22 Aug 2006

Sending bloggers to school

Here is my contribution to the syllabus and I would like to put myself up for the position of lecturer as I have several years experience in the area and numerous years lecturing at an undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Almost anonymous blogging.

Stay anonymous everyone as it appears to me that the government have now ropped in the willing academics in the quest to control you. On this occassion 'control via re-education'.

Some basic training could help keep them out of trouble
Tuesday • August 22, 2006

Ang Peng Hwa

IT'S official: The Government is not against blogs or bloggers and in fact may even do some podcasting of its own to get its message across. So declared Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally speech.

For a while now, the local blogging community has been abuzz as to whether our strict rules governing the local media would be applied to the Internet and to blogs in particular.

This concern was compounded by a recent call by a columnist to regulate blogs like newspapers. Mr Lee's statement that the Government will treat new media with a lighter regulatory hand should therefore reassure bloggers.

It is also a logical and progressive move because regulating blogs like newspapers would, literally, be like using regulations from a different century on the newest technology of our age. Besides, blogs are like websites and should be subject to the rules of websites, as the National Internet Advisory Committee has said in its annual report.

In sum, rules that apply to blogs and bloggers are sufficient for the day. Instead, blogging should be encouraged but the bloggers properly educated in the niceties of writing.

There is a lot to be said for blogging. It is done by amateurs, a word that has the same root word as "love".

Often, blogs are diaries. Few will be read beyond a small circle of netizens who can be counted on two hands. Most will not make big money or last even a year. But like mobile phones, they are something every schoolgirl and boy today aspires to have.

And in Asia — and Singapore — where speech is silver and silence golden, such aspirations of expression should be encouraged. Also, blogging contributes to a culture of writing, and writing requires a thinking and reflective mindset.

Where blogging falls down is in its very origin from amateurs. As I have said elsewhere, because bloggers are non-professionals, they are likely to stumble into the pitfalls of writing. That is, bloggers are likely to get into trouble because of the lack of training.

They are unaware of controls on freedom of expression that exist even in the United States. They seem to think the US First Amendment has been coded into the Internet.

In reality, there are rules regarding what can appear on a website and many, though not all, of these rules come from the offline world. The laws of defamation, copyright, racist expression and obscenity continue to apply, although it is true that monitoring and enforcement may be difficult.

Having seen students doing journalism, I myself have been surprised at the difference that media training makes. I have seen how even students who have been considered good writers and editors have fallen into legal pitfalls when they have not had the proper training.

The importance of training was brought home to me in a recent research project done by a colleague in the Philippines. The Philippines has one of the most free press systems in the world; but by some reckoning, it is the second most dangerous place in the world to be a journalist, second only to Iraq.

In her research, she found that 90 per cent of the journalists killed had no training in journalism whatsoever. In many of the cases, they were radio journalists who so defamed, harangued and harassed their news subjects that these people felt that they had no recourse other than violence.

Had the journalists been trained, they would probably have known to what legal limits they could go. In other words, without intending to trivialise or condone the violence, 90 per cent of the murders of journalists could have been averted with proper training.

In Singapore, the bloggers who have had trouble because of racist remarks have apparently not had any training in Singapore media laws.

The solution is some professional training for the bloggers to help them avoid trouble. At a minimum, defamatory, copyright, racist, obscene and other objectionable material, as well as OB (out of bounds) markers, are matters that need to be covered.

Training will not guarantee a trouble-free blogging existence. But from my observation and that of my Filipino researcher colleague, it should help most bloggers stay out of most difficulties most of the time.

The author is Dean of the School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University. He will be leading a half-day workshop on blogging and the law on Aug 26, to help bloggers understand the legal and political terrain. For more information, visit www.ntu.edu.sg/sci/sirc or email blogginglaw@ntu.edu.sg


Anonymous said...

defamatory, copyright, racist, obscene and other objectionable material, as well as OB (out of bounds) markers
oh what a clever professor; he knows how to find out where the OB markers are.. now that proves university research is really valuable and NUS/NTU deserve their high rankings

how about Prof Ang set an example by putting up a blog with lots of articles that goes close to but not cross OB markers? lots of people would be watching (including the OB watchdogs)

Matilah_Singapura said...

What a fucking Asian dickhead, son of a Satan fellating, dead-baby necrophiliac jackal.

There is no such thing as a subject which is "out of bounds". What period in human history do you think we are in ass wipe??

You mean to tell me this motherfucker has a tenured position in academia?

No wonder so many stupid people come out of uni these days...

antipathy said...

what the fuck does NUS have to do with this anon5:40

antipathy said...

anyway, i think it will be an awesome "class" to attend. Just because a person might be an establishment persona, doesn't mean you need to be so adamant about not hearing him speak.

I am sure that a lot of bloggers can arm themselves with knowledge about the media landscape in Singapore, and if they wish to cross the line between "polemic" and "analysis" as painted by our dear ms bhavani, they do it out of a spirit of willingness rather than ignorance.

May Mario Sava live on in your hearts

Matilah_Singapura said...

Fucken academics/public intellectuals eh? Referring of course to the "high-brow" type — i.e. low market value.

If they didn't have their tenured positiones, cloistered in the sanctuary of of public (i.e. tax-funded) educational institutions, where they get princely stipends, any resource they like, and can virtually write their own contract (reminder: tax-payer's funds) they'd be flippin' burgers at McD's.

Is there subtle "social engineering" going on here? I don't know...

...Now, is this a "plot" to make the blogsphere "elitist" by giving the blogshere a gloss of "official recognition" by the intellectual cognoscenti.

Fuck off.

The blogsphere, just like any market is a spontaneous order, (demand) driven by individuals seeking ends, by employing private means (property). Notice the lack of central control in the blogsphere, and how any attempt to manipulate it FAILS, because of the sheer weight of an anarchic market democracy — which what de-centralisation does.

Ms Rowlings is credited with starting a revolution (Harry Potter) which encouraged kids to start reading books — she created something of "value" for her customer, i.e. great stories. Kids started reading again, literacy improved. The state education failed consistently to raise literacy levels.

And it's paid off for her too — the billions generated from movies — a nice bonus!

The blogsphere is a global, cultural phenomenon. It has encouraged adults, many of whom don't normally write anything more than reports and emails, back to writing creatively, and most importantly regularly.

Improvements in the human condition at the society level are best left to the spontaneous order — i.e. no central planning necessary — just leave it alone to the actions of private individuals chasing "ends" (acting in their own self-interest).

Notice another thing too: Rowling's and her Harry Potter series, and the blogsphere are all derivatives of private property and individuals acting freely.

And yes, both Rowling's and the blogsphere continue to be criticised (and praised occasionally) by public intellectuals and academics.

Anonymous said...

antipathy said...
what the fuck does NUS have to do with this anon5:40
you must be from NUS; actually, me too

NUS has higher ranking than NTU so is professors must be more clever; I am sure many NUS professors, like myself, have blogs that come close to, but do not cross, the OB markers, whereas that guy merely talked about the possibility

OB watchdogs, eat your heart out...

Anonymous said...

I see the Somalian's swear words filled post has been deleted...

but I think he is from Australia, they shorten university to uni

I also think he is a sacked ST journalist

teck soon said...

Education is really important in closed societies like Singapore. Vietnam, for example, forces university students to spend a great deal of time in compulsary courses in Marxism-Leninism and History of the Communist Party. Maybe NTU will eventually make this safe blogging class a requirement. If that fails to reign in the disgruntled populace, they could start implementing "education" at younger ages. Why, even older folks might have to go for "re-education" to undo the damage that's been done. And if they resist, we can send them to a camp. This strategy was successfully deployed in many other countries with positive results (regimes still in power after many years in spite of unrest).

lee hsien tau said...

Where do you think Wong Kan Seng would choose for the "re-education" camp? Buangkok Chalet? It's breezy but a bit too small for the number of bloggers needing 're-educating'.

Anonymous said...

anon 5.40.53, you are the classical singapore shithead, leaves university with honours degree but unable to do a days works, cdespite what mini Lee says is also unemployable around the world because although he has studied a subject parrot fashion, he does not have the brains to use the information he spent years studying. again a perfect example of can can, gone already, makan singapore shithead.

god, you people make me sick, out of bounds everywhere, you are anti social, ga ga and an embarrasement.

Anonymous said...

since you are so clever, why dont you set up a blog that goes close to, but not cross, OB markers?

but of course, sacked ST journalist is not good at blogging...

Amused said...

Regarding the banning of the Mr Brown's article:

The buck stops at PM's Desk !

It is not the decision of a spokeswoman, like Ms. Bhavani of the Ministry of Info, Communicationa and the Arts (MICA).

PM Lee in his National Day Speech showed that it is the govt's decision.

Or are you trying to say that PM Lee in his speech was DEFENDING Ms. Bhavani's 'decision' ?
Obviously not.

So, I do not understand why some still have to pick bones with a staff ?? Or is it because she is a convenient target ?

It does not reflect well.

Please BARK at the RIGHT Tree.

Matilah_Singapura said...

There are many ways of looking at this.

The govt is funded by tax, and the legalised appropriation of private property and opportunity. e.g. LTA "steals" land for any reason, and the GLC's seize opportunities that other private entrepreneurs might pursue. Every govt agency and its workers, are funded by tax and other forms of legalised theft, by a monopolistic gang of thugs.

Thus, anyone who works for this organised criminal organisation is themself a supporter or a direct player in the criminal apparatus.

The private sector is different: there is no doubt that there are cut-throats and bastards in the private sector.

However, these "buccanneers" can be sued or run out of business, or suffer ostracisation, such that it makes good sense to "tow the line" — a "line" which is not centrally managed or planned, it is just normative, decent behaviour by normal, decent people.

The govt and the state can plunder, act unilaterally — almost always UNjustly when it does so — and still stay in business for ever and ever.

Some librals even call for "checks and balances" in the state apparatus. These fuckers are dreaming. Why in the world would a MONOPOLIST want "checks and balances"??

Ask yourself this: How would ==> YOU <== behave if you had Absolute Power?