#savenetstudies – How will you make tomorrow better?

Firstly, a disclaimer:

I am very proudly a student of the only dedicated Internet Studies department in Australia. I am proud to be studying with such an amazing group of forward thinking individuals who see the sense in making a current study of the very real future. I am proud to be nearing the end of my undergraduate studies, and am looking forward to honours and post-graduate studies in the future.

What does not make me proud, however, is the fact that the powers that be at Curtin University have seen fit to implement a phasing out of university admissions for the degree and major in Internet Communications. They will, despite this, be keeping the course open through their affiliate Open University Australia.

Yes.
I’ll give that a moment to sink in.

They are dropping on campus and external admissions in favour of online admissions through a third party.

ImageCost cutting? Well, not really. When you consider that they still need the same number of tutors and lecturers to teach and online group, and that in an ever-changing subject constant research is needed, there’s no real way to save money for this.

But, I hear you ask, if I study online (as I have stated elsewhere) what’s the problem?

Good question. Why should I be getting fired up about this? Well, let’s make it simple.

When I started this degree, I wanted to just get a magical piece of paper. I just wanted a piece of paper that said I had stuck it out for three years. I didn’t even want Honours. I wasn’t looking to do any kind of Higher Degree.

One year in and I knew this was what I wanted. I wanted Honours. I wanted a PhD. I wantd to revisit that desire to teach I had back in high school. I wanted to lecture, and I wanted to lecture at the only Internet Studies department in Australia.

Now, let me be clear. This move is not shutting down the entire department. It is simply removing the option for students to enrol either on campus or externally through Curtin University. This means the only way you will be able to enrol in this degree from 2014 onwards, is through Open University.

But, let’s look at the patterns here.

They are removing an option for students to enroll into a course. This will mean that some people who might have looked at this unit as a way for them to improve their life, will be turned away. I know. But everything is online these days!

Let’s get real. Some people, even in this day and age of web-mediated everyday life, feel that left to their own devices to study at home, alone, without class times to meet and tutorials to attend, they will not be successful in their academic endeavours. I, for one, have had people look at me like I’m some sort of time management empress and super disciplined because I can study at home.

So, less people in your course. This will mean you have less money to spend on the course. If you have less money to spend on the course, you will need to make more and more cuts until there is no course to offer at all. I don’t think it’s that far a stretch to follow that.

Now, back to what makes the Internet Studies department, and the Internet Communications degree, so special.

There is no other course of study like this. There are other degrees (Communications, Media, Cultural Studies), sure, and some of them even have units that brush on the particular skills necessary for writing online. They do not look into the sociological issues surrounding internet and web use. They don’t look into the application of theories and concepts as applied to web use.

So what? The internet is just a thing we use. So long as we have people to make everything online work, what’s the problem?

So, internet addiction isn’t something that requires a definite working knowledge of how people and the internet work together?

Marketing online can just have old school marketing principles reworked to it?

Communities that work online don’t need people who have a specific skill set to manage them?

Copywriting for online audiences doesn’t require specific knowledge?

I think we get the point. You can’t just take a physical world idea and plonk it onto an online platform. It doesn’t work like that.

There is a petition. There is a Facebook group. The twitter hashtag is: #savenetstudies.

Want more information? Keep an eye on these groups. This is all the information we currently have. As more comes to light, it will be shared.

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Bitcoin – The Way of The Future, or Just Another Fad?

So, unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you will have at least heard about Bitcoin. It’s been hailed as the new virtual currency for the digital world. Now, I’m all for a move away from currency owned and controlled by government and banking institutions, but I’m not so sure this is the way to go. I decided to delve a little deeper into the mysterious beast of Bitcoin.

Bitcoin ImageBitcoin, in their own site, state that they is a peer to peer way of managing online transactions. It’s more of a collective of users, making it a decentralised system of currency rather than the old guard centralisd system run and operated by governments and banks.

 

It’s an open-source, and community-driven software system, that involves downloading the wallet of your choice, that even has its own currency-linked vocabulary!

So where did it all come from?

The history of Bitcoin is as short as it is mysterious. No one knows the true origin of the idea, as it was posted as a concept under a pseudonym. The idea was then taken up, proof of concept published and was further developed by a group, including the original proposer, who left the group, never revealing their identity. They simply gave their idea to the world. In 2011, the idea managed to capture some media attention, which sparked a bit of a buy in by a good number of people.

So, does it have enough staying power?

That remains to be seen. I personally believe the current economic market sees it as a bit of a fad. I think it will have a hard time gathering the traction it needs to remain in use and build up a good market. Having said that, I really do hope it sticks. It makes sense – a decentralised currency for a decentralised system of transaction and interaction. I can see a few potential stumbling blocks for it though.

The powers that be will see it as a threat to the status quo, once it gathers enough users. If the banks can’t buy in to it, how will they control the currency? They won’t be able to, and this will further cause turmoil. It runs in line with my previous musings on needing a huge shift in the entire way in which we think about money and economy.

Governmental taxes will continue to be a thing. This is unavoidable. So, while we may well shift away from centrally owned and operated systems of transaction, we will not be able to completely shift away from geographic boundaries. This may prove a bit of an issue as Bitcoin gathers momentum. Governments will probably hesitate to recognise it as an actual form of currency and, as such, you may have Bitcoin wealth, but you will need to transact in the “real-world” with “real-world” currency. The exchange rates will probably start off as a joke, with operations setting up to exchange Bitcoin to real coin and reaping the rewards of providing such a service.

After all is said and done, I am not an economist. I’m not a political scientist, although I do find it amusing that those educated in these fields are unable to make sense of it all. I’m not able to make properly educated guesses as to how the world will embrace Bitcoin. These are just my musings on a very good idea that I hope will come to fruition.

 

If you want to read up on Bitcoin, you can take a look at the following links:

Bitcoin.org

WeUseCoins.com

The Bitcoin Wiki