|1998 news archive
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Congratulations to Russell Naughton
Ethics Committee Censorship lifted
Photographs of `The Ghan' arrive
Cinemedia's on-line catalogue
FOD is now archived
John Bird Award
Book launch - Arthur Murch
On-line interview about narrative structure
Privacy & propriety
A Ph.D. based on issues arising from the development of `The Flight of Ducks' has been passed. This will be Australia's first web based Ph.D. produced and examined [on-line].
Monday 16th November. This year's John Bird Award goes to Russell Naughton for his on-line work Adventures in Cybersound . This huge effort is another example of how serious on-line work builds its own contextual universe.
Train buffs will be delighted. Dennis Street has kindly contributed some wonderful photographs of `The Ghan' and Quorn - taken by his father Keith Street during the war.
The Flight of Ducks has now been given approval by the RMIT Human Research Ethics Committee. It is now being examined. The RMIT HREC has had a tough time coming to terms with the paradigms of on-line work. They found no ethical infringements by The Flight of Ducks. However, as a condition of approval the RMIT HREC have requested (after 7 months of deliberation) that a recourse statement be included with the work.
Early in 1998 this on-line documentary was deleted from the RMIT University server, at the request of the committee. The committee (operating outside its terms of reference) has now delayed submission of the academic areas of The FOD for 8 months, insisting that the work should comply with its guidelines for medical experimentation (blood samples etc.). An absurd situation reminiscent of Kafka's The Trial . Take a look at section 16.
In fact, The FOD was penalised because it did not shy away from the more difficult issues arising from how we access cultural memory [on-line]. The Ethics Committee's concerns about the The FOD were never fully stated. They appeared to revolve around the misapprehension that the research allowed direct access to secret or sacred material - which it does not. The correspondence relating to these issues is now on-line.
Leading edge research does not always fit comfortably with existing protocols. Unfortunately, this University's Ethics Committee showed itself to be politicised to the point where reason no longer prevailed over short term political expediency. Comfortable ideas and protocols need to be constantly questioned and revised if original and innovative thought is to flourish. It is a poor reflection on RMIT University that the more difficult issues arising from intercultural communication (or the lack of it) cannot be addressed or questioned without provoking such divisive actions. The irony is that it has been The FOD that has put many of the more complex questions of on-line Aboriginal representation on the agenda and for this the penalty is censorship and a level of procrastination sufficient to destroy the currency of the research.
This is yet another example of how Australian Aborigines are being marginalised and rendered invisible. I see committees (convened for almost any purpose) continually refusing to include Aboriginal material in whatever they are doing because it is considered too hard, problematic or political.
Your comments are invited on these issues.
At a meeting with the Chairman of the Higher Degrees Committee on Friday 1st May a draft description of the protocols for on-line examination was approached. There are still 2 grey areas needing clear articulation:
1. That the appropriate venue for the examination of an on-line project is the Internet.
2. That the examiners must have access to an on-line capture of the site if they are to appraise it in the format in which it was intended to be accessed.
International contact with other students working on-line has revealed that other students are having to make major changes in format in order to keep University administrations from leaving their comfort zone.
The key point is that a durable record of digital material should now been seen as the infrastructure that supports long term access rather than as a physical object, e.g. a CD-ROM.
Please feel free to comment on, or add to the Draft Protocol for The Submission, Examination and Storage of On-line Projects at RMIT.
Readers might like to read of the experiences of Deena Larsen who has also been very supportive.
The Flight of Ducks is now in the process of being catalogued as part of the Cinemedia Access Collection Digital Media Access collection. This means that on-line work of this nature will now be available through a searchable interface and an architecture capable of managing restricted access and payment for viewing. There is no intention to charge for access to The Flight of Ducks but for some content creators such a system could one day provide them with a stream of income.
In July 1996 The National Library of Australia chose The FOD as a pilot for their PANDORA digital preservation project. This Archive is now on-line.
If you type `The Flight of Ducks' into their catalogue search you will see how it is described.
This is a major achievement. When I began this work in 1995, there were few people asking the difficult questions about how we archive material of this nature.
The next question about The FOD (which has little to do with technology) is how can Cinemedia and RMIT integrate access to the NLA archive of The FOD with their own collections and visa versa?
This is a question which throws up all sorts of interesting side issues. But just think of the possibilities!
On the 17th of November The FOD was honoured with The John Bird Award for Excellence On-line.
Image shows award (cheque) presentation by Cinemedia executive Director Jenifer Hooks.
Book launch: Arthur Murch - an artists life 1902 - 1989 by his wife, Ria Murch
Leda , oil on canvas, 77 x 107 cm Art Gallery N.S.W.
This is a new book in a limited edition of 1000 numbered copies.
Available form Ria Murch (email@example.com) for $39.95 plus postage ($2.50)
Extensive participation update with an on-line interview by new media artist and animator Felix Hude.
There is the thorny subject of privacy and propriety with the email conversation that helps construct The FOD. As Felix Hude wrote when he discovered his emailed interview had changed The FOD:
Jeeze, you gotta be careful about what you say to you in emails - it goes public! "Er... is your site moderated, Mr Pockley?"