In the past two weeks or so there has been enormous controversy over an alleged “leaked wikilinks” site to the Australian Government sanctioned “blacklist” of sites banned from Australia.
Last night, the ABC aired a program called “QandA” in which the Minister for Communication, Stephen Conroy, attempted to address the issue of censorship and the outrage that has ensued since the linked blacklist hit the media.
One of the best uses of twitter is the ability to engage in real time back channel conversation during the program with hundreds of internet savvy users adding to the commentary.
Using a technique of a hashtag (#), a channel of discussion was opened under #qanda here. The mood was one of surprise, disbelief and disgust as the Minister failed to respond articulately to any question he was asked. In general the whole segment left me feeling embarrassed that the Labour Government, who I voted for, had such an inept Minister for Communications. But it also left me worried even more for the future of young people in this country, as their access to genuinely educational and life-long learning materials is seriously compromised.
If the people leading us in this area have such clear contempt for digital communication forms and social media (oh, yes, even facebook was tauted as the innocuous breeding ground of the morally evil), and have clearly done little more than read an email themselves, then perhaps, might I humbly suggest, we need some leaders who are innovators themselves to be leading us forward instead of back into the years before I was even born!
Ironically, while the QandA show was airing across Australia, the following screenshot shows how the censorshop site was was hacked into and text manipulated to reveal genuine social angst about what seems to be happening in Australia:
So, I’ve added a badge to the sidebar to support the movement of “no clean feed”.
But I still can’t get over the crazy things that came out of that session last night. There are so many issues wrong with what some panel members said. Technical inaccuracies, questionable ethics, use of fear tactics, and a general lack of knowledge about what and how online media is stored, located, and accessed.
I feel responsible as an educator to teach young people about the critical and ethical consumption and production of online media. That’s my job. That’s the job of well trained teachers. That’s the job of parents. It is a really crucial aspect of online literacy development. But if that’s all decided by the Government, and some secret elite group have made those decisions, then our young people will never learn these skills, and if and when the time comes to use them, they will flounder around unsuccessfully.
I thought twitter would be useful for maintaining my professional networks. Who knew it would open up a deeper sense of social activism in me!
UPDATE: better and more comprehensive discussions of these issues here: