Only one party’s in the game for attention in cyberspace

From the Melbourne Age

Kevin Rudd has a genuine presence on the web. The Coalition seems to be lagging, writes Catherine Deveny.

LET’S be honest here, it’s a bit hard to sex up Kevin Rudd. Sure, he’s probably a good bloke. Actually, he must be a good bloke seeing that Howard and his mates have done their best to dig up dirt on him, and all they found out is that he speaks Chinese. The H Team kept opening closets hoping skeletons would fall out and all they found were doilies, neatly folded linen and a tea towel that read “WANDILIGONG! IT’S ABORIGINAL FOR PARTY!” (link)

BBC 15 Web Principles

Tom Loosemore, the head of the BBC’s Web 2.0 project, talked at a conference that I gave a gave a demo of ICT Guides at yesterday (called the JISC Conference) on the BBCs web initiative. He has developed a set of good practice principles for the BBC’s Web 2.0 initiatives, which respects the web as a medium in its own right and not something to be civilised by ‘old media’.

Now if we could only get the academic community to stop imposing print publishing ‘ontologies’ on the Web and respect it as a medium in its own right!

We developed these as part of the BBC2.0 project. I’ve been meaning to publish them for a while since they were signed off by the BBC board. They’re perpetually draft.

1. Build web products that meet audience needs: anticipate needs not yet fully articulated by audiences, then meet them with products that set new standards. (nicked from Google) 2. The very best websites do one thing really, really well: do less, but execute perfectly. (again, nicked from Google, with a tip of the hat to Jason Fried)

3. Do not attempt to do everything yourselves: link to other high-quality sites instead. Your users will thank you. Use other people’s content and tools to enhance your site, and vicversasa.

4. Fall forward, fast: make many small bets, iterate wildly, back successes, kill failures, fast.

5. Treat the entire web as a creative canvas: don’t restrict your creativity to your own site.

6. The web is a conversation. Join in: Adopt a relaxed, conversational tone. Admit your mistakes.

7. Any website is only as good as its worst page: Ensure best practice editorial processes are adopted and adhered to.

8. Make sure all your content can be linked to, forever.

9. Remember your granny won’t ever use Second Life: She may come online soon, with very different needs from early-adopters.

10. Maximise routes to content: Develop as many aggregations of content about people, places, topics, channels, networks & time as possible. Optimise your site to rank high in Google.

11. Consistent design and navigation needn’t mean one-size-fits-all: Users should always know they’re on one of your websites, even if they all look very different. Most importantly of all, they know they won’t ever get lost.

12. Accessibility is not an optional extra: Sites designed that way from the ground up work better for all users

13. Let people paste your content on the walls of their virtual homes: Encourage users to take nuggets of content away with them, with links back to your site

14. Link to discussions on the web, don’t host them: Only host web-based discussions where there is a clear rationale

15. Personalisation should be unobtrusive, elegant and transparent: After all, it’s your users’ data. Best respect it (link to ToLoosemoreses blog)

BBC and YouTube

The British Broadcasting Corp. began showing excerpts from its news and entertainment programs on the YouTube video-sharing website on Friday, becoming the first international broadcaster to ink a major deal with the Google-owned portal (from the Age, link)

Fast Facts Found Online

This article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald today. There is a small quote from myself on the use of Wikipedia for research.

David Adams talks to four Australians who have helped to build the collaborative online giant that is Wikipedia.

NEXT time you’re sitting at the computer – it may even be as you’re reading this – take a look at the Wikipedia entry for “North Warrandyte”. What about the entry for “United Petroleum” or “Australian architectural styles”. Notice anything similar?All three entries were started by Melburnian Nick Carsen. The 20-year-old, who has just finished a drafting course at NMIT and hopes to study architecture next year, is part of the global revolution in the way we now find information.

For many people, the days when checking a fact meant taking a dusty encyclopedia volume off a shelf are gone. Now their first port of call is a collaborative internet site such as Wikipedia that not only provides a constantly expanding and updated resource but allows you to change information or add to the entry.

Founded in 2001 by US internet entrepreneur Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia has become one of the most popular websites in the world.

With entries on everything from the Azerbaijani people to Zeppelin airships, the Wikipedia juggernaut had 1.6 million articles on its English-language site by the start of December. To get an idea of how fast it’s expanding, Wikipedia grew by 30 million words in July alone.

Mr Carsen discovered the site while surfing the web early last year and decided to start contributing after finding gaps in information about Melbourne’s suburbs.

He spends three or four hours each week contributing to whatever subject happens to catch his interest, whether it’s the Nokia 6820 mobile phone (he owns one) or AFL-related subjects. A Collingwood supporter, he is a member of the Wikiproject expounding on all things AFL.

Look at his entry on United Petroleum, for example. Mr Carsen decided to write it after noting that his local servo sold CSR ethanol-enhanced fuel. “I typed it into Wikipedia and there was nothing about it so I figured, ‘OK, I might as well make an article about it’,” he says.

However, while Mr Carsen describes the site as “really the best source of information available to anybody today”, Craig Bellamy, who teaches media and communications at Melbourne University, says while Wikipedia might be a good place to start your research, it’s “not a good place to end it”.

“The term ‘encyclopedia’ doesn’t always sit well with me,” Dr Bellamy says. “Wikipedia is really good for technical stuff, if you’re building a website for example, and it’s really good for popular culture – you know, references to the history of Pacman – but with the sort of scholarly stuff that encyclopedias traditionally included, it’s not as strong in those areas.” (link)

Fidel Castro Search Engine

Cuba built an internet search engine that allows users to trawl through speeches by Cuban leader Fidel Castro and other government sites, but does not browse web pages outside the island. The search engine ( unveiled at a conference last week underscored restrictions on internet access in communist-run Cuba, which the government blames on US trade sanctions (from the Age link)

AHDH History

The Arts and Humanities Data Service (where I work) has a number of offices throughout the UK that specialise in more disciplanary approaches to digital technology in the humanities. This is one of the reasons that I like Digital Humanities (or ‘Humanities Computing’) in that it respects the body of knowledge and autonomous directions built up over many generations within the disciplines, as apposed to the field of ‘New Media’ where it all tended to turn to soup!

AHDS History’s collection brings together over 600 separate data collections transcribed, scanned or compiled from historical sources. The studies cover a wide range of historical topics, from the seventh century to the twentieth century. Although the primary focus of the collection is on the United Kingdom, it also includes a significant body of cross-national and international data collections. Examples of topics covered include: nineteenth and twentieth century statistics, manuscript census records, state finance data, demographic data, mortality data, community histories, electoral history and economic indicators (link).

Morning Coffee with Craig: What is Activism 2.0?

Net Activism 1.0 = Libertarianism
Net Activism 2.0 = Governance

Political Communication and Information Scarcity

The Internet arrived on the global stage during a tumultuous juncture in world history. The Soviet Empire collapsed; ending a 50 year ideological battle between the centralised command economies of the Communist East, and the free-market economies of the Capitalist West. A world that was sharply divided between the Socialist ideologies of centralised planning-coupled with tight information controls-and the Capitalist ideologies of individual agency and individual expression was replaced by the later world of increasingly unfettered ‘flows’. Primarily driven by the United States, its allies, and the post World War II Bretton Woods Institutions such as GATT (General Agreement on Tariff and Trade); freedom of expression, freedom of trade, and freedom of the market prevailed in all major international interactions. The Internet entered the global arena during this period of great change and is defined by this change and defines this change (and it may have developed very differently if it was conceived during another period of history). It is perhaps not unusual then, that tentatively entering the post Cold War period, many early researchers first understood the Internet’s political potential firmly grounded in the Communist ‘information scarcity’ and censorial anxieties that derive from the ideological divisions of the ‘short Twentieth Century’ (Hobsbawn; 1994).

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