Saturday, January 14, 2012

Open-sourcing Martin Ferguson

I say it's time to turn the tables in the open-source stakes against Martin Ferguson. As many will know by now - including many in the energy and resources minister's own Batman electorate - Ferguson has been pushing a spy-on-the-protesters campaign to undermine public interest protest and to defend - with the help of ASIO, the AFP and others - the private interests of carbon-intensive resources companies.

Part of the campaign is the Government's hiring of a private firm, the National Open Source Intelligence Centre (NOSIC), to gather what it claims is publicly available information on green protest groups (we don't actually know which information sources NOSIC uses).

Sadly, no-one really knew about this or could subject it to any kind of public scrutiny until Fairfax journalist Philip Dorling recently reported on information he obtained through freedom of information requests.

But shouldn't the information we need to make informed decisions about the policies and decisions of our leaders be freely available, without the need to make freedom of information requests that are too often vetted by the very people who do not want to make that information available to us?

Indeed, too much information is denied, obscured or difficult to find for no public interest or valid privacy reason, but that's where protesters themselves and civil society organisations like the non-partisan OpenAustralia Foundation (Bravo!) can step in to help.

Together, we can open-source Martin Ferguson in a collaborative project that we might like to call the Ferguson Open Source Information Links (FOSsIL) project. #FOSsIL might even be quite a nice Twitter hashtag to let everyone follow what's going on.

To start the ball rolling, here are some easy ways to keep track of Martin Ferguson. They're all open source, there's nothing in the least bit sneaky about them, we can all own up in good conscience to using them, and we'll be doing it not for profit, but in pursuit of the public interest goal of informing ourselves to campaign more effectively for a safer climate.
Some of these sources also allow you to subscribe to email alerts, or to RSS feeds for those who use them (RSS in Plain English explains very clearly how news feeds work).

Of course, this is only a handful of genuinely open sources, but it's a useful start. It's important to read widely, because some of Martin's most climate-unfriendly announcements are made - indeed proudly touted by Martin himself - in Australian and international business media, for example.

Got any good sources of public information about Martin Ferguson? Why not tweet them using the #FOSsIL hashtag!

By the way, I should mention that the pictures in this post are from the Say No to NOSIC protest organised by Occupy Melbourne at Ferguson's Preston electorate office last Thursday.

Comments welcome.


  1. Great idea. There is an entry for Martin Ferguson on Source watch - again an open source project which utilises a wiki website enabling any registered user to add source information and detail.

  2. Many thanks for the first contribution, Mr Takver, and an informative open-source one it is, too!


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