Census (Fail) 2016

Census night in Australia was Tuesday, 9th of August 2016.

Census Household Questionnaire

It is supposed to be the evening where everyone in Australia completes their answers to a series of questions in order to give the Australian Bureau of Statistics an accurate snapshot of the country and its citizens at that particular moment in history.

It’s also supposed to be the method by which all infrastructure and government planning is informed for the next five years.

Why then has there been an unprecedented amount of dispute, to the point of international recognition, regarding this clearly valuable and essential system of statistical data collection?

Let’s go into the details, shall we?

Arguments for the Census

So, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) says that:

The Census provides a snapshot of Australia’s people and their housing. It helps estimate Australia’s population which is used to distribute government funds and plan services for your community. – ABS Census Household Form 2016.

Arguments against the Census

One of the main argument against the Census is that the questions being presented are antiquated and can no longer be used to give the accurate snapshot of Australian people that the ABS is after. Later on in this article, I go through the questions, so you can make up your own mind.

One of the biggest arguments this time round is that in 2015 the ABS announced it would be requiring you to give your name with your supposed anonymous data, and that this is in direct breach of the intention of the Census Act.

Another argument being presented is that the online system is not sufficiently secure to ensure end-to-end closed loop transmissions.

What’s different this year?

This year, people were able to submit their census responses online. This was not as viable an option as some might have liked, with the ABS and Census websites falling over in a very short amount of time.

It was expected that somewhere in the vicinity of 15 million people were expected to complete their civic census duty online. So, it’s more than a little disappointing that the servers dealing with the delivery and submission of online census forms weren’t able to deal with the load.

Also of note, is that this is the first year that respondents have been asked to provide their name with all this identifying information. This has been a main cause of concern for privacy advocates, who have said this is in clear breach of parliamentary acts, puts people at risk of discrimination, violence, and more. Many people online have been asking if they have to place their name on the form, with some legal experts trying to give unbiased and informative guidelines on what is and isn’t necessary, according to the word of the law. Suffice to say, that this is the main reason many are giving for not completing the Census this time round. These people have accepted potential for AUD$180 per day fines under the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

The questions themselves – presented without comment

  1. What is the address of this dwelling?
  2. Name of each person including visitors who spent the night of Tuesday, 9 August 2016 in this dwelling.
    – include all adults, children, babies and visitors present.
    – include any person who usually lives in this dwelling who returned on Wednesday, 10 August 2016 without being included on a form elsewhere.
    for all other cases of persons away, please include them in Questions 52 and 53 only.
  3. Is the person male of female?
    – Mark one box for each person (male OR female).
  4. What is the person’s date of birth or age?
  5. What is the person’s relationship to Person 1/Person 2?
    – Husband or wife of Person 1
    – De facto partner of Person 1
    – Child of Person 1
    – Stepchild of Person 1
    – Brother or sister of Person 1
    – Child of both Person 1 and Person 2
    – Child of Person 1 only
    – Child of Person 2 only
    – Unrelated flatmate or co-tenant of Person 1
    – Other relationship to Person 1 (please specify)
  6. What is the person’s present marital status?
    – Never married
    – Widowed
    – Divorced
    – Separated but not divorced
    – Married
  7. Is the person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?
    – No
    – Yes, Aboriginal
    – Yes, Torres Strait Islander
  8. Where does the person usually live?
    – For persons who usually live in another country and who are visiting Australia for less than one year, mark ‘Other Country’.
    – For other persons, ‘usually living’ means the address at which the person has lived, or intends to live, for a total of six months or more in 2016.
    – For persons who have no usual address, write ‘NONE’ in the ‘Suburb/Locality’ box.
    – For boarders at boarding school, write the address of the boarding school or college.
  9. Where did the person usually live one year ago (at August 9 2015)?
    – If the person is less than one year old, leave blank.
    – For person who had no usual address on 9 August 2015, write the address at which they were then living.
  10. Where did the person usually live five years ago (at 9 August 2011)?
    – If the person is less than five years old, leave blank.
    – For persons who had no usual address on 9 August 2011, write the address at which they were then living.
  11. Is the person and Australian citizen?
    – Yes, Australian citizen
    – No
  12. In which country was the person born?
    – Australia -> go to 14
    – England
    – New Zealand
    – India
    – Italy
    – Vietnam
    – Phillippines
    – Other (please specify)
  13. In what year did the person first arrive in Australia to live here for one year or more?
    – XXXX (year)
    – Other (please specify)
  14. In which country was the person’s father born?
    – Australia
    – Other (please specify)
  15. In which country was the person’s mother born?
    – Australia
    – Other (please specify)
  16. Does the person speak a language other than English at home?
    – No, English only -> Go to 18
    – Yes, Mandarin
    – Yes, Italian
    – Yes, Arabic
    – Yes, Cantonese
    – Yes, Greek
    – Yes, Vietnamese
    – Yes, other (please specify)
  17. How well does the person speak English?
    – Very well
    – Well
    – Not well
    – Not at all
  18. What is the person’s ancestry?
    – Provide up to two ancestries only.
    – English
    – Irish
    – Scottish
    – Italian
    – German
    – Chinese
    – Australia
    – Other ancestry 1 (please specify)
    – Other ancestry 2 (please specify)
  19. What is the person’s religion?
    – Answering this questions is optional.
    – No religion
    – Catholic
    – Anglican (Church of England)
    – Uniting Church
    – Presbyterian
    – Buddhism
    – Islam
    – Greek Orthodox
    – Baptist
    – Hinduism
    – Other (please specify)
  20. Does the person ever need someone to help with, or be with them, for self care activities?
    – Yes, always
    – Yes, sometimes
    – No
  21. Does the person ever need someone to help with, or be with them for, body movement activities?
    – Yes, always
    – Yes, sometimes
    – No
  22. Does the person ever need someone to help with, or be with them for, communication activities?
    – Yes, always
    – Yes, sometimes
    – No
  23. What are the reasons for the need for assistance or supervision shown in Questions 20, 21, and 22?
    – No need for help or supervision
    – Short-term health condition (lasting less than six months)
    – Long-term health condition (lasting six months or more)
    – Disability (lasting six months or more)
    – Old or young age
    – Difficulty with English language
    – Other cause
  24. Is the person attending a school or any other educational institution?
    – No -> Go to 26
    – Yes, full-time student
    – Yes, part-time student
  25. What type of educational institution is the person attending?
    – Preschool
    Infants/Primary School
    – Government
    – Catholic
    – Other non-government
    Secondary School
    – Government
    – Catholic
    – Other non-government
    Tertiary institution
    – Technical or further educational institution (including TAFE colleges)
    – University or other higher educational institution
    – Other educational institution
  27. What is the highest year of primary and secondary school the person has ever completed?
    – Year 12 or equivalent
    – Year 11 or equivalent
    – Year 10 or equivalent
    – Year 9 or equivalent
    – Year 8 or equivalent
    – Did not go to school
  28. Has the person completed any educational qualification (including a trade certificate)?
    – No -> Go to 32
    – No, still studying for first qualification
    – Yes, trade certificate/apprenticeship
    – Yes, other qualification
  29. What is the level of highest qualification the person has completed?
  30. What is the main field of study for the person’s highest qualification completed?
  31. Did the person complete this qualification before 1988?
  32. For each female, how many babies has she ever given birth to?
  33. What is the total of all income the person usually receives?
  34. Last week, did the person have a job of any kind?
  35. In the main job held last week, was the person:
    – working for an employer?
    – working in own business?
  36. Was the person’s business:
    – Unincorporated?
    – Incorporated?
  37. Does the person’s business employ people?
    – No, no employees (other than owner/s)
    – Yes, 1 – 19 employees
    – Yes, 20 or more employees
  38. In the main job held last week, what was the person’s occupation?
  39. What are the main tasks that the person usually performs in that occupation?
  40. for the main job held last week, what was the employer’s business name?
  41. For the main job held last week, what was he person’s workplace address?
  42. What best describes the industry or business of the employer at the location where the person works?
  43. What are the main good produced or main services provided by the employer’s business?
  44. Last week, how many hours did the person work in all jobs?
  45. How did the person get to work on Tuesday, 9 August 2016?
  46. Did the person actively look for work at any time in the last four weeks?
  47. If the person had found a job, could the person have started work last week?
  48. In the last week did the person spend time doing unpaid domestic work for their household?
  49. In the last two weeks did the person spend time providing unpaid care, help or assistance to family members or others because of a disability, a long term health condition or problems related to old age?
  50. In the last two weeks did the person spend time looking after a child, without pay?
  51. In the last twelve months did the person spend any time doing voluntary work through an organisation or group?
  52. Were there any people away on the night of Tuesday, 9 august 2016 who usually live in this dwelling?
  53. For each person away, complete the following questions:
    – Name of each person who usually lives in this dwelling but was away on Tuesday, 9 August 2016.
    – Is the person male or female?
    – What is the person’s date of birth or age?
    – Is the person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?
    – Is the person a full-time student?
    – What is the person’s relationship to Person 1/Person 2?
  54. Please answer the following questions for this dwelling.
    – How many registered motor vehicles owned or used by residents of this dwelling were garaged or parked at or near this dwelling on the night of Tuesday, 9 August 2016?
  55. How many bedrooms are there in this dwelling?
  56. Is this dwelling:
    – Owned outright? -> Go to 59
    – Owned with a mortgage? -> Go to 58
    – Being purchased under a shared equity scheme? -> Go to 58
    – Being rented?
    – Being occupied rent free?
    – Being occupies under a life tenure scheme?
    – Other?
  57. If this dwelling is being rented, who is it rented from?
    – Real estate agent
    – Government Housing Authority/Housing Department (Public Housing)
    – Parent/ other relative not in this dwelling
    – Other person not in this dwelling
    – Residential park (including caravan parks and marinas)
    – Employer – Government (including Defence Housing Authority)
    – Employer – Private
    – Housing co-operative, Community or Church Group
  58. How much does your household pay for this dwelling?
  59. Does any member of this household access the internet from this dwelling?
  60. Does each person agree to his/her name and address and other information on this form being kept by the National Archives of Australia and then made publicly available after 99 years?

Why Australia opposes Fair Use.

Having just finished this article I fear, once again, for the future. Why? Because it contains a very important message that will, ultimately, get drowned out by all the other important messages we are currently facing both here and globally… but that’s a post for another time.

Fair Use for EFF.orgAustralian copyright laws always have been considered antiquated. In fact, we are not terribly forward thinking as a nation, legislatively speaking. Copyright is, however, one of those topics that very few people understand and even fewer care about, unless they stand to profit from the proceeds of it.

Every study period throughout my undergraduate degree I was approached or pointed to a discussion regarding the unsanctioned use of unattributed copyrighted material for assignment purposes.

“But if my tutor says it’s okay to use this picture in my project, then isn’t it okay?”

“What do you mean using the writing of another person is illegal unless I have a specific agreement from the copyright holder to say I can?”

These questions, and so many others like them, resulted in me banging my head against a non-existent desk or wall, as the people I was attempting to educate gleefully told me that they didn’t care, the law was stupid, and they’d go and use copyrighted material anyway because no one was going to chase them for the royalties for their use of said material.


This is why ideas like Fair Use won’t take hold here.

Fair Use is a legal idea allowing people to use copyrighted material so long as the copyright holder isn’t losing out on profits from said use. It’s that simple really. Of course, the real legal mumbo jumbo goes into exclusions and restrictions, but that’s pretty much what it amounts to.

Parliament’s a funny place. And by funny I mean disparaging to the human soul.

So, as long as the public don’t care that they’re breaking the law and could stand to lose a significant amount of money to an already filthy rich corporation (think of how many times you’ve share a meme based on someone else’s work, or a music video, or copied a line from some book onto a completely unrelated image), or face jail time and as long as politicians sit in the pockets of those corporations that believe they will miss out on all the profits if they allow people to do what they’re already “turning a blind eye” to, then legislation such as Fair Use will never take hold in Australia.


Still not sure what it’s all about? Check out the video below for more information.

“We Aim To Misbehave” : How The Browncoats Changed the Face of Community as We Know It.

Net 204 2012I thought it was time to share some of my more academic writing. Here is my essay, presented at the NET204 CommUnity conference, both online and face-to-face. This piece was nominated for a Mr Pointy award. I would like to add that this was written and presented in my first year at university, and that my writing has improved by leaps and bounds since this piece.


December of 2002 saw the end of yet another television series. It had run for eleven of the planned fourteen episodes, but low ratings had forced the network to call for its cancellation. It was not the first time this had happened and it certainly was not the last (Browncoats.com, 2009). However, this time was different. This television series had an army fighting for its survival. That fight led to an historic event. Never before in the history of television had an axed television program led to a major motion picture, thanks to the dedicated fans and their efforts. The television show was Firefly, the movie was Serenity, and the fans are the ‘Browncoats’. Through their dedication and use of Web 2.0 applications in the forms of emails, weblogs, forums, social networking sites, wikis, video- sharing sites, and other user-generated content, the Browncoat community pulled together.

As Neil Gaiman, acclaimed fantasy author and Browncoat said, “There are people you do not wanna upset in the world … the science-fiction and fantasy fans whose favourite show has been canceled in an untimely way (interviewed in the FIREorg, 2011).” In this paper I shall explain the various Web 2.0 platforms that were used in the fight for Serenity, why it was an important fight, and why communities like the Browncoats are the way of the future. I will argue that a new kind of community building has emerged, neither online or offline, but an amalgamation of the two and that the Browncoats are an example of a true Web 2.0 community, one that bridges online and offline experiences.


A community online is, to those who are a part of it, not that dissimilar to that of a more ‘real life’ community (Kavanaugh, et. al., 2005, para. 55). Online participants have more of a “…tendency to develop feelings of closeness on the basis of shared interests, rather than … of shared social characteristics (Gulia & Wellman, 1999, P#5)…” In this case, the shared interest is that of the television program, Firefly. There has been much debate since the Internet, and indeed, the Web became a part of our everyday lives, as to whether or not it has enhanced or detracted from our social interactions. Those of older generations sometimes complain that younger generations would be lost without the Web to make their contact for them (Baytor, et.al, 2009).

The fact remains that we have truly embraced the Web, and now Web 2.0 applications, as an essential element of our lives. For fans of television programs, the internet has become particularly integral to finding fellowship and peer groups. Fandom has always had a reputation for being of a more “geeky” basis (Clark, 2008), with computer sciences highly represented in careers of the geek (Svitavsky, 2001). It does stand to reason then, that with the advent of Web 2.0, fans have formed their communities online, rather than in person, and used it to demonstrate that which they love (Karabulut, 2010).

The Browncoats first began as an unaffiliated group of fans outraged that their favourite television program was being into hiatus by the very network that had brought it into being, shown it out of sequence and, ultimately, created its own demise. From this, they formed a more condensed presence on websites such as http://www.browncoats.com and http://www.fireflyfans.net in order to bring about a unified front for their fight. This later developed into face-to-face meetings at science-fiction conventions, and other events, across the United States and other countries. In this way, the Browncoats brought together the crowdsourcing capabilities and geographic ignorance of the web spaces and joined it with more traditional community norms, such as presence in meetings and gatherings (Efimova & Hendrick, 2005, P7).

Web 2.0.

It is difficult to think of the web without the simplified and user-friendly Web 2.0 applications that we know today. Email, blogs, social networking sites, user-generated content are just some of the services which are most characteristic of Web 2.0. Designed to make the web a more user-orientated and -friendly experience (O’Reilly, 2005), Web 2.0 applications have made it so that any user, regardless of their technical expertise can pose a challenge to the traditional media producers, by creating and publishing their own works of creativity (Harrison and Barthel, 2009). We see in the large volumes of user-generated fan content on such sites as deviantart.com, youtube.com, Fireflyfans.net, browncoatsmovie.com, fanfilms.net and fanfiction.net (for the Firefly series alone), a tendency of fans to make their own interpretations from the original source material. The Web 2.0 applications that are available give such freedoms to expand engagement with the source of fandom, that new sites and new creations are appearing on the web every day.


Firefly was seen as something brand new in the science-fiction television field (Card, 2007). Although set in space, there were no aliens which was something which had not really been done before (Burns, 2007). The focus was not on the science of the science- fiction, but on the stories of the characters living on a spaceship. Firefly was Joss Whedon’s third project for primetime television and after his success with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, the Fox Network were ready for his new idea, being a mixing together of the original Star Trek, Stagecoach (1939), and Wagon Train (1957-1965) (Cochrane, 2009). It aired for eleven of its fourteen episodes, out of the intended order, in a variety of time slots making it difficult for a fan base to establish itself. However, the show captivated the imagination of a group of people who, upon seeing the first few episodes, had become hooked and wanted this program to continue. They could see the merit, even when the network airing it could not.

Browncoats ≠ Fans.

There is something about a Browncoat that sets them apart from the ordinary fan, a certain intrinsic quality that makes them something more. There are those who would argue that all Firefly fans are Browncoats (Cochrane, 2009.). This is to say all who enjoy watching Star Trek are Trekkies, or all everyone likes to watch Doctor Who is a Whovian. While a simple definition of Browncoat may be hard to ascertain, it is possibly best left to the Browncoats and their associates to define themselves. Joss Whedon, in his introduction to the movie Serenity, had this to say in regards to Browncoats:

“… the people who made the show and the people who saw the show, which is roughly the same number of people, fell in love with it a little bit too much to let it go. Too much to lay down arms when the battle looked pretty much lost. In Hollywood, people like that are called “unrealistic”, “quixotic”, “obsessive”. In my world, they’re called “Browncoats…” (Whedon, 2005a)

While engaging in their chosen media in a participatory and productive way is seen to be a clear indicator of a fan (Costello & Moore, 2007, P127), the Browncoat goes that little bit further (Cochrane, 2009). There is an “… intensity of devotion and level of activity distinguishes admirers from true Browncoats” (Cochrane, 2009). As one Browncoat posted in a group forum a fan is someone who watches and likes the show and is disappointed when it is over or taken away, but a Browncoat is a fan activist and will take the next step to keep the show going (po1s, 2010).

How the Browncoats Utilised On- and Off-line Networking.

As an example of multi-platform fan activism, the Browncoats are the exemplary unit. Letter writing to Fox networks, postcard sendings from Browncoats.com, emails and advertising campaigns in magazines (Browncoats.com, 2009a) all contributed to the backing had behind him when he approached Universal Pictures with his idea of making a Firefly film. While most of this work was conducted from the anonymity of an online presence in a web-based community, there were actual face-to-face contacts made as well, at science-fiction conventions such as Comic-Con (Hadlock, Heppler, Neish, Nelson &Wiser, 2006).Flyers handed out by Browncoats who had volunteered their time to man stands helped to spread the word about the television program which, in turn, brought more members to the community. As more people joined the fold, DVD dales of the television series increased, giving the series more validity in the eyes of a movie investor. Had it been left to a singularly online tour de fource, there would not have been the return on investment seen by Universal Pictures to make the film, Serenity.

Television networks do not give money to unsuccessful programs for follow-up films and it is for this reason that the Browncoats stand alone as an example of fan pressure on the industry. There have been science-fiction films stemming from popular television shows. There have been the Star Trek films, in their various versions, the X-Files films, The Avengers and now Firefly (Wilcox, 2011). Firefly stands alone as the only one of these to have been axed by its parent television network. When Universal Pictures took on the project, the Browncoat community united as only they knew how. There was blog posting across the Web celebrating Universal “greenlighting” production of Serenity in March 2004 (whedonesque.com, 2004). With a possible budget in the tens of millions, this was no minor endeavour. The plot took place approximately five years after the initial series, and featured the characters the fans had grown to love, as they watched their DVD boxed sets of the series, waiting for the next series or movie. Released in August 2005, Browncoats were lining up in their best array. Some had already been involved in super secret test audiences Universal Pictures had arranged to gauge reactions to the script and plot. This was the “big damned movie” the Browncoats and the cast and crew of Firefly had worked towards. The fans had “…done the impossible, and that makes [them] mighty … (Baldwin, 2006)”

Web forums were the platform for the majority of the Browncoats work. When Fox announced that Firefly was on hiatus, Internet conversation in the following days and weeks was inevitably displaying anger towards the network (Hark, 2010). Firefly.net and prospero.net were simply two of hundreds of forums that popped up when Firefly hit the air, not to mention the pre-existing science-fiction forums and social networking sites across the web. Forums gave the fans a chance to read responses and reply at their leisure, rather than an Internet Relay Chat (IRC), which was more immediate.

Currently, there are over one hundred group pages one Facebook alone that are hit in a search for Firefly. At the time of Firefly going to air, myspace.com and livejournal.com were also still rather active. These also have high numbers of groups registered with Firefly as their main focus, some of them still active today. As well as these forums, many websites arose. Fireflyfans.net and browncoats.com popped up to solidify the Browncoat front, with sites like still-flying.net and cantstopthesignal.co.uk being about the fight to keep the show going or make the movie a success. Regardless of their purpose, these methods of computer mediated social networking gave their Browncoat users a sense of community (Gulia & Wellman, 1999), somewhere they could mourn the loss of the program, get angry, and feel safe to do so because they were surrounded by people of a similar ilk.

While some may see the Browncoats as just another group of fanatics trying to keep their favourite show from falling by the wayside, they are the prime example of a community taking what Web 2.0 has to offer and running with it. Jenkins suggests that as the world moves forward from a commodity-based culture to a more knowledge-based one, that we will be forced to collaborate in more effective ways across further distances (Jenkins, 2004). He goes on to say that these collaborations will take places regardless of physical contact and without particular attention to geography. This is how the Browncoats operated. By banding together on websites, they worked together as a team to achieve their goal, keeping the crew of Serenity flying for just a little longer. The Browncoats’ movement best encapsulates Downing’s concept of the blurred line between ‘active media user’ and ‘radical alternative media producers’ (Downing cited in Harrison and Barthel, 2009).

By creating their own campaign material, spreading it via the Web, they were the media producers, bypassing the traditional avenues of media production and consumption. In the making of Browncoats: Redemption, a fan film for charity, fans used crowd-sourcing, a typical Web 2.0 platform, to spread the word of their endeavour and to gain support. Even beyond the fight for Serenity or Firefly, the Browncoats still use Web 2.0 applications, in the form of social networking sites such as Twitter, to spread word about Firefly-applicable situations, such as in the case of Professor Miller’s fight against on-campus censorship (TheFIRE.org, 2011). No other fan-based group has embraced Web 2.0 applications and platforms and used them with such ferocity.

With Web 2.0 removing the distance between producer and consumer of media, through the affordability of the means for production as well as the access to means of distribution, we are forced to reconsider how we view production and consumption of media (Harrison & Barthel, 2009). No longer are they strictly separated. We have entered the world of the ‘prosumer’ (Ritzer & Jurgenson, 2010), those who can challenge the big companies and triumph. Fan activism is not new, but having greater access to the world via Web 2.0 platforms, they are able to have their messages heard by more people and communities can come together regardless of geographical boundaries. This can be harnessed by companies, as in the case of the advertising for the film Serenity (Affinitive, 2005).


As the now instantly recognisable theme song, written by Joss Whedon himself, says, if that which is loved and held dear is taken away, there will be somewhere that people will still be able to stand; you can’t take the sky from the Browncoats, they will simply refuse to lay down arms.

“Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don’t care, I’m still free
You can’t take the sky from me;
Take me out to the black
Tell them I ain’t coming back
Burn the land and boil the sea
You can’t take the sky from me;
There’s no place I can be
Since I found Serenity
But you can’t take the sky from me…” (Whedon, 2005)

The Web was the second most powerful weapon in the Browncoat arsenal. It was their determination and community, as unfamiliar in form it may be, that was their biggest strength. Their program was shelved, the end was near, but by banding together in forums and their own websites, they succeeded. They showed that there was enough of a following to warrant a movie being made. It was a mighty battle, but in the end, they won. “Coz remember, they tried to kill us – they did kill us – and here we are. We have done the impossible and that makes us mighty (Whedon, 2005a).”


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Efimova, L., & Hendrick, S. (2005). In search for a virtual settlement: An exploration of weblog community boundaries. Telematica Institute. Accessed via: https://doc.telin.nl/dscgi/ds.py/Get/File-46041/weblog_community_boundaries.pdf

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Firefly, (2012.). Accessed via: http://forums.prospero.com/foxfirefly/ fireflyfans.net, accessed via: http://www.fireflyfans.net/

Hadlock, T., Heppler, J., Neish, J., Nelson, J., & Wiser, B.(Directors), Baldwin, A. (Narrator). (2006.). “Done the Impossible”. DTI (Done The Impossible). DVD.

Hark, I.R., (2010.). “Decent Burial or Miraculous Resurrection: Serenity, Mourning, and Sequels to Dead Television Shows” in Second Takes: Critical Approaches to the Film Sequel (Carolyn Jess-Cooke & Constantine Verevis, Eds.). State University of New York Press: USA

Harrison, T.M. & Barthel, B., (2009.). “Wielding new media in Web 2.0: exploring the history of engagement with the collaborative construction of media products” in New Media & Society, 11:55. Accessed via: http://nms.sagepub.com/content/11/1-2/155

Jenkins, H., (2004.). The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence, in International journal of Cultural Studies, 7(33). Accessed via: http://ics.sagepub.com/content/7/1/33

Karabulut, N., (2010.). Crowdsourcing: The Power of the Crowd. Paper presented at 7th International Symposium of Interactive Media Design, http://newmedia.yeditepe.edu.tr/pdfs/isimd_10/nejla-karabulut.pdf

Kavanaugh, A., Carroll, J.M., Rosson, M.B., Zin, T.T., & Reese, D.D., (2005). Community Networks: Where Offline Communities Meet Online. Accessed via: http://www.jcmc.indiana.edu/vol10/issue4/kavanaugh.html

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The Search for the Holy Grail…

aka: information on how to apply for Honours.

Mortarboard and scrollLast year I completed my undergraduate degree in Internet Communications with Curtin university. It was a great achievement. For someone who attempted year twelve of high school twice, dropping out at the half way point each time, I never truly thought I would get this far, let alone consider a future in research or further education.

This month has seen me make some changes to my life so that I can enroll to do my Honours year on campus instead of the external online study I have been doing up until this point. It will be another first for me, as I have not attended a single class in a real life university (unless you count a day course in Old Kingdom Egyptian artifacts I did when I was 15).

Turns out, applying properly is not so easy when you haven’t already been studying on campus. Certainly not when there is no information online and no one on campus actually really understands how your degree is awarded or what is needed to get you where you need to be.

I spent the better part of a day last week finding out exactly how NOT to run applications for enrollment to an Honours program.

I drove to campus, parked my car and went to find my way to Student Central. On the way, I happened to chance upon a printed A4 piece of paper informing students that there was an information session being held for student on Honours program from 10-3pm. This was not posted online anywhere or publicised.

I thought this would be a better place to start my search for information, so I used the campus map app I had downloaded the evening prior to find my way. It wasn’t that far away, thank goodness. The temperature was already rising and I am very much NOT a summer person.

I sat through the questions asked of the coordinators by a few arts students and one journalism student, only to find none of them answered any of the questions I had hastily prepared myself on the way from the car park to the lecture room. I waited for the other students to leave then asked my questions, namely “what did I need to prepare” and “how can I find out more information on what the process is, as no one has been able to tell me everything?” Turns out that on campus students normally have lengthy talks with teachers who can offer the majority of information required for their enrollment paperwork: things like how to choose a topic and supervisor and what necessary paper work is required in order to successfully enroll.

I was then directed to Student central, which was where I was originally headed in the first place. I walked through the sweltering campus, heat radiating off the mostly brick and concrete buildings. I took my ticket and waited for my number to be called, despite being only one of two people to be waiting to be seen.

The first person who saw me was new and had no idea what to suggest, called someone else to help me. I took my seat and waited for them to come out. They too had no idea what to tell me, so had to go and check with yet another person and come back to the meeting room, only to inform me that I had to direct my queries to the humanities student services. The building for this was next to where I had been for the information session. Needless to say, I was not impressed.

It’s a good thing that I carry water with me everywhere I go. Once I had spoken to someone int he humanities building about what was required to actually submit my application (intent to graduate, application for enrollment, marks for completed units, and my thesis proposal) I walked to the library to print and fill out a form I had not been informed I would need.

I am still waiting for my final unit marks to be released by OUA (this should be happening sometime this week), and to complete my thesis proposal (which I have only just now found the information regarding the format for), return to the campus to have these join my application, then sit and wait for my offer. I know I exceed the minimum entry requirements and I know that no one else will be studying my topic, but the running around, waiting and more running around is soooooo going to be worth it when I walk across that stage either at the end of this year or early next year.

So, when looking to enrol into the Humanities Honours program at Curtin university, what do you need to prepare? As with any other academic or bureaucratic system, it is always best to double-check information given with the necessary department, as they are subject to change without notice. Here is a check list for those considering it:

  • statement of final grades from your university or record of results (if you are a OUA student, this is your statement of attainment, found here and here, respectively)
  • application form (this can be found here)
  • credit for recognised learning form (necessary if you have studied at more than one university, found here)
  • notice of intention to graduate (yes, despite what OUA might tell you, you still need to fill this out, found here)
  • ID (this can be your student card, driver’s license, proof of age card, etc etc etc)
  • thesis proposal (guidelines for writing this can be found here)

For more information, or contact details, head to Curtin University’s website for more details.

It’s a Small World Afterall – Tiny House Movement.

Houses seem to be getting bigger and bigger until they take up most of the block of land they’re on. No room for kids to play. No room for a shed. No room for gardening, which is okay because with climate change and water restrictions, it’s not like you could keep anything alive anyway.

Tiny HouseIt seems to me like this is just the way it will be. Ever smaller block thanks to subdivision and urban crush, with multi-storey dwellings becoming the norm. Increases in medium to high density living and a constant pull on resources in constantly decreasing public spaces…


That was until I was this website yesterday. The Tiny Life is a cause I could really see gaining momentum. 

The cost of living is always increasing, but it seems we are having to stretch the dollar further and further these days just to make ends meet. Demands on housing mean pretty soon the “1/4 acre block” will become a thing of fantasy, or the exclusive domain of those with an endless supply of cash.

It just seems to make more sense to me to live small. At the very least it means less space to keep clean! 

A house on a trailer is the land equivalent of a houseboat, without the constant holiday feel of living in a caravan. Brilliant! Not to mention that it seems to me to be a highly sustainable way of living, requiring less resources and making less impact on the environment. 

All in all, it would be lovely, and I think I may have just changed my plans for the future. 

Would you be able to live like this? Could you live off the grid and on a trailer? Let me know!

The Cloud is not as safe as you think it is.

We have all been taken in by the romance of the Cloud. Not longer do we require terrabytes of storage for our documents, hooked up to our desktop computers. This has been one of the most important steps in freeing us from the shackles of our desktop machines, bringing about the rise of the laptop/tablet/notebook/iDevice/miniwhatever.

IBM Cloud Computing

But, and it’s a very big but, is all that information you’re transmitting and sharing through the Cloud as safe as you think it is? Short answer: no.

Take, for example, the case of Dan Tynan. Dan was one of hundreds of people using the Cloud to store and share files for work purposes. Through sheer bad luck and a series of seemingly minor errors, his entire cloud-based drive was deleted. In a flash, his entire collection of work documents disappeared. Not only would this have cause hours and dollars in trying to reinstate all the documents, but he could also have been held in breach of contracts he had with companies who included clauses stating he was required to hold onto documents for a period of time, in case of a lawsuit.

Well, surely this couldn’t happen to anyone? It’s just a rare occurrence, I hear you say. Ha!

Between operating system updates deleting your back-ups, the Cloud being blamed for loss of jobs, messy court cases over who actually owns data and if anyone actually has the responsibility of returning data, and Symantec “discovering” that apparently 43% of users lose data in the Cloud, it’s little wonder that more and more people are choosing to turn away from cloud-based computing and return to physical and local storage of data.

Sure, it may not be “cool”. It may mean having to organise an off-site backup for really really important data, just in case. It may even mean investing in a fire-proof, water-proof safe for storing … *shudder* … back up copies, but anything has to be safer than someone you have never met having control over your information.

Things I Believe In.

This is an incomplete list of some of the things I believe in. There’s no real point to this post, other than to categorise myself as someone with a very complicated belief system and perhaps let others realise that their belief systems don’t have to necessarily make sense when viewed as a group.

I believe science has done good, and bad.


Image credits – Flickr: J J “Macys-Believe”

Scientific advancements have done some incredible things for society. It has also done some very bad things for humanity. Take the atom bomb for instance. It started as an endeavour by Einstein to produce essentially free, seemingly inexhaustible energy for the world. Then it got turned into one of the most destructive forces on the planet. Now, some might say that it was the human factor that turned good into bad. I’m still undecided on this opinion. I think that yes humans were definitely the factor that led to the atom bomb, but it was also the human factor that developed the idea for good in the first place.

I believe in the universal divine.

I think there is an essence of divinity in everything. Everything. Every human being, every animal, every plant, the sky, the sea, the dirt, cars, buildings. Everything. Everything is a reflection of a facet that which created it, and so there is a sense of magic and beauty in that that just cannot be explained… yet. Perhaps science will lead to this answer. I’m just not sure that I would necessarily want the answer presented to me. I’m sure I would embrace it and find a way to coalesce it into my belief system, but all the same – I like to hold onto the childlike naivety that belief in something beyond myself provides.

I believe all knowledge is worth having.

Good. Bad. Indifferent. All knowledge is worth having, or having access to. With more knowledge, you are better positioned to make better decisions regarding yourself and others around you. Lack of knowledge can lead to poor choices that have far reaching ramifications beyond what you can possible foresee. Even the information that makes you sad at the time of gaining is worth having. Would I want to know if a partner was cheating on me? Absolutely! Would it make me happy to know it? Definitely not. IS the knowledge worth having? 100% yes! Having that knowledge would allow me to be better positioned to make a decision regarding the continuation or discontinuation of the relationship, based on other information regarding the situation.

I believe that climate change real, but that humans didn’t cause it.

Sure, our activity on the planet – burning fossil fuels, digging the face of the planet to pieces- certainly didn’t help abate the process of global warming. I think it was inevitable that the climate of the planet was going to change, as it has in the past, but that human activity has sped up the arrival. I see people who deny that climate change is real and that they shouldn’t have to change their ways as idiots. How is changing your habits and consumption to make the planet a better place a bad thing ever?! Using less, recycling and reusing more is only going to make the world and humanity better. With such a small percentage of the population using such a large percentage of the world’s resources, it just seems senseless to argue that you shouldn’t have to change your habits to benefit someone else. Leaving the world a better place for generations to come is a good thing, regardless of whether or not it will affect the degree to which climate change occurs.

Moving House.

Now, I’m not going to claim to be an expert in moving house, BUT I have done it more than my fair share of times. I have a few friends who are currently or about to move house, and I thought rather than give each of them my wealth of experience individually, I would share my knowledge with everyone. That way I only have to say it once. So, here you go:

Moving house on back of truck.

Oooor you could just move you house… -image credit: Flickr – Ania_*

My Top Tips for Moving House.

Get started on your packing as early as you can.

Contrary to what you might think, you can live for a few weeks without all your trinkets and DVDs and books and whatnots lying around the house. If you make a start on these sorts of things, you might look like you’re rocking the student chic lifestyle, but it’ll mean you aren’t doing the last minute panic packing.

Try to pack a room at a time – and label label label.

Assign one box to one thing or room. Label that box with what is in it. not only will it help you move each box to the room it needs to go to at the other end, but it will also mean that you don’t have to open every box to find that specific thing you needed three hours ago. I tend to label the box in big capitals with the room name and then a bullet point list of what is in it under that. Also, I label every side except the bottom of the box. That way, you know which side is down.

Pack yourself a first week suitcase.

Depending on how many clothes you need, how much you eat, and what you’ll be doing for the first week, you may not require a whole suitcase. If you’re moving a family, you may need a minivan. Either way, have changes of clothes for the first week, toiletries, bedding and basic food supplies (for me, this is breakfast food and coffee) in a single carry case. That way, if you pull up sore and tired to get more sorted straight away, you can at least survive without rifling through your well organised boxes for essentials.

Get your supplies and get plenty of them.

Don’t think you’ll ever want to do anything with all those local newspapers? See packing tape on special a month before you’re planning to move? Got a friend who is offering boxes but you’re not sure you’ll use them just yet? Boxes, bubble wrap, packing tape and newspapers might cramp your minimalistic decor, but they never go off. Set aside a corner of a room to pack them into. You don’t know exactly how much you will need until you get started. Trust me, it’s much better to have too much of the stuff than having to unpack boxes that have already been moved, just so you can finish packing away the place you’re moving out of… Believe me. I’ve been there. It’s not fun.

Got friends? Enlist their help. Thank them with food.

While we would all like to have professionals move all our belongings (and really, who wouldn’t like to have someone else come in, pack, move and unpack? Yes please!), it’s not always a choice, especially if you’re moving on a budget. Get a bunch of friends together with the promise of a chill-out and hang-out session at the end of it all. A barbecue and drinks is nice and easy (and minimal dishes to wash afterwards), or going out for dinner (though this is only good if you have the energy) works too. It’s a nice way of saying thank you to everyone that helped you out, and also means that dinner for the first night in your new house is sorted.

Talking about teamwork, have multiple teams.

If you have enough friends, try and have two teams in transit (one coming, one going) and a third to help clean the place you are leaving as rooms are emptied. This may seem like a luxury, but you’d be surprised at how quickly things get moving with just a little organisation to the teams. Depending on the size of the rooms of the place you are vacating, you may only need a cleaning team of two or three people. Make sure everyone knows the route to and from both houses, and that mobile phones are charged in case of emergency.

Make sure everyone is well hydrated and snacks throughout the day. 

Moving furniture and boxes is hungry and thirsty work. Fainting and the “hangries” are not good things when there’s work to be done. Make sure there are cups (better yet, remind everyone to bring along a water bottle) and access to water is clear at both ends. If it’s a full day of moving, make sure everyone stops around meal times to replenish their energy.

Start making it a home right away.

The bedroom, bathroom and kitchen should be the first three rooms you get to some semblance of normality when it comes to unpacking and settling into your new home. These are the rooms that you’re going to need as full access to as soon as possible. If you’re like everyone that I know, you’re not really going to be able to take too much time off work to move, so the next morning is probably going to be a race to get ready. Make sure you have everything you need out and good to go for the morning. You’re going to be tired and sore. If you have a favourite picture or vase or decorative element, put it up somewhere. It doesn’t have to be put where you feel its final placement will be, but just somewhere that will work for now until you begin sorting things out.

This is not a fully comprehensive list of tips, and I am sure that everyone has their own tips that they use to make moving house a better, less stressful experience for everyone involved. I’d love to hear them, so share them in the comments below.

We Are The Media.

ImageSo, if you’ve been living under a rock, we’re having an election. I know that it’s tiring, and I for one am completely over the nonsense. This is the first election where I have taken part, having been a conscientious objector to compulsory voting up until now. My decision to enrol to vote is, however, a topic for another day’s post.

What I do want to discuss today is the “media blackout period” we are supposed to experience in the last few days before the actual voting day.

What is a “Media blackout period”?

Under Schedule 2 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, which is administered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), election advertising in the electronic media is subject to a ‘blackout’ from midnight on the Wednesday before polling day to the end of polling on the Saturday. This three-day blackout effectively provides a “cooling off” period in the lead up to polling day, during which political parties, candidates and others are no longer able to purchase time on television and radio to broadcast political advertising. (AEC, 2013)

Apparently, this doesn’t cover the Web, where election hype and discussion is still going crazy. This wasn’t helped by the fact that the Liberals had an “interesting” time of releasing an Internet policy that apparently wasn’t quite right first time

It’s a pretty special set of circumstances that would lead to a completely incorrect policy being released online, unbeknownst to the main politician supposedly responsible for the area the policy covers. But I digress.

The time has come for those who conduct political discussion online to understand one very simple premise:

We Are The Media.

It’s really that simple.

The media blackout is there to give voters a “cooling down period” from the financially-supported party campaigns. Political parties are not being held accountable for their actions online, and this is a worry. Political discussion between voters is not covered by this blackout, and nor should it be.

It seems to me that this is just another instance of governmental guidelines not being kept in synch with what is happening in the real world, away from the hallowed halls of parliament.

Nicola Wright & A Glimpse into the Future of Learning.

Nicola Wright.

Nicola Wright – Suspected Super-Blogger

Today we have a very special post from one of a colleague and compadre, .

Nicola is a student of Internet Communications with Curtin University, a professional blogger, mother, and homeschooler! Where she finds the time to write for herself is a mystery to me. I secretly suspect some kind of super-power, but shhhh!

This is a piece about the future of our schools, and whether or not we have created a world that no longer requires bricks-and-mortar learning institutions.

Are schools obsolete? The future of education in the information age

In the age of the Internet when we can find anything we want to know, when we want to know it, there is a growing question about the relevance of traditional learning models. The idea of teachers and school curating what we need to learn is fast becoming irrelevant. Why do we need to outsource to ‘educators’ decisions about what information is best for us know when we can access information about any topic at few clicks of a keyboard?

Education researchers are now making predictions about the future of education that sees it heading in the direction of self-organised learning (Richardson, 2012; Wheeler, 2013). It could well be that in ten years time we will see an end to testing and comparing students and ranking schools in order of those who are highest performing. What do those test scores mean anyway? No more than that a student has learned something for sole purpose of passing a test, which more that likely will soon be forgotten. Unless a student is engaged with the material they are presented it is unlikely that that information will stay with them long term. Just look at the Chinese education system for starters. They rank highly in PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) scores but the students are pushed very hard; in high school they study 12.5 hours a day and identify as feeling ‘highly stressed’ (Hesketh et al. 2010). Yong Zhao (2009), a Chinese education expert describes this process as producing gaofen dineng which translates as ‘high scores but low ability’ brought about by students having no time to be creative or follow their own interest with ‘an absence of self-discipline and imagination, loss of curiosity and passion for learning’ (Jiang Xueqin, 2010).

A Glimpse into the Future of Learning: www.knowledgeworks.org

A Glimpse into the Future of Learning: http://www.knowledgeworks.org

Rather than children having to adapt to a ‘one size fits all’ model of education with pressure to perform well in standardized testing, imagine an education where ‘radical personalization’ is the norm. Every child would have access to resources, both online and off, using hands on materials or within a one-on-one mentorship situation. Peter Gray in his book Free to Learn (2013) outlines his dream for non-coercive education in the future. In it he visualises publicly funded community centres where children (and adults) can come together to access resources and teachers on subjects that interest them. Members could be rostered on for cleaning and administration duties thereby providing opportunities for healthy multi-aged socialisation and development of stewardship and civic responsibility. Together with access to free online courses (think open universities and MOOCs) students would have access to all the tools they need to pursue their interests and career goals. Once they have developed the important skill of being able to assess the quality of information online (what’s the source?) the world is their oyster.

Schools of today are pretty much the same as they were 150 years ago. In the information age it’s now time to rethink the paradigm of top-down pedagogical structures and embrace the affordances of our digital present where information is in abundance and easily accessed. Real learning happens everywhere not just within the four walls of the school building. That’s SO old-school.

“I never teach my students. I only provide them with the conditions in which they can learn.”
– Albert Einstein


A Glimpse into the Future of Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.knowledgeworks.org/sites/default/files/A-Glimpse-into-the-Future-of-Learning-Infographic_0.pdf

Gray, P. (2013). Free to learn: why unleashing the instinct to play will make our children happier, more self-reliant, and better students for life. New York: Basic Books.

Hesketh, T., Zhen, Y., Lu, L., Dong, Z. X., Jun, Y. X., & Xing, Z. W. (2010). Stress and psychosomatic symptoms in Chinese school children: cross-sectional survey. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 95(2), 136–140. doi:10.1136/adc.2009.171660

Richardson, W. (2012). Why School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere (Kindle Single). TED Conferences.

Wheeler, S. (2013, May 5). Self Organised Learning Spaces. Learning with “e”s. Retrieved from http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/self-organised-learning-spaces.html

Xueqin, J. (2010, December 8). The Test Chinese Schools Still Fail. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703766704576008692493038646.html

Yong Zhao (2009), Catching up or leading the way: America education in the age of globalization.