Learning from Stephen Sutton

v2-Stephen-Sutton-CroppedPractically everyone plugged in to some form of social media will have heard of Stephen Sutton, the 19 year old teenage cancer fundraiser who died earlier today. It’s very sad news for his family and friends, and for everyone who followed his story. His life was short, but he set an exemplary example of altruism. It must have been very gratifying for Stephen knowing that years of fundraising finally paid off and that others will benefit from the £3.2m he and his supporters were able to raise for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

People who write about the social uses of the new media technologies all too often dwell on the darker side of the internet. It’s easy to see why. The utopian yearning of escaping the meat, and cruising the information superhighway en route to your electronic homestead collapsed the very moment people started waxing lyrical about them. Besides, dystopia’s cache of cool is way more beguiling than the positives the internet allows for. Then again, melancholy never built anything – something Stephen certainly realised. Continue reading

The total surveillance state is a nightmare waiting to happen

big-brother-1984Why are apparently so few people worried that a state employee can now select on a computer any item in their individual make-up – their address, phone, mobile, email, passport number, credit card number (any of them), any of their logins to a web service, etc. – and can thus access the content of their communications, who they communicate with, the full range of their internet use, their location, and a great deal else? Continue reading

Review: Cybersexism by Laurie Penny

Laurie PennyMisogyny. No other word can capture the avalanche of abuse that was heaped upon Caroline Criado-Perez, Stella Creasy, Mary Beard and other women just under a month ago. It was frightening and disturbing. Misogyny, after all, is one of those things official society thought was dealt with in the dim and distant. If women marched and protested in the 1970s, then the Spice Girls and Girl Power in the 1990s signalled women’s integration into society as equals. It was done. Women were happy working, raising families, and shopping. Just like men. The rape threats and violent language directed at the aforementioned has forced society into having a conversation it didn’t think was needed, and ask why a minority of men work to bully, harass and hound women who do have a public platform. Continue reading

Internet activism, politics and protest

keyboard "action" keyI just want to make some points about this article by Joe Rivers that has appeared on the New Statesman website.

  1. Despite its title, ‘Let’s stop pretending internet activism is a real thing’, it’s not really about that at all. I can only assume it was subbed with that heading to pick up a few Facebook likes and retweets on what is traditionally a slow day for all bloggers. But the idea the internet and social media particularly offers a facsimile of activism is absolutely nothing new. Continue reading

Leveson should not apply to the not-for-profit blogosphere

Mark Ferguson raises an important issue which has been neglected in the last minute deal-making and it is important albeit not what most politicians are currently hacked-off about — on the important question of whether the deal meets the requirement of adequate statutory backing see the Spectator or Labour List, although be warned that they broadly reflect the (convenient) stance of the Leaders of their own side. Nor is it the question of media ownership, which politicians fail to raise but Mark Seddon does so here.

The issue is the internet – to which Leveson devoted just one page in his very lengthy report, though he has since spoken about the issue. In the long run, when the importance of print mdeia diminishes, it is what matters most and it concerns not only the so-called freedom of the press (aka the unregulated freedom of the rich press barons) but the more important freedom of speech. Continue reading