Digest – Jan 31 2010

It is Sunday, right?


The motortax.ie website cost €523,000 to maintain last year according to an official response given to Fine Gael senator, Paschal Donohue. An insane figure. Question: if it was Fine Gael in charge would they have just hired in cheap Russian freelancers and used the intellectual property of another organisation (then attempted to pretend they didn’t do anything of the sort) to keep the website running? Fair play to Senator Donohue for bringing the figures to light all the same.

Gerard O’Neill of Amarach Research on the idea of trickle down employment.

In Wicklow: Councilors seek inquiry into issuing of waste permit. Very interesting case that one. It’ll run and run.

One from each side of the specturm, both adding to national debate: Constanin Gurdgiev on the knowledge economy. Michael Taft memo to IBEC on Ireland’s wage levels.

John Burns’s piece in today’s Sunday Times on the blogger who paid out €100,000 for libeling someone is interesting, and not just for bloggers. The blog which is the subject of the story is so obscure that Google finds zero – repeat zero – inward links. This is despite it having been operational since May 2005 (contrast that with TheStory; we’ve only been going since October or so, yet there are over 800 inward link results to the front-page alone). Additionally, the writer’s profile has only been viewed 3,000 times since the blog opened – or less than once per day.

So it’s a little-known, to say the least, blog.

With that in mind I’m making the assumption that basis of the argument put forward by legal team for the people who felt they’d been libeled was “if you Google my client’s name, one of the first results is that blog post. That post is libelous”. If my assumption is correct (and it may not be!) then the case was on the potential future damage to an individual’s reputation if their name had been Googled, rather than the damage done by the publication of the post itself. That’s interesting. I’d love to know TJ McIntyre, Eoin O’Dell or Simon McGarr’s opinions on the matter.


Are you reading Marc Lynch yet? If not, why not? ‘Will an (alleged) assassination shatter the Hamas-Israel cease-fire‘?

Have you read Adam Curtis’s series of posts on Kabul, Afghanistan and the minor events that sowed the seeds of the troubles we see in the region today? Part Seven, this week.

‘Blackwater’s youngest victim‘. Fascinating piece of journalism by Jeremy Scahill in The Nation.

Spencer Ackerman on neo-conservative spin pitting Obama against the CIA.

The guy who writes the Dilbert comic has a blog, and he’s one clear-thinking dude. On the new Apple iPad.


Charlie Brooker on how to report the news. Too perfect. My favourite bit is the random old man giving his opinion about how he hates the bits in the news where some random punter gives their opinion.

Also, I suppose, in some ways slightly, ironically, I’ve just bought a handheld camera (like a Flip) and am starting to put together a broadcaster-in-a-backpack kit. I’m going to start knocking up some visual packages for this site. I’m looking to either make (or buy) the steadycam rig shown below. Doesn’t look too tricky to make – I’ve just no tools to make the part of the joint with the ball bearing. Any mechanically minded readers got some ‘skillz’? Email me.

Jakers, it doesn’t half function well for something so simple, does it?…

[Design done by Protodojo]

4 thoughts on “Digest – Jan 31 2010”

  1. 100,000 Euros is like winning the lotto for most people but probably small change to the recipients in the blogger case. Any chance you could libel me in this blog?

  2. Leaving aside the specifics of the Laura Barnes case, there is a more general point to be made highlighting the importance of keeping good server logs.

    The level of damages in defamation reflects the extent of publication – i.e. the extent to which the defamatory material was actually read. This is not (despite the best efforts of plaintiffs’ lawyers) the same as the extent to which it might have been read. Consequently (leaving aside other factors such as the gravity of the allegations) damages should be greatly reduced where the audience can be shown to be negligible. Potential readability worldwide notwithstanding.

    Unfortunately, in the absence of server logs, it is going to be very difficult to rebut a plaintiff who claims that the material appeared quite high in search engine rankings, may have been read worldwide, etc. Consequently a defendant in that position is likely to be on the back foot, especially where a judge assumes that availability online automatically equals a mass audience.

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