Walking in a park, I saw this wall of trompe l’oeil on the side of a public convenience block and just had to photograph it. The illusion, the trick of the eye was something special which I appreciated more after I saw my photograph. It was painted by local Sherwood artists with the name Half Dozen Group of Artists Inc.
One of my favourite pastimes is to change my screensaver image. I do it on my PC and iPad regularly. Silly obsession, I know, but it gives me a smile when I log on each day. I take my own photographs wherever I might be, and have a supply of snapshots and artwork amassed from family and friends over the years. Some work well, some don’t. “Framing and focus” was the old adage.
There is a children’s picture book entitled “The Stripey Street Cat” by Peter Warrington and Rachel Williams which is a photographic series of stencilled street art images of a stray cat. They tell the story of Stripey who is looking for a lost friend, meeting various other Newtown cats along the way.
An illustration I use regularly which attracts attention for all the wrong reasons is this one of Snoopy typing away in the middle of the night with a cigarette in his mouth. I’m anti-smoking but there’s something naughty about making an icon like Snoopy do such a thing. The artist is unknown but I think he’d have a good sense of humour.
“Facebook and other platforms should be classed as publishers”
British actor and author Stephen Fry, speaking at Hay Literary Festival, accuses “aggregating news agencies” of not taking responsibility for their content. Fry has called for Facebook and other “aggregating news agencies” to be reclassified as publishers in order to stop fake news and online abuse spreading by making social media subject to the same legal responsibilities as traditional news websites.
Outlining his “reformation” for the internet, as part of the Hay literary festival’s programme to mark the quincentenary of Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses in 1517, Fry accused social media platforms of refusing to “take responsibility for those dangerous, defamatory, inflammatory and fake items whose effects will have legal consequences for traditional printed or broadcast media, but which they can escape”. Facebook is flooded with “sextortion” and revenge porn, files reveal leaked documents which show the site struggles with the mammoth task of policing content.
“One thesis I could immediately nail up to the tent flag is to call for aggregating news agencies like Facebook to be immediately classified as publishers. At the moment, they are evading responsibility for their content as they can claim to be platforms, rather than publishers. Given that they are now a major source of news for 80% of the population, that is clearly an absurd anomaly,” Fry said.
“If they, and Twitter and like platforms recognised their responsibilities as publishers, it would certainly help them better police their content for unacceptable libels, defamations, threats and other horrors, that a free belief in the value of the press would, as a matter of course, be expected to control.”
Last week, it was announced that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were facing tough new pan-European laws, forcing them to remove hate speech and sexually explicit videos or face steep fines. Fry said he also believed they would soon be forced into new legal responsibilities, and deemed the issue “frankly small potatoes” compared with “some huge potatoes [that] are looming.”
Citing the failure at British Airways IT system on Saturday that led to BA flights being grounded at Heathrow and Gatwick airports, Fry cautioned that the world’s reliance on digital systems would also inevitably prompt a cataclysmic cyber-attack and bring on a “digital winter for humankind”. He went on to say “An extinction-level event … will obliterate our title deeds, eliminate our personal records, annul our bank accounts and life savings, delete all the archives and accumulated data of our existences and create a kind of digital winter for humankind,” Fry warned.
During the talk, Fry also addressed the rise of big data, which has seen private companies competing for and using the personal data of millions for corporate gain, the gig economy of Uber and Deliveroo; the inability of governments worldwide to keep up with technological progress; and live-streaming services like Facebook Live allowing people to broadcast acts of violence and self-harm. Using the myth of Pandora’s Box – where opening a container unleashed evils on the world but left hope trapped inside – as an analogy for the development of online abuse and trolling, Fry said the speed of technological development meant that problems associated with technology were now irreversible.
“The dark side of the rise of machines and the sudden obsolescence of so many careers and jobs; the potential for crime, exploitation, extortion; suppression and surveillance; and even newer forms of cyber-terrorism, give us the collywobbles and are challenges for certain. But we must understand that it is going to happen, collywobbles or not, because the lid is already off the jar. So the best we can do is keep the lid of the jar and let hope fly out.”
Acknowledgement: The Guardian Monday 29 May 2017 04.38 AEST Last modified on Thursday 1 June 2017 01.50 AEST Reporter: Sian Cain@siancain, Photograph: Anna Goldberg.
Note: Having bought his first computer in 1982, Stephen Fry is considered an enthusiast of computer technology, being an early adopter of the internet and social media.
When a mature person says to me “I don’t understand new technology” my reply is “If a human invented it, a human can use it”. I believe every senior can master modern technology, and benefit from it.
I wasn’t always pro-IT, I thought it was invasive and time-wasting, not to mention eroding our good manners. You know, that person who keeps one eye on their mobile phone, flicking their thumb over the screen while you’re trying to have a conversation. I avoided e-readers, I kept my landline phone and used a small pre-paid mobile for texting only. Then I realised I was missing out on a lot of good things!
Things like exploring a holiday destination with Google Maps, or my cousin walking around her kitchen with a laptop while I viewed the design via Skype, and the ability to download an e-book or watch a video on my iPad any time of the day or night. The joy of being connected to the internet for instant information on my mobile, staying in touch simply and easily, this liberation never ceases to amaze me. Everything from family to blogging, bookings to e-newsletter subscriptions, all via technology.
In the State Library of Queensland Digital Futures Lab, one of my delights is showing seniors the Augmented Reality Sandpit and Virtual Reality. They are just as gob-smacked as me. It is our early viewing diet of sci-fi shows coming to life! Perhaps phone etiquette needs improving, and I may never give myself over to 24/7 connectivity, but I enjoy the benefits of IT and have fun exploring the endless world wide web on a device as small as my hand.