This post is by Malcolm Farr and News Ltd Data Journalist Lisa Cornish.
They are websites that people with ambitions in the field of information technology would be drawn to because of the promise of help with evaluating further study.
But they also are websites that someone having the merest contact with information technology would quickly recognise as being less than was promised. Instead of hard data there are asterisks and N/A notifications indicating their absence.
These sites, in myskills.gov.au, are here and here.They demonstrate the increasing possibility that government organisations and departments will throw material at the internet without any profound examination of whether it’s useful information, or information at all.
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Two things I hate: hunger in a world of plenty and ignorance where information is plentiful.
Waste and unfair distribution of food, energy and water are major sources of global misery, the proximate cause for the breakdown of social cohesion and the fuel of wars.
Most of us recognise this and for 60 years development agencies have been at work reshaping economies and the world trade system to reduce inequality. There is a long way to go; 2 billion of the world’s population still cling to the margins of survival, but the overall direction is positive. The same can’t be said for the eradication of ignorance in a world of plentiful information.
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This is regular monthly series on what’s happening in China from a political, social, environmental, music and arts perspective. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to contribute or suggest a topic for discussion.
Life as an expat in China throws up several essential experiences: climbing the Great Wall, eating an unfamiliar animal, and having your internet censored by the local authorities. That being said, you really need to go out of your way to do the first two. The third is organised for you.
Basically every foreigner who leaves for China comes armed with some sort of firewall-bypassing gadget, and it seems that the Chinese Censorship Brigade are concerning themselves with the destruction of these services instead of blocking individual articles, videos or links.
A free service that several Australians were using to get around the Wall, for instance, mysteriously stopped working for all of us on the same afternoon several weeks ago, and has been offline here ever since.
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The growth of the internet as an information and communications tool has always been tied intimately with the promise of connecting people beyond geographical and ideological boundaries, of expanding our knowledge through unprecedented access to multiple viewpoints.
This ideal is still embraced by some, notably in discussions of the “Twitter Revolutions”, but in a practical sense it’s as relevant as a physical Encyclopedia.
For most of us day-to-day internet use is fast moving away from providing individuals real choice, and ironically this is due to the “personalisation” of the web experience.
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Some one hundred years ago, US President Woodrow Wilson led the United States into World War I. He did so championing a new world order designed to avoid war.
Wilson’s new order was characterized, among other things, by an “open” diplomacy that discarded the secret dealings and alliances of the past. Wilson’s open diplomacy ran headlong into the realities of world politics; he met with stinging rejection by the US people; and within 20 years, the world was again at war.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange would have us believe that he, alone, can succeed where President Wilson failed.
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The “St. Kilda schoolgirl” and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange have, surprisingly, a lot in common.
Bear with me. Just as Assange’s careful trickle of classified cables gave the broadsheets something to write about daily (The Wikileaks Saga: Day 255 -Assange grows beard), the St Kilda school girl’s systematic release of nude and suggestive photos gave her an upper hand over the mainstream news media.
While Assange comes from a journalistic and computer hacker background, and the closest Miss St Kilda has probably come is reading Dolly magazine and getting her MySpace spammed, their strategic release of classified information into the public sphere is, surprisingly, similar.
Julian Assange’s extradition to Sweden for alleged sex crimes is destined to become an ugly, inconsequential sideshow to history.
Wikileaks’ revelation that Saudi Arabia egged the US into attacking Iran over its nuclear ambitions? A footnote. Australian Senator Mark Arbib spying on his colleagues and countrymen for the US government? Grubby trivia, at best.
The real historical weight of the Wikileaks saga lies within the undiscovered country of its endgame.
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Since its inception in the 1990s, governments have long since recognized the democratising functions of the web.
But control has always seemed impossible, even for a tool created by government.
Attempts to curtail online freedoms have come off looking like a girdle on a Leviathan.
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Transparency’s all the rage these days. And accountability. Politicians and public servants promise lots of both. “Our commitment to transparency is evidenced by our actions,” Kristina Keneally declared in parliament in November 2009.
With Kristina’s words ringing in my ears I approach a NSW government department with a request for an interview. “We value transparency”, its website declares, “the exchange of current and relevant information.”
This will be easy, I think to myself.
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