Monday, November 30, 2009

Representation and equality

"Around 20% of the UK population has some form of disability, yet only 4.4% of BBC staff are disabled, 2% at ITV, 1.8% at Sky and 1% at Channel 4." According to the article in The Guardian, "there is a massive taboo around it and disabled people are aware that people have massive assumptions and see them as less able." However, the article continues, "broadcasters are acting, recognising that behind-the-scenes recruitment and onscreen representation go hand in hand." A report which was jointly produced by the BBC and Channel 4, "Talking Disability," was a call to fairly reflect a society where 11 million people are disabled.

Surely, a step in the right direction is to have representation in the media for all areas of the population. This should also take into account the socio-economic backgrounds of all the people and therefore the working population. Is this possible? Can there be fair and equal representation? Is it feasible to have each and every sort represented in the media - And even in other facets of life?

For example can this be so in politics? If we elect an individual from a deprived socio-economic background to office who is also a member of an ethnic minority, can she represent her people if she starts taking the rich salary of an elected official? Can the purity of the newly elected representative be preserved even when the newly elected representative has suddenly become wealthy?

Does each elected official seek to feather his/her own nest? Is there a genuine search for truth anywhere after the results are in?

Sources for this post:

Dowell B. (Nov. 23, 2009). TV sets new representation targets. The Guardian.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Twitter - Why Fear?

It seems I am not the only one who has not used Twitter yet. Barack Obama told students in Shanghai, last week, that he had not used Twitter yet. The curiosity about the term is justified by the fact that Twitter was blocked for some time in China. Is this censorship? And why bother blocking Twitter?

Kaiser Kuo, an expert on internet use in China, said that in recent times the internet sites which are blocked in China are social media sites. "The authorities are not worried about people having access to what the rest of the world is saying, but about the ability of these tools to spread rumours very, very quickly," he said. According to him state media have alleged that social media spread misinformation and even that outsiders use social media to orchestrate violence.

China's internet population is estimated at 360 million. 124 million of those are on social networking sites. Most of the big players on the internet in China are domestic and they are large enough to monitor all content and remove anything sensitive.

Probably most of what is on social networking sites is harmless, regardless of what your opinion on a subject is. The only time that social networking becomes a problem is when content is contrary to one's ideas/ideology/interpretation of ethics. Ethically speaking, then, is it o.k. to post anything you want to post, even if it offends someone else? Is it ethical to stop some one posting if you are offended by their post? For the benefit of the many should there be free and equal access to posting on the internet and social networking sites?

It is impossible to please all the people all the time. But when the government decides to stop access we have a situation on inequality. One part of the "formula" is much more powerful than the other. Governments should not be intruding on people's access to social networking sites.

Where would it stop? Next thing you won't be allowed to demonstrate outside a government building on public property!

Sources for this post:

Branigan, T. (Nov. 23, 2009). Twitter ye not. The Guardian.

Monday, November 16, 2009 New Media Meets Gaeilge (Irish)

We launced yesterday at the Mayo Science Fair in The Traveller's Friend Hotel in Castlebar.

The Mayo Education Centre launched one of it's recent projects yesterday as a part of the Mayo Science Fair. I was invited to be a part of the event and therefore I introduced many young budding bloggers to the world of blogging as Gaeilge (through the language of Irish).

The blog is live at and it is a very easy step-by-step process.

The idea is to engage the language in a fun way that is not "academically" emphasised on the surface but is obviously educational covertly. (There may be a contradiction there - but y'know what I mean).

Each month until next march there will be two prizes of 50E awarded for good (the best) blogs.

So there you go. New technology plus economic prizes, being used to encourage our youth to engage with new technology through the medium of the Irish language.

Now, how else can we use new technology for other positive humanistic projects?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Paying for News Content.

I was listening to the radio on my journey home from my first teaching post in Ireland (will blog about it later) yesterday evening when the discussion turned to reactions at Rupert Murdoch's idea to charge for online news content.

This is an interesting topic as newspaper businesses are disappearing frequently because of a lack of advertising revenue. The presumption is that the revenue is being lost to online advertisers. And the business model of online content economy has not yet come of age.

I remember "many moons ago" a friend of mine saying that "they" could never charge us for access to the Internet but I was skeptical and I suppose a little cynical of the probability of free Internet access for all for ever. I was proven correct. It took a while but online connectivity was improved and as it did the providers of this improvement charged us for "high speed" and broadband and satellite connections. Really, it only makes sense in a capitalist society that we pay for what we receive.

I have thought for some time now that online news content would get to the point where it will be paid for. I thought too that many of the newspapers who would fail would, by their absence, create greater demand for the survivors therefore making them more valuable and economically viable when they place a price on their material.

Some papers have always charged for their content but they may have been looking on their online service as keeping up with the times and providing options rather than changing their economic model altogether.

As one person on the radio last evening said, "Content is king." It is. But only if we can sell that content and only if we can sell the idea that "good content" is of value.

I know we could debate for ages what "good content" is. Is it Xfactor or is it the Berlin Wall or is it the recession/depression? Frankly - what is news? It is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. The audience will once again be fragmented to specifics and the advertising will be directed specifically and therefore the economic model in this capitalist society will, once again, work. "Newspapers" will survive.

One comment on the radio about Murdoch's idea was that his intention is simply to get the discussion out in the open and by doing this the public are being prepared for the onslaught of "pay for content."

Sounds a little like the old days of newspapers.