Net Censorship

One of the big topics out there on the interweb is the newly proposed Government’s internet censorship. The Australian Government is planning to blacklist websites:

“The Government plans to impose a mandatory filter for all internet users that will block sites found on the secret ACMA blacklist and blacklists held by other countries. But only half of ACMA’s list is child pornography, while the rest is mainly X-rated porn and sexual fetish material.

A second, optional filtering tier, which will also be tested in the trial, will block content deemed inappropriate for children.”

However:

“Laboratory test results released in June by the Australian Communications and Media Authority found available filters frequently let through content that should be blocked, incorrectly block harmless content and slow network speeds by up to 87 per cent.”

The intent was good (i.e. blocking out child pornography and other associated material), but it should be on a voluntary basis. It seems that the unintended effects will block out other content and slow down the internet. There are freedom of speech issues here, as users should be able to self monitor their activities. If parents want to monitor their children’s activities, then fine apply the filter.  However, if other legitimate content becomes blocked than the mandatory censorship rules need to be reconsidered.

In addition, Australia’s network speed rate is incredibly slow compared to other countries like South Korea and the US. Anything to slow it down, would put us behind the rest of the world. Users are consuming content at an increasing rate, including downloading, watching videos and rich interactive media.

Net Censorshop Comments

I was looking at these comments today regarding employer’s blocking websites at the workplace.

(Sidenote – sometimes the comments in a news article or a blog post are just as valuable as the article itself. And that is the beauty of Web 2.0 – the ability to interact and read other reader’s comments. At times, I read an article for the comments not just the actual article. )

I agree that we are paid to work and shouldn’t be accessing non-work sites. But who works every minute between 9 to 5? We should be allowed to access news sites, facebook, banking websites, weather, and non-work email. If it does not affect your work and you can still be as productive, then why can’t you look at whatever you want on the internet? Most people are responsible enough not to spend the whole day on Facebook, emailing on hotmail or checking NBA scores (except during NBA Finals, that’s a different story).

However, the article is important because of the parallel between employer censorship and government censorship. As one reader puts it, the employer owns the network and your time at work, but the Government does not:

“The comparison between workplace filtering and public Internet censorship is only valid to show the technical limitations – e.g. filtering errors, effect on bandwidth, and how easily it can be subverted. Ethically there is no comparison possible. In the workplace, the employer owns the network and the means of access to the Internet, so they can do what they like. I would argue that it is better for productivity to let employees access some sites such as news and Internet banking (rather than have employees away from their desks to buying a newspaper or queuing in a bank), but it is the sole decision of the employer – it’s not ‘censorship’ if you provide the access in the first place, then restrict some of it.

Effectively an employer is paying for employees time and are therefore entitled to place restrictions on how employees spend that time. Rudd and Conroy’s proposal, however, IS censorship of the worst kind. The ALP does not own the Internet or the ISPs, nor does it own the public’s time. Yet they proposed to place mandatory restrictions on what we can and cannot access on the Internet. This must be fought and defeated.”

Posted by: Papachango of null 10:48am today
Comment 63 of 69

That is so true. This comment is also gold:

“The winner of China Idol = Australia!”

Posted by: Trev of qld 9:25am today
Comment 29 of 69

I remember when I went to China 4 years ago, and I could not access any blogs. Total denial of freedom of speech. They are famously know for their net censorshop activities including banning certain news websites like BBC. And this is not to mention their control of State media. I just hope we don’t go down this path where their intent is to ban pornography and other material, and then it extends to other freedoms.

I’m out like Net Censorship,

Matt Ho.

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Social Networking will eliminate email inboxes

I was thinking about this exact article content today. Whenever I first jump onto to the internet, I immediately check my facebook account and see what’s new and then Google Reader to see new articles fed to me via RSS and then my various email accounts.

But Facebook and other forms of social networks have started to eliminate email inboxes. We no longer swap email addresses with new people we have just met – its now “facebook me” , or “add me via facebook”. Before that it was “give me your number” and then “drop me an email”.

I’m using less email today and more of facebook and other tools like twitter, LinkedIN, yammer to see what people are up to. It’s much faster to do some microblogging via my facebook status or tweet it, then to drop an email to 20 people.

The other thing is, I don’t see why more transactions are completed within facebook or other social networks. To me these are like portals to the internet, where one day we could be doing banking transactions, searching, reading news, applying for jobs, buying goods and services through them. I’ve read that some people are trying to develop this, and it makes sense since we spend so much time within these networks anyway.

But it’s still going to be a long time before social networking eliminates email inboxes. Consumers and business people still prefer email as a form of communication. It is a much more trusted than blogging. Something like 20% of consumers trust blogging, though that percentage gets up to 40% amongst actual bloggers. I do believe that social networking and in particular RSS will replace email, as more people use these tools and the next generation arrive into the workplace.

Personally, I subscribe to about 15 different blogs / newsletters via RSS. I did it initially because I wanted to try it out, but its so awesome! I get regular updates and the newer stuff moves to the top. If I dont read the older stuff that’s ok, and I can quickly scan all the articles that I want to read. RSS isn’t widely used amongst friends and colleagues, but it should be!!! Instead of clogging up your inbox, it actually frees it up.

I’m out like email,

Matt Ho.

Eyeblaster

Online advertising is only going to get more creative and innovative over time. It is one of the cheapest media channels to advertise on, has high reach and has measurable response. Advertisers can see directly how many users viewed the ad, how many clicked on the ad, how many made a purchase after clicking on the ad.

In times where marketing budgets are becoming slimmer because of the global credit crunch, a lot of advertising is moving from traditional media into online. Our consumption of the internet has increased to 13.6 hours, for the first time overtaking TV consumption. Watching TV is becoming less and less exciting. With the explosion of broadband internet connections, being able to download tv shows and movies, and a growing on demand mentality, tv is becoming a dying format.

Ask any person aged 14-30, and the majority of their viewing is probably online. Ask them to name their favourite tv shows now, and they’ll most like scratch their heads for an answer. TV programming in Austraila doesn’t have a lot of quality right now.

I’ve been recommended a great place to view creative interactive advertising. Its this website called Eyeblaster. It has a lot of the really cool stuff out there. A couple that I have checked out include the Jarhead one with the smoke coming out of the ad, just like how the movie has a lot of smoke in it because they are fighting for the oilfields.

Also, check out this virgin vegas ad where the head of the Cleopatra moves around with the mouse and then blows fire!

I’m out like watching tv,

Matt.