Friday, August 11, 2006

'Vy Don't You Use Da Reglah Ahmee?'

Finally got some work done today, although only because my wife's at home sick and was kind enough to set aside getting well to watch the kids for an hour instead (thanks, babe!). Her sacrifice gave me the chance to knock out some questions for the Head of Programming at Channel Ten and to zip out for an interview with an expert on all things Internet from UWA.

One highlight of this chat was his description of the Deleting Online Predators Act (
DOPA), a piece of legislation that was pushed through in the US recently.

There's no easy answer to tackling sexual predators, but there's some question as to whether DOPA's on the right track. Broadly speaking, the Act forbids government-funded schools, libraries and the like from providing minors with access to any Internet site that involves use of a personal profile. So that's sites like MySpace, Facebook and even blogging sites like this one. This measure, it is believed, will stop paedophiles from targeting children simply because the children have no access to the sites where these predators stalk.

My interviewee's opinion was a little different:

'DOPA says, "Fire is dangerous, therefore we're going to lock you in a cupboard so you can't see fire until you're 18. Then we're going to kick you out of the house where things are burning all over the place then just hope that somehow, in that period of time, you'll learn not to stick your hand in a fire".'

It's a good point - warning children of what to be aware of while online, just as you'd have the 'Strangers Talk' with them out in the real world, has to be of greater protection to them than simply cutting them off from the problem and hoping they'll never encounter it.

Perhaps in this instance a little education's better than a lot of litigation.

As far as other work progress is concerned, my attempts to immerse myself in horror lit have ground to a halt, largely because I started out by reading an example of 'How It Shouldn't Be Done'.

There's a quote on the front of the book in question proclaiming that the author is 'An expert in the art of keeping the reader turning the pages'. What this opinion fails to specify is that the page-turning involves flicking through ten to fifteen at a time, in the vain hope that something's going to happen.

Still, lesson learned, then: don't write tedious dross that substitutes gore for plot.

Seems a bit obvious, really.


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