03Dec2013

The Quoroom reloaded

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This website was originally created in 2008—it was one of the first websites I built using Joomla CMS— in part to provide a home for an online community that I had been involved with since the late 1990s but, more importantly, to realise a personal ambition of a place on the internet where I could discuss serious issues with others who were concerned as I am about Australian current affairs.  In the time since this site came into being there have been many changes, not only in our lives but in terms of what purposes, objectives and outcomes I sought to achieve.

Everything old is new againPeter Allen

The last time I made-over this site was two years ago and I used this opportunity to reduce some of the clutter—material that was irrelevant or "unhelpful" in achieving my goals—but I did not diligently persevere with the activity owing to time I was spending on my other projects.  The time has come for a major overhaul, a complete re-think and to implement a new strategy; that's what I'm writing about today.

When I began this "work" I really did not have a clear vision for the site.  Sure, I had no doubt in my mind that one of my goals was to "empower my users to grow my web content" (and the primary mechanism to achieve this was having a discussion forum) but I was not sure to what end or in what direction this content would [magically] grow.  This, therefore, was my greatest challenge:  to define the site's purpose.  Without a purpose, this site would only exist as a demostration of my capability to write a lot of nonsense but display it in a cosmetically-appealing way!

The proverbial procrastinator that I am, while I knew it was important to define this site's vision—at least in my own mind—I watched the activities here dissipate and cease while I buried myself in tackling the underlying technological issues underpinning the "empowerment" goal I wrote about before.

Shortly afer creating this site I became increasingly interested in the underlying software to the extent that I would invest whole days of my time to assist team who built it—it's a good feeling, isn't it, when you feel like you've made a difference and I may write more about some of my adventures in this area at another time.  But, it's time to get back to fulfilling my main ambition:  discussing and tackling the issues that should be of concern to us in Australia.  It's all very good to have shiny clean tools but they might as well sit in a museum unless you're going to use them.  I have the tools, I have the know-how, it's time to do something.

So, when I undertook this latest site make-over, this time around I have been more ruthless in removing those parts of the site that are unnecessary to achieve its purpose.

Recently—when I write "recently" I mean over the last decade—I have seen the stifling of informed political debate, discussion and engagement by the community in shaping and determining our future.  I'm part of the baby-boomer generation and we were radical, rebellious, challengers of the status quo who, when we were young adults, saw the need for change and took action.  What has happened to us today?  Are we only capable of thinking only in terms of three-word slogans?  Are we more worried about the financial cost of our energy needs than about the environmental cost of our energy consumption?  Are we incapable of being sympathetic and understanding towards those who feel marginalised in our society—those whose gender, sexual orientation, race or religious belief is different to ours—because of blind prejudice and unfounded fears that these "minority groups" will somehow wreck our ideals of "the Australian way of life"?  Are we more occupied with putting behind bars the evil-doers—the murderers, rapists, drug-addicts—than attending to the underlying conditions that cause these crimes:  the defects of  our educational, health, labour (and possibly, even, our political) systems?  Are we more occupied with punishing those who commit crimes against people—those who terrorise people in violent and life-threating ways—yet, by our silence or indifference,  reward those who rape the environment, who profit obscenely from company directorships or elected office, and those who get away with suppressing information?  Are we content to sit in our armchairs each day soaking up the spin-doctoring and the marketing of consumer product disguised as "commentary" that smothers our capacity to differentiate between what is true or what may be the "truth" of an Orwellian nightmare?

These are the issues that concern me and, in my opinion, should concern us all.   I feel it is time to do something before this generation of Australians is condemned to a dystopian, 1984-like, future; we're already seeing its beginnings it worries me.  This is my mission:  to analyse, to try to understand what are the real issues and to write about them while I still have the freedom to do so.  That's what The Quoroom will be used for even if I may not have fully appreciated this when I created the site 5 years ago,

 

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