Queensland Speaks

Posted Monday November 21, 2011 by John Gunders in |

This website comprises a series of interviews with key players in Queensland politics over the last 40 years:


This is the first I’ve heard of this initiative: perhaps it has only just gone live, there is no copyright date on the website. As it describes:

Queensland Speaks is a free website that presents the extraordinary personal and political world of decision making in Queensland over the past 40 years. It aims to enable students, researchers and the general public to gain some understanding of political and bureaucratic decision making in Queensland from the 1970s to the end of the Beattie Government in 2007.

Each interview is clearly summarised, and internally indexed to allow easy access to key points. There is also an extensive tagging system that allows the listener to follow themes across a number of different interviews, and the search mechanism seems to work well. There is also an effective in-text glossary of terms, which provide the explanation of acronyms or background to particular events.

Given the period involved is guess it’s natural that first thing I searched was “Fitzgerald inquiry.” This brought up six pages of references, covering more than twenty interviewees from all sides of politics and including people like Russell Cooper and Wayne Goss.

Coming from the Centre for the Government of Queensland at the University of Queensland, the main drivers of this initiative are Professor Peter Spearritt and Dr Danielle Miller. It is well worth a look.

Downfall Parodies Banned

Posted Wednesday April 21, 2010 by John Gunders in |

It seems that the Downfall parody clips on Youtube don’t amuse everyone.

The 2004, Oscar-nominated film by Oliver Hirschbiegel about the final days of Adoph Hitler has provided the basis for a persistent internet meme in which a key bunker scene is re-subtitled to have Hitler ranting about everything from poor grammar to Twitter’s tendancy to crash.

One of the fans of the parodies is Hirschbiegel himself. An interview published in New York Magazine earlier this year has this:

“Someone sends me the links every time there’s a new one,” says the director, on the phone from Vienna. “I think I’ve seen about 145 of them! Of course, I have to put the sound down when I watch. Many times the lines are so funny, I laugh out loud, and I’m laughing about the scene that I staged myself! You couldn’t get a better compliment as a director.” Some of Hirschbiegel’s favorites are the one where Hitler hears of Michael Jackson’s death, and one in which the Fuhrer can’t get Billy Elliot tickets.

Hirschbiegel’s view is not just that all publicity is good, although that must enter into it a bit, but that for people traumatised by the Second World War, laughing at Hitler is demystifying.

Update: Hitler gets reprieve from YouTube


Remember Any Internet Memes?

Posted Tuesday September 22, 2009 by John Gunders in |

I need a little help with a project I’m working on.

It would be really cool to find out what was the very first internet meme. I know this is impossible—by their nature internet memes are only recognised retrospectively*, and the first one would have been so long ago as to be long forgotten.

So what I’m looking for are examples of really old internet memes that still have some sort of archival existence (maybe just an article talking about it). Memes being intrinsically ephemeral, I’m struggling to remember one from last week, and I’m hoping the collective consciousness of teh internetz might help jog my memory.

Add any you can think of in the comments.

And thanks.

*OK, except maybe for something that was so suited to be a meme that it was recognised almost before it started, such as the Kanye West interruption meme.

Google and Digitisation (again)

Posted Tuesday June 30, 2009 by John Gunders in |

An interesting article by Lynne Spender in Meanjin about Google’s ambitions to digitise the world’s books (probably behind the paywall):

Perhaps I am optimistic by nature, but when Google first announced that it was planning to digitise the world’s books and create the greatest library ever, I was enthusiastic. I thought it was an example of digital technology doing for our generation—and those that follow—what print technology did for the generations of readers and writers after its introduction in the fifteenth century. Just as Gutenberg’s printing press brought increased and independent access to knowledge and information 600 years ago, it seemed possible that the Google Library Project’s searchable database of the world’s books would allow access to our entire cultural heritage in digital format. It would be a new res publica litterarum for a new age of digital enlightenment.

Spender’s article focused mainly on the IP and copyright issues of digitising books, but my interest is in the fundamental issue of a for-profit company owning potentially the only digital copies of the Western literary heritage. I’ve written about this before.

To this point Google seems to have acted honourably (the “Paper of Record” issue notwithstanding), but I still fear that one day all this treasure will find itself behind a paywall. Organisations such as Project Gutenberg cannot compete with the finances of Google and will be left behind.

As an update to my earlier post, it seems that Google has finally sorted out the technical problems and most of the material that was available through “Paper of Record” is now available through the Google News Archive Search. There is an interesting overview here from Inside Higher Ed. However, there remain complaints that the search interface is not nearly as user-friendly as the original.

Twitter users that never tweet

Posted Thursday June 11, 2009 by John Gunders in |

A new study reported by Ars Technica reveals that more than half of the people with Twitter accounts have never sent a tweet and have no followers:

A new report about how the majority of the population uses Twitter reveals that most people, well… don’t really use it. The microblogging service has grown exponentially over the last year, but a little more than half of its users have never sent a single tweet, according to the latest report from HubSpot. The report reminds us that, like many Web services, much of the content is produced by a small number of users while everyone else likes to look in and watch.

In breaking news, I can also reveal that many people who buy books never get around to reading them; that video-tapes and DVR harddrives are full of shows that never get watched; and that a significant number of wardrobes in this country contain unused exercise equipment bought from late-night infomercial programmes.


Don't Be Evil

Posted Tuesday March 10, 2009 by John Gunders in |

Since it was started in 1997, Google’s mantra has been “Don’t be evil”, perhaps with a sideways glance at another world-straddling software company that started out with guileless and youthful exuberance, and ended up as the evil empire. And certainly Google’s image is one of benign access, not control. We love the way they change the famous logo to celebrate holidays and significant events, and we all got nostalgic for their tenth birthday and marvelled at the clunky old designs, despite the fact that this pre-history only went back to 1995!

But I’ve been nervous about the fact that Google is buying up online archives, and embarking on their own digitisation programmes. Yes, there is a lot of stuff out there that needs to be preserved, but isn’t that the role of national libraries? I’m worried about the prospect of a private company owning so much of a nation’s heritage: even a non-evil company like Google.

Then the other day I heard about the case of a small newspaper archive site that disappeared after being vacuumed up by the Google machine:


Australian Researchers on Twitter

Posted Sunday March 8, 2009 by John Gunders in |

Re-posting Jason Wilson at Gatewatching.

I’ve been thinking that it might be handy to compile a list of Australian academics/researchers who are using Twitter. I’m trying to make a start with this post. If people could add themselves in the comments thread, giving their name, position and username, I’ll compile this information in a repost on this blog. I’ll start.

Dr Jason Wilson
Lecturer in Digital Communications, University of Wollongong

The motivation for this has to do with putting everyone in touch with each other, and us in touch with students. The last few posts I’ve done have been about how I’m using Twitter as a teaching and learning tool. Many students are now signed up, and getting to grips with what the service is all about.

I’ve been telling them how many leaders in their field of study are available, but it’s not easy to find everyone listed in one spot. I hope I can provide this for my students and others here.

Jason’s definition includes postgrads, sessional tutors, and so on: anyone working in a university or research context. Please follow the link and out yourself.

Facebook Terms of Use Fail

Posted Wednesday February 18, 2009 by John Gunders in |

Posted on—I assume—every Facebook user’s page this afternoon:

A couple of weeks ago, we posted an update to our Terms of Use that we hoped would clarify some parts of it for our users. Over the past couple of days, we have received a lot of questions and comments about these updated terms and what they mean for people and their information. Because of the feedback we received, we have decided to return to our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues that people have raised.

That’s the trouble with Web 2.0: those pesky content providers just won’t sit down and do as they’re told!

Community Service Announcement

Posted Tuesday February 17, 2009 by John Gunders in |

OK, I might be a little late coming to this, but I have always harboured a mistrust of Wordpress blogs because of that irritating “Snap Shot” feature which, in spite of my best efforts, I have never been able to disable.

However, having been tipped off by a self-confessed “Wordpress junkie” (thanks Clif), I redoubled my efforts, and thanks to the miracle of teh internetz, I discovered the solution.

If you have a blog on wordpress.com, for the love of god think of the children and disable that wretched piece of ad-ware.

Twitter as Notification Tool

Posted Tuesday December 9, 2008 by John Gunders in |

Some of you reading this (admittedly, not many) have come to this post because of a notification from Twitter. As I have mentioned previously, the magic of Twitterfeed and RSS provides an automatic system to advise of new posts on the blog. I set this up for a couple of reasons: first, obviously, I’d like to increase the readership of the blog and this seemed like a good place to start; second, I am exploring various technologies that might help keep a group of people in touch with activities, when I cannot rely on them actively seeking out the information.

Increasingly we are seeing Twitter used for this purpose: news services such as The Age have Twitter accounts, as do CNN, Crikey, and others—including some that only exist on Twitter —as do social and political groups, and of course, politicians. Even The University of Queensland has its own news feed.

But I have my reservations about this.