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Stateside With Rosalea: The Mother of All Bells

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

The Mother of All Bells


(A miscellany of reviews)

**Most ding-a-ling webcast**

Will somebody please tell the Minister for Information Technology that you don't actually have to type www. into a browser these days to get to a web address? It does not make you look hip to use "dub, dub, dub" when making a speech; it makes you look really, really daft.

And while we're at it, let's also get something into the teacher training curriculum to the effect that "lachrymosa" is not the only sub-species of crocodile. "Politicosa" is another one, and giggling is no defence against their using you for their own ends. I'm not sure which of the two Christchurch women doing the most important job in the world--teaching--was the giggler-sycophant, but please, please don't pass that behaviour on to the innocents we have entrusted to you.

I went to the Digital Strategy launch webcast with high expectations of seeing how much progress Aotearoa-New Zealand has made since I left in 1999, and came away from it thinking, "No wonder all the front-bums with functioning frontal lobes are leaving the country and taking their children with them."

To see the webcast, go to http://www.r2.co.nz/20050516/. For some idea of what real grown-up women out in the real world are capable of, your homework is to read this article: http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2005/04/25_zakhor.shtml

**A ring-in for 2005's best use of technology**

Proof positive of the indestructible ability of the human race to turn a sow's ear into a--well, a sow's ear with a cheap plastic earring on it, is Ringtone Dancer. That ubiquitous annoyance, the downloaded cellphone ringtone, has been brought to account by the very technology that led to its creation in the first place.

Who could possibly resist a webcast of someone dancing to cellphone ringtones, perhaps even filmed using a second cellphone? Well, of course some people are churlish enough to complain that the cheapskates only used one ringtone for all five little movies, but hey--there's plenty of room on the internet for your ringtone dance too!

http://ringtonedancer.contagiousmedia.org/

**For whom the Bells toll**

My phone company is SBC, which swallowed up PacBell--one of the baby Bells that Ma Bell spawned when it was forced to split up back in the day when monopolies were not well thought of. That is, before they all merged back together again to form SBC. And now California's Public Utilities Commission is holding public hearings on whether SBC should be allowed to merge with its rival AT&T.

The big threat to traditional phone companies is VoIP--phone services delivered via the internet without the consumer having to pay for individual calls. The Federal Communications Commission stepped into the fray with its clout late last week by demanding that VoIP services provide the capability for their customers to make emergency calls to 911.

The move seems intended to force small VoIP companies to go bankrupt in the process of retrofitting their technology to comply with this surprise demand within the required six-month time period. Or else go bankrupt paying hefty tolls to the Bells, which have a monopoly on the E-911 systems that allow emergency dispatchers to see the number and address of the caller.

Two links that apply:

http://sbc.merger-news.com/

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4565719.stm

**The Mother of All Bells**

Finally, something that I didn't see on the internet but at the Input 2005 conference: a film made by the St. Petersburg Documentary Film Studio in Russia. Billed by its makers as "A film about how deaf mutes understand the world", it aroused quite a bit of passion in the discussion that followed its screening.

The director of "Wedding of Silence", Viacheslav Telnov, wasn't at the screening, but the producer stood in and was careful to say right at the beginning of the discussion that the documentary was not a sociological or psychological investigation of the world of deaf people.

Nonetheless, several members of the audience who had deaf people in their care insisted that the film romanticized what is in fact a very difficult situation for those who find themselves in it. Another audience member was equally passionate in insisting that it was a movie about movie making itself. He called it a work of genius.

Me, I was just blown away by the sepia-toned, Soviet-heroic-style bulkiness, yet gracefulness, of it. And the ending, when you see what it was that these deaf mutes were creating at their workplace, was nothing short of an epiphany.

You and I are deaf mutes in the sense that we, too, understand the world but we don't have the same control of the means of communication that huge telecommunications, entertainment and news corporations do. Yet we have created something that rings out around the world--the multifarious, multifaceted content of the World Wide Web.

Don't let's allow it to become Dubs'R'Us.

rosalea.barker@gmail.com

--PEACE--


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