MODM #1 wrap-up

So last night, as promised, we held MODM #1, the meetup for Melbourne’s Online Digital Media community. There were thousands of us there, spilling out into the street, dancing semi-naked on the tables, causing riots, drinking shots, it was absolutely wild. You really missed out if you weren’t there. The things I saw would shock you to the core.

Anyway, make sure you don’t miss the next one.

Details will be worked out over on our new MODM Forum.

Cam’s World 24 April, 2007

Eddie Van Halen has new teeth!
Eddie Van Halen's new teeth

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Thanks to everyone who commented, emailed and IMd about my dark clouds yesterday. Really, there is nothing to worry about. Today I’m back on top, thinking more about “the future” and less about “the past” (neither of which really exist, of course, other than mental constructs in “the now”). It’s part chemical, part psychological. The questions I’m asking myself today are better than the self-pity dialogue I had yesterday. Today’s it’s all about “what can I do differently?” rather than “how the hell did I end up here?”.

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John Howard won’t pull Australian troops out of Iraq because he doesn’t want the US to be “humiliated”. It’s this kind of muddled thinking which has totally undermined Australia’s credibility on the world stage. Our continued involvement in the tragedy of Iraq, our refusal to sign Kyoto, our treatment of refugees in internment camps, and our treatment of our indigenous people have left Australia’s international reputation severely lacking. Humiliated? The US has already been humiliated by Iraq. I can’t see how acknowledging their mistake is going to lead to more humiliation. We teach our children that admitting a mistake is the first step to learning from it and resolving it. So it tells you a lot about a government’s willingness to learn and grow when it cannot admit its own mistakes. Do they think history will punish them more for admitting a mistake than for perpetuating one?

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G’DAY WORLD #230 – The Importance Of Skepticism

I’m often criticized by those who know me best as being an incurable skeptic. So it’s my pleasure today to have as my guest Barry Williams, an Executive Officer with the Australian Skeptics and editor of their quarterly journal. Barry and I talk about the WHY and HOW of being a good skeptic. You can subscribe to their journal, The Skeptic, here for $44 a year.

Don’t forget to make use of my new comments line – Aussies can dial into +613 9016 9699. The rest of you can either pay international charges (cmon, what price can you put on being on my show??) or just start begging me to set up an international number.

If you enjoyed this podcast, make sure you don’t miss future episodes by subscribing to our feed and leave us a voice comment!

The G’Day World Theme Song is “Save Me” by The Napoleon Blown Aparts.


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G’Day World feed borked??

I’ve been getting reports over the last week that the G’Day World RSS feed is sending out the data without any formatting so it appears as just one long string of text. Can anyone confirm or deny? It would be good to know if it’s happening across the board or just with certain readers. We have no idea what’s causing it yet. Apologies to those affected.

G’DAY WORLD #229 – Sunshine and Dark Clouds

dark cloud

No guest today, just a bit of a chat about:

    1. Robert Rodriguez’s cooking show on the Sin City Recut DVD
    1. this report that less than 7% of Australians believe cosmetics advertising
    1. a review of “The Receipt” by Will Adamsdale and Chris Branch, currently showing in the Melbourne Comedy Festival

    1. ExxonSecrets, a site that helps you follow the money behind the climate change skeptics
    1. my review of George Romero’s 1985 classic “Day Of The Dead”
    1. my review of Danny Boyle’s current film “Sunshine” starring Aussie actress Rose Byrne and Cillian Murphy
    1. the spoof website MiningNSW which the Mining Council of NSW has been trying to shut down
    1. and then I finish with a little chat about my friend, the darkness, and what to do about it.
  • Don’t forget to make use of my new comments line – Aussies can dial into +613 9016 9699. The rest of you can either pay international charges (cmon, what price can you put on being on my show??) or just start begging me to set up an international number.

    If you enjoyed this podcast, make sure you don’t miss future episodes by subscribing to our feed and leave us a voice comment!

    The G’Day World Theme Song is “Save Me” by The Napoleon Blown Aparts.


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    Thanks Scienta!

    I’ve been meaning to publicly thank Scienta for the gift of a Flickr Pro account! She has also been telling me about a service which lets you set up a USA mailing address called MyUS.com. They will forward any mail that comes in to your regular address. Handy if you want to subscribe to magazines in the US, etc. Looks kind of expensive to me though. $150 to sign up, please the forwarding fees.

    Anybody else using similar services and think they save money?

    Nothing Like A Cleanskin Moleskine

    Ahhh… I cracked open a cleanskin Moleskine last night and have spent some time today wondering how I might hack it.

    I tell ya, I don’t know what I did without Moleskines for so long. There is something mystical, magical, intoxicating about them. I swear I get almost as much joy out of cracking open a cleanskin Moleskine as I do turning on a new PC for the first time. There is a sense of exploration, of new beginnings, of promises, boy’s own adventure about it, that I find myself putting the moment off, not sure that I’m truly ready for the responsibility…

    This new one is purely for me to write down my thoughts, ideas, inspirations, revelations – no tasks, no productivity stuff, no goals – just to contemplate, ponder, poke at the hidden meanings of my internal monologue.

    Via PigPog I discovered my latest hack from moleskinerie – using Excel to create a page index which gets pasted into the first four pages of the new book.

    Here’s the one I have put together:
    moleskine index
    (click on the image to download my Excel template for free!)

    It’s set up for 200 pages which accommodates the 192-page ruled notebooks with the pocket, not the tiny form factor (I’ve got a couple of those but struggle to write small enough in them to make them useful).

    I simply print it out, slice it up into four separate pages that get glued (using 3M Repositionable Spray Adhesive) into pages 2 – 5 of the new book. I actually like to leave page one completely blank. In the index I can keep a note of the topics I’m writing about in the book for fast future reference.

    I also recently learned to keep a page-sized piece of blotter paper in between the current page I’m up to, to stop ink blots appearing on pages from when I shut the page before the ink from my uni-ball eye pen has completely dried. I’m using paper from an art book which I find does a good job and has a nice rough feel to it. I used just a cut-down piece of printer paper before that though, which worked just as well but didn’t have the same tactile texture to it. I’m a very tactile kind of guy. I like to touch. 🙂

    Anybody else want to share with me their current favourite Moleskine hacks?

    Cam’s World for 21 April, 2007

    I’m scanning the headlines this morning and see this one on News.com.au: “Priest claims praying ‘pointless’“. You just know that’s going to get my attention, right? I thought to myself “I can’t wait to show this to Father Bob!”

    You should have heard me laugh when I opened it and read:

    “SOUTH Melbourne priest Bob Maguire says church leaders across Australia can pray for rain “until they go black in the face” but it won’t solve the water crisis.”

    I love it when Bob says what he really thinks and bucks the establishment.

    This week’s episode of The Father Bob Show on TPN should be fun. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about our “duty of care” to the indigenous population of Australia and I want to talk to Bob about it.

    ******

    I have decided that I am a racist. And it bothers me deeply.

    Let me explain. A racist isn’t just someone who thinks other races are inferior to one’s own. I’m not that kind of racist. A racist is also someone who values another race less than one’s own. And based on my growing understanding of the situation that the indigenous population of this country is in, combined with how little I have personally done about it, I have decided that I must have valued their lives less than I should. And I think that makes me a racist. And I’m going to change.

    200 years ago, European Christians, mostly from Great Britain, came to Australia. They invaded the country. Committed an act of mass genocide. Stole the entire continent from its traditional owners. They took children from their families, as recently as 40 years ago, thrusting them into Christian educational institutions.

    What reparations has the United Kingdom made? What reparations has Christianity made? What reparations have *I* made?

    Me? What did *I* do to them?

    Nothing directly. But I am profiting off of what was done to them.

    What duty of care do the people of European descent in this country have to the descendants of the aboriginals who were treated so abhorrently?

    It doesn’t matter if our direct ancestors weren’t involved. WE are still profiting from that theft. The asset that was stolen from the indigenous population, this land, is our greatest source of wealth and prosperity.

    If scientists found a living dodo specimen, wouldn’t we all feel a duty of care for it, even though our direct ancestors may not have been the ones who wiped out the rest of the dodo population?

    Why then don’t we feel the same duty of care for an entire race?

    Saying ‘it was 200 years ago’ isn’t a justification. Only 60 years ago, the international community gave the Jewish people an entire country which hadn’t been theirs for thousands of years. That’s a precedent for reparations.

    Let’s say that when Napoleon annexed Italy in 1796 it had stayed under French control until now. Do you think the international community would be telling France to give Italy back to the Italians? 200 years isn’t a long time.

    What if Japan had successfully invaded Australia during WWII. What if they have murdered the majority of Australians, taken their land, their homes, their crops. What reparations do you think we would be demanding today? Would we be satisfied with an annual stipend and access to education? Would we be saying “well that was your parents, not the current generation, so nothing can be done to turn back the clock?”

    West Germany paid reparations to Israel for the Holocaust. What is the statute of limitations on genocide?

    The Australian Aboriginal people lived here for 40,000 – 75,000 years before the Christian invasion and genocide. It is estimated that there could have been 750,000 – 1,000,000 of them at that time. By the early 20th century the indigenous population had declined to between 50,000 and 90,000. Today there are less that 500,000 descendants.

    A friend of mine, Andrew Mullins, put it to me this way a couple of years ago:

    “What if scientists discovered a population of humans living deep in the jungles of the Amazon who had been around for 40,000 years? How do you think they would treat them? They would wrap them up in cotton wool and treat them with the utmost respect.”

    He opened my eyes to something, I am embarrassed to admit, that I hadn’t given much thought to. It is my belief that the media, the government, and the education system in this country, in fact ALL of us in this country, have willfully and knowingly obfuscated and belittled the issue of our responsibility to the indigenous peoples of this country.

    Now – giving back the land, moving 22 million people out of Australia, is obviously impossible. But what, then, do we do? I am increasingly uncomfortable with the general opinion I hear from other white people in this country that “we give them money and they get unequaled access to opportunities – what more do they want?”.

    We cannot wash our hands of this.

    Russell Buckley asked me recently:

    “What are we doing today that our descendants will look back on in disbelief and ask themselves how on earth we could have done that, thinking it was normal, or certainly harmless?”

    I think perhaps our minimal concern over our duty of care to the Aboriginal peoples of Australia is one of those things.

    Cam’s World for 20 April, 2007

    It struck me last night while reading Brian Greene’s tremendous “The Elegant Universe” that if religious types were at all genuine, they would be digging through books on physics and chemistry like they were the new word of God. I’ve read the explanation of the double-slit experiment time after time over the last 20 years and it *still* blows me away. It brings out an awe and wonderment in me that I can only connect with a religious experience. The fact that most so-called religious types don’t study what we’re learning about the way our universe operates is a testament to how serious they really are at understanding “the mind of God” (as Stephen Hawking put it).

    The Elegant Universe

    ******

    Apparently this week marks 40 years of talkback radio in Australia. As anyone who has been watching Media Watch (and you *should*) knows, the state of talkback radio in this country hit an all-time low last week when Alan Jones and his station 2GB were found as having breached the code of practice by ACMA (for inciting violence) and then they spent the week thumbing their nose at the ruling.

    For those of you who haven’t bothered reading Chris Masters’ excellent book on Jones, “Jonestown“, here is a quick review of his career highlights according to Wikipedia:

  • In December 1988, Jones was arrested in a public lavatory block in London’s West End. He was initially charged with two counts of outraging public decency by behaving in an indecent manner under the Westminster by-laws.
  • For a time until 1990, Jones had been writing for The Sun-Herald but it announced that Jones’ column would no longer appear following a petition by staff calling for his removal as a contributor. This followed Jones’ publication of a column predicting an oil crisis, in which a large amount of material had been taken from Frederick Forsyth’s novel ‘The Negotiator’ without attribution or indication that their source was a work of fiction.
  • Between 2002 and early 2004, the “Cash for comment” investigation was conducted. Jones had been accused of contracting to have personal commercial support in exchange for favourable “unscripted” comments, principally for Telstra and QANTAS, during his radio show. The independent Australian Broadcasting Corporation TV show, Media Watch, was heavily involved in exposing these practices. The Australian Broadcasting Authority finally decided that disclosure had to be made, hence the “Commercial Agreement Register” at the Jones portion of his station’s web site. (Jones was investigated along with John Laws from 2UE.)
  • Also in April 2004, a stream of flattering letters to Jones from Professor David Flint, Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Authority, came to light. This called into question the impartiality of Flint, and the then Federal Minister for Communications, Daryl Williams, was embroiled in media speculation as to the future of Flint. With an inquiry imminent, Flint resigned. In an appearance on the ABC’s Enough Rope, John Laws accused Jones of placing pressure on Prime Minister John Howard to keep Flint as head of the ABA, made comments that many viewers took to imply a sexual relationship between Jones and Flint and broadly hinted that Jones was homosexual like Flint, who is openly gay.
  • In December 2005, in the lead-up to the Cronulla riots, Jones used his breakfast radio programme to read out and discuss a widely-circulated text message calling on people to “Come to Cronulla this weekend to take revenge… get down to North Cronulla to support the Leb and wog bashing day”. Media commentator David Marr accused Jones of inciting racial tensions and implicitly encouraging violence and vigilantism by the manner of his responses to callers even while he was verbally disapproving of them taking the law into their own hands.
  • (and, the most recent… )

  • Today Jones was fined $1000 and put on a nine-month good-behaviour bond for naming a juvenile witness in a murder trial. (link)
  • And yet Joan Warner, head of Commercial Radio Australia, says the radio industry in this country should “pat itself on the back”. Please. Hang your heads in shame, more likely.

    But who is really responsible for people like that being on radio? The owners of the station? Or the people who continue to listen to him and therefore enable him to continue earning millions by behaving in this manner? Do we get the media we deserve? Or should the owners of media companies try harder to provide us with people worth listening to?

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    Meg Tsiamis from dLook obviously has way too much time on her hands. She has compiled a list of the Top 100 Aussie Blogs by Australian Audience. Unfortunately TPN didn’t make it into the top ten (we were at #12) and so didn’t make it into yesterday’s AGE.
    top aussie blogs

    I can’t work out why Darren’s eternally-popular Problogger site was named #1 in The Age article while Meg had In The Mix as #1 but I’m sure there is a good reason.
    ITM is a real surprise. Who knew dance music had a following? 🙂 Congrats to the folks at ITM, they are obviously doing a terrific job. I need me some dance music podcasts. I also can’t work out how Meg determined popularity by AUSTRALIAN audience. Can you filter Alexa or Technorati by the geography of the audience?

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    It’s almost enough to make me believe in God. A new Napoleon film comes out. And it stars Monica Belluci. What more could I ever ask for??? (Okay, apart from actually getting to meet Monica…).

    Elba island, 1814. Martino is a young teacher, idealist and strongly anti-Napoleonic, in love with the beautiful and noble Baroness Emily. The young man finds himself serving as librarian to the Great Emperor in exile whom he deeply hates yet soon begins recording Napoleon’s memoirs, getting to know and learning to value the man behind the myth. Among seductions and affairs, expectations and fears, he will craft a precise portrait that never less will not manage to hide a final, inevitable, disappointment.

    Here’s a link to the trailer (in Italian).

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    Speaking of trailers… the new trailer for “Live Free or Die Hard” is surprisingly cool. Good to see Timothy Olyphant doing something big now that Deadwood has been canceled. It’s a big jump up for director Len Wiseman as well. His Underworld films were pretty cool concepts but never really seemed to pull it off… not that you need much of an excuse to watch Kate Beckinsale for a couple of hours.

    ******

    I’ve decided that running a startup is a little like running a marathon. Not that I know anything about running a real marathon (and I have no intention of ever finding out), but stick with me on the analogy.

    A startup, be it a business or a podcast, takes time to build. I was reminded of this when I sat at E&Y the other day. One of their guys gave a presentation talking about how it takes 5 years for a business to get through the startup phase. It takes another 10 – 15 years to become a mature business. Phillip Goodman from Rivers talked about his business lost money for something like the first 8 years.

    Hanging around with the web 2.0 crowd, it’s easy to forget that. There’s this idea in web circles that if you ain’t a billion business in 18 months then you’re doing something wrong. Of course, most of the people who try to pull that off, usually end up flaming out. 0.0001% pull it off.

    I see the same thing with podcasters all the time. They start off with these huge promises, oh they are just going to take over the WORLD! They are SO TALENTED! The world has just been waiting for them to hit the scene. They are going to smoke it.

    Then, when a few months in they only have a few hundred listeners, they disappear from few. Pussies. I really respect the folks who come in and take a long term view. Not that you shouldn’t push yourself to grow each month, to stretch yourself – you should. You should have goal and a plan to achieve the goal. I’m always trying to get better at doing that stuff. But you have to have a long term view. It takes time to build.

    TPN is now at an interesting stage. When I look back over the last two years, I can see that on average we have grown our audience and our downloads at a rate of 15% month-on-month. Today we’ve got about 500,000 regular listeners. So it’s taken us two years (and change) to get to 500,000.

    However… if we keep up this growth curve (and who knows if we can?), then by September we should have a million monthly listeners. Five months later (Feb 07) we should hit 2 million. That’s the power of compound growth. Martin Wells from Tangler (who, btw, recently released their baby to the world, check it out if you haven’t already), shared some of his wisdom with me a while back. He talked about how when you build a startup you spend the first couple of years just getting through one month at a time until one day, you look back and realizing that your monthly revenue increase is more than you made in your first year. It takes time to build.

    Anyway… 2 million listeners starts to look like a real platform to build a business from. And Feb 07 will be our third anniversary as a network. If our revenue keeps growing the way it is, we should be having a lot of fun by then.

    But back to the marathon… I’m continually surprised by how few people can actually think in terms of 5 years. I don’t know – maybe playing chess for 30 years has helped me think long term. You can’t play chess at a high level unless you can think 20 moves ahead. I think business is a bit the same. Not that I consider myself an expert on either chess or business, I’m just a learner in both. I’m trying to get better at the business side of things. One day I hope to be able to spend more time getting better at chess.