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.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Neither party convincing on Australia's broadband solutions

Australia’s Minister for Communications, IT and the Arts, Helen Coonan, has used her Communications Day Summit address to condemn the ALP’s broadband proposal to provide 98% of Australians with a minimum speed of 12 megabits per second for a total cost of $8 billion. Minister Coonan repeated the usual positions on the Government’s role in infrastructure development, reduced regulatory barriers to competition, incentives to private sector and market failure in rural and regional areas.

I agree with Stuart Corner at ITWire that Minister Coonan provided no new detail on solutions to pressing issues such as who would build the network and how access would be made available. Neither party has come up with much detail on their policies or on regulatory reform and both have a lot of work to do before the election to convince industry and the broader community of their IT credentials.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

ALP Fair For Families campaign

The Federal Opposition continues the militarisation of cyberspace. Julia Gillard, the Shadow Deputy Leader and Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations has set up a website here for people to register their objections to the Government’s WorkChoices legislation. The announcement comes 12 months after the introduction of the WorkChoices legislation and I have no doubt that the public input will feed Opposition campaigns. With a new Forrester report saying that 79 per cent of Australians are actively using the Internet, this is a sound strategy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Australia's ABC buys an island in Second Life

Australia's ABC has bought an island as part of a new R&D venture. You may ask how the ABC can afford to do this with taxpayer dollars. Don't worry, the island exists in Second Life, the virtual world of three million people run by Linden Lab – with its own currency and opportunities for social and financial interaction.

The move by the ABC's innovation division involves New Media manager Abigail Thomas assuming a virtual identity, or avatar, on Second Life as Abi Goldflake. The ABC’s island will feature streamed local content, exclusive events and other activities. Total business done on Second Life is estimated at $840,000 a day with the overall 2007 GDP estimated to be between US$500 and $600 million. Second Life has faced issues around child pornography and legality of business deals but virtual worlds are one of the fastest growing areas of the Internet.

Interestingly, a recent ABCTV Four Corners program on virtual communities did not mention the ABC’s purchase of the island in Second Life. When I spoke to Four Corners, they advised that production of the program was commissioned well in advance of the SL island purchase. Is this just an omission or a sign of healthy commercial nous in the new business areas of our ABC?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Minister Santo Santoro resigns: another one bites the dust

The Minister for Ageing, Senator Santo Santoro, announced his resignation from the Howard Ministry at a doorstop interview in Canberra today. Senator Santoro cited his misreporting of the ownership and sale of shares in biotec company, CBio, as the reason.

There was no mention of his donation of the proceeds to the charity, Family Council of Queensland, Inc. As Tim Dunlop and many others say, it isn’t a charity. It’s a rightwing lobby group whose associate director, Alan Baker, just happened to be the person who offered Santoro the shares in the first place.

Aged care is an increasingly hot issue, especially for baby boomers, so the choice for Santoro's replacement will be critical to Howard and the coming election.

Is this is a bad case of boomerang shaped mud?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Garuda Yogya crash: memorials & Morgan Mellish blog

This week has seen the return to Australia of the remains of the Australians killed in last week's crash. The familes must have been through hell. I even felt for Minister Downer as he visibly struggled to cope with the loss of people who were either working for him or covering his visit.

This Friday I will attend the AusAID memorial service for Allison Sudrajat to be held in the Great Hall at Parliament House. I only knew her from work at AusAID and from the Indophile crowd but I am going to show support for her family and friends and for the many AusAIDers and others who have been affected. The crash could have taken so many more lives and sometimes you should mark the occasion when people who move in and out of your life are lost - and appreciate the privilege and sacrifice of these jobs.

For a wonderful record of the love and respect for these people, check out the blog set up in memory of Morgan Mellish.

Double Australia's population or perish

I used to claim that Australia needed to double its population if we are to survive, compete and thrive in our region. Now I have found a guy who actually can back up the population expansion claim with a pretty sensible argument.

Check out the podcast and speech by Philippe (Blue) Legrain from his recent address to the Sydney Ideas Forum.

It’s time Australia regained its Good International Citizenship

Something to warm the soul and fire the heart...

"After a decade long deterioration in Australia’s international reputation, it’s time Australia regained its Good International Citizenship..."

Bring it on...for the complete speech, find it here.

- Robert McClelland, Alternative Foreign Minister, Lowy Institute, 14 March 2007 -

Australian IT innovation and embarassment

Last night the winners of the Secrets of Australian ICT Innovation competition were announced by Helen Coonan, Minister for Communications, Information and the Arts. The Minister’s announcement comes at a time of increased pressure around community level ICT issues, such as broadband access. The Australian reports that many small businesses outside the big cities and in remote areas are anxiously waiting for the federal Government to reveal its revised rural broadband subsidy scheme, which will influence the success or failure of their businesses.

I have heard that while Stephen Conroy, the Shadow Minister for Communications and Information Technology, has not yet provided a title for his speech next week to the National Press Club, it is said that broadband issues will be a major part of it.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Australian Democrats: Stop the Access Card now campaign site

The power of the 'puter just keeps on growing. The Australian Democrats have announced their passionate embracing of modern technology to boost their campaign against the Government’s proposed Access Card. The announcement said that the Stop the Access Card now campaign site features an e-petition; downloadable flyer and poster; and a range of relevant links.

The next bit is what caught my eye. It says "Democrats’ Privacy spokesperson, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, was one of the first politicians to have an email address and a website, and was the first to table an e-petition." I assume she means Australian, oh and federal, politicians. Does anyone know whether this is true?

Kelvin Thomson, Australia's Alternative Attorney-General forced to resign

Kelvin Thomson, Australia's Alternative Attorney-General, has resigned after it was revealed that he provided a letter of reference for Tony Mokbel, a drug king who is on the run, when Mokbel was applying for a liquor licence in 2000.

As Tim Dunlop points out, one of many weird things is "Mr Thomson said he did not know Mokbel and had not even heard of him at the time, but his office provided the reference as a matter of course, based on information given to them that Mokbel had no criminal record over the previous eight years." How many MPs provide references as a matter of course? I am sure there is more to come.

Australia: the global citizen returns

It's the ALP's foreign policy message month. A couple of crackers from Australia's Alternative Prime Minister and Alternative Foreign Minister on our place in the world.

Alternative PM Kevin Rudd in a speech to the Global Foundation in Melbourne today: "We should not fulfil our citizenship of the world by sending just arms to fight, but rather sending aid to foster growth and development, and extend the hand of friendship. We should be a more proactive supporter of debt relief and coupling aid funds with social, economic and institutional reforms. We should also be looking at the underlying causes of poverty."

Alternative FM Robert McClelland: on 14 March at the Lowy Institute, in his first major speech as Shadow Foreign Minister, Mr McClelland will discuss Labor's determination to regain Australia's reputation as a good international citizen. He argues that over the last decade Australia's international reputation has declined as the Howard Government has moved away from multilateralism and has failed to effectively address the issue of weak states in our region. Mr McClelland will argue that a new focus on good international citizenship would further the national interest.

"Government is a place where people come together." (PJB, WW S1 E12)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Eddie Perfect: Gay people shouldn't get married

I was a bit on the fence when it comes to gay marriage until I saw this Eddie Perfect video posted on Club Troppo. How could I have been so naive? Of course gay people shouldn't get married. For the Family First fans ;)

Jimmy Wales to visit Australia: do you know what Wikipedia says about you?

In potentially one of the most exciting new media visits, the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, will visit Australia next month. Wikipedia is the world’s largest online encyclopaedia. According to itself, Wikipedia is operated by the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organisation supported by donations, and has over six million articles in 250 languages, including 1.6 million in the English edition. It is the 12th most visited website in the world and the 10th in Australia and often appears in the top five entries in Google searches. Wikipedia is produced collaboratively by volunteers and its articles can be edited by anyone with access. But many have raised concerns about accuracy, credibility, control, fraud, vandalism and bias - one example is the recent scandal involving the fabricated identity of a Wikipedia editor.

For any individual or organisation seeking to explore online communities and their perceptions, Wikipedia is a great place to start. Do you know what Wikipedia says about you?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

PM announces Australian Broadband Guarantee

The Prime Minister has just announced the Australian Broadband Guarantee, to ensure that all Australians have affordable access to a high-quality Internet connection. Under the ABG, the Government will commit $163 million to provide subsidised Internet access for Australians currently unable to gain a reasonable access to broadband service in their home or small business. According to the Alternative Minister for Communications & Information Technology, Stephen Conroy, the Broadband Guarantee is doomed to disappoint because it fails to deliver the serious investment desperately needed in the sector.

In the (NSW) Liberals - starring Peter Debnam

On a lighter note, here is a cracker video on Peter Debnam and the NSW Liberals - made by the National Union of Workers (NSW Branch), .

Crashed Garuda flight GA200 in Indonesia

What a devastating day, another plane has crashed in Indonesia - this time Garuda flight GA 200 from Jakarta to Yogyakarta in Central Java. Garuda has stated that 22 people, including one crew member, had died, while 118 other passengers and crew escaped. This is more bad news for Indonesia after a recent spate of crashes. There is no sign yet of sabotage.

A list of Indonesians on the flight who have been accounted for can be found in various places on Detik while a list of Australians can be found here and here. While I only knew some of the victims from living in Jakarta, I really feel for their friends and loved ones. I can't help but think that it could so easily have been many other people we lived and worked with on the plane. I feel so far away.

Official reports are still sketchy but included in the group of Australians now known to have perished in the crash are Allison Sudrajat (Minister-Counsellor and Head of AusAID Indonesia), Morgan Mellish (AFR and Walkley award winner) and Australian Federal Police officers Brice Steele and Mark Scott. Liz O'Neill (Australian embassy spokesperson and winner of Medal in the Order of Australia) has not yet been identified but is presumed dead. In The Age there is a reference to Minister Downer's confirmation that "an additional Australian on the plane had walked away from the crash uninjured. He said the man, a dual Italian and Australian national, had phoned a friend who confirmed his survival to Australian authorities in Indonesia."

DFAT has set up a Consular Response Centre. The DFAT Hotline is 1800 00 22 14 and the Consular Emergency Centre is 1800 002 214.

Semoga semua teman dan keluarganya aman. Saya mengucapkan belangsungkawa yang sedalam-dalamnya kepada keluarga korban.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

East Timor: Should Australia tackle poverty or governance? Or perhaps leadership?

The recent unrest in East Timor has sparked much discussion about the importance of security and governance. Recently, Susan Cirillo, an honours graduate in Politics and International Relations from the University of New South Wales has produced a discussion paper based on her thesis, 'Australia's governance aid: Evaluating evolving norms and objectives'.

What caught my attention is her hypothesis "that the ‘good governance’ agenda has been articulated by AusAID [which manages the Australian Government aid program] in a way that claims to facilitate the aid program’s binary function; promoting development in recipient countries whilst simultaneously serving the Australian interest. Australia has harnessed the aid program’s governance agenda to provide a ‘whole-of-government’ approach to pursuing Australia’s security and trade interests."

Cirillo also says that "Hence, the argument is that Australia’s ‘good governance’ agenda is primarily shaped by Australia’s foreign policy imperatives. Reciprocally, projects which seek to enhance Australia’s regional security and the proliferation of economic liberalisation amongst current and potential trading partners are justified under the rubric of ‘good governance’."

Cirillo adds that "AusAID exemplifies a liberal conception of democracy given its emphasis on the procedural elements of democracy, rather than the substantive social elements of democracy."

One of Cirillo's most interesting conclusions is that "Australia primarily understands governance in terms of strengthening the state to guard against security threats and maintaining order, rather than focusing on the broader aspects of democratic, accounatable (sic) and equitable development." Although I think that good governance has a important role to play (especially given questions around aid effectiveness), I tend to agree with the security analysis and would point to the $27 million being spent every year on a detention centre in Nauru as a example of this shift.

Most of the young men in East Timorese gangs don't have jobs, they are excluded from the justice and political systems and they face a very uncertain future. Rather than just keep on sending in the troops, we need to look more closely at the underlying causes for the violence - poverty and injustice.

It would be great if we could put the aid emphasis squarely back on reducing absolute poverty, the kind of gut-wrenching, filthy, humiliating poverty that affects more than 1.1 billion people around the world. Our Asia-Pacific region alone accounts for 70 per cent of the world's poor people. But for that we need more political will, public support and funds. This year in East Timor alone, Australia will only spend $43.6 million in aid compared to $332.2 million for PNG and $344.3 for Indonesia.

As a start, the ratio of Australia's total Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to Gross National Income (GNI) for 2005-06 is estimated at 0.28 per cent. PM Howard committed to increasing Australia's aid to $4 billion by 2010 - however estimates are this will be only 0.36% of GNI and will leave Australia ranked 18th out of 22 wealthy OECD nations. Let's commit to the international target of 0.7% of GNI by 2015 - the target date for the Millennium Development Goals. That will send a strong message about how serious we are about tackling poverty. Now that would really be in our national interest...and East Timor's.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Minister Ian Campbell resigns: WA Inc - PM Howard mops up the stain

I have said before that if the meetings with "disgraced" former WA premier Brian Burke are the worst thing that the Coalition can find out about Kevin Rudd then the Coalition government will find it harder than expected to win the next election.

But now the infamous WA Inc stain has spread to the Howard government. The newly appointed Minister for Human Services, Ian Campbell, has reportedly resigned. Why? Because he met with Burke and members of the WA Turf Club. According to Catallaxy this has led to opppositon leader Kevin Rudd calling for an early election.

As Ken L said on Surfdom, the point is that neither Burke nor his associates have actually been accused of doing anything wrong other than having the meetings.

Where will this witch hunt end and discussion on real policy issues recommence? Probably in the place where I should be at this hour - my dreams.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Howard vs McKew: we love a bit of biffo

We all love a bit of biffo, here is a brilliant Nicholson perspective on PM Howard vs the ALP's star recruit, Maxine McKew, for the seat of Bennelong in Sydney's lower North Shore.

Important Australian values website

This site rocks. I discovered it tonight when trying to explain to an Indonesian friend how difficult it is to get into Australia.

This shows exactly how ridiculous the Australian values debate has become. If you Google 'Australian Values test' this is what you get in the top three hits - imagine how many people think it is real and even if most don't, it shows that the so-called citizenship test is painfully embarassing. Enjoy

Friday, March 02, 2007

The growing militarisation of cyberspace

The online campaigns of the major Australian political parties are hotting up. Patricia Karvelas in The Australian is the latest to cover the battle growing in cyberspace. Karvelas describes a political onslaught over the internet under a massive increase in online campaigning planned by Labor and the Coalition. She also reminds us that political parties are exempt from anti-spam legislation prohibiting unsolicited emails. I maintain that this election will be the first genuinely contested in the reaches of cyberspace, especially through blogs and online campaign sites. But it would be a surprise for us to see John Howard blog on his thoughts and policies anytime soon.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Expertocracy - a new political system for Australia

I just spent a few days on the farm with my partner's family, who have a property of several thousand acres in a place called Bute, around 140km north of Adelaide, South Australia. Heard of Snowtown? Yup, the bodies in the barrels in the bank vault - near there.

This was my second trip but this time I learned a lot more about how agrarian socialism works in Australia. If I told my partner's family that they would probably stare blankly at me for lefty is a dirty word in Bute. But the interdependence of the families in the area amazed me - the impact each person had on the next. Something city slickers just cannot understand and proof to me why a simplistic approach as let the market rule just won't work.

Maybe it was learning about the young farmer who inherited his land and didn't spray his weeds which were jumping the fence into the neighbour's paddock. Or the people who lived up the road who weren't taking their turn to drive the kids to meet the school bus. Especially the Bute pub which has a new lecherous owner who locks everyone in after 2am and let's them drink until dawn and beyond - bringing despair for poor families at home and worry to parents of local girls working there. Or the experienced farmer who dug up a neighbour's water pipe to discover a water restricter that was put there in the 70s and by removing it saved much in time and dollars. Especially the devastation of the community caused by the fire at the abattoir. Naturally the understanding (yes) of the role of immigrants. And the sheep farmer dependent on the efficient farmer's best stubs of the new harvest to graze his flock. And the terrible roads, internet and mobile phone networks and so much more.

Naturally talk turned to water and climate change, a given in a place where the whole town stood still when the weather came on for a full ten minutes (in my house it was The Bill). The news mentioned the new $10 billion deal for the Federal Government to take control of the Murray-Darling basin system. Some in Bute said the idea of an expert commission was a good one, that the science should dictate the way to manage water, not the politics.

One went further and even suggested that the idea should be applied to our political system. Instead of politicians being elected to parliaments, representatives of key groups would be elected by their members for a six year term (and no more). To get elected in this system of Expertocracy, you have to be a member of a registered, member based organisation, eg the farmers, miners, steelworkers, doctors etc, the people that know how to run the country, he said. The parliament then elects the executive. And why not? Maybe we could use Germain's Generalized Expertise Measure (GEM) to set the standard? At least food for thought.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Australian Conservation Foundation likes coal

Tonight I met David Noonan, a nuclear free campaigner with the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF). He told me a very interesting thing about the ACF's energy policy. The ACF disagrees with The Greens' position that the coal industry should be shut down by government due to its huge carbon footprint. The ACF believes that a national emissions trading scheme should be introduced and that coal should have to compete in that system like every other industry. For more detail, check out the ACF climate change policy here.

Their key points on why the ACF are against new uranium mines are as follows:
  • Uranium fails the test on exports and on public opinion;
  • Uranium is a high risk marginal export compared to the future of renewables;
  • Increasing the risk of proliferation of nuclear weapons and of nuclear terrorism;
  • Disproportionate impacts on indigenous communities;
  • Failure of government regulation and corporate performance; and
  • Pressure for nuclear waste dumping increases on Australia.
Again, for the stats and detail to back it up - go to the ACF site on a nuclear free Australia.

Why I joined the ALP

Today I joined the ALP. Ok to be exact, tonight I went to my first meeting of the Telopea sub-branch of the Australian Capital Territory branch of the Australian Labor Party - I am still waiting for the membership paperwork to clear. I could go into a whole range of detail on my views on the various political issues but if I could sum up in a sentence or two why I joined the ALP, it would be this:

I want to be a part of a movement to invest in our community and build a bright future - economically, socially and environmentally. Given that I am an Australian and in Australia I think I should start here. I think the ALP is the best vehicle to do that and that Kevin Rudd would be the best leader for that movement. The ALP is not perfect and we don't have all the answers yet but I believe that sooner or later you have to stop firing your slingshot from behind the bushes.

"Government is a place where people come together." (PJB, WW S1 E12)

Enough said on that for now, back to the sandpit.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Internet advertising spend has overtaken radio, magazine and outdoor

Today’s The Age features the long anticipated report that Australia’s Internet advertising spend has overtaken radio, magazine and outdoor in terms of revenue earned and now sits behind television and newspapers. Revenue from Internet advertising grew 61.5% in 2006 to break through the A$1 billion mark and more than doubled over the previous two years, according to the Audit Bureau of Verification Services in its annual report.

According to The Age’s Graeme Philipson, one important aspect of Internet advertising is that its audience is much easier to measure. Television is maintaining its share of the advertising pie, but print is declining and I agree with Philipson that when more money is being spent online than in magazines, you know the world has changed.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Do you camp? Then you must try BarCamp-ing

Usually camping conjures up images of tents, lilos, bush, fires, mosquitoes, knots, nature, badges, stars etc and for some of us this brings back warm and fuzzy memories. For others it is the very worst idea of a good time. Thankfully I am one of the former but recently I have worried about the social acceptability of wanting access to my precious devices, or not finding enough like minded people with whom I could argue about the world and solve its problems.

Thankfully, some smart cookies have come up with a concept that solves both my problems - the BarCamp. According to them, a BarCamp is an "ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from participants." You should also be handy with a laptop and expect access to hotspots.

Participants (no voyeurs, you have to jump in) give a demo, a session, or help with one, or otherwise contribute in some way to support the event. All presentations are scheduled the day they happen. You must prepare in advance, but they say come early to register your slot on the wall. The people at the event will select the demos or presentations they want to see. Presenters are responsible for making sure that their notes/slides/audio/video are published on the web for the benefit of all. People are, and have held BarCamps all over the world, from BarCampTokyo , BarCampMexico, FutureCamp Seoul, PodCampWest San Francisco and many others.

I like this concept so much that I have to tell you that the first ever BarCampAustralia will be held from 3-4 March 2007. The event is in the early stages of planning, but it is decided that there will be at least four locations (check out BarCampAdelaide, BarCampMelbourne, BarCampSydney and BarCampCanberra) with the possibility of more (see BarCampPerth). Sponsors and venues are still being sought.

I might see you there.

Has the Howard Government finally jumped the shark?

Dan (be nice to one another) alerted me to the fantastic concept of "jumping the shark". In an episode of the TV series Happy Days, the character Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli jumps over a shark while waterskiing (still wearing his black leather jacket). This moment has been defined as "jumping the shark". Its creators describe it as 'the defining moment when you know that your favorite television program has reached its peak. That instant that you know from now's all downhill.'

Has PM John Howard and his Coalition government finally jumped the shark? It seems Malcolm MacKerras thinks he has, while Club Troppo appears less convinced. If Howard has jumped the shark, what was the defining moment? Was it Howard's attack on US Senator Barack Obama? Or perhaps the promise of 70 additional troops (advisers) for Iraq?

PM John Howard: where is your blog?

David Cameron, the UK's Tory leader, has started a blog. As the FT writer, Gideon Rachman, points out, when the world's least fashionable political party discovers a social trend, it is surely a sign that it is peaking. Ferenc Gyurcsany, Prime Minister of Hungary, posts new comments on his blog most days - sometimes twice a day. Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, President of Iran, has a blog. Of course Hillary Clinton has a blog. Segolene Royal, the French Socialist party nominee for president, has a blog. Lionel Jospin, former French PM and one time aspiring presidential candidate, has a blog. As pointed out to me by GoodToBeWithYou, Australia's alternative PM, (and now our preferred PM according to the latest Newspoll), Kevin Rudd, already has a blog.

So where is our John Howard? Is he going to be the last world leader to dive into the blogosphere? Or maybe he just doesn't have the ticker?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

2006 Hitwise Online Performance Award for Australian political websites

On Line Opinion has taken out the 2006 Hitwise Online Performance Award for Australian political websites. On Line Opinion beat all the major political party sites and reached 100,000 unique visitors a month. As pointed out on Larvatus Prodeo, this is hardly a challenge, "in contrast to both the US and the UK, Australian netcampaigning is stuck somewhere in Web 1.0 – most political party sites either being an archive of press releases, or tedious pseudo-blogs with no opportunity for citizen engagement."

Interestingly, this award is not based on the opinion of a small number of industry luminaries rather it is given for verifiable traffic. Hitwise states that their results are audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers. On Line Opinion is published by Graham Young under the ownership of The National Forum, which describes itself as a virtual town square designed to provide free democratic space on the web for citizens, and shop fronts for institutions.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

GetUp! fires up on David Hicks and more...

Also, GetUp! continues to fire imaginations, this week helping drive the David Hicks campaign back onto TV and the front page through coordinated protest actions. I expect we will see more from GetUp! as the election approaches – the question will be whether they choose issues that are relevant enough to mainstream voters to trigger action. Recently GetUp! joined with other online political campaigners to form, a global online political campaign community.

Water allocations to be traded on eBay?

The digital realm has also been saturated with talk on water and climate change, especially around a new water trading system. One suggestion by the Wentworth Group’s economist Mike Young has been for household water to be traded on eBay. Young’s position is that only when a real price is put on water will people take action. I think eBay could also be used for carbon credit trading, enabling access by all sectors of the community.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Gates: The revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be televised. That’s the prediction made by Microsoft’s Bill Gates at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, with traditional TV to become obsolete in just five years. Established trends towards the Internet, including the rise of Goggle’s YouTube, could be the end of the box as we know it. We will know doubt see a concerted effort in Australia, especially by the free-to-air stations, to protect their turf but sooner or later they will see the writing is on the wall…or more likely on the chat site.

Nairn: Australians to blog with ministers & bureaucrats

Australians could soon be able to blog with ministers and bureaucrats as the Government pushes ahead with new ways to interact with government, including accessing services and influencing policy. According to Special Minister of State, Gary Nairn, at the Information Online 2007 conference in Sydney, social networking and interactivity, such as blogs and podcasts, are key trends driving how governments deal with citizens. However, his description of some parts of the online community as “whackos” may ruffle some feathers.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

2007 federal election in Australia - will we see change?

For those Australians returning from Mars, 2007 is a federal election year for Australia. Most commentators are predicting an October election although some Liberal Party insiders are increasingly suggesting the unusual step of a winter election in July or August.

And we are not alone – this year there are elections in Argentina, Bangladesh, France, Kenya, Pakistan, PNG, Timor Leste and many others. In Australia, the Coalition will face the new ALP leadership team of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. The ALP will try to push industrial relations as a key issue, particularly the fear around the Government’s Work Choices changes. But with unemployment at record lows (4.6%), it will be harder to sell this fear. More feared is the “other” IR issue – interest rates. If the Reserve Bank raises rates again, or even twice, this could swing some of Howard’s battlers in key seats. The ALP will also try to differentiate itself on social policy – especially health and education.

Other issues are water and nuclear energy, as part of increased attention to climate change. The ALP will try to highlight Iraq (and by extension AWB) and security but unless we see body bags brought home or another attack on Australians, this is less likely to gain traction. Key one-on-ones to watch will be Swan vs Costello, Garrett vs Turnbull, Roxon vs Abbott and Gillard vs Andrews. Other influences will be the Greens appeal on climate change and whether Pauline Hanson’s return drives the values debate. Ultimately it could boil down to leadership – voters generally know and trust Howard (33 years in parliament, 11 as PM), they don’t (yet) Rudd and Gillard (9 years each in parliament). The Coalition have the track record, the ALP doesn’t. One thing is for sure, we can expect to see plenty of “public interest” advertising in 2007.