Monday, October 26, 2009

Is internet voting the future of democracy?

According to an article published in The Australian today (Meade, A 27/10/09, Net role urged for poll messages, <,28124,26258011-7582,00.html>), the vast majority of 18-24 year olds would prefer online voting rather than the current mail-based system for the next referendum.

Currently, the legislation states that all citizens eligible to vote must be sent two 2000 word essay in a pamphlet via post in order to vote in a referendum. In this day and age when the majority of young people think 'homework' whenever they hear the word essay, this is perhaps an ineffective means of communicating with today's youth. Apparently, 47 per cent of people in this age group surveyed stated that they would prefer the information to be delivered via a social networking site such as Facebook. Given that young people are less politically savvy and feel more disconnected from politics than ever before, perhaps we do need to embrace new technology to stay relevant to our future leaders of this country. It is interesting to note that the article states that only 11 per cent of respondents aged over 65 stated that they felt Facebook would be an effective means of communicating referendum information. If this is the case - why not let people choose for themselves? Give people the option of either voting online or by mail and perhaps we will see the tide start to turn and youth participation in politics pick up again. It's worth a try, time will tell...

Class reunion

Having had quite a few weeks off between classes it was great for all the students of Annie's IPD 09 class to come together and discuss how we had chosen to go about creating our artefacts. We then worked to create a programme outlining the order of presentation of our artefacts next week which will be our final class.

Having spent a number of weeks perfecting my three artefacts, I can honestly say that I have learnt invaluable lessons in the process. I had never created a brochure or a magazine article before, and in doing so along the way I certainly learnt there is a lot more to be considered when creating such publications that meets the eye! From colour schemes to adequate white space to font selection, it seems there is so much detailed thought and planning that goes into creating such pieces. On the other hand, I realised that intervening in someone else's text and making it my own causes me to reflect on my own attitudes towards the message the text is trying to convey. Through this process I was able to explore attitudes and biases that I never knew I had.

Finally, the biggest and most painful lesson that I learnt is to be thorough and check everything over and over again. Initially I got a verbal quote from a professional printing company to have my three artefacts printed off that I thought was reasonable, so I agreed to email them the files so they could print them off. In doing so, I unwittingly sent them the wrong file which was a previous draft that contained a couple of spelling errors because I was in a hurry and failed to check that it was the correct file before I sent it. When I reached the printers' to collect my artefacts they proceeded to charge me triple what they had originally quoted me and then denied that they had ever given me a verbal quote. There wasn't much I could do so I reluctantly paid the amount they wanted and after carefully examining the artefacts that was when I also discovered the spelling errors. Given the expense that I had already gone to I did not have sufficient funds to have the artefact printed off without the errors, and as a consequence my artefact will now look less professional than I would have liked. Through this I learnt two very important lessons - firstly, always get a written quote and secondly, check check and recheck things before they go for final printing.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ethical blogging

According to a recent article published on the ABC news website (Bruns, A. 21/10/09, King Canute's guidelines for bloggers, in America the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) intends to crack down on bloggers who promote goods in return for cash or benefits. The article goes on to argue that it is impossible to regulate all of the vast amount of posts in the blogosphere, and that even if it were possible, the majority of blog followers wouldn't be interested in hearing about the sanctions imposed anyway. This is an interesting debate as I have touched previously on the ethics of blogging and advertising posts on sites such as Twitter. In the past I have stated that I feel any paid advertising on such sites would not be overt and thus could potentially be misleading to those who are not particularly media-savvy, i.e. tweens and teens. I am still of this opinion, however I do recognise that it is impractical for one single organisation to enforce regulations on the entire blogosphere. Rather, I believe it is the responsibility of individual bloggers to adhere to their own ethical code when posting. For example, I would feel pretty bad walking up to a 10 year old and telling them that a certain product is fantastic and watching them spend all their pocket money on something that I personally believed was awful. That is my own moral code and, as far as I'm concerned, if I wouldn't behave in such a way in real life why should I alter my conduct in cyberspace? The end results are just the same, even if the impact is not as visible when sitting behind a computer. No amount of formal regulation can possibly eradicate this practise, it is up to individual bloggers to think hard before they post and listen to their conscience before praising a product they have little faith in.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

You Have Been Warned

It seems those naughty journo's just can't keep their opinions to themselves. According to an article published in The Australian (Jackson, S 12/10/09, MEAA calls to spell out blogging policies), a Brisbane sub-editor was sacked for his loose-lipped comments about the paper published on his own personal blog. Apparently, the former employee is 'astonished' to have lost his job as a result and feels that a warning would have been much more appropriate. However, according to the editor of the newspaper concerned, 'There is no way, as a newspaper editor, I could entertain that I was paying for someone to sub copy - which implies they're improving it - while they're using their time to go on the internet and criticise the copy'.

I can't help but agree with the newspaper editor here - such behaviour is indefensible on a number of levels. Firstly, bad-mouthing your employer in the public domain whatever the circumstances is a recipe for disaster. You risk irrepairable damage to your credibility, and due to the public nature of the display this will have ramifications for gaining future employment within the same industry as well. Secondly, using the Internet for non-work related matter is a waste of employers' time and money, akin to having a smoke and fag out the front when you should be working. This scenario is no different to the employee being discovered conducting a personal phone conversation bad-mouthing the company when he should be working. Such behaviour is not condoned in any workplace and no sane employee would allow themselves to be caught by the boss engaging in such conduct. In this day and age, one has to assume that anything broadcast in the public domain of the Internet will eventually make its way back to the boss. Therefore, the rule of thumb is - if you wouldn't say it out loud don't put it online. You have been warned...

CGI in Advertising

According to a recent article in the Australian (Sinclair, L 12/10/09, Digital images take truth out of advertising), up to 80% of advertisements in Australia use computer generated imaging (CGI). Apparently, this is most common in the car industry as manufacturers need no longer go to the expense of building a prototype, rather they can just use a CGI for the purposes of advertising. What is more interesting, however, is that it is almost impossible to detect the difference between a CGI and a live image.

Certainly, it is much more cost effective for international companies to use this method of advertising rather than making specific advertisements to target individual companies. For example, a phone manufacturer can make one advertisement and add in a CGI background according to the country the advertisement is being shown in. Previously, the same company would have been required to shoot the same advertisement in several locations around the world. However, I believe this shift towards using generated images rather than real-life examples is an indication of a larger trend in western society towards living in a world that is surreal. In my opinion, this technology is not just being utilised as a cost-saving measure by companies but rather to 'tweak' some of the very imperfections that make human beings unique. It is a dangerous world that we live in where even international swimmers at the peak of physical fitness have their images digitally altered in promotional shots in an attempt to achieve some kind of 'perfection'. What kind of message does this send to younger generations, too young to understand that their idols don't really look like this, who push themselve to achieve the same kind of unattainable physical stature? Similarly, what about the young driver who borrows Dad's brand new car and, after seeing it advertised on television speeding through corners with precision handling, decides to try the same manouvre only to find the CGI of its handling is nowhere near a depiction of reality?

Clearly, advertising using CGI is here to stay and will doubtless become more prevalent in the future, especially given the current financial climate. I, for one, will be far more skeptical when viewing advertising in the future, armed with the knowledge that in the current media environment nothing is what it seems...