Writings on technology and society from Wellington, New Zealand

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Away for the next two Thursdays

I’m overseas on business this week and the next, so I won’t be doing my regular Radio New Zealand slot. The good news is that Nathan Torkington has agreed to do it. Nathan’s a great guy – you’ll like him.

posted by colin at 8:33 am  

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A little programming project – part 3

A few weeks ago I blogged about writing a little program to make my life easier. (The entries are here and here.) In summary, this program automates the messy but easy administrative task of editing links to the sound files of my radio programs into their respective blog entries.

posted by colin at 6:16 pm  

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Weightless economy? Yeah, right.

The New Zealand Institute has written a series of think pieces on what it calls the “weightless economy” – it means using broadband to ship ideas around the world rather than ships to send dead trees and animal carcasses. They aren’t the only people to have observed what an opportunity the Internet offers the New Zealand economy, more than most countries because of our remoteness, but they are very eloquent and couch it all in language that economists understand.

You might think that would be welcome by bureaucrats and politicians alike. Non-polluting, renewable, no food-miles, etc. And both major parties have promised to spend up in varying amount to improve New Zealand’s Internet. That makes it all the more surprising that the government is apparently trying to kill the Internet in New Zealand off altogether. That’s right – S92A of the Copyright Act, which ministers have just told us to “like or lump” risks chilling new services on the Internet so they never get started, and driving the companies that distribute Internet out of existence. (Most of them are barely profitable now; it’s the sexy service companies like Google that make the big bucks. Go figure.)

Most of us agree that copyright needs some kind of protection in the digital world. Killing the Net to achieve it is too high a price. That’s what I talked about on Radio New Zealand National today – read on for my notes or download the audio as ogg or mp3. (more…)

posted by colin at 10:20 pm  

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Election Debate tonight

There’s going to be a live debate tonight with politicians from the major parties discussing Internet and ICT policy. There’s online chat and a chance for you to submit your questions. It’s going out on Freeview TV7 at 9pm. Check it out on I’m part of the behind-the-scenes crew.

Update: It’s all over now. Mark Foster has blogged about the event, and Vik Olliver has posted about it, too.

Further update: The video’s all online. Links at

posted by colin at 3:58 pm  

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Do our politicians ‘get’ the Internet?

Today on Radio New Zealand National I try to answer the question of whether our politicians really ‘get’ the Internet.

There is a huge amount of change being driven into our society by technology – what we do for a living, how we do it, how we are entertained, and even how we interact with our politicians. And we definitely deserve leaders who comprehend and embrace that change, rather than people who cling to the verities of the industrial age.

Today’s piece was a bit of a light-hearted romp through party web sites and policies. Read on for my speaking notes or listen to the podcast.


posted by colin at 11:08 am  

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Internet-only suppression order

To those seeking to overturn Judge David Harvey’s Internet-only suppression order I can only say: be careful what you wish for.

I have no knowledge of this case beyond what’s in the media, but I do know that Judge Harvey is an expert at the Internet and its relevance to law. If he has some reason for suppressing these names on the Internet but not elsewhere then I am certain that reason makes sense legally. If people persist in taking the name from other media and putting on the Internet then Judge Harvey’s attempt will fail. If that happens, you can be certain that the next time a case like this rolls around the suppression will be blanket, not just the Internet.

I’m amazed that the off-line media are challenging this decision (reportedly).

posted by colin at 5:48 pm  

Monday, August 25, 2008

Radio – change of time

From now on, I’m going to be on Nine to Noon straight after the 11am news on Thursdays. A slightly earlier time – don’t miss it!

posted by colin at 1:29 pm  

Friday, August 22, 2008

Is the Internet a basic human right?

Luckily, we don’t have to figure that one out. Because Judith Tizard, the Minister for Copyright, told us that Internet is a human right last night at a book launch.

She was launching Connecting the Clouds, about which I will blog more shortly, at the National Library here in Wellington. And she made this bold assertion in front of a crowd of perhaps 100 people including the Government CIO and the National Librarian.

Now, the thing about human rights is that you can’t, morally, deprive someone of them. So, we can rest assured the Government won’t be passing any legislation which cuts off people’s Internet access for doing something that, say, copyright holders object to.

That’s good news.

posted by colin at 7:19 am  

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Secretly taping people

Today on Radio New Zealand National I talked about the technology involved in secretly taping someone. It’s not that hard, although most of us would consider it very rude.
Read on for my speaking notes or listen to the podcast.


posted by colin at 11:50 am  

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Weird but interesting…

…in a geeky kind of way. Over in the hill in Featherston, Rowan Smith has posted a video of the Huygens lander hitting Titan. There was no camera crew, of course – this video is part live feed from a camera on the bottom of the probe, and part visualisation from the instruments. And there is sound from a mic on the lander.

Go on, you know you want to.

posted by colin at 12:01 pm  
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