January 20 - 26, 2013: Issue 94

 Online Common Ground to Be Safer – Sonar Dolphins Arise!

A few years ago while doing a Communications Degree one part of the units described how handicapped and disabled people love the online world due to there being no handicaps there and their being able to be superhuman beings, without disabilities, without disfigurements, without the eyes of those who look being able to see how they may appear on the surface and making ‘judgements’ that are then clearly visible in their own expressions. This was easily a highest note of joy in this formalised study of our social development through our technologies and… ‘you better get your references right’. ‘Fantastic! That’s wonderful.’ was the consensus in all students.

Anyone with two brain cells can also then recognise some people who are online who have disabilities of another kind and would try crippling others, sometimes wounding them mortally. A lack of ‘engage brain before opening mouth’ is not what is going on there.

To be in charge of your own joy is a fundamental human tenet. To be included in the great world all live in, rather then excluded, to be able to dance, fly, skip across water or field, is something no one should ever take for granted. To have a common meeting ground where your voice and what is says is all that matters can be a powerful liberation or, when misused, just as powerfully destructive. To use the online world to attack others, when you may also not be seen, not only is clearly cowardice but also the opposite of what the original creators had in mind for this technology before it even was a medium for all.

Vannevar Bush published, in 1945, As We May Think, in which he predicted that "wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified" (1.).  Wouldn’t that be great; to be able to store and access knowledge through one system …you bet it would; bring in the computers! This was also a precursor to hyperlinks, invented by Bob Berner. Hyperlinks are the way we link from one site and subject to another so that, if you wished to place a definition or further information on a subject via just one word, you can take the reader to a whole new page where that information is. You can see how an online sea has quickly developed and why terms such as ‘surfing the web’ to describe such activities evolved to succinctly describe them.

How to keep our physical aspirations matching our mindful ones though…?

Last year we saw and heard of the commitment by the NSW Government to NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) and all this will do for our disabled citizens; empowering, liberating and long overdue. This week another step to keep everything as it would best be was announced by the Federal Government in reaching an agreement to make the online world safer for all users, especially those who would prey upon our children or our vulnerable. It’s unfortunate that we have to create legislation and reach agreements on codes of conduct for all when to simply conduct yourself as you should, respectfully, intelligently and with caring, due to some people having missed out on these basics during their education or consciously disregarding them for whatever reason ails them.

Fortunately we all have an inbuilt sonar dolphin, which tests every thing out until a resonance comes back showing what is true, what is hollow and what we will, then, choose to embrace or choose to not have as part of our worlds. We here persist in believing we are here to lift each other up, not tear each other down. We welcome all because all, in being born, are welcome here and belong and none should deny this. When you look at someone, whether online or in the physical world, it is their essence you are reaching to know and celebrate. Our persistent pursuit of being how we would dream to be has also caused a sonar dolphin aspect to develop in this new common ground of the online sea. And from there all will fly…and meet and greet…and raise each other up…high.

1. Bush, Vannevar (July 1945). "As We May Think". The Atlantic Monthly. Retrieved 20 April 2012.

Social Networking Sites To Cooperate With Government On Complaint Handling - WED 16 JANUARY 2013 MEDIA RELEASE
Prime Minister, Acting Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Sydney
Social Networking Sites have agreed to continue promoting user safety as well as undertaking education and awareness raising about antisocial behaviour online under new guidelines announced by the Prime Minister.
The Cooperative Arrangement for Complaints Handling on Social Networking Sites commits companies, such as Facebook, Google (YouTube), Yahoo! and Microsoft, to:
• Set out clear information about its acceptable use guidelines;
• Undertake education and awareness raising activities about what behaviour is acceptable and not acceptable online;
• Have a single point of contact for Government; and
• Have robust processes in place for reviewing and acting on complaints,
The Protocol is another step in the Government’s ongoing work targeting antisocial behaviour online like cyberbullying. The Protocol also demonstrates that Social Networking Sites understand that they need to work cooperatively with the Government to meet the expectations of the Australian community when it comes to combating inappropriate conduct online.
It is never acceptable to be harassed or bullied online. The protocol ensures that Social Networking Sites have clear and easy to follow processes so that complaints are handled promptly and in accordance with their abuse policies. The Government is encouraging other Social Networking Sites to join Facebook, Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft and sign up to the Protocol; and has commenced discussion with Twitter about doing so. We will continue to work with Social Networking Sites to further develop and enhance the Protocol.
The Acting Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Kim Carr, said that the protocol is another demonstration of the strength of the Government’s Cybersafety Plan.

The Protocol was developed in response to recommendations of the Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety’s June 2011 Interim Report, High-Wire Act: Cyber-Safety and the Young.  Its development has benefited from the cooperative work undertaken by the government, industry and non-government organisations, through the Government’s Consultative Working Group on Cybersafety.
The Protocol also complements the government’s popular Easy Guide to Socialising Online which provides information and advice to families about how to safely navigate many popular social networks.
The Protocol is available at:
The Easy Guide to Socialising Online is available at:

Words and Pictures of Dolphins and Australian Raven by A J Guesdon, 2013. All Rights Reserved.