Who is watching whom: social media and its discontents

China has a rapidly evolving social media system that is being used to, as Albert Zhang says, ‘influence unwitting audiences beyond China’s territory. This includes using increasingly sophisticated online tactics to deny, distract from and deter revelations or claims of human rights abuses, including the arbitrary detention, mass sterilisation and cultural degradation of minorities in Xinjiang’. This includes the announcement that ‘research and reporting by media outlets, think tanks and universities about Xinjiang were the ‘lie of the century’. He argues that ‘CCP information operations targeting Xinjiang narratives and human rights abuses need to be countered now to mitigate the CCP’s global campaign of transnational repression. Achieving that requires governments and civil society to work more closely with social media platforms and broadcasters to deter and expose propaganda organisations and operatives’.

Then, (at 13 mins) is there an Asian digital regime? Professor Milton Mueller argues that there was ‘though it was closer to a global regime based on neoliberal principles of free trade and globally distributed supply chains in which Asia played a special part’. He takes us back to the 1980’s and 90’s and the heady early days of telecommunications and information technology where a ‘transnational platform economy based on search, social media, e-commerce, video-sharing and apps began to emerge. It was led by US companies, but Chinese start-ups were fast followers’. So what’s changed? He says that the ‘globalised regime that East Asian countries benefited from so greatly is fragmenting into several large geopolitical blocs — the United States, Europe, China and India — resulting in a more bordered space governed by tensions and power plays’.

Also, (at 25 mins) can Indigenous knowledge about this country be called science? Dr Eyal Gringart and Ken Hayward believe so. Afterall, ‘for tens of thousands of years, First Nations people have addressed changing weather on this continent and successfully applied their knowledges to land management. Their knowledge and contribution deserve full recognition’. They tell us about the work that some scientists are doing with Indigenous knowledge. Including ‘how implementing Indigenous fire knowledges can reduce environmental destruction and greenhouse gas emissions. One example of this is the West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement Project in the Northern Territory’. Also, ‘scientists recognised the accuracy of Indigenous knowledge about bird fire-spreading behaviour and collaborated with Traditional Owners to gather evidence of this. The scientists documented certain bird species deliberately spreading fires by picking up burning sticks and dropping them in unburnt areas to drive out prey’. They believe that ‘learning to respect Indigenous cultures strengthens our social, economic, and environmental resilience’.

Then, (at 38 mins) Amanda gets on her soapbox to rant about undervaluing ourselves and others.

Finally, (at 39 mins) we are losing more and more ancient tress as a result of climate change, can anything be done to stop this? Jim Robbins argues that ‘trees clean our water, affect our climate provide wood for building and supply sources of food for us and many of the animals we eat. They even, somehow, seem to be connected to the stars Yet we know astonishingly little about their role in our world’. He says that ‘we also lack knowledge about the genetics of trees: especially the effects on the gene pool of cutting down virtually all of the biggest, most robust trees for lumber over many centuries’. This beginning to change as scientists have begun to ‘unpack the importance of ancient tree genetics, with mounting evidence showing they will play a critical role in the future of the Earth’s forests’. He takes us through some of the projects taking place including the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive that are working to understand and protect ancient trees. ‘Forests and trees are something we can no longer take for granted’, he says, ‘their existence is increasingly fragile and their loss would be incalculable’.   


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Written by Sharecaster

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