Saturday, August 30, 2008

Florida 2000 all over again?

Investigative journalist Greg Palast suspects that some serious pre-emptive voter deregistration is going on in the U.S., particularly in the traditionally Republican western states, that may be a re-run of the Florida 2000 affairs come November in the U.S. Presidential elections.

In swing-state Colorado, the Republican Secretary of State conducted the biggest purge of voters in history, dumping a fifth of all registrations. Guess their color.

In swing-state Florida, the state is refusing to accept about 85,000 new registrations from voter drives – overwhelming Black voters.

In swing state New Mexico, HALF of the Democrats of Mora, a dirt poor and overwhelmingly Hispanic county, found their registrations disappeared this year, courtesy of a Republican voting contractor.

In swing states Ohio and Nevada, new federal law is knocking out tens of thousands of voters who lost their homes to foreclosure.

For more, see here.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Barack Obama's Convention Speech

Now let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for that we owe him our gratitude and respect. And next week, we'll also hear about those occasions when he's broken with his party as evidence that he can deliver the change that we need.

But the record's clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush 90% of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than 90% of the time? I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to take a 10% chance on change.

The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives - on healthcare and education and the economy - Senator McCain has been anything but independent. He said that our economy has made "great progress" under this president. He said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. And when one of his chief advisers - the man who wrote his economic plan - was talking about the anxiety Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a "mental recession," and that we've become, and I quote, "a nation of whiners".

A nation of whiners? Tell that to the proud auto workers at a Michigan plant who, after they found out it was closing, kept showing up every day and working as hard as ever, because they knew there were people who counted on the brakes that they made. Tell that to the military families who shoulder their burdens silently as they watch their loved ones leave for their third or fourth or fifth tour of duty. These are not whiners. They work hard and give back and keep going without complaint. These are the Americans that I know.

Now, I don't believe that Senator McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn't know. Why else would he define middle class as someone making under $5m a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than 100 million Americans? How else could he offer a healthcare plan that would actually tax people's benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatise social security and gamble your retirement?

It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it.

For over two decades, he's subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy - give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the ownership society, but what it really means is - you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No healthcare? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps - even if you don't have boots. You're on your own.

Well it's time for them to own their failure. It's time for us to change America.

On foreign policy

If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament, and judgment, to serve as the next commander-in-chief, that's a debate I'm ready to have.

For while Senator McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed this war, knowing that it would distract us from the real threats we face. When John McCain said we could just "muddle through" in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights. John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the gates of hell - but he won't even go to the cave where he lives.

And today, as my call for a time frame to remove our troops from Iraq has been echoed by the Iraqi government, and even the Bush administration, even after we learned that Iraq has a $79bn surplus while we're wallowing in deficits, John McCain stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end a misguided war.

That's not the judgment we need. That won't keep America safe. We need a president who can face the threats of the future, not keep grasping at the ideas of the past.

You don't defeat a terrorist network that operates in 80 countries by occupying Iraq. You don't protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking tough in Washington. You can't truly stand up for Georgia when you've strained our oldest alliances. If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice - but it is not the change we need.

We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don't tell me that Democrats won't defend this country. Don't tell me that Democrats won't keep us safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans - Democrats and Republicans - have built, and we are here to restore that legacy.

As commander-in-chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.

I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease. And I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace and who yearn for a better future.

On the economy

We Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.

We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma. We measure progress in the 23m new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was president - when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.

We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job - an economy that honours the dignity of work.

The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great - a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight.

On taxes

Change means a tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.

Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.

I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

I will cut taxes - cut taxes - for 95% of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle class.

On fuel

For the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as president: in 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.

Washington's been talking about our oil addiction for the last 30 years, and John McCain has been there for 26 of them. In that time, he's said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Senator McCain took office.

Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close.

As president, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I'll help our auto companies retool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. I'll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I'll invest $150bn over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy - wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and 5m new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced.

On education

Now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy. Michelle and I are only here tonight because we were given a chance at an education. And I will not settle for an America where some kids don't have that chance. I'll invest in early childhood education. I'll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. And in exchange, I'll ask for higher standards and more accountability. And we will keep our promise to every young American - if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.

On healthcare

Now is the time to finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible healthcare for every single American. If you have healthcare, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don't, you'll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.

Now is the time to help families with paid sick days and better family leave, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for a sick child or ailing parent.

On pensions

Now is the time to change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions are protected ahead of CEO bonuses; and the time to protect social security for future generations.

On abortion

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country.

On gun control

The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the second amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals.

On same-sex marriages

I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination.

On immigration

Passions fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This too is part of America's promise - the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.

On individual responsibility

We must also admit that fulfilling America's promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F Kennedy called our "intellectual and moral strength". Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programmes alone can't replace parents; that government can't turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need.

Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility - that's the essence of America's promise.

On equal pay

And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's work, because I want my daughters to have exactly the same opportunities as your sons.

On patriotism

What I will not do is suggest that the senator [McCain] takes his positions for political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and patriotism.

The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America - they have served the United States of America.

So I've got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.

On his background

In the faces of those young veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I see my grandfather, who signed up after Pearl Harbour, marched in Patton's army, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the chance to go to college on the GI Bill.

In the face of that young student who sleeps just three hours before working the night shift, I think about my mum, who raised my sister and me on her own while she worked and earned her degree; who once turned to food stamps but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country with the help of student loans and scholarships.

When I listen to another worker tell me that his factory has shut down, I remember all those men and women on the south side of Chicago who I stood by and fought for two decades ago after the local steel plant closed.

And when I hear a woman talk about the difficulties of starting her own business, I think about my grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle management, despite years of being passed over for promotions because she was a woman. She's the one who taught me about hard work. She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that she's watching tonight, and that tonight is her night as well.

I don't know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead, but this has been mine. These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped me. And it is on their behalf that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as president of the United States.

On change

I realise that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. I don't fit the typical pedigree, and I haven't spent my career in the halls of Washington.

But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the naysayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me. It's been about you.

For 18 long months, you have stood up, one by one, and said enough to the politics of the past. You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result. You have shown what history teaches us - that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American people demand it - because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.

America, this is one of those moments.

On the American spirit

This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

Instead, it is that American spirit - that American promise - that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.

Source: The Guardian

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Web 3.0

Just when you had got the hang of Web 2.0, here comes Web 3.0 - semantic, mobile, personalised

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Radio lecture at QUT

Here is a presentation that I gave to QUT students in the Media and Communications Industries unit on 27 August 2008.

In considering notable things about Australian radio, some that came to my attention have been:

  • the growth of community radio, to generate one of the most vibrant systems of this media form in the world
  • the unique power and influence of talkback radio hosts (which may now be waning)
  • the way that podcasting has given a new prominence to Radio National and to forms of programming that have never been high rating but which can be done well through the medium, such as documentaries
One thing that I would be interested to know is what percentage of total radio downloads are from the ABC generally, and Radio National in particular. If anyone knows how to find this out, please drop me a comment.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Anyone for mindless parochialism

Front page of yesterday's Gold Coast Bulletin, over Adelaide plans to bid for the 2018 Commonwealth Games along with the Gold Coast and Perth.

I wonder how the Adelaide Advertiser will cover the next Gold Coast arts festival?

Everyday gay gold medallist

One of the genuine upsets of the 2008 Beijing Olympics was Matthew Mitcham's win in the 10m platform diving. As someone who knows nothing about diving, I could nonetheless recognise a case here where someone needed to do a perfect dive to get the gold medal, and he did it.

The other notable thing about Matthew Mitcham's win was that he was apparently "the only openly gay athlete at the Games". So the evening news featured Mitcham hugging his mum, hugging his coach, and hugging his partner Lachlan. What was striking about this for me was just how everyday this all seemed. This would seem to be a big change in the culture we usually associate with the Olympics and with sport generally.

The key word here is not gay but "openly". He was almost certainly not the only gay athlete at the Games, and most likely not the only gay Gold medallist. But among the 200+ nations at the Olympic Games, there are very different degrees to which one can be open about their sexuality.

In the longer term, this may mean something in China, where there is a very long march indeed for recognition of gay rights and same-sex relationships. Picture this:
  1. You're gay in China, with all the secrets that must entail;
  2. You're watching the Olympic diving;
  3. You're expecting the Chinese diver to win;
  4. An Australian diver wins with a near-perfect dive;
  5. He's gay, and he can be open about it.
Its often from the everyday that longer-term changes happen.

Monday, August 25, 2008

After the Olympics: Evaluating the Global Media Coverage

I woke up this morning to Radio National, and heard the BBC report on the 2008 Beijing Olympics closing ceremony. In commenting on it being a spectacle of noise, fireworks and lot of dancers, the BBC reporter commented:

China can do what democracies can't, because its government is not accountable to the voters.

Um, hello? Government in democracies do not spend lots of money on public spectacles? Taxpayers will not accept this, and want the money to be spent on roads, hospitals, schools etc.

Next Saturday, in the city of Brisbane, the democratically elected government will conduct Riverfire, a public spectacle on the Brisbane River involving, yes, noise, fireworks and dancers.

The transparently bogus claim made by the BBC reporter - that only undemocratic governments can put lots of resources into public spectacles - has typified a lot of coverage of the Beijing Olympics, particularly from Britain.

The hold of the concept of totalitarianism on the Western journalistic imaginary has been quit striking. In a way of thinking that was presented by the 'Four Theories of the Press' model back in the Cold War era of the 1960s, the line has been run that in countries with state-run media and one-party governments, all activities are an extension of the monolithic one-party state. This in turn is contrasted to an entirely normative account of how the media actually function in liberal democracies, making everything appear to be a construct of state ideology.

To take another example, Marina Hyde in The Guardian could attribute the large number of volunteers on hand in Beijing to, wait for it, the authoritarian one-party state that China has. The fact that Sydney 2000 could get 50,000 volunteer without resorting to a suspenion fo democratic rule seems to have missed this columnist.

China does need good independent journalism, and does need good independent research on its journalism. The closeness of the government, the CCP and the media is a major issue that needs to be addressed to develop a civil society that can accompany its impressive economic performanc and growing world power status.

But as long as Western media coverage of China remains freeze-locked in the model of totalitarianism that was an artefact of Cold War politics, and as long as it pursues criticism of China that completely ignores its own culture and context, we will have an awkward intellectual stand-off.

Quality work on how the world's media covered Beijing 2008 remains to be done.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New UNCTAD database on global cultural trade

UNCTAD has just announced the launch of a global Database on Global Trade in Creative Products. This should provide vital empirical data on longstanding debates about globalization, culture and trade. UNCTAD describes it in these terms.

The databank is intended for use by governments, businesses, academia, the media, international institutions, and members of the creative community, including independent artists and creators. It comprises factual data by country or region on some 235 products in the categories of arts and crafts, the visual arts, audiovisuals and media, and design and creative services.

The statistics are a starting point for improving market transparency and supporting governments in policy-making. They will also facilitate better understanding of the interface between culture, trade and technology as drivers of the creative economy.

Users may view, analyse and browse the data by choosing from tabular reports, country profiles, selected products, key players in major markets, and a variety of tables and charts.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

You've never been trucked like Brendan before

While excitement build around the nation about Federal Opposition leader Brendan Nelson's long distance trucking tour from Melbourne to Dubbo, there is much speculation about what music he will take with him. While much of the focus has been on Brendan Nelson's Slim Dusty cassettes, this could well be a suitable addition to the long journey.

We all hope that Brendan does not get into any trouble on the trip, particularly of this nature.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Vinton Cerf on the Intergalactic Internet

One of the highlights of the Third Edition of New Media: An Introduction was getting an interview with Vinton Cerf, the 'Father (Grandfather?) of the Internet'. I thank Barry Saunders for his ability to arrange the interview with Vint when he was in Brisbane in 2007. He had a recent piece in The Guardian musing on the future of the Internet, and particularly on his latest theme of an 'Intergalactic Internet'. Perhaps not surprisingly, it did not win over many of the Guardianistas in the Comments section, but here is an excerpt for your interest.

Yet such a transformative technology is bound to ruffle a few feathers. I have no doubts that its social repercussions will take decades to be fully understood, but it has already done much to benefit the world. It has provided access to information on a scale never before imaginable, lowered the barriers to creative expression, challenged old business models and enabled new ones. It has succeeded because we designed it to be both flexible and open. These features have allowed it to accommodate innovation without massive changes to its infrastructure.

And innovation on the internet happens at a rapid pace. Ten years ago, Google was simply an idea being explored by two graduates in California. The years to come will offer more that is new and exciting. It's easy to forget, sitting in the UK or the US, just how far the internet still has to go. Today, there are only about 1.4 billion users, representing a bit more than one-fifth of the world's population, and a substantial amount of the content on the web is still written in English. But the internet is becoming more global. Asia has more than 500 million users and Europe nearly 400 million and internet-enabled mobile phones will help extend the net to Africa, Latin America and the Indian subcontinent. We're about to see further waves of innovation.

There are more than three billion mobiles in use today and more than 80 per cent of the world's population live within range of a network. In areas where wireline or WiFi access barely exists, many new users will first experience the internet through a mobile phone. In developing economies, people are already finding innovative ways to use mobile technology. Grameen's micro-finance and village phone programmes in Bangladesh and elsewhere are known and respected around the world, but there are many less famous examples. During the Kenyan elections, Mobile Planet provided its subscribers with up-to-the-minute results by text message. As the cost of mobile technologies fall, the opportunities for such innovation will continue to grow.

We're nearing the tipping point for mobile computing to deliver timely, geographically and socially relevant information. Researchers in Japan recently proposed using data from vehicles' windscreen wipers and embedded GPS receivers to track the movement of weather systems through towns and cities with a precision never before possible. It may seem academic, but understanding the way severe weather, such as a typhoon, moves through a city could save lives. Further exploration can shed light on demographic, intellectual and epidemiological phenomena, to name just a few areas.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Creative Suburbia?

We are about to commence an Australian Research Council - Discovery grant on Creative Suburbia. The question we are asking is whether more of Australia's creative workforce is located in the outer suburbs of Australia's cities than is commonly assumed in the creative industries literature, which has tended to emphasise the unique powers of inner-city 'buzz'. And if they are, how do they network and organise their professional relationships?

The team involved includes myself, Professor Phil Graham (QUT), Dr. Christy Collis (QUT) and Dr. Mark Gibson (Monash). Dr. Emma Felton will also be working with us on the project. Intended research sites at this stage include the Redcliffe and Springfield areas of South-East Queensland, and the City of Casey in South-East Melbourne.

I'll keep you posted on developments via this blog among other places, but a piece by Shaun Carney in today's The Age gives a sense of some of the issues, althoguh his focus is on petrol prices and politics.

Leftists who sneer at suburbs betray Labor

Shaun Carney
August 13, 2008 - 12:00AM

Last week in this space I argued that cleaner, greener cars should be a more important part of Australia's effort to reduce carbon emissions than an increase in public transport. In making the point, I suggested that people in the inner suburbs who found this shocking could benefit by taking the nearest train to the end of the line to see how hard it is for people in the outer suburbs to do without their cars.

This was a mistake because it implied that Melbourne's outer suburban belt was accessible by rail. In fact, it extends way beyond the metropolitan train system.

Recently, for family reasons, I've been spending time in Carrum Downs. For those who don't know, Carrum Downs is a suburb of about 18,000 people north-east of Frankston. When I knew it back in the 1970s, it was made up of paddocks and a mushroom farm. Now it's so substantial that it has its own secondary school and its retail hub calls itself the Carrum Downs Regional Shopping Centre.

You cannot get to the suburb by train. There are connecting buses from Frankston that snake their way through the suburbs in between, making it a very long journey. It would be very difficult to get around if you lived in Carrum Downs and did not have a car.

There are those who will say that places such as Carrum Downs should never have been developed, that urban sprawl is overloading our resources and making not just Melbourne but Sydney, and probably several other capitals, unworkable. There might be something to that argument but the question is: what happens to the hundreds of thousands of people who already live in Carrum Downs and Caroline Springs and Berwick and Roxburgh Park?

If you live within 15 kilometres of the city and have a tramline running right past your door, or a station nearby, as did many of those readers who were offended by last week's column, you could say it's not your problem. To be a car user is, one letter-writer observed, a planet-destroying "lifestyle choice".

Indeed, you could adopt a position that finds its way into letters to the editor and even the occasional opinion piece: the sneer. This assumes that outer suburbanites are less intelligent, less engaged and generally less enlightened than those of us who are closer to, you know, where it's all happening. From what I can see, it comes more often from the broader leftist end of the political spectrum than from the right.

Aside from being a betrayal of a genuine progressive perspective and just plain wrong, it represents a misreading of where electoral power lies in our society. Governments are made and broken in the outer suburbs. For decades now, the major political parties have relied on their traditional bases of support in the inner and middle suburbs — the older residential belts established up to the Second World War — to act as their electoral bedrock.


In Melbourne particularly, some parts of the inner suburbs are becoming very slippery territory for the ALP as the Greens become ever more popular. How does Rudd satisfy inner urban Labor sympathisers who want radical action on climate change while also holding on to shaky Labor voters in the outer suburbs who want something done but aren't so keen on the radical option and don't enjoy being lectured by people who have many more facilities than they have? Increasingly, Rudd presides over two tribes. Come the next election, they might just go to war.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

International and Intercultural Communications

I have completed two days at the International and Intercultural Communications in the Digital Age conference organised by the School of English, Communications and Performance Studies at Monash University. Thanks very much to Andy Ruddock and Ron Gallagher for providing the opportunity, as well as lovely accommodation at the historic Hotel Windsor (tip for Melbourne conference organisers: consider this as a place to house international guests rather than a more anonymous international hotel chain).

I have provided notes below on the presentations by Professor Xinxin Deng from the Communications University of China, and the keynote presented by Associate Professor Ramaswami Harindranath from the University of Melbourne. The full program can be accessed here, but other notable presentations for me were:

  • Professor Sung Gwan Park from Department of Communications, Seoul National University, on how a 'herd opinion' can emerge through mass communication as an alternative to public opinion, with reference to recent Korean politics;
  • Peter Murphy's (Monash) interesting, provocative and surprisingly positive reappraisal of Ronald Reagan and his role in US politics, focusing on the role of humour, personal ease and 'rat cunning' in holding together a contradictory political coalition, which he believes that all Democrat candidates other than Bill Clinton have lacked, and he finds lacking in Barack Obama, who he finds too narcissistic;
  • Craig Norris's (U. Tasmania) intriguing account of the cultural appropriation of the Ross Village Bakery in rural Tasmania by young Japanese anime fans.
Among the bouquets, one brickbat, however. This goes to IT administration at Monash, and how ill-equipped they seem to be to handle access to wireless networking facilities for guests to the university. The problem, which took much of Day 1 to not resolve, was that the event was in a building 'owned' by the Faculty of Business and Economics, who see the wireless infrastructure as 'theirs', and not as something to be shared with the Faculty of Arts, as they are based on another campus.

If ever there was a reminder of how assumptions of territoriality and sovereignty become problematic in a networked environment, this was it. Sometimes the administration of IT needs to be taken out of the hands of 'IT culture', with its obsessions with security and denying rather than facilitating access, and this was a case in point. As a multi-campus university, Monash should think seriously about how to deterritorialise its wireless IT, rather than reduce people to begging for assistance from the IT divisions.

International and Intercultural Communications in the Age of Digital Media, School of English, Communications and Performance Studies, Faculty of Arts, Monash University, Melbourne, 11-13 August, 2008

Professor Xinxin Deng, Department of Communication, Communications University of China (CUC)

30th Anniversary of Development of Communication Studies in China

• Communications studies is primarily at Doctoral/research level, whereas journalism education is primarily undergraduate level
• Communication education in China started at postgraduate level in 1997 – by 2006, 88 programs nationwide, of which 10 are at Doctoral level
• 24 undergraduate programs by 2005 – no widely accepted paradigm – mix of electronic journalism, visual communication, advertising and public relations
• Chinese Association of Communication (CAC) established in 2002 to promote exchange inside/outside of China
• Chinese communication researchers expected to answer ‘bigger’ questions than their American counterparts at a comparable stage of disciplinary development – consequence of ‘transitional’ economy
• Most communications textbook are introductory and general in context, and often followed structure an framework set by Wilbur Schramm in 1982 visit to China – range of courses offered is limited (typically 6-10, as compared to 200+ at Annenberg USC)

Professor Ramaswami Harindranath, University of Melbourne, ‘Decolonizing Media Research: Postcolonial Interventions’

• Ambition to globalize media studies both laudable and limited – caught within existing positions that have become ossified – not engaging with local stories outside of the Western context
• Problems with global media studies/globalization theories as an orthodoxy:

1. Prominent conceptualizations ignore material realities of communities outside of the West – ‘we’ is the perspective of the cosmopolitan Western intellectual and excludes large sections of the world population;
2. Exclusive focus on the ‘new’ ignores continuation of longstanding patterns of inequality and power that impact on large sections of the world;
3. Problem is not simply epistemological but political, as it neglects the undersides of globalization.

• Walter Mignolo (ed.), special issue of Cultural Studies, 2007 – ‘zero point’ of observation in modern epistemology is disembodied and draws upon a limited historical range – coloniality of knowledge
• De-colonial projects different to postcolonial studies – roots in contemporary Latin American thought – epistemological reconstruction – pluriversality of the universal subject.
• Aihwa Ong – Neoliberalism as Exception – malleable technology of governing taken up by different regimes in different ways – re-engineering of political spaces in a variety of regimes types: pro-capitalist Islam, market zones in China – reconfiguring relations between governing and governed – interactive mode of citizenship – rights of citizenship attributed on basis of marketable skills – need to conceptualise citizenship and media/citizenship differently (c.f. Dahlgren and Hermes, European Journal of Communication, 2006)
• Dipesh Chakrovarty – differences between diaspora studies and what are referred to in the US as ‘area’ studies e.g. what is a generation? ‘national agony’ of becoming a multicultural society (Stuart Hall)
• Media and terror – Philosophy in the Age of Terror – interviews with Habermas and Derrida – media as a ‘prodigious techno-socio-political regime’ (Derrida)
• Audience as citizens (forthcoming book by Harindranath) – audiences typically missing from media/citizenship debates – access to symbolic resources and cultural capital becomes important.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Creative Industries after a decade

This is a presentation I will be giving to QUT students in the Creative Industries: Theory and Policy unit on Thursday 14 August. It draws upon a presentation that I gave to staff and students at Indiana University in the US in May. It aims to outline the complex labour market dynamics of the creative industries, both in term of how they differ from other economic sectors, and how they differ from one another. It draws upon both Australian and UK data, and upon the work undertaken by Stuart Cunningham and Peter Higgs at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Beyond Globalization

Below is my presentation to the School of English, Communications and Performance Studies at Monash University in a very wintry Melbourne.

It generated a very lively discussion, particularly round the question of whether I underestimate the role of conscious global agency in management of the world-system, as argued by Hardt & Negri and by Immanuel Wallerstein.

There was also an interesting question asked by Professor Sung Gwan Park from the Seoul National University, Korea, about whether comparable global data exists on media consumption to match that available from UNESCO and other sources on media production. If anyone knows good sources on this, I would be interested to know more.

From: tflew, 1 hour ago

Presentation on media globalization arguing for more insights from cultural and economic geography.

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Friday, August 8, 2008

What's hot? Peter Costello!

Excitement is building around Australia at the prospect of Peter Costello becoming leader of the Federal Liberal Party. Indeed, around the News Limited HQ at Surry Hills, it has reached - as Bruce McAvaney would say - fever pitch.

Will Peter's memoirs be a 'tell-all' book about the Howard years? Will he challenge Buccaneer Brendan Nelson for the leadership? Can Tony Abbott contain his enthusiasm for Peter? Will Christopher Pyne make more friends on Facebook?

As new proof of the growing 'Peter power' sweeping Australia, check out Prue and Trude's 'What's Hot' list. For more see here.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Song to say goodbye

As excitement builds about Peter Costello' memoirs (yeah, sure) and whether he will become leader of the Federal Liberal Party (a job he had on a platter 9 months ago if he was prepared to work hard), here is a contribution from Placebo that is in keeping with Paul Keating's sentiments from yesterday:

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bringing back the biff in Australian politics

From today's Sydney Morning Herald:

Former Labor prime minister Paul Keating says John Howard and Peter Costello were "the biggest pair of policy bums the country has ever had''.

Mr Keating today slammed the Liberal Party for reconsidering Mr Costello as a leadership candidate, calling the former treasurer a "nong'' and a "mouse'' in an acerbic attack at a book launch in Sydney today.

He said Mr Costello had "not made one valuable structural change in the 12 years he was treasurer''.

"He's a guy without imagination and he is a guy without courage. That point was proven by the fact he let (former prime minister) Howard stay there for so long,'' he said.

"It's a Liberal Party so bereft of talent that they have to go to such a low-grade performer as Costello to come back as their leader.''

Senior Liberals have said Mr Costello will not challenge Brendan Nelson for the Liberal leadership but may agree to a "friendly takeover'' if Dr Nelson stands aside, according to News Ltd reports.

Mr Keating said such a move would be ruinous for the opposition but good for Labor.

"In national terms, to have such a nong - and he is, in policy terms he is a mouse - to have him back again, speaks volumes about the Liberal Party,'' Mr Keating said.

"In Labor Party terms, I sort of hope he does, as he makes it a better pitch for us.''

When Keating speaks, you still do pay attention. Meanwhile, Peter Costello goes jogging (yawn!), and tells us he knocked back a job with the World Gold Council (yawn! - what about a job with the IOC?), as we wait six weeks for his memoirs.

More boring Glenn Mine columns await us.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Its official

The official email from Professor Peter Coaldrake did go out at 3:36PM today to indicate that I was now a Professor of Media and Communication at QUT.

Thanks to all of those who sent emails, and to those who responded to the Facebook notice that went up a week ago.

In an age of Web 2.0, it is interesting to see who checks what.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Why New Media is Dead

Why New Media is Dead

This presentation is about how the BBC is responding to the Web 2.0 environment, particularly through its 'Backstage' initiative.

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Sunday, August 3, 2008

The future of the Internet

I am doing a guest lecture tomorrow for Axel Bruns' New Media Technologies class on 'Approaches to New Media'.

Guest lecture for Axel Bruns' New Media Technologies unit, 4 August 2008

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As a part of it, I am considering Jonathan Zittrain's The Future of the Internet, and how to stop it. To be a crowd pleaser for a Monday morning class, I will use an interview he did with Stephen Colbert to illustrate his argument.

I am also using the recent piece by Nicholas Carr in The Atlantic Monthly titled "Is Google making us stupid: What the Internet is doing to our brains", as an item to discuss in tutorials.