INTRODUCING THE LATEST CRIME-FIGHTING SUPERHERO: ONLINE VIDEO
The rise of YouTube and other online video sites has provided police and crime victims with a powerful tool in an effort to capture criminals. In December, a Brazilian man on business in Germany received a mobile phone alert from the security firm that monitors his Sao Paulo home and watched live online while an intruder ransacked his belongings half a world away. He called his wife, who alerted local police. The robber was arrested still in the man’s home, trying on his clothes.
In an effort to reach a younger audience of potential witnesses, a Canadian detective investigating a murder near a hip-hop club in Ontario posted security camera footage of two suspects entering the club on YouTube. At the time of writing, the suspects have not been caught, but Detective Sergeant Jorge Lasso believes he is the first investigator to directly employ YouTube as a crime fighting weapon.
And civic voyeurism is not all one way. A recent New York Times report heralded the rise of “sousveillance”, or watching from below, where public networks monitor the activities of authorities (politicians, for instance). The Times cites online videos showing “police abuse in Malaysia, gay-bashing in Latvia and union-busting in Zimbabwe”. There is even a site called HollaBackNYC.com, which invites women to post photos of men who harass them.
It is perhaps best to assume that in all public (and some private) spaces, you are being watched. Say cheeeese.
MADMEN SHARE $34.5 MILLION… AND A MILKSHAKE
It was remiss of us to omit mentioning the May 2006 sale of Madman Entertainment, the Melbourne-based anime and independent DVD distributors profiled back in issue 12 (“Inside the Asylum”, Oct/Nov ’05).
Madman was acquired by Funtastic Limited for $34.5 million. And how did co-founders Tim Anderson and Paul Wiegard celebrate? They shared a milkshake. Well played, guys!
WHET YOUR WHISTLE
A University of Queensland Business School PhD student is researching why some people don’t blow the whistle on inappropriate, dangerous or illegal activities in the workplace.
Many people encounter bad workplace behaviour, such as discrimination, bullying, sexual harassment, sabotage, fraud and negligence. “However,” says Marissa Edwards, “we know very little about how people who observe such incidents react, and how their emotions, thoughts and the context influence their behaviour.”
Edwards first focused on publicly available transcripts of the Queensland Public Hospitals Commission of Inquiry into Dr Patel, to examine why some employees chose to remain silent, despite their concerns.
She is currently seeking to conduct confidential interviews with people interested in sharing their experiences of whistle-blowing or staying silent. If you have something to get off your chest and think it will help advance our understanding of whistleblowers and their reticent colleagues, volunteer for the study by calling (07) 3346 9325 or email [email protected]
REAL TIME MARKETS
Just about anything can be traded online these days, and Queensland-based company, Real Time Markets, has developed software to maximise our connectedness. Go5Live allows growers/producers and buyers to supply and trade perishables online in real time. The product is Australia-wide and enables the trade of flowers, fish, wine, cattle, coffee and other perishables.
Real Time Markets is a graduate of the Queensland Government’s technology incubation scheme, i.lab, and is now poised to capture substantial market share in one of the fastest growing industries in the world: the procurement of produce through business-to-business transactions.
Real Time Markets CEO Sharon Parkes was honoured with the 2006 Women in Technology PricewaterhouseCoopers Business Innovation Award, presented in July last year.
A TASTE OF CELEBRITY
While lots of people dream of becoming a celebrity, the grim reality is that few ever do. For some, being close to celebrities, and even the traces they leave behind, is better than nothing.
The proprietor of the Old Boatstore cafï¿½ in Kingsand, Cornwall, UK, is hoping to turn this yearning to his commercial advantage by saving and displaying leftover crumbs from famous customers. The culinary remains of British celebrities such as Pete Doherty and photographer David Bailey are displayed in individual containers for the benefit of awestruck patrons.
PRIOR ART? GOOGLE IT
Google has added patent search to its burgeoning suite of online services. The company is applying its world famous search algorithm to the US patent corpus in an effort to speed up and simplify the process of searching for prior art (and fodder for Bi-goodness!).
PUTTING HAIR TO SLEEP
In other patent news, The New Scientist has revealed that Philips is patenting a new device that sends hair follicles to sleep for weeks, eliminating the need for shaving or waxing.
Researchers at Philips’s Dutch laboratory have discovered that short, weak pulses of near infrared light from a halogen source send follicles into a dormant state. The company claims that three treatments over two weeks reduces hair growth by 90 percent.
GOOD TO GO
Australia’s largest wine producer, Hardy Wine Company, has produced a wine bottle with a plastic glass in the one package. The “Shuttle” holds enough wine to fill one glass, with a detachable plastic container fitted on top of the bottle. Expect to see the Shuttle around this year, particularly at events where glass is not allowed. The product will also be test run in Britain from March.