Thursday, June 28, 2007

Apple's iPhone: The ‘Holy Grail of Hacks’

On the eve of a media spectacle… the release of Apple’s next killer device

Undoubtedly, every tech blog will today be espousing the virtues or condemning the hype of Apple’s iPhone (a word which I’ve just added to my dictionary, thanks to the settlement with CISCO). Mailing lists are going mad with tension and contentions: What’s the substance behind the 3.5-inch widescreen multitouch shiny surface? The New York TimesDavid Pogue has seemingly done a good job of summarising the delights for those waiting in the queue, examining the features, functionality and connectivity of the device. However… shockingly for some, there’s little Bluetooth or wireless syncing. And did someone mention the ‘craptastic’ AT&T network? Yes, indeed – that would be Wired’s Compiler blog. Unlocking the true potential of the device through Cupertino’s backdoor (standing slightly ajar?) will be the ‘holy grail of hacks’. No SDK for 3P applications? Fear not, there’s a flurry of office applications in the making: check out the iPhone Applications List and Read/Write’s updates. Why the iPhone is simply ‘wrong, wrong, wrong’ is taxonomised by Computerworld’s George Jones, although much of this critique is mere (probable?) speculation. Either way, if you’re standing in line for a good cause, as is Johnny Vulcan who plans to sell the first iPhone bought at Apple’s Soho store on eBay for AIDS charity Keep a Child Alive, you’re onto a good thing.

Well, my exposure to the iPhone will be soon after 10th July when I touch down in NYC. I won’t be able to purchase one, given that it’s tied to a network provider and I believe you need to have a SSN to do so. Whether I would want to? Well, Nokia is upping the stakes by the day for us photo- and video-graphers with their N-series releases. Current discussions in Australia as to the Telco-most-likely are on-going.

Philanthropy in Virtual Worlds

A conversation with MacArthur Foundation President Jonathan Fanton and Linden Lab CEO Philip Rosedale

Having braved Australia’s lossy networks and early morning chill, I find myself (or my avatar, in fact) walking, and occasionally flying, about Annenberg Island on 1am Saturday in Second Life (which is our subtropical translation of Friday 9am SL time). I’m here to attend a discussion on ‘Philanthropy in Virtual Worlds’ between Jonathan Fanton, president of the MacArthur Foundation, and Philip ‘Linden’ Rosedale, CEO of Linden Labs, makers of Second Life. As with the virtual iSummit ’07, the surrounds are welcoming: all the refreshments that a conference attendee would desire, accompanied by apposite information about the organisations on didactic clickable boards surrounding the venue. The turnout is impressive: approximately 250 avatars are being rendered in the stadium where the address is to take place – over 100 people on each side of the sim. (Some more successfully than others: I, embarrassingly, begin by being ejected by Sitearm Madonna, as my network is so slow, I’m doing a ‘lag dance’ right into the speakers’ forum. Had Philip’s avatar also not ‘crapped out’ during the proceedings, I would have felt bad. Amusingly, people are vying for space to such an extent that seats are being occupied by more than one avatar at any given time. It’s so nice to be here together!)

Having gained this critical mass, ‘The community is ready for this conversation,’ the speakers observe: individuals, groups, and non-profits are now engaging with serious issues of support. Jonathan Fanton begins proceedings via a video address streamed onto screens above the stadium. He speaks of the Global Kids’ Digital Media Initiative, and the extent of investments being made in virtual worlds. It is time for in-world discussions on reform, global conservation, education, community development, economics, and housing reform: ‘There’s a lot of idealism in virtual worlds,’ Fanton observes. ‘The global network is committed to greater things: to achieving a just, humane virtual world.’

The question thus becomes, ‘How can we help migrate these projects to the physical ‘real’ world?’ The MacArthur Foundation seeks to develop a resource for people in Second Life to learn how to connect to issues. The Foundation is donating $L to develop and migrate projects into the real world. Currently, the MacArthur Foundation works in 60 countries, and supports more than 1,000 local civil society groups. It seeks to create a civil society in the virtual world to mirror that of the real world. The advantages of operating in a virtual world are that it’s multimodal, and one can undertake simultaneous interactions. In virtual worlds, people work, play, and go about their everyday lives as families, communities, democracies. MacArthur seeks to have engagement with, and contribute to community – working through civil society groups, the Foundation is good at convening people, at connecting people with similar goals, through, for example, internships. Today is an illustration of the force of community awareness and good will.

Appearing as rather convincing avatars in the round, Jonathan ‘MacFound’ and Philip ‘Linden’ discuss the trajectory of Second Life. Philip reveals that it has been his dream since young to simulate a world – to recreate the 3D world with which we are familiar – with a tonne of computers. As far as the site’s development is concerned, he is surprised by almost everything. Second Life has been designed to be fundamentally under the user’s control, and to be the users’ creation.

What are the notions of public good in this realm? Second Life was started in 2003 as an empowered, enabled community environment, designed to make people close. Opportunities for public good soon became apparent, and thereafter the movement of this into the physical world. Philip notes that there exists significant potential for alliances to form – people have even been married in Second Life! Connections are made, and businesses formed having relations to the real world. We should look to effective bond formation between product and business ideas from their earliest stages to have them transferred into the real world. The earlier the interaction, the lower the barriers to entry into real life.

Jonathan asks what we can accomplish in this domain. In response, we can learn about Second Life as an area in education, and understand its impact on the formation of students’ knowledge, skills, and attributes. The role of schools going forward is to understand the importance of gaming, and the roles able to be adopted by virtual worlds for pedagogy and to encourage civic engagement. Take the example of the International Criminal Court, to which the USA is not a signatory. Feasibly, Second Life could be used to lobby for the nation’s inclusion. Unfortunately, in US education, schools appear to be resistant to reform. The time has come to consider the role to be adopted by schools, libraries, museums. In a seamless blending of first and second life, people are rebuilding the history of the world in a virtual space.

How do we emulate best practice from the real world? Do we rebuild first-life buildings? (The audience reacts strongly against this suggestion! Why not be more creative and entrepreneurial?) Second Life is rapidly being built at a rate greater than construction in real life. The contribution virtual worlds can make is to have better tools to make life better, and thereby to empower the citizenry. Organisations which are successful in real life transfer their strategies – obviously, if you’re not aware of how to structure your business in real life, you’re not going to succeed in the virtual sphere. It’s not a question of ‘build it and they will come’.

What of security, breaches, pornography? How is Second Life reacting to these? What of companies pulling out? Philip replies that Second Life has reached a scale where everyone’s watching. It is interested in the redeployment of traditional media – to see what works in real life and what doesn’t. Most companies are in the stage of just setting up and are not yet bringing in people. Look to the example of Borders and Amazon online – only one remains. The entrepreneurial success of individuals is growing.

Free and open places on the net have to empower people, together with having tolerance for people’s actions. People have the right to choose what to do in a new medium, Philip asserts – they are the stewards of their own choices. The Internet space contains many things, but in aggregate, there is a public good. Linden Labs decided that at the highest level they were not going to control interactions, what people do.

The moderator Connie now opens up the debate to questions from the audience of avatars. The first question states that the philanthropic world’s incorporation of Web 2.0 technologies into practices has not been that good. Jonathan replies that his hope is that MacArthur will learn lots in Second Life – how to develop projects, to speak to their objectives in the physical world.

The Teen Grid residents ask about how to use power morally. There is a high degree of transparency in virtual worlds; it is more transparent than real life. For example, it’s easier to travel around SL than it is in RL. If one looks to the success of eBay, their philosophy has been that it would work because people are basically good, and would engage with legitimate attempts to sell. Linden Labs does nothing to make people do good – rather, it’s self-moderated: it’s a ‘very very transparent environment’.

What is the ratio of civic to commercial life in Second Life? Second Life has a greater proportion of commercial activities than the real world, but this has been hyped to an extent, as the media are sensitive to brands. In Second Life, of the 7,637,212 registered residents, approx. 70,000 individuals currently own land; however, big brand communities are hard to find. (An individual building something does not constitute a community, although the virtual world network is clearly expanding.) Second Life is seen as an empowering platform. The question now is one of how to go about branding, to reproduce the indicators of credibility in a virtual world (such as reputation, trust, etc.). This is what is at the core of what MacArthur Foundation aims to do as a knowledge network: to build systems for reputation and trust. The Foundation is seeking to convene study groups for this purpose, to investigate micro-lending and the formation of trust, for example.

What of the role of non-profits in Second Life? To date, $80,000 has been raised by the MacArthur trust fund for war-affected children in Northern Uganda. We can directly overcome the problem of communities existing in isolation by cutting out the middleman. The collaboration between Second Life and MacArthur Foundation is an example of cooperation in which barriers are reduced. This cuts the cost of contact, and provides a context for people to come together as a group for assistance.

An observation comes from the audience: the classification of Second Life as a ‘game’ hurts access and corporate acceptance of the platform.

In sum, the message is this:
“When good people who care have good information, they do good things.”

We must educate ourselves in the strategies appropriate to Second Life to harness its good, and to figure out appropriate policies.

In the after party, Hep Shephard donated $L1500 to the foundation, and everyone had a great time discussing the Non-profit Commons movement etc. (discussion archived)
Broadcast on

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Genius 2012

Recently I’ve been inspired by the vodcasts* from the New Yorker 2012 series (*strangely, they didn’t allow live blogging – ironically not very web 2.0!), in particular ‘Genius 2012’, as presented by
Malcolm Gladwell (author of Tipping Point and Blink, himself undoubtedly pertaining to that genre of thinker!).

All presentations are of note, exemplifying the solid thinking happening across the Pacific, but those which really resonated were ‘Morality 2012’, in which Jonathan Haidt talks with Henry Finder of the five foundations of morality and why Democrats just can’t get mainstream behaviour, and ‘The Web 2012’, which consists of a panel of Barry Diller, Arianna Huffington, and Craig Newmark, as moderated by Ken Auletta. I will blog in further detail on ‘Intellectual Property 2012’ at a later time, where I consider Tim Wu’s interactions with Jeffrey Toobin about freedom and control of knowledge assets.

Resonating with my previous post on the Web 2.0 inability to achieve a state of flow, Gladwell observes, 'Modern problems require persistence more than genius, and we ought to value quantity over quality when it comes to intelligence... When you're dealing with something as complex and as difficult as Fermat's last theorem, you're better off with a large number of smart guys than a small number of geniuses.'

The point of interest is that he advocates taking problems slowly - noting that expertise comes with approx. 10,000 hours of training. He thereby identifies the 'mismatch problem', which is simply the idea that standards used to judge/predict success in a given field don't match what it takes to be successful in that field.

For example, when diagnosing colonoscopies, it's how much time the doctor spends on each colonoscopy, not how smart they are, how much training they have, where s/he went to school etc. that determines success. If you spend more than 10 minutes on each colonoscopy rather than one, you'll find the cancers. However, we select and train doctors for their cognitive facility, for, amongst other things, the speed at which they acquire information and the efficiency with which they go about their tasks.

I transcribed:
'But here we're saying the critical part of what it means to be good, to succeed at the very specific and critical task at finding colon cancers, has nothing to do with speed of facility - on the contrary, it depends on those who are willing to take their time and willing to very very painstakingly go through something that seems like it can be done in a minute. In other words, that's a mismatch: we select on a cognitive grounds for people being fast at things, but what we really want is a personality characteristic that allows people to be slow at critical things. Here we have the same thing with Wiles in a certain sense. We have erected in our society a system that selects people for tasks like solving Fermat's or tackling big modern problems on the basis of their intelligence and the smarter they seem to be, the more we push them forward. But what we're saying with Wiles is, that the critical issue here was not his intellectual brilliance, it was his stubbornness, it was the notion that he was willing to put everything else aside and spend 10,000 hours on a problem no-one else thought could be solved. So, this is the question: Are we actually selecting people for stubbornness? I don't think we are.'

So, let's go and be persistent and collaborative in our PhDs! :)

His Boy Elroy

Being a supporter of Creative Commons, I look to the success of the ccMixter site as a thriving online community where artists are allowed (well, entreated to!) to ‘rip, mix, and share’. Pulsing with the vibe of open source, the site hosts thousands of samples from musicians across a range of genres, all available for legal sampling and reuse, subject to the specific licence which attaches to the track (clearly stipulated). Interestingly, the site statistics point to the prevalence of BY and BY-NC licences to date:

Attribution Noncommercial Share-Alike 5
Noncommercial Sampling Plus 14
Sampling Plus 40
Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) 67
Attribution (3.0) 135
Attribution Noncommercial 306
Attribution 880

A Cappellas

Attribution Noncommercial Share-Alike 1
Sampling Plus 8
Noncommercial Sampling Plus 9
Attribution (3.0) 37
Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) 87
Attribution Noncommercial 197
Attribution 198

File formats encompass mp3, aac, ogg, flac, and wav. The patterns of use of material, their provenance if you like, are tracked, showing which tracks have been used by which artists in which remixes. Users can ‘create their own remix radio station’ from a random pool of ccMixter’s remixes by selecting a style, such as acoustic, experimental, electronic, trip hop, hip hop, chill, down tempo, and drums ‘n’ bass.

In collaboration with services such as Magnatune (where ‘you pick the price!’ for music), ccMixter regularly hosts remix competitions. Currently, the sites are offering the audio source files to Natchoongi from multi-platinum recording artist Salman Ahmad. They are distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial licence (BY-NC). Salman observes:

‘I think what Magnatune and ccMixter represents is the future of music promotion, distribution and marketing. I've already been through the guerilla school of music in my life so taking on the future is something I've always been waiting for!’

Previous competitions have offered tracks by J Vadim, Vieux Farka Toure, Christopher Willits (who recently visited Brisbane!), Fort Minor, Crammed Discs Cibelle, DJ Dolores, Apollo Nove, Copyright Criminals, Lisa Debendictis, WIRED CD, Beastie Boys, and Chuck D.

Yesterday I was delighted to discover the work of 'His Boy Elroy', in particular the piano-driven down-tempo track ‘Revolve’ which was winner in the Creative Commons/Wired Magazine Fine Art of Sampling competition. Download it yourself through iTunes and be inspired!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

On Befriending Bush: HH Dalai Lama in Brisbane

When mentioning the name of HH Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet and winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, one is most often greeted by broad smiles, laughter and acknowledgments of wisdom and compassion.

Although I hold certain sympathies with the writing of Richard Dawkins, 14th June 2007 was a particular highlight in my life – sat before a gentle, warm, wise, wholly affable and inspirationally holy individual who has witnessed much in his 72 years. I have long believed in the Buddhist philosophies of compassion, or loving kindness, of self-enlightenment and pursuit of spiritual stability, and additionally embrace the scientific evidence showing that meditation is not only good for the soul, but also good for the body. One need only look up 'mindfulness meditation' on Pubmed.
Plus, being a vegetarian is an ecologically responsible thing to do! (ok, so I have a tofu addiction…)

Accompanied by his translator, His Holiness spoke of the centrality of community – that we develop strong bonds with those around us (that's what I'm doing on MySpace and Facebook, yeh?). HH spoke of the unquestioning love of a mother for her child – that much of the world's pain comes from familial neglect. HH also said that we can have peace in our time, that there is no need for aggression and use of force – we should overcome all with dialogue and never need to resort to weapons, despite their shiny appeal.

On that note, HH Dalai Lama said that it's important to separate the agent/actor from their actions. One may vehemently disagree with a policy, but one should accept the perpetrator as a fellow human. This is the way that we can continue to love (or, well, not to hate) George W. Bush. We have a duty to disagree with actions which diminish our values, but we have an equal duty to treat others with respect. Animals are included in this list too, as seen today in HH's launch of Kindness Week at Australia Zoo. That juxtaposition is unintentional.

When facing challenges, one should visualise the ocean: there are naturally waves which come and go across the surface, but the deep reaches remain undisturbed. Allow yourself to move on from the emotion of a situation, and to engage intellectually with it, to find a solution. Worrying (and the aggression which accompanies it) will achieve nothing.

When asked about the highlights in his own life, HH Dalai Lama spoke of the day when he passed his Lharampa degree, which is the Buddhist equivalent of a doctorate. At this point, I nodded, and understood – deeply. It was 1959 and HH was in Lhasa, Tibet. Soon afterwards, on 15th May 1959, HH fled to Dharamsala, India, to live in exile from the Chinese authorities who still struggle to accept his presence on the global stage. In essence, HH expressed that he has had little option but to be realistic about China's occupation of Tibet. When HH realised that he had escaped from their regime, he was again happy/relieved – but naturally this would be tempered with the ongoing sadness of the tragedy in play. Reflecting, HH stated that this has prevented him from becoming complacent: that he has a real reason to preach his philosophies; they are grounded in such a truth.

So, as we continue our daily lives, it is important to embrace one another as whole beings – showing the love that a mother has for her child. I do hope that the Howard Government has listened to these lessons at some point in the visit. They are needed in this age of distinctly unenlightened policies.


"May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they be free of suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be separated from that sacred joy that is beyond suffering.
May they rest in equanimity free of grasping, hatred, and ignorance.
And may they be aware of the equality of all that lives."

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Kirby J on Nanotechnology and the Law

'Technology and the Law: Can the law keep pace with nanotechnology?'
The Hon Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG
Delivered at QUT, 18 June 2007, 12.30-1.30pm

The Hon Justice Michael Kirby attended the QUT/Trilby Misso Public Lecture Series to report on his paper delivered at TELOS: Regulating Technologies Inaugural Conference in London on 8 April 2007, which formally launched the Centre for Technology, Ethics and Law in Society, based in the School of Law at King's College London. The conference was opened by Professor Lawrence Lessig (Stanford), and was followed by sessions on:
• Regulating Today's Technologies (ICT and biotechnology)
• Regulating Tomorrow's Technologies (neurotechnology, nanotechnology, AI and technological convergence)
• Technology as a Regulatory Tool

In attempting to achieve an interdisciplinary and informative mix of lawyers and scientists, speakers included Richard Ashcroft, Deryck Beyleveld, Ben Bowling, Roger Brownsword, Andrea Buechler, Bert Gordijn, Serge Gutwirth, Paul de Hert, Mireille Hildebrandt, Andrew Jones, Judy Illes, Bert-Jaap Koops, Graeme Laurie, T.J. McIntyre, Andrew Murray, Stephen Minger, Charles Raab, Han Somsen, Mingyuan Wang, Karen Yeung, and Jonathan Zittrain.

Kirby J had the difficult honour of summarising the proceedings. The most significant formulation of the status of technology has come from Professor Lawrence Lessig, who writes in Code, that control is now architected in systems and technology. When multinationals dictate terms in such a fashion, whither democracy? It is therefore important to reassert the social values via legal reforms in respect to technological change. This is, of course, difficult given the average lawyer's understanding of science. (As a generalisation, lawyers tend to be bookish individuals, good with words, and not so attracted to mathematics and the sciences.)

When Kirby J headed the ALRC in Australia, he was called upon to consider biotechnology and informatics. Whilst at King's, he was given particular insight by a Belgian professor who considered the historical precedent of human knowledge with monks and reading. With the printing press, words had acquired a life of their own, compared to when transcribed by monks, where they were reified and not spoken. The pace of understanding can now be four to five times greater than in the pre-printing press days, owing to the dissemination of words.

When Kirby J headed the ALRC, Bob Ellicott, Australia's Attorney General, mandated that the commission consider human tissue transplants (and not some arcane Australian income tax law issue, unfortunately!) This was to be conducted in the context of increasing technological, medical, and pharmacological developments and capacities. The commission contemplated the acceptance of organ donation in society. (Has this changed?) They were briefed to consider the definition of 'death', and to examine the appropriateness of allowing children and prisoners to donate organs (where there may be duress), and whether relatives have the capacity to veto an individual's donation decision post-mortem. The ALRC report met considerable success: it was originally commissioned for the ACT ordinance, but steadily received uniform adoption and translation. Interestingly, in the final stages of the drafting of the report, the first IVF child, Louise Brown, was born. Should IVF be considered another tissue? Was it different in kind? What was the status of the husband in this area? The commission wisely excluded IVF from its terms of reference, as the issue would only delay the release of the findings and make them overly complex. IVF was considered separately.

What privacy protection could parties expect (in approaching 1984)? The OECD countries (including the Nordic countries and the European Community) formulated a transcontinental privacy policy in 1978, which was translated ten years later into the Australian Privacy Act (Cth) 1988, with its Privacy Principles in Schedule 3. There has, however, been a difficulty with the use specification principle, which states that the user's information shall remain private unless the user consents to its use or that legal authority requires it. When one contemplates the workings of Google and Yahoo! this is clearly problematic and one may 'laugh at it'. It has therefore been necessary to rethink these basic principles.

Society must be constantly vigilant regarding the problems and solutions posed by new technologies. It appears that technological development is interrelated – there would be no nanotechnology without the push towards miniaturisation required by the space race (and its preoccupation with weaponry). Computerisation is facilitated through these microchip advances. With computers, one is able to crunch the huge amounts of data required by biotechnology, in coding the human genome. It is clear that, in order to preserve democracy, we must respond to rapid technological change.

In summarising the London session at King's, Kirby J found that there were five paradoxes and seven lessons to be noted. The paradoxes are, in part, as follows:
1. There are no experts in these fields, because the technology is too new, complex, and unknown. There are naturally nano-optimists and nano-pessimists, yet the technology is still arriving and we are yet to grasp it fully. An interesting example came with the Sony TPM case and the almost Papal divisions of the world into regions. The USFTA was insistent on patching the Australian legal decision where it came to mod chips. Copyright must not go beyond its bounds and infringe upon free expression, as proclaimed by Lawrence Lessig.
2. There is either too much or too little law. Lawmakers occasionally pre-empt developments, as with artificial insemination and human cloning. However, not to act is equally to decide the issue. As with the hybridisation of HIV and issues of xenotransplantation, we should regulate these areas. Not to act is often irresponsible and sets a particular course.
3. We should look not to economic but rather social advantage. We should be aware of the architecting of behaviours from multinational corporations encoding laws into the technology itself (as per Lessig in Code).
4. Are these issues of interest to the lay person? We should make sure that the populace is engaged in the debate.
5. [This point seems to have merged with the previous!]
The lessons of this debate, where technology is global, and yet laws are local, and where not to act is to make a decision, are as follows:
1. Individual nation states have limited powers to regulate technology. Witness the case over the French attempt to prevent NAZI memorabilia from being on the Internet. There is, however, certain US supremacy.
2. There is a gradation of urgencies. A top priority must be the regulation of the nuclear industry. We must engage with thorough risk assessment, and observe the interrelations of ICTs with nuclear power and biotechnology, for example. All developments are related.
3. There will be different negotiations amongst different cultures. Where do we stand in relation to morality and religion, between secular society and fundamentalist states?
4. We need to base the law on good knowledge and sound science, not intuition and assumptions (as with Osborne on AIDS).
5. There is a democratic deficit in the exceptions allowed by technology. Compare the London tube ticket barriers with those of Le Metro in Paris – where a metal gate prevents you jumping over barriers. There are no exceptions allowed, no permeability of the borders. Lessig notes the importance of fair use exceptions to a functioning democracy. Consider when technology allows for no exceptions, where it excludes and allows for no difference – there is no discretion, no negotiation. Behaviours are regulated in code, are architected into technologies, and not through the representative, democratic process. It is important to keep the law in tune with the social order and expectations.
6.& 7. Again, seem to have merged with the previous!

Of international law, bioethics and human rights: medical ethics tend to be instituted by doctors, whereas post-war developments in human rights have been designed by lawyers. We must perceive our place in the biosphere and look to other species' concerns as our own. We must have experts talk to each other, to engage in interdisciplinary dialogue.
Equally, international dialogue is critical. These issues are not to be solved on a state-by-state basis. International conventions and treaties play a large role here – even when they aren't enacted in specific countries and are therefore not binding, they stimulate local debate and revisions of local laws. Take, for example, the success of the International Disability Convention.
What of lay appreciation of complex technological issues? We must plot the technological trajectories and engage in response. To omit to do so is to act, to set the course.
Consider the humanoid, as spoken about at King's. If the Library of Congress's knowledge can fit into a single microchip, it is feasible that all the knowledge contained within a human can fit into a humanoid. This cyborg may be sent into outer space to continue human knowledge and the mind, to preserve our ideas in perpetuity. What are the ethics of this act? We must engage with natural evolutionary developments.
What of science's involvement with the law? The ALRC had scientific advisors, and the panel at King's contained experts in technological matters. It is true that sectors have different spheres of interest: hence the importance of dialogue. Lionel Murphy CJ had science qualifications. He therefore brought different insights and a fresh perspective to issues.

It is the place of law to engage, to be responsive, to be relevant.

Kirby J will make available his report to King's.

Biography (c/- QUT):
Justice Michael Kirby is one of the seven Justices of the High Court of Australia, the nation's highest court. He was born and educated in Sydney and called to the New South Wales bar. In 1975 he was appointed a Deputy President of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. In the same year he began a decade of service as the inaugural Chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission. In 1983 he was appointed a judge of the Federal Court of Australia and in 1984 President of the New South Wales Court of Appeal. In 1995 he was appointed to the additional post of President of the Court of Appeal of Solomon Islands. His appointment to the High Court of Australia followed in 1996.
Justice Kirby has taken an active part in international bodies including the World Health Organisation, UNAIDS, UNDP, ILO, UNODC, UNESCO, OECD and the Commonwealth Secretariat. Between 1993-6 he was Special Representative of the Secretary-Generation for Human Rights in Cambodia. Between 1995-8 he was President of the International Commission of Jurists. In 2006 he was elected an Honorary Bencher of Inner Temple.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Web 2.0 Workflow

Dear all,

In the last fortnight I have become a Facebook convert. After spending years on Flickr, and more recent times on MySpace, maintaining a profile on LinkedIn, and certainly inhabiting the 3D virtual world of Second Life (find me currently dressed in iSummit conference garb as 'Rachel Witte'), I have finally progressed to this networking tool. Ever since, I have become relatively afflicted by the constant need to check my status as well as those around me. Forget the crackberry, this is higher bandwidth :)

The question is, however, How productive are these tools? Are they really enhancing your social capital, or are they depriving you of the ability to earn financial capital by constant interruption of train of thought?

So, as we toggle and twitter, are we really getting into the 'zone', into the fold of Csikszentmihalyi's flow, or is it a case of continuous partial attention? See the debate between Stowe Boyd and Linda Stone here.
Are we evolving our neurophysiology, or are we just coping through the cognitive dissonance?
Only time will tell…

Tim O'Reilly recently linked to a YouTube, yes!, video on Web 2.0, which is on my page: 'Are you blogging this?' I think this says (badly sings) something valuable: a cautionary tale of too many SNSs.

As we contemplate this, only partially, remember to have a nice hot cup of tea whilst waiting for Australia's broadband to improve!