Election time

Tomorrow, we have a Federal election in Australia, and it’s looking like there will be a change of government. The public mood indicates a desire for change and if we get one, I think it will be for the better. That said, there’s so little difference these days with the main notional Left and notional Right parties it’s really like picking between two remarkably similar shades of grey – #cccccc and #dddddd.

Since my early teens I’ve been heavily invested politically – my Dad and godfather have more than a little to answer for there. And now as a small business owner, I have another set of interests to look after.

Overall, I’m most disappointed in both major parties’ lack of real forward thinking on communications and broadband policy (Labor, Liberal… well, yes). We’re well down all the lists the OECD provides – whether it’s speed, penetration, pricing or availability per capita.

As for Labor’s ridiculous announcement about forcing ISPs to provide a “clean feed”, perpetuating the nonsense argument that the nasties can be filtered from the ‘Net, that’ll be interesting to see…

Equally, neither major party seems to have the faintest clue about the notion of Government 2.0, defined nicely by Guardian Online thus:

Imagine Government 2.0. Wisdom no longer flows from officialdom to the population, but is co-created with citizens. Civil servants contribute openly to Facebook groups on controversies of the day. Government websites have wiki areas where people can exchange tips about filing tax returns or claiming benefits. Databases of restaurant inspections, tide tables and postcodes are available for all to see and re-use in mashups of geography, time or events. Before launching a new online public service, the government checks to see whether a user community is already doing it better. In short, government learns to let go of the web.

Australian politicians are obviously not reading Tara’s presentations or watching what GovIS and the NPSC in New Zealand are up to. Frankly, that Australia is so behind the 8-ball in this space is horrifying.

There you go. That’s my AU$0.02 on the election. No vote for the Libs, no direct vote for Labor, either.

[This post is part of the Evil Election Eve Blog Carnival]

Aussie politicians and MySpace

So seventeen Australian Federal politicians have launched MySpace pages.

You know, I’m more disappointed than excited by this news. Not because they’ve actually put themselves on MySpace, joining the social computing world – which is great, mind you – but because they’ve demonstrably been badly advised.

Here’s what they should have done:

  • put up the MySpace pages
  • put up pages on Facebook. For example, here’s the Facebook page for Democratic Presidential hopeful, Barack Obama (no idea whether this is official, but it certainly contains all the right information);
  • started blogs that they actually wrote (rather than a staffer) so they could actually engage directly with their constituency online. And keep moderated comments open on the blog so that well-behaved feedback, both positive and negative could have been seen

Not terribly difficult.

Whoever’s advising Australian politicians on both sides about social computing and its potential impact has no idea.

In an election year, where connecting with your constituency is more important than at any other time, they’ve made a bad choice. There’s no way that these politicians have made this move by themselves, so it’s obviously a case of wrong advice, resulting in them pitching to the wrong audience.

Their socially networked voters aren’t on MySpace, even in a country with compulsory suffrage like Australia. They’re on Facebook and they’re reading blogs.

T-shirts as social identifier

I’ve been reading Wil Wheaton’s latest post on new t-shirts from Threadless. Like Wil, I have a critical addiction to great shirts. And, like Wil, my wife thinks I have too many t-shirts… Of course we know there’s no such thing.

On reflection, and after a little discussion with colleagues, what I’m thinking is that t-shirts today are much more than just a simple garment. These days, t-shirts represent an acceptable form of social expression, identifying the wearer as having a place within an identifiable part of society (gamers, Star Wars fans, sports fans, etc.) or having a position on a certain issue (Creative Commons, the War in Iraq, etc.).

Here’s a sample of the shirts I own, and what they represent for me.

Dark Side of the Garden

Me in Threadless’ Dark Side of the Garden. For me, it says “Star Wars fan” and “offbeat sense of humor”.

Creative Communist t-shirt
Giant Robot’s Copyleft Aeroflot. Saying, on my part that I support the notion of Creative Commons (thus the license on this blog and The ACME Guide) and think that Bill Gates’ comments on the matter are crap.

I Am Not A Terrorist Enemy Combatant t-shirt

Casual Disobedience‘s I Am Not A Terrorist and Enemy Combatant. Which for me say that vilification and fear of the Islamic community as a group is reprehensible and without foundation and that the ability to declare and detain someone indefinitely for being an “enemy combatant” is a frightening abuse of power (and Australia isn’t that far behind the US in this regard…).

This Is How I Roll t-shirt

Staccato’s This Is How I Roll. Obviously says “gamer” and Katamari Damacy fan, even if the gaming is infrequent these days…

Make Poverty History - Stand Up t-shirt

Make Poverty History‘s Stand Up 2006. Says I care about making a difference for some of our social ills. For me, poverty and substance dependance are key issues.

There are a heap more including Mule Design’s Welcome Squid Overlords (Lovecraft fan, sense of humor), several from ThinkGeek (geek, natch), Boing Boing’s Flying Spaghetti Monster (religious skeptic and scornful of Intelligent Design). Plus I have several tech company/web site t-shirts I’ve managed to pick up.

So, anyone who runs into me on a t-shirt wearing day can be pretty sure of gleaning at least a little understanding of where my passions, humor and politics lie.

How about you? What t-shirts do you own that represent your position on different aspects of your life?

Hell in (several) handbaskets

Seminal cyberpunk author, William Gibson, has posted an incredibly insightful opinion piece about the current crisis in the Middle East. He particularly laments the narrow vision and “behind the curve” thinking of the US and Israel in the several wars being fought across the region. Like me, he believes that if thinking and mindset continues this way, there can never be a resolution.

Now, let it be said plain and simple, in disagreeing with the conduct of war in the Middle East, I in no way support the actions of Hezbollah, insurgents in Iraq or belligerent states such as Iran. I simply don’t support the way the US (and my country, Australia) are undertaking to solve the issues. Nor do I purport to have the answers.

If you read the piece carefully enough, you’ll “get” that it’s about dichotomy of mindset (Kuhnian paradigms, in Gibson’s case) and how the thinking informing the paradigms of the opposing sides informs their language such that opposing sides use the same words for different things. As such, there can never be agreement or resolution given the chasm of opposing paradigms between those involved.