Monthly Archives: March 2008

Citizen reporting: biking in Christchurch

A few weeks ago, Josh Campbell posted a short video to You Tube showing some of the dangers of cycling to work, called Biking in Christchurch. (Warning: content may offend!!)

It’s not churlish, buffoonery, like the horrible tv reality programmes. But deadly serious. The 2 minute 57 second video records many near misses. It’s enough to give you second thoughts about cycling.

Now, the story doesn’t end there. Just a week after being posted on You Tube, and propagated through various networks (including by Dave who I met with today), Josh was on national tv talking about his experiences. On 10 March the TVNZ Close Up programme featured a clip on Cyclists v motorists.

Scary as the ‘experience’ from Josh’s handlebars is, I really like the fact that it’s not words or analysis, but a visual story. With no commentary or soundtrack I’m not manipulated into any particular reaction.

So, take one short video by one person freely hosted on You Tube and you get lots of people talking about a serious issue. Helmets off to Josh.

Reviving citizenship to prevent run-away climate change

monbiot_ticket.jpgEven before George Monbiot started his interview with Sean Plunket as part of the 2008 Readers and Writers week, the British journalist and climate activist had made a big statement.

Monbiot declined to travel to Aotearoa to speak. Instead, he agreed to participate only by a video link. This decision was based on his conviction that air travel should be avoided because of the disproportionately negative impact flying has on climate change.

And there he was, beamed larger than life onto the cinema screen above Plunket’s head last Saturday.

It didn’t take long before more big statements were being slung around. Provocatively, Monbiot said we can’t shop our way to carbon neutrality.

“The first thing is to see yourself primarily as a citizen, not as a consumer. We’re not going to solve this problem simply by consuming better,” as he said in an earlier talk.

Typically he said new products supplement existing products rather than replacing them, and the rate of change of individual behaviour change is too slow and sometimes even counterproductive.

He argued that it will be only when citizens put pressure on their governments to reach an international political agreement, will there be any chance of preventing run-away climate change.

Revivifying democratic participation, something Plunket described as revolutionary, is the foundation for responses to climate change.

Afterwards, trying to digest Monbiot’s analysis and barbs, we talked about what is to be done. As I’m not so keen on joining another committee at the moment, I wondered about participating in local community activities (such as Friends of Owhiro Stream, Brooklyn Gardeners, etc) or perhaps adopting the ChangeMakers 5-10-5-10 recipe along the lines:

5 – spend 5% of your income directly supporting citizenship action that inspires you
10 – do ten actions in the next year on your personal passion in citizenship action
5 – spend 5% of your time on active citizenship tasks
10 – join with ten other people to create a learning community to support each other’s work for change

To get a taste of what Monbiot talked about at the Festival you can find a few other talks or interviews with him listed below.

Even if I feel I’m walking on hot coals, especially since I flew down to Christchurch within hours of hearing him speak, the message is sinking in.

Links

What Australia Should do to Stop the Planet Burning, presentation to Friends of the Earth, Melbourne, 3 July 2007

Interview by Paul Jay, four parts, RealNews Network (USA), 1 May 2007

“If We Don’t Deal with Climate Change We Condemn Hundreds of Millions of People to Death”, Democracy Now (USA), 18 May 2007. Video, audio, transcript.

Global Democracy, ABC Radio National (Australia), 11 November 2001

Festival showcases newzealand.govt.nz

Just as the International Arts Festival was finishing, I finally made it down to the Festival Club at Frank Kitts Park.

It was a pretty early start, so the bar was closed. Instead the assembled punters got breakfast.

The performance was speedy. Just three acts. The plot: launch a new version of the New Zealand government portal.

Act I: Laurence Millar, head of the SSC e-government unit.

Act II: David Parker, State Services Minister.

Act III: Edwin Bruce, the techie behind the new look.

Most of the power is behind the scenes with a new look on top. It was described as being in a perpetual Beta state, with suggestions welcome at any time.

David Parker made a big deal out of the fact that everything you can find within the portal you can trust. We’re government, so trust us.

Entries can now be searched in Te Reo Maori, but I do wonder what has happened to the extensive use of the Maori language. It used to feature very prominently.

Professional, tantalising and only of interest to a very small number of festival-ites. I’m glad I got a ticket.

PS See the evolution of the New Zealand government portal at the wayback machine, with snapshots of the homepage stretching back to 1996.

50 powerful blogs?

I was going to start this post by making a note of how many blogs there out there in the ether, and finish with an updated figure.

Guess what? There are no accurate figures for the number of blogs being published, and certainly no data on how up-to-date they are nor the quality of content.

Left with machines (such as ranking tool Technocrati) or humans to help find good blogs, I’ll stick with the latter.

Yesterday a bunch of journalists from the UK’s Observer newspaper published a list of the 50 best reasons to log on. What a powerful collection of blogs there are.

People are writing about technology (surprise), gossip, personal tirades and their own lives. I’ve just signed up to keep an eye on bean sprouts, all about one family’s search for the good life.

The list of blogs and news feeds I watch is already too many, and I scarcely keep up with these (except in the most quick, superficial way). Talking last night I realised I only actually keep a regular eye on just 3 or 4 blogs.

And what about finding time to comment and enter into dialogue. Probably below the margin of error.

Although I feel no need to expand my horizons, I can’t resist an entertaining, well written blogs, accompanied with catchy graphics. I’m in no rush to find more to read, but thanks to Observer I’ve got a list to dive into when I want something fresh.

We’re up and rolling!

Monday night marked a significant milestone for the Wellington e-rider IT service. After all the planning, discussion, highs and lows, we held a big celebration.

As the banner and invite said, “We’re up and rolling”.

About 50 odd people turned up to help us celebrate at Internet NZ’s boardroom. There was a great buzz, and we kept formalities to a very respectable 27 minutes.

I can’t do justice to the speechifying, nor can I point you to the contribution by Ruth Dyson, Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, because it’s not online yet.

Instead, take a look at the slideshow created by Nathan Donaldson from Boost New Media and a member of the project steering group. (NB The slideshow is slow to load and I’m just experimenting using the flickr plugin.) Or check out the unadulterated press release on Scoop (“E-Rider Delivers ICT Support“) or WCN (“Who is that masked man?”).


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Photos also online as an eRider launch photoset on flickr.

Lindsay, the project’s first roving IT professional, is being kept very busy. The number of organisations signing up is growing and our systems to support this are in place. We’ve got another eight months for the pilot project to run, when our seed funding dries up. I forsee lots of debates coming up about how we simultaneously meet demand and survive financially.

Before I forget, the celebration also marked the formal change in name for the Wellington Region 2020 Communications Trust: we’re now known as Wellington ICT.

Official thank you notes are on the way, but on my quick roll call I’d like to say thanks heaps to: Red Vespa, our extraordinary event organiser Sandra McDonald, Red Pebble, InternetNZ, all the Steering Group members, Director Mike, Tim, Erin, Sue (@ Minimum Graphics), Simon for loaning the Brompton, Glenn at the ColourGuy, fellow Trustees, and Trust chair Erina for her unfailing commitment and drive.

Sharing some ideas – upcoming presentations

In April and May I’m leading a couple of workshops at conferences for people using ICT in the tangata whenua, community and voluntary sector.

The topics are:

“Online project management tools: making choices and making it happen”

To run projects efficiently you need to keep track of minutes, tasks, share ideas and even co-produce documents. There are lots of tools online to support project work within and between organisations. This workshop focuses on choosing a suitable tool, focusing on wikispaces.

“Riding into a headwind: reflections on a new IT support and advice service ”

The Wellington e-rider IT service for community groups was launched in October 2007. The Wellington Region 2020 Communications Trust’s bold aim is to both meet the needs of organisations and be financially viable. This project covers our progress to date.

Early bird registrations for the Connecting Up ’08 conference in Brisbane, 19-20 May, close on Friday 14 March (where I’m presenting both workshops), and for the Engage Your Community mini-conference in Hamilton, on 22 April, close on Sunday 16 March (where I’m presenting the first workshop).

See you there?