The Liberal State-Controlled Media

Leo Varadkar TD at a Fine Gael press conferenc...
An Illiberal

Well, it’s good to know I suppose.

Leo Varadkar, Fine Gael minister for transport, has accused state broadcaster RTÉ of “liberal bias”. Yes, his exact words. Just like he was on Fox News. Brings an entire new meaning to the term Irish Republican, doesn’t it?

Though it is sometimes hard to tell where Fine Gael are coming from politically, if you had to characterise them in a single word then “Liberal” would have been it. They’re a good fit for what it traditionally means – in Europe: In favour of individual freedom, including the freedom to use the advantages you were born into. So, laissez-faire economics and no particular interest in your private life.

But he seems to be using it in the American sense, where the phrase liberal bias has come to be coded language for anything not conservative, Christian and pro-Republican. Witness Conservapedia, the online encyclopaedia invented to provide information free from Wikipedia’s liberal bias – by which they mean evolution and other non-Biblical aberrations. In this mindset, neutrality itself is liberal bias.

I don’t claim RTÉ have no problems with objectivity, and I am sure that Varadkar is not actually a Creationist. But it is more than worrying to see a politician adopting the rhetoric of wilful ignorance. Does he really want to align himself with the likes of Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum?

Day of the Social Media Day

Research on Iran. by Negar Mottahedeh Social M...
Well I suppose that's one way to look at it

By the time you read this, Social Media may already have had their day.

That is, if you’re reading after midnight. Otherwise, it’s Social Media Day! So we should all get out and… Actually I suppose we should all stay in.

Do social media really need another day though? They’ve already got most of mine. And while I’m an enthusiastic user and positive overall about their influence and possibilities, I am a little disturbed by the vast power now in the hands of so few. Twitter hasn’t even monetised its success yet; I have paranoid visions that it’s waiting until it’s utterly indispensable to our working and personal lives before sending the ransom note.

Actually this is an apposite time for a Social Media celebration. MySpace, the first great success and first great failure of the sector, was sold on by News Corporation yesterday. I’m very tempted to start using it again just to piss Rupert Murdoch off. There may be several reasons why MySpace crashed, but surely being from the people who brought you Fox News was the kiss of death.

Another good thing happening right now is Google squaring up to Facebook. It would be nice to see some real competition – if you can compete with what looks awful like a natural monopoly – and if anyone has a chance of taking on Zuckerberg¹ it’s Google I guess. Their Google+ system does looks promising. Going by published details that is. No I don’t have invites. Or know anyone who has invites.

Of course I’d prefer if the competition came from someone else rather than Google yet again, and I’m glad to say that the Diaspora alternative… still exists. Any day now, it may start to… begin. OK, it’s taking ages; but even Twitter took years to get it right; when I joined back in 2007 it was just me and two other guys talking about how we combed our hair. And Diaspora are right to be careful, because I think their idea has the potential to be roughly the biggest thing ever.

Hopefully I’ll find some time today to explain why!

  1. Whose name, I’m afraid to say, Firefox thinks should be corrected to ‘C****sucker’. Editorialising?