The Assange dilemma. What is journalism in the online age?

By LAURIE PATTON | 13 June 2019 (Updated 24 June 2019)

Julian Assange released bulk material secured from US Government sources via the Internet, unfiltered and uncorroborated. If he had leaked it directly to the media outlets that subsequently, but selectively, published reports based on some of his WikiLeaks dumps he probably would not be in gaol facing extradition to the United States. His identity as a ‘source’ would have been protected. Ironically, any American journalists who used his material could quite possibly now be in prison for failing to reveal their source.

While I understand those who sympathise with Assange’s perilous personal position and accept that he is not in good health, let’s not applaud what was a dangerous practice and a dubious precedent – publicly exposing sensitive and unverified data that could potentially risk people’s lives and create unforeseen collateral damage.

There are calls for the Australian Government to help Assange, but it’s hard to see what can be done for the guy at this point.

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It’s the vision, stupid! Why we need #BetterBroadband

By LAURIE PATTON | 19 May 2019

While neither side of politics said much about our increasingly-maligned National Broadband Network during the election period, the fact is Australia is falling behind in the race to leverage the benefits – economic and social – of an emerging digitally-enabled future.

“It’s the economy, stupid” is the slogan attributed to James Carville, who was Bill Clinton‘s 1992 US presidential campaign strategist. It was about creating a clear message about his plans for the country.

In 2015, newly appointed prime minister Malcolm Turnbull similarly coined the term “innovation nation” to describe what he saw as a pressing need to make Australia more innovative and agile – and an issue that would differentiate his approach to government. Turnbull’s problem was that two years earlier, under pressure from his predecessor Tony Abbott, he had laid down tracks leading in the opposite direction.

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UPDATE: A tale of two smart cities – life in the NFP sector

By LAURIE PATTON | 16 May 2019

Back in January I wrote about my disappointing time at the helm of the Australian Smart Communities Association. Since then all the Annual Reports have been taken down from the ASCA website. This happened only days after I’d asked for a copy of the latest report, having noticed that it had not been posted on the website along with all the others.

When I inquired about the return of these reports I was informed that they had been removed as part of a major website upgrade. While I couldn’t quite understand the logic of the argument (no other changes have been made to the site) I nevertheless accepted it and repeated my request for a copy of the latest Annual Report. Despite numerous subsequent requests I still have not received one.

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Education in an election year

By TANYA PLIBERSEK | 16 May 2019

As we approach the election, I’m thinking carefully about how a Shorten Labor Government will be remembered for our reform of education. It feels like every week I meet someone in their 60’s or 70’s who reminds me about how Gough Whitlam was responsible for them going to university. I’m struck by the way they passionately talk about this – even after so many decades. They tell me how the opportunity of a university education transformed not just their life, but the course of their family’s life.

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Rupert bails out Foxtel

By LAURIE PATTON | 15 May 2019

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation has had to lend its 65 percent owned Foxtel $300 million, with the likelihood many more millions will need to be pumped into the business in coming months. Once a jewel in the crown of his local empire, Australia’s only surviving Pay-TV service is in trouble, with a dwindling subscriber base and flatlining revenues. Belatedly, Foxtel is moving to a new business model, with products such as its new sports streaming service Kayo.

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It’s time we all called for #BetterBroadband

By LAURIE PATTON | 10 May 2019

Australians are great adopters of technology. We love anything electronic, especially if it entertains us or makes life easier.

When the Internet arrived we were very quick to start emailing each other and when social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter turned up we were “in like Flynn“!

We are among the top consumers of video content, be it at home on a big screen or out and about with our smartphones and tablets.

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NBN: Won’t be finished on time. Simple as that!

By LAURIE PATTON | 24 October 2018

In my opinion, the National Broadband Network will not be completed until everyone has access to fast, reliable and affordable broadband. On that basis the rollout will take us well beyond the current official deadline of 2020. It looks like a lot of NBN Co customers are in for a long hard ride unless the Government instructs the board to abandon FTTN (the trouble-plagued technology using Telstra’s ageing copper wires) sooner rather than later.

New NBN Co boss Steven Rue has told Senate Estimates they are still projecting that FTTN will be used until 2040. Experts, including Internet Australia chair Dr Paul Brooks, say FTTN will have to be replaced within 5-10 years of completion, preferably before then.

It’s not Mr Rue’s fault of course. He has been left ‘holding the baby’ – stuck with the flawed multi-technology mix (MTM) strategy introduced by his predecessor.

Surveys regularly show that people increasingly regard access to broadband as an ‘essential service’. Which is why it’s essential that we fix the mess that NBN Co has managed to get itself into.

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Showdown looming in domain names battle

By LAURIE PATTON | 26 June 2018

Next week the group attempting to oust board directors at Internet domain names authority auDA will have an opportunity to explain in detail the reasons for their concern and their solutions.

The setting will be a meeting convened by auDA’s new Consultation Model Working Group and the venue is Melbourne’s La Trobe University – with the ability to join in online, as you’d expect from such an organisation. Continue reading “Showdown looming in domain names battle”

ABC – You can’t privatise an organisation that doesn’t make a profit!

By LAURIE PATTON | 20 June 2018

The ABC earns around $100 million a year from its commercial activities (mainly ABC shops). Its annual operating budget is more than a billion dollars. The organisation would not exist without the triennial funding provided by taxpayers. You can’t privatise a business that doesn’t make a profit.

Ironically, while the ABC-haters with their ideological objections to public broadcasting would like to see it privatised, there would be little or no appetite from the commercial television sector for starters.

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