build and then shore up his political and economic power base. And he and his mates should be held responsible for that.

Peter McCawley's assertions are first that nobody, including Soeharto, was in charge of the country , let alone the killings, during this tumultuous period. Robert Cribb deals with that nicely here. Second, McCawley asserts that Indonesia would be wasting precious and scarce resources on an effort to instigate an Indonesian form of a truth and reconciliation commission.

McCawley's view is valid from a purely budgetary point of view. Indonesia has limited resources, much poverty and many urgent and competing interests. However we are talking about people and people don't always act in the best interests of the government's budget. When people experience awful and debilitating trauma, there must be a process for healing and acknowledgment to enable them to move on. Look at Cambodia and South Africa to see that on a grand scale. Think of it like a mental illness, which not only causes great suffering but, like any illness, holds a person back from living their fullest and most productive life.

When people get treatment for mental illness they can start to move on and return to being productive and happy members of the community. And when you do this on a national scale, it sends a message to the broader national and international community which goes something like this..."you can trust us, we are gunna protect you. If someone abuses that trust, we are gunna make it right." People need to feel that security, it's just human.

I agree that any truth and reconciliation process has to be Indonesian-led and run. It shouldn't suffer interference like the important effort by the Cambodians. Yes, there will be a need for donor funds and other assistance, something that our AusAID and and universities could show leadership on. I think the forum started by Ilham Aidit, Amelia Yani and others shows how important this issue is to Indonesians. By satisfying their needs for truth and reconciliation, Indonesia's prosperity will be more secure.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Australia's greatest political, foreign policy and cultural crisis? Where are you PM Rudd?

Australia is facing what is fast becoming our greatest ever political, foreign policy and cultural crisis and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is nowhere to be found. Bigger than the dismissal of PM Whitlam in 1975, bigger than Pauline Hanson, bigger than Tampa...of course I am referring to the aftermath of the 2nd cricket test between Australia and India.

Having been back in the country for a month, I have been waiting for the right moment to reactivate this blog. This appears to be it.

The situation is simple: India and Australia played one of the most exciting tests in memory, if not history. There were some very dodgy umpiring decisions. Indians and Australians are obsessed with cricket. The modern game is very, very competitive and huge bucks are at stake. Men's egos are especially fragile when you combine these factors and given the stress, it was a tinderbox waiting for a match.

Now I love cricket as much as any Australian (and almost as much as any Indian) but the reality is - GET A LIFE!!! Do we really have nothing better to do than overanalyse what the behaviour of some emotional men means for the characters of Australia and India? I dunno, maybe we could spend this time on HIV/AIDS, I.T., climate change, education, trade liberalisation...

If you think I am going too far then a few facts for you:

* Almost every news site has articles and 100s of comments ranging from the mild to the obscene;
* Peter Roebuck's article is the SMH's most read article today;
* Prominent political and foreign policy blogs, such as Larvatus Prodeo, Catallaxy and Lowy's The Interpreter, have weighed in;
* Politicians are weighing in, eg the Democrat Senator Andrew Bartlett and Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson. I am surprised I haven't received an email from GetUp!;
* People are analysing the financial impact almost as if it were a market crash.

It is very clear that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's holiday absence has led to a general breakdown in Australia and our international reputation, our social fabric is being torn apart by petty rivalries and bruised egos. Have a strong cup of tea and get back to the office, PM! Your country (and the Kevolution) needs you!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

This blog and I are on holiday

I will take a break from this blog for a while to go on a much anticipated round-the-world trip.

If you would like to keep in touch, my blog for the trip is nick chasing the sunrise.

I hope to see you somewhere on the road or just drop by the blog.

Online social communities and the office

Australia’s affinity with online social communities is clear from the popularity of sites such as ninemsn, Yahoo!7, MySpace and And now it is clear that more than half of us are also embracing social communities and tools in our workplaces for better learning and knowledge management.

A new survey from the Australian Flexible Learning Framework shows that blogs, wikis and virtual conferencing are being used by over half the respondents (59%, 58%, and 57% respectively) to share knowledge with colleagues and others. The next question to answer is what impact this is having on productivity.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Top 100 Australian blogs

A blogger called Meg has compiled a list of the top 100 Australian blogs. Not yet sure about the metrics but a good way to get into some great new blogs:

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Young people see privacy differently

The Australian Law Reform Commission has confirmed that young people have a different perspective on privacy and that this is mostly driven by technology. Growing up with YouTube, MySpace and other online communities where identities are both hidden and exposed has changed how young people view privacy.

The ALRC’s research included setting up a very cool website for feedback and a series of youth workshops. ALRC President Professor David Weisbrot said the issue that has raised the most concern in workshops is the way in which personal health information is handled.

In The Australian, Christopher Scanlon was critical of the limited opposition to the proposed human services Access Card, saying it showed a collapse of the value of privacy. I reckon that privacy is still highly valued but that, up to a point, people are prepared to trade it for better services.