The Cove

The Cove (film)

Several months ago I wrote Don Webb about a documentary I had just seen at the Melbourne Internationa Film Festival: the eco-thriller The Cove. We talked about Arkte, Runa, the scientist John C. Lilly, the media’s power to construct and shape social realities, and exchanged anecdotes about dolphins and other cetaceans.

Tonight, The Cove won the Best Documentary Oscar at the 82nd Academy Awards, beating out Food, Inc and Burma VJ, which are also worth seeing. National Geographic photographer Louie Psihoyos and dolphin activist Ric O’Barry attended the Academy Awards ceremony (Psihoyos’ acceptance speech was cut short). To learn more, visit the sites for the Oceanic Preservation Society (Psihoyos), and the Earth Island Institute and Save Dolphins Japan (O’Barry).

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8th March 2010: 2010 Oscars

Facebook message to my sister: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

Rosie returns to Hobart.

Afternoon watching the Oscars live telecast: one of the worst Oscars ever, with production mishaps, missed cues, and barely audible announcers over the orchestra. Tom Hanks messes up the Best Picture Oscar, or were the producers demanding to stay on-schedule for their cable affiliates? Deadline Hollywood’s Nikki Finke blogs here on the debacle.

The Cove wins an Oscar for Best Documentary.My thoughts here.

Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker triumphs over James Cameron’s Avatar. I expected the Oscars for editing and scriptwriting: Mark Boal‘s shooting script will be studied by many up-and-coming scriptwriters for years to come. Will Boal write his next script using Final Draft for Apple iPad?

7th March 2010: Alice In Wonderland IMAX 3D

Morning: Rosie and I go to see Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland reboot at IMAX Melbourne. The car park is overcrowded with parents and cars, due to a baby expo next door. Rosie talks her way into a car space. Our consensus is that Burton watered down his vision for Disney: Alice has a couple of good sequences, but it’s a 2D film marketed on Avatar‘s 3D hype, Depp’s performance blurs into his other collaborations with Burton, and we would have preferred to learn more about the (reunited) family of bloodhound dogs.

Burton, his wife Helena Bonham-Carter and Depp: how long can a team maintain its high performance, across multiple projects, before it becomes derivative of earlier work?

Lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant in Richmond’s Victoria St precinct: amazing food, confusion amongst the waiters.

Evening: half-watching Paul McGuigan’s Push (2009): the Hong Kong scenes remind Rosie of Kar Wai Wong’s superior 2046 (2004). The film’s opening sequence creates a narrative that combines several memes: Cold War paranoia, the early 1970s Nazi Occult cycle, the 1990s disclosure of government funding into remote viewing psychics in which the money went up in smoke, and David Cronenberg‘s early films. Push‘s one genuinely interesting idea was to have a taxonomy of different human capabilities that interact in a simple rules-based system.

5th March 2010: ARC Bootstrap Process

House cleaning, gardening, and article writing.

Working through the assessment exercises from Timothy Baldwin, William Bommer and Robert Rubin’s textbook Developing Management Skills: What Great Managers Know and Do (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008), book site here.

Watched Stanford entrepreneurship lecture on Adding Value to Companies.

Martin Van Creveld on a 1998 television interview: soft-spoken, dismisses claims that the ‘future of war’ will be dominated by ‘cyberterrorism’ and other Revolution in Military Affairs trends.

A colleague told me this week of how a professor used the Australian Research Council‘s national competitive grants program as a bootstrap process for promotion to dean. First, they established their expertise, publication track record, and created a cross-institutional and collaborative research team. Second, they split the ARC grant proposal into different components, delegated each to different team members, and then reassembled them into a completed proposal. Third, they ramped up the number of applications to 15-to-20 per year, with a 50% success rate. The grant revenues made a significant contribution to the department funding. The professor was soon promoted to dean.

4th March 2010: Macquarie Edge

‘Pair of hands’ project finishes: debriefs for process improvements and advice provision.

Tonight, I attended a Melbourne Business School (MBS) talk on the changing investment landscape. In reality, it was a case study and walkthrough of Macquarie Group’s online retail trading platform Macquarie Edge, with speaker James Leplaw, head of Direct Investing at Macquarie Direct. The talk was far more than a sales pitch though, due to the Leplaw”s candour and willingness to talk about the decision traps and execution mistakes.

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3rd March 2010: Market St Dumplings

‘Pair of hands’ work continues.

Subjects during tonight’s dumpling dinner at Market St with Ben Eltham and partner Sarah-Jane Woulahan: how Everett M. Rogersdiffusion of innovation theory can be applied to customer demand for dumplings; Pavement‘s much-anticipated set at the 2010 Golden Plains Festival; what qualities empower an office space to support a team’s creativity; if underground emo band Forlorn Gaze would do a hospital tour like Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison (1968); how Ben manages to keep up-to-date on current issues for Crikey and New Matilda; and current projects. Thanks, Ben and SJ, for dinner.

2nd March 2010: Fool’s Gold

‘Pair of hands’ editing and budget development on a research tender.

Finished reading Gillian Tett‘s book Fool’s Gold: How Unrestrained Greed Corrupted a Dream, Shattered Global Markets, and Unleashed a Catastrophe (New York: The Free Press, 2009). Tett’s social anthropology perspective highlights the role of securitisation and financial innovation in the 2007-09 global financial crisis. Most of her sources appear to be a J.P. Morgan cohort, interviews with J.P. Morgan Chase chief executive officer Jamie Dimon, and industry conferences such as the European Securitisation Forum. Tett believes the J.P. Morgan cohort pioneered collateralised debt obligations in the mid-1990s and that this ‘super-senior debt’ had a pivotal role in the crisis. Fool’s Gold is most interesting when Tett describes the cohort’s original goals and the CDO innovation-to-market process; although Dimon is also portrayed as a savvy corporate philosopher and details-oriented manager.

In response to a Geert Lovink post on blind peer review in academia, Barry Saunders and academic friends tweet this process in an open ecosystem. My take? Many authors will already know who their critics are if there are clear personal agendas rather than constructive suggestions on how to improve an article. Look at the list of associate editors when applying to a ‘target’ journal as they will probably review your work. There are ways to handle ‘rejoinder’ processes – such as to show the internal inconsistencies between positive and negative reviewers. Many academic journals now use a hybrid approach.

In November, Ben Eltham and I wrote a conference paper and presentation on Twitter’s role in Iran’s 2009 election crisis. It’s been read by Australia’s Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, and been heavily downloaded. Today, Ben received news that University of East London senior lecturer Terri Senft has used our paper in her coursework on digital media culture here. Check out Terri’s personal site, LinkedIn profile, and LiveJournal blog.

1st March 2010: Bruny Island Cruises and ARC Discovery

Still feeling ill after yesterday’s Bruny Island Cruises eco-tour trip to Adventure Bay and a seal colony in the Great Southern Ocean. Amazing scenery and crew, but we hit rough weather on the way back, perhaps in part due to a tsunami warning. At a few points we feared the boat might capsize. Kenneth Kamler’s book Surviving the Extremes (2004) takes on a new meaning.

Lessons from sorting out a GPS that failed Sunday morning: Customers in a time-critical bind want a solution, not ‘shifting the blame’. Frontline staff need ‘decision rights’ and not to rely on managers who can’t be contacted at weekends. Unless you check it beforehand, critical technology will create revenge effects.

Today’s major task: finishing and submitting a research team’s ARC Discovery proposal. This has been a personal ‘shaping experience’. It takes a multi-university team up to ten months to craft a proposal. Apart from myself and the research team, the proposal had feedback from over 10 people. Advice to future applicants: read the ARC’s ‘funding guidelines’ and ‘instructions to applications closely; have lead-time to iteratively develop your proposal and form your team; and update your research impact and publication details in advance.

Alfred Hermida kindly sends me a forthcoming paper on ambient journalism, for a paper I’m drafting this week for the ERA C-ranked journal M/C. I picked up several Brian Eno events to review.

Wrote to Waldo Thompson on his website plans; Underbelly as a police-crime ‘repeated game’ in Australian culture; and its predecessor mini-series: Scales of Justice, Phoenix and Janus.

Several people sent me Larry Derfner’s Jerusalem Post article on Mossad and Mahmoud al-Mabouh’s assassination. Local coverage has emphasised Mossad’s alleged use of Australian passports for operational cover. Will this incident reinforce Mossad’s status amongst intelligence agencies and its reputation for careful operations? Or will the incident lead to a broader debate in intelligence studies about how counterdeception and operational security practices might, in certain outcomes, undermine an allies’ sovereignty? As an independent researcher, Robin Ramsay and Lobster Magazine is sure to explore this territory.