Dear Petro…

I just sent this email to Petro Georgiou:

Dear Petro,

I read with great interest today in the Sydney Morning Herald about two private members bills you, along with Judi Moylan, are presenting in relation to refugees and asylum seekers. From what I have read, your proposals address both our human rights obligations and security concerns very well.

I am writing simply to thank you for your efforts in addressing this critical human rights issue. Your courageous stand is much appreciated by many members of the community, not just myself.

Regardless of whether the bills are accepted by your party colleagues, your efforts will be remembered.

Regards, Grant

Positive change…

SMH: Liberal MP’s bid to overturn detention law.

I think that all of us who are concerned about this issue should contact Mr Georgiou thanking him for taking such a courageous step. I can only imagine the pressure he is under in introducing these bills.

Webdiary has more – including the specific text here and here. I haven’t had a chance to read either yet, but from the SMH overview they seems to be a pretty big step forward.

As an aside, Webdiary is also doing something very interesting to get to the facts of the Vivien Alvarez case.

Update: Check the comments for details of how to contact Minister Georgiou. (Thanks spiralgirl)

More coal – no thanks

SMH: More coal will burn to feed air-con frenzy

Faced with surging demand for power-hungry air-conditioners, the NSW Government is preparing to approve the extension of a coal-fired electricity plant near Lithgow and has cleared the way for more coal power stations.

But Bob Carr, conscious of his reputation as an environmentally sensitive premier, will also announce new greenhouse targets for 2020 and 2050 and a regime that puts pressure on the power industry to adopt cleaner technology, such as gas.

…It will anger green groups that have campaigned for cleaner, gas-powered generation and renewable energy incentives.

Re: that last para – no shit! This is disappointing, but not the end of the matter. “Cleared the way” can be read as “does not rule out”, but can also be viewed as “likely”, depending on your level of cynicism.

The government will say we “need” another coal-fired power station. There is much evidence to the contrary. What will be interesting is to see the greenhouse targets are. The green power approach of NSW leaves a lot to be desired – with power cos reluctant to change nor make it easy to get green power into your home.

(Disclosure: I work for WWF-Australia. These views are my own.)

del.icio.us changes

I noticed in accessing my del.icio.us page that there seem to be some changes afoot that seem interesting – a list of previously created tags and a visual representation of tag density have been added. I’m liking the direction it’s heading.

Flame off

Clay Shirky: Group as User – Flaming and the Design of Social Software:

You could easily imagine many such experiments. What would it take, for example, to design a mailing list that was flame-retardant? Once you stop regarding all users as isolated actors, a number of possibilities appear.

Interestingly, I read this immediately after reading Webdiary’s attempts at resolving the flaming issue. They adopted a “five post limit” as an experiment to help reduce personal attacks.

I’m keenly interested in this issue as I expect we’ll have to have to deal with this sort of thing as we open up “talkback” tools on the WWF website. This won’t be for a little while to come, but I want to be well prepared and have some measures ready to apply before we launch.

Lance Knobel Lecture

Lance Knobel has posted a transcript of his recent Alfred Deakin Innovation Lecture (as has Jay Rosen, but I haven’t read that one yet).

Lance’s post includes a good introductory description of weblogs, RSS, and wikis (I’m finding myself explaining wikis to people more and more of late) and how they are changing the media landscape.

Coupla bits from Lance’s lecture:

Most of us are familiar with the 80-20 rule, sometimes known as the Pareto Principle after the same man who derived the eponymous distribution. It’s sometimes formulated as 80 per cent of the sales will come from 20 per cent of the products.

But Anderson found out that for online retailers Pareto’s distribution hides an important new reality. When Anderson wondered what percentage of the top 10,000 titles or DVDs or tracks sold in a month at Amazon, Netflix or itunes, he found the answer was generally 99 per cent. Number 10,000 may not sell many, but because there are so many more misses than hits, that adds up to a large market in aggregate.

So it is, too, for weblogs. Most blogs are in the long tail. Individually they may not have many readers, but when you multiply not many readers by several million weblogs, there is a huge audience out there. And for some specialist areas, we have already passed the point where a lone blogger has similar authority and reach in her niche as a specialist reporter in traditional media may have.

He also warns against the echo-chamber effect and hints at the new role for editors in the new media space:

Some technologists, notably a team at MIT’s Media Lab, have developed a seductive picture of a Daily Me. The Daily Me is a personalised newspaper that contains just what you want. So if you’re passionate about Aussie Rules but could care less about rugby union, your Daily Me would have pages of footie, and no rugger.

So, too, it could contain the local news you want, and perhaps updates on political developments in east Asia (because you think that’s important) but exclude the news from the Middle East (because you’re bored by those conflicts).

To me, and I suspect to many of you, the Daily Me is a terrifying prospect. The Roman writers had a concept of dulce et utile, to delight and instruct. That’s a worthy ideal. Media that are unrelentingly delightful lack the virtue of instruction. Similarly all instruction and no play makes for dull media.

But the Daily Me threatens all dulce, no utile. It’s already here in some forms.

It’s a long post, but check it out – a good reference about the challenges, and opportunities, facing the media, journalists, and the people formally known as “the audience”.