about this thing

Shouty me in 2010 – fronting blac blocs

Hello World!

I’m Allan Boyd – Gen X poet, activist, poetry-slam organiser, media-maker, antipoet, web-dude / developer, ex-university lecturer, tree-planting contractor etc etc etc.

And currently a FIFO Trades Assistant in the Pilbara.

This particular blog is a place to gather my journo articles, interviews etc… an organic, rambling attempt to explain WTF I’m doing… a kinda exploration of a middle-age wadjella.

I’m studying Broadcast and Digital Journalism and Cyber Security at Edith Cowan University, Western Australia.

But I’m on a working break at the moment to help pay off my mortgage.

I contribute regular content to Perth Indymedia and On The Record talk shows on RTRFM 92.1.

I’m no stranger to journalism. I was a founder of Perth Indymedia way back in the ancient times of 2001. Alongside our global cohorts we invented open publishing. Indymedia (or IMC) was inspired by the 1999 Seattle WTO protests, the rapid growth of the Web – and an overarching necessity for activists to tell their own story (as opposed to the dominant narrative dished up by corporate media and the State).

Corporate and government media (often inseparable) have a necessary capitalist interest to tell stories in a certain way in order to maintain the status quo – whereas activism by definition requires change! 

The narrative of activism is frequently described through the lens of violent disruption. Activism is painted as a threat, a disruption, an anomaly to the norm. And any telling of activist’s stories is decidedly biased.

In Perth at the time, we were inspired locally by the burgeoning post–911 anti-war movement, the plight of Noongar people, the harsh treatment of asylum seekers, systemic racism, homophobia, misogyny and the utter lack of voice for marginalised people.

Perth Indymedia was formed to empower the voiceless.

My self-taught efforts as a Perth IMC editor and reporter during those times are now long gone and the archives missing in action – but I spent most of a decade reporting on political grass-roots activism here in WA and beyond.

In 2005 I also contributed over 100 news articles (and Editor/Administrator) at Wikinews

On the Perth Indymedia website, I’d written hundreds of feature articles, news reports and interviews about anti-war, human rights, Indigenous issues and helped tell the untold stories of environmental activists. At the time we didn’t think to back them up. And for various reasons they no longer exist.

The Perth Indymedia website, which had over 20,000 pages of content, eventually drifted off the web and we all went off doing other things.

As a broadcaster, I initiated, produced and presented the Perth Indymedia Radical Radio program (which still continues, thanks to the efforts of Ray Grenfell and others) on RTRFM. I was a regular presenter of the Morning Mag talks program and other shows there.

I’ve also presented and produced stuff on Twin Cities radio in Joondalup.

The web-development, coding and content management skills I picked up building activist websites with Indymedia led me to to develop websites for community groups, politicians, individuals, business and education. People just kept asking me to build them stuff – including the WA Greens, the Australian Greens and several WA MLCs.

By 2007, web design and development had become a successful, sustainable business for me – and in 2016 I was consulted by the WA Government to build a bunch of websites and intranets – including a complete overhaul of the EPA’s website. 

I’ve been doing that stuff since 1998. What began as a way to help activists and artists tell stories and share content online, has become a business. I can (and often do) build websites in my sleep!

But the challenge has diminished – and replaced with with a burden, a constant dread, of ongoing malicious exploitation.

The increased vulnerability of every new website means a new level of maintenance and security. And I seriously cannot be responsible for the bots, script-kiddies and state actors working underneath the surface of the web. Indeed, nobody wants to pay for the real time to keep sites secure.

In 2017 I enrolled in the ECU Cyber Security degree. Amidst some cool computer sciencey stuff, I learnt all about penetration testing and ethical hacking. I now know from hacking into things for research, how easy it is to penetrate what we generally consider as secure systems – how utterly vulnerable we are as users of the internet.

Indeed, there is no such thing as a secure system. It has been said that: the only truly secure system is one that is powered off, cast in a block of concrete and sealed in a lead-lined room with armed guards (Source) – and this refers to any networked device.

By design, the Internet is an open network which facilitates the flow of information between computers.

This is even more problematic as we are consumed by the Internet of Everything.

To be blunt, I do not want the responsibility to protect what is considered by cyber security analysts as inherently unsafe.

This led me to have a good think (now in my 50s) about what do really want to do for the next 20 years or so.

What I do not want to do is attempt to protect ongoing malicious attacks on what is basically a flawed system.

And that’s where I am now – I’ve switched back to what I really want to do: make good journalism!

Maybe journalism about cyber security. I don’t really know – lets see where this goes…

So this blog is a place to share that journey…

Get in touch if you like: allan@radicalhack.com

https://www.facebook.com/allanboyd.antipoet and twitter.com/alboydperth

phone 0402 573 580