07 February 2010

Committee and people choose different Words of the Year

Macquarie Dictionary's Word of the Year 2009 (chosen by a Committee) is shovel-ready, It means, according to the report on the website " adjective: (of a building or infrastructure project) capable of being initiated immediately as soon as funding is assured."

I can't see why tweet didn't win: in fact it (at least the verb) did win the People's Choice Award . (The Committee did at least give it an "honourable mention").

Neither term is peculiarly Australian but surely tweet is much more widely used. It was (as both noun and verb) chosen (by a committee) as the American Dialect Society's 2009 Word of theYear .

Perhaps the Macquarie Committee, a member of which is Les Murray (much of whose poetry has a distinctly Australian voice) felt it needed to distance itself from the Yanks and any perception of linguistic cringe.

Shovel-ready (which IMO is two words: a Google search will show some support for this view) sounds as like a term chosen by a committee. Despite being first used (or popularised) by President Obama it doesn't seem to have caught on to the same degree as tweet.

Anyone like to put money on which of the two terms we'll be using most in a year (or 6 months)?

04 February 2010

Court rules in favour of David over Goliath re copyright

"Film industry loses iiNet download case" reports ABC News.

The case against iiNet was filed in the Federal Court by a number of applicants including Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, Disney and the Seven Network.

The legal action followed a five-month investigation by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft. The companies claimed iiNet infringed copyright by failing to stop users engaging in illegal file sharing.But today the Federal Court in Sydney ruled in the internet service provider's favour.Justice Dennis Cowdroy said it was "impossible" to find against iiNet for what its users did.

The case, which appears to be one of, if not the first, of its kind has already attracted a lot of international attention, not least from Boing Boing "Awesomely awesome Australian copyright news: scrappy ISP beats Hollywood fatcats".

There is of course the possibility of an appeal, as Fairfax , News.com.au and a < href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/02/04/2810520.htm">later ABC reportallude/

Disclosure: I am an iiNet customer/ subscriber

03 February 2010

A-G backs down ... but not out

Attorney General Atkinson has backed down but won't resign report the ABC and Adelaide Now

For me and probably many South Australians the question now is how can we have confidence in Mr Atkinson as chief law officer of the state when he appears to be thumbing his nose at the basic principles of Westminster democracy and even Premier Rann. That he could falsely claim that that one of his online critics doesn't exist beggars belief.

Update 4/2/2010

At least we now know that at next month's election a vote for the ALP is a vote for Michael Atkinson as Attorney-General (probably) for the next four years, even though as The Advertiser/ Adelaide Now said in an editorial yesterday "Lawyers and Left faction luminaries Patrick Conlon and Jay Weatherill could walk seamlessly into the job tomorrow."

And today
"Singapore on the Torrens", an editorial in The Australian , makes some good points

A little more civility on the internet would be no bad thing, but that's no reason for the nanny state approach adopted by the South Australian government. The decision by Attorney-General Michael Atkinson to introduce laws to censor free speech in the blogosphere was ill-conceived at every level. That Mr Atkinson was forced to back down and promise to repeal the laws says much about the value users put on an open web: outraged consumers had flooded sites to complain.

South Australian politicians are increasingly taking Singapore rather than Westminster as their model by resorting to legal action where political redress would be more appropriate. ..Surely the ballot box, not the courts, is where an opposition should be brought to account.


The internet is a robust and immediate forum - a modern-day version of the town square meeting at its best. It relies on the freedom of ordinary people to join a public conversation without fear their details will be collected by a central bureaucracy. Australian users are well equipped to filter the web: they do not need the state to do it for them.

02 February 2010

Attorney-General's hamfisted attempt to censor internet make SA look foolish

At the behest of Attorney-General Mr Michael Atkinson the South Australian Parliament has amended s116 of the Electoral Act to require that all comments made on the internet during state elections are accompanied by the maker's name and address(not post office box). Even though both major (and perhaps most minor parties) supported the move it has many of the trademarks of Mr Atkinson's hamfistedness.

The Advertiser's website Adelaide Now has led the chorus of protest , quite properly highlighting the appalling insensitivity of Mr Atkinson's comment that the Adelaide Now website was "not just a sewer of criminal defamation" but also "a sewer of identity theft and fraud". For video of his media conference see here .

Of other media comment Hendrik Gout on the InDaily website makes the point that while the Attorney has the power to pursue those who fall foul of his amendments the Labor Party is still able to accept anonymous donations.

The comparisons with China have already been made and no doubt will continue to be. How embarrassing to be a South Australian.

Update 3 February

AG Atkinson has backed down.

South Australia's Attorney-General Michael Atkinson admits he misjudged public opinion on the state's attempt to curb political comment on the internet.

Mr Atkinson says he will repeal a law which would have meant that anyone posting comment or blogs during an election period would have had to give their real name and postcode.

Opponents had branded the law an attack on freedom of speech, and Mr Atkinson says he listened to community concerns in his decision to overturn it.

Better late - and where freedom of expression is at issue a day is too late - than never.