The Blogosphere Ebb and Flow

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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

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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

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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/