True, most of the Australian players came unstuck playing a particular stroke that is not normally part of their natural Test-match technique. (Although it has become de rigueur in the T20 form of the game.) But even if the sweep shot was their agreed tactic against India’s spin bowlers, they forgot the two guiding principles of successful Test batting:
1) Play your natural game as much as possible;
2) Play according to the actual conditions (not according to prior expectations)
No doubt there will be calls for selection reviews, more enforced net sessions, and even suggestions that some of the team should be dropped for good – either because their time has come (in relation to a few senior players), or because the experiment has failed (in respect of recent choices). But there probably won’t be a call to cull any of the team’s leadership, given the tumult of the past few years. The present captain seems both a pretty likeable person and a professional player – unlike some of his recent predecessors, the continued presence of whom casts a shadow over the Australian team.
None of which really acknowledges that however badly Australia performed, they were simply out-classed and out-played by their opponents. Failure to realise this fact perpetuates the notion that the opposition can never be as good as, let alone better than, the men in baggy green. And it reinforces the arrogant belief that Australia is somehow invincible, and only loses when it trips over its own self-confidence.
Of course, like any professional sport, cricket is just a game, and the top players get paid handsomely to train, travel overseas and turn up to hit a ball around. And like any job, you can sometimes have a bad day in the office…
On February 18 this year, Facebook decided to “ban” news content in Australia. This meant that Australian Facebook users (including media companies) could not post news content or links, nor could they access local or overseas news. The move was a preemptive strike (and a somewhat crude negotiation tactic) by Facebook in an attempt to circumvent the Media Bargaining Code, which requires social media and search engine platforms (specifically, Google and Facebook) to pay news providers for the use of their content. Despite the gnashing and wailing among some sectors of the Australian community, the world did not end. And while Facebook has somewhat relented (following some concessions from the Federal government), the story has generated some useful debate about the power of certain tech platforms and the degree of influence or control they exercise over what we see on our screens each day.
Personally, I did not find the ban an inconvenience, because I rarely use my Facebook account, and I certainly don’t rely on it for news or information. Instead, I prefer to access content direct from providers. One result of the ban was more downloads for Australian news apps such as the ABC and Inkl. Another (unforeseen?) result was a block on information posted by public and voluntary sector bodies, including essential services, health, community and charitable organisations.
Regarding the former, this can only be a good thing. Seriously, if we are relying on Facebook for news content, THAT is the real problem. As for the latter, it suggests a lot of organisations have become over-reliant on Facebook to reach their audience.
Meanwhile, Google (which had already struck a deal with Australian media companies) was eagerly promoting the number of Australian “partner publications” it offers in its News Showcase. This was something of a U-turn, because Google had threatened to remove search in Australia in response to the same Media Bargaining Code. While that might have been drastic, nevertheless, other search engines are available.
It was also interesting to see Microsoft (no stranger to anti-trust action during the so-called browser wars) promoting BuzzFeed via Twitter on the day of the Facebook ban. I also received a number of e-mails from various organisations reminding me that I could still access their content direct from their website or via their newsletter. These moves to re-connect direct with audiences started to make Facebook look very silly and petulant.
Just as there are other search engines besides Google, other social media platforms are available – so why do so many people appear to be against the Media Bargaining Code, and would prefer to give Facebook a free monopoly over which content they read?
I have written previously about Facebook’s relationship with “news”. For those people who felt “cheated” that they couldn’t access news, they should realise that a “free” social media account comes with a price – the consumer is the product, and is only there to serve up eyeballs and profiles to be sold to Facebook’s advertisers. In short, Facebook only sees news as a magnet for its own advertisers, so it seems only fair that they should pay for this piggyback ride on someone else’s content. (And we all know what else Facebook does with our personal information, as the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed.)
Some commentary suggested that Facebook is providing a type of “public service” by enabling links to news stories – so much so, that they question whether it is equitable to force Facebook to pay for the privilege, under the new Code. In fact, some argued that Facebook should be charging the media companies for linking to their stories, since this drives traffic to third-party news sites, which in turn generate advertising income based on their own readership. But this overlooks the reality of the economic bargain being struck here: Facebook might like to argue that it is doing you a “favour” by serving up news content in your personal feed; whereas, the social media giant “curates” what you see in your feed purely to generate ad revenue.
Alternatively, if news content has no value to Facebook, why has it been happy to distribute it for “free” all these years? Because, I repeat, they know full well that without readers and content, they can’t sell advertising. Maybe Facebook should invest in journalism and create their own news content? Oh wait, they don’t want to be regulated like a newspaper. Remember in 2013 when Facebook said it wanted to be “the world’s newspaper”, but then they realized they’d have to comply with media laws (libel, racial vilification etc.) and quietly dropped the plan?
In short, Facebook is not interested in being a news publisher (nor being subject to relevant media laws) but they are happy to “leverage” third-party content. Now, they will have to pay a fair price to use that content.
The conclusions from this Facebook episode (and some clumsy messaging from the Federal government) are pretty obvious:
There is no such thing as a free lunch – a “free” social media account comes with a price; and there is also a cost attached to using someone else’s content
Taxation of tech company revenues like Facebook, Google, Apple, Netflix and Amazon should be at the point of sale and consumption (i.e., where the consumer value is created and the income is generated, not where the revenue is recognised).
Other search engines and social media platforms are available and content can be accessed direct from the source (but we’re probably too lazy to change our habits….)
In part, this is about the continued demise of the 4th estate – no-one wants to pay for content, so social media platforms are getting a free ride having already destroyed the newspapers’ classified and display advertising business model
But it’s also about the attention economy – consumers are the product when it comes to social media, so perhaps we should get paid more for our own time spent looking at ads?
As ever, tech outstrips legislation – the law lags behind and is playing catch up
And politicians really don’t have a clue how to go about this…..