Test Tube Alien Resurrection 2020

After remaining dormant for approximately thirteen years, encased in a white crystalline cocoon in a test tube at the back of a bookcase, the Alien was resurrected on St George’s Day 23rd April 2020.  He had patiently waited for this momentous day.

Test Tube Aliens were released in UK and Australia in late 2006.  My photographs show an Alien named Samaru given as a birthday gift in 2007.  Apparently there were good Aliens and bad Aliens.  I certainly hope this fellow is a ‘good’ Alien because he was revealed at the height of COVID-19 pandemic.

Originally named Samaru by the manufacturer, he has been nicknamed Boris.  There was no packaging or paperwork with his test tube, and apart from the now adult owner remembering throwing out a sachet of sloog (activation powder), Boris was a completely unknown quantity.  First, he had to be rinsed out.

Test Tube Alien Samaru Boris appears to be fully functional and quite a sophisticated toy.  Like the gift-giver, he had been forgotten long enough for creator websites to be inactive.  He cannot ‘phone home’.


Invented by JKID Ltd and released by 4Kidz Inc, the following information has been sourced from:

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2007/03/10/general/hits-failure-to-woo-japan-baffles-inventor/#.XrZyrzngqpo

IMG_20200505_121227Mike Simpson, the inventor of Test Tube Aliens, started up his own Japanese company called Mike Simpson Design.  It was through hooking up with another British inventor, Matthew Bickerton back in the UK, that Simpson was able to create a new toy company called JKID and together he and Bickerton co-invented Test Tube Aliens.

QUOTE  Inventor Mike Simpson said “There are six Aliens to choose from, all with names with a Japanese twist, the most obvious of which is Shako. (He’s a baddie, by the way.)  Each Alien comes in a clear plastic test tube, inside which is a solid cocoon.  Pour in water and the cocoon fizzes and dissolves to reveal the Alien with a visible heartbeat.  They then have to be fed (with sloog) and cared for to stay alive.

“These aliens, who have liquid-and-light-sensing technologies, physically grow to fill their test tubes within the first couple of weeks of their lives.

“Enter TTA’s Web site, and the first message received reads: The Invasion Begins: From a dying world they come to our own! The better you treat ’em, the longer they live!

“Kids are encouraged to use their imagination and take responsibility.  Cause and effect.

“Each Alien has its own number that can be registered and certified online. The background to each character — the story of how and why they have come to earth — place the characters in context.  Children can also interact with their Alien pal online through asking questions and provoking it directly by holding it up to the flashing screen.

“TTA is the Web’s first interactive toy,” Simpson says happily.”  UNQUOTE

Older websites have information on some of the Test Tube Alien clan but not specifically IMG_20200510_135031Samaru Boris, and he is not able to connect with the company’s disabled website.  He does have Red Light meaning ‘comfortably happy’ and Green Light meaning ‘uncomfortably drowning’ as shown in my photographs.  On activation, he did momentarily flash an Amber Light but the meaning of this is unknown.


There is a blog post written Friday 28th December 2007
http://nunyaax.blogspot.com/2007/12/test-tube-aliens.html
and a fan wiki
https://extraterrestrials.fandom.com/wiki/Test_Tube_Aliens

To quote Alien Wiki “The evil Aliens were responsible for the destruction of Nratuatuko and pursued the five good Aliens throughout the Universe, determined not to let their quarry escape for good.  However, in 2011 it was revealed that all of the Aliens were evil, including the ‘good’ Aliens.  The true good Aliens were in the Test Tube Aliens X series.  The Aliens wanted to be marketed in test tubes so that they would appear to be dead, they would be thrown into a rubbish bin, so that they could take over the rivers and seas of the Earth. This was followed by the release of the Test Tube Aliens: Pure Evil series, with six ‘pure evil’ Aliens.”

“New Alien Invasion a Must-have” shouted the headlines in Central Queensland News on 15th July 2011 and apparently “They’re ultra-cool and they’re pure evil.  The Electronic Test Tube Aliens are back – and they are the ‘must-have’ toy for 2011.”
https://www.cqnews.com.au/news/new-alien-invasion-a-wicked-must-have/905581/

What TTA clan does Samaru Boris belong to?  More research is needed, just in case…

He responds to movement (I found this out when I accidentally bumped him over) and light.  He needs 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night-time.  After this was observed, he stopped getting fast flashes and settled into a steady beat.  Likewise if his water level is low, his green light will blink rapidly in distress until topped up.

The test tube is not able to be opened without breaking it.  There is a small opening to drip water into the tube but sadly he is entombed for life.  A quasi-humorous website claims the Alien test tube is a ‘malicious and cruel torture device’. IMG_20200509_182453

I am not sure of Alien growth rate but at the time of writing, May 2020, Samaru Boris is nearly four weeks old and approximately 16cm tall with antennae almost bumping the top of his test tube.  He has filled out and his features are steadily becoming more defined.

He almost looks like a portly older gentleman surveying his domain.

You may know more about these Aliens; you may have raised one.  Or there may be one lurking at the back of your cupboard.  Perhaps your Alien is waiting to connect telepathically with Samaru Boris and together they will activate their master plan.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Review ‘Red Joan’ by Jennie Rooney

It took a while to get my head around Joan Stanley’s rationale.  Growing up, I had heard about the Official Secrets Act and censored letters from my father who was in the second world war, but never about spies selling secrets: I gleaned by inference that espionage was problematic for all sides.  Red Joan knew how to keep her lips zipped.

I really enjoyed this story and I put another book on hold to finished it.  Before and after the 70th anniversary of VE-Day, there was a rash of fact and fiction war books from the UK and this is one of them.

The bombings are what I found missing in Jennie Rooney’s tale, the destruction and the precautions every citizen had to take every day to survive.  Joan Stanley appears to live a charmed life in this regard, and not much of the physical devastation seems to touch her.

Of course, this story is character-driven, an emotional account of the Cold War, an internal struggle between what is right and wrong and justifying one’s decisions, rather than air-raids and bombed out buildings.

After a sheltered schooling, Joan attends Cambridge University where she meets flamboyant student Sonya; and Joan is easily swayed by Sonya’s handsome cousin Leo Galich.  Slowly Joan is groomed to become a spy and eventually steals top secret documents.  While her resolute decision to help the war effort unfolds beautifully and logically (to Joan at least) I couldn’t help thinking “Surely she isn’t that naive?”  But she is, and this propels the story.

That, and romance.  This is where cousin Leo comes in.  What can I say about earnest socialist Leo?  He is easy to picture—any handsome, charismatic, idealistic Uni student would fit his mould.  I can excuse Joan’s love-struck crush on Leo but not her belief in her new friend Sonya, a powerful influence.

Fur Coat New Zealand Fashion Museum 01
Fur coat 1940s in New Zealand Fashion Museum http://www.nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/f/fur-jacket-with-squared-shoulders/

I thought Joan’s shared fur coat was a nice touch, it was the tenuous connection, the innocent thread throughout the story but it spoke volumes about their personalities.

Joan Stanley (loosely based on real spy Melita Norwood) specialises in theoretical physics and when she gets a job in a metals research facility, the touch-and-go desire with Professor Max Davis is well done, I could see that happening.  The cast of males are oblivious to Joan’s duplicity, and receptionist Karen is pretty much ignored.  For a laugh I pictured Karen afterwards as a retired MI5 operative.

As I said, I like this book and would recommend it, not for an in-depth look at the war effort but as a glimpse into the human side, the male/female relationships and the story behind the atomic bomb construction.  Just enough details; the lab, scientific information, the protocols.

Destructive and fascinating at the same time.

IMG_20200316_171248
NOT relevant to Joan but just as fictitious – American actor Steve McQueen (1930-1980) on a motorcycle used in war movie ‘The Great Escape’.

Jennie Rooney’s modern day interrogators, Ms Hart and Mr Adams, were created a bit like Scully and Mulder from the X-Files, lots of meaningful glances at Joan, but they served their purpose well.

In the end, in my opinion, the unravelling of the story was pretty low-key.  Sir William Mitchell was out of the game, so that left Leo and Sonya’s questionable career moves.  Poor Joan, there seemed no end to her emotional turmoil before and after discovery.

Lately I’ve read a couple of books with weak transitions, but I thought the past and present were well written in Rooney’s story.  She did a good job with Joan’s son Nick Stanley QC, a real fly-in-the-ointment (or our own subconscious thoughts?) and he had a Hollywood style moment at the end.

I like to pick out my favourite lines in a story and I quote:

There is a pause.
“Anyway”, Joan says, “I’d have thought the Soviets would be developing their own weapons?”
“They are.  But it’s taking too long.  They’re starting from a disadvantage.”
Leo sighs and reaches once more across the table.
“Please, Jo-jo.  Don’t you see?  You’re in a unique position here to change the history of the world.”

When VE-Day dawns on 8th May 2020 it will be 75 years since the end of the war in Europe so I guess there will be more books forthcoming.

Of course, we read in hindsight and that can be a wonderfully misleading thing.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


AUTHOR PROFILE:

Pen Paper Clipart Boy Holding PencilJennie Rooney was born in Liverpool in 1980.  She read History at the University of Cambridge and taught English in France before moving to London to work as a solicitor.  She lives in West London, and also writes and teaches History and English.  The fictitious story of Joan Stanley, the KGB’s longest-serving British spy, is her third novel.  It was adapted for the 2018 film ‘Red Joan’ directed by Trevor Nunn, starring Dame Judi Dench as aged Joan and Sophie Cookson as young Joan.

INTERVIEW:  Read Jennie Rooney’s discussion with RadioTimes about ‘Red Joan’ her book that inspired the movie and why she made changes https://www.radiotimes.com/news/film/2019-08-28/red-joan-author-on-why-she-changed-the-true-story-for-judi-dench-movie-im-not-a-biographer/

The Blogosphere Ebb and Flow

IMG_20190209_092331
Tropical lagoon and green algae swirls at Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, Brisbane, Australia 2019

The swirls and ripples of the blogosphere will let your post resurface any number of times to an ever-widening pool of readers.

Never underestimate the infinite lifespan of a blog post.

Your post may not make a big splash the first time, nor days later, but it has the potential to be viewed many times into the future.

I know, because I have certain posts which haunt me.  In the nicest possible way, of course, but it is still rather disconcerting when an old post gets a sudden flurry of views.  It’s like they tread water waiting to bob up.

The reason behind my floating posts remains unclear to me.

Where, or why, my original blog story becomes resuscitated could be caused by any number of factors from reblogging to tweeting or—

  1.  linked on someone’s page
  2.  kindly mentioned in a comment
  3.  family members on Facebook
  4.  topic of interest and my tags swum into view
  5.  tumbled into the lake of eternal blogs…

I’m sure the tech pond at WordPress is teeming with answers but that’s too factual for me, I prefer the serendipitous, the happenstance of it all.

Overall, I am always pleased and still thrill to see those stats wade across the WordPress map!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

IMG_20190209_092222
Tropical lagoon ebb and flow of green algae at Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, Brisbane, Australia 2019

What is Bureau of Meteoranxiety?

As I read the posters on the Degraves Street subway wall, I wondered if BoMa is fact or fiction.  You see, I may have hot weather meteoranxiety.  Then I discovered that Perth-based multimedia artists Olivia Tartaglia and Alex Tate ran their ‘public wellness program trial’ at Blindside Gallery, Melbourne––so possibly both fact and fiction.

Incorporating clever posters and cutting-edge technologies including a virtual forest, an immersive storm simulation and an AI counsellor named Gail (developed by Howard Melbyczuk), BoMa offered its meteoranxious clients a means to manage their ‘symptoms’.

The Bureau of Meteoranxiety program ran from 10 - 19 May 2018 at Blindside Gallery as part of Next Wave Festival and unProjects.

Image 04: Olivia Tartaglia and Alex Tate, Bureau of Meteoranxiety (propaganda posters) 2018, A3 posters. Photo credit: Jess Cockerill.

Interviewer Jess Cockerill asks “Are you worried about the weather? Feel like the seasons are out of sync? Fretting about longer summers, strange storms or rising sea levels?  Fear not; the Bureau of Meteoranxiety (or BoMa) may have the appropriate therapy to calm your climate concerns”.  Read on––

Jess Cockerill
How did the Bureau of Meteoranxiety come about?
Alex Tate
Our original idea was definitely set more in the future, where climate change has happened, it’s devastated earth. But as we went through Next Wave’s artist development program, sincerity became more important, particularly present-day sincerity.
Olivia Tartaglia
We were thinking about how we deal with this thing that’s already upon us. You could talk about so many different ways of how it will happen, but we thought it could be more interesting to look at how it is happening right now, and how we’re dealing with that, which, in some respects, is not very well.
JC
I am curious about your choice of terminology: why meteoranxiety, and not ecoanxiety?
OT
Ecoanxiety was a starting point. We were doing a lot of research and we discovered Glenn Albrecht, who is a Western Australian ecophilosopher, and he coined the term meteoranxiety … it just seemed like a more specific definition.

It’s the feeling of being anxious about weird weather, or suddenly-changing weather, due to climate change. Glenn Albrecht talks about it as an anxiety we have but we wouldn’t necessarily know that we’re feeling it. The main point of the work is to make people aware of what they’re feeling, to put a word to the feeling.

AT
The feeling of ecoanxiety is much more closely linked to climate change, whereas with meteoranxiety, even if climate change is real or not, you still feel it. The media will just say ‘weird weather!’ ‘strange weather event!’ ‘record temperatures!’. They avoid saying climate change, because they don’t want to politically-charge these articles, but they still want to get the clicks.

And of course, it’s a play on the Bureau of Meteorology. People already have that association with bureaucracy and government policy.

JC
What are some instances where you have felt meteoranxiety?
AT
I see it in the day-to-day. You see bananas on special because there’s a bumper crop, because of unusual weather. We just moved into a new place and watched the tree at the park shed its leaves three months early.

I think we’re hypersensitive to it now we’ve done this project. We were looking for articles and research to source material, so I kinda see it in everything.

JC
To what extent do you feel growing up in Western Australia has informed this work?
OT
I always would go down south WA, once a year or even more, and I think that’s why we featured the Boranup Karri Forest in the Virtual Reality, because it’s so beautiful. We both love it there and have such a connection to that space; we want people to experience it.
AT
In Western Australia we have the Fremantle Doctor, and all these other features in our weather, that it was a given they’d be a part of BoMa.1 And in the southwest of WA, there’s so many unique plants and animals that rely on consistency, and exist because of it, that are at risk due to the weather.

We live on that point of the earth where we feel it. It will hit us closer to home sooner than other states, except probably the Northern Territory. When we get a 40°c day in autumn, I notice it, other people notice it.

OT
It’s everywhere! On the news, social media, you talk about it to like five people you see, you can’t escape it.
JC
Having created this work, what do you think: do we need to just accept these changes and adapt? Or should we still be pushing against it?
OT
Of course we need to stop climate change but I also don’t think that’s going to happen. I think people are just going to try again and again to adapt.
AT
The heavy use of technology in the work is a way of bringing up the common notion that technology will save us, that we can just use technology to solve the problem. It’s kind of a really sad waiting game, where something really terrible seems to have to happen before the government will do anything. And there’s an anxiety in that. But even once that happens, maybe it’ll be passed off as just an anomaly, just weird weather. Or even just a condition we can manage using technology.

But I really hope that BoMa serves as a starting point for people thinking about the real world … if the Bureau of Meteoranxiety fails in one aspect – which it will, because these therapies are not real – and they don’t feel that it meets their requirements, then maybe they can relate it to our real government not meeting their needs, and see the connection there.

Interview by Jess Cockerill

Image 06: as above.

Image: Olivia Tartaglia and Alex Tate, Bureau of Meteoranxiety 2018, multimedia. Photo credit: Michael Tartaglia.


  1. The ‘Fremantle Doctor’ is local Western Australian slang for the cool afternoon sea breeze that occurs during summer in the south-west of the state.
  2. Read the full BoMa article with images and credits here
  3. Review by Hannah Francis of The Age newspaper.
  4. Quote “Perhaps a future treatment for Facebookfomophobia” GBW.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Pixel Girl says…

Pixel Girl Artificial Intelligence 02

Interpreted Programming Languages    Functional Programming Languages

Compiled Programming Languages    Procedural Programming Languages

Scripting Programming Languages    Mark-up Programming Languages

Logic-Based Programming Languages    Concurrent Programming Languages

Object-Oriented Programming Languages

Bender Futurama

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Am I Sharing With The World Or Just Getting Stuff Out Of My Head?

Please Shut The Gate Sign

Writers need to write but do readers need to read?

From early on I made the decision not to Like a post unless I had read it.  As you can guess, its hard to do.  Every day millions of posts circulate around the world on countless blogging platforms and social media sites to such an extent that most of them will NEVER be read.  At least, not fully.  I think I am pretty safe in saying that.  We are doing the modern equivalent of shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.

Which brings me to the heading of my post.  I will answer my own question.  It is preferable to get things out of your head and onto a page for personal satisfaction rather than thinking you are making a useful contribution to the world.  Plenty of specialists are making useful contributions but I guarantee they are writing to a niche audience, not the world.

Another decision (note I use the word ‘decision’ because we are given choices then have to make one decision) I made is not to seek Likes and Followers and not to maintain a prolific output to pursue a high profile.  I have not activated my Comments because the majority of blogging sites appear not to have worthwhile comments or replies and, if they do, the bulk of them are from fans bordering on sycophant behaviour.

I’m not a tortured genius nor do I have a singular agenda so I am way down the favourites listicle.  I am happy doing my own thing and don’t pine for kindly Likes.  However, I am very grateful for those Likes and Followers I do have because I feel confident they have actually read my blog posts.  You can tell by my Home page that I am not going to stick to a theme, although I do have Photo Of The Week and I’m loosely hung up on the importance of literacy.

Why did I write this post?  I will probably feel differently tomorrow but today I wanted to get it out of my head.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Indigenous Astronomy

Indigenous Astronomy Moon Halo Karlie Noon 02

When I discovered this link to Karlie Noon and her life as an Indigenous scientist, I also learned about predicting the weather from a moon halo.

Karlie Noon, interviewed by Marc Fennell on NITV Australia/SBS The Feed, was the first Indigenous woman in NSW to graduate with a double degree in mathematics and physics… but Indigenous Australians have been practicing science long before universities were teaching it.  There is evidence in the form of rock art depicting Indigenous knowledge before Galileo, Newton or Kepler made their discoveries.

This video delves into Karlie’s early life, visits the instrumentation building for space exploration and explains the reading of a moon halo.

 

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Like or Not to Like

Like Key 04
Liked

Launch yourself from an author platform!  Get yourself out there!

Emerging writers are advised to expand their author platform by widening their online presence, broadening their social media and linking websites.  Recommended tips are video highlights and engaging with other writers on blogs and internet discussion groups.  No doubt new writers mull over the difficulties of going from guts to glory.  Or, in 21st century terms, Likes to glory.  That’s it, isn’t it?  The biggest number of Likes, page views or virtual friends you can get will make you the winner.  Or does it?

I have read well-written books and I have read badly written books and sometimes those badly written books make it to the top.  Why?  Marketing the brand, the buddy system, freebies?  Or is it because it’s fantastically easy to Like someone even if a reader forgets they tapped Like because they were texting, drinking coffee, looking for food in the refrigerator?  Once you’ve reached published paradise via internet or bookshop, sales still remain a genuine way to gauge popularity.  It’s a longer process to engage the reader and it involves thinking about the purchase.  Tacky as it sounds, when money is exchanged you’re heading in the right direction.

Millionaire writers at the top of their literary game probably don’t put in the same internet hours the novice does.  A rookie writer spends a lot of time staring at a screen, tapping away at a keyboard to keep the “me” momentum going.  Only to find that if they neglect an area of connectivity for more than a day, they are already stale news.  Their post and avatar moves on, drops out and someone else steps into the gap, glowing with instant recognition.  Instant, that’s a tricky word, online presence needs to be instantaneous.  But it’s usually not permanent, it does not equate to stardom, it just means that they hover in the pack of thousands for an instant.

It’s difficult to know how much networking is too much.  Creativity can suffer.  Another driving force for the evolving author is the ever-present fear that an editor from a prestigious publishing house will scorn their week-old post and think they are not up to the job.  This raises an online conundrum; content versus frequency.  The pressure is on.

So that my thoughts can become words, I am using a good media platform right now.  However, I’m under no illusions that suddenly it will make me readable, bankable and popular.  Personally, I think perpetual loyalty to the internet crushes originality.  Ah, a lightbulb moment!  As long as you feel fulfilled as a writer, you will write and you will love what you write.  Don’t be too concerned about the initial lack of Likes.  To gain any sort of recognition, I think we should remain steady and plod along and work hard yet with a happy heart.  Stay true to that inner core, that part of our soul which says “Do it, you know you want to, you know you can” and accept the outcome.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Bye Bye Plastics

Plastic Cutlery
Cutlery

“Put away your plastics” urges Peppermint Magazine “France made history by becoming the first country in the world to ban the use of plastic crockery, cutlery and plates.  From 2020 onwards, all French disposable dinnerware will have to be compostable and made from biological instead of petroleum-based material.  Because plastic never truly goes away, our over-reliance on it is filling the world’s oceans with eight million tonnes of plastic waste every year, which kills around 100,000 marine creatures annually.  In the wake of recent plastic bag bans in many US cities, France’s momentous move is surely a positive sign of things to come – here’s hoping we ditch those single-use synthetics Down Under before too long.  Au revoir, plastic!” Page 23, Issue 32 Summer 2016, Peppermint Magazine.

At work I use my own cup, cutlery and plate; a small start but a start nonetheless.

Note: Peppermint Magazine is an independent sustainability magazine published quarterly by The Peppermint Publishing Trust, Brisbane Australia.
Peppermint Lifestyle Magazine

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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Use reusable coffee cup (Note: takeaway paper coffee cup is lined with plastic and not recyclable)

             Recycle Plastic

Reusable PVC Plastic Cup
Reusable

Water Rates

“The future generations deserve clear water and clean air that will sustain their bodies and sustain their souls…” attributed to Barack Obama, former US President.

Water Rates
Water Rates

Raindrop

Chart supplied by Queensland Urban Utilities 2017.
Statistics may vary according to region.

 Gretchen Bernet-Ward

The Comfort Of Water

TV Nostalgia M*A*S*H

MASH Cast
M*A*S*H Cast

The Personal System/2 was IBM’s third generation personal computer released over 30 years ago on April 1987.  Recognise the actors advertising the product?

The cast of the long-running TV series M*A*S*H set during the Korean war and, if you are old enough, you can surely name their characters.

Alan Alda (Hawkeye), Gary Burghoff (Radar), William Christopher (Father Mulcahy), Jamie Farr (Klinger), Mike Farrell (B.J.), Loretta Swit (Major Margaret Houlihan), Larry Linville (Frank), Harry Morgan (Colonel Potter), Wayne Rogers (Trapper), McLean Stevenson (Colonel Blake), David Ogden Stiers (Charles Emerson Winchester III) and many more.

Larry Gelbart was the man responsible for developing M*A*S*H for television from the 1970 feature film M*A*S*H which was adapted from Richard Hooker’s 1968 novel “MASH: About Three Army Doctors”.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Stephen Fry Lets Fly

“Facebook and other platforms should be classed as publishers”

Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry

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.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Sci-Fi Comes to Life

IMG_0321
Static

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!

“Digital technology allows us a much larger scope to tell stories that were pretty much the grounds of the literary media” – George Lucas
Read more https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/digital_technology

Things like blogging, 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 fashion, 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.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

N.B. This post also appeared on State Library of Queensland blog for Seniors Week.
http://blogs.slq.qld.gov.au/slq-today/2017/08/10/sci-fi-comes-to-life/