Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Minister Hockey: Access Card like an iPod

The Federal Minister for Human Services, Joe Hockey, has compared the highly anticipated Access Card to an iPod. In his address to the National Press Club today the Minister said that a third of the card’s storage capacity would be in the hands of the individual and could be accessed and used to store information, such as blood type and emergency contact details. The Minister also responded to the report of the Consumer and Privacy Taskforce headed by Professor Allan Fels, including by not accepting its recommendations that the card remove a person’s signature and card number. Some groups claim the card could be used as an ID card and lobbied strongly for these to be removed, along with a person’s birth date. The smart card will consolidate 17 social services cards, including Medicare and Centrelink. The Government proposes to gradually introduce the card from 2008.

Vote early and vote informed

TinkN FICCL bout d election? Dun wnt 2 vote? DEGT. U cld b cryN ovr d rEzlt on election nyt. T+ & vote.*

What does this mean? With NSW and federal elections coming up, political parties are grappling with how to win that floating group of voters, especially young people aged 18-25 years. Increasingly technology is providing the answers on how to engage this group that usually switches off when it comes to voting issues. So how to switch them on? The Daily Telegraph had a great piece on using technology and youth friendly language to get the Generation Y vote. Professor Phil Harris, head of marketing at the University of Otago and former Vice Chairman of the Liberal Party in the UK reckons that text messaging and other mobile content is the way to go. I wonder if Australian political parties will be as switched on to this new reality.

* Thinking, "Frankly, I couldn't care less" about the election?" Don't want to vote? Don't even go there. You could be crying over the result on election night. Think positive and vote.

Australians see change on government services

Australian providers of public services are starting to get the message that consumers need easy and accessible ways to use these services. The Access Card, which will replace 17 health and social services cards, is one response, with the AFR reporting that the first implementation tenders are due to be announced in the coming weeks. Also, I have it on good authority that the plan to enable you to use Medicare cards in EFTPOS machines will become a reality as soon as mid-2007. This means your Medicare claim gets credited directly to your account so you don’t need to go into a branch. Hopefully more public services will follow the digital path, especially given the increasing consumer demand. Computerworld reports that the percentage of users accessing government services via the Internet has risen from 39 percent in 2004-05 to 48 percent in 2006. The trick for governments will be to balance privacy concerns with the efficient provision of public services.

See change on climate change

Climate change is one the hottest topics at the moment and the public reaction shows the what technology has to offer to those engaging on issues. From sharp news commentaries on drought by Online Opinion to witty videos, such as this one on NSW coal projects on YouTube. Also check out GetUp!’s latest Climate Action Now with its suite of options for involvement. Online communities are helping push the debate and I am sure that bloggers will keenly track the seemingly inevitable backflip on climate change from Australian Government. One to watch will be the online community’s tracking of the backflip on our involvement in Iraq. Now that will be to literally see change.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Gaming for change

Getting your message across is like getting Australia's Murray-Darling River to flow – there are so many competing issues across many organisations and media. To cut through, advocacy groups are turning to online games. Mcvideogame was created to show all of McDonald’s alleged dirty secrets – the game includes taking the cows to slaughter and force feeding them GM foods. Disaffected! puts the player in the role of employees forced to serve customers under the dire circumstances apparently common to a Kinko’s copy store. Australia has the awful ability to boast one of the first racist online games, called Cronulla First, promoted by the fascist Australia First Party. What will be next? Maybe “Dodge the Drought”, where city slickers can save their virtual farm. Or maybe “Boiler Suit Larry” where Australians race to dig up and export precious metals and minerals from around the country to keep the economy on track. Game play can be a good way to help people understand the complexities of economic and social systems so no doubt there is more to come.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Do the proposed media laws matter?

All Australian media have been busy with discussions on proposed media laws currently before the Senate. The role of technology has been widely discussed, with two major streams of argument. The first says that the laws should not be passed as this will lead to a concentration of media, especially in rural and regional areas according to the Nationals. This argument also says that traditional media giants will come to dominate online media, pointing to News Corporation’s purchase of MySpace for US$580 million. A second line of argument says that technology will drive new forms of media, eg. Internet TV, and new business models that will disrupt the dominance of traditional media and quickly make obsolete these proposed laws. Google’s purchase of YouTube for US$1.67 billion is a strong sign of things to come. It is safe to say we will see a bit of both, with consolidation probably inevitable, especially globally, and the role of technology becoming more significant.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Emerging technologies can strengthen public policy

Consumer based digital influence campaigns show that emerging technologies can strengthen public policy by enabling greater scrutiny and participation. To highlight just a few: voting closes this week for the 2006 Children's TV Food Advertising Awards run by the The Parents Jury and Choice Magazine is asking parents to submit names of food products for review. From another angle, McDonalds’ has launched ‘Makeupyourownmind’ to respond to allegations against the company, such as dubious meat production, poor working conditions, environmental impact and marketing to children. Many have been critical, The Age said the move was driven by the release of the film Fast Food Nation and the visit to Australia by its writer, Eric Schlosser. As the ABC points out, marketing through the Internet is much harder to regulate, however bloggers love a fight and with this latest digital move McDonalds certainly has given them one.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Youf: how the hell do we reach them?

What do Governments share with companies and parents that is a joy when it works and incredibly frustrating when it doesn’t? It’s communicating with youth, a.k.a. ‘young Australians’ or even ‘youf’ and we have come across some interesting efforts. One approach is to create your own online presence – such as these for youth generally, rural youth, young business or specific issues such as mental health. Another is to go to where the wild things are by setting up in MySpace or other online community, as adidas and Oxfam have done. Both ways have their strengths – creating your own gives you control yet jumping into the world of youth can bring more credibility. As Dave Barry said, “I care about our young people, and I wish them great success, because they are our Hope for the Future, and some day, when my generation retires, they will have to pay us trillions of dollars in social security.”

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Government Accountability, Free Speech and Voluntary Euthanasia

Is the Internet undermining our institutions of accountability or just highlighting how irrelevant they have become? Recently the South Australian Parliament took the unprecedented step of erasing from the official Hansard record a speech by Democrat Sandra Kanck on euthanasia where she outlined ways people have taken their own lives. The speech was described by Premier Mike Rann as “shameful” as it could encourage people to take their own lives, a line supported by the federal Suicide Material Related Offences Act and Sane Australia. Kanck defended her actions as being in the best interests of “fundamental human rights – the right to free speech and the right to die with dignity” with the ban undermining the institution of parliamentary privilege. Of course, the speech has attracted attention all over the Net, with an NZ website posting the speech in full, and the ban has only drawn more attention to its contents.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Queensland election gets the digital touch

The Queensland state election has been a pretty one-sided affair so far and thus rather boring but one interesting angle has been the role of digital influence. Two interesting things I have been able to find so far are a brilliant video taking the proverbial out of Peter Beattie on YouTube, including by pasting his head on the body of an S&M dominatrix. Who said politics was boring. Also, the Queensland National Party candidate for the seat of Toowoomba North, Lyle Shelton has started a blog, championed by the master blogger Senator Andrew Bartlett of the Democrat Party. Bring it on, let’s see more state and federal pollies getting in on the digital influence act. Any more out there?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Is Sunrise's Mel scared about that online stuff?

The co-anchor of Channel 7’s popular Sunrise program, Melissa Doyle, has repeatedly emphasised her ignorance of digital influence. Mel did a story on a Tasmanian teenager who featured on a video website, had her computer hacked and her privacy invaded. Mel’s comments were about how she didn’t really know about that online stuff. The Director of Sunrise, Ken Moore, when asked what was on his ipod said, “I don’t own one, I love my cd collection.” No problem on its own, yet these people are at the forefront of media in Australia. This is also a concern when you consider that Channel 7 is part of the Yahoo! group, one of the world’s biggest online companies.

Yes, Minister Downer

Even Australia’s beloved Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer is struggling with digital influence. The Australian reported that the International Committee of the Red Cross has criticised Minister Downer for relying on an unchecked internet blog to justify claims that an Israeli bombing of an ambulance was a Lebanese hoax. Minister Downer accused the ICRC and some of the world's most respected media, including Time magazine and The New York Times, of falling for the hoax.

What is Enderverse?

Hi everyone

Having just returned from 5-6 years based in Asia, I have spent the past months reconnecting with Australia. This included catching up with family and friends, a new job with Parker & Partners and catching up on all things public policy and political. Given my dearly beloved remained behind in Jakarta finishing her work to enable access to justice for the poor, I decided to build a blog.

In our world of internet, mobile devices, MySpace, speeds, feeds and more, many are struggling to understand what the hell these blogs are. But being proud of your ignorance of the digital world is like telling racist jokes because you think you are bucking political correctness. C’mon, everyone is still learning, so just jump in and get started or get left behind! I hope this small blog will help you unearth a bit more about growing space of digital influence on attitudes, behaviours and policies.

All of us are trying to come to terms with the impact of digital influence and realise they need to know more about it. One way to do this is to check out this short video called ‘Citizen Journalism: From Pamphlet to Blog’. It will give you an overview of some key digital influence trends.

I penned (yes not typed) a rough definition of digital influence on the back of an envelope on the plane the other day - let me know what you think..."Digital influence is the individual and collective power of electronic, mobile and virtual sources of influence that change attitudes, behaviours and policies". Treat that as a work in progress.

I will update this blog on average every week so if you would like to get the latest updates directly on your email then please subscribe to the list. Please pass this on to anyone you think might be interested.

f you have something to share on digital influence, please let me