2021/02/02

Evolution of Hyper-partisanship in Media & Politics

Thesis

Have we just seen the End Game of US Capitalism and Democracy with the Republican Party not prepared to criticise, condemn or call to account a President who actively sought to overthrow a pillar of Government and backed an attempt to decapitate the Congress, to have killed the whole of the elected line of succession?

Elsewhere, this would be a grand Coup, with the perpetrator immediately removed from power and imprisoned. In sections of the US media, this is lauded and applauded, the antithesis of Democratic principles and responsible reporting.

The problem with the "American Disease" is that "where the USA goes, the world follows". No country is immune from copycats or the consequences of changes in US politics.

We didn't get here by accident. This was predictable, preventable and foreseeable, a consequence of well known, well tested principles.

For a century of more, our brains and psychology have been consciously exploited and used against us by those who'd you hope might have our interests at heart, but sought power or fortune for themselves and associates.

Social Media and new Media via the Internet have increased the power of this exploitation many fold, resulting in dysfunctional Government in many Western Democracies and the destabilisation of the largest, the USA.

How we 'work'

Our Brains / Minds are wired for efficiency and speed: we filter everything we perceive and think through the filters of our Beliefs then Knowledge. To quote Alan Kay [pdf], "If you don't believe it, you can't see it."

The 'unvarnished' Truth is always uncomfortable because it challenges this filtering: it jibes with our view of the World and our brains need to resolve the conflict. This internal conflict is "cognitive dissonance", a powerful agent of change, and is resolved in many ways - from attack & denial, ignoring, or 'partitioning' our world view to acceptance and 'integration' into a persons' belief system, knowledge or world view.

All of these approaches are adaptive and successful to some degree. The proof is Social & Genetic "Selection": more functional adaptions, genetic, mental or social, by definition, survive more often, while less functional, or wholly dysfunctional, adaptions lead to lower rates of survival and possibly extinguishing the trait or approach. Skills / behaviours that lead to an early death cannot be directly inheritable.

Deep Change is hard and challenging because we need to change our view of the World and, quite probably, our Beliefs as well.

People routinely die for their Beliefs, not just in Wars, Protests or Imprisonment, but in much more mundane ways: on the roads, in hospitals, on the streets, at work and at home.

The easiest example is the number of people addicted to legal drugs / activities - smoking, drinking, gambling - who would, and do, rather die than Change. Cancer & Cardiac wards see many deaths of smokers who would, or could, never quit.

The notion that we are all wired, at a basic level, to fight for survival, no matter what is only partly true. This primal survival instinct is surprisingly strong for those who've not experienced it themselves.
There's many people who know they need to change to improve some aspect of their life, even exactly how their 'choices' are destroying their lives or killing them and how they need to change to survive, yet choose to continue along the same path.

The reasons are always complex, but always revolve around being unable or unwilling to change.

Political Polarisation and Hyper-Partisanship

You're with me or against me: the rise of polarised, Black & White arguments and positions.

The Canadian, Marshall McLuhan, studied the interaction of Media on Society and vice versa, in the late 1960's formulating the maxim, "The Medium is the Message".

First came the Polarisation of the Media with the normalisation of extreme views and hyper-partisanship involving abuse, disrespect, denigration and high-emotion instead of reasoned debate, listening to other points of view and working hard to find common ground or workable solutions.

Politics became polarised and partisan because of the Media and the Media fed off the Political conflict and partisanship. This created a vicious circle, where the Media and Politics reinforced each other, feeding back via isolated "echo chambers" where people were only ever exposed to one side of an argument, inveigled to join 'a tribe' who "all thought the same (correct) way" and attacking anyone outside 'the tribe' as wrong, ignorant or uninformed.

This march to extreme, entrenched & intractable positions, sometimes on both sides, was slow, incremental and unstoppable because of the underlying principle of difference, not uniting / commonality - this was the break from the past.

Nations in the Western Democratic tradition are Common-Wealths:

they exist to increase the Common Wealth of everybody, not the few, not an elite, not just one 'tribe', group, ideology or political party. Democracies are run in the interests of everybody.

American Politics have had a guiding principle:

National Interest before Party Interests before Personal Interests.

This principle has been steadily undermined, forgotten and abandoned over the last 5 decades. To the extent that a President can, and has, without censure or consequence ignore not only all normal conventions, but black-letter law that limits his powers and actions meant to ensure public office and the public purse aren't abused and misused.

The role of 'the Internet' in creating extremists

With the rise of the modern, fast, "always connected, anywhere" Internet since 2000, the term "self-radicalised" has come into being and is used more frequently, no longer restricted to militant and extreme non-Christians, but now "home grown" white, Christian terrorists.

It's not The Internet that radicalised people, it's Social Media, specifically the "Algorithms" used select what is included or excluded in users "feeds" or offered as selections.

There are two interlocking feedback mechanisms at the root of how Social Media select what users see:

  • including "more of the same", expressed as "you've liked these in the past, here's more similar",
    • whilst excluding material and views not consistent with a user's "likes", "interests", or "preferences", usually consistent with their online social connections, directly leading to "echo chamber", or "like minded people" effects.
and
  • increasing "engagement", increasing how often people 'like', 'follow' or view items in their feed.
    • People "engage" more when they react emotionally, not logically, and engage most after having a highly emotional response.
    • This leads to a slow and inexorable march to being shown more and more extreme views and material in their feed.
    • As a person normalises a sets of views / material, their emotional reaction to those items diminishes: Social Media firm can only generate more strong responses by increasing sensational, shocking or "outrage" provoking items in a users' feed.
    • From decades of TV studies, before age 10, most children are desensitised to violence and murder. The gaming genre of "First Person Shooter" amplifies this desensitisation.

People become addicted to Social Media, suffering pain, anguish & other symptoms on withdrawal, as well gaming and other Internet Media as new Media firms better understand our Psychology and provoke automatic responses. The extreme cases are people who die while binging or engaging on-line. There's a growing genre of "the last selfie" as people are accidentally killed trying to capture their "ultimate" selfie.

This is deliberate behaviour with intentional effects by Social Media companies, designed to manipulate us into spending more time with them, consuming more of their content (because they assume copyright of the images, videos and text users post), giving up more information about ourselves and, finally, generating more revenue for them.

This should not be shocking to any adult.
This has been the modus operandi of all Advertising, especially TV, and Casinos & gambling / gaming venues for most of the 20th Century. Gambling addicts don't just happen, they are wilfully created by Gambling venues by preying upon ordinary people when they're susceptible.

"Qanon" and the 6-January insurrection & invasion of the Capitol Building were directly mediated and created by Social / Online Media. The impact on, and threat to, Western Democracies is no longer theoretical or improbable: in military terms, this is a Clear and Present Danger.

McLuhan would not be surprised at either the power of New Media or the outcomes from it's unregulated use.

There are very strong arguments to regulate Social / Online Media, Gaming Industry, Advertising & Gambling Venues to put limits on how, and how much, they can prey on customers.

The Public Interest, especially in Western Democracies, should be mandated as coming before all commercial interests or we will have exponentially increasing dysfunction, such as the Insurrection, leading to the end of Civil Society. Literally, our survival depends on it.

This same principle should apply to Food (Obesity & Diabetes epidemic), the Environment (pollution, habitat destruction, species extinction), Sustainable Energy, Manufacturing and Transport, Safe Housing and Healthcare. In our Age of Abundance, is there any reason for anyone in a Western Democracy to live in poverty or with a treatable illness?

Critically, where is the line, where does our responsibility to our Fellow Man end? Is it on arbitrary national borders, geographical boundaries or what?

Who can offer a limit on others that they'd be happy to have imposed on themselves? This is the essence of Christian Doctrine, at the heart of Western Democracies: Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you.

Free Speech and Free Markets may be basic Rights and may be the cornerstone of our financial and economic systems, but they are not, have never been without limit or Responsibility.

If the Public / Common Interest doesn't come before all political, economic and commercial interests, then what does? Who are the privileged few who we are going to gift unlimited benefits? On what grounds do they deserve this gift?

Politics

Trump in the USA and BrExit in the U.K. can be traced directly to hyper-partisanship in Politics led by the the Extreme Right capturing the Conservative right and leading to escalating and complementary responses from other groups, even some Progressive / liberal groups.

"Political Debate" has devolved to personal attack, shouted abuse, paranoia & populism, unabashed lying, denial, deflection, distraction and "the Big Lie". The zenith demonstrated first by Trump winning the Republican Party nomination, then his election campaign leading to uncontrolled, escalating behaviours as 45th President.

New double-speak phrases arose in this fact-free, unaccountable world: "Alternative Facts", "Fake News", "Enemy of the People", "Very fine people on both sides", "people are saying"

FCC "Fairness Doctrine" est 1949, abandoned in 1987 under Reagan & his "Deregulated Free Market" approach, leading in part to "Political Polarisation", due to a perceived“chilling effect” upon Freedom of Speech with Cable & Satellite networks claiming exemption. Like many things, it's a complex issue.

  • required broadcast licensees to both present controversial issues of public importance and
  • to do so in a manner that was honest, equitable, and balanced.
    • with subjects of Editorials, or perceived unfair attacks, given the Right of Reply.
    • candidates for Public Office given equal air-time.


Schooling: without fluency in the current Information Tools, how are people supposed to use them well and wisely. To avoid falling for conmen and charlatans, to discern real vs 'fake' news or information?

The failure of general US public school system to teach well and prepare young people for their adult lives, directly gave rise to the current Polarised, hyper-partisan culture and politics.

Qanon: "Research it for yourself": False premise, these people know how to do good 'research'.

but if people aren't taught at school how to do research, how to critically assess what they see and hear, and importantly the "quality" of the source - 

=> Fox News, Pushing the extreme right political & economic ideology of Murdoch. Amplified by other media reporting their most outrageous comments. 1.5M subscribers and $1B revenue - with a much larger impact.

-> Trump's autocratic, demagoguery accepted, amplified and normalised on Fox News.

=> Tabloid Journalism and "Race to the Bottom": Sensationalism, pandering to prejudice, fears & paranoia of audiences.

=> Republican Party has been corrupted by hyper-partisanship and holding onto power with Senate being a road-block to legislation for decades: "Power at any Cost, Unquestioning Loyalty to Ours, Uncritical Demonisation, attacks and denigration of 'Others'" demonstrated by their unflinching resolve to not impeach #45 regardless of evidence (Russian 2016 Interference) or unequivocal incitement to attack them personally with the possibility of decapitating the entire Congressional Line of Succession.

Normalisation of "Common Sense" and "You just know it's true", alongside distrusting and questioning Expert Opinion and Advice, leading to rejection of the Science of Climate Change without rational cause.

People are proudly "Anti-Expert". What the?!?!?!

The mass perversion of "Christianity". "The love of money is the root of all Evil".

The "Great American Dream", the "opportunity for prosperity and success for everyone" has devolved into greed and a desire for riches, leading to just three of 300 million people controlling or owning half the assets in the USA, and one thousandth of the population owning 80% of its assets.

For a notionally religious, Christian country, this state of affairs where "avarice beyond dreams" is accepted and unremarked seems contradictory.

Why FOSS: standing on the Shoulders of Giants

In response to a great run-down of "Why FOSS" - standing on the Shoulders of Giants.

Loved the Daniel Pink video: life & work aren't only about Profit at any cost.

longer version at: http://stevej-on-it.blogspot.com/2016/11/why-open-source-google-facebook-amazon.html

Humans in groups benefit more from general co-operation than competing fiercely all the time.
Competition creates 'challenge' and prevents complacency and laziness - it's not a bad thing in itself.

But competition comes with downsides:
  it's economically 'inefficient', re-inventing the wheel repeatedly.
  In Engineering terms, everyone reinvents the wheel, repeating some, not all, mistakes
    and no one group ever learns all the 'good' things. Until they merge or are bought up...

Monopolies, or Oligopolies, actively suppress competitors, reduce diversity and multiply costs to consumers.
They may be 'private', but they are anti-competitive and economically disastrous for the markets they hold captive.
Think "Too Big to Fail" and the 2008 global financial crash to understand it's more than just goods affected.

Open Source actively prevents the worst outcomes & encourages the best that Capitalism has to offer: competition of ideas, sharing of Information and knowledge and building on the work of others.

Open Source scales, encourages invention, diversity, novelty & rewards innovation, hard work & risk taking.
It actively prevents asymmetric rewards and 'winner takes all'.

This is capitalism in action. It's mass competition within truly free markets.

Open Business _is_ risky: you can't be complacent or stop Putting the Customer First.
A simplistic analysis might brand Open Source "socialist", but it is the precise opposite.
Open Source underpins fierce, wide-spread competition, while allowing customers needs to be met.
Open Source truly levels the playing field, allowing anyone to earn money based on merit not an inherited position or privilege.

Open Source is an unfamiliar model to many:
  it's fierce competition, that embraces sharing, egalitarian market access and equitable rewards for work.

It's the Epitome of Adam Smith's Free Market, not anything else.
Sharing source code removes information-based market distortions: all sellers and buyers have full market information.

Google, Facebook and Amazon got huge on the back of Open Source and actively contribute their work back.
Notably, not _all_ their work, but key parts.

These big Internet companies have huge turnovers, have made their shareholders rich and are known for being fiercely competitive. Their success is based on Open Source & they know this: actively supporting developers & projects.

To characterise their commercial success as solely due to Open Source, or within the reach of every 2-person start-up is wrong. For every super-large Open Source business, there are tens of thousands of failed startups, thousands of short-lived businesses, hundreds of sustainable mid-scale businesses and a large community of individuals that share and benefit in the work over time.

Open Source is driven in the short-term by profits or altruism funded by research grants or personal interest and exertion.

In the long-term, we know from Google, Facebook et al (& foundations like 'Apache' and 'GNU'/'FSF'), that money is the fuel for Open Source development: and it's mainly contributed 'in kind' by big corporates acting in their own commercial interests.

IBM, HP, Redhat & Canonical/ubuntu, even Intel and Microsoft, collectively spend billions each year on software & testing they seemingly 'just' give away. For them, this is not philanthropy, it's a hard-nosed business investment that repays itself many-fold.

If large Corporations at the heart of the US economy think Open Source makes financial, business and marketing sense, then what is everyone else missing?

Money makes the world go round and Open Source generates stunningly large sales and profits for those smart enough to embrace it and realise it confers a competitive advantage.
It's just good business.

2021/01/31

Scott Morrison vs Google

Let's not beat around the bush, this latest draft legislation is a "Fox News Tax", nothing less.

Consider:
  • The Flow of Value
    • Google, even with 96% share of "Search", gains no revenue from collecting, indexing, curating & presenting "news" content. It's a Free service, a true 'loss leader'.
    • Aus Media sites, esp newspapers, gain significantly from the massive amount of traffic flow ('clicks') driven to their sites.
  • Google & Facebook do not compete in the Advertising segment, Classifieds, where Aus newspapers lost 92% of their revenue since 2002, when Google entered the new segment, online advertising market.
  • The impact on Aus Newspapers if Google withdraws from Australia, or simply stops indexing Aus Media sites.
    • Newspapers will lose traffic (= page views = revenue) immediately, until perhaps, other search engines take over.
    • No Media or newspaper will increase their revenue from Display or Classified Ads if Google withdraws. 

Foreign Political Interference

Rupert Murdoch is a Foreign citizen, yet isn't just allowed to own media all across Australia, isn't confined to one media type, print, he's allowed to dominate - even monopolise - large media markets: News Ltd are the only daily newspapers in multiple Capital Cities and along with Nine-Fairfax come close to an effective media monopoly with 80-90% of readers/viewers in most media markets.

Murdoch's holdings alone account for at least two-thirds of Capital City and National newspaper "circulation", the most politically influential market.

Since 1972, Murdoch's media holdings have taken a vociferously, even violently, anti-ALP stance. In a global media empire with a decidedly Extreme Right bias and a reputation for editors being fired for not toeing "the party line", protestations of "Editorial Independence" are meaningless and hollow. All Murdoch's media holdings operate as his personal mouthpiece, even anonymously publishing his opinions.

In his personal tweets, Murdoch is uncompromisingly anti-ALP, anti-"left" / anti-"progressive. The editorial stance of News Ltd and Sky News is consistent with Murdoch's personal views.

Murdoch's father, Keith Sr, was a founder of the highly secretive, ultra-Right Wing lobbyist grop, IPA ("Institute of Public Affairs", self-styled as "the voice for freedom since 1943"). Murdoch continues to be closely associated with the IPA, who use their platform to directly, or via the media, influence politicians at every level, even openly "suggesting" 100 policies (first 75, another 25) for Tony Abbott as PM, to reverse Gough Whitlam's policies from decades earlier, now part of bedrock of Australian society. The number of IPA policies Abbott "ticked off" should concern anyone interested in an Open & Transparent Democracy, unpinned by free and fair elections, not run by shadowy, "faceless men" in back rooms, doing deals with mates.

There were strict "Foreign Interference" laws introduced for elections, but seemingly don't apply to a Foreigner with effective media monopolies across Australia, who's blatantly and unabashedly pushed hyper-partisan Right-Wing editorial policy for the last 16 federal elections on the trot.

Just for good measure, Murdoch's media in Australia pays almost no tax here, alone has had multiple multi-million grants, without public reasons, from the Federal Government to support it. While in 2014, the Abbott Government directed the ATO to "rebate" News Ltd $882 million after a long running $2 billion law suit.

Problems with the Proposed "Tax"

The idea of taxing somenot all, online advertising businesses and arbitrarily transferring those taxes to some (large) private companies should ring alarm bells. There is no precedent for this type of anti-"Robin Hood" tax transfer in any Western Democracy.

Once this tax transfer mechanism is established, where does it end? Will Gerry Harvey ask for a cut of Kogan, e-Bay and gumtree revenues? 

How is this even legal, taxing selected entities for the enrichment of particular commercial concerns?
There seems no basis for selecting recipients, other than "Have a Go, Get a Go".

There's two other elements that the current draft legislation does not address:
  • the mechanism limited to "news" by journalists, does not scale to other content creators who have no means to charge fairly for their work. This should be a universal micro-payments scheme, open to all content creators equally. 
    • The Copyright Council already collect and distribute fees for use of many types of copyright material. The concept of "fair compensation" for Intellectual Property is already well established & tested, yet ignored by this highly targeted, highly selective and asymmetrical proposal.
  • The scheme does not recognise Copyright or help to enforce any sort of Content Classification system. There is no way to discern "original news content" from "newswire material" or "edited media releases", let alone opinion pieces, sports or entertainment commentary. Or various types of restricted material, including pornography.
    • HTML has "meta" tags, meant for exactly this purpose.
    • The obvious technical implementation is for Content Creators to "tag" their pages, allowing Aggregators and Search Engines to automatically process it, and if required, pay for "using" it.
    • The same technical solution of tagging content, especially "Adult Material", would make the operation of a National "black list" trivial - all untagged content is assumed to be "restricted". In parallel, it'd be possible to provide specific User X.509 certificates allowing access to "Adult Material" in Australia.

Just the Facts

Google didn't steal revenue from newspapers

There's any amount of hysterical 'reporting' in the mass media proclaiming, with no basis in fact, that if Google & Facebook don't acquiesce to this tax, it will be "the end of democracy" as we know it.

The economic analysis firm, AlphaBeta, has released a comprehensive report on the "Australian Media Landscape", specifically addressing the evolution of Google's on-line advertising versus print advertising from 2002 to 2018, plus 2017-2020 data for preferred method of consuming news.

Since 2002, when Google entered the advertising market here, the whole market has nearly doubled.
So what could News Ltd and friends in print media stand to gain, if their business had grown commensurately?

Which is the point. 
News Ltd advertising revenue has collapsed and they are looking to the Government to tax Google for them.

While the rest of the Australian Advertising Industry has gone ahead in leaps and bounds, newspaper revenues have declined by ~30%.

But this wasn't Google "eating their lunch".

92%, $1.3B of $1.4B, of the collapse of Australian newspaper revenues is in an advertising segment that Google (and Facebook) don't even participate in: 

Classified Adverts: the sort that individuals use to advertise their car, boat, old computer or house.

The same revenue stream that Murdoch himself once referred to as "Rivers of Gold", yet collapsed under his stewardship.

Google invented a whole new class of advertising:

tied directly to the content, selected and served in real-time and often finely targeting the individual.

Mass media - radio, TV and print, by definition "fixed" and "uncustomised", have never been able to come close to this level of targeting or reporting outcomes to buyers of advertising.

It's irrational and faulty logic to argue that "Google increased their advertising revenue and newspapers lost out, therefore, Google 'stole' their business". That's false attribution.

In 2000, the mass media companies understood that "The Internet" was going to change Sales and Advertising from traditional "physical" or off-line models. Online Sales have boomed and alongside that, so has the new online Advertising.

Australia Post has ridden this boom in Online Sales, vigorously competing with other private courier companies. It's proof that "Old" model businesses are able necessarily to transition to new business models.

In 2000, those mass media companies were flush with cash. They had all the time, money and resources to not just participate in these new markets, but to leverage their existing customer base and their loyalty, into the new on-line world. There is no good commercial reason for Mass Media companies to have not translated to the new, online advertising world and to fail to leverage their existing customer bases.

If Newspapers are owed restitution, then by whom?

The bias and irrationality of this proposal is clear when looking at the segment that lost everything over the last 15 years: print directories were $1.2B segment in 2002 and have since disappeared.

Why hasn't the government, Productivity Commission, ACCC or News Ltd & Nine-Fairfax mentioned fair restitution for print directories? If any industry segment is deserving of compensation, it's the one that's been obliterated by online services.

The AlphaBeta data & analysis clearly shows that Newspapers over the last 15 years presided over the collapse of their own business. They had the Means, Motive and Opportunity to translate from major players in "Old" Advertising to being the major on-line Advertisers.

The collapse of the Print Media business model is solely due to their failure to compete in an open marketplace. The disruption in their business model wasn't due to a change in licenses, like the Dairy or fishing industries, others ignoring the law, like ride-share, nor leveraging a monopoly, like Windows, but the very definition of competition on a level-playing field. This is no precedent for businesses, large or small, to be compensated for failing to be competitive.

Contrary to assertions in government reports to the contrary, in 2002 Google was not the dominant online advertiser. In 2002, Google was a young upstart business with little revenue and zero profits. Google's business and future in 2002 was anything but certain, against the Big Media Players, who had always been very good investments, with deep pockets and a seemingly certain future.

It is simply incorrect to characterise Google, who worked hard to attract 96% of search requests in 2018, as a dominant and highly-funded operation in 2002, or even the decade leading up to 2018.

The majority of lost print media revenue came from the move of Classifieds from print to online. If anyone had the foresight and capability to build a comprehensive Online Classifieds system for Australia, it was the Trading Post and the large print media operations. Yet they sat on their laurels.

We've seen Shareholder Class Actions for lesser reasons in Australia. Perhaps those who've been suckered by the indolence and incompetence of the Mass Media companies might now take a renewed interest.

I'm at a loss as to why Print Media, who sat idly by as their self-described "Rivers of Gold" were taken from them by Cheaper, Better, Faster on-line alternatives, are owed anything. Why should Google and Facebook be targeted when they don't even compete in that market segment?

Since when do businesses in a Free Market Capitalist system have the right to a tax or levy on competitors who've beaten them fairly & squarely in the market place?

Irony upon Irony

It's more than a little ironic that the heroic supported of The Free Market, Rupert Murdoch - as we know from his association and accolades from the IPA, has somehow contrived to create a law that penalises those who win in equitable deregulated market competition and rewards Murdoch's businesses for failing to compete.

The ultimate test of the "Google stole my lunch" theory is if they leave Australia, will Print Mass Media fortunes be magically reversed? Absolutely not - because Google & Facebook didn't take their Classifieds revenue.

I guess this is the central question to ask Murdoch and his Political Allies:

What does "the Free Market" mean if the Government can swoop in and tax legitimate winners who's only crime is out competing sluggards, then transferring their hard won profit to those who lost?

Google wasn't issuing a threat when it said its business model could not support paying an unfair, unjust and undeserved tax. It was stating a business reality. For anyone without full access to its books and Business Plans to say otherwise is being presumptuous, disingenuous and mendacious.

Nobody but Google knows their financial position and the strength of their position. Any politician or arm of government to presume this was a "threat", not a statement of fact, is being foolish in the extreme. The stakes for Australian business are very high and should be idly disregarded for some imagined political benefit.

The only people issuing 'threats with menaces' and attempting to bully others is Morrison and his band of unaccountable ministers.



Graphics from AlphaBeta Report

Australian media landscape trends

Newspaper revenues have declined



Online search revenues have grown

Australian newspaper revenues 2002-2018


Australian newspaper revenues 2002 vs 2018

Australian advertising revenues 2002 vs 2018


Classified advertising revenues, print newspaper vs online

Online search, display and classified advertising revenues totalled $8.5B in 2018

Online search advertising revenues - estimate of sources

Net readership of Australian newspapers 2002 vs 2018

Preferred method of consuming news in Australia 2017 - 2020





2018/07/23

FMAA s44, now PGPA s 15, 'proper use':

The Financial Management and Accountability Act (FMAA) was replaced by the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act  (PGPA)

Department of Finance administers the Act.

Resource Management glossary - proper use

Efficient, effective, economical and ethical use or management of public resources.
For the accountable authority of a non-corporate Commonwealth entity, proper use and management of public resources means behaving, taking action and making decisions in a way that is not inconsistent with the policies of the Australian Government in accordance with sections 15 and 21 of the PGPA Act.
Related glossary terms
Last updated: 13 January 2016

2016/11/27

Why Open Source? Google, Facebook, Amazon & Netflix can tell you: makes you money.

A long comment I had to cut down in response to this post on Open Source. Highly recommended.

Cameron,

Very good run-down of 'Why FOSS" - standing on the Shoulders of Giants.
Where bugs become either a Shared problem or "Other People's", not a killing 'tarpit'.

Loved the Daniel Pink video:
  we're not just about Survival and Profit at any cost.


2014/07/12

RAID++ and Storage Pools: Leveraging GPT partitions for Asymmetric Media Logical Volumes. Pt 1.

This is an exploration of addressing Storage problems posed by directly connected or (ethernet) networked drives, not for SAN-connected managed disks served by Enterprise Storage Arrays.

The Problem

One of the most important features of the Veritas Logical Volume Manager (LVM) circa 1995 was the ~1MB disk label that contained a full copy of the LVM information of the drive/volume and allowed drives to be renamed by the system of physically shuffled, intentionally or not.

Today we have a standard, courtesy UEFI, for GUID Partition Tables (GPT) of Storage Devices supported by all major Operating Systems. Can this provide similar, or additional capability?

2014/07/10

RAID++ and Storage Pages: We may be asking the wrong questions

The implied contract between Storage Devices, once HDD's only, and systems is a rather weak one.
Storage Devices return blocks of data on a "Best Efforts" basis, failure & error handling are minimalist or non-existent.
There's no implicit contract with the many other components that are now needed to move data off the Storage Device and into Memory, HBA's, cables, adaptors, switches etc. The move to Ethernet and larger Networks compounds the problem: networks are not nearly error-free. This matters when routinely moving around Exabytes and more: errors and failures are guaranteed for any human-scale observation period.

Turning this weak assurance into usable levels of Reliability and Data Durability is currently left to a rather complex set of layers, which can have subtle & undetectable failure modes or in "Recovery" mode, have unusably poor performance and limited or no resilient against additional failures. We need to improve our models to move past current RAID schemes to routinely support thousands of small drives and new Storage Class Memory.

Scaling Storage to Petabyte and Exabyte sized Pools of mixed technologies needs some new thinking.
New mixed technologies now provide us with multiple Price-Size-Performance components, requiring very careful analysis to optimise Systems against owner criteria.

There is no one true balance between DRAM, PCI-Flash, SSD's, fast-HDD, slow-HDD and near-line/off-line HDD or tape and Optical Disk. What there is, is a willingness of an owner to pay. Presumably they have a preference to pay enough, but not significantly more, for their desired or required "performance", either as "response time" latency or "throughput". Very few clients can afford, or need, to store everything in DRAM with some sort of backup system. It's the highest performance and highest priced solution possible, but is only necessary or desirable in very constrained problems.

DRAM is around $10/GB, Flash and SSD about $1/GB and HDD's from $0.04 to $0.30/GB for raw disk.

Here's a possible new contract between Storage Devices and Clients/Systems:
Data is returned Correct, Complete and Verifiable, in whole or part, between the two Endpoints.

2014/06/22

RAID++: So, you cant afford the extra cost of Data Protection at $0.10-$0.20 per GB?

Summary: You and your business probably now depend on computers and smartphones/tablets for most of your daily work and other activities. If you don't pay up-front to protect your data, you'll pay for it many times over at a later date, when, not if, you have a drive fail and lose all data.

When data is $0.20/GB (or even $1/GB) and wages are $35-60/hour and it will take a minimum of 1 day to reconstruct data, more likely a week+, spending a little money up-front for Data Protection seems prudent to me.

The 1987 Berkeley RAID paper was written at a time few people had PC's and storage cost $40,000/GB in current dollars. The economics of swapping space for computation were compelling at the time, nowdays, very few people have even$1,000 invested in Disk Storage, let alone $250,000.

Good desktops or laptops are now available in $500-$1,000 range, with Commodity Drives costing $0.04-$0.10/GB and Enterprise Drives from $0.12-$0.65/GB, and more for high-spec variants. Times are very different: raw prices have fallen 500,000, Bit Error Rates (BER/UBER) are up ~100 times, Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) have increased 10-100 fold,  raw read/write rates have increased 100-300 times, while access times (rotation & seek) are 2-5 times different. As is estimated disk utilisation: at some point after 2000 the average drive went for 90%-100% full to ~75%, at least for Desktops. This suggests that drives are now "Big Enough" and not a System Constraint, at least not for Capacity. The advent of affordable, large Flash Memory with reasonable read/write speeds and uniform access times has removed one of the big constraints of storage: random I/O per second.

Researching RAID designs, I was surprised by I.T. Professionals and home users alike, that baulk at the cost of reasonable Data Protection, even $100 for a single USB drive plus a 4-drive NAS unit is definitely "too expensive" (<$1,500). Do they have such volumes of data that the cost of extra drives is overwhelming? Or is the data worth so little, or cost so little, that it's not worth protecting?

2014/06/20

Recruiting FAIL: Update with ITCRA documents

I've put on-line the follow-up documents [links below fold] I received from ITCRA on my complaint, lodged in Aug/Sep 2012 and apparently resolved before Christmas that year. I have on record, because almost all my interactions have been via email, that I wasn't informed on the lack of Natural Justice until around six months after I lodged my grievance.

I was given an undertaking that a) ITCRA would write a Case Study from my complaint, in lieu of informing me of their determinations and actions taken, and b) I would be sent a copy.

A year on, Dec 2013, I enquired after the Case Study. My guess from the delay is that it'd never been written, as promised in writing.

It was only in February this year, 2014, that I received that Case Study.
In a separate email I was informed that the Agent had been dismissed over this matter, presumably in late December 2012.

2014/06/19

Recruiting FAIL: The Gap between Promise and Reality

Following from my own problems with recruiters, a mate sent me the following unsatisfying exchange with a "recruiting" agent, from a supposedly specialist firm.

If you're looking for work, you'll be only too familiar with this mechanical approach where they don't even both to look at your CV and confirm there's a hint of a match.

If you're hiring, this is death. The High Priced Agency might send you warm bodies, but they've done less than you'd want, and possibly would like to believe.

This led me to spending some time researching these "experts".

It's a public company in the UK that sells franchises all around the world - they claim 67 locations and 2,500 staff.
To investors, they claim "high value, high margin". They make a motza out of the suckers on both sides of the table - just look at their financials.

Rummaging around in the company and business names registry and you don't find nearly the entities widely claimed on-line. Is that a problem under the Trade Practice Act (1974) now ACL (2010) part of the CCA (2010) or could someone just register those names and sue them for using them? This is why we have "Hungry Jacks" not "Burger King" burgers. Someone didn't register the names across Australia.

Dig even a little and you find stuff you'd rather not know. A formal warning from ACMA over spamming, a Fairwork complaint on unfair dismissal which doesn't just question the judgement of managers, but makes a case for the employee being consistently 'loose with the truth'.

Then there's the reviews by clients... A few "5-star" ratings, some which read like they were purchased from a sweat-shop in India, others that jibe totally with the rest.

Oh, and one of the original principals who's now worth tens of millions of dollars after the 2005 float is best described as "colourful", four wives, lots of bling and a sting operation for cocaine use.


Date: 19 June 2014
Subject: Re: UX Designer contract role
To: recrutier@progressiverecruitment.com
Dear XXXX,
With respect, the problem with most I.T. recruiting agencies is just this - a data mining program trolled the 1000's of CV's that you have online and sent me this "opportunity". If you took the time to read my resume, perhaps schedule a face to face interview, get to know me, my skills, my strengths and weaknesses, shared a cup of tea, a Skype meeting, maybe then you would be motivated to get me something that I am more suited too.
This is the problem - the gap between the many people with the skills and the actual work has been filled with huge "talent agencies" and programs developed by the likes of myself. Programs that perhaps don't reflect a person's skills or character.
I have HP-UX on my resume, NOT UX. Perhaps I could do this job with proper coaching, but would you actually take the time to read my resume and find out? Give me some Skype time?
[snip]
I realize costs have been cut world wide in a lot of industries but this whole process adds a layer of complexity that I find fraustrating. How many times a day do I need to update my resume with "keywords"? before I actually get an interview with you, then maybe the other two people and then the test?
I've been with your agency for over 2 years, maybe longer. I have applied for:
  • Unix / Linux System Administration (the buzz word is "Engineer" or "Designer" these days)
  • Windows Server Administration 2003, 2008, 2012 - one year relevant experience
  • CISCO CCNA 2 Network Admin Certificate - with 2 1/2 years relevant experience managing a LAN / WAN and its hardware (modems, routers, cabling, switches, etc)
  • Experience with all workstations - 15 years of experience building, troubleshooting, designing, managing.
  • AMD and Intel architecture hardware - 4 years of in depth knowledge that makes me as good as at least a 1st year apprentice electronics technician
  • iphones, android phones - very good knowledge
  • Virtual machines - very good - set up at least 15
  • Scripting in Perl and Shell - very good
  • Programming in Visual Basic and C++ - good
  • Database scripting (MySql) - good
[snip]
Sincerely,
BP

Hi B, 
I Hope you have been well. 
Are you looking for an exciting 3-6 month contract opportunity in the UX design space? 
My client is looking for a UX Designer who will need to work on an old product that needs re-vamping. As the sole UX Designer you will design, lead, and analyze end user needs and leverage the findings into site architectures, Wire-frames, and functional specification documentation for web sites and applications. The UX designer will collaborate closely with a product manager and developers to create the best possible user experience. 
[snip]
If this sounds like you please register your immediate interest by sending through your updated CV and a link to your portfolio/creative work. 
Kind regards,
XXXX
Progressive ICT

Business Names Search
https://connectonline.asic.gov.au/RegistrySearch/faces/landing/bn/SearchBnRegisters.jspx?_adf.ctrl-state=ig8ji303r_13

ORGTEL, TAS BN01642042, Registration Date 01/10/2009
http://www.search.asic.gov.au/cgi-bin/gns030c?acn=139699148&juris=9&hdtext=&srchsrc=1

Name STHREE AUSTRALIA PTY LIMITED
ACN 126 409 103
ABN 86 126 409 103
Registration Date 06/07/2007
http://www.search.asic.gov.au/cgi-bin/gns030c?acn=126409103&juris=9&hdtext=ACN&srchsrc=1

Current details for ABN: 86 126 409 103, ACN: 126 409 103
STHREE AUSTRALIA PTY LIMITED, from 1-Dec-2007
HUXLEY ASSOCIATES, Business Name
http://abn.business.gov.au/SearchByAbn.aspx?StartSearch=True&SearchText=126409103

Name: STHREE AUSTRALIA PTY LIMITED
ACN: 126 409 103
ABN: 86 126 409 103
Registration date: 6/07/2007
Next review date: 6/07/2014
Former name(s): PROGRESSIVE RECRUITMENT PTY LIMITED

NOTE: There are no current entity, trading or business name registered in Australia besides "SThree Australia" and "Huxley Associates". Claims that the other entities are "Trading Divisions" within Australia can only be internal accounting arrangements, not backed by any formal entity or registration.

Only in Tasmania is there a registered trading name: "Orgtel."


Progressive GE (Global Energy)
http://www.progressivege.com/about-us
http://www.progressivege.com/company-details

Progressive Recruitment
http://www.progressiverecruitment.com/about-us
http://www.progressiverecruitment.com/company-details

Huxley Associates
http://www.huxley.com/company-details

Real Staffing
http://www.realstaffing.com/company-details


SThree info.
http://www.sthree.com/about-us/our-philosophy

SThree on Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SThree

SThree History via Archive.org. Started 1986 as "Computer Futures", Taken Public in 2005.
https://web.archive.org/web/20130207013722/http://www.sthree.com/en/page/history/

SThree Investment Case: High Value, High Margin
https://web.archive.org/web/20130207013827/http://www.sthree.com/en/page/investment_case/

Live site
http://www.sthree.com/investors/investment-case

SThree global businesses
http://assets.sthree.com/legal/SThree_Group_Companies.htm


Gary Goldsmith, one of original owners of "Computer Futures". Described as "Colourful.
http://www.express.co.uk/news/royal/378060/Duchess-of-Cambridge-s-very-colourful-uncle

Treffry v SThree Australia Pty Ltd [2013] FWC 3697.
Odd behaviour by both employee and company is specifically commented upon.
http://www.vta.vic.edu.au/docs/News/HR%20Update%20August%202013.pdf
Senior Deputy President (SDP) Boulton found that there was a valid reason for terminaton statng that “there is evidence of dishonesty which was premeditated, preconceived, and which was perpetuated, even after it had been challenged by SThree and that Mr Treffry was warned about possible disciplinary acton”. Further to that, he noted that given the relatvely short period of employment, being about one year and three months, the fact that the conduct of Mr Treffry was clearly dishonest, it would have the potental to undermine the trust and confidence which is necessary in the employment relatonship. SDP Boulton did have some reservatons as to whether the terminaton might be correctly characterised as being one for serious misconduct. “In any event, I am not satsfied that the characterisaton of the terminaton as being for serious misconduct would be such as to outweigh all the other consideratons which have led to the conclusion that the terminaton of Mr Treffry’s employment was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable”.

ACMA, 2012. Formal Warning under Spam Act issued to SThree Australia
http://152.91.62.26/Industry/Marketers/Anti-Spam/Ensuring-you-dont-spam/sydney-businesses-failed-to-comply-with-spam-act-i-acma
http://www.acma.gov.au/webwr/_assets/main/lib410040/sthree_australia-s41_formal_warning-6jan2012.pdf


Progressive Recruitment Specialists Reviews - www.progressive.co.uk
http://www.reviewcentre.com/reviews132341.html
http://www.reviewcentre.com/r132341_2_Progressive_Recruitment_Specia.html



Business Names search - '126409103'
Business Names search - '126 409 103'
Business Names search - 'STHREE AUSTRALIA PTY LIMITED'
Organisations & Business Names search - 'STHREE AUSTRALIA PTY LIMITED'



Business name: ORGTEL
Status: Registered
Registration date: 1/10/2009
Renewal date: 1/10/2015
Address for service of documents: Level 9 1 Market St Sydney NSW 2000
Principal place of business: Level 9 1 Market St Sydney NSW 2000
Holder Name: STHREE AUSTRALIA PTY LIMITED
Holder Type: Body Corporate
ABN: 86 126 409 103

Former identifier: BN01642042
Former State/Territory: TAS



Business name: PROGRESSIVE RECRUITMENT
Status: Cancelled
Registration date: 21/01/2008
Renewal date: 21/01/2011
Cancelled date: 21/01/2011

Former identifier: B2068812U
Former State/Territory: VIC



Business name: COMPUTER FUTURES
Status: Cancelled
Registration date: 10/11/2009
Renewal date: 10/11/2012
Cancelled date: 18/02/2011

Former identifier: BN21413800
Former State/Territory: QLD



Business name: COMPUTER FUTURES
Status: Cancelled
Registration date: 26/10/2009
Renewal date: 26/10/2012
Cancelled date: 11/03/2011

Former identifier: B2229987W
Former State/Territory: VIC



Business name: COMPUTER FUTURES
Status: Cancelled
Registration date: 4/11/2009
Renewal date: 4/11/2012
Cancelled date: 18/02/2011

Former identifier: BN01646217
Former State/Territory: TAS



Business name: COMPUTER FUTURES
Status: Cancelled
Registration date: 27/10/2009
Renewal date: 27/10/2012
Cancelled date: 10/03/2011

Former identifier: BN11447059
Former State/Territory: WA



Business name: COMPUTER FUTURES
Status: Cancelled
Registration date: 5/11/2009
Renewal date: 5/11/2012
Cancelled date: 18/02/2011

Former identifier: BN05058880
Former State/Territory: SA



Business name: COMPUTER FUTURES
Status: Cancelled
Registration date: 28/10/2009
Renewal date: 28/10/2012
Cancelled date: 24/03/2011

Former identifier: F00136100
Former State/Territory: ACT



Business name: COMPUTER FUTURES
Status: Cancelled
Registration date: 27/10/2009
Renewal date: 27/10/2012
Cancelled date: 18/02/2011

Former identifier: BN01134048
Former State/Territory: NT



Business name: COMPUTER FUTURES
Status: Cancelled
Registration date: 26/10/2009
Renewal date: 26/10/2012
Cancelled date: 9/03/2011

Former identifier: BN98463286
Former State/Territory: NSW



Business name: JP GRAY
Status: Cancelled
Registration date: 4/11/2009
Renewal date: 4/11/2012
Cancelled date: 18/02/2011

Former identifier: BN01646229
Former State/Territory: TAS



Business name: JP GRAY
Status: Cancelled
Registration date: 26/10/2009
Renewal date: 26/10/2012
Cancelled date: 11/03/2011

Former identifier: B2229974L
Former State/Territory: VIC



Business name: JP GRAY
Status: Cancelled
Registration date: 27/10/2009
Renewal date: 27/10/2012
Cancelled date: 18/02/2011

Former identifier: BN01134050
Former State/Territory: NT



Business name: JP GRAY
Status: Cancelled
Registration date: 26/10/2009
Renewal date: 26/10/2012
Cancelled date: 9/03/2011

Former identifier: BN98463284
Former State/Territory: NSW



Business name: JP GRAY
Status: Cancelled
Registration date: 28/10/2009
Renewal date: 28/10/2012
Cancelled date: 24/03/2011

Former identifier: F00136099
Former State/Territory: ACT



Business name: JP GRAY
Status: Cancelled
Registration date: 27/11/2009
Renewal date: 27/11/2012
Cancelled date: 18/02/2011

Former identifier: BN21436927
Former State/Territory: QLD



Business name: JP GRAY
Status: Cancelled
Registration date: 5/11/2009
Renewal date: 5/11/2012
Cancelled date: 10/03/2011

Former identifier: BN11453424
Former State/Territory: WA



Business name: JP GRAY
Status: Cancelled
Registration date: 5/11/2009
Renewal date: 5/11/2012
Cancelled date: 18/02/2011

Former identifier: BN05058892
Former State/Territory: SA

2014/06/15

RAID++: Erasures aren't Errors

I'm following the Communications / Transmission theory nomenclature of "Erasures" to mean drive failure ('no signal') and "Errors" to mean incorrectly sent & received symbols.

With 5,000 x 2.5" 2TB drives in a single rack, what hardware problems will we experience?
Worldwide, it's assumed a single vendor might sell 100,000 of these arrays.
  • How many read errors should we expect? "Errors"
  • How many drives will fail in a year? "Erasures"
    • I don't have numbers for other parts like fans, PSU's, boards, connectors, RAM.
    • How many RAID rebuilds?
    • How long will they take?
    • How many dual-failures might we expect?
We can use RAID-1 to set the minimum baseline {cost, performance, data-protection/data-loss} to compare other schemes against. Calculations, here.

2014/06/09

RAID++, HDD's and Ownership

The underpinning of Data Storage, especially for large Enterprises, fundamentally shifted when disk drive capacity increase dropped below 7%/year (40% in 5 years, the design-life of HDD's).

Disk Drives are now consumables, not assets, albeit with a 5-year life. The number of Enterprises with 2,000-5,000 drives in their server room and 10-50,000 drives in their desktop fleet is increasing.

I posit the following following from this:

2014/05/26

RAID and the collapse of IBM's mainframe storage business.

What were the technical and non-technical aspects of the collapse in IBM's DASD (mainframe disk) business from 1990 to 1995, from ~$9B and 80% market share to $1.5B and 35%?

2014/05/25

RAID: Timeline of IBM Disk Storage

A highly selective history of Disk Storage referenced later, focussing on IBM's contributions with some of their competition mentioned. This provides context for previous articles, on Lessons from RAID and RAID++. A good general reference is the Computer History Museum. Minicomputers and the laster Super-minicomputers aren't dealt with, although they created the conditions for the collapse of IBM's mainframe business.


Gordon Bell, while at DEC in 1972, posited "Computer Classes" [PDF, Paper on Bells Law] and how exponential technology growth affects products, markets and eventually companies. Market Disruption from "lower" classes of computers is a feature of computing history. A recent powerpoint by him on the topic.

In the 1970's, IBM dominated the computer (mainframe) industry generating more revenue that all its competitors combined. They were named "The BUNCH": Burroughs, UNIVAC, NCR, Control Data Corporation, and Honeywell.

In the 1960's it was "IBM and the Seven Dwarfs", until RCA and General Electric sold to Sperry and Honeywell respectively.

Some items are included on Software Engineering, an on-going challenge in the Industry.

2014/05/23

RAID++: Lessons from the 1990's market collapse for Large Expensive Disk Drives

Following a previous post, this is an examination of the causes of the collapse in IBM's Mainframe DASD (Direct Access Storage Device) business, from an 80% share of an $11.B market in 1990, to ~25% a decade later. (Source PDF). Notably, IBM's DASD business wasn't the only line to suddenly collapse: the Mainframe business as a whole collapsed, creating a loss across the whole business, the first since 1914.

2014/05/22

RAID++: What invention or change is needed now to take us the next 25 years?

For an industry, digital data storage, that's seen disruptions every 25 years, we're either overdue for one or The Next Revolution has arrived, but nobody's noticed.

What will the Next Big Thing in Storage look like? What, if anything, will succeed RAID, if it hasn't already? Are their lessons we can learn by examining the last big disruption circa 1990 in Storage: RAID arrays?

The one certain lesson from 1955 and 1990 is that nobody can guess, not even remotely, what Data Storage will look like in 25 years time. Any prediction of the 2040 market will be wildly inaccurate, but we can talk about current market forces and technologies and where the trends point for the next 5 and 10 years.

2014/03/30

The New Disruption in Computing

Since 2000, we've been progressively bumping into limits, or end-points, in all areas of silicon technologies. Some I've mentioned previously.

The thesis of this piece is the Next Technology Disruption is No Disruption, No Revolution:
instead of exponential growth of technologies, decreasing unit prices and increasing volume sales, we're now seeing zero or slow growth, steady or increased unit prices (especially if supply-chain is disrupted), and in all but a few market segments, sales are in decline and profits are stressed in many vendors. I believe these are linked.

2014/03/18

Microsoft, IBM and the Price of Success

Microsoft's business is now clearly "under performing" with even the Board admitting it. Steve Ballmer has finally been pushed out. The MSFT Board could've followed IBM in 1993 and appointed an outsider, but they chose an long-term insider.

The imminent "death" of Windows-XP (8-Apr-2014, free security updates end) shows, in my mind, a clear misattribution effect by Microsoft: they've confused cause and effect, that people bought their brand, not just a "standard" commodity product.

2014/01/27

Security: Healthcare, Computers and Ignorance/Inaction.

A year ago I wrote that with the then epidemic of "ransomware" attacks the Hackers had learned how to monetise remote attacks on Healthcare practices. That piece included detailed suggestions on minimum necessary practices and questions for suppliers and vendors.

2014/01/07

Now Read This: Why the Munich Open Source Conversion won't be replicated in Australia.

Whichever side of the Open Source vs Proprietary Software debate you lie on, this article is a "must read". The headline take-away is: "Our goal was 'Freedom', to become independent."
How Munich rejected Steve Ballmer and kicked Microsoft out of the city, Steve Heath, 18th Nov, 2013.