In the comments of Diego’s post there was a pointer to this article on the concept of BlogNN. I don’t quite get how it would work, but the concept is interesting, and sounds similar to an idea that I’ve had floating around, but is not solid enough to put out there… Worth looking into further methinks…

Objective media (cont…)

Deigo responds to my previous post, and clarifies what he meant by the term “the mob”. He eloquently outlines his position, and makes the (quite valid) point “I wasn’t talking about intellectuals and non-intellectuals, involved or not involved, concerned or apathic, etc. Not that Grant said this, but I think it’s within a hair of going in that direction.”

I just wanted to amplify the “Not that Grant said this” bit, nor did I intend to imply that Diego meant that either, although I can see how the wording of my post may lead someone to interpret my comments that way.

Diego clarifies the (somewhat problematic) term “the mob” as a dynamic collection of individuals, of which we are all a part at times, and this is pretty much exactly how I see it too. Diego continues by positing that “movement” within a given community is “an indirect process that implies creating something that affects individuals in a way in which their subsequent actions will say something both individually and aligned with the mob.” This, IMO, is spot on.

This is a great explanation of what I was trying to get at with the (far less eloquent) words “how does decentralised media get to the broader audience?”. With this clarification what I meant to say was, How does decentralised media encourage movement within the community? In particular, I am interested in how “movement” can be created around social issues, although the general question applies as well.

As I interpret Diego’s post, he presents the (not uncommon) idea that as communication technology becomes ubiquitous, the decentralised media channels will become more prevalent and more influential. I agree to an extent that this is the case, and perhaps digital TV may provide the answer (although with the recent Australian Broadcasting Corporation decision to drop it’s two digital media channels due to funding constraints, this runs the risk of going the same way as current free-to-air broadcasting, in Australia at least). And in this sense I also share Diego’s optimism that “given choice people will embrace [decentralised media], comparatively reducing the power of big media outlets.”

Although we are seeing cracks in the big media approach (where key stories emanate from weblogs and factual inaccuracies are identified quickly), in my experience decentralised media sources are still only gaining traction in a minority of the community. Until the influence of decentralised media increases to present a clear and significant threat to big media, I fear that we will continue to see mistruths and ommissions, particularly when coming from the mouths of big corporate interests and government (one could argue that government is a big corporate interest, but I digress) taking sway in the community psyche. That is not to detract in any way from the work already underway – even if not providing majority sway it is vital that such information be made available. I’m just saying that this is still a relatively marginal phenomena.

Using a recent Australian experience as an example, looking at the so-called debate around asylum seekers, so little of the alternative view has been presented through the mainstream, and thus we see a great majority of the community supporting what amounts to a racist government policy. There is plethora information available, whether it be through the Refugee Council of Australia, Amnesty International and many others that clearly show how fundamentally wrong the government’s approach is in relation to international law, as well as presenting humane, just and cost-effective alternatives. And experience indicates that when a humanised message, presenting an alternative view actually makes it to the mainstream opinions change.

However, such alternative viewpoints haven’t really entered the mainstream dialog in any significant way, and as such they have done little to change mainstream opinion despite being readily available to anyone with a computer and internet connection. In an age when opinion polls and popular sentiment drive government policy, this becomes an increasingly problematic issue.

Obviously such fundamental change won’t happen overnight, it may take perhaps decades. What we are seeing in blog-land and other decentralised media spaces is really promising. I think it’s important to continue to prod and to try to make sense of how technology, particularly communications technologies, impact the community, and how that power can be harnessed to facilitate a more informed understanding of what are sometimes complex and nuanced debates within the community. To achieve that movement Diego describes to achieve positive and constructive change in the mediascape, and the political and social policy landscape too.

Oddpost and RSS (cont…)

It seems that Oddpost actually create IMAP folders for the RSS feeds that you subscribe to. This means that I can get access to the feeds on my Mac as well. Way cool! Need to confirm this tomorrow.

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Free the refugees

Today I was part of the World Refugee Day rally in Sydney. It was a smalelr turn-out than many of the rallies in recent times (and I don’t mean in comparison to the 250,000 at the anti-war rally in feb – the ones around that one), which was a little disappointing, but the speakers were excellent.

Bob Brown, Carmen Lawrence and Thomas Kenneally spoke (Kerry Nettle from the Greens was also there), along with two refugees who have managed to gain their freedom from detention and are now under Temporary Protection Visas. Seemed a lot like preaching to the converted, but that’s kinda what rallies are about to some extent.

Of course the recent Family Court ruling was the topic of the day, but all speakers made further points about the Howard government’s policies in this area, and Labor’s general lack of committment to alternative solutions.

It was an absolutely beautiful day, and one couldn’t help but think of the refugees still in detention in Villawood, Baxter and Port Headland. We can only keep applying pressure for change, and to get the message out that refugees are human, have families and kids, and are entitled to the same rights as the rest of Australia.

If only I had a digital camera so that I could post some pictures…

Objective media

Interesting post from Diego in reference to a Salon article (that I haven’t read yet) about media and the war on Iraq.

“One conclusion: decentralized media (of which weblogs are the tip of the iceberg) will have to thrive to counterbalance these forces, since “big media” is out of the game of “objectivity” as (sic) this point.”

This is kinda where I’m at, with one important question – how does decentralised media get to the broader audience, or the “mob” as Diego refers to them? That’s where it gets kinda tricky IMO.

Children out of detention

Saw this on the Democrats RSS feed today (see – it works…).

“In the wake of yesterday’s historic Family Court decision ruling locking up children indefinitely in immigration detention centres was illegal, Mr Ruddock today confirmed he would seek a legal orders preventing the children’s release while the Government was considering an appeal.”

Anybody that’s read up on the Tampa incident will recognise the lengths that the current government is willing to go to demonise and attack the fundamental human rights of asylum seekers and refugees. Our government’s refugee and asylum seeker policy is in breach of numerous international conventions, including the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Status of Refugees, and still the hits keep on coming.

Minister Ruddock is also responsible as guardian of children who are in detention. As part of this charter he is meant to make decisions with the best interests of the child as his first priority. This is a major conflict of interest, and the role of guardian must be transferred to another body such as the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC). He is clearly ignoring this mandate in his decision to attempt to keep children in detention.

Please consider writing to the minister and/or the newspapers and register your disgust at the minister’s actions. Address letters to:

The Hon Philip Ruddock MP
Minister for Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs
Parliament House
Canberra, ACT 2600
Fax: (02) 6273 4144
Salutation: Dear Minister

Strong yet courteous letters will have the most impact (no abuse please).

If you would like to work with others to fight for the human rights of children in detention, and those of refugees and asylum seekers in general, you may be interested in one of the following organisations:

Oddpost does RSS

Dave reports that Oddpost, my favourite email client, now does RSS. Cool!

It’ll be interesting to see how this works given my feeling that news aggregators are better than email lists etc. Now if only it worked on Mac.

Band news

My band, Glance, recently acquired a new drummer. He goes by the name of Toby, and he’s really good. So glad to have him on board.

We’ve played two gigs with him so far, and we’ve decided to head into the studio in July (12-13) to track three or four new tracks that we’ve been working on. Very exciting!

We’re tracking at Skylab studios again, with the able Sean Beaver at the helm, and it’s set to be a lot of fun. Depending on how things turn out, we’ll probably post some MP3 snippets on the Glance website, which I will duly point to.

On the night of the 12th we’ll all be heading down to see Something for Kate and the amazing Death Cab For Cutie (Death Cab’s current CD The Photo Album is a must by imho). ’twill be a blast I’m sure. Can’t wait.

All hail…

Got Hail to the Thief last week and it is yet to leave my CD player. What an awesome album – highly recommended. I don’t have a favourite Radiohead album in particular, but this is up there with the other three “best” Radiohead albums I have 😉