Australians couldn’t care less about politics? Really?

Cross In The Box - Adam Wyles, Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

Cross In The Box, Adam Wyles, Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

It has become accepted wisdom in public discourse that Australians are disengaged with politics. But is that really the case? Or are we more invested in our political system than we appear to be?

A poll last year noted that less than one-third of respondents had “a lot” or “some” trust in either their federal or state parliaments. The figure for the former had dropped from a relatively lofty 55% in 2011.
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Making A Murderer and the cult of factuality

Image source: Netflix

Image source: Netflix

As Netflix approaches two million subscribers in Australia, free-to-air TV execs have called on government to “ensure a level playing field for Australian media businesses”. The US-based streaming service is alleged to be at an uncompetitive advantage over the established broadcasters, which must follow regulations and legal constraints that do not apply to Netflix. That’s a fair point, and a topic for another column.
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ATNIX: Australian Twitter News Index, November/December 2015

The Australian Twitter News Index for 2015 concludes with a double helping that covers both November and December – a time when the sharing of news stories on Twitter usually begins its slow decline towards the holiday season. These patterns are sustained in 2015 as well, although the drop-off in news engagement is more pronounced for some sites than for others: stories by Twitter market leaders ABC News and Sydney Morning Herald are shared considerably less in the weeks before and after Christmas, while third-placed source news.com.au experiences fairly little variation from week to week.
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Crisis communication: saving time and lives in disasters through smarter social media

Bushfire image courtesy bertknot, Flickr

Bushfire image courtesy bertknot, Flickr

Joint article by Terry Flew, Queensland University of Technology and Axel Bruns, Queensland University of Technology

As the worst bushfires seen for generations in New South Wales raged across the Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands and the Central Coast two years ago, people urgently needed fast, reliable information – and many turned to their phones to get it.

The NSW Rural Fire Service was prepared with a smartphone app, Fires Near Me, which was downloaded almost 200,000 times. At the height of the fires, its Facebook page was recording more than a million views an hour.
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#returnbull: How Twitter Reacted to the Latest Leadership Spill

parliament

Australian Parliament House. Image source: Madeleine Deaton, Flickr

Australian political observers will not need to be alerted to the fact that we have a new Prime Minister: Monday afternoon, former Liberal Party leader Malcolm Turnbull unexpectedly challenged Prime Minister Tony Abbott for the leadership, and later that night won a party room ballot in a 54 to 44 decision. As with the previous leadership spills (from Rudd to Gillard in 2010, and from Gillard to Rudd in 2013), social media – and especially Twitter – once again played an important role in tracking this unfolding story across many different rumours and reports. Here’s how they did it.
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Apple News could change the news business – will readers win?

Image source: Johan Larsson, Flickr

Image source: Johan Larsson, Flickr

In the early days of Web 2.0, the arrival of blogs and similar sites heralded an explosion in the number of news feeds we could follow. But such abundance also came at a price: it became increasingly difficult to keep up with all this content without having to browse at length from site to site every day.

In response, a friendly acronym briefly flourished: Rich Site Summary, better known as Really Simple Syndication or RSS. Coupled with a feed reader tool, RSS enables users to quickly scan the headlines and click through only to those stories that pique their interest.
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Why the Murdoch press wants to exterminate public broadcasters

news corp

Image Source: Edgar Zuniga Jr., Flickr

Like most people with even a passing interest in the part played by News Corporation in British politics, I remember exactly what I was doing when scandal broke in 2011 and the sense of a seemingly indestructible media behemoth crumbling into chaos and ruin before our eyes. Now, Rebekah Brooks is to return as chief executive of News UK, publisher of the Sun, the Times and the Sunday Times. In 2014 she was cleared of all charges relating to the phone-hacking scandal.
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Lab coats and leggings: when science and dance connect it’s quite a show

€ Danscience_2015 promo image_cropped

Dancing is an activity most people associate with after-hours exploits: parties, weddings, the lounge rooms of friends with great vinyl collections, a night out at the ballet – or television shows such as So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With The Stars or Got To Dance.

But what about dancing in the classroom to teach biology to high-school students about mitosis and mitochondria? And what could leotards and leggings possibly have to do with neuroscience and physics?
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