BBC Radio 5’s Outriders: Interview with Clay Shirky

This week on Outriders a longer discussion as Clay Shirky chats about his new book Cognitive Surplus and how he switched from theater and the arts to new media observation.

The time that we may use to passively watch television or take in traditional media could be changing as audiences become active and productive consumers, not content to sit and watch when they can create something for themselves and their friends. A tricky dilemma while traditional media formats flounder or panic about new media models, but are we all prepared to play nice with the new arenas available to us?

An absolutely great interview with Clay Shirky. You can download the podcast recording.

BTW I haven’t read Cognitive Surplus yet, but in the meantime Peter Kim has posted a review on the Dachis Group blog. My 1998 review of Shirky’s earlier book, Here Comes Everybody, is on my old blog.

Enrolling to vote online: What happens when Gov 2.0 runs into indifference

This is not an official AEC website. It has been made by an independent advocacy group as part of our campaign to make enrolling easier.

Government 2.0 doesn’t have to be about running nice fluffy community consultations online or getting MPs to use Twitter. It can be deeply practical too. So, with a federal election coming in Australia, advocacy group, GetUp!, have created a site to help people enrol or update their electoral role details online.

The fact that they’ve even created this site raises the question of why you wouldn’t just use the official Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) site? Well, because you can’t actually enrol online – the GetUp! site captures your enrollment electronically, but then faxes the form to the AEC.

However, according to the Sydney Morning Herald an AEC spokesperson has warned:


“A digitally constructed signature wouldn’t be valid, and we would require a hardcopy signature on an enrolment form”

This is odd, because the AEC will accept a scanned form via email. However, I’ve always thought that an email was good enough anyway under Australian law?

However, perhaps what is more concerning it the attitude all round with this problem. Why wouldn’t we want people to be able to enroll to participate in one of our most import civic rights, using the most convenient method possible? It also reminds me that digital inclusion is a two-way street.


Apparently, the AEC was swamped by people trying to beat the deadline for enrolments, which caused a few problems.

From the Daily Telegraph:

THE Australian Electoral Commission went into meltdown yesterday as thousands of first-time voters tried to register.

The AEC pleaded for patience as its fax lines jammed and many frantic voters swamped the phone lines trying to report the problem. A spokeswoman said the AEC was trying its best to cope with an unexpectedly large demand.

And the SMH:

The rush to join the roll ahead of the Monday night deadline was so fierce the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) at lunchtime boosted its call centre staff by 200 to 700.

The AEC website also crashed for almost an hour as Australians rushed to register to vote ahead of the August 21 poll.

Confluence 3.3 Sneak Peek – new rich text editor features

I was recently asked what is a fairly frequent question… what’s the difference between the popular social suite software options, aka enterprise wikis, which includes products like Confluence.

Personally I think one of the stand out features of Confluence is its rich text editor + macro capabilities. In some respects, if you aren’t thinking about Confluence with this in mind, then really I’m tempted to ask why are you even considering Confluence. Confluence isn’t just a wiki, its an enterprise social swiss army knife. Or as I like to think about it, its the social computing equivalent of the spreadsheet. 🙂

However, it can be difficult for novice users to get into using macros and other advanced Confluence features. But this sneak peak of Confluence 3.3 from Matt Hodges really shows how its becoming easier and easier for anyone to become a Confluence wiki ninja and make existing ninjas even more productive.

E2.0 conferences, including Mark Masterson on CSC’s C3 journey

I’m only just starting to catch up on the commentary from some of the recent run of Enterprise 2.0 related conferences. I really enjoyed this recording of CSC’s Mark Masterson’s lively and rapid presentation at the International Forum on Enterprise 2.0 held in Milan back at the beginning of June. You can read more about C3 in Claire Flanagan’s case study post, including her slides from the Enterprise 2.0 conference in the US this month.

In fact, a big hat tip to the forum’s organisers as almost all of the presentations appear to be available on Vimeo and many presenters have also shared their slides online. I haven’t even begun to work through all this content.

Meanwhile, over at the Enterprise 2.0 Boston 2010 conference, Dion Hinchcliffe shares his thoughts on that event and identifies his two biggest take-aways:

  • Designing Enterprises for Loss of Control; and
  • Enterprises Are Going Social.

Likewise, you can also watch recordings from Boson online too.

I’m sure there is more I’ve missed, but I’m still working my way through some unread feeds!

From RN Future Tense: Hackers revisited

Wired magazine’s Steven Levy says the ‘Hackers’ of the late 20th century set the philosophical base for the digital information age of today — and he says their mind-set will shape our future.

I remember reading an electronic copy of Steven Levy’s Hackers book downloaded to a PDA (I’m pretty sure, if I recall correctly, I had a Psion Series 5 at the time) during my daily commute across Sydney harbour back in the later part of the 1990s. I remember it feeling quite subversive just to be reading an electronic text, while everyone else had their heads stuck in a newspaper! Of course, the beauty of this book is that it challenges the common view of what hacking culture is all about – less about being illegal and more about being collaborative, through open technologies and an open and experimental culture.

In this radio interview with Levy, he comments:

There were so many people who read my book and told me it changed their lives, and this was then a fantastic experience. For me, to see so many people who have read my book saying it had an effect on them.

I’m not sure this book changed my life, but it certainly was very influential. It really must rank along with other books like Cluetrain (which Euan Semple reminded us about in his workshop at Headshift yesterday) and Being Digital as one of the classics of the digital era. BTW It appears that Hackers has recently been re-released as an updated 25th anniversary edition.

PS. What other *classics* of the digital era would you recommend? Feel free to add your suggestions to the comments.