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ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
March 17, 1999

DREAMTIME ON COLLISION COURSE WITH THE WORLD WIDE WEB. Part One of a Special Report.

PART ONE of a report by a SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.

Some 66 years ago, a 20 year old medical student called John Pockley lay under a starry Central Desert sky and contemplated the unknown history of Australia's indigenous peoples. Pockley had just watched a corroboree about ducks flying from a water hole, performed by tribal Aborigines for him and four other white men. Deeply moved, he mused on the fact that the dancers sang in a language they claimed not to understand. Had Aborigines once belonged to a single nation, spoken a single language preserved in songs like this one?

In the days of one Aboriginal nation under a black, red and yellow flag, Pockley's ponderings on an unknowable past have assumed a prophetic air. At another level, they evoke an ancient and perhaps universal vision of the oneness of humanity ... a vision which for better or worse has always been shattered by the politics of difference.

No-one is arguing that Pockley was not entitled to his thoughts - or even to the dozens of photos he took of his hosts and kept in rusting cigarette tins until his death. But are the rest of us entitled to share them?.

The question might never have been asked had not John Pockley's memories, meditations and photographs been plucked from decay and obscurity for a fate he would probably have abhorred. Digitally restored by his son Simon, they form the centre of a popular site on the World Wide Web.

The site has won national awards including the ATOM award for Best Australian On-Line Production and The Premier's Gold Award for Best Australian Multimedia Production. It has been chosen by the Australian National Library as a leader in the new craft of on-line publishing, an endeavour which has burgeoned so rapidly that most libraries are despairing of ever catching up.

Simon Pockley's detractors, however, believe he and others are using the Net as a digital Tower of Babel, undermining the privacy of indigenous cultures in the name of a universal culture, characterised by little else than unfettered free speech. By offering instant gratification of our insatiable curiosity for the primitive, they say, The Flight of Ducks nurtures stereotypes that block the path to Aboriginal self determination.

Their criticisms illuminate a new battleground in an on-going war for the possession of Australia's history, up until now fought on archeological digs, in libraries and in the book publishing world. By comparison, the World Wide Web, with its lack of boundaries, censorship or any sort of quality control, is more like a minefield.

Aboriginal film-maker Wal Saunders voices his objection: !I've got nothing against people overdosing on nostalgia or publishing their journals ... but this is the Internet, and it's free access right across the board.! Saunders told our correspondent he believed all photographs of Aboriginal people taken before 1967 were their property - or that of their descendants.

!These pictures were taken at a time when Aborigines were not considered to be human beings, when our right to say yes or no was in the hands of the Government,! says Saunders.

!Now that since the 1967 referendum we are officially human beings, the descendants of these people have the right to say these are images of us and we don't want them used in this context.!

For his part Pockley Jr claims he has actively, if unsuccessfully, sought the participation of Aboriginal people on the site ... including making a visit to Central Australia in 1996 when he tried to locate those descendants. Moreover he believes Saunders and other critics don't understand how the Net works. In keeping with his perception of the Net as a !growing, proliferating organism!, Pockley's record of the visit, complete with family snapshots, is now a part of The Flight of Ducks.

!I am only too happy to have Aboriginal interests overwrite the material on this site,! he wrote to Saunders. !This is the nature of a networked digital medium. Nothing is fixed. It is a medium of participation. This is not just my father's story or my story. It is everyone's story with many points of view.! So far neither Saunders nor any other Aboriginal people have taken up the offer. The Flight of Ducks is suspended in cyberspace by the world views of Simon Pockley and a father he barely knew.

ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
March 24, 1999

WORLD PRIES INTO BLACK TRADITIONS.

The Flight of Ducks is a website hailed as a leader in the new craft of on-line publishing, but also vehemently criticised by some for undermining the privacy of indigenous cultures. In PART TWO of a report by a SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT the Alice Springs News continues the saga of the site created by Simon Pockley. Pockley uses writings and photographs by his ophthalmologist father John, which give a revealing account of contact with Aboriginal people in Central Australia in the course of two journeys, undertaken in 1933 and 1977. Objections to the site have been focussed particularly on the material from the earlier trip, when Aborigines' right to say yes or no was not acknowledged.

(See PART ONE in last week's issue.)

As a boy, Simon Pockley's knowledge of his father came largely through stories of his life he shared at the family dinner table. Otherwise John Pockley was mostly absent. The third in a family line of ophthalmologists who didn't want to be ophthalmologists, he believed duty was the first priority in life, and worked up to 365 days a year, often voluntarily. The doctor's diversions, which rarely included his family, were the classics of French and English literature and music, and his trips into the bush.

When he died, Simon Pockley found the records of two of these trips, between them spanning 43 years of his father's life. The first (1933) was contained in a couple of hand-written journals and a type-written manuscript and the tobacco tins, full of deteriorating prints and negatives. The second described another trip to the Centre, this time alone through the deserts of Western Australia in a Land Rover, when John Pockley fulfilled a dream he had articulated in the 1933 journey, to climb Mount Olga.

Now a mere mouse-click away from each other in cyberspace-time, the two journeys starkly contrast the young John Pockley, a keen and open-minded observer of the world, with the elderly version reactionary, bitterly opinionated, sometimes racist and yet admirable in an old-fashioned way for his courage and stoicism.

Simon Pockley recognised many of the stories in the 1933 account from his father's mealtime talks, but was intrigued to discover variations between the original record and subsequent accounts. The effects of time on memory are one of the themes explored in The Flight of Ducks. Whenever he had urged his father to document the trip, Pockley Sr had brushed the suggestion aside, saying, !But I was so young then.!

The journals reveal the trip was in fact the formative experience of Pockley Sr's life, and that he had been tinkering away at the early account for four decades, embellishing and enlarging its various details.

Pockley describes his journey by train to the Centre, his stops at Quorn, Alice Springs and Hermannsburg with likable understatement and gentle satire. The photographs of the desert and its white settlement are well-composed and of historical interest.

But according to Mike Leigh, former film archivist with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Studies Institute in Canberra, there is no doubt where the broader appeal of The Flight of Ducks lies. !This is a very personal site, but it gains its strength at the expense of Aboriginal people,! says Leigh.

Keeping Pockley company on the camel pad from Hermannsburg are Hezekiel, an Aboriginal guide, artist Arthur Murch, craniologist Stanley Larnach (who studied the skulls of indigenous peoples in the hope of discovering their racial origin) and the young T. G. H. Strehlow, later to achieve fame and notoriety for his own interactions with Aboriginal culture.

As the journey progresses they encounter more and more Aborigines, until eventually there are more than 200 camped nearby. The white party swap food and water for tjuringas, skulls, and !photographs of family life!. Murch makes numerous sketches of the natives while Pockley attends to a number of patients, one with an abscess on his leg, another suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis. He pities an old woman who has apparently been left behind by the others. He reports a translated conversation about the fate of twins under tribal law.
NEXT WEEK: THE ENCOUNTER'S CLIMAX.

ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
March 31, 1999

WORLD PRIES INTO BLACK TRADITIONS (SERIES).

The object of plaudits for its achievements as on-line literature, the website known as The Flight of Ducks has also drawn its creator Simon Pockley into a controversy over cultural appropriation. The site is based on the journals and photographs of his ophthalmologist father, with concerns mostly focussed on the observations of Aboriginal culture and images of Aboriginal people made by John Pockley in his 1933 journey into Central Australia. His companions on this journey were Hezekiel, an Aboriginal guide, artist Arthur Murch, craniologist Stanley Larnach and the young T.G.H. Strehlow.

In PART THREE of a report by a SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT the Alice Springs News continues the saga, with the account by Pockley Snr of, to say the least, uneven cultural exchange between his group, travelling from Hermannsburg, and some 200 Aborigines camped nearby.

(See Parts One and Two in the preceding weeks' issues.)

On the most memorable evening of the journey, the white men perform for their Aboriginal audience a shared repertoire of songs, which Pockley describes as !pitifully limited! to one verse of God Save the King and Waltzing Matilda.

He writes: !I wished I had brought my gramophone and some Bach, Mozart and Schubert songs to watch the natives' reactions. However our efforts gave them the idea and reduced them to almost helpless laughter. We heard one of the most fascinating and unforgettable night's entertainments possible. Their corroboree songs or whatever they were, were so old that some of them were sung in a different language. It seemed that some songs were common to all tribes, and they could all join in. Others were purely tribal so that only the tribal groups knew them and the rest just listened. The older language ones were by far the best and had a repetitive form almost like a sonata or canonical form. These songs were not usually accompanied by action, whilst the rather tedious noise of the local ones were explained by an appropriate dance mimicking animals, war, hunting etc. In many cases the sounds had lost any meaning for the singers, and were either archaic or distorted beyond their own recognition but each song had a meaning and there was no need to tell even the white man what it was. We heard amongst many others the 'duck flying away' song. It is impossible to describe but it was rather frighteningly effective. Rhythm was paramount and the pitch tended to rise to a crescendo while the pace quickened in most of the verses. Forms were inverted and the character of the black man's voice gave it all something undescribable, at any rate we all knew that the ducks were resting on the water, were surprised, and took off clumsily then flew off and away but returned with a swoop at terrific speed to disappear into freedom again and peace.!

As his later journal reveals the experience is to profoundly shape Pockley's perception of Aboriginal culture.

!After this night I will always respect the blacks as the custodians of a real culture, wherever it came from and however debased it is today.!

There is nothing on Flight of Ducks about how Pockley spent the four decades until 1976 at least not at the time this article was written. But it's clear from his later fulminations he believes these interim years have witnessed not only the decay of Aboriginal culture, but of the West's as well.

Pockley despairs of a divide between those who 'do their duty' and those who cry for their rights. He describes a !widening rift between the minority of disciplined thinkers and those unable to keep their balance, so that at the very time when trained and disciplined minds are vital, there is a widespread escape of a majority into barbarian ignorance.!

Pockley rails against popular culture, young people, the Australian Teachers Union and the "great Australian public service which pushes non-achievement to an art form". He briefly alludes to the work of fellow eye doctor Fred Hollows as part of a fear campaign "being spread by a group aiming at government finance for a socialist vote-spreading crusade by the far left." These misanthropic diatribes are balanced by engaging and often passionate descriptions of the countryside and interesting accounts of human encounters. They also include a disarmingly honest account of his inner life, obsessions and aspirations: "The whole trip was the fulfilment of a promise made to myself on the top of a remote hill: to reach and climb Mt. Olga some day; to climb to the top and try to prove whether or not I had seen it from the north. As I had spent the last eight years in self-disciplined slavery learning Homeric Greek, I added the challenge of declaiming the first four books of the Iliad. I felt that to do so would constitute some form of first for the record books in a man my age. In the end I got what I deserved for such childish exhibitionism."
TO BE CONTINUED.

ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
April 7, 1999

WEB KEEPS DREAMTIME ALIVE (SERIES).

John Pockley was an ophthalmologist who made a memorable journey into Central Australia in 1933, and again in 1976. His writings about his experience, and in particular his observations and photographs of his encounters with Aboriginal people and their culture, form the basis for the website known as The Flight of Ducks and created by his son, Simon Pockley. The site has been applauded in some quarters for its achievements in the new craft of on-line publishing, and criticised in others over issues of cultural appropriation and its use of material that in all likelihood was gained without the informed consent of the Aborigines it depicts. In PART FOUR of a report by a SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, we join John Pockley in 1977 as he fulfils a promise made to himself in the course of his earlier journey, to one day reach the top of Mt Olga. In the preceding eight years he had submitted himself to "the self-disciplined slavery" of learning Homeric Greek. He now added to his challenge the intention of declaiming the first four books of Homer's Iliad from the peak.
Warned against the climb by a park ranger, Pockley spends seven terrified hours climbing the smooth-faced dome. When he reaches the top, overcome with fear, he barely manages the first 20 lines of the Iliad and a mere glimpse in the direction of Ayers Rock. Simon Pockley now believes his father could not possibly have climbed Mt Peculiar, the hill from which he claims he thought he saw Mount Olga in 1933. There was not the time, he says, and he found no mention of the climb in the original journals. He also says his father mellowed after the 1977 journey and his subsequent retirement. The third generation ophthalmologist then succumbed to the irony of his other patrilineal inheritance - hereditary blindness - and spent most of his last years singing and reciting verses from his beloved Homer. A recording of one of his efforts is included on The Flight of Ducks. Simon Pockley describes The Flight of Ducks as "part history, part data-base, part novel, part research diary, part news-group, part museum, part poem and part shed." Flying duck icons – symbolising "imaginative flight" – transport the visitor back and forwards not only across time and place, but from the narrative to the poetic, the photographic to the theoretical. It's a new way of doing history. A major essay on the site - Killing The Duck To Keep The Quack - is devoted to the quandaries posed to archivists and libraries by the explosion in digital information that has accompanied the computer age. Pockley argues the safest place for such material is on the net, where it is immune from the technological obsolescence facing software systems forever being updated. But unlike traditional archives which limit public access to delicate materials, he says, the best guarantee of survival on the net is regular access. The 1933 journals are his pilot project, springing from his own quandaries over his father's materials. "Because they illustrated an important story and because they may be the only existing record of some of these people I felt a responsibility to send them into the future," writes Pockley. But the amorphous, unboxed nature of The Flight of Ducks - which consists of more than 700 "screens" - determines that it is many things to many people. One e-mail correspondent, for example, announces he or she is working on a history of facial hair for children called Weird Beards and asks Pockley if he can help. Aboriginal film-maker Wal Saunders has quite another perspective. "This site has nothing to do with Aborigines," he says. "It's about the digitalisation of records normally kept in vaults. I don't see why he's used Aboriginal photographs to demonstrate that. Why not cars?" Film-maker and archivist Mike Leigh, a friend and supporter of Saunders, sees The Flight of Ducks primarily as the expression of "a romantic notion in which Pockley is trying to position himself in relation to his father." He concedes: "It's a unique site, perhaps the first of many to come." But Leigh and Saunders agree that Pockley has used his father's photographs to boost the public appeal of The Flight of Ducks. "I and a lot of other Aboriginal people are sick of having our images used as the theatrical paint in someone else's stage play," says Saunders. "Considering the net is open for exploitation, it may be that some of these images are used to sell condoms or Budweiser beer in America. There's no protection." Leigh, who's been involved in years of discussion about proposed moral copyright laws, backs Saunders' view that pre-1967 photos of Aborigines should be returned to the status of "family materials". "I think it's unlikely the people in the photos gave their permission," says Leigh. "Part of the problem with The Flight of Ducks is that he doesn't let you know about the considerable wealth of material available from the same period. "If you look at the notebooks of people like Norman Tindale or E. O. Stocker you can see in many cases Aboriginal people were pushed into photographs by missionaries or managers." But, says Leigh, there were other forms of more subtle coercion - the food and the novelty of the white camps, for example. "I don't believe Aboriginal people fronted up to be photographed. In most cases they wouldn't have understood the technology anyway."
TO BE CONTINUED
The address of The Flight of Ducks is http://www.duckdigital.net/FOD/
See Parts One, Two, Three of our report in Alice News issues of March 17, 24 and 31.


ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
April 14, 1999

DREAMTIME QUACKS SET WEB ABUZZ. (Series)

The achievements as on-line literature of Simon Pockley's The Flight of Ducks do not overcome its "moral copyright" problems, according to his critics. The site is based on the records, written and photographic, made by his ophthalmologist father John in two journeys to Central Australia, the first in 1933, the second in 1976.
This is Part Five of a series by a SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.
Aboriginal film-maker Wal Saunders is, among other things, concerned by the "archaic views" expressed in John Pockley's 1933 journal and the "racism" in the 1976 journal, in which he refers disparagingly to "half-castes", and infers that "real" Aboriginal culture is "extinct". "In this day and age with Hanson and other right-wing people going around spouting their views I don't think these sort of sentiments are going to further our progress as a united nation one bit," says Saunders. But is he granting John Pockley more authority than he has ... and overlooking the opportunity that The Flight of Ducks offers: to scrutinise the scrutineer, to gaze at the ethnographic gazer? Saunders' friend, film-maker and archivist, Mike Leigh is more equivocal. "I'm not saying he should dismantle the site," he says. "These photos are of real significance to him in understanding his relationship to his father and his family ... and for all of us in understanding the relationship between ourselves and the people on the expedition. "But I do think there's a good deal of Victorian romanticism involved, and these questions need to be brought out and addressed. "Despite his intention to make this free and available and unlimited, it's a very constructed site. You don't get enough discourse. You get other people's views by e-mail, but you don't get his response to them for example. "I think he could have constructed it so as to make it possible not only to Homerise his father, but also to give a voice to people who've been dispossessed of land and voice for so long." Leigh also believes the site would benefit from the inclusion of other white views particularly those of Pockley's fellow expedition member artist Arthur Murch. Besides his sketches of the trip, Murch also made a film which is kept in the archives of the Institute for Aboriginal Torres Strait Islanders and Studies, along with his notes. In contrast to Pockley's "obsessiveness," says Leigh, Murch was a "bohemian and an artist, a knockabout sort of fellow," whose records included some "ironic" themes. Simon Pockley responds that he has been waiting for Murch's widow to include Murch's sketches and accounts on the site adding that "Larnach will be next." But did he try hard enough to get the "Aboriginal side" to the story? Certainly, despite his relative comfort of travel, he had nothing like the kind of access to Aboriginal people his father did. In his 1996 trip to the centre, Simon Pockley gets a permit from the Central Land Council (CLC) for two days to "traverse the country" through which his father travelled. Among the few Aboriginal people who do speak to him is the grandson of one of the few Aborigines actually identified in the memoirs. He sees no problem with publishing the pictures because the people have been dead so long. The year before, Pockley Jr had sent copies of the photos to the CLC. "They disappeared with a man ... who claimed to be 'the thought police' on the phone,' he told Saunders in an e-mail. "Over the last two years I have sent requests for comment to every Aboriginal group I could find on the net, including ATSIC. But I have received nothing back." Pockley has nevertheless included warning screens for people who might be offended by the photographic contents, which include images of pointing bones collected by his father. He is also investigating the possible use by Aboriginal communities of PICS the Platform for Internet Content Selection as a way of screening "sensitive material." NEXT AND FINAL: Divining the nature of "sensitive material". The address of The Flight of Ducks is http://www.duckdigital.net/FOD/ See Parts One, Two, Three and Four of our report in Alice News issues of March 17, 24, 31 and April 7 or on our internet archive.

DREAMTIME QUACKS SET WEB ABUZZ. (Series)

The achievements as on-line literature of Simon Pockley's The Flight of Ducks do not overcome its "moral copyright" problems, according to his critics. The site is based on the records, written and photographic, made by his ophthalmologist father John in two journeys to Central Australia, the first in 1933, the second in 1976.
This is Part Five of a series by a SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.
Aboriginal film-maker Wal Saunders is, among other things, concerned by the "archaic views" expressed in John Pockley's 1933 journal and the "racism" in the 1976 journal, in which he refers disparagingly to "half-castes", and infers that "real" Aboriginal culture is "extinct". "In this day and age with Hanson and other right-wing people going around spouting their views I don't think these sort of sentiments are going to further our progress as a united nation one bit," says Saunders. But is he granting John Pockley more authority than he has ... and overlooking the opportunity that The Flight of Ducks offers: to scrutinise the scrutineer, to gaze at the ethnographic gazer? Saunders' friend, film-maker and archivist, Mike Leigh is more equivocal. "I'm not saying he should dismantle the site," he says. "These photos are of real significance to him in understanding his relationship to his father and his family ... and for all of us in understanding the relationship between ourselves and the people on the expedition. "But I do think there's a good deal of Victorian romanticism involved, and these questions need to be brought out and addressed. "Despite his intention to make this free and available and unlimited, it's a very constructed site. You don't get enough discourse. You get other people's views by e-mail, but you don't get his response to them for example. "I think he could have constructed it so as to make it possible not only to Homerise his father, but also to give a voice to people who've been dispossessed of land and voice for so long." Leigh also believes the site would benefit from the inclusion of other white views particularly those of Pockley's fellow expedition member artist Arthur Murch. Besides his sketches of the trip, Murch also made a film which is kept in the archives of the Institute for Aboriginal Torres Strait Islanders and Studies, along with his notes. In contrast to Pockley's "obsessiveness," says Leigh, Murch was a "bohemian and an artist, a knockabout sort of fellow," whose records included some "ironic" themes. Simon Pockley responds that he has been waiting for Murch's widow to include Murch's sketches and accounts on the site – adding that "Larnach will be next." But did he try hard enough to get the "Aboriginal side" to the story? Certainly, despite his relative comfort of travel, he had nothing like the kind of access to Aboriginal people his father did. In his 1996 trip to the centre, Simon Pockley gets a permit from the Central Land Council (CLC) for two days to "traverse the country" through which his father travelled. Among the few Aboriginal people who do speak to him is the grandson of one of the few Aborigines actually identified in the memoirs. He sees no problem with publishing the pictures because the people have been dead so long. The year before, Pockley Jr had sent copies of the photos to the CLC. "They disappeared with a man ... who claimed to be ‘the thought police' on the phone," he told Saunders in an e-mail. "Over the last two years I have sent requests for comment to every Aboriginal group I could find on the net, including ATSIC. But I have received nothing back." Pockley has nevertheless included warning screens for people who might be offended by the photographic contents, which include images of pointing bones collected by his father. He is also investigating the possible use by Aboriginal communities of PICS the Platform for Internet Content Selection as a way of screening "sensitive material." NEXT AND FINAL: Divining the nature of "sensitive material". The address of The Flight of Ducks is http://www.duckdigital.net/FOD/ See Parts One, Two, Three and Four of our report in Alice News issues of March 17, 24, 31 and April 7 or on our internet archive.

ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
May 12, 1999

DREAMTIME SUFFERS WEB EXPOSURE: THE DUCK HAS LANDED. Conclusion of Series.

Does the Internet offer opportunity or threat, or a bit of both, to indigenous culture? With Part Seven we conclude the series by a SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT on the controversial website known as The Flight of Ducks. Created by Simon Pockley, it is based on the records, written and photographic, made by his ophthalmologist father John during two journeys to Central Australia, the first in 1933, the second in 1976.
The various people who have contributed to this discussion of The Flight of Ducks Aboriginal film-maker Wal Saunders, film-maker and archivist Mike Leigh, Tanami Line pioneer Peter Toyne, and South Australian Museum director Chris Anderson all concluded that if The Flight of Ducks contained an Aboriginal perspective, the "sins" of the Pockleys would be forgiven. In one conversation, Saunders suggested The Flight of Ducks could become the subject of a Native Title hearing over intellectual property. Could we be facing a Wik case of the mind, in which Aborigines and other Australians compete for rights to the shared terrains of history? Simon Pockley himself calls for a "networked pluralism" which he believes offers Aboriginal interests the best opportunity yet to tell their own story, alongside his and his father's. But he also concedes the Net may be "culturally biased" against Aboriginal groups, partly because its access is personal rather than collective. "I don't think Wal Saunders or most Aboriginal groups have any idea of the tidal wave of digital material that's coming, most of it from people who don't give two hoots," says Pockley. Saunders describes the Net, however, as a "great opportunity for Aboriginal people to stop seeing themselves or being thought about as the Other ... the people who live in remote Australia or the ones who live in Redfern or Sydney." As far as he is concerned, the Aborigines in The Flight of Ducks are "other". But as yet only a handful of Aboriginal groups have made use of the Net. They have made their own decisions about what is appropriate to be revealed. Some are selling paintings, others didgeridus. Alice's Aboriginal Arts and Culture Centre runs an attractive and reasonably informative site that attracts thousands of visitors. OBJECTIONS The Yuendumu community, which has pioneered the Aboriginal use of television and video-conferencing on the "Tanami Line" so far has no homesite, pleading a lack of resources. Two years ago it e-mailed its own strenuous objections about The Flight of Ducks. to the site. They were dutifully posted by Pockley, who publicly mourns the failure of Aboriginal groups to take up his invitation to share space on the site. But he also says he is "hardening" on the issue of cultural copyright. "Speaking from my own cultural standpoint, I claim the right to tell this story," he says. "I am a pluralist. There are many stories to tell." When pressed, Pockley describes himself as a builder rather than a story-teller. His next project is called Land, a website in which he plans to use datascapes developed on The Flight of Ducks. The core, or "hyperspine" of Land is four years he spent alone in The Warrumbungles in Western New South Wales in his twenties, building a series of "landscape sculptures" and – interestingly enough – a tower, linking a spur with a west-running range. In a funding application to the Australia Council that evoked his father's 1933 night in the desert, Pockley described his vision of Land as a campfire "around which people can share their stories." Where the story of The Flight of Ducks will end and who will share it may depend on the persuasive powers of its opponents. So far the site has prevailed, even against an investigation by the ethics board of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology after Pockley had submitted the site as his PhD thesis. Should The Flight of Ducks through cyberspace be grounded – or even abandoned by Pockley it would assume a more static life. It is one of a few dozen websites singled out for preservation by one of its fans, the Australian National Library. The ANL takes monthly "snapshots" of the site, forever a work in progress, for the pilot project, a tentative attempt to grapple with the tidal wave of data and metadata unleashed on the Net. Appropriately enough, the project has been tagged Preserving and Accessing Networked Documentary Resources of Australia - or simply Pandora.
The address of The Flight of Ducks is http://www.duckdigital.net/FOD/
See Parts One to Six of this series in Alice News issues of March 17, 24, 31, April 7, 14, and May 5.