Politics: Julia Gillard is My Facebook Friend


Democracy literally originates from ancient Latin as “government by the people” and as a system of government, it allows the citizens of a country to directly or indirectly participate and manipulate the legislative process. Only a few short years ago, for a single individual to be heard, required great effort, coordination and some luck. As a result politics evolved many defenses against individuals attempting to disrupt the status quo. This meant that citizen activism was slow, encumbering and difficult to coordinate en mass.

This is changing as the mainstream continues to adopt new Internet technologies and has created for itself “transformative opportunities related to key public sector issues of transparency, accountability, communication and collaboration, and to promote deeper levels of civic engagement.” This has resulted in an unprecedented and transformational level of citizen participation and organization. Where citizen activism used to take days, weeks or even months to coordinate, it can today be organized and executed, quite literally overnight. Getup.org.au (GetUp!) is a community advocacy group dedicated to getting greater community participation on important issues. They take a very strong and active role in Citizen Democracy; not only making suggestions, but also providing specific and intricate instructions on how people can engage in a number of specific political and social agendas. The site provides many examples on its front page, and these are constantly changing with an ever-changing social landscape.

Conversely, the Queensland Government’s Get Involved initiative is more about how the general public can participate in their local communities . There are suggestions towards influencing Government Policies and decision-making, but the bulk of the suggestions involve passive political activities, such as donation and volunteering and are reasonably ambiguous and nondescript. But its not just the underlying vagueness that is the problem with the Get Involved website.

The main issue is one of obviousness and one of timeliness; it provides dated, obvious suggestions for which most people would be already be aware (e.g., volunteering at a local school). However, the Government cannot be seen to be biasing or influencing the public, which stands to reason why the Get Involved website is quite generic in it’s suggestions. However, even after forgiving Get Involved for its politically sensitive content, I think the main reason why GetUp! is more successful, is because it selects highly specific language, which is clearly designed to invoke an emotive reaction as well as the specific links and activities to do something about it. This reduces social hegemony and action paralysis.

It’s indeed a microcosm for politics today; governments and politicians know they need to get engaged in new media, however, Social Media and the Blogosphere often cycle faster than Governments and Politicians can react. It’s interesting to me to see how the political machine will evolve and adapt to a more open and Internet-aware public.

This post is a slightly modified version of a piece I wrote for a University assignment for the Curtin University Subject Internet Studies 102/502: The Internet and Everyday Life, answering the question: Navigate around and discuss two of the following sites in terms of the kinds of involvement they encourage. (www.pm.gov.au, www.tonyabbott.com.au, www.getinvolved.qld.gov.au or www.getup.org.au)

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Video games are clearly an entry drug

I love the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC). They protect me and my family from developing expensive heroin and ice addictions; because everyone knows that video games are clearly a gateway to a life of violence and heavy drug use.

In the interest of protecting Australia from the ruthless thread of animated pixels, Fallout 3, is the most recent game to suffer the mighty wrath of the OFLC; being denied a rating, and thus effectively banning it in Australia. GameSpot AU, broke the news only a few days ago:

Rumours were swirling late last week that Australia’s strict games classification regime had struck its highest-profile victim for 2008, with Fallout 3 apparently being refused a rating. It seems the rumours were true, with confirmation coming tonight that Bethesda’s upcoming postapocalyptic action RPG has indeed been banned for sale in Australia.

So don’t worry folks. The temptation to inject yourself in the arm with someone else’s needle because you’re unable to tell the difference between a post-apocalyptic digital fantasy land and reality is now gone.

Initially the news was just an industry rumor, as it’s not the first time a video game has come under fire in Australia because our leaders lack the intelligence to add an R18+ rating for video games, despite the fact that other media has it. GameSpot AU later updated their post, confirming our fears:

Upcoming Bethesda game refused classification Down Under by ratings body; OFLC report confirms banning is due to showing positive effects of in-game drug use.

I think Jeremy from the An Onymous Lefty blog, sums it up perfectly:

Still, thank God the Board has been forced to apply the Government’s stupidly inconsistent legislation in such a ridiculous way to this major game – maybe this will finally prompt enough outrage from the industry that they will push harder for change. Perhaps this will be the final straw, and idiot SA Attorney General Michael Atkinson will no longer be able to prevent the other AGs from the common sense approach of treating games like any other media that adults enjoy, by implementing an R18 rating.

you can read the whole post here; I highly recommend reading it because its hilarious much like Michael Atkinson’s response to a constituent, arguing “That if you have an R18 classification system, children will get access to that material anyway.”
Perhaps someone should explain the interwebs to him?