There is an old story about the original creator of the game of chess, a wily mathematician who submits his invention to the ruler of the country. Asked by the delighted queen what he would require by way of reward, the mathematician requests to be paid in gold. He proposes the queen place one single coin on the first square of the chessboard, two on the second square, four on the next, eight on the next, doubling the number of coins on each successive square up to the sixty fourth. The queen, perplexed that the mathematician would ask such
Senate Estimates committees are my favourite parliamentary obscurity, a thrice-yearly ritual of tense cross-examination and hideous boredom that runs a ragged cross-section through the state of the Australian Government in all its banal and ominous glory. Nearly every part of these hearings can be of interest, but for a number of reasons I have always got the most out of exploring the poorly mapped intersection of communications, surveillance, censorship and national security policy.
Couple of weeks ago I dipped a toe in the wilds of Reddit for the first time, hosting an Ask Me Anything for an hour and a half after Parliament had risen for the night (The thread is here http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1edbxj/i_am_scott_ludlam_australian_greens_senator_and/) There is always something faintly intimidating about finding your way in a new social network, particularly one that’s been around as long as Reddit. Unique social customs, taboos and pitfalls have evolved that you only really discover by lurking for a bit and then accidentally stumbling into them when you finally do start to play.
Web-based financial data visualisation This week is budget week, an annual ritual which seizes Canberra as the tail end of Autumn begins to give way to the sharp, beautiful winters of the capital. The gravity-well around which this chaos of Ministers, lobbyists, journalists and interest groups is orbiting, is a dense set of documents which set out the nation’s finances for the next four years.
Another chapter has opened on the internet filtering debate in Australia. You might recall a scrappy and quite effective campaign that raged from 2007 to 2010 against a Government proposal to force ISPs to block the somewhat arbitrary ‘Refused Classification’ list in Australia. On the eve of the last election, the campaign had become strong enough that Communications Minister Stephen Conroy dodged sideways and announced the issue would instead be studied by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC), effectively taking it off the table for the 2010 election.