Sunday, December 5, 2010

Wikileaks: Winning the War

What's the point of trying to shut down Wikileaks? If this past week has shown anything, it's that cutting off the hydra's head only results in a hundred more growing in its place.

Thousands of people are now mirroring Wikileaks' content, both officially and unofficially. Tens of thousands are downloading and sharing gigabytes of data from Wikileaks. One file - insurance.aes256 - is a "poison pill" that will automatically be encrypted and released on the djavascript:void(0)isappearance or death of its figurehead, Julian Assange. Not even US authorities have been able to crack it.

Read more

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Eternal September

"Eternal September" was first coined in 1993, to describe millions of AOL internet users that came online, disrupting Usenet's previously small, intimate community.

It's now a term used to describe any ongoing influx of newbies who discover a service, and overwhelm it, often ignoring its conventions and etiquette and changing it beyond recognition. Which is understandably resented by original users and early adopters.

Read more here

Friday, October 29, 2010

Interviewing Buzz Aldrin

Buzz Aldrin was a fascinating interviewee when he visited Sydney this year. Even though he must have sat through tens of thousands of interviews in his life, he still sounded as though he was answering questions for the first time.

Here's an excerpt from his interview with Sky News Business, where he discusses moon dust. The question was: what most surprised or amazed you about the moon?

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Is the tide turning on NBN sentiment?

Despite a concerted disinformation campaign by the Opposition, it seems that mainlanders are scrabbling to get connected to the fast, fibre network.

According to NBN Co, 90 per cent of households in some regional cities have already signed up. That compares with around 51 per cent of Tasmanians.

Read more

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fibre Future

It's amazing to think that this election was largely decided by the issue of broadband - by a man who admits to not even using a computer himself. But even without personal knowledge and skills one can still be a visionary. And this is what Tony Windsor has demonstrated, describing broadband policy as a "game breaker":

"You do it right, you do it once, you do it fibre."

Read more here

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Interview with ITC Security

Carson Scott and I recently interviewed Tom Millar from ITC Security on Tech Report. They've uploaded it on their site, click the image below to watch:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Era of the E-Celebrity

The most interesting aspect in the whole Jessi Slaughter/4chan/Stickydrama saga is Stickydrama itself. It's further proof of the trend towards user-generated content, encroaching on yet another Old Media phenomenon.

Stickydrama is a gossip site about internet celebrities. It's about people who don't have agents and aren't "famous" in the traditional media sense. But they're objects of fascination and notoriety to thousands, even millions, of internet users.

From the Star Wars Kid to Justin Bieber, internet celebrities can and do make the mainstream media, and plenty of them stay there. A day after eleven-year-old Jessica Leonhardt became the victim of cyber-bullying for her expletive-strewn online video rants, the only Google News hits for her were blog-style sites such as Gawker. A couple of days later, and her web name "Jessi Slaughter" generates hundreds of news hits from Fox to the New Delhi Chronicle.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Conquering the Great Firewall of China

No visit to Shanghai would be complete without conquering the Great Firewall of China. It's arguably more challenging - and more satisfying - than ascending the Eiffel Tower, climbing Uluru or scaling Everest.

China's censorship regime comes in for plenty of well-deserved criticism, but the motivation behind the censorship is not always properly understood. While there is some moralistic blocking of adult content, the main aim of the censorship is to avoid social instability. It is less about covering up corruption (though of course it does cover it up) than preventing widespread outrage and public riots that would be very difficult to handle in a country of 1.5 billion people.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Filter Backdown

It's hard to believe that it took a democratic government nearly three years to come up with basic transparency and accountability measures for such a major policy as the internet filter. The fact it took this long, and the lack of commitment to such measures from the get-go, are an outrage.

Sadly, those of us who have witnessed the propaganda, misinformation and outright lies by the Communications minister on this policy, won't be surprised.

Read more here

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Digital Split

There's a growing schism in the world of digital content.

On one side: those that advocate a free, ad-supported business model.

On the other: those pushing paid content.

The paywalls are already flying up in force, but it's going to be some time before the results and the analysis are thrashed out. And both ideologies face significant hurdles.

Read more

Monday, May 31, 2010

Communications Breakdown

"A liar." "Sneering, sarcastic, patronising, grudge-bearing." "The most incompetent excuse for a communications minister in living memory."

Not the words of disgrunted punters in the pub, but the opinion of leading IT industry executives and commentators about Australia's communications minister, Stephen Conroy.

Relations between the ICT industry and the minister have been dire for a long time. Now the ill sentiment is escalating at such a rate that several commentators are wondering if it's time for Sentator Conroy to step down.

Read more

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Disclosure Dilemma

Yet another Facebook glitch, a new Twitter hack, and online privacy is again making headlines.

People increasingly want to share personal information with friends, but keeping this data private and secure is proving difficult. Managing intricate privacy controls on sites such as Facebook is one issue. But even without technical threats, there's still the problem that any person who can access your data or profile or tweets can leak them to an unauthorised third party. Can you really trust your "friends"?

Even deleting your data is problematic. For a start, a lot of social networking material gets cached all over Google and shows up high in search results. Facebook does have a mechanism for deleting accounts but it isn't immediate. An account stays in "deactivate mode" for two weeks and only then will it be deleted. Experts even suggest putting safe, fake data in your profile before you delete it, in case it does get retained - beyond your knowledge and control - on a remote server somewhere.

Read more here

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Playing Games

This Friday is shaping up to be D-Day for Australia's gamers.

The attorney-generals of the six states will meet to decide whether adults will be finally allowed to play videogames considered unsuitable for younger teenagers.

The current problem is that Australia doesn't have an R18+ rating for video games. This means that any game ruled not suitable for fifteen-year-olds or under is banned from sale. Unlike films, magazines, books and other types of media: video games have never had an adult rating available.

Read more here

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Filter: the Future

So we know that the internet filter is a wrong and terrible idea, but the government is going to do it anyway. What might happen once the Great Firewall of Australia goes up?

1. Daily leakage of the blacklist

Even before the filter arrived, ACMA's secret blacklist was leaked - multiple times - to Wikileaks. Expect it to go up on a daily basis. The people with access to it will also be those most likely to (a) oppose censorship (b) be able to get and leak the list and (c) know how to cover their tracks securely when doing so.

2. The Big Ban campaign

Anti-censorship groups are already lining up a lig list of technically "prohibited" sites to bombard ACMA with. The idea is that the more numerous and mainstream the sites that get banned (for example the Amazon listing to euthanasia book The Peaceful Pill), the more public opposition to the filter will grow, and the more workable it will become.

Find out more likely reactions here

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bebo: Bye bye or buyer?

News that AOL plans to shut or sell struggling social network Bebo will surprise no one. It's more of a surprise that so many social networks still strive on in the face of huge market dominance by a few players. Even once-dominant MySpace is undergoing yet another revamp to try and close the widening gap with front-runner Facebook.

But without the huge resources that News Corp-owned MySpace enjoys, the only option for many smaller networks will be to find a specific niche, to evolve into a specialised service, or to merge.

Read more here

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The curse of late adopters

Some years ago there was a UK comedy sketch featuring a middle-aged father who enters the room as his children are watching Top of the Pops. "Hey what's this? It's got a good beat!" he says, and begins a dancing display akin to a moonwalking walrus.

And this is exactly what we see with the Internet. With every single advance, every single innovation, every single new trend. While most people quietly start using these services: communicating with friends, sharing videos, starting interest groups, there is a whole host of antiquated walruses who fling themselves loudly and obnoxiously at every new technology in some misguided attempt to be "down with the kidz".

Read more here

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

iPhone, iHype

Amongst all the frenzied speculation and rumour-mongering over Apple's predicted new tablet computer, there's been little comment on one key issue. Will the device function as a standalone computer or will it remain essentially a semi-parasitic pod?

Read more here