Writings on technology and society from Wellington, New Zealand

Thursday, November 29, 2007

On the Internet no-one knows you’re a dog

or so runs a 1993 cartoon from the New Yorker. Today on Radio New Zealand National I talked about the practicalities of knowing who people are on the Internet, about the scary abuses of identity information that some governments have engaged in recently, and about a very clever New Zealand proposal to offer a way to prove your identity on the Internet without the Big Brother overtones. Read on…

posted by colin at 11:51 am  

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Copyright and the creative commons

This week on Radio New Zealand National I talked about copyright and the Creative Commons. I started the item by playing “Imbube” – the first track on Renaissance, a CD by the Soweto String Quartet, which sounds oddly familiar until you realise its striking similarities to “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”.

From there the discussion went on through the good and the bad of copyright, and how the Creative Commons represents a way to prevent copyright being used to lock up our culture.

I end with a link to a great video by Laurence Lessig on how copyright is being used to strangle culture. Enjoy!


posted by colin at 10:50 am  

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Only Connect!

This phrase is the epigraph to EM Forster’s 1910 novel Howard’s End, and it encapsulates both the emptiness of English society he was writing about and the capability the Internet gives us today. Yesterday I spoke at a meeting of IABC Wellington, which is a place where people who communicate for a living come together. The subject was social media – that’s wikis, blogs and so forth, and should communicators look at communicating through them? The answer I gave, as you might guess, was a resounding “yes”.

The Internet is the ultimate communications tool – using the term “communications” in its widest sense – and anyone who communicates for a living needs to be following it as it evolves. And evolve it is: social media on the Internet will drive as much of change in the way we communicate with each other as the introduction of the Internet did, and as the printing press and broadcast media did in their day. It’s good to see many communications professional getting this.

Another speaker at the event was Todd Hattori, the global chair of the IABC. He is a master communicator – as you might imagine – and I am in awe at his skills. As well as the “whether” and “how to” of social media, Todd spoke about ethics in communications. And I think he is right to – there is a stereotype of misleading PR spin, which is sadly justified on a few occasions, and Todd and the IABC are seeking to make such behaviour unacceptable. Good on them.

posted by colin at 7:51 am  

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The father of the computer

Today on Radio New Zealand National I talked about the man who is generally regarded as the father of the modern computer – someone who didn’t get recognition in his lifetime and died in ignominy. He’s now seen as one of the heroes of the twentieth century. Read on…

posted by colin at 11:57 am  

Friday, November 9, 2007

Internet service providers – the good, the bad and the ugly

Earlier this week Consumer released its annual ISP survey. The big news on this, sadly, wasn’t the good, or even the excellent, but the ugly.

For the third year running, Xtra has come bottom. And not just bottom, but 42% – a massive slump from their abysmal 55% last year. On just about every dimension of customer satisfaction Consumer measure, Xtra gets a black mark.


posted by colin at 8:02 am  

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Podcasts – what, why and how?

Today on Radio New Zealand National I talked about podcasts – what they are, why they are useful, and how to use them. You can use them to listen to radio programmes you have missed, or to ones that aren’t broadcast in New Zealand, or to programmes that were made for podcast and have never been on the radio. And you don’t even need an iPod – just a computer and broadband.

Read on for my notes, with links at the end.

posted by colin at 10:50 am  

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

get out more

According to polling company Zogby a quarter of Americans think the Internet could replace their partner. Err, come again?

The same survey found, though, that if it were possible to implant an Internet feed directly into the brain only 11% of Americans would choose to do so. That’s…reassuring.

Any NZ polling companies up for a bit of pro bono research on this?

posted by colin at 6:25 am  

Monday, November 5, 2007

YouTube, They tube…now Kiwis tube

That’s right…amid the hoopla about about launching the New Zealand channel on YouTube, spare some time to look at the home-grown equivalent.

Kiwitube runs from Kerikeri, and shows local video of New Zealanders doing all manner of things. Go and take a look!

posted by colin at 6:19 am  

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A New Zealander elected to chair ICANN

It has just been announced that Peter Dengate Thrush will be ICANN’s new chair.

ICANN is the body that runs the core of the Internet – the domain name system and address allocations. Until yesterday, it was chaired by Vint Cerf, one of the Internet’s inventors. Big shoes to fill, although I am sure Peter will prove equal to the task.

Peter has been involved in Internet governance since the early days. He is one of the founders of InternetNZ, and like me is a former president of that body. Peter has worked with ICANN since before there was an ICANN, and with the rest of the New Zealand contingent he has played a big part in moulding ICANN into what it is today.

I hope Peter gets a few days to bask in the vote of confidence he has received through his election before he gets down to work.

Congratulations Peter.

posted by colin at 11:40 am  

Thursday, November 1, 2007

How to load your CDs onto your ipod

Today on Radio New Zealand National I talked about how you go about turning you CD collection into a music library you can listen to on your iPod or other portable music player. There’s some concrete advice in there, do read it if you are interested in having a go yourself.

Just one point before going ahead, though. As the law in New Zealand is currently, loading your CDs into your computer or iPod is illegal. That’s right, against the law. It’s perfectly legal in most other countries, of course. The government has shown us a draft law which is supposed to make it legal to use your iPod, but the last time anyone saw that, it still had big holes in. New Zealand badly needs the government to make iPods unconditionally legal as they are everywhere else.

Read on for the speaking notes, and some links at the end.


posted by colin at 10:50 am  

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