BarCamp Sydney #4 – Saturday, 15 November 2008

The (un)organisers of BarCamp Sydney have let me know that they are preparing for yet another festival of creativity to engage and excite the Australian tech and innovation community. Details below.

Date: 15 November 2008

Venue: UNSW Roundhouse

Time: 9:00AM-5:00PMpm (registration starts at 8:30AM)

Register: Do it yourself on the wiki

If you’ve never been to a BarCamp before, I highly recommend it. Make some time in your schedule. For those that have been before, I needn’t remind you how great BarCamp is. Take a look at my tag list below to see just how much of your life this might touch.

Hopefully, I’ll see you there. I’m not sure how my timetable is yet.

The Great Firewall of Canberra

No Clean Feed - Stop Internet Censorship in AustraliaAs a resident of our national capital, the references in the media to “Canberra” as an analogy for the Federal Government sometimes bug me, as they must equally bother the residents of places like Washington DC and other seats of government. But that’s a minor issue in comparison to the serious issue facing Australians with the proposal to impose mandatory filters on Internet traffic.

Personally, I’m a libertarian. So long as you’re not hurting anyone, I see no reason for government to get involved in stopping you from doing anything. Provided it’s legal. Using the Internet in this country is legal, or it was the last time I checked. The imposition of the proposed mandatory clean feed, and the opt-out only (thus potentially tarring the opter-out with an undeserved brush) approach is nanny stating at it’s very worst.

At best the proposal suffers from the well-documented flaws in execution that could slow Australia’s already slow Internet speeds to a crawl. At worst, it’s censorship on a scale with the most oppressive regimes in the world. Electronic Frontiers Australia would appear to agree – the discussion on their blog is running hot on the topic.

If, like me, you feel this proposal is ill-considered, bad public policy, I encourage you to do something about it. At the very least, write a letter to your local MP. For more ideas, take a look at No Clean Feed.

And for those not sure, educate yourself! There is already a great deal of public material worth reading:

And here’s the thing. One of the core arguments in the government’s position is protecting our children. Sorry, but that’s my job as a parent.

My daughter has been using the Internet since she could sit at a computer and she’s about to turn 11. She’s had a personal, unfiltered, unchecked by me email address since she was five and she has admin rights on the computer she uses. We have well defined, well understood rules for her Internet use. The computer is in an open part of the house. In all her time using the Internet she has never witnessed anything untoward, been spammed, stalked or otherwise bothered.

I’m thinking she and other kids don’t so much need protection as we as adults need not to abrogate our parenting responsibilities and learn about and understand the Internet. Particularly in the context of our children’s use of it.

If you need some help, ask me. I’ll give you a hand.

I work on the web

A few of my fellow Aussie web workers have put in the effort to annotate at length a photo of themselves on Flickr and tag it with I work on the web. It’s a mantra. It’s a meme. It’s a call to action. It’s a declaration of passion.

Here is mine.

Stephen Collins - I work on the web

So, write your story and add yours to the tag.


Chris Messina of Citizen Agency on Coworking Google Group:

Diversity is not something that can be “achieved”, much like the rainmaker who makes rain once as a happenstance and then fails to invoke the weather again. Diversity is a process and a mindset. It exists in the negative spaces of social convention. It is something that makes open communities like ours stronger and better and it certainly isn’t always obvious.

Lest we forget

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.From For the Fallen by Lawrence Binyon

Today is ANZAC Day. Remember.

Turn, turn, turn…

WARNING: Potentially controversial opinion.

As the brother of a (now deceased, in unfortunate circumstances) profoundly disabled man, I believe I speak with some authority and a sense of understanding here. These are not the utterings of a liberal pro-choicer (although I am both of those).

So, Terri Schiavo has finally died, a fortnight after her feeding tube was removed. And seven long years after the legal fight over her fate began.

This is something that should never have happened in the first place. The right for an individual to die with dignity, to die without life being unnecessarily prolonged when the individual is in a state which they have expressed a desire not to exist, should be enshrined as an inalienable right the world over by whatever means necessary.

I empathise with the feelings expressed by Terri’s parents and siblings, and their desire to maintain her life – she is after all, their own flesh and blood. However, it is frankly cruel to keep life going when the “owner” of that life has made it apparent that certain states of existence such as severe brain damage or extended and incurable disease, are not states in which the individual wishes to exist.

My support goes out to her husband, who can now achieve some sense of closure. In essence, he lost Terri years ago, but has been unable to move on because of the battle he has been fighting. I can only hope the more extreme elements out there who would seek to take action against Michael Schiavo heed the words of forgiveness uttered by Terri’s family this morning.