February 2008

I’m putting up this post even though it’s a rehash of an idea I ran here on Dart a few months back.

The “E-Government Arcade” idea is actually a very simple one, is an effort to characterise how public servants can view their online engagement with the public.

A fairly common concern expressed by public servants when discussing how and why they would engage with the public is the fear that the internet is a completely unregulated medium. If you’re putting ideas out for discussion, or attempting to gather feedback on a project or idea, there’s the chance that you’ll end up with crazy responses and hijacking of discussion by trolls (people who deliberately obfuscate, or who deliberately make trouble online).

This is of course a completely legitimate concern. Trolls are a very real problem online. But they will only become a problem in an e-government space if you let them. 

And that’s where the arcade analogy comes in. The internet itself is almost complete anarchy. You can liken this to an open park. If you’re a band on MySpace you’re effectively a busker in a park. Anyone can walk up and abuse you, sing with you, or cheer. The rules are limited, and this makes it slightly edgy and fun.

Government bureaucracy doesn’t like this kind of space though. Bureaucracy needs order, and is naturally risk averse. You can’t have random things happening. And you can’t have people firing off in all directions. that’s where the arcade idea has application.

An arcade, or a mall, is a private space that pretends to be a public space. Everyone is welcome, but there are clear rules about what you can and can’t do. Likewise in the shops in the arcade. You’re welcome in, but everyone knows that you behave according to the rules set down by the owners.

Any public interaction set up by a government agency is in effect a “shop” within the overall ‘arcade’ of the government e-space. It is a controlled space that a member of the public needs to accept is not a place where free-for-all behaviour will be tolerated. It is also there to serve a specific purpose, and will have the same limitations as other types of channels.

If you liken the public space that is “e-government” to an arcade it makes it much more comfortable for practioners to provide clear rules and parameters for the tools they construct, and therefore makes them a lot less jumpy…

Well, this one confused me a lot. There’s been a fair bit of hubbub about the film, so I was expecting a little more.

TWBB is beautifully shot, is raw, is brutual (sometimes subtly so), seems a good portrayal of frontier life in the western USA. But… at two and a half hours makes an epic out of what is in fact a simple, and at times outright dull story.

The frustrating thing is that all the elements are there. But they never really come together to generate any kind of tension or drama at all. OK, so here we go to SPOILERS. (more…)

You know I think my advancing age means I’m rapidly becoming more cynical than I ever could have imagined?

Where once I found it easy to forgo any kind of investment in the lives of other people, I’m finding it difficult these days to not view with a slight condescension the mistakes of others. Especially when they’re making the exact same mistakes I’ve myself made in the past.

The trouble is that I know I’ve not seen it all. I’m still relatively young for christssakes. But I think I’ve seen enough to know really stupid actions when I see them (I also know that the trouble with blogging is that your readers, if they know you personally, can assume you’re talking about them. So let me immediately disclaim any one person’s actions. This is cynicism built on years of holier-than-thou arrogance, across a couple of different continents).

It’s one of those things though, innit? The human condition dictates that we have to learn everything from the ground up. As soon as we draw that breath of life we’re on a learning curve to old-age and curmudgeonly protestation.

So is this just plateauing? Am I just reaching the point where I’ve screwed up enough times to finally ascend to a level of “experienced and learned”. Fingers finally kept off the hot-plate?

Something tells me probably. Perhaps all these grey hairs (the ones which I once protested to a willing and slightly sneaky plucker were wisdom, and that I would one day have many) are finally rooted enough to bestow a moderate foresight?

And for the cynicism, perhaps all that is needed is resign myself to letting people make mistakes. It’s not my place to govern the lives of others. I am no-one’s keeper but my own, after all. Worse, it would be egotistical to think my experience is something others need, when theirs is a but a footstep waiting to be placed, on a path still unfolding before them.

Or, maybe, I’m just becoming an old coot.

Billed as “One tent, one ticket, 10 ACTS! SIDESHOW BURLESQUE as only Nana would remember. Three beauties, Gypsies if you will, perform their greatest oddities from a time long forgotten. Feathers, knives, hammers and hula hoops. Step back with us, just for a moment, you will be most pleasurably surprised!”

And indeed I was pleasurably surprised, who couldn’t be when three lithe, nubile and nimble girls bring you a feather fan dance, a can can, a quirky set with crazy umbrella tents, hypnotic hula hooping twirling, nipple tassels, a nail to the nose of a 50s housewife and much, much more! Did I mention the twirling nipple tassels?

Burlesque, I read (Wikipedia it must be true), means “in an upside down style” and aims to turn social norms on their head.  A clean freak 50s homemaker banging nails into her nose and a kebab skewer through her septum certainly conforms to this definition. 

Magenta Diamond (the 50s homemaker in question) is a gloriously nuanced performer with a number of tricks up her sleeve.  Highly watchable.

Eva Strangelove, is our dance queen for the evening and entertains with a feather fan dance and a humorous, lithe, twinkle-toed, dance with a shop dummy. 

Miss Strawberry Siren provided an aerial display, which may have lost some of its oooohhh ahhhhh effect from the small performance space that is Bats theatre and thus the proximity to the audience. It seemed effortless but also too close.  In addition to her aerial skills she is also a very bendy person, amazing to watch.

So yes, pleasantly surprised, yes, talented performers, yes, fun night, but mostly, I wanted to be teased, titillated, and teased a bit more. Instead it was straight to the chase the first act was strip tease, with far too little tease for my liking.  We were straight to the twirling nipple tassels and well, it is just hard to know where to go from there.

In search of the tease, I wonder if a rearrangement of the 10 acts would have helped create a slow burn, a build up if you will, creating a tremulous, quivering shuddering, that is then released in an explosion of…. Oh darlings, I forget myself!

Definitely go, these ladies are divinely talented and can only get better.  Be in quick as there are only two more shows at Bats, tonight and tomorrow.

Pretty much as soon as this film had kicked off I knew that I recognised the voice of the main guy. I’ve got two albums by The Frames, and have been a fan since listening to Glen Hansard do an interview on 3RRR in Melbourne.

Once is a romance between two musically talented, like-minded down-and-outers in Dublin, Ireland. It starts with their early encounters, and progresses as they hang out together and get to know one another, their families, and their backgrounds.

It’s a charming film, and a must-see if you’re a fan of music. But… be warned. If you suffer any kind of vertigo or motion-sickness in cinemas (as in Cloverfield), then you’d best be careful about the extensive use of handycam.

On the other hand, it’s the low-budget handycam work that makes Once so delightful. Like other dogma-influenced films Once works itself around the characters themselves and forgoes any pretension to special effects. This is a film first and foremost about the development of a love between two well-suited but hamstrung people.

And I’ll leave it there.

Probably the only thing left to say is that the music is very, very like everything else The Frames have produced. So much so that when I got home I put “For the Birds” on, and it was like the film had never ended. Not that that would be a bad thing.

PS. And in fact, some of the songs from Once are on “The Cost”, their 2006 album.

Just because I think this statue is amazing, I’m putting a picture up here on Dart.

There’s another picture over at The Wellingtonista

Probably the funniest read fo the week thus far. Lyndon Hood in Scoop.

He jests that in response to the murder of a teenager by a Auckland businessman, the we decide to ban teenagers.

Or spraypaint.

I forget which.

But they are funny.

Stuff that White People Like

This was a good Christmas present and made an interesting read, if you’re willing to take Trotter’s at times almost pathologic one-eyed-ness into account.

No Left Turn (a title most probably adapted from a particular blog we all know) tells a series of lurid tales of capitalist oppression of the working classes. And most of them are pretty shameful. There are numerous incidences documented in the book that outline exactly how capital has manipulated government to its own ends, and all too frequently at the expense of taxpayers and workers.

But, if you didn’t know that governments are often tools of the wealthy to make themselves more rich, then you’ve probably got your head in a hole.

What Trotter attempts to do with his narrative is demonstrate the numerous times that the working class has tired to draw power away from the wealthy or landed classes. And he succeeds in demonstrating that it has been a difficult battle from early in New Zealand’s history, and that many of the great battles fought (such as the 1951 waterfront strike) have been grossly misrepresented by the powerful, and by the contented middle-classes.

Where Trotter wanders into his own propagandising though is when he seems to refuse to acknowledge that change is necessary because the tide of history has moved past old and defunct political systems. The 1980s reforms are one such example.

I’ll be the first to admit that Rogernomics was a revolution that wrought untold hardship on New Zealand families. But even if you’re admitting that you have to accept that reform was absolutely necessary. The old systems of tariff and taxpayer-support for farming was not working and was rewarding inefficiency and poor practice. Much of the poisoning of our river ecosystems has been at the hands of inefficient and polluting farmers for example. Getting rid of tariffs meant that sheep farming had to be tidied up, and to an extent it has.

So while No Left Turn starts out as a expose of history characters who do no deserve to be lauded in our history books, it pretty soon settles into “Chris’ version of the history of the 4th Labour Government, and subsequent events”. At there it starts to get annoying. His reverential regard for Jim Anderton is almost ridiculous, and I was tempted to write him a letter and say, “Get a room already”.

Likewise Trotter’s apparent refusal to acknowledge that the old marxist-socialist models he seems to so admire stopped having relevance for New Zealand in the 1970s. The undertone of the “working man” versus “the man” was appropriate in the early C20th, but these days is positively quaint.

Finally, Chris almost entirely neglects the effects of Maori politics on New Zealand until a little way into the Muldoon era, and a mention about the Bolger Government. Before then major historical events are glossed over or ignored. The 1975 hikoi being a prominent example. But, I suppose that could be a typically marxist product of folding all ethnicity into “the working class”.


Amid all the jubilation I couldn’t posting resist this.

Heh baldy

Spot the mutant in the above crowd.

(Photo: Gary Ramage, The Australian)

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