Anzac Biscuit is the bush telegraph of the broadband cable for cockatoos needing some thought provoking escapism from the authorities of the Australian government, corporate, media, legal, arts and education landscapes.

The term 'bush telegraph' originated in
Australia, probably influenced by
'grapevine telegraph'. That referred to the
informal network that passed information
about police movements to convicts who
were hiding in the bush. It was recorded in 1878 by an Australian author called Morris:

"The police are baffled by the number and activity of the bush telegraphs."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Introducing The Spunmachine - An open source research project

The staff of the Anzac Biscuit Research Laboratory are currently inventing the 'Spun Machine'.
Our new Australian invention will spin the world's socio/political spin until it's spun dry.
To help our staff get into the rhythm of their ground breaking work to intersect the communications of the didactic dichotomy which operates our political system and dominates our media landscape, Anzac Biscuit management have composed a 'Spun Machine' theme song. Throughout all departments of our operation, this song is the only track playing on our loud speakers - by the device of a never ending repetitive tape loop.Anzac Biscuit's Research Laboratory team are bopping up and down with joy, as the Spun Machine song is composed to the catchy jingle of the 'hokey pokey'. In the coming weeks, we'll be broadcasting our research developments here in preparation for the launching of
the Spun Machine ( version Australia I )

You can learn the lyrics to the 'Spun Machine' song as you listen to the hokey pokey music.

You put the right’s spin in
you put the right’s spin out
you put the right’s spin in
and the Spun Machine spins,
until the propaganda is all spun out
that's what the Spun Machine is all about!

You put the left’s spin in
you put the left’s spin out
you put the left’s spin in
and the Spun Machine spins,
until the propaganda is all spun out
that's what the Spun Machine is all about!

We use the Spun Machine
and we turn generation y around
from being stereotyped a 'Facebook generation'
into being a beat generation of the Internet,
we only need a handful of significant minds
that's what the Spun Machine is all about,


note 1 - Anzac Biscuit believes in open & closed source technology research.
Note 2 - when we put a public communicator's work in our spun machine....
...we put ourselves in the spin cycle with it...
...due to the voracity of our philosophies...
on the responsibilities regarding communication...

we step out of the spun circle
then let the public communicator's work
come out of the spun machine
and then who draws the could it be any other way?...
...we've got standards to re-set...

(watch this space)



THE SPUN MACHINE (version australia I)

Statue unveiling - Pastor Sir Doug Nicholls & Lady Gladys Nicholls

World Cup Qualifier November 2005 - Australia v. Uruguay


Friday, November 30, 2007

Talking in my online community - the Indigenous dilemma

Dear Visionary Opposition leader,

So it comes to light how you Dingo Dundee Nelson secured the party room numbers to snare the Liberal leadership. The WA Liberals were that staunchly against Turnbull's proposal to agree to saying SORRY to the Stolen Generations, that you Dingo Dundee said you would refuse an apology if the WA Liberals voted for you as party leader.

Now thanks to you DINGO and your pack of conspirators, there is no consensus on an important issue to many Indigenous Australians, thus detracting from the whole heartening nature of the apology, that Malcolm Turnbull as a Liberal leader showing a partisan vision on the issue could have offered.

So the regressive ferals of the Liberal Right have once again created a political wedge with the Aboriginal people, as in their ugly appropriation of Mangrook they enjoy a political kick to kick with the aspirations of one of the most disaffected minorities yet important first foundation stones in the building of a truly great Australian nation for the future.

Up there Cazaly Brendan Dingo Dundee Nelson!

In the dreams of many visionary contemplating Australian's you've well and truly dropped the ball on this one.


I shouldn't have expected any more

My impression is that a lot of Aboriginal leaders are that spent on ineffective government actions in their communities, that the consensus amongst them on what to do has diminished and now they are speaking out as disparate views on what the government tries to do for them and what they think are the best solutions. Thinking about it taking away a central body like ATSIC has probably done this.

I don't want to get into a debate about the merits of that, but I will say both sides coming together on saying Sorry would have had an influence uniting Aboriginal leaders in a common good for their people. I think the government has to give them back a forum to talk together; it may be happening I'm not aware of it. I'm not committing to going back to self-determination with funding, but I do think they need to become united to move forward. Let them argue amongst themselves and stand united in the public view, the media are just chasing the Aboriginal leaders for quotes now.

I don't know if you know of Waleed Aly, a leading young Australian academic/lawyer/journalist who happens to be of the Muslim faith, but he and his wife are fed up with the media because every time something happens with the Muslim community, they ring Waleed for a moderate Muslim opinion, Aly doesn't like answering their questions because they want stereotype responses - when he is about real cultural investigation.

While the media agenda is asking Aly for a view to unite Muslims, the media are going the other way with Aboriginal leaders. I read an article by Kevin Andrews on the approach a government needs to take with Aboriginal people and it was like stamping work choices and the freedom of an individual subscribed by a capitalist ideology onto the Aboriginal people - that's what is happening with their leader's expressing their opinions in an openly democratic approach - if you follow what I'm saying - individual voices by a section of a society in an open democracy doesn't work unless you combine your voices into a lobby and give your community a unified voice.

The way it is at the moment it is just a vicious circle - that's just my opinion.

After all that has not been achieved, if I was an Aborigine, I'd probably be madly kicking around empty cans in the dust as well.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Bush Telegraph of the Broadband Cable - Thursday 29/11/07

Where old fashioned word of mouth makes the most of the latest technology.

The Bush Telegraph of the broadband cable is an initiative which aims to spread the message of the most relevant contributions of the day from mainstream, academic and online citizen journalism. Anzac Biscuit wants to provide a forum that joins the voices of all these media makers together. Why? To be an example which shows the professionals of the three mediums the landscape and best characteristics of the other's contributions. Anzac Biscuit's endeavour is to improve the content of both academic, professional and citizen journalism; something which can only be of benefit of we the public.

In the coming weeks Anzac Biscuit will provide our reader's with a deeper investigation of the reasoning behind the benefits of this initiative. On our first day of 'The Bush Telegraph of the broadband cable' we will look at the most pertinent stories from today's two Melbourne daily newspapers.

Anzac Biscuit gold medal

Awarded to The Herald Sun's John Anderson for his human interest piece and expose' -
Gary Ablett tells of his remorse.

Anzac Biscuit silver medal

Awarded to The Age for their publication of the Reuters report - Youtube stops account of anti-torture activist.

Anzac Biscuit bronze medal

We have a dead heat!

A bronze medal to Sally Morrell for her spirited opinion piece in the Herald Sun where she defends Australia's new first lady - Hey, give Therese a break.

And a bronze medal goes to The Age for their publication
in their technology section of the AP report - Power - hungry Google launches green energy scheme.

Anzac Biscuit fourth place ribbons for diggers in the media trenches

from the Herald Sun -

Gerard McManus: The PM who fell to pride.

The editorial GM seeds of doubt

from The Age -

The AP report Can Oprah help Obama?

So just as the good ladies back in our history originally sent 'soldiers biscuits' to keep our digger's strength up on hardened battlefronts like Gallipoli, your Anzac Biscuit diggers will send you back their mail regarding our media's daily 'soldier's biscuit offerings'.

Our 'Digger's Mail' will share with you some of our reasoning behind the awarding of the day's Anzac Biscuit Medals in the hope of you the reader understanding our cause and prompting you to correspond with us.

Anzac Biscuit encourages any feedback on any element of 'The Bush Telegraph of the broadband cable' Project.


PS. AB apologizes for any layout inconsistencies, this software is a bit jittery.

Anzac Biscuit Digger Mail

John Anderson for - Gary Ablett tells of his remorse.

Anzac Biscuit is all about giving people a second chance. We are glad to see the Herald Sun give Gary Ablett the opportunity to explain his remorse over his involvement in drug taking that lead to Alisha Horan’s death and to explain the behaviour of a drug taker from first hand experience.

Anzac Biscuit appreciates this story as it educates the public re the circumstance facing confessed drug addict and former star Australian Rules footballer Ben Cousins. In Australian culture where our sporting heroes are role models, indeed Gary Ablett’s nickname during his football career was ‘God’, Anderson’s story communicates in a very effective way to the mainstream populous a much needed understanding of the pathetic life a drug addict leads and also the dangers they pose to their own person and those people they involve themselves with.

While later in the day the Herald Sun made the addition of Alisha’s father’s ongoing disgust at Ablett to the online version of this article, Anzac Biscuit will not condemn the Herald Sun for being sensationalist, because we believe the social good that the story aims to achieve is indeed of current relevance. While we think that in his Christian heart Ablett may hope or even pray for the young girl’s father’s forgiveness, we don’t think he would expect it, and the father’s undiminished heart break is a very unfortunate reality of life that may never be soothed – one unavoidable complication in the printing of this story.

Anzac Biscuit will let a Herald Sun reader have the final say, because his opinion is demonstrative of one of the issues a journalist like Anderson and his editor would have had to weigh up before this story was written. Jed at 3.18pm on the day of the article’s publication wrote,

“…. Alisha died and it is very sad but she had put herself in that situation. She made her choice and unfortunately it didn’t pay off. Yes Gary has something to answer to but not all the blame can be on him.”


Gerard McManus: The PM who fell to pride.

Maybe an obvious but none the less effective angle taken by McManus – judging a PM’s legacy by comparing it to the legacy created by one of his heroes who previously held the office.

The editorial GM seeds of doubt

An example of a good editorial, one that examines the issues which lay ahead on GM for our state administration.

The AP report Can Oprah help Obama?

The Presidential candidates of the two major US political parties are more aggressively using the Internet the reasoning is simple; voting in the US Presidential Election is voluntary. Voters need to be recruited to the cause.

The US politician’s use of celebrities in their campaigns falls into the same basket of reasoning. In the US there is some very interesting things happening in the campaigning as candidates who are running for their nomination do so against around eight competitors, so this together with their need to recruit voters, makes them more willing to use the Internet in appearingly more open democratic dialogue with their constituents than the Aussie pollies are. Some of these campaign tactics and events could improve our next election campaign.

So good on The Age for looking at the US election!

To find out some of what is happening in the US and how we could adapt their campaigning to Australian politics, you could read my 12000-word paper – ‘Interface or Propaganda Sheet?’

Think of this way, you’d probably be the second person to read it. You may enquire who was the first reader? Well that would be me!

We appropriated 'bush telegraph' from the yanks!

The Bush Telegraph of the broadband cable - Saturday December 1

Hello Diggers! (I think I appropriated this style of greeting from some other media. I will desist with it before it becomes irritating.)

I would like to start off by saying the breadth of Internet content, from as many styles of the media I am aware of, will be presented in the hope that whatever your profession, you will learn about the myriad of human voices that are out there in cyberspace, allowing you to think about the potential influence the human behaviour on the net may have on how your profession of endeavour develops in the near future.

I am not anti government, corporations, media conglomerates, advertisers, marketing people, technology firms or
Internet developers. We all live in this rapidly developing new world together - and if only a handful of people from each field come across the resource I am building here & my input serves to open their eyes to ways they may improve their contribution in their profession - well my job would be a success.

I think most professionals from media related fields would agree with me, once one of your opponents does something innovative that is a minor or fundamental change to the approach in your industry - if it is successful - then in the quest to maintain your market share the rest of your profession will rapidly follow, whether this be through copying the idea or adapting it in new ways through different applications of the original idea.

You might find my approach to blogging - where I don't place the new post at the top of the page but continue a new entry down the blog entry - inconvenient, but the reasoning for doing so is thus

- It is an example of how an Internet user considers a technology and then adapts it for their own purpose.

- I don't really have a live audience, my objective here is to create a historical document, so that as I develop Internet projects & find interested parties - from whatever professions - I can refer them here & they can have a read of what I am about with my ideas
laid out in sequential form as a professional in any field would build an argument as they write a paper, speech or essay.

You may rightly wonder why with my high aspirations I am on a blog and not have my own website? I decided to work within my own technological capacity. After approaching a couple of tech friends who both showed interest in the projects I discussed with them, due to their overload of work and social tech commitments in the busy
pre-Christmas period, neither of them were able to build or offer IT support to a website.

While this initially frustrated me, as it turns out I am quite happy blogging because it suits one of my objectives, which is to bring more traditional literary activity into the Internet domain. Thinking about it, reading my blog is the same experience as reading on
open book on the Internet; if you don't know an open book is a book which is free to read on the Internet, this practice came about as publishers thought it a good opportunity to publicise an author's work and it also serves the public by keeping a book which is out of print available to the public at all times. Here are two different approaches to open books - read in a web browser & as a PDF download.

And from blogging I am also learning more about blogging
softwear, which will give me a better foundation as I move onto understanding html code when I build a website in the new year.

You may ask - "So what's his objective & how is he going to achieve it?" Take twenty minutes a day and I'll take you on a
sojourn away from the mundane conformity that binds concerned and serious thinkers, who due to the realities of life must commit most of their hours to earning a salary. Rather than read an essay, I would suggest if you come across me, just read one daily entry at a time, this approach would fit into your schedule and give you time for some consideration of the material I offer.

Next Monday I will be speaking to a friend, who I met over the Internet, that has worked in tech research for over 30 years, so if you want a historical perspective on the development of the Internet & the issues which occur with the advent of new technology from development in the research lab to operation in the public sphere, I will provide an insight into his perspective in my next entry.

Anyway, my homepage is Melbourne's Age, due to also currently working on other projects, I will again give you some content from this publication. I won't offer intellectual analysis, I'm not about telling people what to think just providing them with the opportunity to consider media content, but just by placing some of the articles alongside each other, I would hope you would consider the different levels of intellectual content of some material on the Internet. And also as stand alone pieces these articles raise some of the issues that are of interest to Internet Advancement - after all, that's what I am about.

Exciting, defining times for women

Tila Tequila's got a lot of bottle and squirm

Facebook backflips on new ad system

Wi-Fi reaches out to cameras, music

Plus a heartening article from The Australian

Rudd on a mission for homeless

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Talking in my online community - the state of play in Canberra

The Libs can only move to the Centre.

Being in Opposition you have to take the cat and mouse approach. You're the cat and you hunt down the government, who is the mouse. And on every possible issue you try to trap the government in a corner.

Pyne who is running for Deputy, was applying a strategy like this yesterday in an interview on SKY News Agenda. Pyne wouldn't comment on policies of the past nor give insight into policies for the future. Pyne took the position that now his party is in Opposition they have to see what the Government do on policy and take up their position on the issues from there.

With this approach the Opposition let the people watch what the
Government does, then give themselves traction with the voters by outlining how they will improve on what is happening. It makes them appear progressive and active. It's a basic game of one-upmanship.

Again from SKY News, the Victorian Liberals are pushing for a
Turnbull/Robb leadership. Turnbull's vision and profile, complimented by Robb's political nous and vast experience.

Also SKY News think Peter Garrett won't get the Environment portfolio, but rather the Arts and Indigenous Affairs. Personally, I think Garrett is
competent enough for a major portfolio, but his past history as an activist would make him a too large target for the conservatives who would take the line that Garrett's agenda on environmental issues could undermine the sustainability of the coal industry re emissions and the farming industry re water availability.

I'd like to see Rudd go with Garrett in Environment, because he would be a very effective public relations figure head who could educate young people on an issue that is relevant to and of concern to generation y. With a relateable spokesperson like Peter Garrett, this could really
portray a Rudd Government as being progressive, but I think the new PM will err on the side of reducing his new administration as a target from Opposition fire.

I think the realities of politics will, as they most often do, override the potential of progressive policy and appointments, but hey, if Garrett's appointment is to Aborigines and the Arts, he can work to bring these communities further into our society. If Garrett is appointed to this portfolio it will be good for these members and the whole country.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Talking in my online community - the education revolution

What happens when a kid goes to their first day of school at Wesley or the Methodist Ladies College They are given a laptop which their parents have payed for. The kid then does all their course work on it until they walk out the school gates with their year 12 diploma. What's the problem with giving every kid this opportunity?

Modern Labor is not solely about fighting for the rights of the disadvantaged or lower classes, modern labor is about providing equality of rights to all members of society. It's a philospohy to fit the consumer society we live in.

Is there a better way to start than with the young people that will become tomorrow's adults It connects them to the consumer world they understand, but it also provides people like us with more principled concerns to connect them to the more involved and compassionate world we envision.

Rather than bagging the slogan of the education revolution - why not consider how giving all school kids access to a computer could help our youngest people connect to what matters in life and develop a more concerned and compassionate future society?

Call the idea lofty or airy but you'll see the sort of initiatives I'm talking about some time soon down the track.

My glass is half full not half empty on giving all kids access to a laptop.

The Education Revolution Will Be Streamed.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Talking in my online community - let's entitle it - 'Sometimes political headkickers need a good kick in the head'.

'Mr. Lucky' of the Lucky Country is gone. Yet in our online community there seems to be the forming in the quarters of the right a blend of political correctness. A blend of political correctness spouted from people of which a couple at the one time are trying to appear as the significant voice who will be the great person that will go down in the history of our online community as the soothsayer who pushed the wheel borrow of truth mid pronunciation of the repetitive proclamation "I am the one who will be known as telling you so...I am the one who will be known as telling you so...I will...” Give us people a break.

Bouncing out into the ring is the poster who in the days before the election borrowed the Liberal Party scare campaign on the dangers of a Rudd government to our economy. Does this poster know who Dr John Edwards is? Did he read Dr John Edwards appraisal of the themes in the Liberal Party scare campaign? Would he even consider reading Dr John Edwards book on our economy? Still he moves on to further ill-researched espousals on his soapbox, seemingly choosing not to consider and study the content of his previous declarations.

Then we have a collective of posters who lampoon the education revolution as an empty headed slogan. Those posters who rather than look at the policies of the government we now have and suggest ways in which these policies could be improved, choose instead to just take cheap shots at a policy which they seem to not even have researched.

And then there are those posters who wouldn't know the merits of broadband from the merits of wireless technology.

And then there are those posters who don't seem to know that the best purchase of a computer is one whose supposedly short life expectancy does not need the purchase of another hardware, but whose life expectancy can be extended by the updating of software.

Yet the most insulting, repulsive and offensive call I hear from the most caricatured clarion callers of the right, is that how dumb and stupid the average Australian was proved for voting in the government they did. Listen up quacks, I personally don't think that we are the smartest society, but neither do I think people are dumb or of sub par intelligence. For most of the election day afternoon, I stood beside our former 'beloved' Minister for Citizenship and Immigration and whatever you think of the man, he showed the knowledge that he must address all people with a warm welcome and the decency of putting time into chatting to people in a down to earth manner that showed he could relate to any person in his and my neck of the woods.

Why do I mention this? My fundamental principle of intelligence is that you must relate to people in manner that they can relate to you back, because if you cannot openly communicate with people, you could never enrich another person's life in anyway. Get this straight, people aren't dumb, the smallest given is that people know shit when it is thrown at them and sadly your side of politics threw shit on the Australian people in the most profound way.

Simply Mr. Lucky kept telling people that they had never been better off, after bringing in a piece of legislation that scared the general populous and left them wondering if their government was telling them they'd never had it so good, why would they enforce a law which threatened the money we work hard for to put in our pockets each week?

Did any of you stand and watch thousands of Australians walk into the polling booths on Saturday? I doubt any of you did, because the diversity of the people you experience show me on many levels you're bull.... summations about the people of our country is essentially a reflection on your own pomposity. So get ...... ! That's until you learn to not insult people because they did something you disagree with. The only redeeming feature of your ugly arguments is that you are mad, because people didn't do what you wanted with something that you care about - this nation Australia.

Like others here I will not sit in silence while you insult our country people, I will rip your heads off, to pull you into line because if you make this community a metaphoric boxing tent I will metaphorically knock you out, so when you come to you will function as contributors to important discussion rather than disillusioned rednecks.

In the most forceful way I tell you that NO ONE in this land has propriety over this land’s people. NO ONE!

That's the foundation of the greatest thing we have got going for us in Australia - democracy - and the people who actually belief and propagate it's benefits.

With Rudd and hopefully Turnbull as the leaders of our two major political parties, Australia, sadly for a lot of retrogrades, who will need to have their.... pulled into line, we as a nation will now exit our prolonged phase of being the lucky country. You can either get on board or get used to it.

Geez, just learn to orientate yourselves to a future when things don’t go your way.

See ya later!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Julian Burnside QC speaks out

At a public forum by the Justice Project, Julian Burnside QC was scathing in his reflections on Australia's laws pertaining to the promotion and protection of human rights.

Listen to Julian Burnside's speech, with an introduction from fellow Justice Project member Alex Wesser & some audio from the film We Will Be Remembered.

Justice Project Audio

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The editor's of Melbourne's two leading daily newspapers talk on the eve of the election

Editor of The Age Andrew Jaspan along with his Herald Sun counterpart Bruce Guthrie appeared at Federation Square, as part of a live to air broadcast by ABC 774 radio host John Faine.

Guthrie said the Herald Sun editorial staff were meeting this afternoon to thrash out an answer on who their newspaper editorial will tell readers to vote for in the federal election. He noted that since 1991 when the Herald Sun came into existence, they have never supported the election of a Labor Federal government. Guthrie wouldn't be drawn on whether the Herald Sun would indeed support the Labor Party for government for the first time. Although he did reveal that he had a good idea what side of politics he thinks his paper should support, but when pushed would not reveal his preference and went on to reveal that he was open to be "swayed" to support the other side of politics by an argument from some of his editorial staff.

Jaspan also confirmed that The Age editorial staff we're meeting this afternoon to make their decision on this important subject, but he would not confirm whether the editorial in question would appear in the Friday or Saturday edition of his newspaper. While not saying it flat out, Jaspan did leave the Federation Square crowd that The Age would not take the middle ground in this matter and would come out in support of one particular side of politics. Both Jaspan and Guthrie said their editorial stance on the Federal election would come about from a consensus decision made by all their editorial staff.

Faine asked each editor which way they would cast their personal vote at the ballot box, Guthrie refused to reveal his intentions; while Jaspan an English man by birth who has just gained permanent residency status in Australia, did not have a vote at the ballot box this Saturday.

A more pertinent question from Faine was whether both editors were tired of being reliant on the political party machine's for sourcing their news. Both editors declared their frustration on how their paper's journalists were treated by our major political parties.

Jaspan retold a story about Michelle Grattan getting a phone call at 11pm from the Liberal Party and told to be at the airport at 6am the next morning. On arrival, Grattan The Age's senior federal political correspondent, found out she was flying to Brisbane. On arrival at the Liberal Party event in Brisbane, Grattan attended a photo opportunity with the Prime Minister, where senior journalists like herself weren't given the opportunity to ask even one question. Grattan flew back to Melbourne empty handed that very evening.

Both editors confirmed that it was also the common practice of our two major political parties to send journalists text messages to say they would be picked up at 4am the next morning, to then be shipped out to the location of that morning's press opportunity.

Guthrie said that most of the twenty political journalists the Herald Sun had covering the campaign worked almost exclusively on the information provided by the major parties and he admitted that he didn't have enough journalists assigned to sourcing material from outside this spectrum.

Jaspan told of a movement by the media in his homeland of England, where media outlets after being fed up by their treatment by, and the spin they were being fed by Britain's major political parties, had made the executive decision to no longer follow the media offerings of the political party machines to source their news.

Guthrie made the clear prediction on the election that Labor would win by four seats. Jaspan said that he definitely expected Labor to win, but that while the margin could be around four seats, the margin could blow out to a twenty seat victory to Labor if the Australian people woke up on Saturday morning in the mood to punish the Howard government.

I briefly spoke to Jaspan when he came off stage and he was interested in what i said about the experiment that has just started in the United States called 'beat blogging', where thirteen newspapers have designated journalists to source stories from online Internet communities. Jaspan agreed with the premise I put forward to him, the premise that most people in online communities already know, that our groups of people bounded by a shared common interest, often know about developments in news weeks and sometimes months ahead of the mainstream media. Jaspan said that he was interested in following the US 'beat blogging' experiment and asked me to send the information through to him.

It was good not to be fogged off by someone in a position of some power.

The rest of the ABC 774 Federation Square broadcast was very entertaining, including interviews with Julia Gillard going head to head with Peter Costello. And a political scientist from Monash University who was very forthright in his opinion that on his reading of the polls, that Rudd would win the election.

The only problem on the morning was that the crowd stood in the rain for most of the broadcast, but it was good of the ABC to supply ABC umbrellas to their loyal listeners who had made the effort to attend the broadcast.

A very enjoyable morning.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Walk Against Warming - Melbourne November 11

Louise Morris, 'Walk Against Warming'

"I'd like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people who are the traditional custodians of this land. I'd also like to pay respect to the elders, past and present of the Wurundjeri nation, and extend that respect to other Aboriginals present today. "

"I must say it is fantastic to see so many of you here today, to show our leaders how much support there is to see real action on climate change."

"In about twenty minutes we're going to walk straight down Swanston Street to the Alexandra Gardens, where there are information stalls set up as well as the great band
'Counterfeit Gypsies' to entertain us all."

Bill & his three sons, all from Ashburton

Why are you here today at the 'Walk Against Warming'?

"We're trying to raise the awareness of climate change and the effects it's having on the planet, and we're trying to get the governments to do something about it."

What's the action group you are with?

"We're with a group called Families Facing Climate Change, which was started by my wife Anna and a group of mothers from the Ashburton area. It's basically getting suburban families to become aware about climate change."

Have Families Facing Climate Change built any affiliations with any other action groups?

"We've been asked a few times by different groups but really the main thrust about what we're trying to do is work with anybody who is interested in trying to get some results, so we don't want to align ourselves with any party one way or the other. We're just trying to get something done about it."

Are you trying to generate your group with any other families in any other suburbs?

'Yeah, family based, community based. My wife has run a number of question and answer sessions for local members, so they can come and answer any questions with the election coming up. And that sort of model has been taken to other areas - bayside areas and eastern suburb areas and that's been successful."

Have you had any coverage in the press?

" There has been coverage in The Age and in the local papers so it's done well."

Do you have a website?

"We do have a website, we were lucky to get and that was a bit of a surprise."

Peter, aged 78 from West Heidelberg

Why are you joining the 'Walk Against Warming'?

"I've got eight grandchildren and I'm very worried about the world we're going to leave for the grandchildren, your grandchildren and my grandchildren."

What would you like the Australian Government to do about climate change after the election?

"I'd like climate change to be taken seriously and not wait for other people to do something. I think the attitude is that we have to show the example, take the lead rather than wait for someone else to take the lead and we follow them, at this stage we're not leading, if anything we are following and if we're following anybody we're following the Americans - and they're doing nothing."

So you want Kyoto ratified?

"Ratifying Kyoto is a step in the right direction and indicates a willingness to participate, rather than just wait for somebody else do something, we must lead in this if we claim to be an advanced society. We know we are one of the highest per capita contributors to pollution and global warming. We've got to lead, we're morally obliged to set a lead."

Are you aware of the meeting in Bali about the next Kyoto Protocol?

"I'm afraid it's going to be like CHOGM and many of these other global meetings, everybody is going to nod and sort of say yes and we'll take that under advisement and we'll consider that and we'll put that on our agenda for our next meeting and nobody will really do much.

Are you happy for Australia to commit to binding targets for the second phase of Kyoto with developing countries only committing to binding targets for the third phase?

"If we want the developing nations to do something, surely we have to set them the lead rather than wait for them to lead us. Do we really expect India and China to show us the way to go? Or should we show them the way to go?"

Would you be happy with Peter Garrett being Australia's representative in Bali?

"Yeah sure, why not, he's got a long standing commitment to protecting the environment, that's a known fact."

What other climate change initiatives would you like the Government to take on?

"The control of pollution in every way, the subsidising of solar hot water systems, the subsidising of rain water storage tanks. If you go to the north west coast of Western Australia every house has got a solar hot water thing on the roof of it. The whole of Australia should do that. We're a nation with one of the greatest number of hours of sunshine and we're pitiful in this area."

Are you aligned with any group or political party?

"I'm not a member of any political party nor aligned with any group. I'm a seventy eight year old semi retired aged pensioner who is concerned for the future, the future of my eight grand children."

Why aren't your grandchildren here with you today?

"They possibly are, they possibly are but we don't live together, they're spread around the suburbs of Melbourne. I'm sure some of them are here, I'm just looking for them now."

Alistair, The Greens candidate for Chisholm

Why have you come along today?

"Climate change is the thing that actually motivated me to stand for The Greens in the first place and this is the big event, so the bigger the crowd here the more impetuous it gives the whole climate change campaign."

How long have you been a member of The Greens?

"I've only been a member for about two years."

How are you finding the experience of being a candidate?

"Great , really good! A lot of people are starting to think about the issues now, whether it's enough we'll found out in a couple of weeks. Climate change is a much bigger issue than it was."

As a candidate for The Greens do you have much contact with Bob Brown and the other leaders of The Greens?

"We've had Christine Milne come out and she did a fundraising dinner for us, so I had the opportunity to have a good chat with her. She's done a huge amount as an energy spokesperson and a climate change spokesperson, she put out the Energising Australia Report which is like a blueprint for The Greens. So there is very open communication."

Have you had any unique experiences in Chisholm when you've been out selling your party at Shopping Centres?

"One thing I've really discovered is that you can't judge people's attitudes by how they look. I'm often in the situation where you'll see someone coming towards you at a Shopping Centre and you'll think this person won't be interested in The Greens but he'll come up and shake your hand and say fantastic."

If Labor won Government and Peter Garrett was Environment Minister - how do you think he'd go?

"Well that's probably the big unknown given his recent comments but we can live in hope that he might not have been jesting the other day. I think the interesting comment in the paper the other day was that if Labor does get in and if Labor put Peter Garrett in Environment, he'll spend all his time being conflicted."

Do you think Peter Garrett would represent Australia's interests well in Bali this December?

"I don't think it's Peter Garrett that is the issue, it's Labor that's the issue, Kevin Rudd is pretty far to the right, a sort of John Howard-Lite, so I don't think Peter Garrett is going to make that big of a difference."

Tim Costello the Executive Director of World Vision

"Lest we forget, as we honour those who have fallen on the eleventh of the eleventh. We gather to honour a fragile, fallen, even frail planet. We know the planet is not well. We know the planet is not well because of us. We know we can do something about this. This is no longer just an environmental issue, it's become a political issue and politics at least is a renewable resource."

"Two years ago with a federal election coming, no one would have thought that an environmental issue may determine the next government. It's become a moral and a justice issue. One of the reasons that World Vision has become so committed to this is that 98% of people who die from global warming triggered disasters and diseases are in the developing world."

Bill Beatson, Gippsland Farmer

"I've got to say today that I'm a bit gobsmacked to be here, and I'm even more gobsmacked by the number of people who are standing before me today."

"In 1966 my father bought a diary farm in South Gippsland and I've been there ever since. I run cattle and my wife runs Alpakas. When I was lad and we started farming I really didn't think too much about environment, in fact environmentalists were not on my radar at all."

"I started to get uneasy about climate change I guess about twenty years ago. The more I read the more people were talking climate change and global warming earlier than that, the more I read I became concerned, and the more I saw the situation changing in South Gippsland the more I felt the need to be part of the people that cared about our future."

" Gippsland used to be known as the place where it rains nine months of the year and drips off the trees for the other three. It was green in summer and brown in winter, brown in winter because of the mud and it's not like that anymore. When we started farming you were lucky to not be pulling your gumboots out of the mud in winter."

Ellen, a delegation member to the Youth Council at the Kyoto Protocol Meeting in Bali

Mark Latham from Greenpeace

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Interface or Propaganda Sheet? How our Political Parties Utilise the Internet.

(to disseminate the code, one must first embrace the origins of the code)

Is the Internet a new frontier for democracy? Where people discuss the issues of the future and the merits of the policies put before the country. Where people use their computers as a means to organise gatherings to put forward their cause or support for political candidates. Or do political parties use Internet websites as a second, more personal television screen, where the party political message is communicated in slogans and negative campaign advertisements?

In the 2007 election campaign, our first real Internet election, all our political parties have websites. An interested voter can view a party’s policy platform. Can view a web page or website dedicated to a candidate, where an email address is provided to contact the candidate. Of course, over the net all parties ask for donations and provide the opportunity for interested members of the public to join or volunteer for their cause. Or entice an interested voter to watch a video of the latest announcement from their political leader or watch a video catalogue of their party advertisements.

By their presence on the web – on official party websites, video websites like youtube and social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook - each political party demonstrates they do want to connect with Internet voters, but in a myriad of ways no party is utilising the full potential of the medium.

Maybe the Internet is a relatively new medium and our politicians are only learning how to best use this opportunity. Facebook and MySpace - popular social networking websites where young people and the Internet savvy meet – are awash with our Australian politicians aiming to connect with voters. The entire ALP frontbench are on both networking sites, the Greens are there and even Mark Vaile the leader of The Nationals has his own mySpace page.

Kevin Rudd seems the most popular Australian politician in the electronic social networking world. Kevin has over twenty thousand friends on mySpace and five thousand friends on Facebook – with over another eleven thousand wanting to be his friend. US Democrat Presidential Candidate Barack Obama has over one hundred and sixty thousand friends on Facebook.

For the uninitiated a social networking site works like this. An Internet surfer, like one of our pollies, gathers ‘friends’ when a person views their page. A person looks at your web page, reads a little about you and if they find you of interest can request to have a presence on your page. This is a mySpace or Facebook friend. Each friend is represented on your page by their photo, from which anybody can click their computer mouse and shazam! That Internet surfer is now on that person’s mySpace or Facebook. Further to this, people of common interest or affiliation, can join networks where they share their life interests in communities.

For the most innovative of our pollies, the use of the Internet in this election campaign is about connecting people with their personalities and ideas, through such quick social links.

On a recent show of the ABC TV comedy The Chaser, Chas Licciardello turned up at Kevin Rudd’s house with fifty of Kevin’s ‘Facebook friends’. Chas and his Facebook mates, wanted to be Kevin’s real friends. The ALP leader was amused but declined the invitation on the basis that he had been on the road for two weeks & had his kids waiting for him. “Some other time,” Mr. Rudd cajoled his aspiring Internet posse.

If Mr. Rudd or any of our other Internet surfing pollies showed true foresight and understanding of how flourishing communities of Internet users congregate online, that some other time would quickly be re written to be ASAP.

Currently on either of Kevin Rudd’s social networking sites you are, if interested, encouraged to click on the link to – the Internet public relations face for why Australians should vote for Kevin and his team. Kevin07 is a very modern website, suitable for the younger generation that Kevin has met on Facebook and mySpace, but it is mere public relations window dressing to how our politicians could communicate on the Internet with generation y and future generations.

Our politician’s interactions on the web in the 2007 Election are ‘aspirational’ – the pollies are out there in the Internet world wanting to meet people but are unwilling to truly engage with their audience. They are all like a young child who doesn’t yet know how to swim. Standing on the edge of the ocean, unwilling to enter the water, scared of the crashing waves or being carried away by a rip. In truth, our major political parties are unwilling to relinquish the control they attempt to wield over our increasingly presidential focused election campaigns.

Joe Trippi, an Internet Consultant and a veteran U.S. Democrat campaign director, has written a great memoir of the early history of the use of the Internet in a political campaign. In Trippi’s book, 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – Democracy, The Internet, And The Overthrow Of Everything’, he describes how they revolutionised the use of Internet in politics to promote the 2004 campaign to elect Vermont Governor Howard Dean as the Democratic Candidate for the Presidency.

Trippi observes, “Most campaigns do everything in their power to control every element of the candidates image and message, from the clothes he wears to each word out of his mouth.” Of course this has been shaped by the reliance of voters on their television for forming their main impression of political candidates.

John Howard this week questioned the media pack following his campaign. Our Prime Minister said he was disappointed that leading political correspondents no longer joined him on the campaign trail, preferring to stay in Sydney and Canberra, from where they would present their nightly slot on TV news or file their contribution to the next day’s daily paper.

Life for journalists on the campaign trail with Howard and Rudd seems like a peculiar version of the TV reality show, ‘The Amazing Race’. Political journalists are transported across the country by aeroplane. Through our cities and country by bus. They are only ever informed on the day which location throughout Australia they are being flown to. And even when they put their feet on the land
and get on a bus - they are not fully aware of the location to which the party political machine is taking them to witness the next great step by or utterance of Howard or Rudd.

Our political journalists are treated like travelling circus animals that are daily let out for a few bouts of exercise to interview Howard or Rudd. The party political machines are so steadfast at not letting their political opponent be aware of what their leader is doing next. And that controlling of the vision, that will be seen on the television news. God forbid anything could go wrong, like an elderly gentleman verbally attacking a political leader at a Senior Citizen’s Club or a lady being trampled at a shopping centre by the media throng following
a political leader on their walk through a Shopping Centre. The danger of it!

Television is a ‘top up’ media. The TV audience is passive, watching the TV screen in a one-way relationship with what is presented to them. The most successful developments on the Internet are the opposite of this relationship and come from being at least partially a ‘bottom up’ media. On the Internet no one is purely a member of an audience. Internet users have input into what they see. This two-way communication is the basis of how a website grows to be successful, learning how to best service the needs of users and building an ever growing community of users.

Here in lies the dilemma for our Australian politician’s dalliances onto the Internet. Are our pollies on the Internet to just recruit votes? Or are they willing to give up some of their control over their image creation, really interact with potential voters and develop communities on the Internet to follow their political causes online and in real life?

The use of the Internet in the U.S. elections seems more urgent and inclusive than that in Australia. The reasoning is simple; voting in the US Presidential Election is voluntary. Voters need to be recruited to the cause. The front page of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s websites are illustrative of this. When someone first arrives, they are met with a simple but full-page request to enter their name and email address. So even if a person doesn’t stay long, they can be put on the database and contacted when it comes to polling time. Our Australian politicians have it easier, we the Australian public do not need to be recruited but are rather under compulsion to vote for one of our candidates.

Despite this significant difference, there is a lot that Australian political parties could harness from the use of the Internet in American politics. The 2004 Howard Dean Presidential Campaign started on the Internet through a website – a company that arranges meetings for people of similar interests in different locations across America and the world. While the first Dean Meetup gatherings started in Starbucks coffee shops with a handful of people in attendance, as the campaign grew pace the Dean gatherings were attended by up to fifteen thousand supporters at a time. Today Hillary Clinton’s website encourages Americans to have a Hillary Event.

This ability to use the Internet to bring people together in real social political events is something our political parties have yet to realise. Maybe our major political parties feel that such social activation is too intrusive for the Australian people. Yet by not fully taking advantage to motivate the Internet user to communicate in a two-way relationship from which the Internet surfer comes out from behind their computer screen, our political forces are overlooking how communities live on the Internet. And the potentiality to establish a social network amongst voters that will be ready for those of the coming generation – who as Trippi states “are born with a mouse in their hand.”

Our political parties have made the effort on the Internet for this campaign and in parts there are some quite good initiatives on the net from our aspiring Canberra bound representatives. However you have to spend some time to search through each website to find what’s worth regularly consuming. An Internet site has to have a dynamic front page, something that will greet a person with something new each day, encouraging them to return to see what’s up. It’s no good for a website to have some great daily updated content if an Internet user doesn't know how to click to ithis page with one touch of their mouse.

The Liberal Party have adapted this approach, with the front page of their website showing a catalogue of videos, featuring their most pressing messages. In the first two weeks of the campaign the videos were heavily anti-union, but when this theme didn’t work for them, the anti-union ads were moved over to a side bar on the website and replaced by videos of John Howard promoting the Liberal vision for the future.

The Liberals with their use of video went for a modern medium providing a dynamic interface that moved with the direction of their campaign. However with such a politicised message and standard production in many of their Internet videos, I dare say they wouldn’t have lured many swinging Internet voters, rather have been ‘preaching to the converted.’

The use of negative ads on the television can catch a voter’s attention from the program they are watching and get their mind ticking over. Yet on the Internet where a voter is in a one on one communication and their mind is in a comparatively more active state than a TV viewer, the heaviness of the politicised message in a negative ad is a turn off.

The Labor Party went down the negative ad path to create a whole website called Howard Facts which covered everything Howard has supposedly done wrong. Someone in the creative annals of the Labor Party must have enjoyed putting together a website which took the party faithful back to their roots where the right wing could be annihilated. A lot of work has gone into the Howard Facts website, yet like the Liberal anti-union ads, Howard Facts would only been playing to the true believers.

Yet this negative approach website along with negative online advertisements, were designed strategically by our political parties advertising agencies, these forms of encroachments tried to come into their own in the days leading up to polling day. In Australian elections, by law there is a supposed blackout on all political advertising in the 48 hours prior to the day people vote – the catch for our election ’07 was that the current legislation did not include a ban on Internet political ads – of course due to this relatively new medium not having been thought of when the legislation was passed.

So while TV current affairs and radio talk back hosts were rapping to their audiences about how great it was that you could again watch TV or listen to the radio without the annoying interference of political ads, the poor percentage of us media consumers who read online news publications were the new target of our political parties ads.

As I tried to read the considered opinions in my favourite Australian online newspaper, a block advertisement that ran seventy percent of the length of the online newspaper column, flashed with images of politician’s headshots which would then be stamped with aggressive headlines telling me not to hand over the control of government to these individuals because they were extremists, unionists and inexperienced. I was then encouraged to click onto a web page that showed me a picture of a loving family and the reasons why our Liberal Party were the better choice for people of family values. And if so then convinced I could click onto the Liberal Party site to have this point proved to me further.

What was proved to me by this sequence of links put together by the Liberal party’s ad agency is that even these powerbrokers know negative advertising on the Internet isn’t effective. What is my evidence? These shock ads didn’t provide a link to the Liberal Party designed negative website UNIONBOSSES.NET, a direct counter tactic to the Labor Party website Howard Facts; UNIONBOSSES.NET appeared in our Internet world in the last two weeks of the election campaign.

I cannot provide a link to the UNIONBOSSES.NET website because in the wake of an election loss, the Liberal Party have removed this website. While I have used the example of the negative ads of the Liberal Party, the negative ads of the Labor and Greens parties were also on online news publications.

A blog entry by Matthew Ricketson, the media writer for the Melbourne Age, addressed ,
the jump of political advertising from traditional media to the online newspapers like his own and asks his readers what they think of this propaganda explosion.

Here is my opinionated blog comment response,

‘The editorial in today's AGE took a very ethical stance by declaring it was not the place of a paper to tell people how to vote.

So great, you've raised the issue of internet advertising in the last two days before an election but where is an examination of this issue and where is the ethical stance like the one declared by your paper this morning?

Why is the question of the contradiction in ethical principles of allowing online ads but no TV or radio ads not even considered?

Is it not the role of the chief journalist in a specific field to not only report the news but also disseminate and analyse it? Without any analysis of the issue you're allowing it to continue in the future.

I couldn't read your paper online today, the political advertising was so intrusive it was blurring the lines between advertising and editorial content. So what's the next step down this path, because there's always a next step when it comes to advertisers pushing the barriers. That's the real danger for publications like yours & that's why strident analysis is necessary.

But hey, you are towing one principle line from today's editorial, The Age isn't telling readers how to vote - The Age will accept political advertisements from many political parties!

After all, you're a business like any other, when the dollars are rolling in their millions to your employer, it's a bit hard for an employee to question the ethics of the process which is making the money. But don't you feel undermined as a publication, how can I as a reader take you seriously the next time when you closely scrutinise the ethics of other organisations or people in public life?

Oh for the high bastion of the journalist!

I'll give you the fact, that you're at least letting us reader's have our say, when it comes to issues where your employer is making so much money, it seems it is up to the reader to ask the hard questions.

Have a great weekend, at least come Sunday we know the ads won't be with us, but what about next election?

How about getting your publication to examine this issue post election and taking the stance that the electronic media laws need to be extended to include the newer medium of the Internet? Now, that would really be upholding the ethical principles of our democracy.’

Just maybe in the heat of the moment I was a tad condescending to the journalist, but I have to give the newspaper credit for publishing my criticisms, I still stand by the principles I raised. And by the blog comments of many other readers I was not solitary in my objections.

One reader commented,

Is there some special clause that because it is produced by a newspaper group it can bypass electronic media legislation? Last time I logged on I needed to use electricity. Perhaps I am confused by what constitutes digital publishing, electronic media and print and traditional media.

Conner commented,

Oh I don't know. Pop up flash ad's have annoyed me for a long time now, but the liberal ad's running since Wednesday have been so obnoxiously intrusive with their incessant flashing and shrill, hysterical message drove me so far to distraction that I finally tracked down a flash blocker for my browser. Never again will I have my morning read of the paper rudely interrupted by annoying flash ad's. Sorry Fairfax Media, I am now impervious to your advertisers message- even if it does mean I will one have to pay for an online subscription.

Nortius Maximus had already took his complaint further,

A blackout is only a blackout if there is IS a blackout. Allowing political advertisements in newspapers and websites but not on radio and television is hypocritical and out of step with our integrated media of the noughties.

'Electronic' media - under the terms of ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) as far as I'm concerned means electronic - the internet, radio, neon signs etc. etc..

I have lodged a formal complaint with ACMA regarding internet advertising as a way of opening up this issue so that future directions are discussed.

Please explain!!!

Hayley longed for a better world,

I'm sick of the negative campaiging. How refreshing it would have been if one of the parties had given us a positive campaign based on the great things they are going to do for us rather than why the other guys are worse than them. If they'd done that I might have gone into this election with a sense of excitement and anticipation rather than something just slightly above apathy. John Howard's made an art of winning an election through scare tactics and negativity, I guess Labor is adhering to the age-old adage "if you can't beat em join em".
I'll be so relieved when it's all over tomorrow. I had looked forward to the blackout, but as mentioned above it hasn't really lived up to expectations.

My heart is with reader Hayley. So will our political parties take the next step on the Internet by moving away from a propaganda style campaign? To an Internet based campaign that generates real interaction with voters? I will consider these questions throughout this paper and when I look at the wash-up of the Australian Federal Election ’07 and what it may bring us poor voters next time round. Yet I must note, that the Monday after the election my favourite online newspapaer has ads next to it’s article columns the same size as the irritating political ads, while they are visually appealing, I haven’t previously noticed the presence of ads this size .

As a seasoned campaigner Trippi makes a couple of interesting points. The first is in a campaign you never take on someone who you are defeating. While the Howard Facts website is bare of any Labor Party logo, the more heavily promoted website is Kevin07 - a slick presentation highlighting Kevin the man and his team providing their vision for the future. So Labor has played to this campaign strategy well. Trippi’s second point is that with the dominance of television in a campaign, a campaign is only one bad image of its leader away from defeat. In Australia we know this campaign fact from the 2004 Federal Election when Mark Latham’s overly aggressive handshake with John Howard, turned voters against him in their droves.

It is this danger that is keeping our political parties from opening up their presence on the web to more open communication with Internet users. From truly embracing the creative nature of Internet communities where people could have direct input on moulding the campaign.

One Internet initiative by our political parties in the current campaign is their participation in Blogs – a web log or online opinion piece to which Internet users can reply with comments. The most innovative blog contribution from our pollies I have come across is from The Greens who online have - a forum where Greens Senators and their staff write entries on topical issues and readers are alerted to real life environmental events like the “Walk Against Warming’. Greensblog is a great initiative but it even falls down in many areas.

Blogs are not just opinion pieces sent out to drift into the electronic ether; readers have the ability to post comments at the bottom of each article. A good way to judge the success of a blog is to see how many comment responses each blog entry has. Sadly for The Greens the comment responses to most of greensblog entries struggle to reach double figures.

Greensblog had some great intellectual content but it was drifting up through the atmosphere like electronic ether. At the ‘Walk Against Warming’ protest march I interviewed a Greens candidate for a suburban Melbourne electorate and asked him what his impressions of greensblog were? He replied, “What’s that?” After explaining what greensblog was he told me he hadn’t really used the Internet to communicate with voters in his electorate but he did electronically receive the daily Greens press releases.

Blogs could become a great way for political parties to gauge public opinion; pollies could put ideas out to the public and get instant responses. Trippi contends that feedback from Internet forms like blogs could replace political parties reliance on feedback from focus groups and drive campaigns in new directions. For this to happen, political parties would first have to understand how to write an engaging blog and open up their campaign and party to more direct feedback from Internet users.

Trippi writes, "The best blogs feature a strong human voice and a vibrant, running commentary by readers…” The most adaptive entry to the Internet I read on greensblog was entitled ‘Bickering Over Kyoto’ written by Senator Christine Milne. On October 30 after days of Mr. Howard trying to neutralize the climate change issue by taking on the inference in Peter Garrett’s comment that a Rudd Government may sign up to binding emission targets for the second phase of Kyoto Protocol even if developing countries only agreed to binding targets for the third phase of the protocol - Senator Milne wrote an entry in greensblog which cut behind the political points scoring of the major parties and introduced the Internet reader to The Greens perspective on climate change.

On the Internet minor parties like The Greens should have an advantage, as they can be more radical and adapt to the hustle and bustle of Internet communication. While Senator Milne’s ‘Bickering over Kyoto’ entry did contain passion, it was also well thought out and read like a speech to Parliament or a university lecture. This is not good Internet writing; Senator Milne’s blog entry was in need of a good edit. The passion needed to start in the first sentence and run throughout the whole blog entry, the logical thinking needed to be an undercurrent in the writing not setting up the reader for the big punchline.

Come around to Election Day our politicians have a captured audience, we are compelled to vote, but our pollies like anyone else on the Internet do not have a captive audience. If a website is too heavily politicised with a ‘top up’ constructed message an Internet user will just click over to a more appealing website and never return.

In the 2007 election campaign our political parties are treating the Internet medium as an extension of television and print publications, this approach beleaguers their presence on the Internet. The form of written content is largely in the style of business or lifestyle magazines. While the Howard Facts website is an exception - a modernisation of a past propaganda style. And the form of most video content is reflective of a business video where our politicians try to sell us a political message. Big turn off! Just like those not for the Internet negative TV advertisements.

Yet like greensblog there were some meritorious Internet contributions from our political parties, which could be improved for the 2010/11-election campaign. On the Kevin07 website a ‘spoof blog’ was entered, some of the best videos from youtube appeared on Kevin07. Nothing too undermining to the Kevin07 message, but at least the web team at Kevin07 was joining in the spirit of Internet co-relation and taking advantage of the free transfer of self-produced content on the Internet that exists without the restrictions of the copyright concerns that binds other traditional media.

The most watched political party video this election is a Labor posting on youtube entitled ‘Tell Kevin Rudd: what issues you are passionate about’. Ordinary people are shown telling the Internet world what issues are at their heart. With over one hundred thousand views, sixty thousand more views than any other Labor video posted on youtube, this statistic is illustrative that people on the Internet are more inclined to listen to their own opinions than those of a politician selling a message.

‘The Adventures of Hajnal Ban’ a travelogue and background video of Hajnal Ban a candidate for The Nationals in Queensland accounts for half of the views of The Nationals seventeen contributions to youtube. This video succeeds for a number of reasons and is a forerunner in showing our politicians how to succeed in selling their message on the Internet. Hajnal’s video is personable, fun, inclusive of voters in her electorate whilst still being informative.

Trippi in the Howard Dean campaign had supporters around the country making their own reality videos capturing the event of Dean travelling across America. And in the current US election race, a Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has run a competition for his supporters to create an advertisement, the winning homemade advertisement Romney will air in paid television advertisement spots as he travels across America.

Taking nothing away from Hajnal Ban, hell she was the only Australian politician to have the courtesy of replying to one of my email policy enquiries this election campaign but the success of her video posting may also have something to do with Hajnal being an attractive young lady. Heard of Obama Girl? Nearly every person in the United States has. Obama Girl is a racy young lady who in an Internet video serenades US Democrat candidate Barack Obama. The video has the look of a Jennifer Lopez music clip and is produced by a website Barely Political, whose specialities include producing Internet videos with scantily clad girls singing about politicians and political issues - like the boys from the US military serving overseas.

Barely Political’s ‘I Got a Crush on Obama’ has had over four million hits on youtube, but the alluring videos success is in it’s free transfer to other websites and cross over appeal to the more traditional media. 'I Got a Crush on Obama' has a total of over one hundred million views on the web, it's mass viewing as it's transfer from website to website is described as being 'viral' - ie. it spread on the Internet like a virus can through a human or animal population. And the video together with Amber Lee Ettinger, the actress who plays Obama Girl, have featured on and in major news bulletin, comedy shows, magazines, newspapers and talk shows across America. In an interview on the US FOX NEWS Channel, the TV anchor asks Miss Ettinger,
“All of us who still live in the old TV box, are trying to figure out how to get the people who live in the computer box to come see us. And we all watch you and people like you, to learn what to do. Is it your sense there is a thing happening with your generation and maybe mine and beyond, that there is sort of a disconnect there, and the older ones are just going to have to let you take over because it’s inevitable?”
Miss Ettinger responds,
“I mean yes sort of, we don’t have to take over, maybe you guys just need to figure out how to get into what we are doing.”

Ms. Ettinger is right, relating a message on the Internet isn’t about an overthrow or a revolution, of how we relate. All new media learn and adapt how they relate to people from established forms of media. The newspaper opinion piece gave birth to the radio talkback show and the radio talkback show gave birth to the television interview format. While the ‘Obama Girl Phenomenom’ shows that some principles of advertising, like ‘sex sells’ work on the Internet, other traditional advertising principles need a rethink to be effective for the bottom up medium of the Internet.

‘Internet propaganda’ needs its’ Mark Burnett. Burnett the creator of Survivor developed show concepts that popularised the new genre of reality television. When creating Internet content our political parties need to stop solely listening to advertising agencies who apply the principles of what sells on television and recruit experts who understand what content has an audience in the uniquely interactive medium of the Internet.

The Greens candidate I interviewed at the ‘Walk Against Warming’ told me this of his experience out on the hustings in suburban Melbourne.
"One thing I've really discovered is that you can't judge people's attitudes by how they look. I'm often in the situation where you'll see someone coming towards you at a Shopping Centre and you'll think this person won't be interested in The Greens but he'll come up and shake your hand and say fantastic." On the Internet political parties don’t even have the knowledge of what people look like to form their impressions, but the people are out there.

I’ve lived in Internet communities for years. The fact is the breadths of people you have the opportunity to meet are even broader than in real life. In Internet communities I discuss, breathe and share my passions; not with only young Internet geeks but genuine and thought provoking lawyers, tradesmen, business owners, advertising executives, IT experts, police officers, social workers, former defence force personnel, students, receptionists…and the list goes on. I know political parties are fearful of openly relating to people in a too unrestrained manner on the Internet, but these communities are their audiences to build.

We can develop ground breaking Internet relations. We don’t need to just follow the US and other countries. We have our own voices, the unique character of which would relate well on the Internet. What would happen if a political candidate posted the best satirical content off the net on their political site? The message to a degree would undermine their sensitive political message and image, but the brave politician would be one of the first to openly relate to people on the net.

Satire has a deep history in Australia and self-depracation is a trait of our national character. With political parties heavy reliance on negative political ads de-humanising their political opponents, it seems pretty obvious that they are used to stooping to some pretty base means of communicating their message.

Why wouldn’t a politician go the other way and indulge the voters in a slice of self-depreciation? Come on Mr. Rudd or Mr. Costello, lighten up and ‘take the piss out of yourself’. The 'Kevin Rudd - Chinese Propaganda Video', caricatures the Labor leader's campaign as Chinese Communist Party propaganda. A link to this original video appeared on the front page of The Australian’s website, helping the video become the second most watched election theme video this campaign with about seventy thousand views.

What if Kevin Rudd had a wall on his Kevin07 website? For the uninitiated a wall is a compartment on Facebook where friends can enter a message, somewhat in the manner of a graffiti artist leaving his tag on a creative expression on walls across our cities. During the election campaign Kevin Rudd’s wall is the main element of daily interest on his Facebook site, people like this video’s creator, twenty three year old Sydney University arts-law student Hugh Atkin may be drawn to tag their videos and draw their audience to the Labor cause.

On the Internet politicians would find people, younger and thinking people would relate back to them and become more open to researching the substance of their political policies. There may even be a cross over into the mainstream media and open a small window for the growing control on mainstream journalists. Again Kevin Rudd’s web team are joining in to an extent, the posting of ‘The Chaser’ Rudd Facebook friend stunt is the most recent posting from the Labor team on Mr. Rudd’s Facebook page.

Politicians and their strategists need to ask some simple questions to make the most effective use of the Internet. How do you make friends? You introduce yourself in a friendly manner. And how do you keep those friends? You regularly talk to them in open conversation and enjoy sharing a laugh.

Our pollies Facebook and mySpace friends have been largely ‘dumped’. Since the election politician's blog entries in their Facebook or mySpace pages have been at a minimum. Kevin Rudd is quite nice about this fact to his Facebook friends by explaining that he’ll be too busy to post but he and his staff will look in to see what his ‘friends’ have to say, Kev even invites his friends over to his own website.

The Melbourne radio Fox FM crew started up an 'adoration campaign’ with John Howard’s second in charge press secretary David 'Luffy' Luff, in a bid to get the Prime Minister to be a guest on their show. 'Luffy' turned into a mini celebrity and seemed like a fun figure, so why not someone like this bloke in the political staff enter daily blog entries on Facebook and MySpace to keep Internet friends connected? Peter Garrett on the front page of his own website has the right idea on how to relate to people. Garrett offers a near daily update of his campaign trail, often chronicling his encounters with the interesting people he meets.

Will our politicians be brave enough to open themselves up to accepting content with more fluidity from Internet users? Mandy Finn, the director of e strategy for the Romney Presidential campaign says of their competition for advertisements made by the people,
"We can't control anyone who wants to make a negative advertisement. While the risk is there for negative videos to be created, we figured the positive would outweigh the negative."

Gearing up for the 2008 Presidential campaign US politicians are hitching up their wagons and heading out into the new frontier of the internet world. Like their forefathers spread across the American continent generations ago. Similarly our Australian politicians are like our early settlers who went to live in our dramatically testing continent. Like each of our countries early pioneers, our politicians on the Internet have to go and live in the extremities and experience the natives; there might be hostility, even some blood spilt but until these politicians experience the good and the bad of the Internet, leaving the congenial world of television advertisements behind, they will never make a success of promoting themselves and their policies in the less sanitised brave new world of the Internet.

Just like the indigenous American Indians and our Aboriginal people, communities have lived on the land before politicians arrived on the Internet. As the American settlers learnt how to grow corn from the American Indians and Australian police used Aboriginal trackers to follow the scent of criminals who had escaped into the bush, our politicians need to better study the habits of Internet users and communities, for these people are the ones who are the forerunners who know how to live off the human sustenance provided by broadband and wireless technology.

A blog could transform the way local candidates relate to the electorate. Instead of replying to individual emails, they could answer one voters question and let their answer be read by all voters in their electorate. And in the discursive nature of a blog all voters could reply with their own concerns on an issue. Of course the big political parties would need to apply an editorial policy to their candidates so a rogue candidate doesn’t espouse personal views like a moral indignation about gays and lesbians or protest against nuclear power, which may undermine party policy.

An initiative like giving local candidates the right to pen a blog would have a number of advantages. It would make candidates more literate, it may even give political a better opportunity to recruit a higher quality of candidate. It would enliven the profile of the local candidate in the community and support their traditional promotion efforts through shopping centre visits, home visits and letterbox dropping of promotional pamphlets.

Political parties don’t realise the extent that communities on the Internet can generate into communities who participate in real life. Such direct connection with voters on the Internet may one day just be enough to capture the minds of swinging voters and get a result over the line in marginal electorates. Once there is an Internet network in rural Australia, this candidate blogging would be great for political candidates who struggle to travel the distances to meet all their electorate’s voters.

After the election how much effort are our politicians going to put into the ‘friendships’ of the people they have met on the Internet on sites like Facebook and mySpace? Will our pollies relate to this enthusiastic pool of voters for the next three years or just make their re-acquaintance in the months leading up to the next election? A clever pollie would put some consistent effort into these ‘friends’. I dare say these Internet ‘friends’ would lose faith in a ‘friend’ who only turned up in three years time wanting a another vote, the pollie would probably be thought of in a similar light to a family member who only comes around for a feed on Christmas day.

The “soon” Kevin Rudd let down his Chaser Facebook friends who wanted to come into his house and get to know the Labor leader, should take the form of an invitation to speaking events all across our country. Over the next three years a politician could speak to their Internet community in real life about the issues that matter to his young ‘friends’. Talks could be held on issues of relevance like climate change, education or establishing Internet relations. That would be one element of an education revolution. Even if there was only a take up rate amongst Internet friends of twenty or thirty percent, these people would generate thoughtful contributions on the Internet and some may even take the giant step of joining a political party. That might be taking it a bit too far.

Kevin Rudd told an assembly of school students at his alma mater high school in Nambour Queensland that if elected he wants to become known as “an Education Prime Minister”. Mr.Rudd’s education revolution involves laying out a broadband network across our country and giving equality in Internet access for educational purposes to all students. The ‘education revolution’ for our politicians like Mr. Rudd is learning how to communicate their message on the Internet and freeing themselves up to really listen to the input from the electorate; sensing the matters of concern in the population, helping their political party to formulate policies from the direct feedback that could flow from the collective Internet voice.

For the personal medium of the Internet, propaganda needs to be replaced with propaganda–lite . Propaganda-lite is personable propaganda, where the politicians come across as genuinely caring and relatable. A catchy headline appears on the front web page of a major daily newspaper website, it’s selling The Greens' platform to stop the Gunns Pulp Mill in Tasmania. The word Pulp in bold print is stamped over the face of Malcolm Turnball, the Pulp stamp for Peter Garrett too but over the face of Bob Brown the stamp ‘Protect’. The ad is sufficiently striking for me to give it a click with the mouse and onto The Greens website I go, I’m met with Bob Brown walking on from the left side of my screen and he begins,
“G’day I’m Bob Brown and if you’re fed up with the big parties, go with the Greens. If instead of mega tax cuts for the rich, you’d like to see more money going into public education, public health or Indigenous Australians; and if your worried about climate change - change the climate! You can join The Greens. You can donate to The Greens. You can volunteer for The Greens! Go green!”
That’s propaganda-lite.
I can press my mouse on a play icon to again hear my friendly pollie Bob’s speel . A head bar on the top of The Green’s web page with pictures of all The Greens’ leading Senate candidates , I navigate my mouse onto one of The Greens team , their name and the state they are a candidate for appears – with one click I am onto The Greens website for the state of Australia I live in. Presentation and Navigation - while all our political parties have a similar content on their websites, the example I have relayed by The Greens captures the essence of the way our propaganda will be communicated to us in the future. Political parties will learn people engage with welcoming voices on the Internet, the heaviness of the Internet politicised message will over time diminish.

The media organizations in the US have taken their strong tradition of political debates to the Internet with some innovative adaptations of technology. There is the Democratic Candidate Mash Up with a well thought out presentation and use of video. The introduction video opens with historical snippets of John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in the first televised debate from 1960, then our host journalist Charlie Rose explains,
“This is unlike any debate you have ever seen before, because for the first time you’re in charge and here is how it works. On the far left of the screen choose the candidates you most care about, choose them all if you want to. Then step two, choose one issue that Yahoo users told us they cared about – the war in Iraq, health care, education or choose something lighter…”
Then a split screen appears with Hilary Clinton on the left and social satirist Bill Maher on the right, Maher asks his question,
“Why should Americans vote for somebody who can be fooled by George Bush?”
Hilary beams as she lets out a hearty defensive laugh.
Charles Rose continues with his explanation of how Internet users can participate in the debate mash up,
“…then hit play and what you’ll see is a customary face off, a mash up if you will, of your candidates debating your issues.”
The answers from the eight Democrat candidates represented go for about four minutes. When an Internet user is finished listening to their selection of candidates and issues, they are encouraged to vote for the candidate who most impressed them, the results of the poll are shown on the website. Also on the website are two discussion boards, one for Internet users to discuss the issues of the debate, the other to discuss the candidates. This website is easy to navigate through, contains up to date political content and directly involves the public in political participation.

There has also been a youtube Democrats event, where people across America loaded their video questions onto youtube and a selection were played to the Democrat candidates who then provided their answers to America. This format is going to be repeated by the Republicans.

Another project is called 10 Questions where Americans again ask video questions but this time the questions are voted on and those that receive the popular public vote will be put to the political candidates. These initiatives are examples of how participatory democracy is being advanced by the use of technologies and harnessing of community interest on the Internet.

I first read about these debate forms in an article by Dan Gilmoor a leading media academic and writer. Gilmoor champions a further enhanced public participation and more innovative uses of technology in the Internet debates of the future. While in two of these formats people submitted questions, Gilmoor notes that journalists choose which questions were to be asked of the candidates, a task he suggests should have been that of the public’s as it was in the 10 Questions model. Gilmoor notes that the Democratic Mash Up, whose website I quite liked for it’s simple navigation, only had an average of a seven minute stay on the website by the American public.

One positive in the transfer of US debates onto the Internet is that they were formed by partnerships between major traditional news organizations like CNN, The New York Times and MSNBC, industry websites like Tech President who have a philosophy of using technology to enhance the democratic process, together with major Internet organizations like Yahoo.

An amusing aside is that Obama Girl has had an invitation to moderate a debate in a local election. By the American example, as media organizations and political parties strive to capture a greater share of the Internet audience, they realise that they must replicate the opportunity for people to voice their opinions which is already available to people in their own blogs, on renegade websites and in Internet communities. By doing this, the mainstream media will have a greater reach as the provider of information for mainstream political parties to transfer their message. The gist of what Gilmoor contends, is that for people to use the Internet in the future as the source of their political diet, the material on the Internet has to develop it’s own uniqueness against what people consume through the still dominant electronic medium of television.

How could our political parties improve on their efforts in our 2007 election campaign? They could start with innovative use of the Internet. Trippi contends that when you are the first to provide a service on the Internet you have dominance over a market. It’s something I’ve found living in Internet communities, if people are happy somewhere, then that’s where they stay. If a political party created a truly unique way to send their political message via the Internet, then these same dynamics of loyalty to functionality and community spirit would apply.

Steven Clift, an Ashoka Fellow on the Google campus where he is undertaking a three year social entrepreneur fellowship to further, the world's first election-oriented website he helped found in1994, makes a pertinent point.
“If the innovation disrupts power, it will not spread without a mandate. The best practices and democracy-enhancing services must be incorporated into the rule of law.”
I may be making a liberal application of Clift’s quote, which will show me to be an idealist but why wouldn’t a political party create a presence on the Internet that attracts people to their websites by building a reputation as the a place to find some informative, democratically open and entertaining material in the media? It may sound contradictory to the controlled nature of our presidential like election campaigns but I do contend that if our political parties continue to treat the Internet as an extension of their public relations machine that operates through other media and not incorporate how the technically minded younger generation view material on the Internet, political parties will never effectively use the Internet to capture an audience. US Republican political consultant Paul Wilson commented in interview,
‘We’re going to see people in politics try very hard to make the Internet work….We know the voter is trying to hide from intrusive ads and that’s the problem with the Internet.”
When people go on holiday they choose a destination that think they will enjoy, the same is true of people’s selection of web destinations.

Politicians should think of their Internet audience in two opposing demographics. Their loyal supporters or captive audience, and the uncommitted voter - the second group surely being the largest as well as the true target audience. In the future the Internet will provide the most dynamic medium for engaging the mass population. With a creative approach and an a clear editorial policy political parties could succeed in joining the successful websites that communicate their messages to wide audiences.

Our political parties presence on the Internet already opens them up to some conflicting views. In the blogs on their websites a minority of comment responses are from people on the other side of politics. The leader of The Nationals Mark Vaile has eleven blog entries on his MySpace page with a total of one comment response, funnily from a self-described ‘typical Aussie bloke’ by the name of ‘Nero’, who signs off his comment response,

“Good luck, unfortunately, until your government becomes much more humane; I will not be able to follow my Father's lead and vote coalition. I will not be voting Labor either.”
The negative responses are more frequent on the walls of our politician’s Facebook pages, where people treat the space with the same abandon as graffiti artists do our city walls.

Kevin Rudd presence on Facebook changed mid-election when he opened a new page Kevin Rudd and Labor, so he could open the membership up to all the around fifteen thousand people waiting to be his friend. This transition of pages wasn’t without difficulty. Many people complained on Kev’s new wall that they had been spamed by our Opposition leader, by the fact they had never asked to be on his Facebook page. However, the most interesting point was that Kev’s associates on Facebook were no longer his ‘friends’ but now were his ‘fans’. Some Facebook people said they weren’t fan’s, some said they were put out that they weren’t Kev’s friend anymore and some people just told those who were unhappy to just delete themselves from Rudd’s Facebook group and let the rest of us get on with it. A Rudd Facebook administrator explained the change from friend to fan was due to the system Facebook had established so Kevin could have a page that was inclusive of every Facebook member who wanted to join in. She ensured Kev’s Facebook entourage that the Rudd Facebook team wanted everyone to still be a friend but for the time being there was nothing they could do to correct this technicality imposed on them by the Facebook administration. The Friend or Fan scenario made for some contentious debate.

An interesting development in the US came when a couple of Hillary Clinton advisors referred to competing candidate Barack Obama’s supporters as “looking like Facebook”, inferring that they while they were large in number because they were of a young demographic they wouldn’t join in his campaign on the ground and were unlikely to vote. In opposition to this derogatory claim a Facebook group was created – ‘Official Petition Against Hillary Clinton “They Look Like Facebook” Insult’. While a Republican web consultant created the group, it does now have three and a half thousand largely young Obama supporting members.

So even when politicians create a congenial image of themselves on the net they are willing to co-exist on their own websites and web pages, amongst voices which aim to undermine them. The Kevin Rudd administrators on Facebook openly stated they were not adverse to this situation and would only moderate postings, which were obscene in nature. My question is, will a political party bring in the combative nature of the grassroots Internet community and develop a web page, which embraces frank democratic input along side the politician’s current goal of portraying their public relations image? Let’s look at some ways Australian political parties could do this.

The Greens should develop their greensblog site to be a mechanism that cuts through the spin machines of the major parties as a web location that promotes their role in passing more socially progressive legislation than the major parties would otherwise legislate. It would be quite simple to do, just follow the issues the two major parties are playing out in the daily media and through the immediacy of the Internet write blog entries that provide The Greens’ perspective to the issues of the day. This would make The Greens’ platform more relevant to, and could increase their exposure in the mainstream media. Something they, like the once really relevant Australian Democrats, both aim but struggle to achieve. The Greens showed this approach when the one and only leader’s debate was held in the first week of the election campaign. The Greens produced an Internet stream cast of their ‘alternative debate’, which was really an explanation of their policies rather than a debate. The Greens should take some more innovative risks by putting some real resources into trying to claim the little understood media of the Internet as their own. Firstly, The Greens should promote greensblog to their candidates and party members, directing them to make this forum a lively forum for all their discussion and then get out on the ground promoting greensblog to the public as a place where they can voice their concerns. And why not post their press releases as direct blog entries? The immediacy of the Internet is something our two major political parties are still either scared or blind to. And The Greens should embrace the discursive nature of successful personal blogs as described by Dan Gilmoor in his 2004 seminal book ‘We the Media – Grassroots Journalism, By the People, For the People’,
“Personal blogs also tend to be part of running conversations. One blogger will point to another’s posting, perhaps to agree but often to disagree or note another angle not found in the original piece. Then the first blogger will respond, and other bloggers may join the fray.”
While this may be a too big a second step for our major political parties controlled media messages, there are other improvements they could make to their Internet content.

Kevin Rudd stood on the stage of his alma mater high school, his shadow treasurer Wayne Swan by his side, who also attended the same school and a captive school assembly in front of him. By his words Rudd seemed genuinely excited that he was relating to the students at his old school and said in a familiar tone that he and Wayne, had just been in a building that was called in his time as a student C Block and Rudd asked the students whether the building was still called C-Block. After receiving a warm and affirmative response Rudd showed some real personality in his next proclamation,
“Wayne was captain of the rugby league team. And I was captain...of the debating team.”
By being inclusive and sharing a joke, Rudd won over his young audience. So why not use the Internet to break out of the straight jacket of the hard ball game which is often the political world by using this personable medium as a tool to convey a more realistic and rounded image? Due to the interactive nature of the Internet, showing a multi-faceted human personality is what would help politician’s relate to the Internet audience. As I said earlier, it would help people relate to a politician’s message and may even encourage voters to study the pollies policies. This could cause political strategists to rethink their tactics and improve the quality of our political discussion, but I would suggest that until a minor party uses enough innovation to capture a fair slice for the Internet audience or someone from the public constructs an Internet forum that demonstrates a revolutionary way to promote political discussion, major political parties in a two party system will reject dynamic change in their methods of political manoeuvring and settle for the production of web content which counters that of their direct opponent. After all, you do not win a game of chess, which by nature has two combatants, by throwing the board up in the air to watch the chess pieces tumble to the floor and let out the cry,
“I’ve changed the rules, I win!”
Maybe the innovation in Internet party political content is more likely to come from the US who have a larger populous and have both Republican and Democrat races, which have numerous candidates vying for the one candidacy.

If Rudd Labor wins government in Australia, which the polls have consistently been telling us will happen, the next Federal Australian election campaign will involve three leader’s debates held by the independent press body The National Press Club. Hopefully we can adopt the best of the US experience of having debates broadcast on the Internet and even embrace the improvements suggested by media thinkers like Gilmoor. On the bright side, in cultures where the public and media make participation in political debates mandatory for candidates, the quality of political discussion through all media should by logic improve in increments.

Most of the, for TV produced political party ads which our Australian pollies put on the Internet have little audience. Internet content should contain issues that matter to younger people; some of the most watched Labor ads are selling their Climate Change policies. As well as targeting the issues that will be watched on the Internet, our political parties should realise that they would have a more effective presence on the Internet if they produced more cutting edge material that spread by word of mouth compelling people to use their computers to watch.

In my opinion the most colourful quotes of the campaign did not come from a current politician but a politician of the past, our former Labor Prime Minister and Australian union leader Bob Hawke. The old stager, who was regularly

pounding the pavements with candidates throughout New South Wales and Queensland, made some great attacks on the anti-union proclamations of his old sparring partner, the current Liberal Prime Minister John Howard. My favourite Hawkeism read in all our papers the next day,
"This man he's had so many conversions on the road to Damascus – climate change, reconciliation – if he's going round the marginal electorates handing out money for roads, he ought to make a contribution to the government of Syria to repave the road to Damascus because he's worn it out,"
Hawke’s analogy even led to the creation of a cartoon animation about Howard’s path on the Road to Damascus in a cynical bid to get re-elected.
Surely the ALP could manage Hawke to contribute video editorials on the Internet, put the attack dog onto our computer screens while the managed and reserved Rudd plied our television screens. Hillary Clinton utilises her husband President Clinton in election videos, from watching Hilary in debate alongside supporters who won a competition to watch the debate with the former president and a video of Bill Clinton making a statement on Hillary’s record of public service and why she’s the right person for the Presidency. Used in the right way the support of an experienced campaigner improves a political candidates audience reach. Party political Internet content can be authorative, entertaining and informative; something that could enhance the portrayal of a leader with a humanising personality that showed he or she really cares. The Liberal Party went with the humanising angle by making an Internet video of John Howard putting half a million dollars towards a young boy's wish to help the orang-utans in Indonesia.

While some first time political pundits are this election left to scribe on our politician’s Facebook walls, showing little more creativity than the remedial reading Jonah Takalua’s trademark tag of a penis across the Summer Heights High’s buildings and teacher’s cars, there are some considered thinkers who use this opportunity to express their concerns for the future of our country. The Internet provides people with the opportunity to communicate their individual voices on mass and as with any functioning democracy, it is the role of the people to empower themselves to push the politicians to communicate a sounder ideology.

Trippi calls the era of the computer and the Internet, not the information age but the empowerment age.
“The Internet is the most democratising innovation we’ve ever seen – more so than even the printing press. There has never been a technology this fast, this expansive with the ability to connect this many people from around the world.”

From my experience of living in Internet communities, just as in life people will stay in a community in which they find contentment. Yet most people don’t know the experience of living in an Internet community. Facebook and MySpace ‘s success is in they provide people the opportunity to develop their real life community into an online community. And further to this meet new online friends who have similar interests to join their communities. It’s an online form of human migration and proliferation of experience.

One of Kevin Rudd’s major policy platforms is to provide all year nine to twelve students with their own computer and the roll out of a national broadband network. A journalist asked Mr. Rudd what websites he regularly used, the response came that he used the national broadcaster’s news website and then as a diligent politician he made sure to mention the websites of nearly all the journalists in his press conference. No longer than an hour later the same question was asked of his opponent Mr. Howard. He also scanned some news websites but he also favoured baggygreen, the official Australian Cricket Board website and Mr. Howard even admitted he sometimes surfed onto FHM, the website for a men’s magazine that has a heavy concentration of swimsuit models.
I wonder how John Howard would handle his own 'Howard Girl'?

In media questioning of politicians one candidate is asked then the other is asked. The same principle will apply to the use of technology on the Internet by political parties, one will do something new, and the others will follow. As I also explained earlier this same principle drives developments in how new media evolves from old media. As Trippi and others correctly state, the interest with the Internet is that the people now have a larger input than ever before in how this process will happen. All people will learn to congregate in their communities on the Internet and as this becomes a more natural process for the next generations of humanity, politicians just like corporations will have to learn how best to tap into these communities, this is their challenge to come.

William S. Burroughs contended that ‘the word is a virus’, following the basic principle that words and the way they are used spread. And the obvious extension of his idea is that all communication is a virus. However, probably the most undeniably accurate extension of Burroughs’ contention is that our population consider political propaganda during an election campaign to indeed be a virus.

The challenge for politicians and their strategists, as the Internet in the future increasingly becomes a domain for communicating to voters, is to evolve political propaganda that most of us don’t consider to be a virus by making future political communication more viral.

In the late fifties - early sixties William Burroughs in confidence to Brion Gysin, created art and writings that prophesised what influence the advent of new technologies were going to have on how people would increasingly be fed our information.

Obama Girl is the first viral product of the Internet with a ‘politicised message’ that has spread through all the United States traditional forms of the media. As Burroughs and Gysin prophesised that the dumbing down of all information would occur, Obama Girl is the creation of a website by the appropriate name of Barely Political.

The Obama Girl is truly Burroughs and Gysin’s, ‘Virial Internet Child Prophesy’.

And the United States has an undeniable crush on the Obama Girl.

After all, the Obama Girl is pretty damn attractive.

But I ask how attractive is such use of new technology when considering the forwarding of our democratic principles?

I think of Ginsberg and Burroughs, walking through and outside the 1968 Democrat Convention in Chicago, William with his box camera in hand, Allen smoking pot and reciting his idiosyncratic mantras,

I think of today’s Internet generation, with the technology at their disposal, and what Allen and William would have thought the chances of their expressions either being harnessed by political and business powers or for the young to break free and create their own expressions on their electronic notepads and canvasses?

I think of Australian comedian Norman Gunston, all anxious and completely out of place, on the steps of old Parliament House, awaiting the arrival of the message to be sent from Sir John Kerr the gathering crowd knew was going to announce Kerr as the first Governor General to use his Constitutional powers to ever dismiss a Prime Minister.

I think of the emphatic words, disposed Prime Minister Gough Whitlam spoke to his throng of supporters, "May we well say 'God save the Queen', because nothing will save the Governor General!"

I think can the Global Internet Generation save itself? Using their community binding technology to contribute to the rising of an anti-authoritarian social conscience like that started by the Beat Generation in the new dawn after World War II, and generated an overhauling of socially accepted values with the protests against the Vietnam War.

I think of a real revolution of education.