Chan and Sukumaran don’t deserve to be put to death

I have 2 young children and when one does something that annoys the other, like use the indoor trapeze for too long, the aggrieved child will lash out wishing horrible things upon their sibling, sometimes they use their fists and feet trying to inflict as much pain as possible. It can get ugly.

I was reminded by this pre-school logic when considering an article about the mother of a drug overdose victim who said that the condemned Bali 9 drug smugglers Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan deserved to die. Her reasoning was that her daughter died of a heroin overdose and Chan and Sukumaran “viscous criminals”. She also praised the Indonesian death penalty for drug dealers.

Strangely, I knew where she was coming from.

For a long time after my twin sister died of a heroin overdose I swore vengeance on her ex-boyfriend, then who introduced her to heroin and was instrumental in her life spiralling out of control. She was taking back control when she died, working as a carer for autistic teenagers in an assisted living center in the northern suburbs, and had been accepted back into university. Despite this she was still caught by the opiate spell in times of stress or distress and one Sunday morning in March 1998 after an overnight shift she took some heroin at my parents house and died.

I would tell people if I saw her ex-boyfriend I would run him over; that he didn’t deserve to live. In the throes of grief I wanted anyone I perceived as having a hand in my sisters downfall to have something precious taken away from them.

Many years later I was having a weekend breakfast in Fitzroy Street, St Kilda with a friend when I saw my sisters ex-boyfriend shuffling up the street. He looked pathetic. His clothes were dirty, he had white flecks of whatever around his mouth and a shuffling demented demeanour. Before I knew what I was doing, I was on my feet and marching up to him. “Hi Stewart”, I said shaking his hand. “Great to see you”.

I’ll never forget the relief I felt at letting go of the grief and anger in this strange act of spontaneous forgiveness. After, I sat down to my Eggs Benedict and Cafe Late elated. The look in his eyes had been incredible. For an instant our eyes connected and we shared in a millisecond, the elapsed years of grief, rage, shame, and relief.

I felt slightly ashamed at having wished ill upon him, particularly at publicly stating I would run him over. It was the actions of a toddler, a pre-school tantrum.

Recently I was similarly ashamed when I found myself equivocating about whether the death penalty was justified for the Bali 9 drug smugglers, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan.

For an instant I forgot how absurd it is that a government can take another persons life in the name of justice, instead I selfishly remembered my own pain and wished vengeance upon the condemned men. In doing so, I was wishing vengeance on all condemned prisoners everywhere.

According to Amnesty there were almost 1,000 death sentences carried out during 2013 in 22 countries. The real number could be higher because this excludes China which is secretive about the number of prisoners executed. It’s estimated that 2,400 are put to death each year. In case you’ve forgotten China is one of Australia’s largest trading partners. Our government has been oddly silent about China’s love of the death penalty.

Oil rich Saudi Arabia still practices gruesome public beheadings with Amnesty saying they beheaded almost 80 people in 2014. In some cases the decapitated body is also crucified and displayed publicly to warn fellow citizens against transgressing Sharia law. Saudi Arabia have executed more women in the past 12 months than ISIS. Again, our government is strongly silent.

The United States executed 35 people in 2014 with the states of Missouri and Texas responsible for more than half of the executions.

Artist Ben Quilty has received a lot of press for his admirable campaigns protesting against the death penalty for the condemned Australian drug dealers. He has been quoted as saying, “they have been rehabilitated”. Quilty is clearly coming from a good place but it concerns me that he has focused on their rehabilitation and good works, rather than the barbaric taking of a human life, the sanctity of human life and the need to defend it at all costs.

To do otherwise is to prioritise the lives of Australian drug dealers over Chinese billionaires or any other poor benighted human being. If the death penalty is wrong, then we need to protest it at all costs.

It’s simple: Killing is wrong. Chan and Sukumaran don’t deserve to die. No one does.


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A letter to my local Member of Parliament about Mandatory Data Retention

Here is a letter I will be sending to my local Member of Parliament, Mr Jason Wood.

Dear Mr Wood,

I write regarding the Mandatory Data Retention bill, Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014 and would like you to clarify your position.

I have deep concerns about the proposed scheme and request that you vote against it in Parliament.

My first concern is that metadata is not adequately defined in the proposed legislation. Moreover, the Attorney General and Minister for Communications have repeatedly failed to define metadata. If the most senior members of your government cannot explain what metadata is, they’re very unlikely to craft good policy in relation to communications, privacy, security, and digital business.

If my electronic timeline can be tracked over a 2 year period and my movements and relationships be accurately reconstructed, my privacy has been infringed by the State. Comparisons to existing schemes that refer to phone data retention are flawed, as in a digital world all my private activities can be tracked via a smartphone that allows for movement as well as messaging to be tracked.

As a member of the Liberal party, you are no doubt familiar with your federal platform, which recognises that our quality of life in Australia depends on “protecting personal privacy”. I fail to see how the data retention laws site with your worthy privacy principals.

Can you please clarify?

The classic response to objections to data retention is that as former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt said, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

This is, respectfully, garbage. Regardless, of what I want to hide or not hide, I have the right to privacy from the government, my employers, my family, my insurance company, my local member of parliament, and my ISP; from anyone.

As Michael Bradley recently pointed out in an article for ABC’s The Drum (, metadata could also be used in civil complaints.

Then there is the national security question: The Prime Minister has claimed that the threat from terrorists justifies the request from our national security agencies for more metadata to prevent incidents like the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the Lindt Café hostage crisis. There is no evidence that additional metadata would have prevented these incidents. Mons Monis, the hostage taker in the Lindt Café crisis was on bail and the Charlie Hebdo shooters were under surveillance yet in both cases the additonal information afforded to security agencies and police were not effective. In the case of Mons Monis, 18 separate reports were made to the national security hotline and yet, 3 people died. Hardly a convincing case for mandatory data retention.

If security is such an issue, why don’t warrants have to be obtained before accessing the data? It doesn’t make sense.

The Prime Minister has said the costs of implementing the scheme could amount to approximately $400 million annually. This is an unreasonable impost on consumers at the time when your own cabinet members are talking up a budget crisis.

Not only is the approach flawed; there are easy ways to avoid metadata retention by using a Virtual Private Network, also known as a VPN. These services are legal, easily affordable, and can provide additional privacy and security. I will be considering using one should the bill be passed into law.

I urge you to vote against the bill and take a stand for freedom of privacy, freedom of movement, and less government interference into people’s lives.

Yours Faithfully,
Jon Stribling

What have you done? Write to your local MP and Senator’s today.


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Connecting the digital dots

Digital means many things to many people.

To some digital describes the nexus between new technologies and marketing/business resulting in new ways to connect consumers and marketers.

To others digital is an ethos. It describes a new way of working, conceptualising ideas, seeing the future, and testing, learning and iterating. Digital involves a different way of doing business.

For Steve Sammartino there is no digital. Sammartino believes that technology is innate, that there have always been technologies which help us do things better, faster, differently. For him a digital strategy is just a strategy. People come first. Digital is just a set of tools and methods to help people.

“Anyone who doesn’t get digital, doesn’t get strategy. We need start to think again in terms of utility for the audience – it’s only when we focus on their needs that we can ever hope to be a solution in their day.”

Sammartino wrote about this in 2013. Smart guy.

What he is saying is don’t become enamoured of technology. Focus on living, breathing people with emotions, habits, fears, and passions. People are/should be the ultimate beneficiaries of technological advances.

A recent article in e-consultanc, Three digital marketing mega trends for 2015 reminded me that there is still a lot of work to be done.

“But we are a long way yet from the seamless, omnichannel, personalised customer experiences we all talk about. To deliver on that promise we need to connect a lot of dots.

“Only then will the digital and marketing engine start to purr efficiently rather than stutter as it does currently.

“We have a lot of dots to connect. We need to join up data, we need to integrate technology systems, we need online and offline to become joined up.

“But it goes well beyond that. We need to connect dots in our processes and operational practices to enable, for example, agile ways of working. We need to connect dots in our organisational structures to enable multi-disciplinary teams and multichannel thinking.”

I love the metaphor of connecting the dots to describe the process of using technology to integrate online and offline worlds, provide  customers with a consistent experience regardless of channel/device, and build innovative products. For some dots the connections are clear. For others, connectedness seems impossible, the stuff of dreams.

Closing the gap between technology and our mad imaginings is what makes us uniquely and magnificently human.  Thinking digitally helps. Thinking about people and what makes them get up in the mornings helps more.



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Tell the truth or show empathy

Telling the truth is powerful.

It’s also one of the hardest things to do if you’re an empathetic person.

Most of us who are capable of empathy and not psychopaths don’t like making people feel bad, sad, or angry.

But it isn’t always possible to make people feel good. Sometimes as part of my job I need to make someone feel bad about their strategy, their product, their approach, their ideas, their website. The way I approach this is to stand in the space of truth. Being committed to telling the truth means you’re not settling for an emotional debate between right and wrong, you’re committed to an outcome, to something with integrity.

As long as you’re telling the truth with integrity, no one gets hurt. They just get informed, get better, or get motivated.



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Why we still need a minimum wage

My first job was as a dish-pig in the long since closed Yarra’s Restaurant in South Yarra. I got $10 cash per hour and a knock-off drink. The hours were long, the work dirty, and the chefs were either belligerent or incompetent. Sometimes both. I rolled up hungover one morning and was told, “don’t bother”. While it was a relief, the consequences weren’t great, with rent and bills due. (more…)


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The myth of being indispensable

When you first get a job, you turn up early, take instructions, work diligently, keep your head down and try and do your job as best you can. If you do a good job, one day you might make team leader, become a manager, and help other young people develop up through the system. The story is the same whether you work in a factory, an office, a parliament, a kinder, or at home answering service requests for an international software business. Work hard, develop skills, be awesome, save money, raise kids, buy a house, retire to praise, go on a cruise, and then spend your years painting watercolours or touring with a caravan.

Success in this world is doing what you are told, being obedient, and ultimately being replaceable.

No matter how hard you work in your job, there will always be someone who can do it cheaper or faster than you.

Challenge the status quo and you go from being indispensable to detached, free, and independent. Embracing your own creativity builds a defence from the world of dependency and fosters passion, personality, and connectedness.




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Does the .melbourne domain name have a future?

Melbourne has always been both the hippest and most normcore Australian city. Obsessed with cafes, coffee, fashion, sport, the right schools, and real estate Melbourne is either incredibly hip or dull and boring depending on which end of the Hume Hwy you live.

What Melbourne does have, is a vanity domain space – the new .melbourne domain name.

I recently spotted a puff piece in B&T cheerily titled “5 Marketing Benefits Of .melbourne And .sydney Domain Names”.

As a former employee of a domain registrar who was deeply involved in the release of a lot of new domain names like .kiwi, .club, the awesome .tattoo, and many others, I was interested to see how .melbourne was going.

Would I be surprised and delighted that the citizens of my hometown had been inspired to register their own .melbourne domain in the tens of thousands?  Had Melbourne residents been filled with parochial pride at the thought of owning their very piece of virtual Melbourne real estate?

Sadly no.

.melbourne looks like a bit of a disappointment. To put it in terms Melbourne inhabitants would understand, .melbourne is like a quiet cafe with bad coffee somewhere in a busy East Brunswick strip.

With 4,668 domains registered 10 weeks since general release, just over 467 domains have been registered a week. In fact averaging out the registrations makes the performance look better than it really is – only 8 domains were registered in the past week.

Compared with .london which has had 2,882 registrations a week, .nyc which has had 4,503, and .berlin which has had 3,542, it’s pretty uninspiring.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 9.19.33 pm

It’s worth noting that .berlin had a bit of head start with many thousands of domains being given away for free. This has made .berlin the fifth highest ranked new domain space. Unfortunately, the ntldstats data shows that only 17% of domains are being used so it’s unlikely .berlin will remain a top ten new domain space for very long.

Comparing the usage of the city domain names is interesting. Even though .nyc has achieved the highest average weekly registrations, like .berlin it has a fairly low usage rate with only 25% domains being used. 38% of .london domains are being used, and in some good news for .melbourne, 76% of domains are being used.

I’m unsure why so many are being used (or more accurately, are pointed to active name-servers) but it does point to a potentially high renewal rate. I suspect the high rate is because most names have been snapped up by proud government related bodies and local authorities.

For comparison about 40% of .com domains in use is believed to be around 60%.

One reason why .nyc might be smashing it is reasonably priced. A .nyc can be registered for around $31 through Name Cheap while .berlin, and .london are around the $45 mark and .melbourne is $69 through Crazy Domains.

Melbourne real estate really is more expensive than New York.

What about population? Each of the city domains requires a geographical address in the city to be registered. The exception is Vegas which is understandably easy and open to anyone (and anything).

Well, .melbourne is pretty unpopular here too, with only 0.11% domains registered for each Melbourne resident. .berlin is the most popular due to the free-for-all in 2014.

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 6.57.20 am

So, what does it all mean? Is there a future for the .melbourne domain name? Will we soon be drinking at (available as a premium name for $4k) while planning a trip to while complaining about (happily both are registered)

It’s hard to tell what the future is for .melbourne or any of the new domain spaces. But without a big increase in .melbourne domains registered it is hard to see any genuine affection for the domain developing just because “Internet users can feel confident they’re dealing with genuine and trusted entities” as the article claims. It all sounds pretty dull and boring. I would love to see the credible research into what makes “Internet Users” confident. I suspect it ain’t a domain name.

.melbourne needs to do more than make Internet Users feel confident. It needs to capture the spirit of the city and inspire creativity. Until it does it will remain dull and boring, a bit norm core.

All metrics current at the time of writing

The picture is of Bourke Street in the 1950s. This was a time when the pubs closed at 6pm and the city was devoid of hipsters and deeply conservative.


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What would Seth do?

Seth Godin is an Internet legend, the master of short, focussed and very entertaining paragraphs, an author of an incredible 17 books, and a revolutionary into the transformative force of technology.

It’s probably not fashionable anymore, but Seth is an inspiration. A free thinker, a visionary, an amazing communicator.

Seth is the man unafraid of bright coloured glasses whereas I am petrified.

Seth is a man who can write huge lists to inspire, provoke, and get you to act.

He is a reminder that you can smash down the mighty walls with creativity, words, and a little lot of pizazz.

If you’re stuck for ideas, are facing a curly issue you can’t get your head around ask yourself what would Seth do?


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2001 space odyssey hamilton watch

What wearables need is a unifying purpose

The hype about wearables is pretty relentless.

At the latest CES, smart watches (I know wearable watches, what will they think of next) were everywhere with CNET calling it a “swarm of smartwatches”.

I’ve been lukewarm on smartwatches and wearables because nothing I’ve seen justifies the buzz. There hasn’t been an iPhone/Tesla/iPad moment when I’ve thought, Wow, I need that.

The reason is that the manufacturers don’t seem to be clear about the problem they are solving. Wearables and smartwatches need a purpose.

Sure there are fitness and health apps, the Samsung Gear smartwatch that could be a genuine phone replacement, but, well there is not much else unless you want a pair of glasses that can help correct your posture.

When Apple launched the iPhone and combined a phone, with a PDA, and an MP3 player  the universe changed. The current batch of smartwatches and wearables don’t have the same unifying, inspiring purpose.

The only problem being solved is the one where I think, I wish I could combine my fitbit, smartphone, and watch. What the manufacturers have forgotten is that a watch is also an item of jewellery, a beautiful piece of art that can subtly announce that I am someone of taste, style, and means.

Apple may have solved this problem with the 18 caret gold Apple watch. The sketch and tap apps are also interesting because they create a new language for connecting through the watch. It will be like a mysterious smartwatch club with secret taps and knocks. This fits right in line with the personal messaging trend exemplified by Secret, WhatsApp, Wickr, and Snapchat.

The Swarovski Shine fitness tracker is pretty interesting because it addresses the fashion factor with a shiny crystal orb type device that looks like something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The wearables trend is an interesting product management problem and will be fascinating to watch (pun intended).


Image: The watch was designed for Stanley Kubrick by the US watch maker Hamilton for 2001: A Space Odyssey. I want one. (more info)



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The world is becoming more unequal, so speak truth to power

When I first saw  the HTML title of the tech blog Pando – Speaking truth to the new power – it grabbed me by the throat.

Recently Oxfam have announced that by 2016 the combined wealth of the richest one percent will be greater than that of the other 99 percent unless serious action is taken. To be part of the 1% you need to have $2.7 million in assets or hidden in your mattress.

This is some pretty serious coin.

In Australia, according to the ABS, the wealthiest 20% of households have an average net worth of $2.2 million. Again, this is some serious coin. The poorest 20% of households have a net worth of $31,000.

The recent experience  in Australia mirrors the global trend where disparity in wealth has been increasing. Since the 1980’s the Gini coefficient, a common measure of wealth inequality, has been growing, meaning as a nation we’re becoming more unequal, and wealth is unevenly distributed.

So what can be done?

Pando have it right; we need to speak a our truth(s) to the new power.

Part of the answer lies in digital technology and social media which can amplify the voice of the 99%.

For example Oxfam use digital technologies to help empower Cambodian women by giving them mobile phones. In East Africa mobile phones are used to monitor drought conditions, and in Bangladesh mobile phones are used to monitor storms and rising sea levels. In northern Australia, GPS technology is used by indigenous Australians to develop innovative burn-control strategies.

In urban Australia, I believe there is a correlation between the rise of smaller parties and a fragmentation of the traditional 2 party system which has given rise to the Palmer United Party and gridlocked upper houses of parliament, and the fragmentation of traditional sources of media. The more people abandon traditional media, the more likely they will abandon the traditional political parties.

This isn’t to discount the influence of Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd which owns 65% of all metropolitan newspapers. Rather it is a recognition that there are 14 million Australians using Facebook and 2.8 million twitter users who are accessing news and information in more convenient ways.

According to a poll last year, more Australians are choosing to source their news from independent media, blogs, social media and online. This trend is likely to continue as traditional media models continue to look for new business models to stay relevant.

Speaking a truth to the new power could be as simple as having a blog, promoting it via social media, and having something to say. It doesn’t mean there will be a revolution, but it does mean the difference between being a disempowered subject of power, and an engaged participant in the structures of power, using technology to protest, to learn, to share.

Get on board, get a blog, and say something.

It matters – you could change the world.

Photo (average) taken in Russell Street. An old hardware store which proudly proclaimed that they imported stuff is now a grocery store catering to the new urban dwellers. In one building we can see how a city, and the world has changed.


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