Tag Archives: network

What this election lacks

This is one of my favourite scenes from one of the ten top films of all time.

Fantastic story, brilliant script and a cast that grits and grumbles through a film that will leave you drained. There’s no high-speed fight scenes, no time/space/body-shifting heroes, no fantasy land; but since 1976, Network feels as modern a story as it did then. It informs us deeply about the world we live in, the machinations of the powerful and the television that dominates our lives now. Crammed with intelligently written scenes, full of a richness of meaning and purpose. Not to mention a very embryonic form of  social media.

The full scene, below, is brilliant if you have the time, but the clip above gives you the meat of the argument.

Apologies for the  French subtitles as everyone else only shows the truncated scene. Only the French understand mise-en-scéne and the second clip above captures the drama and operatic scope of the scene, from Howard’s lonely, determined, rain-soaked march to the thunder and passion of the entire city screaming into the night.

If only the current Australian election were able to elicit passion on this scale.

NIDA Teaching Session

Updated: 05/9/09

Cultural Antropology

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Money where your site is

The web began as a communication and collaboration tool but soon evolved into much more when someone sorted out how to pay for stuff through it. A secure protocol and security certificates helped make it happen but ultimately it was coders and credit card companies who put payment processes online.

Today the most well known payment process is undeniably PayPal, helped in no small part by the boom of eBay a few years back. I generally had no problem with paypal so long as I kept feeding it money to use for me and people happily paid for my eBay stuff through it. However, problems started when I migrated to Australia from the UK and both eBay and Paypal failed to move with me. Perhaps because Americans think no-one leaves the USA by choice, to move countries permanently, and their view is a world view, that this was not something worth catering for. I have to say it was easier to open a new bank account in my adopted country than to get paypal or eBay to acknowledge my move. I was told that i could change my address, of course, just not to another country.  Neither would accept that I should be able to keep my account open but update it with new address and payment information for another country.

The only answer was to open up a new account in my new country (with a new email address I might add since email is a unique identifier, of course). So goodbye eBay history and PayPay previous payments, and hello newborn newbie accounts. I suffered through the awkward separation and divorce and settled into newly-wedded bliss. Problem was though, my old relationships kept popping out through the cracks like a horror film zombie, to haunt my new babe with my past discretions.

This manifested itself in occasional top level domain redirection (.co.uk from the .com or .com.au I originally typed) or the refusal to buy an item restricted to aus addresses, even though my address and ip address clearly show Aussie-ness.

It would have been OK if the excuse I received made any sense, that it is to avoid international money laundering. That would suggest the system is incapable of managing a decent log of transactions or monitor accounts opening and closing rapidly. But confusingly for me, I don’t understand why it is incapable of understanding a person’s history online is important to them and in many ways, their own property.

Hopefully it’s not an excuse to increase the account count.

So even though it may be off topic, these are the kinds of questions I will be asking at the PayPal Developer Day in Sydney on Monday.

Basically, what is changing in the pay pal interface to make it easier and better for humans to get their tasks done?

Standardistas Unite!

Carrying on from my theme about using the online world to support rather than supplant the physical world, I thought I’d tell you about these monthly meetings I have been holding since late 2007, in London.

Called the Web Standards Meetup London, they aim to allow practitioners to discuss problems and successes with implementing web standards. There are a few other groups in London that do this but none as casually as this one, in a loose, network style.

What’s the big deal, then with web standards, anyway?

Quite a bit actually, and it has to do with how people and computers “read” websites, what we want from websites, both as users and creators/commissioners, and how to create structure around meaningful content so everyone wins. I’ll be discussing aspects of web standards over the next few months in here and on other sites on occasion but in the short-term, the elevator-pitch, as it were, is simply:

Semantically structured, standards-compliant, gracefully accessible web content, created with all visitors in mind, makes a website better for everyone and everything that visits it, from web-crawling search-spiders to web-savvy cyber-surfers.

The big problem has always been that people think it costs extra to code in this way or that the site will be less functional or attractive than it could be, but the opposite is true, actually. Once you set compliance, usability and findability as your target, the rest of the issues fall into place and it becomes easier to build, if you know how to.

So several of us (the group numbers 90 at present, but about 10 – 15 of us meet monthly) gather round and discuss what we can do to progress these practices into the wider web community. We would never have been able to organise something like this so easily without a site like Meetup or Upcoming to help one manage people and meeting dates.

So even though you may spend a few hours a week catching up with friends and colleagues on the internet, don’t forget to meet them in the flesh, in “meat-space” to make sure you can really connect! There4 really is no point to social networking sites unless you use them to occasionally meet and network physically.

If you are interesetd in the topic by the way, join up and I may even buy you a beer! *

*first few actual meat-space attendees and to be taken with a grain of salt!