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The all sneer no substance academic

After recent exchanges with University of Canberra Academic Jason Wilson, I have formed the view that there is a wide gulf between his own esteem of his knowledge and intellect and the far less impressive reality.

There is no doubt that Wilson fancies himself – this is evident from his sneering during twitter debates and his presumptuous claim to know more about the Middle East than the experienced journalists at The Australian.

One of our debates concerned whether the terrorist threat in Australia was real or whether it was just a beat up. Strangely, Wilson believed that the number of non-terror related homicides was relevant to this question:

Never mind the terrorist threat. Look at the number of men killing their partners!

Never mind the terrorist threat. Look at the number of men killing their partners!

So according to Wilson’s logic, we should not be concerned about men killing their partners either, because this number is dwarfed by the number of people who die every year in motor vehicle accidents.

Moreover, there are a couple of other problems with Wilson’s argument, as I pointed out:

To pointiout the social effects of terrorism is to engage in nationalist fantasies.

“To point out the social effects of terrorism is to engage in nationalist fantasies.”

According to Jason Wilson, there is no unity in Australian society. For a fellow who deems himself to have a very sound knowledge of international affairs, this appears to show that Wilson does not understand that compared to many other countries, Australia is one of the most harmonious.

However, in spite of his pompous demeanor, the exchange shows that Wilson does not really think through the issues at all. It is plain that he has not considered that some terrorist attacks have killed thousands, and that a successful terrorist attack in Australia could well drive a wedge between mainstream Australian society and certain parts of the Muslim community. His only response is to accuse me of believing in a “nationalist fantasy”.

Finally, just today Wilson accused me of making up the fact that he supported some form of media regulation. Whilst I could not find the tweet where Wilson indicated as such to me, I was able to find an article he wrote for the Drum in 2012. Whilst the article does not endorse the  recommendations of the Finkelstein Report, the following comments reveal that Wilson does consider a free media market to be unsatisfactory and would support some form of media regulation:

It’s a shame that most of the Finkelstein Independent Media Inquiry Report will go unread by many of those who are damning it…. The problems it identifies are real enough, and pressing.

Australia has the worst concentration of media ownership in the developed world – no other country has, or likely would have, allowed things to get to this point… There are no truly effective remedies for ordinary people with few resources, whom the news media prints lies about, whose privacy is invaded, or whose careers are ruined by baseless reporting.

It is a shame that, rather than seeing the online space as cacophonous and unruly, Finkelstein didn’t instead offer ways in which diversity and sustainability might be promoted for a better media future.

As you can see, I did not “make it up”. I was right. Wilson does want media regulation.

Looking forwad to that Latte

As regular readers will know I have a bet with the Good Doctor that Andrew Bolt will still be presenting his show on ten six months after it began, that means that as long as it lasts for another ten days I can look forward to a latte courtesy of Dr  Jason Wilson. The fact that Ten have decided to axe George Negus’ show in favour of an expanded and re-branded 7pm Project only makes me more certain that I will be enjoying that Latte:

click for source

Just to show that I am a generous fellow I will buy the sweet treats to go with the coffee 😉

Cheers Comrades

Crazy bloggers are better

There are lots of poor souls out there who think that their blogs will “succeed” if they try to be serious commentators on politics or if they write about their much loved cat (that sometimes works just because there are plenty of loving slaves to their Feline masters 😉 )  but mostly a blog gets read if it provokes some sort of response from its readers. there are plenty of well written but boring blogs out there who languish in their tiny corner of the web entirely unread and unloved. Frankly the biggest sin in blogging is to be boring, which is why The Sandpit tries to be “not boring” above all else and judging from the readership we are succeeding. It helps That this site has become a group blog where there are three of us providing new posts on a regular basis, like Leon’s excellent analysis of the changing opinion of the Bolt case from our Learned friend and his giggling side kick posted yesterday. Or Ray’s critique of his favourite local member. Anyway this is really all just a bit of a lead in to sharing with you a link to an interesting article that basically says that the best blogs are written by Crazy People:

click for source

Amusingly the tip off came from the Good Doctor Jason Wilson who sent me the tip via Twitter. Of course I am unsure if this means that he thinks that I am one of the Crazy ones. So dear readers what do you think about the proposition in the Forbes piece?
Are the best bloggers Crazy?
I await your judgement.
Cheers Comrades

Dr Jason Wilson thinks that Internet anonymity is an unequivocally good thing, sigh

The Good Doctor Jason Wilson

For someone who teaches about the new media the good doctor seems to be extremely naive about the issue of internet anonymity,  as his opinion piece at Crikey demonstrates

Free speech at risk as Google embroiled in ‘nym wars’

by Jason Wilson, an assistant professor in journalism at the University of Canberra

There’s a struggle going on at the moment between the world’s biggest internet company and its users over the right to be pseudonymous or anonymous online.

There is just NO right to anonymity in the law of any country on the planet, in fact most legal systems are predicated upon the notion that citizens should be obliged to speak and act in their own names so that if they violate the law by doing so that they can he held to account

Google is facing a growing backlash over a policy that effectively forces people to use their “real names” on its new social media service, Google+.

Personally I think that this is a good thing because it means that discourse  will be more civil

At first Google deleted several accounts set up with pseudonyms or online handles. When this turned into a PR disaster, it tried a different approach, but with the same end point in mind. Whatever your reasons, however legitimate your concerns, revealing your real name to the world is a condition of using their service.

If there are the rules set up by the service provider that you don’t like, you are quite easily able to avoid them by simply  not using the service

This has taken some of the shine off the factory-fresh social network.

No not really it just means that those who use the service will be able to enjoy an environment where those that they interact with are real people rather than fakes with potentially underhanded agendas

It’s reminded many of the catastrophic handling of privacy issues in its last attempt at getting on the social media bandwagon, Google Buzz.

Well this is the curse of not checking what is involved in enabling any thing on the net isn’t it?

Some users are furious. Many argue that their pseudonymity is necessary because speaking under their real names would endanger their employment, their relationships, or even their personal safety. A website, my.nameis.me, showcases the concerns of those who feel they can only speak freely under a pseudonym, because of their fears of harassment, discrimination, physical harm, and in some jurisdictions, arrest and punishment up to and including execution.

If you don’t want to use the social media  internet in your real name then the solution is simple just don’t use it at all

Testimonies there show that it is the most marginalised who have the most to lose. Part of their indignation arises from the arrogance of large internet firms who seem to be trying to change the rules of online speech, and thus remove the protections people have enjoyed for decades.

This is utter bollocks those with the most to lose are the scum-bags and arseholes who use the net for malicious purposes, no one is obliged to participate in anyway on-line but if they do then they have to abide by the rules and expectations of the entities that offer the social media platforms.

An incensed blog post from danah boyd characterised this as an “abuse of power”.

This is part of what are being called the nym wars, a genuine free speech battle overlooked by some in Australia who are currently too busy defending Rupert Murdoch’s right to own 150 newspapers.

What rot! besides the fact that there is no right to anonymity no one’s right to free speech is at risk in this or most western countries, if you are mindful of the laws of defamation you can say anything you please on the internet and there is no doubt that civility is enhanced when your identity is known.

The often crude privilege-blindness of the other side of the debate was given expression last week by Facebook’s former marketing director, Randi Zuckerberg (who left the company to launch a social media firm called RtoZ Media), who said:

I think anonymity on the internet has to go away. People behave a lot better when they have their real names down … I think people hide behind anonymity and they feel like they can say whatever they want behind closed doors.

What she failed to consider was that many “hide behind anonymity” online because of very real risks to them and their families.

There is only a risk to anyone from their on-line utterances come when they act like arseholes Jason, like when they defame or try to discredit people who post in their real names from behind those Pseudonyms that you so endorse. Your problem is that you don’t appreciate that it is the mixed population on line that is the problem, If everyone was equally anonymous then it would not matter at all what anyone says about another person, but when you have some who post under pseudonyms and some who post under their real names you run in to the accountability problems that I know all to well

Similar arguments are made frequently in this country by some journalists who are irritated by pseudonymous online critics. Indeed, it’s the same sentiment that was expressed in justifying the “outing” of the pseudonymous “Grog” as Greg Jericho by The Australian last year.

While I tend to agree that there was no real need to out Greg Jericho he has clearly not suffered form the experience, in fact it served to raise his profile substantially and he certainly has not lost his day job either. Then again he has always written as if his name was known and that he could be held accountable for anything that he has said.

Coming from the profession that should be most committed to free speech, it’s pretty ugly. The idea  seems to be that operating under their real names will make people moderate their criticisms. Whichever way you look at it, it’s an attempt to limit people’s speech.

There has always been some limits on “free speech” so the suggestion that it could or should be otherwise is just a furphy here. The question is all about getting the right balance and expecting that on-line speech should be  be bound by the same expectations as we have for other types of public expression like the print media, radio or television is not unreasonable.

A lot of people making these complaints are relatively new to online debate — we can hope that they will toughen up and see that the odd flaming is the price we pay for a relatively free flow of information.

No Jason some of us have been going on about this issue for years mate and we do so because we have had the first hand experience of people using anonymity of the internet  to disparage and defame them and their being no practicable way to bring those offenders to account.

Meanwhile, we need to reflect on what the “nym wars” show us: that the most powerful internet giants will actively erode our freedoms when it suits their interests. How should we respond?

Perhaps there is a middle way to be advocated here, namely that the providers of the social media  platforms should oblige their users to disclose their verifiable identities to sign up but allow people to then post under a screen name. Thus if there is a problem with what is said  an aggrieved party can seek redress either by direct negotiation or through the courts. Thus people will be encouraged to good on-line behaviour and those squeamish souls who lack the courage to speak in their own names can still play in the On-line sandpits .

Cheers Comrades

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